Reviews - toys

We have reviewed a selection of toys which have been sent to us, as well as recommending some that have been a particular success at home. These will help you and your children to have fun together while they are learning.

 road1

Giant Road from Orchard Toys

Is it a road toy or is it a jigsaw? It is a jigsaw, but I have chosen to put it with toys, because to my mind, the real value of this Giant Road lies in the way it extends the value of any collection of toy vehicles. Children can put the 20 large pieces together to design a wide range of different road layouts; they fit together in lots of different ways, with corners, junctions and straight roads. Add to the fun with your own favourite toy cars. To extend the play value of the set, you can link it with the Orchard Toys Giant Railway jigsaw and the Giant Town Jigsaw; more are available at Orchard Toys  The pieces fit together snugly - I wondered how well they would stay together on carpet, but they keep together well, giving a smooth surface for toy vehicles to travel over. The Giant Road offers lots of educational value - it promotes imaginative play and encourages observational skills. It gives plenty of opportunity for children to play together, as the generous size means there's lots of room for everyone; as children play, their conversational skills will grow. This set offers so much to talk about - there are lots of bright pictures showing all manner of things that will be encountered along the road, so make good use of this by encouraging your child to talk about them - and then look out for them while you are out and about, encouraging observation even more. Doing jigsaws helps develop hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness; it's a good challenge for children to use up all the pieces as they design their road. This is a super way to make playing with toy vehicles even more fun, and the different layouts add to the value; it;s really well produced, with shiny pictures on sturdy card. A fantastic toy/jigsaw that will give many, many hours of happy play. Buy yours from Orchard Toys.
 
 road orchard toys  road3road4
 Twozies
 
 
Twozies

Twozies

Twozies are the new collectible babies and pets from Moose Toys and Character Options; they do everything Two-gether when matched - and that's what sets these new collectibles apart from others. For every baby Twozie, there is a matching pet to be found and this makes collecting more fun than ever. Twozies come in packs of two and we were sent five packs to start our collection - it's great fun opening them and seeing if there are any matches. We were sent two Two--Together playsets to add to the excitement of collecting the Twozies. The first is the Two-Cool Ice Cream Cart which comes with a fabulous range of accessories, including slide out the chairs for the pets to share, and two storage places for  ice cream - and the Twozies can sit in here too. The playset comes with two cow pets and their matching babies. Our second set is the Two-Sweet Row Boat, which comes with two cute swan characters and babies, all set for a picnic with parasols, cakes and a picnic hamper. There are lots of surprises hidden in each of the play sets, so they are great fun for children to explore. Both sit in cute Shadow boxes that can be displayed on a shelf or attached to a wall; these add a super extra dimension to a collection, as they offer a myriad of ways to show off these adorable characters, which are even better when baby and pet friends are matched in their pairs. With 140 different babies and pets to collect, girls will always be on the lookout for more; the good thing is, they are at pocket money prices, so girls can add to their collection themselves; they are perfect for little gifts and incentives too. The play sets are super, with lots of play value to explore - the biggest fun comes when the young collector find  matching friends and Twogether-ness is complete; girls of 5+ will love this special element of Twozies. See the whole gorgeous range at Character-Online. The Surprise Packs are priced at £2.49 and the Playsets at £14.99. They are excellent value and offer hours of imaginative play.
Twozies
 
Twozies
 Twozies
 

Sandy, Cuddle and Words from Clementoni

There is much more to this toy than there appears to be on a first look, due to the free app that comes with it (downloadable from the Apple Store or Google Play). This gorgeously soft plush bear is the perfect cuddly companion for babies - it's suitable for six months upwards. It's a clever and very appealing combination of education and innovation which makes good use of modern technology to provide your baby with a fun and worthwhile experience. There are five interactive buttons - press them and Sandy talks and helps children learn their first letters, numbers, shapes and colours. The button on the tummy lights up - a good way to introduce cause and affect; cheerful tunes will encourage baby to sing along. The app adds provides augmented reality play and a range of additional educational activities and interactive content. This brightly coloured and very appealing toy will help your young child's sensory development, aid motor skills, extend cognitive development and help emotional development by being a loveable playmate. A lovely cuddly toy for a baby, and one which will continue to be much-loved as the app lets it develop along with your child.
 
Kion

Disney The Lion Guard Leap 'n' Roar KionKion

Don't say anything - just put the toy down and let your child go to pick it up - and they will get a surprise! This cleverly designed soft toy can sense when someone is near. As a child approaches, the motion sensor will trigger Kion's ferocious roar - and his mouth will open; or push down on his rear legs to see him leap into action. In fact, this cute interactive toy has 10 different sounds. It's great to see children walk past again and again, triggering action every time - and they will love to see their friends' reactions too! Kion is a male lion cub, the leader of the Lion Guard and a key character; he is the prince of Pride Rock. As such, he is also central to the Lion Guard toy collection and a character that children will really want to have as part of their Lion Guard collection. He's a really good size, with a furry red mane, big eyes and floppy ears, and soft paws; he is a lovely soft plush texture for children to cuddle - but he won't sit still, of course. Kion is prfect for boys and girls, ages 3 to 6 and they will love this gorgeous toy which offers a frisson of excitement every time you pass. The Lion Guard TV series is based on Disney's 1994 film The Lion King. The series was first broadcast with a television movie, titled The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar on Disney Channel on November 22, 2015 and began airing as a TV series on January 15, 2016 on Disney Junior and Disney Channel. Buy Leap 'n' Roar Kion from Smyths Toys.
Campervan 

Peppa’s Alphaphonics Campervan

Peppa Pig and family invite you on board their Campervan to learn about the alphabet, spelling, phonics and word recognition; Peppa Pig is hugely popular so this learning game will delight children. With a total of eight games, this will keep children happily engaged for good lengths of time, and they will be learning all the while. The games include Try & spell? What's the letter? Find the letter. Copy Me; Peppa invites children to try a range of activities that promote letter recognition and early spelling. The 26 Alphabet letter keys, which each have a colourful image eg jellyfish, rocket, light up and flash acting as a useful guide to help your child learn as they play. There are music options which include the Peppa Pig theme music, tunes and funny sounds. There are many educational benefits, including helping early letter recognition (upper and lower case letters are shown); and supporting word recognition through the games. The interactivity builds communication skills, which are also developed through the increased vocabulary learnt. The game stimulates aural and visual senses, as well as enhancing concentration and memory skills as children practise the games. It is very simple to use - children will soon learn about all the options, and the sliding bar at the top can be moved along the picture options. The RRP is £19.99 - I think this is excellent value because I would use the Campervan with children younger than 3. Younger ones will really enjoy pressing the buttons, seeing them light up and hearing the sounds; the more children hear the phonic sounds, the easier they will find formal learning, Buy the Alphaphonics Campervan from Argos.
  CampervanCampervan 
   

Star Monsters

Star Monsters are collectable characters who come in a huge range - Series 2 has just been launched (September 2016) to give children even more to collect and swap. The great thing is that the low prices mean they really are pocket money toys - and adults will happily add to the collection too - they make lovely little gifts and incentives. "Triangular stars fall from the sky, this is the origin of Star Monsters. Quirky and funny characters, unlike anything that you have ever seen. There are so many Star Monsters to meet: Essential, Evolved, Rare, Ultra Rare… each and every one of them is here to play! Discover them all! Star Monsters guarantee fun!" We were sent a superb selection from the new range and the children have had hours of imaginative fun with them, even building them their very own home from building blocks decorated with tissue paper. The mini capsule packs come with plastic capsules which open up to store the Star Monster, as well as two colourful Star Monsters and two mini cards and stickers. Individual packets contain two Star Monsters and two stickers. Children will be really excited when the pack contains a gold (ultra rare) or silver (rare) Star Monster. The 3 x STAR MONSTERS SERIES 2 GIANT CAPSULE PACKET & 3 x GoGo TRADING CARD PACKS" target="_blank">Giant Capsule packet contains two Star Monsters - 1 Essential and 1 Shadow or 1 Evolution and comes with 3 x Packet of GoGo Trading Cards. With 144 Monsters to collect in total, this collection offers so much fun. Star Monsters are made from colourful plastic and the characters are wide-ranging and very cute, as you can see below. Find out more about Star Monsters here.
The Star Monsters Starter Pack includes an album guide, a Star Monsters arena, 6 Star Monsters and 6 stickers as well as a pack of GoGo Trading Cards - it's the perfect way to kick-start your child's Star Monsters 2 collection.
Star Monsters
 Noo-noo
Noo-noo
 
Noo-noo
 
Noo-noo

Teletubbies Pull and Play Giant Noo-noo from Character Options

Little ones will enjoy hours of fun with this toy based on the popular TV series. Noo-noo is a type of vacuum cleaner and it has featured in the previous TV series; In the new series, Noo-Noo is no longer blue but is now brightly coloured in orange, pink and gold - these colours are reflected in this new toy, which will be immediately recognisable by children. This giant electronic activity centre is full of engaging features for children of 18 months upwards to enjoy. There is a 5-piece shape sorter and four 3D Teletubbies characters  to fit in on the Noo-noo; these activities will encourage problem solving, concentration, manipulative skills and coordination. Parents will be very pleased to know that these pieces store away inside the toy - so another essential skill you can encourage is tidying-up! Noo-noo even picks up magnetic custard splats, and makes custard slurping sound effects as it is pulled along - just as it does on the TV; a feature children will love. Press the buttons on the top for different Teletubbies speech and sound effects; Noo-noo will stimulate children to copy the sounds, as well as teaching them about cause and effect as they see what each of the buttons does.. Noo-noo also has funny googly eyes that wobble around as he moves and a spinning brush; this is one of the variety of textures to explore. When you have finished playing, everything can be stored away in the side compartment. The toy is well made - it will withstand plenty of towing around, and the bright colours make it really appealing for young children. The range of activities makes it excellent value. Character Options have a great range of Teletubbies toys, and you can buy the Push and Play Giant Noo-noo here. Find out more on this YouTube video.
The multiple award-winning children’s TV show has been reinvigorated to appeal to a modern audience..Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po have retained their loveable, huggable distinctive features but have been updated for a new generation of children.  The Teletubbies now have 21st century Touch Screen Tummies that will broadcast beautiful live action films, shot from a child’s perspective. It is excellent to see that this hugely popular show recognises the changes that have taken place in the modern world and have updated their offering to ensure that the appeal of the Teletubbies remains strong.
 Noo-noo
 Noo-nooNoo-noo
 
  Teletubbies
 Weeble
Weeble
Weeble

Paw Patrol Weebles Pull & Play Seal Island Playset

This super playset has got all sorts of fun features to keep children of 18 months and over very happily engaged. Weebles are iconic toys which were first produced in 1971 with the catchphrase "Weebles wobble, but they don't fall down". And that is just what happens - however hard they are pushed, these clever toys wobble around but always stay upright which makes them great for playing with, and especially as part of a playset. Now they have been updated to appeal to a younger generation with a fresh new look. This playset has a rock and wobble path that leads down to the jetty. In the dock, children will have fun with the pull and retract tugboat which returns to the island when Wally the Seal’s head is pressed. The Swing and Sway rowboat is waiting for a passenger! Marshall Pup, who comes with the set, is sitting comfortably in the swing in the tower which can be moved with a lever, making him wobble around. Use one of your other Paw Patrol Weebles to keep watch from the top of the tower. All the play features work very well and are simple for little fingers to manage. The playset is strongly made, with no rough edges to catch little fingers; it's brightly coloured and has different textures to explore. It's lovely to watch the Weebles wobble, and this will keep children happy for hours. There are plenty of opportunities for imaginative play, especially if you add more Weebles. Buy from Toys R Us.
Weebles  WeeblesWeebles
  Weebles
Weebles

Paw Patrol Chase and Paw Patrol Rocky

We were also sent two more figures, and these immediately added to the fun of the playset. Again, they are well made, very sturdy, and brightly coloured; they are toys which will last and last. Once children have started a collection, they will be keen to build it up, so that makes present-giving easy! Weebles are such fun and children love the way they wobble. They are excellent for imaginative play as children can act out all sorts of scenarios.
fire station
fir station

Fireman Sam Electronic Pontypandy Fire Station

Fireman Sam's fire station burned down in 2015, and he has a brand-new one in the TV series. So now children have the chance to get their hands on the must-have new toy – Fireman Sam’s all-new fire station, just like the one on the TV. The great thing is that it’s fully portable – it neatly folds up with the pieces inside. The fire station is packed with activities to keep youngsters happily engaged for good lengths of time. Open up the big red folding doors and you’ll find a revolving turntable; there’s another door at the side. The set includes two firemen who can be placed at the top of the fireman’s pole; they then descend quickly, ready for action; there’s a ladder for those who aren’t in so much of a hurry. At the side of the tower, which folds out, there’s a lift to move up and down. There’s a fire extinguisher and a fire bucket – the fire crew mustn’t let their fire station burn down again! The vehicle maintenance ramp is ready to keep those fire engines ready to go. There’s also an articulated dummy to practise life-saving skills on. The electronic control desk with lights and sounds is the icing on the cake and makes the fire station so much more fun to play with. A must-have toy for all Fireman Sam fans – after all, they must have the current fire station! You can see the whole range of Character Options Fireman Sam toys here and buy your Fire Station here.
fire stationfire station

Peppa Pig

Peppa Pig "Laugh with Peppa" Plush ToyPeppa Pig

Young children will love this cuddly Peppa Pig soft toy which wriggles and giggles to the delight of all little ones. Tickle Peppa's tummy and she giggles and claps her hands; squeeze her tummy when she sitting and she'll fall over backwards; then she giggles and wiggles her arms and legs, just like the TV character children know and love!. Young children find endless pleasure in these antics, so they will love this cuddly version of a TV favourite. It's a good-sized toy and of course, she comes in Peppa's trademark red dress. The toy says it is suitable for 3+, but I know that younger children will really respond well to a toy of this type, so I would say, let younger ones have the fun of playing with it, but make sure you take the normal safety precautions. Of course, she does come with a battery, hence the age warning, but her dress fastens firmly with velcro to keep the battery safe - and a screwdriver is needed to undo it. A lovely soft toy which is a must-have for all little Peppa fans - it will have them in giggles along with Peppa! Buy Laugh with Peppa from Smyths Toys.
 
