National Nest Box Week 2019

National Nest Box Week 2019

February 14th sees the start of the 22nd National Nest Box Week. The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) focuses on nesting birds and encourages everyone to put up a nest box in their garden or local area in order to support the conservation of our breeding birds.

The loss of hedgerow trees, changes to woodland management and increasing urbanisation have all contributed to a decline in available natural sights for nesting birds like the Blue Tit, Starling, House Sparrow and Robin. Nest boxes replace lost opportunities, increasing the numbers of nesting birds and boosting their populations. read more

10 Stocking Fillers to give the gift of learning!

Are you looking for the perfect stocking filler that will keep your young learners occupied? We’ve pulled together a list of 10 toys perfect for filling up your little one’s stocking! With a mixture of both educational toys and fun filled games, these stocking fillers are guaranteed to keep children of all ages engaged. We have sets for creative play and activities that will spark curiosity and encourage discovery whilst having loads of fun, so you’re bound to find something they will enjoy!

1) Playfoam® Pals™ (£6.00)

Children just love surprises and collectibles! See their faces light up on Christmas day with Playfoam® Pals™. Inside the squishy, squashy Playfoam are cute animals waiting to be found! Each set has different pals to collect:

  • Snowy Friends – 13 to collect including Sven, the super-rare snowman.
  • Pet Party – 13 to collect including Penelope, the super-rare potbellied pig.
  • Wild Friends – 12 to collect including rare, golden versions of each animal.

Children will love creating their own pals as heads and bodies pop apart for colourful, mix and match fun. Encourage imaginative and creative play with the Playfoam, as little ones sculpt beds, nests, igloos and more!

Playfoam never dries out so can be used again and again straight from the pod.

2) Stems® (Tub of 20) (£9.00)

This flexible 3D maker toy introduces STEM to young learners through play with this creative construction toy. Brightly coloured and incredibly tactile, Stems’ possibilities are endless! Every Stem is exactly the same simple shape and they’re so bendy that you can make pretty much anything you can imagine! It’s fascinating fun for the whole family.

As children zip together the weird and wobbly pieces, they develop key learning skills, including:

  • Problem solving
  • Fine motor coordination
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Curiosity

Both children and adults can make balls that bounce, wheels that roll, frogs that actually leap and much more!

3) Colour Cubed Strategy Game (£9.00)

Children will get addicted to this puzzle game as they develop their colour recognition and matching skills. Score points by matching the colour squares on the cards, the player with the most points wins!

How to play

  • Set up game as per instructions.
  • Place one of your cards against any side of the centre card, matching one or more of its colour squares.
  • Each colour square in a matching sequence is worth 1 point.
  • The scorekeeper adds up the player’s points and writes them down. It is now the next player’s turn.
  • Players can match 4 corner colours, connecting them to make a square.
  • Players continue placing cards, making matches, and adding up points until all cards have been played.
  • The player with the most points after all cards have been played is the winner!

Other ways to play Colour Cubed

Double Up

  • For this game, designate any colour as ‘wild’ – points are doubled when players use that colour to make a match. For example, if purple is the wild colour, and you match 3 purple squares, your points earned would equal 6.

Four-Square

  • In this game, players earn double the points if they can match 4 corner colours, connecting them to make a square. For example, if the player makes a blue square, that player would earn 8 points. Each four-square only counts for double points one time. After that, the square is only worth 4 points when extending the sequence.

4) Beaker Creatures™ Reactor Pod (£4.00)

Beaker Creatures™ combine the amazement of learning through science with the anticipation of surprise collectibles. There are 35 Beaker Creatures to collect from five different planets: The Astrolytes, Frostonians, Buglettes, Oceanites and minisaurs. Children will love building an out-of-this-world collection! There are even five rare, 24-carat creatures to find!

Create amazing bubbling reactions by simply dropping the Beaker Creature Reactor Pod into a bowl of water. Watch it fizz and bubble before revealing the collectible creature inside!

Included in the set is a Reactor Pod, classification card to identify your Beaker Creature and a mini-poster featuring amazing science facts and fun images!

Use the Reactor Pod with one of our Beaker Creature sets for more scientific fun:

Beaker Creatures Liquid Reactor Super Lab

Beaker Creatures 2-pack with Bio-Home read more

Create your own Monster Game

Christmas is just around the corner and the cold weather and darker afternoons have arrived. It’s the perfect time to get indoors, stay warm and play a game! We’ve teamed up with RedTedArt, one of our favourite craft bloggers, to bring you a festive, printable Monster Game. This isn’t just any monster game though, it’s a create your own Beaker Creature Game!

Using our Beaker Creature characters Hyclops, Peetle, Twinkle, Merf, Clomp and Flurry, RedTedArt has created a fun, creative game the whole family can enjoy. How many legs will your Creature have? What pattern? Will they have antlers like a reindeer? Play to find out!

