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Now that my kids are that little bit older, nearly 2 and nearly 4, we have started to buy them some more educational toys such as games and Orchard Toys is always the place I turn. We were given a game of theirs a few years ago now and I thought it was brilliant and have been hooked ever since.
So, what do we know about Orchard Toys? Well, according to an article I read, "Orchard Toys is a leading manufacturer of educational puzzles and games for children aged between 18 months and 12 years, with a reputation for excellence of design, manufacture and service. Orchard Toys products are designed with the ethos of "learning made fun" and combine bright, innovative design, durability and quality with sound educational principles. We have an educational adviser who has had many years experience at reception and key stage 1 and 2. She works closely with our design team to ensure that skills necessary in the various National Curriculum key stages are built into the design of a jigsaw puzzle or into the gameplay of a game.
Over the years we have regularly been awarded toy industry awards with over 50 won in recent years, for both the quality of our products and customer service."
What I love about these toys is that they are fun and I don't think kids even realise that they are actually learning something when they are playing them, this is the best way to learn in my opinion as if its fun they will remember it much better than if they had things drummed into them, telling them they have to learn it or else. Orchard toys always label their games and products with a little symbol indicating its educational value. Each symbol means that the game has been approved as ideal for use within the National Curriculum. For example, there are symbols for National Cirriculum maths, english, science, geography to name but a few, depending on what type of game it is that you have. We have a few counting games and obviously these are linked with National Cirruculum maths.
What I really like about Orchard Toys is that there is so much variety and they offer so many different types of toy and game that you really are spoilt for choice. They also cater for a good age span as well so you can look on their website and find something for each child, no matter what their age. The thing I like about the products though is that even though they say they are for older kids you can introduce them to younger kids fairly soon because they are so easy to explain and teach with and just fun to play. With Orchard toys game you don't need to play by the rules word for word specifically, you can tailor it to the ability of your kids and have fun just looking at the pictures and words.
It's not only games they do, they also produce some really nice puzzles and books as well. What I like about all the products is that they make really nice presents for kids too. If we are invited to a birthday party or something similar I always like to buy one of their items as a gift. It is always well received and it doesn't cost the earth either. Orchard toys products are well priced in the £5 range for most things which I think is a decent price to pay for a good quality toy.
All the puzzles, games and books are really good quality and you can see that in everything they produce. For example, some of the games we have are made of really good quality cardboard that really stand up to some heavy play. We have quite a few games and the pieces are still all in tact, they do not bend or beak easily and the paper on the front does not tear off like it does on other puzzles and games.
All in all, a great place to buy fun and educational toys.
I love Orchard toys. I have to admit I never came across them until my daughter received them in her weekly book bag from school. Since then we have quickly built up a large selection of their puzzles and games. The sets are all very durable and something that still looks brand new despite being used over and over again. They are child proof and other than having lost a few pieces they are all in full working order. The small cardboard pieces often look like they have no chance of withstanding constant play from small hands, but we are yet to find a set that has not lasted.
I find that the pieces to each game are always bright and engaging. The pictures are clear and certainly aimed at pleasing a child. The pieces are small so sometimes they become lost, but my children enjoy making new cards so we do not need to replace the set. They are all suited to a large amount of players which is perfect for the whole family to play. We can all enjoy them together and spend some quality time with each other. As we have 6 in our family, and five of those old enough to play games we do find that larger families are not catered for well, especially with toddlers. It is refreshing to find something that can be used by all of us at the same time.
Educational wise these board games offer a wide range of developments. Firstly they help my children to learn they need to share and take it in turns. They often share their toys while playing but for some reason with board games it was always an argument about who goes next. With these games it seems to hold their attention so well and they are happy to let the youngest go first. Another great thing is that they do really hold their attention. As my children are all young most of the time they lose concentration very easily and move from toy to toy. With these board games they will sit and complete a whole game, and often play it more than once. I am yet to find anything over than a good book or DVD that holds their attention so well.
They introduce everyday items and well known stories to your child. They use fine motor skills, get your child to problem solve, introduce a range of words to add to their vocabulary and at the same time manage to make it fun and exciting for your child. The amount of developmental skills these simple board games manage to promote is fantastic. My youngest son is slow in talking. He is only just coming up to three years old but he needs a little extra help to get him started. We try to find fun ways to try and get him to try to talk and these games works wonders. It is only simple things like him saying duck, or spotting an item of shopping while were out and shouting what it is called, but we have tried this with books and other activities previously with no success. My health visitor was not surprised that the games were helping, and she did inform me these were one of the most used games during his impending speech therapy sessions.