Big Adventure at the Watering Hole’

Schleich Wildlife Big Adventure at the Watering Hole

This is a stunning playset which offers plenty of educational play value. At its heart is an oasis at the base of a cascading waterfall. It's the gathering point for all the animals of the savannah, who have been searching for water in their arid landscape. The plants push into the pre-formed holes, and their various sets of leaves and flowers can be assembled in a variety of ways. My young tester followed the instructions meticulously - they are pictorial so ideal for children to follow. There's a tree which can be cleverly folded down to make a bridge to the island (or a climbing frame for the monkey!), and there are burrows and caves for the creatures to hide in safely. Because beware - there's a magnificent lion who has his cub to protect and feed. Are the zebra, flamingo and monkey safe as they drink? Hiding around the edges are a millipede, a scorpion and a black mamba. It's very well made, with some really effective features, especially the waterfall and the way the water features have been created; the set can be put together in different ways to offer lots of play value. The movable plants and rocks add extra variety. I am a big fan of Schleich animals - they are really well made, accurate to the last detail and incredibly detailed; even the bases of the animals' feet have the paws painted on. The set is bound to be played with over and over again, and the high quality of production means the separate parts will stay looking as good as new. The set also makes a great basis to start a collection of safari animals; there are lots to choose from and adding new ones will add even more to the play value.  We made a fun geography exploration out of the set by starting off with no water, then adding the water, and the plants one by one - this gave a great opportunity to talk about habitats.  You can see the full Schleich collection on the Schleich website and see the wildlife collection here; use the opportunity to talk about the various animals with your child and decide which would fit in with the Watering Hole set.. Superb quality and lots of fun to be had with all the parts included; the set is an excellent way to extend the play value of the Wildlife figures.
Big Adventure at the Watering Hole’
 Big Adventure at the Watering Hole’ Big Adventure at the Watering Hole’ Big Adventure at the Watering Hole’
Schleich booklet
 
 
 
 

 Educational Play the Schleich Way

As part of their ‘Educational Play the Schleich Way’ campaign, Schleich has created a 16-page brochure that is designed to be a guide to the best in imaginative play and development. As parents, we always want to do our best for our children, but don't always know how to use toys to their full play value; this excellent guide will overcome that issue and help you and your child get the best out of your Schleich collection, as well as other toys. Covering topics such as a balanced play diet, encouraging imagination and early language skills, the guide also comes with helpful hints and tips on how to get the best from your child’s playtime and how you can incorporate Schleich products. A 'balanced play diet', as the booklet explains, includes social, active, creative and free play which are all essential elements for children's play.  I found the emphasis on creative play an especially significant point; it can take more effort to encourage creative play but it is a vital part of learning. The booklet gives many suggestions and focuses on some specific Schleich products such as the farm and wildlife collections. It also gives advice on encouraging cooperative play , building language skills and play outside the home. A practical booklet, packed with ideas which are succinctly presented for busy parents. Get yourself a copy  - it's free.
 palace
 
palace

 Princess Peppa's Palace from Character Options

This is going to be a toy that will be high on many little girls' Christmas wish list - it's a must-have addition to the Peppa Pig range and it's guaranteed to provide many hours of fun. The palace is full of regal furniture and royal characters - Princess Peppa and Sir George, of course. There’s a rotating door, a very regal throne, beds, a stove, a tiltingmirror, three articulated figures, and even a treasure chest for the royal treasures, and plenty more besides. There are seven rooms in all, including a royal kitchen, and a bedroom and dressing room fit for a princess; there are even two balconies that slot onto the outside so Peppa can wave to her subjects, and flags to fly - so much scope for play ideas and a great way to stimulate these. All this ensures children will enjoy hours of play as they arrange the furniture in the rooms and act out games with Peppa and George - perhaps they will even invite some of the characters from other sets to visit the royal palace! Parents will love the fact that the palace packs away for storage, with all the pieces kept safely inside. It's a super way to encourage imaginative play; children love Peppa Pig and at this age, they respond well to the familiarity of well-loved characters. Available at Smyths:
 palace palace 

BRIO Horse Jumping Pack

It's show time with this 25 piece addition to the already fabulous BRIO range. There's everything a young show jumping fan needs for imaginative play set in the excitement of the show ring. Draw up at the showground in the trailer-driven horse-box which holds one of the three horses (Flash, Sky and Silver, each of which comes with a removable named blanket), while the others ride alongside with some of the four riders - there's a spectator too. Children can then design their own show jumping course with nine different jumps (walls, fences and gates) and it's show time! Look out though, the rails will come off the fences if the horses aren't careful! There's scope for hours of imaginative play and, of course, the set matches up with the rest of the BRIO range for an even greater opportunity to be imaginative and creative - why not encourage your child to tell you a story as they play? With high quality plastic and FSC certified wood, the pieces are high quality, brightly coloured and very durable.
BRIO BRIO  BRIO

BRIO Horse Stable

Young horse fans will adore this super stable. If you love horses, then this stable and accessories will be the ideal playset. Use it with the BRIO railway or as a stand-alone set; either way, it will stimulate creative and imaginative play. The stable is hinged, opening out to reveal a feeding area and six loose boxes, two of which have opening doors at the back; above are haylofts. There are double opening doors at the back. The set comes with 2 riders (as with other BRIO people, these are poseable and have gripping 'hands'), 2 horses with removeable blankets, a magnetic haybale (great for use with those other sets) and a working wheelbarrow. Fetch the horses in from the field, collect their hay, barrow in and feed your horses. Cleverly, the front of the stable attaches to plastic pieces which connect to a piece of plastic rail track which fits into wooden rain pieces, meaning this set can be fully integrated with existing rail sets - a great way to extend play value. The generously sized stable measures approximately 34 x 26 x 16cm. The wooden parts are made from FSC certified wood and all plastic parts are made from high quality plastic. It's a super way to combine an interest in horses with playing with train sets and will ensure brothers and sisters, or a group of children, can happily play together; as they play together, they will be learning to share and developing conversational skills.
BRIO BRIO   BRIO
Cra-Z-Sand
 
Cra-Z-Sand

Cra-Z-Sand Glow-In-The-Dark Space Play Set from Character Options

Sand is great fun for children to play with but until now, in my house at least, it has definitely been a summer/outdoor pursuit. Now that's no longer the case with the super range of Play Sand sets from Cra-Z-Art. This gloriously tactile sand flows just like normal sand, but when you mould it, it's like putty. Included in this set are three packs of coloured sand (yellow, blue and natural), two spaceman moulds, two space vehicles moulds, plus a sculpting tool, which can be used to make tracks in the sand for extra play value. It comes complete with a moulded tray which holds the natural coloured sand to make a base for the characters and vehicles. Best of all - it glows in the dark which is fabulous for a space scene. The sand never dries out, so it can be used over and over again, giving many hours of play value - and it's even better if you combine it with some of the other kits. The colours can be mixed together to make other colours too, and parents will be reassured to know the sand is non-toxic and anti-bacterial, so it can be safely used at home and in Early Years settings. Sand play is a great way to encourage creative and imaginative play, especially when sharing as this generates all sorts of ideas in a group. Buy from Argos (price at 26/07/16 is £16.99); and there is also an Argos exclusive Glitter Mermaids set RRP £19.99 and Glitter Pony Play Set.
 Cra-Z-Sand is one of a great range of toys available from Character Options. Prices for Cra-Z-Sand start at just £4.99 for the single colour sand packs, and you can also buy large packs of the sand - ideal for playgroups and nurseries, and also for older children who benefit from development of sensory skills - as well as a range of sets. This is an amazing product with all the fun of sand play and much more; it's really enjoyable to use (adults will find themselves 'helping' their children for the sheer pleasure of the tactile feeling - a great stress-buster!) and develops fine motor skills, creativity and imagination. It's easy to mould (much better for young ones than modelling clays) and releases well from the moulds.
Cra-Z-Sand  Cra-Z-Sand

WOW Toys Danny's Diving AdventureDAnny's Diving Adventure

WOW Toys are huge favourites in our house. Their bright colours and supreme durability mean that they stand out from the mass of toys in the toybox and they are brought out over and over again. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to review some bath toys - a new range to us, but one that is produced with all the attention to detail that makes WOW Toys so great. Bathtime is a fun time, and Danny's Diving Adventure opens up all sorts of possibilities. The top of the boat flips open to reveal a diving board and a secret cabin. Little ones can improve their motor skills by filling the boat with water and pouring it out of Danny’s mouth (Danny is designed to look like a friendly fish) without splashing. There are two figures included who fit onto the springboard ready to be launched into the bath using the button (they dive really well!) - there they will meet a friendly dolphin. Of course, it's all beautifully made, with no sharp edges. The set gives the opportunity for all sorts of imaginative games and it's bound to get children looking forward to bathtime - and it's great fun in the paddling pool too!

WOW Toys Fireboat Felix FireboatFireboat Felix

Felix bobs up and down in the water just like a real lifeboat. Children will have endless fun as they squeeze the turtle button to squirt water from the four jets on the side - it never fails to raise a few giggles! The boat comes complete with Tom the firefighter. The bright colours make this an attractive toy and we have found that WOW Toys really keep their colour excellently. The children love the fact that they don't have to wait for us to replace batteries, as is a problem with so many toys; when a child wants to play, they want to play NOW, not when Mum or Dad have time to replace the batteries! If your child is lucky enough to have these two toys plus Police Boat Perry, there are huge opportunities for imaginative play - they really do stimulate children's learning. The toys are suitable from 18 months to five years - although as, of course, an adult will always be with the child anyway, I think younger children would also love these.

Brainstorm Toys The Original Flying Bird

Children will be amazed by this super brightly coloured flying bird which flies up to 50m by flapping its tear-proof wings. It is a simple concept, powered by a high quality rubber band and mechanism just pull the lever, turn the bird upside down and turn the handle 50 times; adjust the tail so the bird flies in the direction you want, release the switch and launch the bird. When the bird is gently launched, the tail adjustment enables the bird to climb and turn. It's very simple but really effective. "Designed in France in 1969 by Gérard De Ruymbeke, this patented flying bird is an ornithopter. From the Greek words ornithos “bird” and pteron “wing”, an ornithopter is any aircraft that flies by flapping its wings. Birds were the inspiration to Leonardo da Vinci when he designed an ornithopter in 1490. He never saw the ornithopter fly however, because it was heavy and required too much energy to produce lift and thrust." It's a toy that has stood the test of time and one which continues to be popular, even in an electronic age.

Brainstorm Toys Outdoor Adventure ExplorerScope

Encourage children to get outdoors and look into the marvels of the natural world with this neat ExplorerScope which fits neatly into a bag or rucksack. Children can examine all kinds of fascinating wildlife up close and get a good picture beyond the scope of the normal eye; this will foster their amazement and wonder for the world of nature. This pocket-sized, collapsible scope is ideal for outdoor discovery with its 12x magnification and 30mm optical lens. It also has a soft rubberised eye piece and adjustable focus; the quality is good and the ExplorerScope fits the eye well. It's perfect for on-the-go exploration, field trips and outdoor adventures. It's easier for children to use and focus than binoculars - just pull the tube in and out to focus - simple. A good way to encourage scientific discovery.

Tobar Bump-n-Go Bubble Train

This makes a novel addition to your child's bubble-blowing collection. The colourful chunky train blows bubbles from its chimney as it rolls forward making a chugging train sound. Just pour the bubble solution (readily available in major supermarkets) into his funnel and set him going. It produces a good amount of bubbles and children will love to watch the train puffing along - it will capture the attention of the very youngest child. It works perfectly on hard floors (just be careful, though, as the floor can get slippery) and on hard surfaces outdoors. The really clever bit is that it avoids furniture, and anything else in its path. Great fun.

Tobar Tap Tap Art

This is a somewhat different way for children to display their creative side. I had something similar as a child and it gave me many happy hours, and I am sure today's children will enjoy it just as much. There are over 100 colourful wooden pieces in a variety of shapes including triangles, circles and rectangles. These are attached to the cork board with tacks and there are two mini hammers. Picture ideas are provided to get children off to a good start but they will soon be creating their own designs. It's an excellent way to improve dexterity and hand-eye coordination as well as developing design skills. When the picture is finished, just takes the pieces off (they come off easily) and start again. An excellent creative toy.

Bath time Build a Tractor and Characters from Meadow Kids

This colourful tractor comes complete with farmyard friends the farmer, pig, sheep, cow, chickenMeadow Kids toyand horse. Made of chunky and colourful foam, this bath time tractor can be assembled and taken apart again and again, and stuck to the sides of the bath or the tiles to make a farmyard scene. The pieces also float on the water. The set includes 14 pieces, all brightly coloured and made to conform with safety standards; the pieces packed in a very practical clear reusable drainage bag for easy storage, and to ensure the pieces dry out. Bath time should be fun - a good time for family bonding and a great opportunity for interactive play; not all children look forward to bathtime though, but using fun toys such as these from Meadow Kids can help overcome fears and make bathtime enjoyable for everyone.

Weird & Wonderful Creatures Bath Time Stickers from Meadow Kids

Add to the fun of bath time with these six animals, made up of 28 pieces which allow children to Meadow Kids toycreate their very own weird and wonderful creatures using a variety of combinations - mix and match to make some hilarious creatures. There are some extra fun pieces like sunglasses too. The animals can be created by floating them on water and by sticking them to the bath tiles and to the sides of the bath when wet - they stick well and stay put for a reasonable amount of time. The animals are made of thick foam with brightly coloured images. They store away in the plastic bag when the fun is over, to keep the bathroom tidy - but I'd make sure they dry out first. They are a fun way to encourage children's imagination and creativity and a great way to encourage children into the bath. Make bath time extra special with these fun creatures.

Lion Guard Collectable Mini Figures

It's always fun for children to open up a pack, not knowing what they will get. There are 10 mini figures to collect in Series 2 - as you won't know what you are going to get, encourage children to get together with fellow-fans to swap duplicates. The models are well detailed and there's a rare special character to look out for. At pocket money prices, children can save up and get the satisfaction of buying their own toys too. The Lion Guard is an American animated television series based on Disney's 1994 film The Lion King. The TV series was first broadcast with a television movie, titled The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar on Disney Channel on November 22, 2015 and started as a TV series on January 15, 2016 on Disney Junior and Disney Channel. It tells the story of Kion, the second-born cub of Simba and Nala, and his various friends as they unite to protect the Pride Lands. There's also a great value 5 pack to look out for.
Lion Guard
 Lion Guard

Lion Guard Figure with Accessory Assortment

These figures and accessories offer hours of play fun, and they are even better when combined with others in the series. We received Ono's Look Out Launcher, which includes a poseable figure - Ono's wings and head can be moved. Load the net into the launcher base (on the tree) and press the button to trigger the action. It's great fun, and children's imagination and role play skills can really be encouraged by collecting the other sets; they all work well together. It's a great range and ideal to collect and build up a child's collection for fresh fun every time they add a new toy.
 brio
 
brio
 
brio
 
 

BRIO Rail Starter Packs A and B

Pack A contains 26 pieces to build and play with your first BRIO railway. The track layout is formed like a figure eight and there's a tunnel for the middle so the trains can go through it and over it. - young children always enjoy seeing the train appear through the tunnel, especially when it's as smart as this engine with two carriages. They can use the stop and go signal to stop the train and let the two passengers get on and off. Rail sets are, of course, never quite big enough after the first few times of playing, so I recommend that you buy the Pack B Starter railway track pack (13 pieces) at the same time, and bring it out as soon as expansion is required; it's amazing how many more layouts can be created with this simple addition - it will challenge children's building skills to see what they can create; the combination offers 5 more layout possibilities. That's the great thing about BRIO rail sets - the expansion possibilities are infinite; ours is now long enough, with careful building, to go from the dining room, through the kitchen, into the lounge and back again! The pack comes with a leaflet showing the other sets available. Children love to see what is available and to point out what they would like next; with BRIO rail, you are never stuck for present inspiration and every new addition makes it seem like a new toy. BRIO is a heritage brand which has been delighting children for over 130 years. All BRIO wooden toys are made from FSC certified wood which means it is traceable and originates from responsible Forestry. The rail sets are well made; the tracks fit together well, and stay together even during enthusiastic play. All new BRIO products are designed with shapes and functions that can easily be used with previous models; immense care is given to ensuring everything works together; the people can sit down and grab objects to add to the play value. See the whole range of BRIO toys here and the superb range of railways is here.These starter sets are the ideal way to start your child's collection and to guarantee them hours of fun, especially as they add to the collection from the huge range available. The sets are perfect for co-operative play and role play, as children will act out all sorts of scenarios. They also build dexterity and encourage discussion. Railway Starter Set Pack A is priced at £34.99 and Starter Track Pack B at £16.99 (prices correct June 16).
 BRIO  brio
Schleich booklet
 
cow
 
 

