Grab on to this ball of fun and discover the animals nestled in their dens. Each of the six animals–crinkle pig, squeaky chick or smiling lion–can be pulled out of hiding on their stretchy strings, only to snap back inside for a rest. Kids love to use this toy as a ball or lesson in discovery. Toddlers enjoy the element of surprise as a new friend peeks out of his crevice to be touched, adored or tasted. With younger babies, not yet adept at manipulating the animals, parents can take the opportunity to show and describe the “spotted pink pig with the fuzzy nose,” “the squeaky, red chick with the blue beak,” or “nibble on the soft green leaf,” to fill their child with enriching language linked to their experience. Later, your child will be the operator of the animal den, when her little hand can grab the animals and play peek-a-boo.

Sherry Artemenko, MA-CCC, is a speech-language pathologist with more than 35 years experience and founder of The opinions expressed in this review are solely those of the author. “Animal Den” was provided for review by HABA toys.