There are a huge amount of puzzles available so there will be something to suit your child. There are lots of different themes which include shopping, food and different animals. Each one uses recognisable objects to any small child, and turns them into a fun and engaging game. What we love is that because there are so many themes we can usually match a board game to a relevant book. This means we can read the book and then play the game to reinforce the information in the book. Whether this is the three little pigs, a book about shapes or numbers it gives my children the chance to enjoy two activities while learning in the process. This idea was introduced to me by the nursery and it really does work well.
My one downside is that the games can become a little repetitive. Each game is similar and as you climb the age range recommendation they do become slightly harder. Most of the games include the main game card, and then finding the relevant pieces to that card to complete the game. They do vary a little by adding on extra tasks or collecting things in pairs, but generally they have the same theme running. It has got to the point that my children will not even ask the rules when a new game arrives, they simply set it up to play it. While my children are still young this does not seem to bother them at all, but as they get older I can see them becoming bored with them. I would say they are best suited to children between two and seven or eight. All of my children enjoy them at five, four and two and we do enjoy them as a family as well.
I would highly recommend these games to anyone. They can be similar but there is such a wide range of different variations available that they still remain interesting to my children. This is generally the first brand they choose when it comes to playing games as a family, and they never seem to get bored with them. They are well made and not overly expensive for the use you get from them. These games all tend to retail between around £8-£12. This is a lot cheaper than most of the novelty board games available. These sets may be simple but they seem to have a magic that grabs your child's attention and provides a fun experience while still being educational. Some of our favourites include crazy chef and 2 by 2, but there are lots more available so do take a look at the range.
When my oldest starting getting close to compulsory school starting age, I started stocking up on work books, learn to read programmes and educational software. I was a lot more nervous about home educating with him and desperate to make sure I could offer him as much as the schools in terms of material and supplies.
My youngest is getting closer to school starting age, but apart from the buying books for entertainment, and a few alphabet books, I haven't gone as crazy on books this time. Of course I do still have the books I bought for my oldest, but this time around, I find myself buying more and more board games. In fact I have ordered three today, all from Orchard Toys. Over time I learned that children learn more, and retain what they learn better, when they are having fun.
I do already have a few Orchard Toys games, but only one of these bought specifically for educational purposes ( Magic Cauldron Maths). The others certainly do have educational value, but this is not why I bought them. I bought them because they were fun. Orchard Toys have a real talent for making toys that are both fun and educational. They are most famous for their board games, and rightly so, this is where they really shine, but they also produce puzzles, and they have a few lovely books.
Orchard Toys are made in Britain, which means I don't have to worry about some child creating toys they can never play with in a 3rd world workshop. It also means buying this toy helps support a British job, and contributes to our tax base. All toys sold in Britain must conform to the European Union Toy Safety Directive, but Orchard Toys also conform to the higher standards of the British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA). Look on the bottom of any Orchard Toys box and you should find a little red lion that is the hallmark of this organisation. I feel that Orchard Toys are a brand I can completely trust with my children's safety.
I also feel Orchard Toys is an environmentally responsible company. The board which is the primary material used in Orchard Toys is 100% recycled, as is the packaging. Where new paper is used, this is all sourced from sustainable forests.
The quality of Orchard toys has always been top notch. I would expect a game from this company to be able to be passed on from one child to another, over and over. Our own games are still as new, despite frequent use.
I believe almost all board games are educational. As I started researching early childhood education, I was surprised to learn that playing board games ranked as one of the three most helpful things a parent could do to help a child succeed academically ( The first obviously is to read them, the second was to take them to parks, museums etc - and I believe just talking to them, answering questions, explaining how things works etc.. should be listed as well). They teach a child basic skills like counting, reading cards, taking turns, and encourage discussion. I believe that simply talking with our children is extremely important in child development, and any toy that encourages family discussion is a real asset. Orchard Toys however, are usually designed with specific educational goals. apparently, they only have one educational consultant, but she must be very good. These games meet key requirements in the national curriculum and teach several valuable skills including : literacy, geometry, ecology, maths, spelling and more. There are of course a great many companies that do this, but I'm afraid many of them have forgotten about the fun factor. Quite frankly, if the game isn't fun, children will not play it. No game is going to be educational sitting in its box on the shelf.
