Wondering if the Lovevery Examiner Play Kit for 4 year olds (52, 53, 54 months) is worth it vs Amazon self curating? In short: YES!
In this post, I'll walk you through each item included in The Examiner Play Kit from Lovevery, our personal experience with a 4 year old and 2 year old and the toys, followed by how the items compare to Amazon Alternatives and other toy dupes (with links + discussion to shop those as well if self curating this Lovevery play kit!):
- WATCH LOVEVERY EXAMINER PLAY KIT REVIEW: Worth it?!?
- What's inside The Examiner Play Kit from Lovevery? [+ Amazon Alternatives!]
- The Examiner Play Kit Book Bundle
- How much does Lovevery's Examiner Play Kit Cost?
- Is the Lovevery Examiner Play Kit Worth It?
- Quick Shop Amazon Alternatives:
- Shop “The Examiner” Play Kit From Lovevery here!
WATCH LOVEVERY EXAMINER PLAY KIT REVIEW: Worth it?!?
Click here to watch + subscribe on Youtube!
What's inside The Examiner Play Kit from Lovevery? [+ Amazon Alternatives!]
Plan Ahead Week Board
A wooden board with a magnetic panel for each day of the week with visual queues for “morning, afternoon, and night.” Plus a box of magnetic tiles feature regular and unique weekly activities.
Toddlers can look to the past, present, and future while planning out their week and building a deeper understanding with time.
This is by far my favorite “care of self” item Lovevery has made! I think in my Connector Play Kit review I said we didn't really used the Daily Helper board because there was no where to store the tiles and the helping tasks felt more like to-do's so we just use the planner board instead.
Anyway, we LOVE it. I love the magnetic box for unsued tiles. I love planning the week and looking at stuff.
The colors of the board follow the same Waldorf days of the week rhythm. It's super well made and we just love it. You can also fit like 4 or 5 tiles per day.
Amazon Alternatives + Dupes:
For most similar dupes, you're looking at Etsy. They have editable, printable picks, physical ones, and wooden one's to choose from. I'd say this is one of the most similar (even the colors match!) but it uses a velcro system and has spots for the month, season, and weather. This is a similar dupe for a fraction of the cost (it's a digital download only, so you'd have to print and make it) but it has some great cards, follows the Waldorf colors, and has spots for the Month and date. Lastly, this dupe is also a cheap digital download, but the colors don't align with Waldorf's days of the week.
This is an Amazon find and magnetic like Lovevery's, but it comes with a very limited number of tiles and has to stick to the fridge or a metal closet.
Melissa & Doug have a “My First Calendar” Magnetic activity board that isn't exactly like Lovevery's weekly planner, but a hybrid of their weather board and this at an incredibly affordable price point.
9 sets of rhymes with 3 words per rhyme.
We love this item too! It's a nice challenge and definitely requires some parent help at first if your chld doesn't know what a rhyme is.
Basically how I taught my daughter to do it was sort the puzzle pieces by color: yellow, pink, and orange. Making a row of each since each rhyming ring has one color. Then I just had her say the words to herself until she heard the rhyme.
The puzzle pieces are all the same: meaning they won't know if they made a mistake unless you tell them or they hear it in another ring which does make it tricky for preschoolers first learning rhymes and not able to hear their mistake. I'd say this is the item that makes this box suitable for 4.5 year olds but you can absolutely get it sooner.
These have actually become our most used puzzle for the 4 year old year now!
Amazon Alternative + Lovevery Dupes:
While no rhyming puzzles in the ring formation exist, there are loads of rhyming puzzle options out there. The two I want to bring your attention to are from Scholastic and Junior Learning.
Scholastic features 3 words per rhyming set like Lovevery's. This is my pick for kids who do not know what a rhyme is or are very early in their literacy journey. Like Lovevery's set, you can separate the words into three piles (instead of color, you can sort by ends and middle pieces), then go from there.
For a bigger challenging, Junior Learning's rhyming puzzle is my next pick as they have a mix of 3 or 4 word rhyming sets. Meaning sorting puzzle pieces to narrow down the words children need to sift through is more challenging.
While there are a lot of 2 piece rhyming pair puzzles out there, I do NOT recommend them. They leave too much room for kids to make other associaitons about why a pair is correct. For instance, can and pan are both kitchen items. In my experience it's that third word that offers the trickiest experience and where the learning is actually happening.
Modeling Sand & Wipeable Mat
An organic canvas mat, square wooden board, and bag of kinetic sand.
Unit Block Builders & Activity Cards
A 5 x 5 square, a 1 x 5 rectangle, and a 1×1 square mold, plus two spatulas/cutters to place the sand in and put on the wooden board or activity cards or make their own images while exploring number units.
The kinetic sand is super high quality and low mess. I had a bin of kinetic sand we used alongside this, and maybe it's because it was old but it kept flaking off everywhere compared to the Lovevery sand.
The Lovevery sand is definitely a wetter/better gelled kinetic sand, which makes sense as it has to work with the unit block builders and hold the shape of the activity card.
Either way, the mat really does wipe clean, the shapes hold, and my kids LOVE this.
Both my 4 year old and 2 year old do this together. My 4 year old especially loves using the molds and making the pictures. While my 2 year old likes the little red mold and trying to copy his sister.
We store this in a plastic bin ready to get pulled out when I need an engaging activity for them and it always holds their attention for close to an hour.
Another hit in this kit! I'd say my only complaint is how little sand you get, which is basically just enough to make one picture at a time.
Lovevery's set is a unique pre-math lesson to the Montessori golden beads lessons and there is *nothing* like Lovevery's set.
You're going to have to buy a few different products to tackle the skills Lovevery's teaches.
