Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Zooples & Co Review and Giveaway

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This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to the winner Crystal!

Did yesterday's hint help you figure out who today's sponsor of our Summer Prize Picnic is? If you guessed that we're headed to the zoo with the Zooples, then you were right and we've added your extra entry into our comments. Lindsey at iDesignMyWorld on Etsy is talent behind the Zooples & Co, and her adorable collection of animal friends are ready to help teach your child about the alphabet! Zooples & Co Animal Cards measure 4.25 in. x 5.5 in. and it's clear the second you open the box that they are professionally printed, on sturdy card stock. The color and print quality is excellent and there is so much detail in each animal and the shading of the backgrounds. What makes them extra cute illustrations is that each animal has a look similar to an epoxy sticker with a slightly shiny look to it. Shadow effects add depth to their appearance and the overall look is very colorful and vibrant. Lindsay says she loves designing cute, and she manages to make each animal sweet and cuddly looking, even the shark! The cards are a visual treat the second you open them. This mama was very pleased with the sturdy plastic container that make the sets all ready to wrap up to give as a gift and are the perfect size for a stocking stuffer, Easter basket, preschool graduations presents, birthday gift, or special surprise. The perfectly coordinating ribbon tied around our Jaguar set added to the lovely presentation. You know I whisked that away into my crafting stash before handing the cards over to my eager tester's hands! Cards come in complete sets of 26 so you get one for each letter, the front and back are shown above. Each letter comes printed with a Zoople friend on the front along with it's name spelled out in a rounded all capital letter font. The backside features the same decorative background and a large capital letter.

My set came with corners but you can now request them with rounded edges, I didn't think my two and a half year old would get hurt but since there is a choice, I recommend choosing the rounded edge option over unrounded. However, my personal choice would be to get cards laminated, you won't have to worry about sharp edges with this option because the lamination edges are then rounded. I will tell you why further on in the review, when I discuss educational uses for the cards.What I especially liked are the animals Lindsay choose to depict. There are familiar favorites that your child is well acquainted with but also ones that might be new like dolphin rather than the more commonly chosen dog for the letter D.

The cards are also available individually so you can replace any that become worn, although this is unlikely as each is on sturdy cardstock and when my daughter bent the corners of a few they bounced right back into shape without any creases. Replacement or extra cards can be purchased by customers of past full alphabet sets for a reduced cost of a dollar each. Extra individual cards would come in handy if you'd like your child to spell out specific words using the cards. I also think framing a group of individual cards so they spell out your child's name would make a wonderful decoration to a nursery or child's room. Zooples & Co offer more options for room decor, which will be discussed shortly.

Learning Connections

Obviously, these would be a great starting off point for letter of the week activities! You could use these to introduce each new letter and then center your activities around the featured animal. This would be especially high interest for my daughter or any other who adores anything to do with animals.We had so much alphabet learning fun with our letter cards! My daughter is at the introductory stage of learning her letters. We laid all the cards out and took turns calling out an animal name. She'd find that animal and then we'd say the animal name again before turning it over. Next we'd say the letter name while tracing the letter outline with our finger. It sounds simple but she'll actually sit and do this for the entire alphabet at once. That's saying a lot because she's a very active child. At two and a half my daughter is too young to put them in ABC order, but when I taught kindergarten I used to give my kids an index sized copy of the alphabet along with a shuffled up set of cards and have them lay them out in alphabetical order. As that skill was mastered they'd have to put them in order without the reference card. For now we sing the alphabet song and lay out the cards in ABC order as we sing each letter. This was also a popular activity!I have tubs and tubs of plastic magnetic letter sets leftover from doing learning centers in my classroom. I used them for a simple matching game. ER likes any opportunity to get her little hands on the piles of letters, so she was quite excited for this game. Just lay out a few letters and have your child find the one that matches and place on top of the card.

You can often find sets of plastic magnetic letters like these at Dollar Stores, at such an inexpensive price get several sets so you have extra vowels and commonly used consonants. They'll come in handy for a number of educational purposes. We matched up the entire alphabet and after a break for lunch and some sand table play time we came back and finished the activity. We put the cards in ABC order, or rather I put them in order while talking to her about what I was doing. She sat on the floor very intrigued by what I was doing and insisted on helping me put several of the letters into our line of letters. We sang the song and she picked up each magnetic letter as we sang it and put it in their storage container. Then we sang the song again and picked up the cards.
The next logical step for using the letters with the cards is to spell out the animal names. There are several animals with short 3 letter names: cat, fox, yak or 4 to 5 letter names: bear, frog, hippo, lion, wolf, zebra to make this a learning task for early learners and enough longer names to still keep it challenging for intermediate learners, i.e. alligator, goldfish, unicorn, and vampire bat.

