Reviews - school essentials (page 2)

There is a vast range of school equipment on the market today. We have reviewed some of the best products around to give you help in selecting the most suitable for your child. We have included some other products here that are not strictly for school, but that will be useful in daily life. The selection also includes some weekly/monthly magazines.

Reviews - school essentials (page 1)

Storytime Magazine

Storytime magazine helps to improve literacy in children as well as promoting a love of reading for pleasure. Each issue is packed with stories, there are no adverts and there are absolutely no plastic toys! Each issue has a variety of different types of stories such as myths and fables, poetry, fairytales, stories from around the world and from different cultures along with wonderful illustrations, puzzles and activities. Reading is so important for children and they will be far more eager to read when they have something they love reading, or love sharing with you.

A first glance at Storytime magazine your child will be drawn to the amazing illustrations on the cover, and they carry on throughout the magazine. A contents list on the second page tells you what you can look forward to over the next 50 pages. After each story there is a box with an activity or questions which will help your child with comprehension skills and they really help to engage your child with the story they have just read or listened to. An example of this is after the fable of The King of Frogs- you are asked 'in this fable, the frogs learn a lesson about being grateful for what they have. Can you think of three things you're grateful for? It could be pets, people, places, hobbies or things you own'. Another example can be found in a different issue after a favourite fairy tale, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, where you child is encouraged to learn the verse from Robert Browning's 'Pied Piper' poem off by heart.

Puzzles and activities feature in each magazine as well as 'books of the month' and a sneak peek at next month's issue. The magazine is definitely one to keep so that you can revisit it; children will find the short stories easy to keep interest with and they make lovely bedtime stories to read along with your child. We love the educational aspect to the magazine as curriculum goals include developing reading for pleasure and children learning to understand and process what they read, or what is being read to them. Fairy tales, fables and traditional stories are also an effective tool in teaching morals, or an ethical or common sense message.

Storytime magazine is available on an annual subscription for £39.99 for 12 issues which includes free delivery, which we think is great value. For more subscription options, back issues or for more information, visit the Storytime website.

Anorak Magazine & Dot Magazine

Anorak Magazine describes itself as the 'happy mag for kids' and it is aimed at children of between 6-12 years old. The first thing I noticed when I picked the magazine up was the lovely thick pages and the quality of the paper, which according to Anorak's website is made from 'REAL (recycled) paper and REAL (vegetable) inks', which is great news!

The pages are all illustrated with bright colours and each page is bursting with things to learn, make, read and do. Each issue has a theme and every couple of pages covers something different; in the issues we reviewed (46 and 48) there are jokes, comic strips, stories, history of different festivals around the world, a recipe, what common expressions and phrases mean and so much more! 'Anorak's main philosophy is to encourage children to tap into their imagination, use their creativity to learn and is here to amplify their voices. It has at the core of its offering a passion for words and images that challenge and stimulate.'

Anorak magazine is published every quarter; there is loads packed in to each issue and your child will certainly keep coming back to it over and over, the magazine can be kept for reading again or kept for passing down to siblings as it is aimed at both boys and girls. Anorak can be bought as single issues (£6.50), for 1 year (£25) or 2 year (£45) subscriptions - find out more on their website.

DOT Magazine

Dot Magazine is brought to us by the same people as Anorak Magazine and is aimed at pre-schoolers. Again, you are greeted with thick, high quality pages which are full of wonderful colours and illustrations which will immediately capture the attention of your little one. Dot is crammed with fun activities such as games, colouring, stories, things to make and it is educational too!

Like Anorak, each issue of Dot follows a theme and there is plenty do so your child will keep coming back to it. These magazines are great for so many situations such as taking out to keep your child entertained over a meal, on long journeys, or just simply chilling out at home.

This magazine is also published on a quarterly basis and you can buy single issues (£5.50), 1 year (£20) or 2 year (£40) subscriptions. Visit the Anorak and Dot website here for more information.    

Rex London

Stand out from the run-of-the-mill with Rex London's fabulous range of products. "Welcome to Rex London, a quirky, unique treasure trove of gifts and homeware. Bringing you bright, colourful gifts and retro home decor, you’ll find something for everyone - all at incredible prices." WE've reviewed a selection from the children's ranges. I was amazed by the fabulous range of backpacks - there really is something special for every child. We received a lovely Panda backpack. They are ideal for  school, holidays or family days out, and the mini size is ideal for young children, who can sometimes seem overwhelmed by bigger backpacks - the measurements are Width: 21cm, Height: 28cm, Depth: 10cm. The backpack has a sturdy carrying handle on top and adjustable padded shoulder straps which help to balance the weight evenly and effectively, important to ensure children's physical health. Our young tester found the backpack really comfortable and it stayed firmly in place even when he was running around. The padded back offers an extra level of comfort. There's a zipped main compartment plus a small front pocket for easy access for frequently used items - the zips have tabs for easy opening. It's really well made, well sewn so its durable and made of high quality ptasticised material. The backpack easily wipes clean with a damp cloth.  A high quality product.

There's a whole range of accessories available in matching patterns - this is really helpful for young children, so they can readily identify their own set of belongings - and matching sets look great too!  Perfectly accompanying the backpack is the small Miko the Panda water bottle which, with its neat stretchy plastic carry strap which is easy to keep clean, is perfect for that all-important hydration om-the-go. Volume is 340ml and the bottle is dishwasher safe (top shelf). The screw top really is leakproof and easy for little hands to open. The adorable designs in the range include Rusty the Fox, Magical Unicorn, Prehistoric Land and many more, with something to appeal to every child.  
Our final item was the unusually shaped Blue whale wooden ruler. Far from the standard boring ruler, this bright and sturdy wooden ruler is shaped like a blue whale. It may seem gimicky but actually, it's ideal for young children as it's so much easier for them to grasp and use than the conventional straight ruler - and it makes learning fun! The packaging includes some fun blue whale facts and this is a practical product that makes a fun gigt to brighten up the pencil case. The ruler total length is 22cm and the ruler measurements are 0-15cm. I encourage you to have a browse around the website - there are some really lovely ideas on there, for children and for adults - many quirky and unusual things that you won't find elsewhere. Visit Rex London.

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