Tag Archives: learning

Review: Orchard Toys What a Performance Game

This week we’ve been playing a new board game from Orchard Toys – What a Performance! It’s kind of like charades, but with a lot more going on. We properly laughed when we played this game and it would be a great game for small-ish groups of people or families.

Review: Orchard Toys What a Performance Game

What a Performance is great to get the whole family laughing and playing together. Race your way around the performance board to be the first player or team to reach the finish. Along the way you’ll have to act out a scene, make lots of fun noises, do funny actions and activities along the way. Can you pretend to be a monkey, make a noise like a firework or wiggle your ears? If you can’t, use the magic decoder and reveal your hidden forfeit on the back of the cards!

There are over 300 fun challenges to perform, so there’s never a dull moment.

Review: Orchard Toys What a Performance Game

The box contains a jigsaw game board, 100 activity cards, a spinner, a sand timer; a card holder, a performance star, four character stands; four playing pieces, a magic decoder, a dice and an instruction leaflet.

The game is fairly simple to set up. You put the jigsaw board together, this comes in four pieces and takes seconds to do. You choose which colour you will be, red, green, yellow or blue and take your playing pieces and put them at the start.

The youngest player starts by rolling the dice and moving along the board accordingly. When you land on a square Say/Act/Do you take a card and read the corresponding instruction. If the instructions has “Guess” written on it, the other players have to set the timer and guess what you’re doing within the time. There are other squares, Spin means you spin the spinner which will choose your challenge. Landing on the ? square means you take a card and using the magic decoder, you follow the hidden instructions on the back of the card.

Review: Orchard Toys What a Performance Game

It’s all very simple and really lots of fun. The game had us doing monkey and dinosaur impressions, sit ups, touching our toes, it had us wiggling our ears and talking in silly voices. It was tremendous fun and just the kind of thing to bring out the silly in anyone.

As with all Orchard Toys games, What a Performance does have some educational benefits. It promotes imaginative play, encourages personal and social skills and can encourage group play. I think one of the biggest things we noticed with it, was it was really great for getting him to think about how to follow the instructions. This gave him more confidence to stand up and be silly, which is an essential life skill, or it is in my book.

What a Performance is a properly fun game. It’s just the thing for building a bit of confidence whilst having a whole lot of fun!

What a Performance is suitable for ages 5 to adult and for 2 or more players. It costs £16.50 and is widely available.

Review: Orchard Toys What a Performance Game

Disclosure: We were sent the What a Performance game for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Learning: The Very Hungry Caterpillar Alphabet Game

The Very Hungry Caterpillar has always been a firm favourite of ours. It’s the classic story of a hungry caterpillar who munches its way through all kinds of healthy and unhealthy foods. He then gets a tummy ache and eventually turns into a beautiful butterfly. With it being such a favourite, it is the perfect base for a bit of educational play. I put together a little game to help to really cement the alphabet into the heads of little ones, so here’s my The Very Hungry Caterpillar Alphabet Game.

Learning: The Very Hungry Caterpillar Alphabet Game

The alphabet game is really simple to play. Just print out the two sheets which you can download for free here. If you can, print the game onto card, it’ll last longer that way.  Once it’s printed out, take the card with the letters on and cut them all out. There’s a little card with instructions on there too if you need them.

You can either work with your little one to put them in the right order on the board, or you could put some of the letter cards in the right places and get them to fill in the gaps. It’s a really good way of helping to get the alphabet fixed in their heads.

Learning: The Very Hungry Caterpillar Alphabet Game

It’s ideal for younger children, but my 7 year old couldn’t resist having a play with the alphabet game too. It was a good confidence builder for him. He knew what he was doing and where the cards needed to be. Like many children, he sometimes just needs to do something fairly basic every so often to build confidence in his own ability.

It wasn’t part of my original plan for the game, but once he’d completed the board he moved on to spelling out words with the letters. This can only really be encouraged, it’s all good learning and reinforcement of what he knows already.

Not only was he practicing his alphabet, he was also exercising his hand eye coordination and his fine motor skills. We also had a good chat about The Very Hungry Caterpillar and talked about how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, it’s all good learning and pretty fun too!

Download The Very Hungry Caterpillar Alphabet Game for free here.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like my Squash and a Squeeze Story Book Bag.