Essentially what they did was take math number units, like these, and turn them into sensory molds for playdough or kinetic sand. This doesn't exist (from what I can tell) anywhere else. Additionally, those math number units are usually in 10's, but Lovevery did theirs in 5's. From a learning perspective the tens units are probably better, but both are great.
Obviously, you can purchase a canvas mat and kinetic sand anywhere, but the molds are truly unique product. Here's what I'd suggest getting for a similar learning experience (but not sensory experience):
Show, Tell & Think Empathy Game
A pre-literacy game that also builds empathy where kids flick the spinner, then choose a card from the matching pile.
The players either need to tell a story based on the image, act out a scene, or finish a story / answer the question from the “imaging if…” prompt on the card.
This is probably our least used item in this play kit. It's actually a really thoughtful game, but it felt a little awkward playing it the first time. My daughter and I playing together also got a little mental fatigued fast with telling so many stories back to back from the orange and blue cards. I think it's better when you have more players.
Feelings and Dealings cards are going to be the most similar to Lovevery’s game. You can even use Lovevery’s prompts with these cards to create your own version of the game where kids act out or tell a story about the emotions, or you could pull a scenario card and then a feeling card and ask “imagine if…” questions to change the emotions from the scenario card to the selected feelings card. For kids who can read, I would suggest this card game (or use it as the next step). I think it’s just a bit deeper and better for the 6 year old + kids than 4 year olds.
Beyond that, Eeboo has the most similar product line I could find to Lovevery's empathy game as nothing else exactly like it exists.
We have their create a story cards which I think accomplish a lot of the same goal, and foster a deeper focus. As your child really hones in on each picture, thinks and plans out a story, then tells it. It doesn't necessarily have the same empathy factor of Lovevery's game, but it's open ended with emotions on the characters faces where you could definitely incorporate that aspect by asking your kids to create a story where someone feels frustrated (or whatever other feeling). Additionally, you can give your child a “what if…” prompt and the story cards.
If you're not confident in coming up with your own prompts and want to teach more about expectations and social situations, you could get their “What Do I Do?” conversation starter cards – though I they are more closed ended than the “create a story cards” they do pair with them nicely.
Time & Compare Stopwatch
A battery-powered stopwatch with a manual dial.
The stopwatch is a HUGE hit with my 2 year old and 4 year old. They often go back and forth with it for races or clean ups. It's honestly hilarious watching them shout racing commands at one another.
Again, nothing exactly like Lovevery’s with both the digital display and the manual dial for saving the last time. But my kids never use the dial so I don’t think that’s a huge loss.
Instead, you can get a cheap stopwatch set like this or you can opt for the kids simple stopwatch from Learning Resources which has easy to learn buttons, check prices here: Amazon, Walmart, and Michaels.
‘The Appropriate Game' Book
Siblings learn what is and isn't appropriate for their family in different situations through real life moments and hypothetical questions.
This is such an interesting book and really helpful in having nuanced conversations with your child.
Our whole family now loves playing “the appropriate game” and the kids had me read this over and over. It's very repetitive which is good for reinforcing desired behaviors and learning with preschoolers and toddlers.
I think What Would You Do? is the most similar to Lovevery’s in opening up a discussion about appropriateness and works well with the empathy game concepts of this play kit. Some of the 46 examples do skew a bit older than 4 years old, but it’s a great book to have on hand for years to come for that reason.
A runner up that my 4 year old loves is What Should Darla Do? I prefer this to What Should Danny Do? because the examples feel more appropriate and realistic to our lives and 4 year old. Danny plays video games and just feels more like an elementrary schooler; while Darla is playing outside more and feels more like situations 4 years olds face.
Thus my book suggestions are going to cover both of those:
Play Guide for Months 52, 53, 54
Basically a cheat sheet to your 4 year old!
- Expert tips
- Developmental info
- At home activities to do
- Ways to play with the items
The Examiner Play Kit Book Bundle
In case you missed it, Lovevery launched “book bundle” add ons for subscribers. For $18 you can typically add on 2 books to your play kit. However at this time, the 4 year old play kits do not have any add on books at this time.
Check out my full review of the book bundle and read alongs for earlier years here.
How much does Lovevery's Examiner Play Kit Cost?
Lovevery's Examiner Play Kit costs $120, but they do offer prepaid bundle options for up to a 10% discount here.
Is the Lovevery Examiner Play Kit Worth It?
Yes!! The Examiner play kit is one of our favorite's from Lovevery's 4 year old line!
Both my 2 year old and 4 year old get a ton of use from the items and they are things that will last for years to come.
What I especially love about this play kit is how unique the items are to Lovevery. For almost all the included items I couldn't find an exact dupe for.
In other words: they hit it out of the park with exclusive items that kids actually engage with across a broad age range! Which are two huge areas I look at when evaluating a subscription toy box like this!
While you can self curate this play kit from Lovevery for as little as ~$85 you'd be sacrificing quite a bit and have to DIY your own planner board.
If you were to opt for the most similar Lovevery dupes, you're looking at spending ~$163 which is roughly $40 more than Lovevery's play kit:
And if you were to get the most expensive Lovevery alternatives I mentioned in this post, you're looking at spending $100 more than Lovevery's play kit!
In my book, financially speaking this is a great deal and 100% worth the money!
The quality of Lovevery's items are great, as always.
Like I mentioned before, their sand even holds better than our other kinetic sand for the models.
My 2 and 4 year old both play with almost all the items (2 year old is too young for the game and puzzle) for at least 30-40 minute stretches. The items encourage deep engagement and work a well rounded set of skills from planning, math, language, and social-emotional. All in all this has been a huge hit in our house!