Reviews - Orchard Toys

We have reviewed a selection of games from Orchard Toys which have been sent to us. These will help you and your child to have fun - family games are great to enjoy and bring all ages together.  "Orchard Toys started out around a kitchen table making blocks and stencils for a local nursery school. Now, over 40 years later, we ship to over 50 different countries around the world and are recognised as a leading manufacturer of educational games and puzzles both in the UK and globally." Orchard Toys have a great range of associated activities on their website - these really extend the value of the games.

Giraffes in Scarves from Orchard Toys

Like many of Orchard Toys' games, this is an excellent combination of fun and learning. The objective is to collect as many scarves as you can for your giraffe - and with its long neck, the giraffe can wear lots of scarves, but the tallest doesn't necessarily win! The playing pieces are made of strong card, and they just need pressing out before play starts; the rules are easy to follow and the game is engaging for young children. The illustrations are gorgeous, brightly coloured and great fun, with quirky giraffes to delight children. To play, just roll the colour marked dice, then pick a card and build your giraffe. Many early learning skills come into play - colours, counting, memory, observation as well as strategy and turn taking. The game is designed for ages 4-7, and for 4 to 6 players. Buy from Orchard Toys.



World Map from Orchard Toys

This challenging 150-piece geography puzzle is suitable for ages 5 to 10. It's a brilliant way to help children learn about world geography. So often, children are familiar with the names of countries, but have little idea where they are in relation to others - or of the distances involved. Made to the high spec we have come to associate with Orchard Toys, this colourful map, which includes lots of small pictures, is on strong durable card and the pieces fit together well. It clearly displays the continents, which are colour-coded, and countries as well as showing local inhabitants, creatures and landmarks. There's a lovely giant poster included too, which is a real asset and perfect for displaying in a child's bedroom; it includes a keychart showing the icons that appear on the map. Both the map and the poster offer almost endless possibilities for discussion and extending learning. Where do your friends come from? Which countries did the animals we saw at the zoo come from? Why is it dark in Australia when it's daytime here? What language do they speak in this country? Jigsaws offer many more educational benefits too, including developing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, as well as observation and confidence; a big jigsaw like this is great to share too. It's a jigsaw that will be used for many years, with parental help initially and then children will enjoy the satisfaction of doing it on their own and learning about the world at the same time. Why not make sure there's an atlas on hand too? Buy from Orchard Toys.


Pass the Word from Orchard Toys

This well-paced spelling game is ideal for children aged 5 to 9 and it's a fun way to reinforce those spelling skills as well as word recognition - children will hardly realise they are learning! There are 17 word cards and 67 letter cards. Place these face down on the table and then players take it in turns to build words by turning over a word card and finding the letter cards to spell out the word. The action is kept going as players race against the sand timer to spell out their words... when the time runs out, the letters have to be passed on to the next player. The winner is the player who has managed to complete the most words when the pile is used up. There are many different ways in which the game can be used to enhance literacy skills, and for younger players it can be played without the timer - or give them two goes! It can either be played as a game for two to four players, or simply see how many words you can make with your child. It's good to help with letter recognition - we tried using nonsense words, just like the phonics screening and that was fun! Buy from Orchard Toys.


Jungle Heads and Tails from Orchard Toys

This is lovely for young members of the family, and it's great to see that children from 18 months up can join in games with their older siblings and friends - up to four at a time. This jungle themed matching activity, with 24 chunky cards, is perfect for a first game, with its friendly animals, many of whom little ones will recognise and be able to name. The cards are shiny, durable and wipe clean - essential at this age! The game helps to develop early matching, memory, concentration and observational skills, as well as that key skill of taking turns. It also develops conversation, as young ones are encouraged to talk about the animals. It can be played at two levels - turn the cards over for a more complex game. Don't worry if you lose the instructions - Orchard Toys usefully make them all available on the website. Buy from Orchard Toys


Orchard Toys What a Performance! Game

This is a redesign of this family board game; a game that has proved very popular. The challenge is to perform a variety of noises, actions and activities. The categories are: Who am I? where the player pretends (soundlessly) to be something such as a ballet dancer, aeroplane, cat and so on; Make a noise, perhaps humming or an animal noise; Actions - do what is written. Then everyone else has to guess. With over 300 hilarious challenges there is plenty of variety in the games, meaning they play out differently every time - and for even more variety and suspense, the magic decoder reveals hidden forfeits. This fast-moving game is excellent for having plenty going on all the time to keep players fully engaged. The aim is to be the first to reach the 'Finish' star in the centre of the board... and you get there by making noises, performing actions and making mimes; to add to the excitement, some of the actions have to be performed within a set time, using the sand timer - this is another way in which the child-friendly appeal is enhanced. If you can't perform your action, you have to perform a forfeit. What a Performance! is suitable for ages 5+ and for 2 or more players. It's not a game for the self-conscious, but for that very reason, it's an excellent way to build up confidence in a safe and reassuring family environment. It's great for developing maths and literacy skills too, and it also encourages activity as some actions need to be performed, such as touching toes and hopping. A great family game which is fun for all ages - we really enjoyed it.