 Educational Play the Schleich Way

As part of their ‘Educational Play the Schleich Way’ campaign, Schleich has created a 16-page brochure that is designed to be a guide to the best in imaginative play and development. As parents, we always want to do our best for our children, but don't always know how to use toys to their full play value; this excellent guide will overcome that issue and help you and your child get the best out of your Schleich collection, as well as other toys. Covering topics such as a balanced play diet, encouraging imagination and early language skills, the guide also comes with helpful hints and tips on how to get the best from your child’s playtime and how you can incorporate Schleich products. You may wonder what a 'balanced play diet' is; as the booklet explains, it includes social, active, creative and free play which are all essential elements for children's play - find out more in the booklet. I found the emphasis on creative play rather than relying on the TV (or other electronic means) an especially significant point; it can take more effort to encourage creative play but it is a vital part of learning. The booklet gives many suggestions and focuses on some specific Schleich products such as the farm and wildlife collections. It also gives advice on encouraging cooperative play - so important before starting school. Language skills and play outside the home are also included; it's a really practical booklet, packed with ideas which are succinctly presented for busy parents. Get yourself a copy  (it's free) - and you could win £100 worth of Schleich toys.
 donkey
 
elephant
SchleichThere are many ways in which you can incorporate Schleich's toys into your child's play so that they gain the full educational value. Here are a few of my ideas - if you have a collection of animals from different continents, see if your child can sort them by continent; make a play world such as a forest or jungle and use the appropriate animals; pair up parent and child; set up your own Noah's Ark. The possibilities are endless - and the more toys you have, the better. So many key skills will be learnt - creativity, hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, imagination and cooperative play, to name but a few. Encourage children to extend their learning by looking the animals up in a book. These are toys that will interest children for many years, as there are so many different ways to play with them. Building up a collection is a great gift idea too - you'll never run out of ideas for small gifts. You can see the full fantastic range on the Schleich website and a selection at Smyth's Toys.
zebra  We were sent a range of animals for review. From the farm animals range, the Holstein cow (yes, the detail ever goes to specific breeds) and a grey donkey; from the wild animals, an elephant calf and a male zebra (it's great to see you can build up whole families). You can't fail to be impressed by the quality. Schleich toys are very well made, with great attention to detail so they are really realistic - this is an important educational feature, because children will assume their toys reflect reality, so this needs to actually be the case. Each Schleich model is hand painted to give a wonderful role play and collectable item; they are relatively heavy and they are very stable when standing.. All these Schleich models give a wide ranging addition to a child's imagination and education, and parents will be reassured to know that all models are in compliance with relevant safety regulations and are CE tested and approved
The Schleich Philosophy "As a manufacturer of toys we carry a special responsibility towards parents and children. It is our aim to constantly live up to the image of a developer and supplier of top quality products with an educational aspect. Our products are developed with the assistance of parents, teachers and children and are therefore especially designed for children’s hands. The design of our products is as realistic and naturalistic as possible. This enables children to experience the large variety of nature – from domestic animals on a farm to wild animals in the jungle."
brio
brio
 
brio 

Safari Railway set from BRIO

It's time to set off on safari with this super set from BRIO. This colourful BRIO Safari set makes a good introduction to the range and provides plenty of play value as a child’s first set of BRIO; it also makes a great addition to an existing collection, adding a new dimension with its quite different animals and the tree. There are 17 pieces - 7 pieces make up the circular track and you add the plastic landscape piece to complete this; a push-along train with a goods wagon and cargo; a monkey, a zebra, a train driver and a tree plus leaves. Look out - the cheeky monkey can pick up the train's cargo as it passes beneath him! It’s an excellent way to extend imaginative play, to develop hand-eye co-ordination. Train sets offer children so many learning opportunities - they develop imagination, stimulate discussion, refine fine motor skills and encourage creativity. If children have a collection of BRIO train sets, then they can play with siblings and friends, encouraging cooperative play and sharing; working together will encourage conversation and joint planning. Of course, BRIO trains are perfect for any pre-school setting - the construction is durable and there will be hours of enjoyment. You can buy this lovely set from Brio  and from Amazon BRIO Safari Starter SetThere are other safari-themed sets too, on the BRIO site. This bright, colourful set will be a great hit with all young train fans, and I love the slightly different approach it brings - maybe children will develop a safari park alongside their rail track, so the visitors can flock in by train! Another well designed and well made set from the ever-reliable BRIO.
brio brio
car
car 

 Kids@Play 6V White Sports Car

Any child would be thrilled to receive this wonderful sports car - it certainly has the wow factor and just imagine the admiring looks and comments your child will get when driving this around the local park! This superb sports car comes in diamond white and it looks really smart. It's powered by a 6volt motor with rechargeable battery (included) and has forward and reverse gears and gives a top speed of 2 mph when driving on a hard surface - it is slower on grass but that's a benefit when driving around the average garden. The car has a key start function and amazingly realistic sounds on starting up; everything lights up too and the effect is stunning. You can attach an MP3 player for music on the go (and control it from the steering wheel, just like the grown-ups' cars), and there's a horn to make sure people know there's a car coming. The doors open upwards just like some of the fast sports cars (and they open easily with the press of a catch), and it comes with its own seat belt. It's perfect for children age 3 to 5 - but always under adult supervision, of course. The lights are one of the best features - there are working lights for the dashboard and front head lights, as well as lights along the bonnet. The chrome style wheels are a great look too, and the car's snazzy look is complemented by wing mirrors. It's great that the car also goes in reverse - children love the way they can manoeuvre it, and it really helps with their co-ordination and spatial skills. The technical bits - the size is H45, W54, D100cm; it weighs 10kg and the maximum user weight is 30kg (sorry, Dad!).Buy from Argos - retail price £149.99 (May 2016). Take a look at the video on the Argos site to see and hear this superb car in all its glory - words can't do it justice. You can see how my young testers enjoyed it though, in the photos below - they were thrilled with it. The car really is superbly good looking, a really cool design; it's well made and feels as though it will last for years. In case of problems, you will be reassured to know it comes with a 12 month guarantee.
 car  car car
 scorpion

Wild Pets Scorpion - Slingback from Character

It's enough to send a shiver down your spine! But pet your scorpion and you will soon make friends with it. Using the touch sensor on the back, you can control the scorpion and make it your pet. Pet it until the eyes glow blue and your scorpion will set off on an adventure; hold until he glows red and your scorpion will go on the attack. Leave it alone and your scorpion will enter Cage Mode and move around quietly and calmly on its own. Hold him under the light for 10 seconds and he will glow in the dark. If you move his tail, he goes round and round in circles. It's great fun to see him move at different speeds - and when he's on the attack, he really does go! To switch on and off, there's an easily accessed switch underneath. The toy is lovely and tactile with soft legs that are uncannily realistic.  See and purchase the whole range here... there are lots more creepy crawlies to choose from! You can also buy them from Amazon - Wild Pets Scorpion Toy. Children love creepy crawlies so this multi-functional toy will be a great hit - collect them all for even more fun.
scorpion Wild Pate

Star Monsters from Magic Box

Triangular stars fall from the sky and this is the origin of Star Monsters. These quirky and funny characters are unlike anything that you have ever seen, and they are lovely! There are lots of Star Monsters for children to meet and collect - Essential, Evolved, Rare and Ultra Rare. There are 60 Star Monsters to collect altogether. They are highly collectable, small in size so children can carry them around with them. We were sent a Bag Pack containing three Star Monster figures and a drawstring bag, which is the perfect place to store Star Monsters. We also had an album guide (full of play ideas) and complete with collector poster, four Star Monsters and four stickers - Magic Box Star Monsters Starter Pack (Multi-Colour). The Star Monsters are lovely little creatures, much nicer than many collectables - I really like them, and so do my young testers. We will definitely be adding to the collection! Find out more here.
 star monsters star monsters
 LEGO
 
LEGO

 LEGO Nexo KnightsTM Magazine

Your child will be thrilled to receive this superb new magazine every month. Launching 24th February, the first issue comes with a Lance Minifigure™ and every issue includes a NEXO KNIGHTS™ toy, perfect for building up your child's collection; children will love to be in the forefront of collecting this new range. So often, the free gifts with magazines are a five minute wonder but these will be a real,asset to any LEGO collection. Each issue is packed with news, comics, hero facts, puzzles, posters, competitions and colouring. There is a huge amount for readers to enjoy and the variety is impressive. Each issue will also feature exclusive scannable NEXO Powers that can be used to unlock new powers in the NEXO KNIGHTS™ Merlock 2.0 game. The dynamic presentation will appeal to even the most reluctant reader and it's a great way to encourage children to read. There's an amazing prize to be won in the launch issue too. The magazine is on sale every 4 weeks, it's ideal for 5-11 year olds, and the normal issue price is £3.25 (February 2016). Nexo Knights™ is a brand new fantasy-based Castle theme range introduced in 2016. It includes elements such as robo horses, catapults, and lava launchers, and mobile castles, as well as "Ultimate" sets. The adventure takes place in the futuristic Kingdom of Knighton and it focuses on the Nexo Knights™ as they journey to defeat Jestro the evil jester, the Book of Monsters, and their lava monster army. Clay leads the Nexo Knights™, which include Macy, Lance, Aaron, and Axl. Together, under their mentor Merlok 2.0, they band together to defeat Jestro. Visit the Nexo Knights™ LEGO home and meet the characters. I think buying a magazine regularly is a brilliant gift for a child - give them something to look forward to every month rather than all their presents in one go. More at
LEGO LEGO  LEGO

Little Live Pets Tweet Talking Bird Toy

This cute little bird will very soon become your child's new best friend. I was sent Cupcake Katie for review and she has lovely glittery wings. She also has a soft plush feel. Tweet Talking Birds respond to children's touch - just stroke on their back and they sing, chirp and tweet just for you - and parents will be pleased to know the sounds are quite soft and pleasant. The birds are super-responsive - the more you play with your bird the happier it becomes and when it is really, really happy it will even whistle you a special tune. And if you ignore your bird for a while, it will cheep at you, just in case it has been forgotten (but, very practically, it turns itself off after half an hour). There are 30 different birdcalls with many popular songs, so lots of variety which is great in a toy of this size and price; it's really good value. Perhaps the feature children will love best is the fact it can talk back at you - press the button and you can record a 10 second piece which can then be played back, and re-recorded at any time. It's really simple to use - although the toy is recommended for 5+, as soon as I put the batteries in, my 3 year old tester was playing happily. If you have two birds, both fit happily into one cage, too, which makes it lovely for friends playing together. You can find out more here and view and buy all the fabulous range. I love this toy and children really respond well to the interactivity - it would be great fun to collect a whole set; you can see just a few more of the range below.
Tweet Talking Birds Tweet Talking Bird  Tweet Talking Bird  Tweet Talking Bird

STAR WARS Science Death Star Planetarium

Transform a child's bedroom into their very own planetarium with this realistic model of the Death Star which transforms into a planetarium. Turn the lights out and they can watch the Star Wars galaxy come to life on their ceiling, or view Earth's night sky with the projection dome. The box includes a fun and informative learning guide to stimulate children's interest in the galaxies. It features a map of the worlds that make up the Star Wars Galaxy and will be hugely popular with the myriads of young Star Wars fans; it's a good way to add an element of learning to their interest. The planetarium stands on its own base and it fits neatly on a table top. The projection is clear, as long as you get the dome the right distance from the ceiling and the two different projections add to the value. The product size is 14.4 x 14.4 x 15.9 cm, and it is made of plastic. It is one of a range of Uncle Milton Star Wars products
plenatarium planetarium  planetariumplanetarium
 
 
 
Miffy
 
 

 Sensory Miffy

A new Miffy TV series, Miffy’s Adventures: Big and Small, launched on Tiny Pop on the 2nd MiffyOctober 2015, at 7pm every night and consists of seven minute long episodes which see Miffy and her friends exploring the exciting world around her. The simplicity of Dick Bruna's drawings has been wonderfully brought to our screens, very much in keeping with the books. Children will love the bright colours and friendly characters. You may want to record the programmes -  although the series is part of Tiny Pop's bedtime programming, personally I don't think 7pm is ideal timing for little ones; you may disagree! They are well worth recording though, as young children will enjoy seeing the friends experience all the things they do - and more! Clear narration and plenty of movement will capture young ones' interest; watch the programmes together and you will find plenty to talk about afterwards. You can view some trailers. To extend that lovely experience, they will love this Sensory Miffy which is suitable for 6 months plus. There are 14 interactive sensors to press and see what Miffy has to say. She looks just like she does in the stories, with a blue dress and her simple but sweet face. Children will love to cuddle her as they snuggle down for bedtime. Sadly, Sensory Miffy is not for sale in the UK but we have a special opportunity for you in December 15 - you will be able to win a Miffy.

Schleich Spinosaurus

A truly fearsome looking beast, hand-painted in great detail to show up all the gradations in colour. The dinosaur has a flexible hinged jaw - open it up to see a crocodile-like jaw full of ferocious looking teeth; even the tongue is three-dimensional. He also has sharp claws on the intricately moulded feet. The 'sail' on his back is a remarkable feature and that is shown in great detail; looking at all the features on this model is an excellent way to encourage children to learn more. They will love to build up a collection of these creatures (see the entire range on the Schleich website) and perhaps to model a background to display them on. They are fun and educational; superbly made for authenticity and durable play. The whole Schleich range really stands out from others on the market for quality and attention to detail.
"This dangerous carnivore weighed several tons and could be up to 17 metres long! The Spinosaurus had many sharp, straight teeth in a crocodile-like mouth. His meals usually consisted of other dinosaurs or fish. The smartly designed sail on his back fulfilled several functions. It probably helped the cold-blooded dinosaurs to vital temperature regulation by collecting or distributing heat. It also served to impress potential mating partners."

Schleich Altosaurus

This life-like model stands 11.5cm high and is a highly detailed model. Detailed patterning on the body replicates the animal's skin and the colour and texture are intricately reproduced to make a very lifelike model. The details are amazing - his claws curl around to scary looking nails which could rip any prey apart very quickly. The best feature is the articulated lower jaw - slide your nail between the creature's teeth and the mouth opens to reveal a mouthful of teeth would soon devour their prey - each tooth is individually marked out. This feature really adds to the play value and encourages children to use their imaginations to interact with the model. You need to be careful standing the model up - it needs to be accurately positioned on its rear feet but stands well once placed. The scientific accuracy is excellent and the Schleich dinosaurs will make excellent classroom resources. This is a really good quality model which will be a great addition to the collection of any dinosaur fan.
"Standing more than [12 metres high] and weighing more than a tonne, the Allosaurus was the largest carnivore of its time. It had a unique skeleton. Instead of having ribs that were attached to other bones in its body, this dinosaur had ribs that were attached to its skin. The bones in its back were bulky and heavy. Although it had short arms, its front feet were armed with sharp claws which it could use to catch its victims. The Allosaurus often hunted in groups, which made it easier to catch its prey. The Allosaurus was an intelligent, aggressive predator with a lifespan of up to twenty years."

Something Special Mr Tumble's Sensory Activity Centre

Packed with activities, children can join popular TV star Mr Tumble on his adventures with this Sensory Playtime Activity Centre. The colourful house hides plenty of surprises and activities for little ones to discover. Starting at the bottom of the set, children use the Mr Tumble figurine in a variety of ways to overcome obstacles on his journey to the top of the house. Many different activities and skills come into play as the child guides Mr Tumble on his way. To add to the Something Special fun, the windows rotate to reveal Mr Tumble's fun friends. This engaging activity centre will help to develop fine motor skills, dexterity and stimulate senses though touch and sounds. The Mr Tumble figurine will also encourage little ones to use their imagination through pretend play. The multiple textures, clicking sounds, bright colours, spinning windows and cogs will appeal to children on the autistic spectrum as well as all Mr Tumble fans. I think you need to make your own mind up on the age for which this is suitable - the manufacturers suggest 3+, but to me, there is a great deal in this colourful and engaging toy that will appeal to and stimulate learning in much younger children.
   

Zomlings from Magic Box Int

Zomlings are invading playgrounds everywhere! There are more than 100 cheeky, miniature monsters to collect and build into your own Zomlings Town. Explore the 7 different Zomlings neighbourhoods and discover characters like Ocotozom in Wacky Waters and Zomhog in Zomlings Zoo. There are even rare silver and gold Zomlings to discover and collect. Use your houses and towers to build your own Zomlings Town! Children will love to collect and swap these colourful characters. The Series 4 Starter Pack In the Town includes a Zomlings Poster Guide and Playmat, a Zomling, a Zom-mobile Pack and - very specially - an Ultra Rare Metallic Finish Zom-mobile which is exclusive to the starter pack, so will be much treasured. Series 4, featured here, is the latest collection. There are over 100 new Zomlings to meet. Best of all, the new Zomlings come in awesome Crystal colours! It’s not just new colours that these Zomlings have brought to Zomlings Town…..check out the new Zom-Mobiles! A car, a scooter, a truck and even a plane! Exploring Zomlings Town has never been more fun and more fast paced! If you want to take a more leisurely journey around town, there is even a spacious Zomlings Bus!