For a young child like my daughter, I sort out the necessary letters for each word and hand her only those to put in order. She still needs some guidance but has picked up what she's supposed to do fairly quickly. We spell out each word after we copy it with plastic letters.An activity along the same concept but to practice writing skills would be to give your child the sent of cards along with a simple book with a set number of pages like the one above. The child chooses a card for each page, then copies the animal name onto the line, and draws their own interpretation of the animal in the space provided.

Now that Lindsay offers the great option of lamination, I'd choose that one so you can give your child a dry erase marker and the cards. They'll have lots of fun tracing the letters to spell out and write each animal name. The pen marks will wipe off easily and it's a great activity to take with you in a plastic bag for practice while waiting at a restaurant, at the doctors office, or while flying or at church. The animal names with fewer letters are shown with larger letters and longer names like reindeer with smaller ones so one set can keep different levels of beginner writers occupied starting in later preschool stages.

Laminated cards can even be used for letter formation before your child is actually ready to print. I've post on Katie's Nesting Spot, about making ABC cards for your child to use with playdoh. Skip the hassle of making your own. Have your child make playdoh "ropes" and use them to form the letter on top of the laminated card.

As you can see there are many ways a great set of alphabet cards with highly engaging pictures can be used. Get a set as your child begins their letter studies and they can be used a long time and with all the stages of alphabet work. Zoople's animal flash cards are a great quality product with wonderful illustrations that will engage your child and keep him or her interested in learning!

Interested in getting your own set? Buy One!

At Zooples & Co on Etsy! You can choose which card you'd like feature as the first card in the stack and personalize how they'll appear in their plastic container. That's a nice little feature, choose a favorite animal of the recipient and you can even choose different animals if more than one child is getting a set as gifts at the same time.Lindsey specializes in alphabet cards and sets but offers other fun options that showcase her charming Zooples. If you fall in love with a particular card and want one to decorate your little one's room, she has delightful 8X10 prints, my favorite is the G is for Giraffe or the M is for Moose, with her new nature inspired background, shown above. Or you can skip the hassle of a frame and get a wrapped canvas print of your favorite Zoople animal, a set of three shown below. Both versions of prints include a description printed directly on the picture of the letter and animal shown.Did you notice that the Zooples in her prints have been grounded? As Lindsay explains, "No, not because they’re naughty, but they have bodies now." I really like the new complete animal designs because if there is one recommendation I'd have for the Zooples & Co line, it's that the Alligator and Iguana heads on the flash cards look very similar and they confuse my daughter a little. I think if the grounded versions would look different enough to avoid the confusion. I think an option for a set with the grounded versions of Zooples would be a great addition to Lindsay's line. Aren't these coasters perfect for using out on the deck with an ice cold beverage? Zooples are also available in drink coaster sets in the following themes: panda, African safari, and sea creatures. They are rubber backed so unlike the glass or heavier tile sets you don't have to worry about your little one dropping one on their toe, a big ouch, as we know from experience.

Win It! Zooples & Co Giveaway!

Lindsay at Zooples & Co has generously agreed to give ABC & 123 readers a choice of one of the following:

~a set of ABC Animal Flash Cards, or
~an 8x10 Animal Art Print of your choice, or
~ a set of Cute Animal Coasters!

To Enter: You MUST go over to Zooples & Co, browse their fabulous selection of products, and then come back and leave us a comment as to which product you'd choose if you won.

To Earn Extra Entries: You MUST do the first option, described above FIRST and then you can choose additional methods from the choices below. A separate comment MUST be left for each additional entry.

~Follow our blog, remind us if you already do!
~Post our Summer Prize Picnic Button, let us know so we can come check it out
~Post about the Zooples & Co giveaway and leave us a link to it
~Follow us on Twitter AND Tweet about the Zooples & Co giveaway. Then leave us a link to your tweet.
~Make a purchase from Zooples & Co during the time the giveaway is open!

This giveaway will be open now until Monday June 8 midnight, EST. We will announce a winner next week on Tuesday.