I've always felt board games were a good way for families to bond. I really enjoy playing wii with my children, but there is a different quality to the time spent playing board games and working on puzzles. I think we chat more, and just relax more. Orchard Toys provide a wonderful way for us to have fun as a family, without electronics. Not that I don't enjoy a game of wii as well, and it is important to share the things that interest our children as well, but I still feel board games are the best to help keep a family close and in touch with each other.
As the economy tightens up, board games also provide an excellent way to stretch the family entertainment budget. Most of Orchard Toys games cost between £ 8 - £12. This amount wouldn't even pay for one trip to the cinema, but board games can be played over and over again. There is nothing like a good stock of board games to entertain children on a rainy day, or to enjoy a cheap night as a family. I have sadly had parents tell me they can not afford to do anything with their children. You don't have to be wealthy to buy a few board games, and if times are really tough, you can pick up games for next to nothing at boot sales and charity shops. Picnics cost no more than eating at the table, and table and sheet tents, old boxes and even pots and pans provide free entertainment as well. Time matters more than money with children.
I haven't many complaints about Orchard Toys, and I have really tried to find some negatives as well. The only thing I could come up with is the fact that they do not have a range for older children. Most of their toys would suit ages 3-8 or possibly 9.
Our very favourite games with this company so far are:
Run, Run As Fast As You Can - a brilliant game about the Gingerbread Man and The Three Little Pigs.
My son, Kai, who is 6 absolutely loves board games, he would happily sit and play them all day!
He has lots of different ones but the 'orchard toys' ones are by far his favourite, and mine too!
I like them because they are good quality games, simple to play and very educational too!
You can normally get them for a reasonable price on amazon, the ones kai has have cost between £5-£8.
The first game he got was :
'POP TO THE SHOPS' -
This is probably Kai's favourite, he always asks to play this one!
Each player is a shop keeper, all players take it in turns to go around the board to the different shops to buy items they need for their shopping basket. This game comes with 50p, 20p and 10p coins which you use to buy your items. This game is good for role play as you have to politely ask the shop keeper for the item you need, you also need to count out your money to pay for the item so it's great for counting and adding up.
The winner is the first player to fill their basket.
I do like this game, but it does take a while to set up, and a long time to complete the game, I think younger children might get a bit bored or distracted waiting for the game to finish.
The recommended age range is 5-9 years which I think is about right.
This is a very simple game which involves rolling a dice to move around the board, each player has a bus that they need to fill with passengers. The number they throw on the dice is how many passengers they have to pick up, or let off the bus. Whoever has the most passengers left when they have been around the board is the winner!
This game is quick and easy to set up, and very easy to play.
Its great for counting and simple adding/subtracting.
The age range of this game states 4-8 years, which again I agree with. kai started playing this game when he was 4 and he still really enjoys it now.
'PASS THE WORD'
This is another simple but fun game.
There are cards which each have simple words on, and cards with letters on. All the letter cards are placed face down and players take it in turns to find the letters and spell out words. There is a sand timer included in this game & once it runs out the player has to pass the word to the next player, where they continue to look for the letters to spell out the word. The winner is the player who has completed the most words.
Kai really enjoys this game and he gets very competitive with it! Its quite an exciting game as players have to rush to find the letters before the timer runs out!
The recommended age on this game is 5-9 years, again I think that seems right.
Kai got this game for christmas and it's become another favourite!
This game is for up to 5 players. There are 5 different dishes to make which are - pizza, kebabs, shepherds pie, stir fry and cakes.
There are cards with pictures of all the ingredients needed for each meal which are placed face down.
Each player chooses a meal to make, then all you have to do is turn the cards over to collect all the ingredients and utensils needed for your meal.
Once you have all your ingredients ready you spin the spinner to get your plate, then you spin again to 'eat' your meal.
The age range of this game is 3-7 years, I think it is about right, although my 2 year old daughter sometimes joins in when we play this game & she enjoys it too!
This is good for teaching children about different types of food, and ingredients.
There are many other Orchard Toys games available, including :
Tell the time
Spotty dogs, and many more!
They also make puzzles aswell, but we don't yet have any of those so cant comment on them.
The board games we have by Orchard Toys have all been great fun, and brilliant quality.