Zomlings Series 4 - Crystal Zomling & Zom Mobile RANDOM - Figure

Individual Zomlings can be bought from Amazon - they make great party gifts, stocking fillers or treats for good behaviour; Zomlings Series 4 - RANDOM - Figure. It's always exciting opening the bag, because children can't see what they get until it's open. Once children have started their collection, and especially when they have used the houses and towers to build a town, there's plenty of opportunity for imaginative play, and for children to play together, blending their collections.
 zomlings  zomlings
 
Reward Chart

WOW Toys Reward Chart - Fairies

Reward Charts are nothing new of course, but this range from the ever-resourceful WOW Toys is very different from most on the market. Young children can earn rewards by moving a magnetic star tracker along a chain of 10 stars on the box; they get a toy (stored behind a flap within the chart box) when they reach 1, 5 and 10 stars. It's an excellent way to encourage positive behaviour and having the toy in the box means an instant reward; far more satisfying for children than having to wait!  The set comes with a small unicorn and fairy, and the third toy is a larger Ladybird with wheels and a space for the fairy to sit inside; of course, they work well with the rest of the range. Children can personalise their box by writing in their name and adding a photo - and the box comes with a hanging slot.  Like all the wonderful Wow Toys range, the toys hidden inside are really good quality, made from bright durable plastic - and they don't need batteries. It's packaged in a very appealing way, with bright colours on the box - children will be really keen to get all the toys, so good behaviour is (almost) guaranteed. Also available -WOW Toys Reward Chart - Dinosand WOW Toys Reward Chart - Racers; There are so many wonderful toys on the WOW website - do take a look.
WOW
WOW  WOW WOW

 Hape Discovery Space Centre

Three, two, one - blast off with this superb space centre with detachable rocket. I love to see wooden toys instead of plastic - they are so much more satisfying to play with. This is beautifully made; solid and durable, brightly painted and everything works really well. Assembly is simple - slot into place and screw to fasten. It's an intriguing toy with plenty of pieces to stimulate the imagination; the inside is painted in detail. Two spacemen and an alien (all poseable) are included as well as assorted space vehicles, tools, consoles, fuel barrels and pipes and other items; many of these can become anything a child imagines. Even a solar panel is included to make sure those vehicles can always work! There's a lift for travelling between floors which children can wind up and down - it works perfectly with no sticking. It's ideal for two children to play with - it stands 74cm tall so there's plenty of room (and plenty of activities) for two. It many seem pricey but it's worth every penny - there is plenty of flexibility in the way all the various pieces can be used, which means there is a vast amount of play potential. A superb way to interest children in space - have a space fact book to hand so you can answer their questions and stimulate even more imaginative play. Manipulative skills are developed too, by winding the lift, connecting the ropes and pipes, landing the rocket and many more ways. A stunning gift for any child, a really well thought-out toy, and one which will encourage many happy hours of imaginative play and foster an interest in space.
Spaceship Spaceship  spaceship

 Hape Garden Salad

The set includes painted wooden tomato, onion, red and yellow pepper slices; wooden vinegar and olive oil bottles; salad servers; felt lettuce leaves and carrot strips; a pepper mill and a plastic salad bowl to mix and serve it in. The peppermill rattles as it is ground, to sound like a real one. As well as encouraging imaginative play, the set encourages healthy eating - salad for lunch, anyone? Sturdy and well made with bright colours that appear to be very durable. It's a lovely way to encourage role play - you, as adults, will be offered lots of different salads to choose from! It's a great toy that will combine well with children's other favourites, such as kitchen sets, to give many hours of play.

 Numbers and Shapes Pocket Chart from Meadow Kids

This table top 'Learn and Play' pocket chart comes with a chart, a pen and 44 flashcards (32 counting from 1-10 cards and 12 shape cards.). This is ideal for home education or for use travelling. The set comes with different learning and prompting cards to arrange and sort into the clear chart pockets. Each board also comes with a wipe clean area and pen for writing practice. Neatly packaged into a sturdy plastic bag with carry handle, this is ideal for school, nursery or home use. It's good to see a wide range of shapes included too, as children really benefit from learning these at an early age.
Alphabet Pocket Chart

Alphabet Pocket Chart from Meadow Kids

Help children learn their letters are they have fun sorting the upper and lower case letters into the clear plastic pockets - it's a super way to introduce letters and to help children become familiar with letter shapes. There are lots of other ways to use the cards too - encourage children to spell out simple words or to spot a particular letter. There are also pictorial word cards to help children learn to read. You can view the whole range on the Meadow Kids website. Don't forget to browse through their other super products too!
Pocket Chart

Animals Pocket Chart from Meadow Kids

Each of these sets contains a sturdy plastic covered board which folds out to stand securely on a table.Children will have great fun creating all manner of weird and wonderful animals by putting together the heads, middles and legs in any way they want. Reading skills are encouraged by the name cards which accompany the animals. The animal pictures are great fun! This is ideal for home education or for taking out and about as it all slots neatly into the plastic case with carrying handle. Each board also comes with a wipe clean area for children to practise their drawing and writing skills. and pen to practice with. The pack includes a chart with clear plastic pockets ,and 48 flashcards (36 'Mix and Match' animal cards and 12 prompt cards with animal names).
Scooter

 Maxi Micro Scooter

Micro Scooters say "Our range of Maxi Micro scooters have been designed by Swiss experts especially for children aged 6-12 years. The adjustable handlebar, tough, durable frame and kickboard and intuitive tilt and lean steering make them the number one choice for older children. Our joystick range of Maxi scooters give children the feeling that they are surfing the pavement. The joystick is ideal for more experienced scooter riders." Buy your scooter here from Micro Scooters or buy from Amazon - Maxi Micro Scooter Blue T-Bar.
 
 Maxi Micro Scooters

Scooters for Schools

An excellent scheme run by Micro Scooters - do take a look at all the benefits it offers:
  • Secure funds for your school all year round
  • Choose between receiving money or scooters for your school
  • There is no limit on how much or how many scooters you can redeem.
  • We provide free promotional material to help you garner support from your school
Go to Scooters for Schools for full information.
Micro G-bike Plus - Orange
 
Micro G-bike Plus - Yellow
Micro G-bike Plus - Purple

Micro Scooters Balance Bike

First impressions count! And our first impression of this balance bike was of a really solid, well made and durable product. Ease your toddler's transition to a bike with pedals with this excellent bike - you may well find you can skip (and certainly reduce time using) stabilisers. I was amazed at how quickly an almost three year old got his balance - he set off quite wobbly but within minutes he was riding with confidence. As it was raining, we tried it out indoors and I'm glad to say the generously sized wheels left no marks. He is also learning to hold the bike upright with his feet off the ground - excellent for his balance. It's easy to transport - pick it up one handed as it is really lightweight and it slots neatly into the car boot. The light weight also means that when the child does overbalance, there's no whingeing - he can easily pick it up himself. The seat height is simple to adjust - even our 3 year old tester can do it. I love the colour range too - plenty of unisex colours so you can get the best value out of the balance bike by passing it on through the family. The attention to detail that epitomises all Micro Scooters products is clearly in evidence; even the handlebars are well designed - soft, chunky and comfortable. Buy from Micro Scooters - you can have it the next day! Also available from Amazon in all five colours - Micro Balance Bike - Green. An excellent product which can be used in the home, in the garden and very easily taken out and about.Don't forget to get a helmet too - children can get up quite a speed on this bike!.
  Micro Balance Bikes

Lay And Play Domino Train from Tobar

This domino laying train is great fun. Fill up the quick-load domino magazine, put it on top of the train and then set it off to lay a line of dominoes which come out perfectly spaced; you can steer the train by twisting the funnel (good to help children know their left from their right!). Once they are all laid, flick the last domino and they all come tumbling down. The toy includes a special pivoting knock down piece and there are 80 brightly coloured dominoes in four colours. The train is made of bright plastic with a transparent body so children can see what is going on. Recommended for 5+, this is easy to play with and fun to enjoy.
Bearhug storage

BearHug Stack Storage from Worlds Apart

We all want our children to tidy their toys away when they finish playing, and with this gorgeous set of stacking storage boxes, they will be keen to help. The boxes feature cute and cuddly bears - they are even bear-shaped! Just like the three bears there's a small one, a middle-sized one and a big one - but even the big one is easy for children to move and they are just the right height for children, even when two are stacked. The design means it is easy to put toys in so no excuses! Make the most of your space by stacking them two high or side by side; they are attractive enough for a living area as well as being ideal for bedroom or playroom; definitely too nice to hide away! You do need to assemble the boxes but everything is included and the instructions are clear and easy to follow - and I was really impressed with the packaging which ensures the product reaches you in perfect condition. It's all very well made and the brightly-coloured fabric slings complete the effect. Of course, the product is tested to the highest safety standards. I love this - it's a really attractive way to solve a perennial problem and I can see it being a huge hit with children, and with their parents who will appreciate the quality of the design and the manufacture.
Buy from Worlds Apart and make sure you look at their other products too. Also available from Amazon - Hello Home Bear Hug Stack Storage, Multi-Colour. These toy boxes are part of the Hello Home Bear Hug toddler furniture family. You can buy other products to complete the look  including a toddler bed and desk to make a lovely bedroom for your little one, girl or boy.
Bearhug bed   Bearhug storage    desk

 My 1st JCB Summertime Dexter Dumptruck

The first thing that struck me about 'Dexter Dumptruck' was the size - the picture doesn't do this justice; this is a really generously sized toy, far bigger than similar toys I have seen. The dimensions are 37.2 x 23 x 21 cm. The second notable point is that this is a tough toy that will withstand many hours of happy sand play.  Bright colourful Dexter comes with three sand play accessories - two sand moulds (a brick mould and a traffic cone mould) plus a spade to fill up the dumper ready to drive it away and tip the load down. The big sturdy wheels travel well over sand - and grass - and this is a really satisfyingly chunky toy to play with whether at home or on the beach. A great way to encourage imaginative play. Don't miss the JCB Explore website with all the toys and a wealth of activities to explore.
 Quud Triplet

Quut Beach Toy Triplet

This versatile beach toy can be used as a sand toy to shovel, sieve sand and rake; to create patterns in the sand, to write with dig with, build with and pour sand. Use it as a water toy as a funnel (it's great to creating sand art on that sandcastle!) - even use it as a fishing net. There are so many ways to use this colourful toy and it's great for encouraging children's creative play on the beach.  It's available in four bright colours so children will know which is theirs - and Dad will want one too! A super beach toy which offers so much scope for play and fun.
Take a look at all the superb Quut beach toys here. Many of them are also great fun for using in the sandpit, paddling pool and even in the bath. Buy from Cheeky Rascals or from Amazon Quut Triplet - Beach Toy (Ocean Purple).
 Ballo

Quut Beach Toy Ballo

How many of us have seen frustrated children arrive back at their sandcastle from the sea, only to find 90% of the water has slopped out of the bucket? That won't happen any more with this ingenious bucket. Ballo is an ingenious, spherical bucket that makes carrying water easy.  it's still easy to carry. Fill it up in the sea, then grab the handle and run back up the beach, to arrive with a full load of water. The handle is easy to hold and just right for small hands - even when the bucket is full and heavy. The clever design relies on centrifugal force to keep the water in place - it's great fun to spin it around as hard as you can and see what happens! It pours well, too, thanks to the clever shaping around the top. What has really impressed me with these beach toys is that they are a far cry from the cheap plastic toys generally found at seaside shops. These are not toys to be discarded at the end of a holiday - these are toys to keep and to bring out year after year, with all the happy holiday memories that will evoke. Buy from Cheeky Rascals or from Amazon Quut Ballo - Beach Bucket (Lagoon Green)
Cuppi 

Quut Beach Toy Cuppi

Another versatile toy with several different functions - every parent who has to lug heavy bags onto the beach will appreciate this! The most obvious use is as a cup–and–ball toy - the size is perfect for little hands and it's an excellent way to promote hand-eye coordination; a ball is part of the set. The scoops can be used to add another dimension to sand play; there's a scoop which can be used to move sand, create tracks, make tunnels and sprinkle sand, and a sieve. to filter sand or to use the end to write with sand or funnel water to decorate children's sand creations. The ball can be rolled through tunnels and tracks or used to play catch. A real pleasure to play with and adults will really appreciate the high quality of this toy. It's great for the sandpit too. Buy from Cheeky Rascals or from Amazon Cheeky Rascals Quut Beach Toy Cuppi
Quut QuutQuut

GetGo Owl Ugo Play Tent

I've had play tents before which have been consigned to the depths of the garage because they take so long to put up! This, however, is wonderfully easy - just twist the top and the tent pops up, all ready for use. The owl design means means they are not restricted by character and there's plenty of room for two children to play and imagine together. The bright colourful design has an owl face and there are fold-down window flaps with velcro fasteners so children can choose whether to watch what is going on outside or have privacy; great for games of peek-a-boo too. Lightweight and easy to carry, the case has its own handle so the tent is perfect to take to beach or park; when play is over, just twist the button the other way and the tent collapses; but don't worry - it won't collapse in use, as it locks into place. The tent does have a floor (they don't always!) and there are two sturdy fabric hooks which you can use to fasten the tent down with tent pegs or similar. All-in-all, this is a really well thought-out play tent which certainly fills all my criteria. GetGo have lots of products to encourage play - do take a look. GetGo have teamed up with Change4Life, to encourage healthy lifestyles. Purchase from Argos.
 twist-up tent Owl play tent pop up tent

 WOW Toys Special Day Countdown Calendar

These wonderful calendars, suitable for 1-5 year olds, are, of course, based on the ever-popular Advent calendar (of which WOW produce two very special examples). Now children can enjoy the fun year-round, especially with this calendar which can be for any occasion you choose. There is so much to say about these lovely toys, so please note the general remarks apply to the whole range. Countdown to a special day with 10 days of toy surprises, all space-themed in this set; it's great fun to watch the sets build up day-by-day. The toys work well together to encourage imaginative play -  put the figures in the teleporter slide and see them whizz out at the bottom; put Ugo and Bolts in the UFO spinners and spin them around and around; make up stories based on the varied expressions on the friends' faces... The calendars can be personalised with your child's name, photograph and special date. I really can't praise these highly enough - please seek them out and let your child share the joy that WOW toys bring.
See a video here.
   Countdown CalendarCountdown Calendar

WOW Toys Birthday Countdown Calendar

Waiting for a birthday has never been such fun!  Over the preceding 10 days children can open a window each day and find a good quality toy inside - the quality is superb and offer many, many hours of play value. By B-Day, they will have their very own play set ready to play with. As does each in the set, the calendar has an innovative inbuilt slide for additional play fun. The toys include a push-along ice cream trike and a spinning, shape sorting party table. This awesome Countdown Calendar contains 10 toys including a push-along ice cream trike complete with spinning ice cream, a spinning shape sorter table figures and other pieces. The person who came up with the name WOW for these toys is a genuis - when you walk into a toyshop and see the wonderful vibrantly coloured display in front of you, your first reaction really will be WOW! 
See a YouTube video.
   Countdown CalendarCountdown Calendar

WOW Toys Pre-School Countdown Calendar

There's lots of learning fun to be had in the build-up to school - learn to tell the time with the spinning school clock and try out the activities in the leaflet. As they discover more toys, children can put the figures in their very own push-along scooters and then place them in the see-saw and slide for extra play time fun. Starting school is exciting but can also be worrying - as your child opens up each day in the calendar, use the opportunity to talk about what happens at school. Several of our local garden centres stock these wonderful toys - they are a great way to encourage children to enjoy a visit to the garden centre - and a good excuse for the adults! WOW Toys have a complete list of stockists on their site, so find out your nearest. For extra fun, each set comes with an integral play slide to use with the toys. WOW Toys are known and loved for their high quality manufacture; the fact they don't need batteries (hurrah!); for being noiseless (except for the noises children make as their imaginative play is stimulated by the toys); and for being totally safe, even for babies. What more can a parent ask?
Watch the YouTube clip.
  Countdown CalendarCountdown Calendar 

WOW Toys Holiday Countdown Calendar

The build-up to holidays is an exciting time and now it can be even more so.  Over the 10 day build up, children can discover a new bath toy every day, finally creating their very own play set ready to play with on their holiday and afterwards. Will they wait until they have got them all or will the toys be part of bath night straight away?  The calendar also has an clever inbuilt slide for the figures, a jet ski with detachable ring, a diving board which really works, and 5 cute animals (3 of them are scoops too) for bath time or play time fun. A fun-filled leaflet with an activity for each day is also included - these help build learning skills with a range of puzzles including dot-to-dot, colouring, spelling, counting and more - a really nice addition to the sets. Highly recommended; all the toys work really well with the rest of the WOW range - if your child hasn't got some, why not?
Watch children enjoy this here.
  Countdown CalendarCountdown Calendar 

Convertible Tractor by Miles Kelly

This book/playmat/toy gives your child scope for endless hours of inventive play. First, enjoy theConvertible Tractorstory about a day on the farm with the farmer and all his animals. Then, you can open the book out as a playmat and this is where all those farmyard toys will come into play as children enjoy setting up different scenes and acting out the story which can be followed along the path. It will appeal to a range of ages - perhaps the older child could read the story while the younger one acts it out, giving a super opportunity for interacting together. The simple text is perfect for young readers and, of course, children love farms! As if that's not enough, then the kit cleverly slots together to make a tractor, complete with windscreen. It's easy to put together and sturdy enough for plenty of fun. And at the end, just fold it down and put it away. As with the others in this innovative range, the book would be excellent in any Early Years setting, especially given the compact size and the fact it allows several children to enjoy it together; great for role play. See the whole range here.

