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Thomas and Friends is a "play and learn" comic that comes out every fortnight and costs £1.40. My nearly three year old is absolutely hooked on it and makes a bee-line everytime we go shopping. It always has a free gift on the front, though some of these are better quality than others. For instance, the plastic zig zag scissors you can actually do something with, but the blow up hammer??!! The magazines are usually themed, i.e. the 16-29 May edition is all about diesels. STORIES It starts off with a story that you can read to/with your child, which has small numbered paragraphs and lovely big pictures. It also has a story with less text but asks you to point out things in the pictures. Then there's a rhyming story which has small pictures in place of certain words, so that everytime you see a certain picture (say of Thomas) you insert the word Thomas. ACTIVITIES There's counting, with a big picture and you're child is asked to write down the numbers of certain items in the picture. There's a spot the difference (which you child can also colour in). There's a picture specifically for colouring in. There's a look and find activity where your child has to tick a box when he's found the picture next to it. There's a copying activity (which I think is a bit hard really). It's a grid with half a picture of one of the trains, and you have to do a mirror image copy of it. I would find it hard, let alone a child!! There's a door hanger to cut out, with easy instructions to follow. MISCELLANEOUS There's a couple of posters to cut out and put up on walls. The letters page, which also includes a Thomas Token (more on that in a minute). A colouring in competition and a prize photo slot. At nearly three, my son is only really interested in the stories. He has
a load of these magazines up in his bedroom and we read from them every night. He also likes the colouring in, but we'll keep them and gradually I'll get him interested in doing some of the activities together. Now, for those Thomas tokens. For those of you who don't know you get these tokens on most Thomas food products and in every edition of this magazine. You cut them out and stick them onto a collectors card (available from: Thomas Tokens, PO Box 142, Horsham, RH13 5FJ - Tel: 01403 242727). You save them up to earn rewards such as free Thomas posters or up to 50% off selected items from the Thomas catalogue. I haven't done this yet but assume that you'll receive a catalogue with your collector's card. Anyway, back to the magazine. For any Thomas mad child, there's lots to keep them entertained and it's a good all round learning tool.