They are very bright and colourful and illustrated really nicely too, I would certainly recommend them to anyone with young children, we have had hours of fun out of them!
I was aware of the Orchard Toys brand when I was working as a nursery nurse before I had my son but it wasn't until I had him and he was around three or four that I really started paying attention to the brand and I have since bought many of their products and so I thought I would review the brand.
Orchard Toys has been around making toys for children since 1971 when it was first founded by a man named Keith Harvey who is still a director in the company. They specialise in making fun yet educational toys for children aged from eighteen months to around twelve years and their company motto is simply "learning made fun" which I think is a really straight to the point yet effective message to give to potential customers.
Orchard Toys make games and jigsaws for children but they also have a book range too. I have never purchased a book from them so cannot really comment on the quality of them but I would presume them to be a really high quality, educational product.
I have had numerous games and jigsaw puzzles from the Orchard Toys range and they are always top quality. They come in a thick glossy cardboard box which will last the years as long as you are taking reasonable care when playing with the product I think. Inside the games and jigsaws are also made from cardboard for the most part and with the games there is usually some minimal connecting of a game board before you can play but there isn't usually a lot else that you need to do before you can play a game. The cardboard used in the products is without a shadow of a doubt the best I have ever purchased in terms of quality and I do think that when you purchase an Orchard Toys game you are getting a game which will be able to be passed through generations.
What is great with products purchased from Orchard Toys is that they are pretty educational and so you may be learning about numbers, money, developing confidence or learning about the world in which you live but you do this in a way which is fun for the child involved too. We have quiet a lot of games from Orchard Toys and whilst my son is now seven and so some of them are a little young for him we will still play them from time to time and he still finds them fun to play. He has recently taken the huge glossy world map from one of his jigsaws in to school as they have been looking at the world and so it has been a really useful product for us to have.
The Orchard Toys website is easy enough to find at www.orchardtoys.com and it is really easy to navigate I think as there are sub sections depending on what product you are looking to buy. You are able to search by product type, price or age range and so you are sure to be able to find something suitable for the child that you are buying for. I would say that whilst the games and puzzles aren't particularly cheap on the website they aren't overly expensive either and you really are going to get a quality product when you order from them. Amazon also stock Orchard Toys games and so do many other toy shops on the High Street or online and so you may well be able to find them at a reduced price somewhere too. I have to say that whenever I have ordered from the Orchard Toys website the products have arrived the next day, well packed and so in perfect condition.
I would totally recommend any Orchard Toy product really because I have always found them to be excellent quality yet fun for the child too. I have bought games as presents for other children too and these have always been well received. The website has plenty of options for different price ranges and will give you information about the educational benefits of each product and so you can be sure to choose something appropriate for the person you are buying for.
Thank you for reading my review!
I came accross this brand when I realised that the jigsaws my Step Mother buys for my sons always seem to be from Orchard Toys.
I understand they also make other toys like flash cards and dominoes, I think they are all fairly educational and all seem to be card type games and puzzles rather than solid toys.
We have a lot of Jigsaws in our house, my 2 and 3 year old sons love them and I make sure they are looked after and kept in their boxes. I think Jigsaws are great for kids' development and nice for some quiet play time (a rare thing in my home!).
Of all the Puzzles that we own the Orchard Toys ones are the best quality, both the toys themselves and the boxes, which are still in one piece despite a lot of heavy use.
The jigsaws are well designed with larg, strong pieces suitable for little hands and bright coloured pictures that stimulate their interest.
My sons' favourite is a box set of 8 mini jigsaws in the shape of rescue vehicles, I really like the fact that this also comes with some card people and props like traffic cones. The children actually play with them as well as doing the puzzles. Each puzzle has between 3 and 8 pieces and they are shaped, not square, which makes them seem more fun.
My boys get a lot of enjoyment from these and I would definitely recommend them both to parents and people looking to buy a present for a small child.
Orchard Toys produce a range of firmly educational games, puzzles and toys generally based on a `glossy cardboard card` principle. Thus, nothing particularly exciting, but a wide selection to choose from and decent quality make this company a good choice for sticking fillers and a mainstay for supply of every-day games.
My daughter is 4 years old, I have been familiar with Orchard Toys for couple of years now, and their particular products are suitable for children from about 2 to as high as 10; but the typical target age range is roughly equivalent to Infant School (4-7 years old).
