Today I’m going to break down The Examiner Play Kit, the second kit of the 4th year Lovevery play kits, aimed toward months 52, 53, and 54.
This kit includes some amazing toys, including one of my new favorites, the kinetic sand with block builders!
I think this is the best of the four new play kits for ages 4-5, but there are also some great alternatives on Amazon.
Let’s see if we can find some toys that don’t require you to spend $120.
Plan Ahead Week Board Alternative
The Plan Ahead Week Board is helpful in preparing your kid for what’s to come a week in advance. My oldest always wants to know what’s going on so she loves this.
The best alternative to the Lovevery Plan Ahead Week Board is this weekly activity planner from Monkey & Chops. It costs just under $30 at the time of this writing.
The magnets on this Amazon alternative have simple visual pictures just like the Lovevery magnets.
There are even three blank magnets so you can add your own pictures or draw on them with dry-erase markers.
Rhyming Rings Alternative
It turns out that understanding sounds and phonetics is actually more important for reading than simply learning the letters and the whole “A is for apple” thing.
Kudos to the Lovevery play guide for teaching me this!
That’s why the rhyming puzzle in this kit is so much more than a puzzle.
The goal is to construct a circle with three things that rhyme. If it’s too hard at first, you can turn them over and peek at the colors on the back since each ring can only have one of each color.
Once you get the hang of it, there are more ways to play, like flipping them over and playing a memory game. I’m a sucker for toys with several ways to play.
I couldn’t find an Amazon alternative that checks all of these boxes, but a product comparable to the Lovevery Rhyming Rings is this rhyming puzzle that has almost 2,000 5-star reviews.
This Amazon alternative also has matching colors on the back to give hints when they are starting out.
It wouldn’t necessarily work as a memory game, but the main focus here is the rhyming, which it nails, so I’m good with that.
Unit Block Builders & Activity Cards Alternative
I have always been a visual math learner myself, so the idea of using sensory play to teach math with this Unit Block Builder seems genius to me, especially for this age.
Plus, what 4-year-old doesn’t love kinetic sand?
For the Lovevery Unit Block Builders & Activity Cards toy, a great Amazon alternative would be the Learning Resources MathLink Cubes activity set.
I know it’s not kinetic sand, but it does come with multicolored blocks that can be stuck together in different ways. Activity cards help teach addition, subtraction, and all sorts of number skills.
Modeling Sand & Wipeable Mat Alternative
If you want to include kinetic sand into your math lessons like the Lovevery kit does, there are tons of molds on Amazon.
I will say, however, that our kids love using the Modeling Sand with the Unit Block Builders & Activity Cards from the Examiner play kit.
But if you are trying to stick to something that you can spin into some sort of math lesson, this Dig & Demolish kinetic sand playset would do the trick.
This playset comes with non-toxic kinetic sand and a mold to build 3 bricks simultaneously.
Your kids can make brick blocks, divide them into single bricks to build walls, and then destroy them with the dump truck.
The box it comes in turns into an enclosed play space that would substitute for the mat, but honestly, for kinetic sand play, my go-to has always been plastic trays like these.
Show, Tell & Think Empathy Game Alternative
I love the idea of a game to get my kids talking about their emotions. It gives us a chance to talk about managing those feelings in different social situations.
My now 5-year-old recently started school, so I know those situations will start coming up, and I won’t be there to help her deal with those emotions. This game is good for us because it will help her learn to cope with how she’s feeling on her own.
My son is 3.5, which is technically too young for this kit, but I figured it’s worth adding that this game lost his attention after about 60 seconds.
This Feelings and Dealings empathy card game is the same idea.
It comes with feelings and emotions flashcards to help teach social-emotional learning skills and build empathy through playing games.
Time & Compare Stopwatch Alternative
Putting the concept of time into perspective for my kids is something I’ve been trying to do more of lately. We started using a timer for brushing our teeth every night, which seems to be working.
The Time & Compare Stopwatch in this kit is cute and well thought out. It has the digital numbers you typically see on a stopwatch plus manual number toggles so they can play with recording times of the things they do.
There isn’t an option on Amazon with both the digital clock and manual toggles. In fact, not many look like they’re for kids at all. Most of them are normal stopwatches that would probably confuse kids with a “split” button.
So, the best alternative to the Lovevery Time & Compare Stopwatch would probably be this Learning Resources Simple 3 Button Stopwatch because of its simplicity.
Learning Resources puts out some great products, so I feel good about this one.
‘The Appropriate Game’ Book Alternative
The book in this play kit is about teaching kids what is appropriate in certain daily situations, like; “Should you eat with your hands?” and whatnot.
For the Amazon alternative to ‘The Appropriate Game’ book, I almost gravitated toward a manners book, but it’s not really the underlying lesson with this one. It’s more about choosing what is appropriate in certain daily situations.
I think the book ‘What Should Danny Do?‘ is the best alternative.
It’s about making decisions throughout the day, and it gives situations like when Danny’s brother is eating off of his favorite plate… should Danny eat his pancakes on a different plate or yell until he gets his favorite plate?
Your toddler gets to choose what they think, and depending on their answer, they flip to a different page to see what happens. It’s fun and engaging like the Lovevery book.
It’s a series, so you could also purchase “What Should Danny Do School Day” and “What Should Danny Do on Vacation.”
Lovevery vs. Amazon Price Comparison
Let’s add up the Amazon options and see how they compare to the price of the $120 Lovevery Examiner play kit:
- Weekly Activity Planner: $24.95
- Rhyming Puzzle: $16.92
- Learning Resources MathLink Cubes: $21.99
- Kinetic Sand, Dig & Demolish Playset (we won’t count the optional plastic trays): $16.99
- Feelings and Dealings Empathy Card Game: $19.95
- Learning Resources Stopwatch: $11.14
- What Should Danny Do book: $13.19
Disclaimer: Amazon prices fluctuate. The prices listed are at the time of writing. Please check the current price when you read the article!
That totals up to $125.13. Wow! That’s probably the closest I’ve come to matching the price of the Lovevery kit to the price of the Amazon alternatives.
But it’s pretty clear that the Lovevery kit is much higher quality, and everything works well together. I think the Lovevery kit is a steal! I’d get it just for the incredible kinetic sand math activity.
The Lovevery Examiner play kit is the clear winner here – you can’t recreate it for less on Amazon, and the quality can’t be beaten.
We have all the play kits, and I’ve never been disappointed with the quality of the Lovevery toys.
That said, if you’re looking to buy only one or two of the items in the kit, these Amazon alternatives are great options.
Read More: Are the Lovevery Play Kits Worth It?