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Learn and create with Antsy Pants

The perfect STEM toy for children of all abilities

Since I basically live in Target, I'm always checking out the toy aisle for creative and inspiring toys that aren't electronic. It has become challenging to find toys that don't use batteries or have built in WIFI.

Recently while shopping for "only two things" in the store, I found a section dedicated to Antsy Pants playhouse kits. My son was ecstatic over the build-it-yourself bulldozer and since it looked easy enough to put together (and affordable) we took it home. Now we have an entire collection of Antsy Pants playhouses and I'm excited to share why we love them.

Build, learn, reinforce skills
In our world of limitless screen time and immediate gratification buttons, it's so easy to overlook the importance of teaching the basics to our little ones. With Antsy Pants, I feel like I finally have a tangible learning tool that is super fun for my toddler.

This is hands down one of the best designed toys I've had the pleasure of owning in my home. With the Snap and Click™ poles and connectors, my son is able to test his knowledge of colors and shapes, make size comparisons, and count the numbers of pieces we needed for each step of the build. The illustrated directions break down each section, so he can keep track of his progress.

READ MORE: 4 best toys to spark imaginative play

The building process also reinforces cognitive skills such as sequencing and problem solving. Some of the connectors have two or three pins which are set at different angles. It's a fun challenge to determine which way the connectors should face in order to attach the poles correctly.
Building also fosters the use of fine motor skills like wrist turning, grasping edges of the connectors and stretching the fabrics over the frame.

Once we had the 3D framework of the bulldozer, my son could recognize shapes like rectangles, squares, and triangles. He walks around, through and under to gain different perspectives. Then once the fabric cover is added, he has a larger than life (but still able to fit in the living room) playhouse for hours of fun!

Although I had to actually "build" most the frame, my son was able
to truly participate along the way and felt proud that he had been such a good helper and builder.

Perfect for pretend play
The durable and whimsical covers can transform your living room into a farmer's market, a castle, a circus tent, donut shop, and even a ball pit.

Pretend play is vital for childhood development. Pretending to fight dragons or shop for fresh produce promotes a multitude of important skills: imagination, social interactions and conversation turn taking.
Additionally, practicing communication, even in a make-believe setting can improve language skills which can lead to early readers and writers.

Mix-and-match playhouse kits
One of the most useful and cost-effective features of this line is that the poles and connectors can be used for any of the playhouse covers. If your child wants to have an indoor camp-out and then head out to sea in a pirate ship the next morning, you can easily build and rebuild using the same pieces.

We bought a few covers and the Large Build & Play Kit which contains 123 poles and connectors. We now have a variety of playhouses at our fingertips. It takes only a few minutes to build each design (unless you have a toddler in the "I can do it by myself" phase).

**This does not imply endorsement by HV Parent. This article reflects one mom's opinion.

Rielly is a part-time writer and full-time mama to an adorable toddler with autism.