The International Year of the Periodic Table

The periodic table is one of the most significant achievements in science which captures the essence of chemistry, physics and biology. On the 20th of December 2017, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed that 2019 will be the 150th anniversary of the periodic table and has therefore been named the ‘International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements’ (IYPT). read more

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

The Perfect Gifts for Christmas:  A guest post by Granny Smith 

Having become a grandmother for the first time Granny Smith started blogging almost exactly a year ago, not long after Daisy’s first birthday.  Now, 50 blogs later, she has followers all over the world who appreciate her informed observations, down to earth style and grandparent- oriented view on watching grandchildren ‘grow, play & learn’. A retired lecturer in child development Granny Smith lives in Norfolk with her husband who works in the toy industry.

I was delighted when Learning Resources asked me to write a ‘guest blog’ for them recommending which of their products would make perfect Christmas Gifts for children of Daisy’s age. While these selections are from their wide range, they did give a free hand to choose what I thought appropriate.

I’ll start with fine motor skills development because right now Daisy cannot get enough time moving, fiddling and adjusting things. Last weekend we saw her posting felt tips into her wellies while she was wearing them. So, I know Daisy would welcome Spike, the Fine Motor Hedgehog as a special gift. The endless placing and re-placing of his coloured spines would make her very happy.  The Bright Basics Peg Garden would also interest Daisy and perhaps challenge her skill and stimulate her imagination as well.

Sticking with motor control a game that would be a big hit with the family and one that Daisy could play is The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game.  Squirrels are always a hit with toddlers and it is so common to see them now in our urban environment. Great for learning to cooperate and take turns Sneaky will also help Daisy learn her colours as well. Look out for other games in this ‘tweezer’ series.

Sometimes Daisy needs to express her development of gross motor skills and when she’s in that mood she would benefit from having the New Sprouts Fix It Set with its pretend tools! There are many great items in the New Sprouts range from tools to food items and cooking sets, and when Daisy feels like making more noise, she could turn to the Learning Drums.

I don’t think Daisy is too young to enjoy Crocodile Hop, the early maths activity set. This is a fun active ‘cross the river’ type of game with plenty of whole-body movement for all the family.

Daisy has always loved small world animals so an apt Christmas set would be Jumbo Forest Animals.  These chunky and rather seasonal animals are just the right size for toddler’s hands and stimulate pretend play that you can link to young children’s’ favourite books. Speaking of books, Daisy has been looking at them since she was a baby and is now reciting simple stories and words. Now would be a good time to give her some Letter Blocks to manipulate, use as dough cutters and watch as I form simple words for her. There are Number Blocks too to help with simple counting.

Granny Smith says

Daisy will be 27 months this Christmas and would be lucky and happy to receive any of the toys I have chosen. Of course, whatever she is given I wonder if removing the wrapping paper and opening boxes might delight her almost as much as the contents; I’ll keep you posted as always at 

www.grannysmithsdiary.blog 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