Not only is this game fun but it also gives opportunities for learning and development:

  • Practice counting with numbers 1 to 6
  • Explore and discuss colours
  • Develop fine motor skills with drawing, colouring and cutting
  • Discover new shapes
  • Spark imaginations by creating adventures and new stories for your Beaker Creatures
  • read more

    10 Family Games for the whole family to enjoy

    Get everyone together this Christmas for a family games night! We’ve brought together 10 family games perfect for a festive family night. Ages range from 2 all the way up to 14 so there’s something for every member of the family! From educational board games to intriguing strategy games, we’ve got something that will appeal to everyone in your family from the youngest to the oldest. Young learners won’t even realise that they’re learning as they develop core skills through engaging game play whilst joining in with the rest of the family.

    1) Sculptapalooza™ (Ages 10-14)

    It’s the squishy, squashy, sculpting party game!  This fast-paced sculpting battle combines the creativity of Playfoam® with engaging imaginative play. Mess-free Playfoam never dries out so this game can be played time and time again! Simply get into two teams and battle it out to mould the Playfoam into a specified model!

    How to play

    • Place the category cards face down in the play area
    • Decide which team will go first
    • A player from that team takes a category card and rolls the numbered die to determine which challenge they need to complete
    • That player must use the Playfoam to complete their challenge before the timer runs out
    • Can their team mates successfully guess what it is?
    • The first team to successfully guess 25 challenges wins!

    Sculptapalooza™ includes sculpting challenges such as:

    • “Straight up Sculpt” – simply create the specified model
    • “Put it on your Face” – mould the Playfoam onto your face to bring your creation to life
    • “Just close your Eyes” – master your creation with your eyes closed
    • “Playfoam Props” – incorporate props into your masterpiece
    • “Sculptor’s Choice” – build anything in your imagination for your team mates to guess

    Take a look at DIY Daddy’s review of Sculptapalooza!

    2) Code & Go® Mouse Mania Board Game (Ages 5-9)

    A learn-to-code board game! Code & Go® Mouse Mania is a way to introduce coding and inspire primary children in STEM. This engaging game follows the same screen-free concept as our award-winning Code & Go Robot Mouse. It provides a basic introduction to early coding concepts such as step coding and logic and encourages problem solving skills, but most importantly, it’s fun to play!

    How to play

    • Each player selects a mouse and places it in its coloured corner of the game board
    • Give each player a Super Mouse card
    • Players take turns rolling the die and selecting that number of coding cards
    • Encourage players to lay out their coding cards in a sequence to map their mouse’s path. The path should take them closer to the cheese!
    • Players then move their mouse according to the steps in that sequence
    • If a mouse lands on some cheese, that player takes it
    • Players clear their cards after each sequence ready for their next go
    • Play continues until all cheese wedges have been collected
    • The player who collects the most cheese is the winner
    • Enhance the game play with:
      • Maze walls – roll these on the die and place a wall anywhere you want on the game board to block your opposition
      • Warp zone spots – instantly jump to another warp zone spot in one move if it will benefit you
      • Super mouse – Can be used only once in a game! Use this card to jump over a maze wall

      3) Hooplastack™ (Ages 7-12)

       A game of steady hands and quick reflexes! Hooplastack™ is an easy-to-play game that encourages fine motor skills and strategic thinking as players pile the wooden pieces high, then try to snatch the bottom piece with the hoop!

      How to play

      • Remove the assortment of wooden pieces from the pole and stack them on a table
      • The first player places the wooden hoop over the tower and rests it on the table
      • They quickly yank the hoop, aiming to snatch out the bottom piece
      • If the stack remains upright the play passes to the right, if the stack falls the player is out of the game
      • The last player remaining wins!

      4)

      The Sneaky, Snacky, Squirrel™ Colour Matching Game read more

    Top 10 Toys for Christmas – A Gift Guide by Learning Resources

    Give the gift of learning this Christmas with our hands-on selection of fun and educational learning toys! Our top 10 Christmas toys have all been tried and tested by some top family bloggers and their curious little learners. You can rest assured they will last way beyond the festive season and provide hours of fun!

    In our top 10 guide we have a wonderful range of gift ideas that encourage a love of learning. From coding to construction, imaginative role play and family games to collectibles, there is something for everyone!

    Meet the top 10!

     

    Botley™ The Coding Robot Activity Set
    Beaker Creatures™ Liquid Reactor Super Lab
    Gears! Gears! Gears!® Machines in Motion
    Sculptapalooza™
    Pretend & Play® Original School Set
    Design & Drill® My First Workbench

    Pretend & Play® Pet Vet Hospital read more

    2018 Award Winners

    2018 Award Winners

    At Learning Resources, a lot of time is invested in understanding what children need to learn and how they might learn it. Products are then developed around that need, ensuring that products are appealing, easy to use and of a high quality. Moments are created where learning and play become one, and Learning Resources products are designed to instil a love of learning in both boys and girls, who often do not realise they are learning as they play.