Good Luck! We'll choose a winner using random.org and announce who it is next Tuesday!

I couldn't resist adding this picture to my review! Our set came wrapped up and tied with ribbon. This big sticker was on the top of the box and my daughter loved the heck out of it until all the sticky stuff was gone! So Lindsey here's a preview of what a shirt printed with your fabulous illustrations might look like and please consider making sticker versions available! Thank you so much for working with us, we enjoyed your Zoople & Co cards tremendously!

Disclaimer: We received our review product from Zooples & Co, free of charge in return for writing a review of their products and hosting a giveaway on our blog. We want to stress that our opinions are genuine and no effort was made to influence them by the company.

102 comments:

  1. It is too hard to choose, everything in this site is awesome, but I would have to go with the ABC flashcards, too cute, thanks so much :)

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  2. These are adorable!

    I would have to go with the laminated animal flashcards. I might even punch a hole in the corner and put them all on a ring so you can flip through them in the car without losing any and then remove them when you want.

    Might be cute if Zooples added a set of memory/matching cards - two of each card (smaller) to play matching games!

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  3. I love these! So cute. I would like the ABC cards with the monkey on the front if I won!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

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  4. I am a follower and I also subscribe.

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  5. I have your button on my blog!

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  6. I love the ABC cards. I would love to have a Giraffe on the front. My LO loves Giraffes.

    eric_danielle at netzero dot com

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  7. I am a follower.

    eric_danielle at netzero dot com

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  8. I'd choose the ABC Animal Flash Cards if I won. What cute cards! =)

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  9. K @ Heart Now OJ -
    Correct guess on this week's giveaway sponsor

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  10. Dawn
    Correct guess on this week's giveaway sponsor

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  11. Keri
    Correct guess on this week's giveaway sponsor

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  12. Michelle
    Correct guess on this week's giveaway sponsor

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  13. Jolanthe
    Correct guess on this week's giveaway sponsor

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  14. Sharon
    Correct guess on this week's giveaway sponsor

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  15. Mama Jenn
    Correct guess on this week's giveaway sponsor

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  16. I'd choose flash cards too. The animals are very cute. But even if I don't win, I won't be too upset. Your informative post gave me so many ideas on what to do with self-made ABC cards I already have :)

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  17. I would love to have a set of those adorable cards, what a NEAT set!!!! I loved all of their stuff!

    Carisa

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  18. I would buy the stickers. They can be used in so many ways. Thanks for sharing all the wonderful ideals on how to use the flash cards.

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  19. I subscribe with google reader and love to read your updates. Always something new to try with my four year old daughter.

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  20. I'd pick the flashcards with the JAGUAR on front.

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  21. Katie I hope you read this.....such awesome ideas! you know I am getting my alpha activities pre-organized and this is soooooo getting bookmarked. I am not going to enter because I am just going to BUY a set!! These are so awesome. We looooove love love anything on cards, and this is better than making them myself!!
    Thanks for all the info.
    -Anna

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  22. Those are so cute! I love the flash card set with the cat featured.

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  23. I have the Summer Prize Picnic Button on my blog.

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  24. I would love to have a set of the flashcards. Charming designs.

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  25. I would choose the ABC flashcards...they are very cute!!

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  26. I would get the ABC flashcards, they are beautiful!

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  27. This is a tough choice. I would want one of the animal prints but they are all too cute to choose just one. So, I think I'd go with the flash cards!

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  28. I love the ABC flashcards! The colors are so vivid and the animals adorably cute. My twins would love those. My son loves lions and he already noticed the lion when I was on the website. If I don't win them, I think I will still need to purchase them. :-)

    Kelli

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  29. It's a toss up between the ABC flash cards and the coasters. I need new coasters but have a sneaky suspicion that those cute things would walk off with certain little people...never to be seen again!

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  30. The Animal ABC Flashcards would be a great help for my nephew!

    Elaine R
    emrosser@shaw.ca

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  31. Oh, these are so cute! I think I would go with the flash cards!

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  32. I have posted the Summer Prize Picnic button on my blog!

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  33. I adore all the canvas prints. Each one is superb but as a collection. WOW!!!

    marypres(at)gmail(dot)com

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  34. I would choose the ABC flashcards with the Giraffe on the front. My kids love giraffes and my oldest daughters name starts with G. THe animals are really cute.