Orchard Toys What a Performance contents


Orchard Toys Superhero Lotto Game

This is an excellent game for developing those all-important memory skills - all the family can benefit! Four fun child superheroes with special powers are the stars of this game - perfect to appeal to young children (recommended age 3 - 7). Players need to employ their memory skills to match power tiles - the winner is the first to complete his or her board. Players must talk about the interesting items as the game plays out; this is perfect to develop vocabulary and conversational skills. The double-sided lotto boards include fun superhero fact files on the reverse, as well as blank tiles for a more challenging level of play; this is great as it means children will enjoy the game for several years. A lovely, colourful and fun-filled variation of the classic game, manufactured to all Orchard Toys' high standards. There are plenty of educational benefits, including the development of  observational skills, matching and memory skills, and personal and social skills. There are some activities to enjoy on the Orchard Toys website



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Money Match Cafe from Orchard Toys 

We live in a society which increasingly makes less use of cash, but it's still essential for children to experience handling money - and games are a great way to do this. Money Match Cafe is the perfect educational game for 5-8 year olds, developing skills in addition and money handling...with lots of imaginative play added into the mix. Ideally, to enjoy the game to its best, children will already have some knowledge of money. 

There are two different levels of play, which extends the value of the game, allowing different ages to enjoy it together. The game is played by creating a cafe scene, for which children use their own teddies, dolls and other toys. Then it's time to use their addition skills to add up the coins to match the price of a meal and their roleplay skills to ensure they serve the meal to the right customer. The player who serves all his or her meals first (and correctly, of course) wins! I love the way the game extends to include children's other toys - it really does add so much value to the game. It also encourages collaborative play - I can see plenty of ways to use the game in a class setting. They might find some clothes for themselves in the dressing up box too - even just an apron or head covering will add enjoyment and realism. The box includes 4 3D tables, a spinner, a till board, a tray board to deliver the meals, 16 meal/beverage/snack cards (attractively illustrated) and 32 money cards (16 easy cards, 16 hard cards). Children can be encouraged to use the game alongside their collections of play food to extend the play value and learning opportunities. The combination of pretend play and a fun game is a real winner and the educational benefits are many. Best of all, children really enjoy it! Buy from Orchard Toys.
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 Pop to the Shops from Orchard Toys 

Hands-on learning is so often the best; we can encourage our children to do workbooks about money (and these certainly have their place) but playing games is much more fun and will really instill the principles in a way they will remember - and they will see it as fun. This fun shopping board game will teach children about handling money and giving change as they travel around the board from shop to shop, using pretend money to buy all manner of different items.

The rules are clearly explained and simple to follow, so there's no lengthy setting up or explaining to do; the winner is the first to collect all their six allocated items - but beware! You mustn't overspend. Role play is a key part of this game, as each player takes it in turn to be either shopper or shopkeeper. Players travel around the board, visiting the correct shop to purchase their items. Of course, they will need to greet each other politely, so the game also encourages polite conversation and increases vocabulary. Great experience and confidence-building for real-life shopping. Familiar shops and objects are used, including a market, bakery, newsagent and greengrocer. The game includes a game board; 48 item cards; 4 shopping bag boards; 4 characters with stands; play money; dice and instruction leaflet. It's good to know that the instructions are always available for download from the Orchard Toys website too. This is an excellent game, fun to play with lots of educational value; it's one children will enjoy playing over and over again.  Buy from Orchard  Toys.
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Animal Shapes from Orchard Toys

It can be hard to find stimulating toys for 1 to 2 year old children, but Orchard Toys has done well with this one. This is a simple first colour and shape matching activity which introduces children to a range of colourful animals. It is designed for children aged 18 months and over. It's simple and intuitive - just slot the correctly matched shape into the space to complete the animals; the bright colours and appealing animals will really attract young children. Each of the 12 colourful animals has a press-out shape in the centre to be matched up - these are all different. There are all sorts of ways in which the pieces can be used to develop matching skills, improve hand eye coordination, manual dexterity and encourage discussion - no doubt every parent (and child) will have their own ideas. Examples would include memory games, identifying shapes when turned over, and grouping pieces by colour. The thick chunky cards are durable as well as being easy to grasp for little fingers. Buy from Orchard Toys.