Learning: The Very Hungry Caterpillar Alphabet Game

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Learn about Recycling for Earth Day PLUS Free Worksheets

Earth Day is on 22nd April and it’s a great opportunity to talk to our children about how we can care for our planet. As much as we’d all like to banish climate change, pollution and single use plastics with the wave of a magic wand; it’s not something we can change overnight. What we can do is make efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle and make better choices when it comes to buying single use plastics; as well as reducing our energy usage where possible. There are lots of things we can do to reduce our personal footprint on the earth; recycling is an important part of that.

Learn about Recycling for Earth Day PLUS Free Worksheets

This month, the boy has been working towards his Global Issues badge at Beavers. This involved keeping a recycling diary and taking steps around the home to reduce our waste and energy usage. I put together some worksheets on recycling for him to complete and take to Beavers to show what he’s been up to at home.

Learn about Recycling for Earth Day PLUS Free WorksheetsLearn about Recycling for Earth Day PLUS Free Worksheets

Download these worksheets for free here

The worksheets include some colouring in; a game where you put the right recycling in the right bin; a recycling diary and some questions about why and how we recycle. It’s just the thing for his Global Issues badge; but it’s also great to do at home if you’re talking about Earth Day, recycling or global issues.

I think it’s useful for adults and well as children to look again at what we throw away and see if we could do better. Or reduce what we use, recycle more or just do better when it comes to rubbish. I am trying to buy fewer things wrapped in layers and layers of plastic. I’ve virtually stopped drinking take away coffee and I refuse plastic straws. Making small changes can have a big impact. What changes are you making this year?

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) have online resources and information about recycling for kids which you can find here.

 

Learn about Recycling for Earth Day PLUS Free Worksheets

If you enjoyed this, you might also like this easy Earth Day craft.

Children’s Books: Five Roarsome Books about Dinosaurs!

I write about our love of dinosaurs quite a lot on this blog. We have toys, games, dino figurines, DVDs and stacks and stacks of books about dinosaurs. We have a good selection of non-fiction books about dinosaurs, but we also have a couple of fiction books about them too, like Dinosaurs love Underpants. For this round-up we’ve chosen five of our favourite non-fiction books about dinosaurs; because if there’s one thing we love, it’s a big book of dinosaur facts!

Children's Books: Five Roarsome Books about Dinosaurs!

Five Roarsome Books about Dinosaurs!

Lift-the-flap Questions and Answers about Dinosaurs by Katie Daynes has been one of our favourite dino books for a year or so now. It’s beautifully illustrated and wonderfully engaging. This interactive flap book will answer all kinds of questions. It’s great for young readers, my son sits for hours reading and lifting the flaps. It’s a real favourite!

Dinosaur Number Crunch! by Kevin Pettman is a snappily written, fact-packed overview of the world of dinosaurs. It’s jam-packed full of colourful, well-illustrated facts. It contains all the essential info that dinosaur fans need to know; such as where they lived, what they ate, how big they were, how fast they could run, how many teeth they had and their key weapons. You can read our full review of this book here, but it’s one of our favourites!

National Geographic Kids: Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs by Catherine D. Hughes is for children aged 4- to 8-years-old who LOVE dinos! This fact packed book brings the prehistoric world to life with dinosaurs small, big, giant, and gigantic. The book is easy to read and contains lots of age appropriate information, better still, there’s an interactive element, so if you want to find out more, you can do!

The Complete Book of Dinosaurs by Dougal Dixon is the ultimate guide to 355 dinosaurs from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods. It includes more than 900 illustrations, maps, timelines and photographs. It is the ultimate dinosaur guide for children who want to take their knowledge to the next level.

Usborne Pop-Up Dinosaurs by Fiona Watt is perfect for littler ones. This adorably illustrated book is ideal for mini dino fans. The book features all kinds of dinosaurs which pop up and move. Learn a little more about each dinosaur, from the long-necked Brachiosaurus, the triceratops with sharp horns, and the most famous dinosaur of them all, Tyrannosaurus Rex! It’s simply written and a delightful book to share with small children.

We are always looking for new books about dinosaurs to read at home. Have we missed any that we absolutely must get? Please let us know in the comments.

Children's Books: Five Roarsome Books about Dinosaurs!

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STEM Learning: Growing Egg and Cress Heads

Tasked with coming up with some interesting crafts and things to do with three children during the half term, I thought we’d start our week by making some egg and cress heads. I thought it would be interesting to watch them grow over the week. They’re easy to put together and all three had great fun making them and watching them grow over the week.

