I got these Munchkin Bath Letters and Numbers for my elder son (let’s call him Smiley) after looking up some toddler activities to do with him. I was hesitant to purchase them initially as I thought that around £8 was a bit much for a bunch of foamy letters and numbers. I went for it anyway, as Smiley loves the alphabet and numbers, and often asks us to write letters and numbers on paper, to make letters and numbers out of play dough, and to write them on the little white board we have at home. He also has an alphabet board with lower case wooden alphabet letters – which I picked up as a very last minute Eid-al-Adha gift last year – that he really likes. When the pack arrived on the weekend, Smiley really liked them (he doesn’t often take to new toys right away), and got to the business of arranging the letters and numbers in order immediately. When he did take them in the bath, he played with them in the tub but didn’t stick them up as much as I thought he would. What has pleasantly surprised me is how much use he has got out of them outside of the bath. The letters have a lot of scope for imaginative play; so you can do a lot of things with them.
Uses for the Bath Letters and Numbers
Smiley has done the following with the Munchkin Bath Letters and Numbers so far:
- Arranged them in order, from A-Z on the living room floor.
- Arranged them into colour piles.
- Arranged them in alphabetical and numerical order, as well as in colour order (so he managed to spot a pattern here which is that each colour occurs again with every sixth letter/number; so A and G are orange, B and H are red, etc). I was impressed with that he spotted this (Allahumma baarak – ameen!)
- We pressed them into play dough to spell words. So we pressed the letters into the play dough to spell words. We usually use our lower case wooden letters to press letters and spell words in play dough, but Smiley wanted to use his foamy bath letters. At first, I explained that they wouldn’t work as I didn’t think they would given that they were foamy. However, I went back on it and thought ‘let’s give it a try’ and whilst they didn’t work as well as our wooden letters, they did indeed work. We spelt Smiley’s name on the play dough
- We use them for their marketed use: to stick the letters onto the bath tiled wall (and spell words).
- We arranged the letters and numbers in order, but standing up, rather than lying flat (Smiley’s idea)
- Stacked them up vertically, to build a tower. We kept adding more letters and numbers onto our tower, until it toppled, and started again. A lot of the time, we would purposely topple it, and laugh.
- Our favourite and most frequent use of the letters, aside from arranging them in order, is to use them to spell whatever words Smiley wants to spell. He asks us how to spell a word, we dictate it and he happily puts the letters together to spell it. In this way, we have written: Thomas, Percy, Diesel, Mum, Dad, Smiley’s name, Smiley’s baby brother’s name, other family members’ names, pencil, blue sky, bus, train, Max the Glow Train, Pete the Truck, days of the week, months. So many things.
On amazon, where I bought the bath letters and numbers, some reviewers express certain drawbacks with regards to this product but we have either found a way around it, or we haven’t experienced it. These are:
- “They don’t stick to the bath/tiles well”. For us, they totally do. At times, Smiley just places them on ever so gently, and of course they drop. So I show him how to ‘press’ them on (not gently just make contact between a bit of the letter/number and the tiled wall). So we have found that if they are wet and pressed on, they stick. Two weeks ago, Smiley wanted to write Daddy’s name on the tiled wall, which he did, and it stayed on well after bath time. Literally for a good few hours, I’d say, before they began to fall off
- “There are no duplicate letters to spell words with”. We experienced this at first too, but we got around it. Number 7 upside down can double up as another ‘L’; number 3 can double up as a the letter ‘E’ (as can ‘M’ and ‘W’ faced sideways). We use number 1 as another ‘I’; you can use the number zero as another ‘0’, number 5 as another ‘S’. We use the number 4 upside down as another ‘A’ (though it doesn’t replicate the appearance of an ‘A’ entirely, it’s close enough for us). We needed another R to spell hubster’s name the other day, and he suggested we use the ‘L’ upside down (which, when placed upside down, looks like a lower case ‘r’). So we have got around this potential drawback, and I love that we imaginatively got around it (again, scope for imagination with this…’toy’). Sometimes, when we really need more letters to spell words, we get our wooden letters out (which was Smiley’s idea, which again I was impressed with).
My favourite thing about this product is its scope for imaginative play; that it isn’t just an electronic device or a toy that does just one thing, that can’t be reused, re-imagined as something else. I have noticed that all the toys that my son has really taken to are ones that can be moulded into, and reused as something else, aside from their prototypical use. Magda Gerber, who was an early childhood educator, recommends play objects that don’t do anything as the best toys for babies. She says that such toys are ideal as they:
“…will only respond when the infant activates them. In other words our active infant manipulates passive objects. In contrast, entertaining kinds of toys, such as mobiles or later on, windup toys, cause a passive infant to watch an active toy. This trains the child to expect to be amused and entertained, and sets the scene for later TV watching.”
I’m not sure it I entirely agree with the last part of the quoted statement, which I have underlined, as I haven’t given it enough thought. However, I have definitely seen from experience that ‘passive’ toys (such as lego, train sets that you can build in different ways, etc) have given us far more playtime, with different results on most occasions (i.e. we make the lego differently, build the train set differently). These Munchkin letters and numbers have proven to be a passive toy for Smiley; he’s even dipped some of them in paint (not a good idea; our acrylic paint hasn’t come off them!).
Given how much play (imaginative, educational, and fun play) we have got out of our letters and numbers, I would highly recommend them and now think of them as a bargain!