I just awarded two new Playmobil sets with the PAL Award because they generate such rich pretend play and language for learning.

“My First 1.2.3 Knight’s Castle” is right in the toddler’s sweet spot. The chunks of castle turret easily snap together so a young child can change the building like a meaningful stacking toy. The princess, prince and horse can approach and enter the castle but really the kids liked to have them peer out the windows of the turrets. Here is my review:

Toddlers can start their knight and princess play early with Playmobil’s 1.2.3’s newest theme set. Knight’s Castle provides chunky turret pieces to stack, interlock and rearrange as they tower over the gate leading inside. Kids loved taking the prince for a ride on his horse to visit the princess in her castle. She invited him in through the double doors and they peeked out several windows to survey their land. Playmobil’s 1.2.3 sets provide a first pretend play experience for toddlers that is just at their level–only a few figures so parent and child can each take one to talk, and flexible props to construct in several ways to change the story. Pieces are easy for little hands to manipulate to start their story. (Ages 1 1/2 and up)

“My Take Along Pet Clinic” for ages 4 and up comes in a house shaped case that locks up the 100  props from tables and computers to hamsters and x-ray machines. The play can go in many directions as the “house” is divided into 4 rooms with themed illustrations on all the walls. Here is my review:

Kids love caring for animals and playing doctor so what a perfect combination in Playmobil’s newest “My Take Along Pet Clinic.” Creative play starts with setting up the rooms, grouping the furniture and accessories according to the space’s purpose. Where should we wait for the doctor or arrange the examination room? Now let’s add the computer, x-ray machine, table, scale and medicine to our scenarios. Vets and technicians wear vests and aprons as they examine hamsters, rabbits, dogs, cats, and birds, providing medicine, shots and casts for injured pets. This transportable vet clinic holds 100 props that allow for pretend play to take many directions–coming to the clinic, diagnosis, treatment, check-ups or caring for an injured pet. Children learn the language around a theme as they mirror life’s experiences in their play.

The above is solely the opinion of the author. The products were provided for review by Playmobil.