Category Archives: Books

Learning Through Play With Orchard Toys

Orchard Toys games have always been a permanent fixture in our house since Oscar was 2 years old. Our games draw in the playroom is full of them, some are almost 6 or 7 years old that I saved from Oscar for Archie to now play with. When Archie gets a party invitation 9 times out of 10 the present we give is always a Orchard Toys game as they are educational and super fun to play at the same time, which is definitely a win win from a parents point of view!

A few weeks ago we were kindly asked to review some of their new games which I knew the boys would love and get hours and hours of play out of. We love to play games as a family and every Sunday when they see their grandparents we try to always take over a game to all sit and play together.

My most favourite thing about the games and puzzles are that they really promote learning through play. Archie is almost 5 and is really enjoying learning is letters and numbers at the moment and being the little Brother is eager to catch up to Oscar. Oscar is 9 and even though most of the games are for a slightly younger age group he has enjoyed playing them with Archie and you can see a great sense of pride when he helps Archie to learn new things.

Archie loves doing jigsaw puzzles and we were kindly gifted two from their range; Number Street and the Giant Road. Number Street has lovely chunky pieces which are perfect for little hands and is aimed at ages 2-5. You have to piece together the number line, recognising the numbers and then counting the correct number of animals to play above the number. This is great for number recognition as well as counting objects aloud. Obviously for 2 year old’s its great for recognising and naming colours and animals too. Now Archie is 5 and secure with 1-10 we tried maths, for example how many more butterflies are there than the giraffes. We had so much fun with this puzzle!

The Giant Road was a big hit as Archie is car crazy. He loves playing with cars and makes huge traffic jam lines. The Giant Road is a huge interchangeable floor puzzle where you can create lots of different road maps to drive your toy cars on. You can also purchase expansion packs to make your road as big as you would like it. I have actually purchased this to go in Archie’s stocking for Christmas. There are other similar jigsaws available like the Giant Town and the Giant Railway.

Archie’s favourite of the bits we were gifted has been Little Bus Lotto. He has played this literally everyday since it arrived. Its for up to 4 players so we have each had a bus and he has loved it. Its a game of memory and matching and over the last week he has become so good at it. It is easy for him to understand which is great and something the boys who have a 5 year age gap can play together and both get really involved. It is amazing how competitive they get!

Llamas in Pyjamas is a matching game from the mini games range. Each player starts with a pyjama bottom card. The aim of the game is to be the player with the most matching Llamas In Pyjamas. It can be quite a fast game when the players get competitive and the boys got really excited playing. The Mini Games range is fantastic, we have a few now and the boxes are small enough to put in your bag when travelling or to take to a friend’s house to play. At only £5 each they make great birthday party gifts and are the perfect price point for Christmas stocking fillers.

Giraffes In Scarves is a great game to boost colour matching skills and counting too. This was probably the first game for Archie using a dice, which admittedly took a couple of attempts for him to not turn it onto the colour he wanted, haha! Once he got it the actual game is really simple, you have to roll the dice, pick a card and build your giraffes neck taller and taller. The winner who is whoever collects the most scarves. This is for ages 4-7 so is perfect for Archie and his learning age. It is great to take around to his grandparents to play is for 2-6 players.

The Knights and Dragons game is again a game of collecting cards and matching them. There are 40 cards; 20 Knight tops and 20 bottoms and you need to match and collect as many as you can. Archie thoroughly enjoyed this game and loved the brightly coloured pieces. You have to watch out for the Dragon in the pack of cards and he found it very funny when someone else got them. These games are only £8 and are so well made, they are really chunky pieces that don’t bend or break easily. Once again the price point is perfect for a birthday or Christmas gift. The games really do last for years.

