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Learning maths with a wooden abacus

2 Oct

Wooden Abacus

Now that the office is near enough straight I thought it was about time I got on with writing some more reviews and adding more products to ToyBoxLive.  We have just got this delightful wooden abacus in stock by Plan Toys and it offers lots of play as well as educational value.

The wooden abacus has long been a staple teaching product at nurseries and primary schools, often giving children their first introduction to mathematics.  The abacus has been around for centuries and this corful version will help to introduce children to visualise counting, addition and subtraction.

Each line on this Plan toys wooden abacus has ten colored beads on string that can be easily slid from side to side, it is also bright and will encourage early colour recognition.  With one hundred beads in total your child can really start to get to grips with numbers and mathematics.  Educating your children doesn’t have to be just whilst they are at school you can really help them by making it imaginative and fun using the wooden abacus.

Suitable from ages 3 years – 12 years this toy certainly retains its value and can also be a great way to engage children with additional learning needs who may require a more tactile learning experience.

Instead of cluttering up your house why not add the Plan Wooden Abacus to your toy hire subscription today.

Some other useful details are the measurements of each toy so here are those for the Plan Wooden Abacus…

Width:  27cm
Height: 30cm
Depth:   3cm
Weight: 590grams

Mumpreneur 2012

30 Sep

ToyBoxLive MD at Mumpreneur Awards 2012

Well as some of you might know ToyBoxLive.co.uk were a finalist in the Mumpreneur 2012 awards for best green business and today was the day of the Mumpreneur Awards and Conference.

Unfortunately we didn’t win, obligatory sad face :-(.  On the plus side the speakers that were there were great and I really enjoyed talking to other mums in business and hearing about them all.  The day started at 9am at the Heart of England Conference centre although we were a little late and missed the morning seminars we did get there in time to hear Claire Young from the apprentice as well as the author Liz Fraser and Kate Wilson from Nosy Crow.

All the speakers were great to listen to and I really enjoyed their no nonsense approach to telling it how it is.  Having your own company is hard and there are sacrifices you have to make and that includes being something to everyone.  As well as chief marketer, business planner, book keeper and MD you still have to be mum, wife and organiser and having your own business to look after is some task but one that is fulfilling rewarding and I think gives children something to aspire to.  I really want my daughter to understand that with hard work and determination you can have the houses, the cars, financial freedom and be known for doing something good (Todays fame culture seems to consume some of todays youth as the only way to achieve success).

What really inspired me today was how many women were embracing working and running their own businesses many to help other parents like ToyBoxLive‘s online toy library.

The Mumpreneur team did a fantastic job and the goodie bags given out were huge….the contents of which have now been sorted out on my kitchen table.

I met some great people and really feel like I need to share a couple of them with you.

Jennie Browne is the owner and developer of Mumderground an iPhone app which helps you to navigate the London Underground with a pram.  I thought this was a fabulous idea as it reminded me of a predicament I found myself in when I first had my daughter she was only 5 months old and I really wanted to go to the Grand Designs Live at Excel but couldn’t take her with me because both myself and my friends had no idea how to navigate the underground with a pram.  I’m from Lancashire so there wasn’t much hope for me but my friends were Southerners so if anyone should have known it should have been them but even they didn’t have a clue.  I really felt like I should share this with you as hopefully it will help other mums visiting London with prams.

I also met Naomi Bloomstein from Little Birdwho’s website sends you family deals on days out and things for kids that you can buy at a discount.  There were so many other people that I met but it would take me forever to write about them all.

The feedback form asked if there was one thing that you would change what would it be? Having had time to think about it – it would be that we would have won an award!

Big congratulations to all the 2012 winners and good luck to all the Mumpreneurs and Dadpreneurs that were there today and those that will be setting up in the future :-).