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  35. My mom would love the frog coasters

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  36. I'm loving the flash cards. They are so much better than the generic kind. If I had to pick something other than the flashcards I think I would choose an art print of the monkey because my daughter's bathroom is done in monkeys and it would be so cute in there!

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  37. ABC animal flash cards

    itsonlyjc@hotmail.com

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  38. I like the ABC Animals Flash Card Set - 26 Cards.

    Thank you!

    janetfaye (at) gmail (dot) com

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  39. I follow your blog.

    janetfaye (at) gmail (dot) com

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  40. Summer Picnic Prize Button:
    http://blog-giveaways.blogspot.com/

    janetfaye (at) gmail (dot) com

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  41. I'd get: ABC Animals Flash Card Set - 26 Cards - Featuring ELEPHANT

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  42. These are so cute. We would love to have a set of the alphabet cards. Thanks for the giveaway.

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  43. My sons and I would love to have the laminated flash cards. My 2 year old is very into animals and the alphabet right now. What a perfect combination of the two!

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  44. I would choose the wonderful flash cards.

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  45. I would choose the wonderful flash cards.

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  46. My favorite are the ABC Flash Cards, so very cute! Please enter me in your great giveaway - Thanks!
    kimberlybreid@hotmail.com

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  47. I would get the ABC animal flashcards

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  48. Love the ABC Flash cards!
    daxkimd@juno.com

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  49. Oh I totally would pick the flashcards. i am not to fussy about what card is on the front. That yak is pretty darn cute however.

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  50. I have your button. www.sarahlscott.blogspot.com

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  51. I love the ABC Animal Flash Cards.

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  52. I have your button in my blog.

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  53. If I won, I would choose the set of ABC Animal Flash Cards for my niece :)

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  54. i would definitely choose the ABC animal flash cards. I remember how much my little sister LOVED her animal flashcards when she was a baby, and now that I'm having my own, I'd love for her to have some!

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  55. I blogged about your contest.
    http://sarahlscott.blogspot.com/2009/06/tot-school-letter.html

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  56. I love the owl and zebra alphabet cards. Love the ideas you gave!!

    mkokopelli@aol.com

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  57. Hello found your site from another fave blog and I am going to have to add you to my list :) There is just so much great info on here. Thank you so much. Anyhow back to what I am here for. I checked the site and as you said I would love the ABC cards in full body lamination. I also looked through the sets and didn't see a m for moose which would be the print I would get since that is what my littlest ones room is done in. Thanks for the opportunity and for showing us something new.


    mnmzz at msn dot com

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  58. I became a follower thanks!


    mnmzz at msn dot com

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  59. The graphics are adorable! I would choose the ABC flashcards.

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  60. I have the Summer Picnic Button on my blog site too!

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  61. Such cute illustrations! I love the flashcards.

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  62. I would chose the ABC flash cards-my 3 yr old would love them and she is just getting interested in her letters. The cards are so cute-nice and bright.

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  63. I have your button on my blog.

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  64. Thanks! These are adorable! I would choose the ABC flash card set for my 2 year old

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  65. I blogged about it here http://7alltogether.blogspot.com/2009/06/guest-that-wont-leave-and-some-fun.html

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  66. Only because I couldn't decide on which print to pick (they're all so cute!!) I'd have to go with the flash cards! Thanks for the giveaway!

    annasmama0702@gmail.com

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  67. I follow you

    annasmama0702@gmail.com

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  68. I would definitely choose the animal flash cards, both my kids would love them, and they are very cute!

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  69. I also have your summer prize picnic button on my blog!

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  70. My daughter would love the ABC Animal Flash Cards!

    Thanks!
    xpsundell(at)gmail(dot)com

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  71. ABC Animal Flash Cards featuring Elephant or any others.
    dearandrea
    at sbcglobal.net

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  72. I follow
    dearandrea
    at sbcglobal.net

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  73. Love to try laminated animal flashcards.

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  74. I would like the ABC flashcards because we are in the process of teaching my 4 year old his letters and sounds.

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  75. ABC Animals Flash Card Set - 26 Cards - Featuring CAT would be my pick.
    renee
    yeloechikee at hotmail dot com

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  76. I would pick the flashcards, definately...right now they are just what we need.

    brneyedblondegrl at aol dot com

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  77. I would pick the flashcards.
    http://ourpocketfullofposies.blogspot.com/

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