There is a great first games selection for children of 18 months and over. At this age children are super inquisitive and are learning all the time from everything around them. They also reach lots of different milestones between 18 months and 3 years and absorb so much information. This range from Orchard Toys is great way to introduce gameplay, turn-taking and other early learning skills with chunky, wipe-clean pieces which are ideal for little hands. We were sent Mummy and Baby and Farmyard Heads and Tails which are both 2 piece games. Mummy and Baby is a two piece puzzle, with 6 different puzzles in the box. They are all different animals and the perfect set of first puzzles. The two pieces slot together easily and are great for hand-eye coordination. Farmyard Heads and Tails is a matching activity games, matching the different halves of animals, a tractor and the farmer. There are 12 pairs to match and you can also use cards to play a game of pairs. As Archie is older he preferred to play this version of the game.

A brand new game from Orchard Toys is Rainbow Unicorns. This is for age 3-5 and for 2-4 players. It is one game but with two ways to play, so there is hours of fun! It is a fun and colourful matching game where players must gallop over the rainbow, match the Unicorn heads and tails along the way to reach the pot of gold at the end. Each player has a coloured Unicorn player piece and if you come across a sad cloud card the play passes to the next person. You can also go on the Orchard Toys where they have lots of free downloadable activities from crafts to recipes. To match this game you can download a Unicorn colouring sheet.

Talking of fun activities, their colouring and activity books are fantastic. Archie loves to sit down and colour and draw and these books have also been a must for us when travelling, they provide hours of entertainment on a plane. We have the Jungle sticker colouring book and the More Things To Do sticker activity book. The More Things To Do sticker activity book is full of colouring, puzzles, odd ones out, wordsearches, dot to dot’s, crosswords and much more. The books are £3 each.

Match and Spell is a great game for Archie at the moment as he is learning to read and is always sounding out his letters to blend them together to make the correct word. Match and Spell is a spelling and reading game. It helps Archie to recognise his letters and Orchard Toys also have the next level games available to really help along the reading learning journey. I really liked this game and without had so much fun without Archie even realising he was learning along the way. You can play the game in two different ways; you can either match the letter cards to the letters shown on their board in the correct order to build a word or in the more challenging version of the game, players can use the blank side of their boards and use the letter cards to build the word of the picture shown which really helps with spellings.

Last but not least and the biggest game of all with 300 hilarious challenges is What A Performance! The aim of the game is to be the first person or team around the board to win. Along the way there are tasks like making animal sounds, different actions and fun activities. Oscar and Archie loved the magic decoder which gives out hidden forfeits too. This is great for a family fun game for all ages so everyone can get involved. We will definitely be playing this on Christmas Day with the whole family!

Orchard Toys really do make amazing educational games that are full of fun! The Educational games, jigsaws and colouring books make the perfect Christmas gifts for children! I have brought a few mini games as stocking fillers and some of the games from their French range as Oscar and Archie both learn French in school.

 

*Disclaimer: We were gifted the above mentioned games and activities by Orchard Toys. All opinions are honest and my own and we love the brand and have used them ourselves for many years.

 

AD. The Tiger Who Came To Tea Live On Stage

The Tiger Who Came To Tea

Last week we were kindly invited to the Radlett Centre to watch ‘The Tiger Who Came To Tea‘ Live On stage. Archie absolutely loves the story written by Judith Kerr in 1968 and we often read it to him at bedtime, so he was very excited!

The Tiger Who Came To Tea show is perfect for younger children as it runs for only 55 minutes and Archie was captivated throughout. The show was a smash hit in the West End and is now touring the rest of the UK for everyone to enjoy. Click HERE for all of the tour dates and locations and to book your tickets online. The prices of the tickets vary depending on which theatre you are booking at.

When we arrived at the Radlett Centre we grabbed a drink and some popcorn and then looked at the lovely official Tiger Who Came To Tea merchandise. Archie chose a lovely cuddly Tiger which he takes everywhere with him now. He took it into nursery for show and tell and told all of his friends and his teacher all about the show.

The Tiger Who Came To Tea is a lovely story of a little girl called Sophie who lives with her Mother and Father and whilst her Father is out at work there is a series of knocks on the front door. Firstly its Daddy who has forgotten his keys, then a parcel is delivered from her Uncle which is a lovely cuddly Tiger and then the Milkman delivers the milk. Finally Sophie and her Mother sit down to enjoy their afternoon tea when the doorbell rings… Who could it possibly be?