Despite the fact that they are terribly, terribly educational, I like their games. Most of them have a strong (and strongly advertised to the target market of parents and carers) educational element and probably even conform to National Curriculum. The skills that are taught vary from shape recognition, to letters and numbers, arithmetic skills, words, names and animal sounds; there is also some that involve at least one foreign language (French) and a lot of them practice concentration and memory skills.
The games are an enjoyable if somewhat timid way to spend some active time playing with your child if you don`t feel like reading and - like me - don`t like or cannot play `role` games. And because there games are usually suitable for anything from 2 to 4 or even 6 players, you have a flexibility to involve other members of the family.
Most of the games I have seen can also be played with more or less accent on the educational element: you can make the child to count spots on dogs and bones in baskets, or you can just play for fun and skip over the maths.
The other thing I like is that, because they are all fairly simple, you can manipulate the rules and change them to suit your mood and yours or your child`s inclination. And usually, even if some pieces are lost, you can still play the game.
Their catalogue contains almost 50 games, but a lot of them are a variation on the same theme so you would probably pick not more than 6-10 versions that you particularly like.
Almost all games combine chance and skill element and often use dice or number-spinner.
The age range on the box is, in my opinion, pretty good indicator of suitability but of course you will know your child and what they are capable of.
We have a spotty dog counting game (where you count spots on dogs and are rewarded by bones); a lotto type one (but we play it as memory game with all pieces spread out on the table upside down) and a matching people game (where clever manipulation of pieces leads to you building as many correct characters as possible). But there are many more and a look in any shop or on the website will show the variety.
The prices vary from £5 to £10 per game.
Orchard Toys puzzles are well made and appropriate for children: the number of pieces vary from 2 to 120 and the subject matter is good material for talking and (urgh) further educational stimulation. They feature farm animals, cars and buses, fairy castles and dinosaurs, and even a map of the UK! The puzzles come in all sizes, from small table-top based to giant floor ones and cost between £5 and £10 each. They often come with extras like a CD, poster, activity guides or even interchangeable pieces!
I normally buy Katie's puzzles second-hand (eBay and charity shops) but I have bought a packet of farm scenes/animals with 4, 6, 8 and 12 pieces and these were very popular - and she still plays with them from time to time, even though only the 12 -piece constitutes even a mild challenge now. The products I have seen on the website look really good and I will be probably buying there some items that are not available in my local stockist. The map puzzle looks really good, another one I have my eyes on is a 30 pcs rhyming puzzle which features combinations like 'a seal with a wheel' or 'a pig in a wig'.
These are packages including stencils and templates, colouring and tracing cards, flashcards and other 'consumable' toys. I have never bought any of these but they seem interesting and a reasonable value at £3 to £5.
I have just discovered through the Orchard Toys website that they also produce a range of books - featuring Tiberius the Mouse and his adventures in a gentle, preschooler friendly world of everyday activities. I have not handled these and thus cannot offer opinion as for now.
I have to say that a respect for material objects in not a strong side of my family: neither me nor my daughter seems to have the careful, tender attitude allowing for toys and books to be passed from generation to generation. I will not launch into speculation on how much of it is temperamental and how much is learned form mummy. But the good news is that Orchard Toys, despite being made from cardboard, are not faring too badly. The cardboard is very solid, the glossy covering seems rather long-lasting and is definitely wipe-clean; and overall the sets we have are still pretty much operational and good-looking. The boxes are mostly gone, but then I have never managed to keep a cardboard box of anything for long without having to patch it up after a few months.
*** Availability ***
I have been buying Orchard Toys items from a local toyshop in Dover, but they are stocked pretty widely (44 places in Kent alone).
There is also the website which is informative, well designed, easy to navigate and pleasant to the eye. You can buy all the products there (for delivery to UK mainland, otherwise telephone order is necessary) and the delivery charge is £4.50 for orders under £30 and free for over £30.
Orchard Toys supply very professionally designed and well executed educational toys for younger children. All the toys have a clear educational element, though it can be played down and minimized if necessary.
The quality of design is very good, though the graphics are rather uniform and I would be happier to see some variety in style including maybe some more realistic drawings or even photographs.
The choice is big enough to provide something for everyone and the quality of production means that the toy will last reasonable time.
I would recommend Orchard Toys to all parents of children of 18 months to about 8 as well as anybody responsible for providing stock to a nursery / infant school.