Alison

Less spending more e-lending

25 Sep
toy rental

E Lending

Our culture has changed a lot in the past 10 years and the internet has seen the introduction of many services we didn’t even know we needed. who would have thought we would be buying our shopping online or through a device that was originally designed to make phone calls, or talking with our friends on social networks and seeing them live using web cams. Things really have changed

I remember my first day at secondary school and sitting down to my first ever IT class. We were taught about word processing software , how to type using the traditional type writer method. “Place your right finger over asdf and your left over jkl; and from here you can then type as quickly as possible” Said Mr Singh (Mansfield High School 1995). Each week we continued learning about the programs in the Microsoft Works Suite, there were spreadsheets to calculate and a presentation software tool. There was Encarta that had begun to replace the traditional encyclopaedia and then came the internet with Ask Jeeves (the main search engine at the time) and msn messenger(the equivalent to today’s facebook for chatting to friends).

You know that saying your parents used to say…You don’t know your born, all we had in our day was a black and white TV and a toilet outside for four of us if we were lucky, I was often guilty of thinking “whatever”.

It makes me wonder what we will be saying to our children in 10 years time, who would have thought we would all have a computer the size of our palm in our bag, that we just can’t live without and that you could choose toys and rent them all from the comfort of your own home. Times really are a changing…

E Lending of books was discussed tonight on the news and it’s no surprise that services like ours now fall readily into the E Lending category. ToyBoxLive.co.uk launched in January 2012, and has rented hundreds of toys to customers throughout the UK.

The development of children in the early years is so fast that as a parent you want to educate and challenge them and accumulating toys as well as the unnecessary spending that follows can become challenging for even the most budget minded. Renting toys from ToyBoxLive.co.uk offers the perfect solution.

For £24.99 families can rent their choice of three toys for a month, choosing to return them or extend the rental at the end of the month – in a system likened to DVD rental. If a child becomes attached to their new plaything parents can even buy it from ToyBoxLive.co.uk at a discounted cost. All toys go through a three step cleaning process which includessteam cleaning, additional cleaning, followed by additional cleaning with an organic antibacterial toy cleaner and then finally being wrapped to ensure it arrives perfectly clean and looks like new when it arrives at your door

Toyboxlive.co.uk is the UK’s first toy rental business with customers coming from acrosss the country, despite it being a new concept for many families.

HABA My first Play World Animal Farm

10 Jul

Another gem has arrived at ToyBoxLive HQ in the form of HABA My First Play World Animal Farm

Wooden Animal Farm Play Set

HABA Animal Farm Play Set

We were really surprised not to have seen anything like this before and really feel that HABA are leading the way when it comes to helping parents and carers to engage with their children and learn.

HABA Animal Farm

All parts can be easily packed away

When we first opened the HABA My first World Play Farm we were greeted with a large selection of wooden animal pieces and props to start building your farm set up. The set is suitable for children from 18 months + and has twenty one chunky wooden pieces that are easy for young hands to hold and move around.

We spent numerous evenings getting the box out and organising the animals into different scenes, it was lovely to see my little one making the noises of the animals and talking about what they were going to do, the HABA My First World Play Farm is a great role play toy.

We also talked about how the farmer might spend his day and organised different scenes

HABA My First Animal Farm

Looking at the wooden farm pieces

HABA have really taken into account how the toy might be played with and have included a booklet which gives details of how you can use the toys to engage in different learning styles and different activities. I personally found this a great help and I’m sure those working as nannies, childminders or teachers will be able to easily match it to the Early Years  Foundation Studies framework. The booklet tells you exactly how to play each activity and includes a range of educational benefits which are clearly listed at the beggining of each page.

The booklet supplied with the Animal Farm Set to help you and your child learn

We loved the animal farm so much we decided to take it along with us to dinner one night as it looked stable enough to withstand our outing, however the handle did come out, we simply super glued it back in place and it is still standing up to the test of time, but do bear in mind the handle isn’t as durable as it may seem.

The box that houses the my first world play set is durable and engaging and we have played with it for quite a while.  With the handle it looked as though it was perfect to take out of the house with us but unfortunately the handle broke and we had to fix it with super glue.  Despite this we think it is a fab toy and have added it to the toy library at ToyBoxLive or you can buy it for £35.99 from HABA

Haba Ghost Tower and Knights Castle

24 Jun
Haba Ghost Tower and Knights

Haba Ghost Tower and Knights Castle box and Construction

Why is it when you see or hear German you automatically assume quality.  ‘Vorsprung Durch Teknik’ (the Audi slogan) allows you to automatically know its a premium brand without needing to know what it means. Vorsprung Durch Teknik actually means innovation through technology to us English speakers.  The Germans are so proud of the quality of their products that they proudly encompass it into every element of their product and Haba is another German gem that oozes premium quality and style.