Fairy Snakes & Ladders and Ludo from Orchard Toys

This good value set incorporates two games of lasting popularity whilst giving them a fresh and magical new twist. Simple to set up - just join together the 6 jigsaw-type pieces to make the board and you're ready to go. In Fairy Snakes & Ladders, players must race to the enchanted treehouse - but will they be sent up the rainbows or down the rope ladders? Flip the board over and it's time to gather counters at the fairy ring in the game of Ludo. The games are recommended for ages 5 - 9, but our 4 year old tester played very happily, so I would put the age range a little younger. Who, out of the friendly fairies and unicorns, will be your child's favourite? This fun family board game has plenty educational benefits; it develops counting skills, encourages turn-taking and group play, and promoting observation. Orchard Toys and Games are always really popular in our house - the colourful distinctive boxes make them stand out, and the children know the games are guaranteed to be fun. Parents love them because as well as providing hours of fun, every game inculcates a range of essential skills. A lovely new take on old favourites. Buy from Orchard Toys.


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Orchard Toys Magic Maths

Orchard Toys have a superb selection of games, all of which help children's learning in various ways. Magic Maths is a new game which really focuses on helping children develop maths skills in a fun way, supporting the National Curriculum requirements for KS1. The game has been designed specifically for KS1 maths in collaboration with teachers and educational professionals, so you can be sure it is exactly at the right level. Magic Maths is an exciting and spellbinding maths game for children aged 5-7, based on Orchard Toys' Magic Cauldron game. Players take turns to solve the sums and fill their boards with yucky spell ingredients, from worm-infested cupcakes to brains and bogies - perfect to appeal to young ones! Once players have worked out the answer to the sum, the magic turning over their card and rubbing the heat sensitive patches to reveal if their answer is correct (the number soon becomes obscured again!). Addition, subtraction and multiplication skills are used to offer a challenging game. Featuring competitive gameplay, fun wizard characters and a broad range of simple and challenging sums, this is a really well designed and fun game with excellent educational benefits. The playing pieces are colourful and durable and the game would be great at home or in school. The game is for up to four players - or two could play with two boards each. Even if your child doesn't enjoy maths, I am quite sure they will enjoy Magic Maths. Buy from Orchard Toys, price £12.00 (May 2017).

 Llamas in Pyjamas

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Llamas in Pyjamas from Orchard Toys

I love these mini games from Orchard Toys - they are perfect to take when out and about, for holidays, travelling and visiting, or just to keep in the car for those times when you are waiting around. Llamas in Pyjamas is ideal for children aged 3-6. It is an exciting race against time as players must build as many llamas as possible before the sleeping llama picture is completed. The llama characters are really cute and children will love them. It is basically a matching game, as players have to match the top and bottom halves of the llamas, with bedtime scenes and clock faces to add variety. The winner is the one who has the largest number of complete llamas once the bedtime scene is complete. The colourful cards are well made, on strong card which will last through many games. Playing games is an excellent way to learn key skills, including taking turns and cooperation; this particular game develops memory and matching skills and observation. Buy Llamas in Pyjamas from Orchard Games. Price £4.99 April 2017.

 Little Bug Bingo

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Little Bug Bingo from Orchard toys

This is a colourful mini beast bingo game for ages 3-6. Children of this age will often be learning about mini beasts at school so they will love to show off their new-found knowledge as they name the bugs; the game will also be fun to use in the classroom and all the mini games are such good value that teachers will love them. This fun matching game features a variety of familiar and less familiar bugs and insects for children to identify, from ladybirds to water boatmen. The first player to fill their board with leaves and shout 'Bingo' is the winner. Playing games is excellent for developing social skills, for learning to take turns - and learning to lose! Perfect for travel, at home or on holiday, the mini games are Orchard Toys' smallest games in a compact and portable size. The mini games also make the perfect under £5 pocket money toys, birthday gifts and Christmas stocking fillers. They are excellent value at £4.99 each, so you can build up a good stock of different games, meaning children always have a good selection from which to choose. Buy Little Bug Bingo from Orchard  Toys..


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Orchard Toys Alphabet Flashcards

Like all Orchard toys and games, these flashcards are well made, with sturdy shiny card, rounded edges and bright colourful illustrations. These combine to make Alphabet Flashcards an ideal way to make the introduction of letters of the alphabet and first words fun and enjoyable for children. The cards are double-sided with ai picture of the word on one side and the letter of the alphabet on the other. The range of words on the flashcards is good, with a wide range of simple and complex words, ranging from ‘ant’ to ‘umbrella’. It is recommended that the cards can be used with children from the age of three to seven, but I think they could be used effectively with younger children to start word recognition and to encourage conversation. Alphabet Flashcards are incredibly versatile and can be used in a variety of different ways to develop children's literacy skills, from teaching children the letters of the alphabet to whole words; parents will, no doubt, find their own ways to make really good use of this set. The cards also feature a handy visual alphabet guide. Depending how you use them, and the versatility is a good feature, the cards will promote language and literacy skills, develop letter and word recognition and encourage conversational skills. Buy from Orchard Toys.