Tonka Town Air Rescue Station Play Set

This exciting playset will really grab the attention of pre-schoolers. It encourages their imaginative play as they recreate the excitement of a real air rescue. This electronic kit will keep children entertained for hours as the helicopter hovers above the helipad with the propeller noise getting gradually louder; at the same time, lights flash and it is cleared to land by the walkie talkie sound. The pack includes rescue HQ (extending garage with opening doors, rotating wind sock, control tower), a stretcher with foldable legs, work trolley, and a male and female character. Each piece is well made and colourful and the sound effects make this great fun to play with. As well as encouraging imaginative play and the making up of stories around the set, it's also a good way to encourage manipulative skills - and all this, while having great fun! To extend the play value further, take a look at the other superb playsets in the Tonka Town series, which all go beautifully alongside each other and increase play value every time you add another set, or more figures or vehicles. A super play set with lots of play value.

FROZEN Playtent from Worlds Apart

This very pretty Frozen Castle play tent is ideal for all young FROZEN fans. It has a fold down door and peep through window to encourage imaginative role play and to give young ones their very own space. The attractive design with its turret shaped top and colourful decorations make it very attractive. It's quick and easy to assemble, you just need to pop it up and insert support rods for added stability. It folds away compactly too for easy storage. Light to carry, when the warmer weather comes, it will be ideal for garden or beach use. Suitable for indoor and outdoor use. The dimensions are H118, W75, D75cm - it's made of polyester, tested to high safety standards and is recommended for ages 2 years and over.

Postman Pat Playset Greendale Post Office

Encourage your child's imaginative play with this colourful post office, complete with Mrs Goggins figure. Open the door and walk inside the post office to find an interior decorated with plenty of detail including well stocked shelves. There's a counter with a cash register and a mail trolley with a parcel and letter. These popular characters will encourage make-believe play as children act out the stories or make up their own. There are lots of other playsets to go alongside this and extend play value including Postman Pat - Greendale Stationand Postman Pat SDS Playset Service Centre Sorting Office.
fraction fun

Plan Toys Fraction Fun from Great Gizmos

Learning through play is the best way to start children on their learning journey - making it fun from an early age. This set introduces children to geometry, fractions and shapes in a simple way. It has two-sided wooden base which is easy to flip over, and which has a circle, rectangle, square and triangle one side and more complex shapes on the other.  10 colourful wooden pieces - rectangle, semi-circles, triangles and squares can be fitted into the shapes in a variety of ways. Children will learn about the proportional relationships between one section and the whole in a practical way. A well-made toy with excellent learning value.
Buy from Amazon Plan Toys Fraction Fun
salad

New Sprouts® Garden Fresh Salad Set from Learning Resources

This beautifully made tactile set works well on so many levels. It encourages role play and imaginative activities and will work well with play kitchens and other food sets. It's the perfect way to encourage healthy eating as adults can encourage children to discuss the various items and their role in our diet; as well as how they grow - this helps early vocabulary skills too. Encourage healthy eating from a young age with this colourful imaginative play salad set! The set includes a serving bowl and 4 smaller bowls - so many sets like this are only sufficient for two, so this is excellent. The play tongs help develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. There are 32 pieces of play food: 12 lettuce leaves (in two different greens), eight pepper rings (four red and four yellow) and four each of tomato slices, cucumber slices, and carrot sticks. Learning colours and counting are tow more skills that can be encouraged with this set. I love the quality of these - the detail is impressive and the textures add an extra dimension which will be especially valuable for those with special needs. The pieces are durable and realistic. 
Learning Resources have a fabulous range of exceptionally high-quality products which are used in schools, nurseries, for special needs and in the home. Do take a look at their website - you can't fail to be impressed!

Shopkins Easy Squeezy Fruit and Veg Stand Playset

Shopkins are a collectable craze. They are fun characters (over 100 of them and more every 3 months) who live in a big shopping world made up of a series of playsets which connect together to create one large supermarket. The cute little figures fit neatly inside the shopping baskets. This colourful Easy Squeezy' Fruit and Veg playset features moveable parts and areas to attach characters, as wel as places to store them - two characters are included. The novelty is that it includes a real juice squeezer! It's a colourful nd well-made set which is perfect for encouraging imaginative play and even better as part of a collection.
beehives 

Plan Toys Beehives from Great Gizmos

The simplest things are often the best! The wooden set includes 6 different coloured bees and hives and a pair of wooden tweezers. Children can sort the bees and place them in the matching hive. It is great for developing coordination skills in a fun way and, with a bit of imagination, there will be many ways to play with this set. How many different patterns can be made with the shapes? We all know how important it is to save our bees so it's a great way to help children learn about bees and their vital role, as adults can make the most of the opportunity to talk about bees and how they work. Satisfying and colourful, it's a joy to use.
 Wooden toys are so much nicer than plastic! Plan Toys pride themselves on their green credentials and produces beautifully made wooden toys. Buy from Amazon Plan Toys Bee Hives.

 The Snowman and The Snowdog 15cm Snowdog Soft Toy

No doubt children all over the country will be enjoying the adventures of The Snowman this winter - and while they are, they can cuddle up with their very own plush cuddly Snowdog. With adorable coloured floppy ears and a red heart on the side, he is quite adorable. Enjoy reading Raymond Briggs' much loved stories with your child while it's cold or snowy outside and bring the tales to life with a character from the story. He looks just like he does in the story and children will find him irresistible.

Schleich horses

These detailed and individually hand painted horses are ideal for encouraging imaginative play and work extremely well with the larger play sets such as the stable shown below. They are well made in strong plastic and are extremely lifelike with their accurate detailing of each type of horse and its key characteristics. This Arabian horse with its grey coat, attractively tied mane and darker markings is an impressive figure that matches well with others in the series - great to collect! The Schleich Knabstrupper Foalis a lovely brown with a distinctive spotted coat. Another foal is the miniature brown Schleich Shetland Pony Foaland finally we have the Schleich Trakehner Foal; they are all shown below.
  volcano

Natural History Museum Pocket Volcano from Great Gizmos

Create your own volcano with this neat gadget - on the table, in the bath, in the garden or even inside a glass. The kit includes a pocket volcano plus detailed instructions which include fun facts. You just need to add baking soda or bath fizzer and vinegar to make a variety of exciting eruptions. A good way to explain the science behind volcanoes. Buy from Amazon Great Gizmos Natural History Museum Pocket Volcano.
Great Gizmos is a leading provider of children’s fun, creative and innovative toys from wind-up gadgets and solar controlled robots to creative bracelet kits and mould and paint fairy plaques. Great Gizmos aims to provide a variety of high quality products that are exciting to both the parent and child, all at competitive prices.

 Peter Rabbit Talking Plush from Vivid ImaginationsPeter Rabbit

Squeeze the cute and cuddly 10” Talking Plush Peter Rabbit and he will speak character phrases from the series such as ‘Let’s hop to it!’ and ‘Brilliant!’ With adorable expressions and cute costume details he is perfect for any play time adventure - and just right to snuggle up to in bed at night. Suitable for 3+. See more super products from Vivid Toys and Games.

Sparkup The Magical Book Reader

This clever device is designed to enhance the joy of reading and sharing books as a family and adds a new and unusual dimension. A good spoken introduction clearly explains how to use the device - it's very straightforward and easy to set up and use. Read any book aloud and the device records your voice and the camera senses the recording and knows when to prompt to turn the page when the story is read back to the child. The device stores the text of around 50 picture books (the device needs the pictures to prompt it - it's not designed to work with text-only) and you can link to your computer to save more. I was impressed with the sound quality - it's excellent for such a small device. It's worth a few practice sessions before a final recording and the device makes this easy too. Remember, this is a fantastic idea but nothing can replace the importance of snuggling up with your child and sharing a book - but for the times you can't be there, or perhaps for grandparents who don't live close, it's a lovely way to share the joy of books.Another good use would be for older siblings to read and record stories for younger ones. A great use of technology which is easy to use and will doubtless encourage reading - and we all know how vital that is!

Tidlo Pizza Set

This six slice wooden pizza comes with 12 removable toppings, a pizza tray and a pizza cutter Tidlofor plenty of imaginative play – works well with wooden kitchen sets. Children love to be able to serve friends and adults with their favourite foods and it’s especially good that they can offer a choice! The pizza slices fix together with Velcro making it look like a stuffed crust pizza. Cutting a pizza is a great way for children to start to learn about fractions and this is helped by the fact the pizza tray is divided into fractions – a clever idea! A bright, durable and well-made toy which is a pleasure to play with and with lots of play value. Tidlo Toys are John Crane Ltd’s own brand collection – see the whole range here.
 

BoxSet Wood Play Fairy House from Casdon

We all know and love Casdon's wonderful range of role play toys, many of which are reviewed further down this page. Now they have brought us a superb range of WoodPlay toys which have all the same hallmarks of great quality. Children will love the way this fairy house is neatly packaged in its own carry along wooden box which opens up to reveal a magical fairy world in which they can let their imaginations have free rein. The box is beautifully decorated inside and out and the set includes two fairy characters, rainbow stairs and slide to attach to the sides plus accessories to furnish the house including chairs, table and bed. It's easy to pack the pieces back in the box, ensuring the set remains in one piece and making it easy to store and take out and about. This is one of the imaginative Boxsets in the Casdon 'WoodPlay' range; each one is made from sustainable plantation wood (and I loved the wood smell when I opened them!) to give a traditional toy that will be enjoyed by today's children and become a keepsake for future generations.

BoxSet Wood Play Train from Casdon

Introduce children to the exciting world of train sets with this attractive wooden box which opens out to reveal a complete train set. It includes an engine and two carriages (all magnetic) plus curved and straight tracks with connectors - the track cleverly continues through the attractively decorated box and out of the other side to make a complete circuit. Full of possibilities for imaginative play, the set easily tidies away and is perfectly portable - there's even a handle on the box. There are lots of other boxsets in the range which are lovely to collect and play with together - a great present idea for members of a family to get together and buy one each.
Casdon   Fairy HouseTrain

Varoom Casdon Wood Play Demolition Pack

Four beautifully made and well sized wooden vehicles make up this set - a bulldozer with a scoop, a roller, a tip truck (with a tipping body) and an excavator (plus lifting arm). The parts are fully interchangeable to mix and match with all the vehicles in the range for added play value (and to help develop manipulative skills). The vehicles are perfect for encouraging imaginative play and for using alongside the other sets and vehicles in the range. Each vehicle features an easy 'Push…Push…Go' action so no batteries to run out! These are part of the new 'WoodPlay' range from Casdon, made from sustainable plantation wood; durable and well made, they are a joy!

Varoom Casdon Wood Play Construction Pack

There's a crane with a movable arm, a spinning cement mixer, a digger with a bucket that can be raised and lowered and a truck in this set for all aspiring builders. Each vehicle is appropriately decorated with water based paints - even down to a painted driver for each. They are the prefect addition to any roadway set and will encourage hours of imaginative play. They are a joy to play with, with their movable parts, tactile wood and attractive decoration - a refreshing change from plastic toys and so much nicer to handle. Perfect for children to enjoy together, to encourage social skills and cooperative play. These traditional wooden toys are just right to keep and pass on from one generation to another so parents (and grandparents) can share the joy they had in these lovely timeless wooden toys.

WOW Toys Wonderland Advent Calendar

This is a really special advent calendar! Perfect for 1 to 5 year olds, it's a wonderful way to give your child a treat every day in the run up to Christmas. Each day your child will discover a new figure to match with the numbers on the colourful fold down play scene; this turns into a lovely play world to extend the imagination. Plenty more educational value - counting, motor skills and vocabulary all come into play. There's a push-along Santa car too as well as an activity sheet full of ideas to extend the play value. Of course, as with all WOW Toys beautifully made and brightly coloured toys, no batteries are required - and their attention to detail means they are completely safe; it can be hard to find toys for 1 to 2 year olds so that is a real boon. After the festivities are over, all the pieces will work well with the rest of your child's WOW Toys collection. Superb. Also available - WOW Toys Town Advent Calendar

Nelson the Narwhal My Blue Nose Friend (Tatty Teddy)

Me to You Bears, also known as the Tatty Teddy, is the famous grey bear with the blue nose and patches. I was sent four of these gorgeous little soft toys for review and I fell in love with them! There's one for every occasion and their size makes them perfect for collecting and there will be plenty of room on the bed for them!  Each has their own special characteristics and they are a super way to encourage imaginative play. Beautifully made and gloriously tactile, these are totally adorable and will make a lovely gift; children will love to build up a collection so that could be present ideas solved!  Buy your Blue Nose Bears direct from Carte Blanche - just click the links. Nelson is the knowledgeable Narwhal, an expert in all things nautical, he'll steer you clear of deep waters!  China the beautiful Red Panda is small and shy but if you find her she'll bring you luck! Sahara is the passionate Pink Scorpion, she's loyal loving and determined to be the best possible friend! and Spartacus  the brave Labradoodle who may be fluffy but he'll fight for your friendship!
 Tatty Teddy  NelsonChinaSaharaSpartacus
 Tell Me About Today
 Tell Me About Today

Meadow Kids Tell Me About Today

Children will be familiar with this type of chart from school but there they don't get the opportunity to complete it on a daily basis as they have to take turns. It's lovely, therefore, to have a chart at home which they can enjoy completing. As well as helping them to learn about dates and seasons, it also encourages observation as they look at the weather outside and decide which magnet to use - maybe they will need to change it during the day! The set includes a hanging magnetic board plus magnets for numbers, days of the week, months, years (up to 2018), seasons and weather. It's a good way to start conversations, as you talk about the weather and the time of year and it's great for children to come down each morning and update the chart.

Meadow Kids Alphabet and Colours Learning Activity Kit

Stamps, stencils, 6 felt tip pens, ink pad and 8 activity sheets make up this fun way to learn the alphabet and colours as well. One stencil sheet has the lower case alphabet and the other has insect shapes; combining the two will result in some pictures a young child will be proud to show off. The activity sheets have a range of activities to extend pen skills as well as learning about colour. It's a neat little set with plenty of play and educational value. Many key skills will be developed, including thinking, imagination, creativity and communication.
Take a look at the excellent toys and other educational products on the Meadow Kids website

Tidlo Lift ‘n’ Look Alphabet

This generously sized colourful wooden alphabet tray is perfect for learning many key skills. As Tidlowell as learning lower case letters, children can lift the letters and find underneath a picture of an animal beginning with the appropriate letter. Upper case letters are found around the edge of the board. Playing with the letters helps develop manipulative skills, spatial awareness and recognition skills as they slot the letters back. Take the letters out to practise letter recognition; they can also be used to trace around to help early writing and reading skills. Of course, children will just think they are having fun! Well made, with no rough edges, the letters stand proud of the board so they are easy to grasp and the good quality bright paints will not wear away. Just right to introduce the alphabet as well as plenty of play value. Tidlo Toys are John Crane Ltd’s own brand collection – see the whole range here.
 