Sophie answers the door to nobody there and then suddenly there is a big furry, stripy Tiger standing at the front door. The Tiger comes inside and joins them for tea. He ate all the buns, all of the sandwiches, all of the cakes, drinks all of the juice and all of Daddy’s beer! He then drinks all of the water out of the tap, all of the food in the fridge, Daddy’s dinner which was cooking on the hob and all of the food in the pantry. There was no food or drink left in the house at all!

Finally the Tiger said goodbye and went on his way, only for Daddy to return from work to no dinner or anything to eat or drink in the house. So Sophie her Mother and Father went out for dinner at a cafe for a lovely treat of Sausages and Chips. Yum!

Archie was fascinated at the magic used in the show too when the Tiger made all of the food and drink disappear. It was very clever! There was also a song at the end about Sausages and Chips that all the children joined in with and sung and danced along and had lots of fun!

We had such a lovely afternoon watching the show and I would highly recommend going to see it as it is a lovely story, acted wonderfully and all of the children (and adults) had a wonderful time and loved joining in throughout the performance. Children’s theatre really brings our little ones favourite story books to life, its fantastic!

You can see the official trailer for the show here and see for yourself just how fantastic it is.

 

Disclaimer: We were kindly gifted the tickets to watch The Tiger Who Came To Tea. Official Production photos taken by Robert Day.

Tidley Squeak Children’s Book Review

I was really excited when a Dad from Oscar’s school told me he had written a children’s book called ‘Tidley Squeak‘ and asked me to read it with Oscar and Archie to see what we thought. When he came over to give me a copy I was really blown away by his passion for his book and just how amazing it is. Nick Marshall is a Dad to two wonderful boys, who he has dedicated his book too. They must be so proud.

All the best children’s books we have read over the last eight years in my opinion have been the rhyming ones. With many of them becoming firm favourites and even still now I could recite them off by heart. When I opened ‘Tidley Squeak’ and started to read it to the boys I absolutely loved how it rhymed! The thought Nick has put in to the book to make it flow and rhyme perfectly is unbelievable!

The book itself is split in to eight chapters, which is perfect for a bedtime story for children of all ages. For Archie who is three we read him a chapter each night in bed, where as Oscar who is eight will read it to himself and stop after a few chapters and know where to start again the next evening.

Throughout the book Tidley Squeak has many adventures. It starts with his Mum and Dad telling him to go off and play but be home for tea at the end of the day….

Tidley Squeak in his little tweed cap 

Had tidied his room like a good little chap

So his Mum and his Dad said, ‘Go off and play but be home for tea at the end of the day.’

From coming across Casper The Cat, to Emily Ewe, Sir Basher The Bull, Ruby Rabbit, Mr Burrows The Mole, Freddie The Pheasant and The Eagle, Tidley Squeak certainly has a jam-packed adventure filled day before making it home to Mum and Dad in time for tea.

It’s a truly fantastic book that we all love and the illustrations are great too and really compliment the story and gets your imagination going. Oscar was so lucky that Nick Marshall even came into school and read it his class who all thought it was brilliant.

I think it is one of those books that you will keep for years and read over and over again. Hopefully there will be a sequel so we can see what other exciting adventures Tidley Squeak has. You can purchase your copy here. This is a book not to be missed!

My Lego Batman Movie Favourite Merchandise

After going to the Lego Batman Movie premiere a couple of weeks ago and only one more sleep until it is released in the cinemas here in the U.K. (eek! and yes we will be going to see it again) I thought I would share with you some of My Lego Batman Movie Favourite Merchandise to go with the film.


Obviously there are the Lego sets and Oscar has been so lucky and has been given the Joker Balloon Escape set (70900) and The Batmobile (70905) which he is in the middle of building but the rest of the sets available have ended up on his birthday list as it’s less than 2 weeks away! Our review will go live over the next few days…

The sets themselves are amazing and we are also collecting the Lego Batman mini figures which are only £2.99 and literally every evening after school he sits building and playing with them. I also brought a huge blue Lego storage brick from John Lewis which is just fantastic. It is massive and can hold his Lego and keep his models safe too away from Archie trying to get at them. We have also brought him the Batcave Break In Set (70909) for his birthday but sssh don’t tell him!