This activity is perfect for my 7 year old who is in Year 2. Cress grows incredibly quickly, and almost before your eyes. This fast growing crop was really exciting for the children to watch growing. Each day they found a new thing to be excited about. The best day was when they got to try eating the peppery cress, it’s a rare sight watching three children delightedly eating their greens!

STEM Learning: Growing Egg and Cress Heads

Growing egg and cress heads is a great opportunity for children to talk about their observations about how the seed grows into a plant and guessing what will happen next. It can also help to promote scientific thinking and helps with linking science to real life experiences.

Growing Egg and Cress Heads

You will need:
A hard boiled egg each
Cotton wool
Cress seeds
Felt tips to decorate your egg

STEM Learning: Growing Egg and Cress Heads

How to make your egg and cress heads:
Hard boil your eggs and get a grown up to carefully take the top off and scoop out the egg inside.

Gently decorate your egg however you want. We drew pictures of cats and dogs on ours, but you could do almost anything.

Fluff up some cotton wool and put it inside the egg. Then pour some water over the cotton wool. Sprinkle some cress seeds on the top of the cotton wool and put on a windowsill in an egg cup.

Check the progress of your seeds every day, sprinkle more water on the seeds every so often. Within a week all of your seeds should have sprouted and your egg head should have a thick crop of cress hair!

STEM Learning: Growing Egg and Cress Heads

If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy this Jelly Bean STEM Architecture

STEM Learning: Growing Egg and Cress Heads

Review: Orchard Toys Magic Maths Game

My son is six now and does seem to enjoy doing maths at school and at home. I’m keen to encourage this, especially as I was always terrible at maths myself. I’m a great believer in making learning fun, so when we were sent the Orchard Toys Magic Maths Game I thought he would like it, and I was right!

Review: Orchard Toys Magic Maths Game

The Orchard Toys Magic Maths Game is for ages 5-7 and helps to teach and reinforce addition, subtraction and multiplication. Designed for 2-4 players this is a game my son really, really loves and makes us play every night after dinner.

The game play is really easy to get your head around. Each player chooses one of the four wizard boards, you spread the magic sum cards face down and star up on the table. You also have a selection of spell ingredient cards, deal each player six of these cards, these have a number on one side and a gruesome spell ingredient on the other.

Review: Orchard Toys Magic Maths Game

To play you turn over a magic sum card and do the sum on the card eg 5+2= if you have the number 7 on any of your spell ingredient cards, shout abracadabra and put your gruesome spell ingredient onto your wizard board. If you need to check your answer is correct, rub the star on the back of the magic sum card and this will magically reveal the answer.

Review: Orchard Toys Magic Maths Game

If there’s no match or you answer the sum incorrectly then the other players have a chance to win that card if they get the sum right and have a spell ingredient card to match. The winner is the first layer to fill their wizard board with all six spell ingredients. It’s actually much easier than it sounds.

The horrible spell ingredients include worm-infested cupcakes, brains and bogies. For my son the eye of newt and wing of bat element is something he particularly enjoys.

The game has been designed specifically for KS1 maths in collaboration with teachers and educational professionals. It incorporates a broad range of sums including addition, subtraction and multiplication to offer a challenging game.

The Orchard Toys Magic Maths Game helps to develop the following areas of learning –

  • Develops Number and Counting Skills
  • Supports first multiplication, addition and subtraction
  • Encourages Observational Skills
  • Develops Personal and Social Skills

Review: Orchard Toys Magic Maths Game

I know from playing the game with my son that he is very engaged with it, he enjoys creating the spells and the challenge of doing the maths to get enough of the cards to win the game. For my money, this is probably one of the best Orchard Toys games we’ve had and is perfectly pitched for my 6 year old.

If you do get this game, can I offer a small tip. The magic sum cards are in sets for addition, subtraction and multiplication. I know my son is pretty confident with addition and subtraction; so for a while we just played with these cards to bolster his confidence. Over time we have introduced the harder sums, the multiplication cards etc and he has found those easier to do and has approached them with greater confidence.

I didn’t think it was possible, but this game really makes maths fun for us all!

The Orchard Toys Magic Maths Game is available from a wide range of retailers and costs around £12. For more information, visit the Orchard Toys website.

Review: Orchard Toys Magic Maths Game

Note: We were sent the Orchard Toys Magic Maths Game for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Review: Spiders and Spouts Mini Game from Orchard Toys

When we go out for a meal, a day trip or a break away from home I always pack a bag of activities to keep my son entertained. When we go out we try to encourage him to work through an activity book or play a small game. We think it’s better for him and a more inclusive activity than just giving him our phones to play with. 