    Throughout 2018, multiple Judges have put our toys and games to the test! We are delighted to have received several prestigious accolades that have recognised our toys for their quality, durability, educational benefits and fun factor. Discover which toys have award winners this year below.

    Botley™ The Coding Robot Activity SetBotley™ The Coding Robot Activity Set

    What is Botley?

    Meet Botley! The interactive robot here to teach children aged 5+ the fundamentals of coding, without the need for a screen!

    Botley, from Learning Resources, is the fun, friendly way for young children to learn coding and, unlike most coding robots aimed at older kids, doesn’t require a tablet or smartphone. Ready to use straight out of the box, Botley is the only robot on the market that comes with a full activity set, allowing children to create obstacle courses for endless hours of coding fun.

    Awards

    Botley Awards

    Judges’ Comments

    Primary Teacher Awards – Gold – Score of 95.4%

    “An excellent product that introduces children to the concept of coding. The younger ones were happy to program in basic commands while the older children tried the more complex sequence of coding”

    “We loved Botley! The appeal was instant. Children were able to follow the written instructions and had him working straightaway. Ninety minutes later they were still engrossed. They were able to program him and create obstacles with the shapes provided and not a cross word between them! It is rare to find a toy with instant appeal that requires no input from the adult”

    “This clearly supports STEM, with children using their imaginations to create what might be possible. It is a great introduction to computer programming to younger children. The colours were equally appealing to both boys and girls. I liked the detailing on him – his tyre treads being computer circuitry. The control panel was a good size for small hands”

    Right Start Awards – Top Winner – Gold

    “Botley makes abstract concepts concrete and gets children excited about coding. Our four-to-eight year olds enjoyed plotting mazes and (without realising it) using logic to programme Botley out of dire situations”

    Good Toy Guide – Recommended

    “How can Botley see the things in his way?” – Boy aged 8

    “Botley introduces children to coding in a fun way – a real favourite with our testers. They loved the concept of a robot and were eager to get programming! They needed some help initially to understand the commands but once they had read or listened to the instructions, they were well on their way. The younger children engaged in simple programmes – one group enjoyed programming Botley to move from one child to another (they were sat in a circle). This teaches cause and effect and logical thinking skills which are ideal as a basis for important STEM learning”

    “The children showed a high level of engagement and determination when coding the robot – they did not want to give up, demonstrating perseverance. The option to build upon simple codes and functions and two levels of difficulty provides opportunities for children to progress their knowledge and develop their understanding. We also observed some excellent teamwork and enjoyed seeing the children discuss their successes and failures, building on them in their future codes”

    Playfoam® Pals™ Wild Friends 2-Pack

    Playfoam® Pals™ Wild Friends 2-Pack

    Meet the Pals!

    Playfoam® Pals™ feature 12 collectible pods that open to reveal a unique animal character encased in Playfoam®! The super-squishy, sculpting material is child friendly, won’t dry out and doesn’t stick to clothes or carpet! Children love opening the Playfoam Pals pods to reveal their surprise collectible. Heads and bodies can be mixed and matched for endless character combinations; look out for the ultra-rare golden pal!

    Playfoam makes the perfect material to sculpt props such as nests and beds for animal friends and a handy collection sheet illustrates the home countries of each animal, helping children to keep on track of what Playfoam Pals they need to complete their set!

    Awards

    Playfoam Pals Awards

    Judges’ Comments

    Good Toy Guide – Approved

    “This foam is really cool, especially how it sticks together” – Girl aged 9

    “The crocodile is so cute, I love it” – Girl aged 6

    “The Playfoam pals are both cute and creative and definitely appealed to our testers. They were keen to see which pals they had got and there was much excitement when one of them contained a golden pal. They loved the fact the foam could be used to make things for their new pals: homes, food, beds… It provides many opportunities for creative play, which develops imagination and storytelling skills”

    “The unique sculpt-able quality of the playfoam also encourages sensory play. This exploration of different tactile elements, textures, sounds and smells is not only great for developing fine motor control but can also enhance memory, problem solving and language skills. Sensory play also provides opportunities for calming and managing emotions. Due to their size, these toys are great for taking out and about as they are self-contained”

    Right Start Awards – Silver

    “Playfoam will keep children busy for ages: they’ll enjoy moulding it into weird and wonderful creations and the animal surprise makes it a must-have. Good value for money”

    Primary Teacher Awards – Bronze – Score of 78.1%

    “The children were eager to open this and were excited to see what Playfoam pals were inside.”

    Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog™Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog™

    Say Hello to Spike!

    Ideal for toddlers, this beautifully designed hedgehog-themed learning toy will develop a variety of

    key early learning skills read more

    The world is their playground: The Importance of Outdoor Exploration

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    The benefits of outdoor exploration are far-reaching and in an ever-advancing technological era, there is a strong focus to encourage children’s relationship with nature by playing outdoors. Outdoor learning improves children’s health,  offers them rich learning experiences and leads to a greater connection with nature. Playing outdoors teaches teamwork, creativity, resilience, helps improve understanding of environmental processes and fosters responsible attitudes towards environments.

    In 2014, the theme of National Children’s Day campaign was ‘go wild’. They shared research that estimated that just one in five children is connected with nature, and suggested that one hour of wild time every day could help increase levels of physical activity, alertness and ultimately improve wellbeing. On the 1st of November 2018 and 23rd May 2019, schools around the world will be opening their doors for Outdoor Classroom Day. This day is designed to allow children to have lessons outdoors and to prioritise playtime which is central to children’s enjoyment of childhood.

     How can we encourage richer outdoor learning experiences?

    Active Game Play

    • Provide spotting sheets to look out for bugs and butterflies
    • Provide space and time for running around
    • Place clues around the garden for a scavenger hunt
    • Set up sports day games such as running races, an egg and spoon race or long jump

    Outdoor Imaginative Play

    • Encourage outdoor imaginative play with a dinosaur hunt, dress up in ‘safari’ gear, grab a magnifying glass or binoculars and hunt for dinosaurs. You could even place some toy dinosaurs around the garden
    • Build outdoor dens with boxes and sheets for outdoor imaginative play settings
    • Pitch up a small tent and pretend to go camping or lay out a blanket and have a teddy bear picnic

    PlayBrix™ Pirate Adventure

    Exploration and Discovery

    • Provide chimes, streamers, windmills and bubbles to investigate the effects wind can have on these
    • Go on a blindfolded walk, tell your children to close their eyes and say what they can hear, smell and touch
    • Provide opportunities to look after outdoor environments such as watering flower beds or planting seeds
    • Encourage up-close investigations of outdoor features such as path ways, sandpits and flowers – can they name them?
    • Observe wildlife, mapping out what you see where in a journal.

    Sand and water play

    • Create a sensory pond in a water table using insect and aquatic counters and sensory materials such as sponges, sticks, stones and sand
    • Use alphabet and number sand moulds to improve letter and number recognition
    • Pour and mix liquids of different colours and consistencies at the water table using jugs and stirrers

     

    We recommend:

    Jumbo Bug Jars,

    New Sprouts® Camp Out read more

    Join Learning Resources at The Science Museum!

    The Science Museum on Exhibition Road in South Kensington, London was founded in 1857 and is one of the city’s major tourist attractions, attracting 3.3 million visitors every year! It has five floors packed with historic, modern and interactive fun for the whole family to enjoy, including a variety of galleries such as: Exploring Space, Making the Modern World, Who Am I and The Secret Life of the Home. You can’t help but get lost in the magic of science at The Science Museum!

    This summer, The Science Museum have invited Learning Resources to demonstrate some of our scientific toys to the little scientists visiting the museum. The next demonstrations will take place on Wednesday 15th & 22nd August, located by the entrance of the museum just outside of the shop.

    What We’re Doing

    Does your little one dream of becoming a scientist? Do they want to make things fizz, bubble and pop? Well here at Learning Resources, we believe in building a passion for learning.

    Join our team for a demonstration where your little learners can experience a real science experiment. Blow their minds with our Primary Science® Lab Set

    as they mix chemicals to create an erupting volcano. Whilst wearing their safety goggles they can dunk, stir and pour the ingredients themselves and watch as their scientific dreams come to life! read more

    Tried & Tested: Mathlink Cubes Activity Set

     

    Name: Shelly from OFamily Learning Together

    Age of child: 8 and 6 years old

    Product testing: Mathlink® Cubes Activity Set

    “Shelly is a Chartered Accountant who is now a home-educating mum to two kids. She blogs about the learning activities that they do at home and shares resources that they have used and enjoyed on the OFamily Learning Together blog.”

    What were your first thoughts when the resource arrived?

     

    I initially thought it was snap cubes with some activity cards added.  But my son immediately noticed the different shapes on each side of the cubes.

     

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    How did you use it?

    We started off using the activity cards but the kids quickly branched out into using the cubes for their own activities.  My son used the cubes to create his own sums and after completing the 3D shape cards both my kids played around with the cubes creating their own shapes and tried to find ways of combining smaller shapes into bigger shapes.

     

    What are the educational benefits? read more