The Lego Batman Movie Minifigure clock by Clic Time are great and Oscar has the Batman edition and it also comes in Robin, Batgirl, The Joker and Harley Quinn. Oscar keeps his near his bed and we have set the daily alarm for 7am but you can activate the snooze function by pushing down on the figures head. It also has a backlight function so Oscar can check the time in the dark. Also in the collection are matching watches which would make great gift and at the moment if you buy a lego clock and watch bundle you can save up to 20%!

LEGO Batman Movie Robin Minifigure ClockLEGO Batman Movie Batgirl Minifigure ClockLEGO Batman Movie The Joker Minifigure ClockLEGO Batman Movie Harley Quinn Minifigure Clock

        LEGO Batman Movie Batman Minifigure Link Watch LEGO Batman Movie Batgirl Minifigure Link WatchLEGO Batman Movie Robin Minifigure Link WatchLEGO Batman Movie The Joker Minifigure Link Watch

The party range from Amscan UK is going to be very popular this year. Once your kids watch the film they will be Lego Batman obsessed like Oscar and will want a matching themed party. With foil balloons, birthday cards and invitations, table cloths, plates, cups, napkins and much more they have everything to throw the perfect Lego Batman party.

LEGO Batman Cubez Foil Balloons G40 - 5 PC   LEGO Batman Movie Paper Plates 18cm - 6 PKG/8LEGO Batman Movie Luncheon Napkins 33cm - 6 PKG/16LEGO Batman Movie Paper Treat/Ice Cream Cups 251ml - 6 PKG/8

Now Oscar is almost 7 he is really into his books and his reading has come on so much in the last year. When we went to the premiere he was given ‘Batman’s Guide To Being Cool‘ by Scholastic which he has really enjoyed reading and is a fun manual to discover your inner cool. It is a fun and light hearted read with lots of nice pictures. I have brought an extra copy for his friend who’s birthday party is next week. We were also given the ‘Lego Batman Movie Ultimate Movie Guide’ by DK Books where inside you can find all the pictures and information on the respective Lego sets and mini figures and everything you need to know about the movie and all of the characters.


I also brought Oscar the Lego Batman torch and matching key ring which he has attached to his school bag and a t-shirt from Next which he wore to watch the movie.

We loved the movie and we love the lego sets and everything that Lego Batman related! The movie is a must see so don’t miss it. You can read my full movie review HERE.

The New Teletubbies Magazine Review

Two of Archie’s favourite things are reading books with Oscar and the Teletubbies that he watches religiously every morning before breakfast. So when we were asked to review the new Teletubbies magazine it was perfect for Archie.

When I gave it to Archie he immediately said ‘Eh-Oh’ and ‘Happy happy happy’ which is his new favourite saying! We sat at his little table and went through the magazine. It is full with fun and educational activities to keep your little toddler entertained for hours and with help your little one develop the early years skills they need. The magazine also came with a free Laa-Laa bedtime set which Archie put with his other Teletubbie toys. Archie is quite particular with his toys, just like Oscar was and when the Teletubbies come on the TV he always gets out all his toys around him.

Here is a short video to show you what Archie thought.

The magazine is jam packed full of activities from dot to dot, counting and a counting chart, colouring, stories, stickers, a dancing game and so much more. What I thought was a great touch is that the stickers are huge which are perfect for Archie’s small podgy little fingers and they didn’t just rip when he pulled them off the page which was great. Ripped stickers can lead to the nightmare of all meltdowns with a 21 month old!

Overall I am really impressed with the Teletubbies magazine and at only £2.99 for so many activities and a toy I think it is great value and will continue buying it for Archie as he has really enjoyed the first issue. 10 out of 10 from us!

Disclaimer: We were sent the Teletubbies magazine for the purpose of this review, but all opinions are honest and my own (and Archie’s).