We were sent the new Spiders and Spouts Mini Game from Orchard Toys to try out. These travel sized games tick all the boxes when it comes to packing our activities travel bag.

Review: Spiders and Spouts Mini Game from Orchard Toys

Spiders and Spouts is an update on the traditional snakes and ladders game, featuring characters from the Insey Winsey Spider nursery rhyme. Climb up the spouts to reach the finish line, but beware the rain clouds which will wash you back down again! The Spiders and Spouts travel game is suitable for children aged 4-7 and for 2-4 players.

Review: Spiders and Spouts Mini Game from Orchard Toys

The Orchard Toys Spiders and Spouts mini game is a cleverly designed 6 piece jigsaw puzzle which you piece together to form your classic board game. The box also contains four counters (for up to four players) and a dice.

Even though it’s only 6 pieces, my son was keen to help out and put the board together. The design on the board is lively with lots going on. The illustrations are really cheery and the Insey Winsey Spider theme was fun. Although it’s printed thick board, this game still has the practicality of being able to break the board up and fit it into a small box. 

Review: Spiders and Spouts Mini Game from Orchard Toys

Like the Orchard Toys games, the Sprouts & Spiders Mini Game has some educational and developmental benefits including –

  • Developing Personal and Social Skills
  • Encouraging Number and Counting Skills
  • Encourages Observational Skills

The Orchard Toys mini games cost around £4.99 and I think they are excellent value for money. They are light and compact, so I can just stick them in my bag and take them out with us. They’re brilliant for days out and holidays and are a fantastic travel game for children and families.

Review: Spiders and Spouts Mini Game from Orchard Toys

Note: Orchard Toys sent us the Spiders and Spouts Mini Game for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Win a Double Flip Fun & Games Mat worth £28

One of the best way children learn is through messy play. Messy play is also lots of fun, which is why kids enjoy it so much and are keen to engage with messy learning. Regrettably and inevitably this means that sometimes you can discover crayon and felt tip graffiti on the walls and carpets. No matter how carefully you think you’ve supervised them.

We love the Fun & Games Mat from Double Flip which is a great way to encourage a bit of creative play without having to worry too much about your walls. It’s perfect for taking out and about to the park for a picnic, or for having some rainy day fun at home. It’s been featured in the Guardian Christmas Gift list and the Saturday Telegraph Magazine. The mat has been designed, printed and hand made in Britain.  The Fun & Games Mat makes a great gift – and is practical, educational and above all fun. Double Flip Fun & Games MatSuitable for children aged 3 to 10 years, the Double Flip Fun & Games Mat is reversible and printed with fun activities on both sides. The mat encourages creativity, numeracy and literacy and is ideal for entertaining up to five children at once!

The pack includes a large reversible mat (120 x 100cm), ten double washable felt tip pens, a box of 5 dice, 6 counters and a fabric carry bag.

Kids will have hours of fun playing and drawing on this mat with the washable felt tip pens.  When they’ve finished, pop the mat in the washing machine on a cold wash, hang out to dry and play again!

Double Flip Fun & Games Mat

The Double Flip Fun & Games Mat includes a range of activities such as creative drawing, dot-to-dot, noughts and crosses, colour by numbers, letter writing practice, snakes and ladders and other dice games for older children. They won’t even realise they are learning while they play!

The Double Flip Fun & Games mat is available to buy online from the Double Flip website for £28. If you sign up to the Double Flip newsletter (at the bottom of their homepage) you can get 10% off your order!

WIN A Double Flip Fun & Games Mat worth £28

To be in with a chance to win a Double Flip Fun & Games Mat worth £28, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
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3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5.The winner will receive a Double Flip Fun & Games Mat worth £28.
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Review: Orchard Toys What’s the Time Mr Wolf?

This month the small boy started Year 1 and his learning has definitely stepped up a level. One thing his class are starting to look at is learning to tell the time. We’ve been talking about the time all year and trying to figure out what the time is on our kitchen clock, but Orchard Toys have just brought out a new game – What’s the Time Mr Wolf? to help 5-9 year olds learn to tell the time. We were sent one to put to the test, so what did the small boy think?

Orchard Toys What's the Time Mr Wolf?

