Learning Spanish with Bilingual Toys – Contest & Review

by Melanie Edwards on November 16, 2009 · 58 comments

in Giveaways, reviews

Most of you already know that we are a bi-cultural family and I myself am bilingual. As such, my husband and I decided that we would make an effort to raise our children bilingually so they could learn both English and Spanish. So far, our daughter is doing a great job of acquiring both languages and most important of all, actually showing an interest in Spanish, which is the minority language.

It helps that my parents are a big part of her life, since they both speak Spanish more often than I do. Because I speak English to my husband, spoke English in the workplace, and speak English for 95% of each day, it gets a little difficult sometimes for me to “switch” my brain and speak Spanish to my daughter. I have to remind myself. So, any little help I can get is useful in not just exposing her to Spanish, but also reminding me to do so. Which is why I love bilingual books, TV programs, and other toys.

When I was contacted by Smart Play about their new bilingual toy line, Ingenio, I was highly interested in reviewing their products. As the email I received said, “there are very few affordable toys/games available for parents who want their children to be bilingual.” In my experience when shopping for baby girl, this has been true. Their products fill this need since 8 out of the 10 products they have so far cost less than $12.99. All ten products are designed for children 3-8 years old, which is perfect for my baby girl.

Bilingual Games from IngenioWe received the Animal Learning Puzzle and the Spellable Puzzle Card Game. I was looking forward to playing the Spellable game with baby girl because it allows you to spell 3 letter words in English and Spanish. I thought this would be a great way to step up her learning and go beyond just the alphabet and on to forming words and promoting word recognition. Like any preschooler, she was super excited at the beginning, but after about 10 words or so, her focus began to fade. Since I don’t want to be a drill sergeant and “force” learning on her, but rather have it be a natural part of her playing and surroundings, I followed her cue and put away the game for another time.

But, just in that short period of time, I saw a few things that I liked about this product:

  • Each letter is color coded; consonants are green & vowels are purple. I like this because you can add variety to the game by sorting the letters. Now she’s not just working on phonics, but also classifying items.
  • Every letter card has a picture on the back that doubles for a word in English AND Spanish. So, you have pictures of juice/jugo for J and lamp/lampara for L, etc. Even the hard letters like Q work; Q has a quesadilla on the back.
  • The spelling cards are also color coded; blue for English and red for Spanish. This helped my daughter know which language to use when trying to spell the word.

The animal puzzle was also fun to play with and has the name of each animal printed in both English and Spanish. It also displays the words for the surroundings in both languages. For example, tree/árbol and mountain/montaña. It’s a very cute puzzle and my daughter enjoyed teaching her dad the names of the animals in Spanish when they later put it together without me.


You too have a chance at trying out some Ingenio products! One of you can win a set of the Alphabet cards along with the Spellable Puzzle Card Game. The winner will receive both products.

Bilingual Toys from Ingenio

How to Enter

  1. If you’d like to enter this contest, simply leave a comment below and let me know if you already promote a bilingual home or why you would like to expose your child to another language.
  2. For an extra entry, you can tweet about this contest with a link back to this post and include @modernmami in your tweet. You must leave a separate comment with a link to your tweet for your entry to count.

All entries must be in by Sunday, November 22nd at 11:59 pm EST. The winner will be chosen using Random.org and will be notified via email. (Please be sure to provide a valid email address with your entry.)

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Kathy Sykes November 16, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Yes, we already promote learning multiple languages in our home. Neither my husband or I speak a second language but we want our son to know MORE. We currently work with English/Spanish flash cards and Spanish books. Would love other toys to help him learn.

Kathy Sykes November 16, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Also tweeted about the giveaway!

Kelly Tirman November 17, 2009 at 12:46 am

Trying to raise a multi-lingual child is someone thing we are working very hard to do.

We presently go to a bilingual sing along at the library as well as read books such as these from http://www.memima.com.

Besides Spanish I am also hoping we can figure out how to teach our daughter Mandarin and maybe even french.

It anyone has any other resources to help us — Please let me know.

Armando Triana November 17, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Completely relate to your “switching” dilemma, Melanie. My wife and I understand and can speak Spanish and have plenty of family members who do; however, we speak to each other, coworkers, etc. in English all day.

We want our son to be bilingual and not lose the culture and language that his parents grew up with, but it takes a conscious effort on our part to “double-speak” and repeat in English and Spanish (ie: Do you want milk? ¿Quieres leche?).

We have received a few books as gifts that are bilingual, which he actually loves. There’s a few TV programs as well, but I would rather him not watch TV and have the one-on-one time with his mami or papi. Needless to say, the Ingenio products would be put to great use in our house!