Haba Ghost Tower and Knights

Haba toys are designed to last, they are packaged beautifully and include a range of play opportunities.  We received the Haba Ghost Tower at ToyBoxLive which is a master piece in engineering itself and offers countless variations and settings that a young architect can construct.

Haba Ghost Castle and Knights Village

Haba Ghost Castle and Knights Castle

Made from sustainable wood, the Haba Ghost Tower comes with a selection of shapes and characters which can be constructed into a whole manor of buildings.  We created a castle on a hill which housed the ghost and a dragon and a village where the knights were battlers.  We were pretty proud upon completion.

This type of toy can be adapted for all ages whether you are teaching your little one to build a tower or whether you are encouraging their imagination to run wild, you are sure to gain a lot of play value from it. Despite it having a lot of pieces it is a great toy and one that will be cherished by all ages.  You can buy the Haba Ghost Tower and Knights Castle from Haba for £58.99 or it is available form our toy library at ToyBoxLive

The German toy manufacturers have carefully postioned themselves as leaders in innovation and design through clever marketing and quality products.

Ravensburger Jolly Octopus

20 Jun
Jolly Octopus

Ravensburger Jolly Octopus Game, suitable for ages 4-99+, 2-5 players

Now this is our first adventure into the board/games market that is suitable for the over fives and Jolly Octopus certainly didn’t disappoint.

Since opening the game its been enjoyed and played with by a number of ages from six right up to 60 and has had many outings in our house.

The game comes mostly assembled you simply have to insert the tentacles into the green base (which an adult should do as a child would find this difficult) and then insert 3 x AA batteries into the base.

Jolly Octopus is a newer version of the old style game of operation except you have to rescue crabs from the rock without touching the octopus’ tentacles.

This Ravensburger game is really simple to put together and you need 2-5 players.  Each player chooses a colour and must collect the crabs relating to their colour from the rock, without touching the tentacles.  Each player takes their turn and tries to grab a crab without it touching Jolly Octopus’ tentacles, the player keeps trying to collect crabs until they touch a tentacle and make Jolly the Octopus laugh at this point the next player takes their turn.  The winner is the first to collect all of their crabs.

This game is quick and fun and requires children and adults to maintain concentration and have a steady hand, it also has two levels so you can set it to easy or hard depending on the children or adults you are playing with.  It will help with colour recognition, numeracy and develop hand eye co-ordination

Great childrens game

It reminds us oldies of operation however it is more forgiving and not quite as scary.  When you touch the tentacles the octopus laughs and its tentacles stop spinning, the laugh is also nice and pleasant to hear.  I think this toy is sure to be a hit and one that will be played with again and again.  The Jolly Octopus is £19.99 to buy or you can add it to your toy hire package if you want to try before you buy at ToyBoxLive

Meet Zac Zoob

8 Jun

Moving Mind Building Modelling SystemHi my name is Zac and I recently arrived at ToyBoxLive HQ.  I started off in a cool box in pieces and Alison took me home to see what I was made of.

She started building me that very first night, trying out the different locking positions which enable the connectors to move and connect in all different ways, to teach you how the pieces fit together to build the models.  Antony soon became interested so he had a go too.

As he was going along he looked captivated in his work and had followed all the diagrams and instructions in the book, two hours later and I was led out in all my glory on the kitchen worktop ready for the final pieces to be put together

Top tip count all the pieces and match them to the instruction book before you get started so you are sure you have everything that is relevant.  Hey presto here I am in all my glory.

This toy requires concentration and skill and but is lots of fun and real size and feat. As a parent r carer if you want an afternoon of peace and quiet from your 6 + child give Zac Zoob a try, be prepared to have to join in  but your child/children will get a great sense of achievement when Zac is built. There are lots of other characters and designs to build that will keep a skilled constructive child entertained for days.

Zac Zoob Alien Creature is available to buy from Bright Sparks Toys or he is available from the toy library at ToyBoxLive