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Orchard Toys Cheeky Monkeys

The whole family will enjoy Cheeky Monkeys. It's a fast-paced game with no hanging around as players battle to see who can collect the most bananas – but watch out for other players trying to steal them! Designed for children aged 4-8, this game of chance encourages children to think strategically and make decisions; this is a valuable skill and children will be having so much fun, they won't realise they are learning. in at every turn, as players must choose whether to play it safe after their first turn or spin the spinner to either collect or risk losing more bananas! The innovative design of the 3D tree and hanging monkeys adds another fun dimension to the game! It's easy to set up and play, and children will learn to think quickly, learn counting skills and develop hand-eye coordination." In January 2017, Cheeky Monkeys joined the ranks of Orchard Toys' award-winning games, winning a Best New Toy award at the London Toy Fair in the 'Games' category." This is well deserved, as the game offers lots of fun as well as educational value; we like the fact that children are just as likely to win as the adults. Buy your game from Orchard Toys.

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Orchard Toys Match and Spell Next Steps

This is the perfect progression from Orchard Toys’ bestselling, award-winning Match and Spell. It is suitable for children aged 5 and over, and the game helps to develop more advanced reading and spelling skills using both sounds and blends. The game is played by building a variety from 18 familiar and more advanced words, which include flower, moth, balloon and queen - each illustrated with an appropriate colour picture to help identify words. Parents can use the sound and blend cards to encourage children to make the individual sounds as well as saying the entire word aloud; it's useful for parents to have this guidance with blending so they can be sure they are doing this correctly. The game develops progressively as once children become more confident, they can turn over the boards to use the blank side for a more challenging game. Spelling can be seen as something of a chore, especially the regular spelling from school, but this is a fun way to make developing an essential skill really enjoyable and well as making the spellings easy to remember. As children play the game, they will also be developing their memory and observation skills and parents can make the most of the opportunities offered for discussion. A fun game that builds excellently on the earlier game. Buy from Orchard Toys.

 Orchard Toys

What's the Time, Mr Wolf? from Orchard Toys

As adults, we can forget how challenging it can be to learn to tell the time, especially as we use two totally different types of clock. This board game from the excellent Orchard Toys will help children develop both analogue and digital time telling skills, whilst enjoying a fun game. There are two game levels, which is good to see, and this makes the game suitable for children between the ages of 5 and 9. It's simple to set up - join together the jigsaw-type playing board and players' cards, and attach the hands to the clock face. The clock is a good size and the times are clearly marked. Now players must race their character around the board matching the times to the central clock – but watch out For Mr Wolf; it's ALWAYS dinner time for him! The second game requires players to match the digital or written times to the clock faces on each player's collection board. I really like the way this game addresses the different methods we use to tell the time, helping children to relate them to one another. The illustrations are a really good point about the game - they show a range of cute woodland animals enjoying all sorts of activities; the playing pieces are animals too. It's well made, on thick card and with pieces that easily pop out before first use. The game really does help to consolidate the learning of the different ways of telling the time, and if adults play along with children, there's plenty of opportunity to extend this key learning. Like all games, it encourages interaction, taking turns and concentration; it also encourages visual recognition and matching. All this, and children are thoroughly enjoying a fun time! An excellent game to help with an essential skill. Buy from Orchard Toys - and look at all their other super games too!
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Follow That Car! from Orchard Toys

The objective of the game is to be the first one to place all your playing cards onto the roadway. Each player starts off with five cards, and one is placed on the table to start building a road by matching either the colour or the vehicle - but watch out for roadblocks! Other players may put down a police, roadworks or flood card to block the road. It's a fun game which is very easy to set up and simple to play - children of 3+ (Orchard Toys say 4+, but I found a 3 year old played it very well) will happily play together, but they always enjoy an adult playing along too. Playing games offers many educational benefits - but children just think they are having fun! This game helps matching skills, both colour and (slightly more difficult) the shape of the vehicle (each of the vehicles types is driven by an appealing animal character). Observation skills are developed too. There's an element of planning ahead with the game, which helps develop strategic thinking. As with all games, children are learning to take turns, play with others and develop conversational skills. The playing pieces are all very colourful and well-made in strong card. A fun game for children. Buy from Orchard Toys.
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