Philippa November 17, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Our little one is only 2 months old but my husbanb and I decided a while back, before we even found out we were pregnant that we wanted our children to know at least two languages if not more. Right now our goal is for him to learn spanish and sign language. Since neither my husband and I speak/sign either it will be a challange but I look forward to learning along with him.

Philippa November 17, 2009 at 1:58 pm

I retweeted your post and it did this funky thing but here is the link anyway.


morsmal November 17, 2009 at 2:33 pm


We both live and promote..both bilingual and multilingual home and education, as well as a website at: http://www.morsmal.org

Can we write an article about it in our site and link back to you? I am sure our site visitors would love this contest!


Melanie (ModernMami) November 18, 2009 at 9:10 am

@morsmal, Sure, you can let them know about the contest with a link back to this post.

Rhonda Atkins November 18, 2009 at 12:05 pm

I would love these educational toys for my 3 year old son. Although my Husband and I only speak English, I do promote a bilingual home. At the moment we are working on Spanish and Sign Language so anything that could help us would be welcomed!

Vicky H. November 18, 2009 at 4:19 pm

My God-daughter is half Mexican, and her mother, who is African American, does speak a little Spanish. She also visits her paternal grandmother every now and then, so I just assume that she’s at least a little encouraged to speak Spanish. It’d be nice for her culturally and educationally to learn Spanish.

Sharon A November 18, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Not a bi-lingual home but would like to expose to Spanish, living in California and all.

Melissa November 18, 2009 at 4:44 pm

My daughter will be taking Spanish next year so these would be FAB to help her learn!!

Angela Noble November 18, 2009 at 5:34 pm

Have a 2 year old and trying to get him more interested in new things all the time. want to homeschool so i can get him exposed to different lang and music more in these early years of learning.

susan varney November 18, 2009 at 7:52 pm

we would like to mverno@roadrunner.com

marge mckoen November 19, 2009 at 8:48 am

my grandsons are leaning a little spanish in day care ,we want them to learn more we live in arizona and alot of spanish is being taught in grade school

evelyn November 19, 2009 at 12:42 pm

this looks great

Rosalinda Vargas November 19, 2009 at 3:18 pm

When she was four she said, “No Spanish Mommy.” Now at almost twenty she say, “Why didn’t you teach me Spanish!” Sooooo now her son will need to learn EARLY! These products look like they would really help making learning fun.

Rosalinda Vargas November 19, 2009 at 3:24 pm

Proud to re-tweet Modernmami.com on Twitter.

victoria moreno-herrera November 19, 2009 at 3:53 pm

Hello all. Daily, I try to promote a bilingual environment for my 2 children. When my son was born 2 years ago, I found it difficult to find bilingual products, books, etc. so I started an online business to sell such things. Please visit me at http://www.babybesos.com.

morsmal November 19, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Hi Melanie,

I was thinking of sending information about it in the newsletter we have (it comes once every 2 weeks). Next time we send the newsletter, would be November, 28th. Would you have any contest by then?


Melanie (ModernMami) November 19, 2009 at 5:14 pm

@morsmal, I might. I can’t be sure right now if it’ll be a bilingual-themed contest. But, I’ll be sure to keep you in mind if I do post one.

Heather November 19, 2009 at 8:45 pm

Our son was adopted from Russia almost a year ago (and he is now 2 1/2) so we have felt it important to continue to speak some Russian (the little we know) occasionally. We have a book that has Russian words in it which is one of his favorites and he does seem to still understand some words in Russian though he can’t speak much in Russian.

Cristine November 19, 2009 at 9:47 pm

My preschoolers get a weekly Spanish class at their preschool. My three year old loves to come home and ask how to say things in Spanish. He knows all his colors and numbers. It’s such fun teaching him. Sometimes I do have to pull out my dictionary to remember how to say things correctly

Angela P November 19, 2009 at 10:43 pm

It’s a good idea to expose children to more than one language at a young age because they absorb language like a sponge. My son has a few toys that speak 3 languages and I use sign language and a little Spanish, but these products would be a great way to work on a language other than English.

Karin T. November 20, 2009 at 9:35 am

I don’t currently expose my son to a 2nd language, but would really like to start. This would be the perfect way to introduce another language to him.

Molly November 20, 2009 at 10:05 am

We love our spanish cd and books. This would be great to add to our collection

Savanna November 20, 2009 at 12:47 pm

My husband speaks Spanish and English, but we would love to promote language learning for our children as well!

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