Mix and Match Weird Creatures from Meadow Kids

27 colourful cards with heads, middles and feet of a variety of animals form Mix and Match Weird Creatures. Both children loved this game. The 20 month old immediately took the cards and tried to make the animals correctly, naming those she knew as she went – including Raa Raa! The 3 ½ year old went straight to the pictures of mixed up animals which are included with the set and made those, with often hilarious results. A great example of the way that one game can work perfectly for different ages – and encourage co-operation as each helped the other. The 3½ year old was determined to fit the shapes within the card outers and this frustrated him a little, I assume because they were not designed for this. For that reason, I was very interested to see the Mix and Match Animals Pocket Charts which come with a frame to hold them. The varying creations give adults a good opportunity to talk about the creatures and develop children’s imagination and conversation; with some thought, they could be used as the basis for card games too – see what your child can come up with. The cards are durable and attractive and come in a strong box for storage. Mix and Match Weird Creatures is a hugely successful game for my two which captured their attention for a good length of time, and came out again next day… and the next… Take a look at the excellent toys and other educational products on the Meadow Kids website - there's plenty of interest there.
  Meadow Kids

Tidlo Cutting Fruits Set

Wooden toys are so much more tactile and lovely to play with than plastic! These chunkyTidlowooden fruits – 7 of them - are ideal for pretend play and go perfectly with play kitchens. The fruits fix together with Velcro and children can slice the fruits with the safe wooden knife included. They all come on a good sized wooden tray which adds to the potential for imaginative play. Adults can use these fruits as an opportunity to discuss healthy eating as well as to talk about the various fruits and where they come from. Well-made and designed, these are very realistic - with great detail inside the fruits as well as outside - as well as being robust and durable. A lovely way to encourage imaginative role play and a product which will give many years of happy use. Tidlo Toys are John Crane Ltd’s own brand collection – see the whole range here.

Doc McStuffins Role Play Tent from Worlds Apart

Doc McStuffin will be waiting in her surgery to help the animals get better as soon as this easy to pop up play tent is in place. The play tent is bright and colourful with bright images on the 'walls' to make it seem realistic. Encourage role play with the doctor's bag and bandages and even plasters for the patients. It extends the idea of role play whilst giving children a space they can make their own. It encourages children to take care of their toys and also develops manipulative skills whilst encouraging imaginative play. Quick and easy to erect and to dismantle, fits easily in a room (or can be used outdoors) and designed to the highest children's safety standards so you can be confident children are safe. Great fun.


 
Doc McStuffin This is one of a huge range of products from Worlds Apart who "help families make the most of growing up. By constantly discovering new ways to bring the best ideas together, we create children’s lifestyle products that give kids and parents more, so every day is full of wow." They have some excellent and unusual products so do take a look at their website to see what they have to offer..
Marble Reward Jar

Marble Reward Jar from The House of Marbles

Star charts are all very well, but what then? This pack is a far better idea as children have a real incentuve for good behaviour as they know they can enjoy the marbles after. A simple but very effective idea. The pack contains approximately 15 medium marbles, and 40 small marbles, a plastic screw top jar and cotton bag. Coming from The House of Marbles, the marbles are all out of the ordinary, especially the large ones which are particularly lovely. Now to choose a game from the website to go with the rewards... You can also buy from Amazon House of Marbles - Marble Reward Jar
 Prickly Pile-Up

Prickly Pile-Up from The House of Marbles

Porcupines are very prickly so it should be easy to build a pile of them - yes? Not as easy as you would think, in this entertaining game which will be enjoyed by children of 4+ - and their families. The box contains lots of delightful wooden porcupines - all you have to do is stack them up... A steady hand is a pre-requisite and that is difficult when you are laughing at other people's efforts! I warn you - it's highly addictive and things can get very competitive! Buy your Prickly Pile-Up from The House of Marbles and browse all the great products at www.houseofmarbles.com/shop.
Also available from Amazon - House Of Marbles Prickly Pile Up
"House of Marbles are makers & purveyors of a world famous range of glass marbles, board games, classic toys, puzzles, pastimes & decorative accessories for the home and garden. We have been designing, making and selling fun and entertaining products since 1973..." If you're in Devon, it's a great family day out.
 Meadow Ring Toss

Plan Toys Meadow Ring Toss from Great Gizmos

This fun game which can be enjoyed by children of 3+ is a great way to develop co-ordination and dexterity skills. There are three posts of varying heights which slot neatly into the wooden bases. Six rope quoits, each colour marked, are to be thrown over the appropriate posts - each post is marked with two colours. Vary the difficulty by standing further back, so the game is suitable for a range of ages. Simple to play, the bases stand well even on uneven ground; great for beach or garden. Why not set it up as part of an obstacle course? Well made and sustainably produced, it's a lovely traditional game that will be enjoyed by the whole family for many years. Buy from Great Gizmos. You can also buy from Amazon - Plan Toys Meadow Ring Toss. "PlanToys® was established over 30 years with a mission to inspire children and families worldwide with innovative toy creations that help to sustain the environment and economy. Their aim is to create ‘innovative and educational toys that help to promote children’s wildest imaginations and best possible self-development’. PlanToys® not only manufactures toys with the highest quality and safety standards, but also uses ground-breaking creations that help to preserve the environmental excellence, whilst promoting a ‘green lifestyle’ to youngsters."
 Weather Science

Great Gizmos 4M Green Weather Science

There's no better way to gain an understanding of (and appreciation of) the wonders of science than by hands-on experience. Weather is all around us; it's a constant topic of conversation and it affects our daily lives, so finding out more is bound to interest children. This comprehensive kit includes fun educational experiments -  static electricity that causes lightning, create clouds in the palm of your hand, watch air currents that produce wind, experiment with acid rain, explore the impact of global warming and build a water-cycle model. It's a super range of experiments which gives an excellent understanding - perfect for KS2 science. The comprehensive instructions are easy to follow and children will be intrigued and fascinated by the results. Buy your Weather Science kit from Great Gizmos and encourage your child's thirst for knowledge. You can also buy from Amazon - Great Gizmos 4M Green Weather ScienceAnd how about this to go with it - 4M Green Science Weather Stationfrom Amazon or from Great Gizmos.

RenArt Blendy Pens Fashion Designer

No more frustration with trying to get just the right colour - with Blendypens, colours are blendypensunlimited! Perfect for children of 6+, they can simply blend two or more colours in a single pen, for amazing colourful results. This kit will especially appeal to girls, as they can colour and decorate their own fashion figures and accessories. Blendypens provides the ability to blend multiple colours on one nib to create amazing blended colour effects on the page using the special fusion chamber. All you need in one box to create your own designs - 8x Blendypens, 4x Fusion Chambers, 3x Die Cut Figures, 32x Fashion Accessories plus instructions. A super way to encourage creativity with a nicely novel touch; these pens will be used for far more than just the models in the box. Great fun!

Classic Etch a Sketch from Flair

I remember my joy at receiving an Etch A Sketch as a child - and I've still got it which is testament to the durability of the originals of this ever-popular product. It's a simple process - two knobs, one drawing left and right and the other up and down - the tricky bit comes when using the two together to draw angles and curves and it's definitely a case of practise makes perfect. No problem though - simply turn it over and shake and start afresh. It's addictive - even adults will be engrossed in trying to produce a masterpiece. Unlike cheaper versions, the lines really do disappear, time after time. There's a very special technique needed to draw as the lines have to be continuous; it's a great way to encourage manual dexterity and coordination - and even forward planning! The care needed to retrace your steps and follow a line backwards really helps with pen control. Easy to carry around, this is perfect for long journeys and an ideal summer holiday toy.
 Tower Tumbling

Tower Tumbling from Plan Toys

This fun game is perfect for children who love to build towers but want an extra challenge.  At Great Gizmosfirst glance, it's a simple stacking toy - but look more closely! The discs and rods can be stacked in all sorts of ways. The discs have colours and at the simple level, children can match and stack these. The more advanced level means matching the number of rods to the number on the disc - can you make it balance?  Careful - it doesn't always stack up straight! Made from natural wood and finished with natural dye this toy has a satisfying feel that you never get from a plastic toy. Suitable for children aged 3 and above this is ideal to test and develop patience and enhance hand eye coordination. and problem solving skills. "Plan Toys specialise in designing and manufacturing environmentally friendly toys that help with early learning and teach about the importance of sustainability."  Buy from Great Gizmos or from Amazon - Plan Toys Tower Tumbling.
 Lemon clock

Lemon Clock from  4M

Children will be amazed to see that a lemon can power a clock. Simply add a lemon  to learn about the science behind batteries by powering a clock with just a lemon. Seeing the way that electrical and chemical reactions take place makes science more understandable so this is ideal for school or home to support learning. The acid in the lemon, zinc and copper combine to produce a chemical reaction and create voltage to run the clock. The kit contains copper and zinc plates, wire, tape, digital clock, and full instructions. Suitable for children aged 5 and above this is an excellent example of hands-on science with an end product that can be used.   Buy from Great Gizmos and look at all their other super products or buy from Amazon - Great Gizmos 4M Kidz Labs Lemon Clock

Budkins from Le Toy Van

Budkins are bendy wooden characters in a vast range - over 100 - which includes fairy tale characters, princesses and jesters, soldiers, historical, sports, workers... the list goes on! They fit well with the range of Le Toy Van sets and are a brilliant way to encourage imaginative and creative play. Each figure is about 15cm high and dressed in individual cloth outfits. They are poseable and easy to stand up. These are unusual and stand out from mass produced toys and the range is phenomenal. They are excellent to collect but for real play value, I think you need the playsets or the other lovely wooden toys produced by Le Toy Van - take a look at the range on their website. Look at the lovely characters below!

Playmobil Pirates 5238 Pirate Ship with RC Underwater Motor

Pirates are perennially popular so this latest pirate ship from Playmobil is bound to be a great success. Half the fun is, naturally, assembling the ship and that takes around 45 minutes - the instructions are clear but younger children will appreciate a little adult input. It is made with all the attention to detail and with the high quality for which Playmobil are renowned. The Pirate Ship comes with a remote-controlled underwater motor - and cleverly, it warns you when the battery is low or the ship is getting beyond reach and turns the ship around and heads for home so no disasters if playing on the boating lake. Although large, the ship can be used in the bath but there's more fun to be had in a larger space. Enemies ahoy! See them off with the functioning cannons and protect the pirate booty which is safely stashed away in the central storage compartment. There are three pirate figures, a treasure chest (with treasure of course!), black sails, swords, barrel, shovel, anchor and more; it is fully compatible with other sets so children really can use their imaginations as they link their sets together. The poseable figures add to the play value. A great product with plenty of imaginative opportunities. Buy direct from Playmobil and see all the other great products.
  Playmobil Pirate Ship
 Super Sorting Pie

Super Sorting Pie by Learning Resources, sold by ImagiDo!

This colourful fruit-packed pie teaches many early learning skills, particularly numeracy, as children sort the fruit counters by their attributes. Placing the sorting cards into the pie base provides visual cues that support success. The set includes two pairs of Jumbo Tweezers which reinforce motor skills. The set includes 60 4cm counters (seven fruits in five different colours), a 22cm durable plastic pie, removable divider, three double-sided sorting cards (one with numbers 1-5 and 6-10, second with colours and fruit shapes and the third with coloured pictures of fruit on both sides), two Jumbo Tweezers and an Activity Guide to help teachers and parents make the most of the product. I like the feel of the fruit - not hard plastic but a more rubbery feel and more durable too. With a bit of imagination, the pie and its contents can be used for all sorts of other games - cooking and shops come to mind. A super product, versatile and well made. Buy from ImagiDo! and take a look at the rest of their range of good value educational toys - the site is packed with inspiration.
  Lion Bead Frame

 Lion Bead Frame from Charlie's Toy Shop

This brightly coloured wooden bead frame from Orange Tree Toys is perfect for little ones. The beads, which are alternately heart-shaped and round, can be pushed all around the curves of the wire to encourage dexterity. And in the centre is a lovely friendly lion complete with felt mane and ears to add to the tactile experience. The toy stands on a red wooden base and the whole thing is beautifully made and will make a lovely room decoration as well as developing  logical thinking, concentration  and fine motor skills.
Charlie's Toy Shop is based in Halesowen, West Midlands and offer a fantastic range of fun, educational and development toys. We stock a large range of Melissa and Doug and Orchard Toys, alongside toys from the Alex range. Each toy has been picked to enhance your child's play experience, whilst learning and improving many educational and development skills. All the toys are available to purchase online.


 

Peppa Pig Weebles Wind and Wobble Playhouse from Character Options

Stand Peppa Pig (and her friends) on the stairs and and wind the handle to move her up; Peppa Pigacross the wobbly floor she goes and whoosh - down the slide and onto the roundabout! Peppa can swing on the swing and the roundabout moves as the child turns the daisy. An exclusive Peppa Weeble is part of the set. Well thought out, the toy is perfect for little fingers (it's recommended for 18 months plus) and there is nothing that's too hard to manage. It's really well made and durable - and it needs to be, as I can almost guarantee it will get many hours of use as children develop imaginative games to play with the set. There are lots of other sets to go along with this to increase play value - try the Peppa Pig Weebles Push Along Wobbily Car

Peppa Pig Wobbily Figure and Base Emily Elephant from Character Options

Your child will need some Weebles to get the full value from the Playhouse! This Emily WeeblesElephant fits the bill perfectly - and there are seven more to collect including Peppa Pig Wobbily Figure and Base Rebecca Rabbit (Assortment)and Peppa Pig Wobbily Figure and Base Suzy Sheep Character (Assortment). Each comes with an interlocking base to add play value and show off the collection. So often, young children get frustrated when play figures won't stand up - but not with Weebles, which wobble but don't fall down. That makes them perfect for little ones who will love playing with these bright characters.

Fireman Sam Jupiter Drive and Steer Fireman Sam from Character Options

Fire! Race Fireman Sam to the rescue with this Remote Control Jupiter Fire Engine. The steering wheel allows control of the engine going forwards and backwards, and by turning the wheel to steer. The wheel also has a siren to warn the other traffic and a turbo button to get there extra quickly. You can also play the theme tune - and parents will be pleased to know there's an option to turn the sounds off! Suitable for children aged 18 months and up, controlling the engine is an excellent way to develop spatial awareness and direction skills; they will also learn cause and effect. Imaginative play is, of course, another important element. The set needs 8 x AA batteries to power the engine and remote control. A well designed toy with plenty of play value and one that will be set to become a favourite, especially as Fireman Sam is such a well-loved character.

