Newest Review: ... counting games and obviously these are linked with National Cirruculum maths. What I really like about Orchard Toys is that there is so mu... more
Forget the work books - bring out the games !
Member Name: broxi3781
Advantages: Very well made toys that enterain and educate.
Disadvantages: No product line for older children.
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.
Summary: Brilliant toys that make learning fun.