What’s the Time Mr Wolf? is based on the popular playground game and is for 2 – 6 players, aged 5 to 9. It contains a jigsaw game board, character pieces and stands, time cards (with analogue and digital times on them), a slot together wolf and a large clock face with movable hands.

The game has been designed to help children to learn to tell the time and it is also fun and easy to play. Like many of the Orchard Toys games, it can be played at different levels. First play and learn to tell the time on a clock, once that skill has been mastered you can move onto learning to tell the time on a digital clock.

Orchard Toys What's the Time Mr Wolf?

When you open the box and get the game out, there are a lot of different elements, so it might look more complex than it is. The first version of the game (which is what we are playing, as the small boy is only 5) is pretty simple.

Choose a character counter (I was badger, he was hedgehog), go to the start and roll the dice. Move however many squares and if you land on a question mark you pick up a card from the stack of time cards. Then you read out the time, for example “ten minutes past ten” and without looking at the clock face on the back you move the hands on the big clock to that time. If they match then you can add your card to your collection board (with the matching character on it). The first one to fill their board wins.

If you don’t get the time right, then you have to return the card to the pile and the next player has a go. If you land on the wolf you shout “dinner time” and you must take a card from your collection board and feed it to the wolf. The small boy especially liked the shouting part, but I guess shouting is optional.

What's the Time Mr Wolf?

We played after school and the small boy couldn’t wait for his dad to come home from work to play it with him too. It’s great that the What’s the Time Mr Wolf? game is so enjoyable for him, it really helps with his learning. He’s got the game out most days after school which is really encouraging for me. I do have to watch him, I’m not saying he cheats, but I am saying that cheats never prosper!

I can’t really comment on the other version of the game for older players, as we’re not there yet and we’ve not played it, but it does help to teach older kids how to tell the time on a digital clock.

The What’s the Time Mr Wolf? game from Orchard Toys is made with sturdy recycled board and has a wipe-clean finish. All Orchard Toys games and puzzles are really robust and we’ve still got some which are four years old and have been played to death.

What’s the Time Mr Wolf? is another cracking educational game from Orchard Toys. If you can make learning fun, then it doesn’t feel like learning at all.

To find out more about the What’s the Time Mr Wolf? game, visit the Orchard Toys website.

We were sent the Orchard Toys What’s the Time Mr Wolf? game fore review purposes. All Images and opinions are our own. 

Travel Toys: Jungle Snakes & Ladders Mini Game from Orchard Toys

One of the latest releases from Orchard Toys is their new range of Mini Games. The games are mini because they are small and very portable, making them ideal for travel or to slip into your bag for days out.

There are six new mini games to choose from –

  • Build a Beetle
  • Dinosaur Dominoes
  • Little Bus Lotto
  • Penguin Pairs
  • Jungle Snakes & Ladders
  • Crocodile Snap

The games vary, but generally they are for children aged 3+ and are based on classic games. We were sent the Jungle Snakes & Ladders game to play with, so I slipped it in my bag and took the boy out for a milkshake and a game or two.

mini games

The Orchard Toys Jungle Snakes & Ladders mini game rather cleverly is a 6 piece jigsaw puzzle which you put together and it forms your classic board game. The box also contains four counters (for up to four players) and a dice.

First of all the boy really enjoyed putting the puzzle pieces together. The board is lively with lots going on and he enjoyed following the numbers to ensure he was putting the pieces together correctly. He liked the monkeys and he’s re-christened the game “Monkeys, Snakes & Ladders” which seems factually accurate if nothing else.

The board is colourfully printed thick card, the usual thickness of Orchard Toys games, but with the practicality of being able to “break it up” and fit it into a small box. The game is really colourful and well illustrated in a way which wouldn’t put off older children or adults so much.

Like the Orchard Toys games, the Jungle Snakes & Ladders mini game has some very helpful educational benefits including –

  • Developing Personal and Social Skills
  • Encouraging Number and Counting Skills

And that has certainly been evident every time we’ve played the game. As well as reinforcing turn-taking in game play, we also have used it to practice counting and learn to deal with the disappointment of sliding down a snake. He may have also practiced his cheating and I practiced calling him out on that. Cheaters never prosper!

These mini games cost around £4.99 and are excellent value for money. They are light and compact, so I can just stick it in my bag and take it out with us. They’re brilliant for days out and holidays and are a fantastic travel game for children and families.

Note: Orchard Toys sent us this game for review purposes, all images and opinions are our own.