Postman Pat Showbiz Pat from Character Options Postman Pat

With the new Postman Pat film just released, there will be a huge upsurge of interest in this much-loved character. Watch Postman Pat groove along to the music with this gitzy plush model, complete with glittery postman's outfit - and a microphone and sunglasses for full pop star effect. Just press Pat's hand and watch him dance as the  three fun songs play. The songs include the new Special Delivery theme tune and Please Mr Postman song. He's soft and cuddly too and bound to be a hit!
  Monkey Multiplier

Monkey Multiplier from Great Gizmos

Tables - boring? Not with this fun game from Great Gizmos!  Monkey Multiplier's clever little monkey is here to make it fun - point the monkey’s toes to the two numbers you want to multiply and the answer will magically appear in the ring between his hands. Help your child learn tables from 1x to 12x and thus give them that essential confidence that they need to approach all their number work now and in the future. As well as being excellent for home use, this will be a fun learning aid in the classroom. It's suitable for ages 4+. Buy your Monkey Multiplier from Great Gizmos or purchase from Amazon - Great Gizmos Monkey Multiplier

Very Hungry Caterpillar Wooden Shape Sorter Clock from Rainbow Designs

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of the most popular children's book characters ever and as children love him so much, he's a great way to help the development of early learning skills. Recommended for children of 3+, I would initially use this as a shape sorter with a younger child (taking great care with the shape pieces, of course). Then move on to learn about telling the time, as it has a traditional clock face with movable hands - I was glad to see that the hands move independently as it is so frustrating for children when they get one in the right place and the other moves! This beautifully made wooden clock with its bright colours and friendly caterpillar also makes an attractive room decoration, as it has a stand to prop it up. A superb teaching toy.
  Illuminated Moon

Illuminated Moon from Brainstorm Toys

Children love to spot and talk about the moon - it has a perennial fascination for them, fuelled by talk about 'The man in the Moon'. Now you can put their very own moon into their room with this realistic and detailed illuminated model - the detailed moulding on the moon is excellent. Flat at the back, it is neatly designed to hang on the wall just like a picture and the glow of the light is very authentic looking. The remote control automatically scrolls through 12 phases of the moon, or it can be used to manually set the moon to look just like the real one. Children will love to go off to sleep by the light of their moon and the auto shut-off mechanism will save batteries. It's really simple to set up - just make sure you have 4 AA and 2 AAA batteries to hand. The moon comes with an educational booklet so children can learn more about the moon and it's excellent for them to learn the phases of the moon and to understand why they occur. It makes a perfect nightlight and is a reassuring way for children to drift off to sleep. Buy direct from Brainstorm Toys or from Amazon at Brainstorm Toys RC Illuminated Moon"Brainstorm Toys is a range of fun, educational and interactive products that brings together a host of fascinating items. The aim of the Brainstorm Toys brand is not only to entertain children but also to inspire them to learn more about their environment."
  Plan Toys

Plan Toys 30 Piece Construction Kit

Encourage children's imaginations with this colourful and versatile kit. The wooden set comes with a range of shapes plus screws, wheels and a screwdriver. The pieces can be manoeuvred by the child as they twist and turn the pieces to produce all sorts of objects. We made a vehicle which rolled along well on the wheels.The parts are easy to assemble - and to take apart to make something else. The pieces are well made, with no rough edges and this is a durable set that will give many years of fun. As your child gets older, s/he will be able to tackle more challenging projects and try the suggestions included. Using this kit will help development of fine motor skills, concentration and hand-eye coordination. Extend its value by setting children a challenge and thereby encourage problem solving skills. Buy your construction kit direct from Great GizmosThere's a 60 piece set available too. "Plan Toys specialise in designing and manufacturing environmentally friendly toys that help with early learning and teach about the importance of sustainability."
"Great Gizmos is a leading provider of children’s fun, creative and innovative toys. Our goal is to provide an extensive range of high quality products that parents and customers want to buy and kids will love to play with, at competitive prices.
 We carefully select the finest toys and gifts from around the world to provide our customers with the best range of products available online to suit every age"
I am delighted that Great Gizmos will be providing toys for review on a regular basis, so book mark this page and keep coming back to see what is new.
Follow Great Gizmos on Twitter and Like them on Facebook.
  Springtime friends

4M Springtime Friends Mould and Paint

Encourage children's creativity with this charming set of springtime friends to mould and paint. Once made and painted, they can be used either as fridge magnets or badges - pins and magnets are included, as are the moulds, plaster and paints plus comprehensive instructions - there's even glitter to decorate the finished product. The soft moulds pull off easily once set and if you buy additional plaster the moulds can be re-used. They will make lovely presents for grandparents and other family and friends. A good activity for child and parent to share with satisfying results. Buy your set from Great Gizmos.

Convertible Spaceship from Miles Kelly

Is it a book? Is it a playmat? Is it a spaceship? It's all Spaceshipthree! First, read the travel through space on an exciting journey to board the spacecraft. On the way, they pass all sorts of exciting places and children will enjoy the experience of space; plenty of opportunities for discussion and learning based on this alone. Simon Abbott's detailed drawings are full of details to keep children intrigued. Next, lay the book our on the floor to use as a playmat - there's a route shown for children to follow with their own spacecraft. Finally, and most excitingly for young ones, the boards can be folded into a sturdy spaceship big enough for a child to sit in and have all sorts of imaginary adventures. Hours of imaginative fun guaranteed - this is a really clever idea and any child should be thrilled to receive this. It would also be great for imaginative play in the classroom.

Wow Toys Blaze The Fire Truck

This new range of six vehicles are mini vehicles which are highly collectable and very affordable. The truck comes with its driver - and the figure can be interchanged with the other mini vehicles, giving children a good chance to extend play ideas. The rubber tyres make it easy to push the toy along - even on quite thick carpet, which is quite unusual. And on a hard floor, they really zoom along. WOW toys are a huge hit with children. I have put them into a toybox with a selection of other toys and time after time, they are the first - and often the only - toys to come out. They really capture children's attention with their bright colours and variety of play opportunities.

Wow Toys Ace The Racecar

Ace the Racecar loves to compete with Izzy the Racecar - but she will have something to say about that! These brightly coloured vehicles are exceptionally well made and extremely durable - there's not a rough edge in sight so they are ideal for the recommended age of 1+. So many toys are recommended for 3+ that it makes a refreshing change to find these lovely vehicles are suited to toddlers and it's good to see that a wide range can share the pleasure of these toys. I love the way each vehicle has its own character and name - this is a lovely way to extend children's imaginations.
 

Wow Toys Izzy The Racecar

Encourage children to play together with their WOW vehicles, which are great for shared play and for developing manipulative skills and the imagination. Izzy will try her hardest to beat Ace - are girls the best? Even the packaging is attractive - the colourful boxes have scenes inside which can be kept and used with the vehicles. Complete the set with Wow Toys Clay The Cement Mixer, Wow Toys Jax The Dump Truck and Wow Toys Jojo The Ambulance- two racing cars, two construction vehicles and two emergency vehicles make a full complement. Like all the WOW toys, no batteries are needed.
Clay the cement mixer Jax the dump truck   Jojo the ambulance
post office
PO

Learning Resources Pretend & Play Post Office Set from Top Toy Box

Role play is an essential part of children's development as well as being something that keeps them amused for many hours. One of the most important things they learn from toys like this is to play and co-operate together and that is a vital skill. This set contains an amazing 150 pieces, including a counter with serving window, notice board, clock with movable hands, bureau de change and post box. To supplement this, there are envelopes, postage stamps, letters, parcels, driving and fishing licence forms, passport, self-inking stamp, bank savings sheets, play money, post bag and more - a wonderful variety and very realistic. And if you are wondering what will happen to all the bits after play, don't worry - they all pack neatly into a carrying case; an excellent idea. A good point is that many of the items are wipe clean so they can be used again and again; a useful tip would be to copy some of the forms before use. . The range of resources is particularly comprehensive - I really can't think of anything that's missing! It's well made too and stands well on a table top.A super toy which encourages children to play together, to use their imagination and which develops numeracy skills; it will give many hours of play value. Impressive and great value. Buy yours here from Top Toy Shop and make sure you browse through their excellent site at the same time. I like the feature which allows you to search by learning type.
casdon_logo Casdon make a superb range of realistic role play toys so do look at their website to see everything on offer. A big 'thank you' to Casdon Toys who sent me these superb products for review - I am highly impressed with the whole range and the play value offered.

Numatic Little Henry Toy Vacuum Cleaner from Casdon

The 'real' Henry is a lovely friendly looking vacuum cleaner so he translates perfectly into a child-friendly toy. Children will love to 'help' mum and dad with the cleaning with this vacuum cleaner which comes complete with dust pan and brush, hose and 'T' shaped nozzle. Parents will be pleased to know that all the accessories pack away neatly inside Henry's hat - even the cord can be reeled in by turning a handle, just like the real thing. It is a real working vacuum which does actually pick up little bits and pieces, and there's a box to empty - very satisfying for a child! Makes a realistic (but not too noisy!) sound too. Suitable for children 3+, this is a super toy to encourage role play - and to get children into good habits early! Vacuum cleaners seem to fascinate young children and they often want to get their hands on the grown-up version, so this is the perfect answer to keep them amused while you get on with some cleaning without feeling that your child is getting bored - it's light and compact enough for them to carry around easily. A great looking toy - just like the real thing and I can see why this is such a popular toy. There's Casdon 616 Little Hetty Toy Vacuum as well.

Sat Nav Steering Wheel from Casdon

"Are we nearly there yet?" - that oft-heard question will be heard less when your child has one of these interactive toys to keep them busy on long car journeys. The imitation Sat Nav device actually interacts with the wheel so that the child has to respond to the prompts - a great way to master the tricky concept of left and right among many other things. There are 72 spoken instructions and listening to and acting on them is a good way to develop listening skills and concentration.Just like the real thing, if the young 'driver' doesn't follow the instructions properly, the sat nav will let him/her know! The wheel comes with realistic sounds including horn, revving engine, gear change, braking and flashing indicators. I like the fact this is held in front of the child - the ones that attach to the window never seem to be in quite the right place and there is always the danger of them dropping off when the door is opened. It's easy to assemble - as with some of the Casdon toys, batteries are required - this is always stated on the box so you can ensure you have the batteries to hand. An excellent value toy which will give many, many hours fun and will be warmly welcomed by anyone who drives children around.

Morphy Richards Kitchen Set from Casdon

This a super set packed with everything your child needs to pretend-play preparing breakfast - the play food includes a rasher of bacon, an egg and a sausage. This set of realistic kitchen appliances offers a huge amount of play value and looks just like the real thing. There are lots of activities to keep children engrossed - a fillable coffee maker allows water to pour into the coffee pot; fill the kettle and see the water on the level gauge indicator; make the toast with the 'pop-up' toast and see it pop up from the toaster - always one to intrigue children!. Cups, plates and two sets of cutlery are also included.  It's a great way for children to have lots of fun while developing key skills including hand-eye co-ordination, imaginative play and problem solving. I love this set - it's so true to life and beautifully made. Good for a kitchen corner at nursery or playgroup too and a good way to encourage children's co-operative play. Children love to pretend to prepare food and serve it to adults so be prepared to enjoy many "meals" because I am quite sure this set will be used extensively. It will fit well with any of the kitchens on the market - the pieces are not too big and heavy but just right for little hands.

Mix & Bake from Casdon

Baking is a really fun activity to share with young children and now they can have their very own setHotpoint Electronic Cookerin the kitchen. There's a real working mixer and accessories, 3 pastry cutters (duck, gingerbread man and round), a spoon, a rolling pin and a mixing bowl all ready to start cooking  - there's even a little chef's apron! The attention to detail is excellent (as is true of all Casdon toys that I have reviewed) - the beaters push in and are ejected with a button, just like the real thing. I like the feel of the set, which is just like the adult versions. For safety, the mixer will only mix light ingredients but that is absolutely fine as the child will love working alongside you as you use your big mixer. Another super role play toy that will encourage development of of key skills alongside an adult. Please note that the image on the right is the current product - as you can see, it's contemporary and just right for today's kitchens.

Supermarket Till from Casdon

Playing shops is one of those games that has always appealed to children and this till is the perfect complement and will make the game so much more fun - and children will be developing all manner of learning skills as well. The till has a touch-sensitive screen, a calculator that really works and a microphone, plus a chip and pin feature, scanner, opening cash till with bank notes and coins plus a selection of 9 pieces of branded play food. Most families already have some food which can also be used with this set to extend play value or you could buy the Casdon 628 Shopping Basket or others from their extensive range for even more play value. The calculator is especially good as it introduces children to the concept from a young age and develops number and counting skills. Another toy which is perfect for Early Years settings and for developing role play skills. Toys like this offer so much play value - for instance, next time you go to the supermarket, you can see how many of the items in the set your child can spot.

 Fireman Sam Quad Bike with Sam Figure from Character

Encourage children's imaginative play with this Fireman Sam Quad Bike which comes complete with a Sam figure which has moving arms and legs. When the fire bell sounds, push Sam along so he gets there quickly. This is a detailed little model - I like the soft plastic used for the mirror and handlebars. The toolbox on the back opens, which adds to the fun. This is part of a wide range of Fireman Sam sets produced by Character - try the Character Fireman Sam Deluxe Fire Station Playset. Suitable for children of 3+.

Bob the Builder Carry Along Tool Box from Character

Just like the real thing - a plastic toolbox with handle and removable tray, packed with useful tools. There's a hammer, saw, a 'working' spirit level, screwdriver which fits the bolts and nuts and has interchangeable heads and other accessories. The tools are sturdy and durable but light enough not to do any harm if used with too much enthusiasm! Playing with toys like this is perfect for encouraging role play and developing children's imaginations; children love to pretend to help mum and dad with jobs around the house so having their own toolkit is great! The Bob the Builder helmet with Sound would go well with this.

Schleich Dragon Knight with Axe

A very detailed model, one in a series. The battle axe of this dragon knight is so sharp; it easily cuts through iron shields. In order to properly bear a battle axe, the bearer needs the strength of a bull. The dragon knight with the battle axe is a fellow as strong as a horse and thus strong enough to swirl his weapon through the air. Whenever he is not in war, he can be easily recognised by his loud, hoarse laughter. He is into good jokes and tales that he loves to tell his friends whilst enjoying a mug of mead. These models are not suitable for children under 36 months because of small parts which can present a choking hazard.

Schleich Griffin Knight with Axe

Never ever has anybody seen the face of the dreaded battle axe warrior. The griffin knight with his battle axe is the strongest man in the entire kingdom. He could pull out trees with his bare hands. In a battle, he fights like a wild lion. Almost all his foes decide to flee once they see him. At home, he likes to forge his own weapons, and sometimes he gives them away to his friends. These figures are incredibly detailed, very well made and painted and offer many opportunities to encourage imaginative play. There are many more in the range which can be seen on the Schleich website. They also have a huge range of other m
 dinosaur

Wooden Fair Trade Dinosaur a-z Jigsaw by Lanka Kade

This is a beautifully crafted jigsaw which will look lovely on display in a child's bedroom as well as providing plenty of play value. It's an excellent way to introduce children to the alphabet and the chunky pieces which slot firmly together are very satisfying to handle. I am glad to see that the letters are lower case which is far better for recommended age of 3+. There are plenty of other opportunities to play with the pieces to help letter recognition too - look for simple words or your child's name (if no letters are repeated!). The dinosaur is handmade from susainable rubberwood and brightly painted with safe non toxic paint. The overall size is 54 x 13cm. Lanka Kade supply fair trade wooden toys handmade in Sri Lanka. This would make a lovely gift - one to be cherished for many years; also available is a number dinosaur. Wooden toys make a refreshing change from the ubiquitous plastic and are a real joy to handle. Buy from Junior Scholars, who supply a wide range of educational products, specially designed to help children from 0 to 16+ reach their true potential.
  dinosaur

WOW Toys Stanley Street Sweeper

I was thrilled to see this colourful range of toys which is suitable from 18 months to 5 years. It fills a real gap in the market - there are plenty of baby toys but little (comparatively) for 1 to 3 year olds. Stanley Street Sweeper is a friendly looking dustcart which comes complete with driver. This push-along toy, which is a very good size, can be pushed along on its wheels, has rotating brushes (and no batteries needed) and a spinner "allows" the rubbish to be sorted. Bright colours will make this stand out when deciding which toy to get out next! Sturdy and well made, these are toys which look really durable and as they are bound to be firm favourites, that is an essential! Giving all the toys names makes them instant friends for children and they will love to collect sets of vehicles to extend play opportunities; as the toys suit a wide age range, there are present opportunities here for years to come! Wow Toys can be purchased online and from many toyshops - look out for their eye-catching displays! Click here for a list of stockists.

WOW Toys Whiz Around Amy

Little girls will love to meet Amy, the coolest bike in town, and her driver, Annabelle, along with best friends, Ted the teddy bear and Tiddles the kitten(in her basket), who are all part of this pack. There's even a bunch of flowers! This motorised toy makes realistic engine sounds as it is pushed along. Like all WOW toys, it's great value for money. Even the packaging is thoughtful and attractive, with an appropriate scene on the inside of the box behind the toy. I would take these out and keep them to extend the imaginative play opportunities. The toys stimulate learning in so many ways and for many years. For the youngest, they develop motor skills; from 2 up, children will be discovering and learning and then will move on to sharing toys with others; children from 3 will benefit from the colourful stimulus to role play and imagination. All the toys combine well together to extend play value.

