Friday, April 6th, 2007
Review: Hugg-a-Planet Plush Globes
We’ve been looking for ways to teach our almost-three-year-old daughter the concepts of spatial relationships and distances.
For example, she knows the names of nearby cities and U.S. states where relatives live. We convey distances by drumming up her memories of a recent 6-hour car trip and a 4-hour train trip.
A map is useful for talking about short distances, but how do you explain where elephants, lions and giraffes live that are found in many children’s books, toys and puzzles? Or explain about kangaroos in Australia when Kanga and Roo appear in Winnie the Pooh books? And don’t get me started about penguins.
Enter Hugg-a-Planet. It’s a plush planet. The globe has a cotton fabric shell and polyfill interior.
The “Classic” version has a 12-inch diameter with 600 countries, states, provinces, islands, oceans and seas labeled. The world is a little lumpy and extremely conducive to being tossed around. When you have it in your hands you either want to hug it, toss is across the room to someone, or use it as a pillow. That goes for both me and my daughter. You can also buy it with French or Spanish place labels.
The “Baby” version has a 6-inch diameter with only continents and oceans labeled, giving it a much cleaner look. It’s not to be confused with the “Rattle Baby” version that is also 6 inches, but has a rattle inside.
One caveat is that each planet is six pieces of fabric sewn together. A few of the seams don’t quite line up in places [see photo], setting up some countries for contentious border skirmishes.
I originally had considered buying a traditional hard spinning globe, but Hugg-a-Planet is better. It’s not sitting up on a table or a dresser as a mostly-never-used display item. Having the Earth as a plush toy brings it into everyday conversation. We keep ours next to my daughter’s bookshelf. Whenever we talk about the locations and animals found in her picture books Hugg-a-Planet is at hand to help show where those things can be found in our world. It also sometimes serves as a floor pillow to scrunch up with when reading books on her bedroom floor.
Yesterday my daughter visited a preschool she’ll be attending this summer. During an outdoor playtime, a 3-year-old girl was pulling a 4-year-old girl in a wagon.
- Instructor: “Where are you going?”
- 3-year-old: “We’re walking to Africa.”
- Instructor: “Oh, are you going to Nigeria?”
- 3-year-old: “No, we’re going to Algeria.”
I don’t know if that’s normal repartee for a 3-year-old, or if the kids discussed Africa earlier that morning, but it made me doubly glad that we have a playful planet at home to talk about faraway people, places and animals.
- Classic 12″ (with 600 place names, choose English, French or Spanish)
- Baby 6″ (oceans and continents labeled)
- Rattle Baby 6″ (same as Baby, but with an interior rattle)
- Super 24″ (Classic, double-size for older kids)
- Pocket Planet 12″ (with small Velcro pocket containing 3 animals, for ages 3 and up)
- Earth 12″ and Moon 4″ (the Pocket version with a moon inside)
- Neon 12″ (the Classic, but in neon colors)
- America 11″x14″ (two-sided, 400 places labeled, perhaps the only children’s map that shows Alaska and Hawaii to scale)
- Star 6″ (88 constellations are labeled in English and Latin with their positions within the Milky Way)
- Mars 8″ (400 place names, reportedly the most detailed globe of Mars available)
More photos are after the jump.