WOW Toys Alfie's Animal Adventure

Along with his driver Wally, Alfie spends his days finding the animals and making sure they are well. Alfie comes with friends Ozzy the orang-utan and Gilly the giraffe who like to travel with him. The strong friction motor means Alfie travels well - and makes realistic motor sounds - and he has a feeding station which twists around to alternate between water and food. Alfie's trailer hook means other WOW trailers from the collection can connect onto the back which is yet another way these toys integrate so well. Another super toy - and like all the range, no batteries needed; a feature that will be much appreciated by parents!
Visit Wow Toys Amazon store to see the whole range.
 
star globe
 

Brainstorm Toys 2 in 1 Globe Earth and Constellations

Not quite a toy but a very educational as well as an attractive decorative item - who can resist spinning a globe? It looks just like a standard globe, with political boundaries, oceans, equator, longitude and latitude lines, country names, capital cities and other major cities for each country in the world. The globe includes a huge amount of detail and yet retains clarity. It's well made with a good size stable base. There's no better way to teach children about geography than with a globe which helps them put every place into context. But then, at night the automatic light sensor switches in and an illuminated star map shows constellations with their common names. It's really clever as you have no idea this is going to happen and children will be really excited by this. It's bound to inspire children to want to get outside and see what they can spot in the night sky and anything that inspires children to discover is good in my book. On a practical level, there's an override switch to turn off the night-time view saving battery power; a separate mains adapter can be purchased. It will make a lovely night light for a child - with the usual safety provisos, of course. "Brainstorm Toys is a range of fun, educational and interactive toys that brings together a host of fascinating items. The aim of Brainstorm Toys branded products is to entertain children but also to inspire them to learn more about their environment."

Mr. Tumble Talking Soft Toy Something Special

Mr Tumble - hugely popular at the moment with young children who will love to have their very own Mr Tumble soft toy. In Something Special Justin and Mr Tumble the clown use Makaton to communicate and it's excellent to encourage young children to learn some simple signs. Mr Tumble, who has a lovely friendly face and very soft strokeable hair, says eight phrases which are 'spoken' at random when his tummy is pressed - a good way to help young children recognise and copy sounds. The colourful toy will also encourage imaginative play. The toy is safe for little ones of 10+ months, with the battery unit completely sealed (it is not replaceable). Parents will be glad to know the sound is not too loud - but plenty loud enough for the child playing with it.

Mr. Tumble Textured Spotty Bag Something Special

Mr Tumble's iconic spotty bag - and now children can have their very own! Soft and padded, brightly coloured and with four coloured textured spots as well as an adjustable strap,it's ideal to carry a snack or carton of drink. Little ones will love the textures and touching them helps with dexterity. Inside are five finder cards with Makaton symbols. Mr Tumble is a CBeebies programme designed to introduce children to Makaton signing. Although it is aimed at children with delayed learning and communication difficulties, it is hugely popular with many toddlers who are thus learning to accept that children are not all the same but that all children have something special.

Tree Fu Tom Super Holopax

Now children can be just like Tom, with their very own Super Holopax. The shell flips open and there are 25 phrases from the show as well as flashing light in this toy which includes a wrist strap. Ideal for boys, I can see groups of friends all wanting one so they can play games together based on the characters. "Tree Fu Tom is a CBeebies programme about the amazing adventures of a young boy who, with the power of ‘movement magic’ called ‘Tree Fu’, can transform into a tiny but mighty magical super hero and travel to a wondrous enchanted kingdom called Treetopolis that exists in a tree in his back garden. Here he meets with his magical friends. All spell movements have been developed from those used to help children who have movement disorders and difficulties such as Dyspraxia, and the spell sequences have been designed by movement specialists/therapists to assist and enhance the development of all children."

Tree Fu Tom Flying Squizzle

One of the key aims of the Tree Fu Tom programmes is to encourage children to develop and use a range of movements - so important in these times when children are spending less and less time outdoors and increasing time sitting with electronic toys. Now children can be encourages outside to play the national game of Treetopolis - Squizzle. The squizzle is a soft foam toy which flies through the air and, with a bit of practice, it can do all sorts of tricks - watch the TV friends play and see what you can do! It's good that it's soft (although watch babies and dogs who will think it's a great toy for them too!) and I think it would be OK to play indoors. Great idea to have a few for friends to have a match in the garden.

Tree Fu Tom Figure Zigzoo

Zigzoo is one of a whole range of Tree Fu Tom figures for children to collect. He comes with his very own spanner and is colourful, well made and a good size. By collecting more, children will be able to make up all sorts of games, extending imaginative play, and also use the figures with the playsets. Tree Fu Tom is an excellent way to encourage children (especially boys) to get outside, to have fun and develop imaginative and collaborative play, and to encourage movement. Giving children toys based on the series will extend the interest beyond the screen and encourage playing.

Tree Fu Tom Mini Doodler

Perfect for children on the go - parents will really appreciate the peace and quiet if they keep one of these in the car! Children can draw on the board with the attached (great idea!) pen then push the slider across the board to erase and produce the next work of art! There's a useful carry handle on the board. All the Tree Fu Tom toys reviewed here are suitable for ages 3+. There are plenty of other Tree Fu Tom toys to look out for, including playsets and a Magic Moves Rap Mat - a really varied range. I was also sent Tree Fu Tom: Twigs and the Wishing Pebble which I have reviewed.

Doctor Who Dr Who Time Zone Playset Cold War from Character

Currently enjoying a high profile, Doctor Who products are bound to be popular at the moment and children will enjoy being able to use their imaginations to make up their own stories based around this playset. This 3D card diorama playset features the Cold War and can be used to help children gain a knowledge of the period in history as this will provide a stimulus for acquiring knowledge. The exciting adventure is summarised on the box to whet the appetite. The playsets are in scale with the Doctor Who 3 75 inch action figures so children can create their own adventures and stories and thus develop imaginative skills. There are more Time Zone playsets to collect and they can be clipped together to build bigger zones - and put history on context.
Lego
 

 

Lego Coastguard Patrol

Immediately appealing with an action-packed picture on the lid which shows lots going on. Inside, the lucky owner will find four packs - two comprising the patrol boat and then the helicopter and submersible and the last is a small boat and lighthouse. Each has instructions and children can complete one model before starting on the next.  The stickers are a nice touch to finish off the models. Putting it together provides a level of challenge but perfectly possible for 6 or 7 years up and they will have a real sense of achievement when it's done. The set has a great variety of elements and these make for super imaginative play once the fun of construction is over. Parts as well as those listed above include 6 figures, sharks, cannons, life jackets and lots more. The imaginative young user can make up all sorts of rescue scenarios and the set will really encourage inventive play - it's not just a model to make and then look at; it's there to play with and enjoy. The boats even float so there's some bathtime fun lined up. The whole set is a good size with plenty of components making it good value for money. LEGO City Coast Guard 60014: Coast Guard Patrol.
 

The Hive 6.5-inch Buzzbee Plush Boxed

Buzzbee soft toy so young children can play with one of their favourite characters from the Hive. The principal character is Buzzbee, a young male bee who's a fizzing little bag of fun! Children will love to cuddle their favourite bee. Buzzbee is a lovely eye-catching yellow, with black stripes (of course!). He's soft and cuddly and an unusual soft toy. With his twisty antennae, soft ears and hands and feet there is plenty for little hands to grasp hold of. Perfect for families where all the children love The Hive - little ones will love their own Buzzbee and older ones can have the playset below. The Hive TV show follows the adventures of the cute Bee family who live in Honeybee Hive. The Hive is a huge hit with pre-schoolers and is now being broadcast in over 150 countries.

The Hive Hive House With 3 Figures from Mookie Toys

Neatly done - open the Hive and then open it out again. Peek inside by opening and closing the curtains and the doors, then fly around the Hive with the flying rails. Three figures are included - Buzzbee, Queen Bee and Postman Spider - each with their own front door. Children can help out in the Honey Factory by taking pollen balls, mixing them up in the honey funnel and squeezing out honey into the bucket below. An added bonus is the fact that everything packs away neatly inside the Hive, so no little bits lying around to get lost. It's sturdy and well made and seems a durable toy so there's plenty of fun to be had. Not all the contents shown on the pack are included but there are lots of other items that can be bought separately so plenty of chance for additional present giving!
Mini Micro 3in1 Special Edition Scooter Blue with Seat and O-Bar

Micro-scooter with Seat and O-Bar

With this super 3 in 1 model, little ones can be like their big siblings with their very own scooter - a scooter that grows with them. First it is used as a ride on, then a small scooter and finally a Mini Micro® Scooter. The pack includes a Scooter, Seat, O-bar Handle and T-Bar Handle, which together make the product suitable for 1 to 5 year olds. A sturdy seat clips into the ®Mini Micro scooter for children of 1+ and then the seat grows in stages so that a child can use it up to the age of 5 - brilliant, as so many equivalent products have such a short usable life so this really stands out for value.
 
I did find that my young tester, aged just 2 and 4 months, can use the scooter with the T-bar handle. He got straight on and scooted off and found the balance and manoeuverability of the scooter really good. As a product designed to offer so many years use, you may wonder about its durability - but there is no need for concern as this is a really robust and well-made product. The seat is attached to a strong plastic stem with a rounded handle which fits onto the ®Mini Micro three-wheeled deck. As your child grows and becomes steadier on their feet, the seat can be removed to create My First ®Mini Micro scooter. The excellent balance of the scooter really helps to develop the child's confidence. When they are ready to scoot off on their own, the sturdy plastic stem is easily swapped for a traditional metal Mini Micro T-bar and the child is off on his or her own. We are always saying that children need more exercise and this is a great way to encourage small children's independent movement and to instill a long-term love of scootering. Purchase this scooter from Micro Scoooters or browse all the range plus accessories on their website. The range of accessories is superb and children will love to personalise their scooters.
City of London Train Set

 Tidlo City of London Wooden Train Set John Crane

If you are looking for a toy that will give children hours of pleasure for many years to come, then this is it! Over 50 pieces which include iconic London landmarks - and the red bus, of course). So many toys today do not encourage sharing, but this is perfect for parents, grandparents and children to share and enjoy together, thus encouraging discussion, interaction and imagination - each generation will enjoy different aspects and will have different things to discuss. If your child has visited London, then of course there will be an added dimension of interest, but even if you haven't been, you can use this as a basis for learning about London with the help of maps and guide books.  It's brilliant because it is compatible with other major wooden train sets, so although it provides plenty of play opportunities on its own, there are also endless possibilities to add to the set. I think this would be a fabulous starter set to give as a present to be built on in future years. It is sturdy and well made and easy enough for very young children to assemble on their own - children of 2+ can assemble the track (although the guidance on the box is 3+ for safety reasons). It's lovely to handle wooden toys in this age of plastic and this lovely set will be well worth handing down through the family.

Wooden Toy Shop

John Crane City of London Train Set

The train set can be purchased from WoodenToyShop.co.uk. The company "was born out of a passion for classic wooden toys that we remembered using when we were children. We strongly believe that in this electronic age there is still a place for timeless toys that reward imaginative children with hours of wonderful play." Do check out their other super products too!

Playbook Farm by Corina Fletcher

This is wonderful! Children will be entranced as they open up the mat and up pop all sorts of colourful farmyard scenes. It's really cleverly made - you can turn the pages and enjoy the story with its bright,detailed and stylish pictures and pop ups by Britta Teckentrup, before opening out the playmat, with its 3D farm landscape. Up pops a barn, some fields, a windmill (with moving sails!) and a hen house. The story abounds in animal noises, so young children will love to join in. Safely stored in an attached envelope are cut-out cardboard animals and farm vehicles for extra fun, and the whole thing is stored in a sturdy box.  There are hours of imaginative play here - most children will have some farm animals already and they will make a great addition to this playmat. A lovely innovative idea from Nosy Crow.
 

Mr Creepy Practical Jokes from John Adams Toys

A bumper box of 40 practical jokes, perfectly geared to appeal to children -especially boys, I think! Beware of this - once your child has got his hands on it, you will be constantly on the lookout lest you be tricked! Some are quite grisly, especially the axe in the head; others' like the spiders and ants, will guarantee a shriek of horror! The pack contains instructions on using some of the tricks, such as the Surprise Box, and also some ideas for other practical jokes - canny parents will read this beforehand, so they are prepared! Hours of amusement from John Adams Toys.
Chad Valley guitar

Chad Valley Electronic Guitar and amp

Encourage your little one to start enjoying making their own music from a young age with this set from Chad Valley. It includes a guitar, a microphone and an amplifier (you'll be glad to know it includes a volume control!) - all brightly coloured to appeal to young children. It's a great way to encourage children to perform - if their friends have one, they could even start up a band! The guitar has 8 push button notes, 8 demo songs, 3 drum sounds and a swing bar. The amplifier has 5 flashing coloured lights and sockets to plug in the guitar and microphone on the front.  It should be used under adult supervision, both for safety reasons and to ensure that it is used with care; the toy is battery operated. Educational Chad Valley Toys  - "Chad Valley is all about endless play and having fun." So Argos have an incredible range of their toys for you to enjoy.

A Raft of Otters Collective Nouns Flash Cards from A-Z by Woop Studios

These cards, published by Chronicle Books, are a lovely complement to the picture book A Zeal of Zebras .  The flash cards are the ideal way to introduce young children to animals, the alphabet, and the ever-fascinating concept of collective nouns. I learnt some new ones - an aurora of polar bears; a hum of bees. Use the cards to stimulate imaginative and creative thinking. Each one is a work of art in itself, and they would make a lovely decoration for a child's bedroom wall or a great classroom display. Really good quality thick card and rounded corners make them durable too. Good use is made of fonts and layout - more ideas here to stimulate creativity. A lovely set, with lots of potential for a variety of uses.

Our Cat Cuddles - Creative Language Development Cards from Child's Play

A colourful set of picture cards which show a colourful and expressive cat on one side with a word and four synonyms on the reverse. A prompt card suggest activity and game ideas - but a little imagination can extend the use of the cards into all sorts of fun ideas. An excellent way to extend vocabulary and help children express themselves.  Ideally, use these cards alongside Our Cat Cuddles (Child's Play Library) by Gervase Phinn - a rhyming  story about a little kitten who grows into a fearsome lion, and which makes wonderful use of the richness of our vocabulary to convey the story and so inspires creative writing. Buy the cards from Child's Play.

Cover image for Our Cat Cuddles Creative Language Development Cards

 Picture Puzzles Usborne Picture Puzzles

This is a super collection of sturdy, brightly coloured cards designed to stimulate children's thinking and observational skills. The range of ideas is excellent - there are number activities, crafts, searches, memory tests, odd one out and many more. The cards are wipe-clean and a pen is provided, so they can be reused over and over. Ideal for travelling and holidays, this is a very attractive set.

alphabet game

Foam Letters and Shapes Train from Learn4Life

Children need to learn alphabetical ordering as a higher order reading skill. Give them a head start with this foam train set, comprising 26 letters and 3 shapes. They will enjoy the tactile feel of the foam while they learn their ABC. A lovely colourful way to learn the alphabet. See this and other products to help you child learn and have fun at the same time at Learn4Life.

 

numbers

Car Tracks

A brightly coloured laminated set of A4 cards in a neat wallet containing the alphabet. The novel idea is that your child can trace the letter shapes whilst driving their toy car around the letters. An imaginative and great value way of both learning the alphabet and how to write the letters. Each letter is attractively illustrated to give even more learning opportunities. The pack also includes a wipe-off pencil, so your child can practise over and over on these durable cards. A lovely idea and hours of fun. See this and other products to help you child learn and have fun at the same time at Learn4Life.

 
 

Foam Number Train

Fun way to learn ordinal numbers to 20.
This colourful foam train extends to 1.5 metres long and has push-out circles with numbers 0 -20 plus a range of mathematical signs.
Children love the feel of the foam.
See this and other products to help you child learn and have fun at the same time at Learn4Life.

 

foam letters

Sign in