Magic Maths game by Orchard Toys

I love finding fun educational games that the kids can play at home.  Any time the kids get to practice maths, reading or spelling in a fun way that does not involve a worksheet is a bonus for me.  Because the more the kids enjoy it, the more they end up practicing.

When Orchard Toys asked if we would be interested in trying the Magic Maths game I was not too sure as my son is not really into wizards but I was looking for a maths game for him so I agreed to give it a go.  My son LOVES the game (aged 6). He LOVES the idea of collecting all the “yucky ingredients”.  In fact he kept asking to play the game just so he could see which ingredients he could collect.

Magic Maths game by Orchard Toys. The aim is to fill your board with ingredients by answering some maths sums

How the game works – Each player gets a board and 6 ingredient/answer cards (the ingredient cards are turned so that the answer is facing the player and the picture of the ingredient is on the back).  Then the players take it in turn to select a star card.  They turn the star card over to reveal a sum.  If they have the answer to the sum in their 6 cards in front they  can add that ingredient card to their board.  If they do not have the answer then the other players get a chance to try and answer the sum and see if they have the correct answer card.

Playing Magic Maths by Orchard toys. Pick a sum card and find the correct answer card to reveal an ingredient to go onto your board

If they are not sure what the answer is the kids can rub the star on the reverse side of their sum card and the answer will appear (you do need to give it a good rub to reveal the answer).

Magic Maths by Orchard Toys. If you rub the star of the reverse side of the sum card the answer will appear

The first player to fill their board with the 6 ingredients is the winner (and in our house that means you get a massive hug from your sister).

Playing Magic Maths by Orchard Toys. The player who fills their board with the ingredients is the winner

The sum cards that are included in the game vary from fairly basic addition and subtraction to harder addition and subtraction sums and also a few times table sums.  As the focus of the game was practice for my youngest I did got through the sum cards before hand and take a few of the harder ones out.

Magic Maths by Orchard Toys. some examples of the sum cards included in the game

I have spotted the game at our local toy store and it is online at Amazon  –  Orchard Toys Magic Maths Game

Magic Maths by Orchard Toys. A fun way to practice maths at home. answer the sums and collect ingredients

 

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Rescuing Rhino

My parents recently bought the kids a lovely book called Rescuing Rhino.  It is a very sweet children’s story about an orphaned rhino and how he was rescued by a vet and raised by the vet’s family.

Reading Rescuing Rhino together. A sweet fictional story about a baby rhino who is rescued and rasied by a young family

The story is lovely with lots of sweet bits like how the rhino got into the neighbour’s garden and ate all her flowers and how the rhino wanted to sleep on the children’s bed but he got to heavy and ended up breaking all the beds (my son thought this was the best a rhino sleeping on your bed).

Rescuing Rhino. A sweet fictional story about an orphaned rhino

Rescuing Rhino a sweet children's story about an orphaned rhino who is rasied by a family and later released

The fictional story is lovely but it is only part of the book. After the story there is a whole factual section.  It starts with information about saving the Rhino, same stats and then a section on orphaned wild animals, how they are raised in captivity and then released again.

Rescuing Rhino after the fictional story it includes some facts about orphaned animals

I really liked this as it expands on the story.  It is a brilliant way of taking a lovely children’s story and talking to the kids about some facts. The book is about an orphaned animal so in the fact pages they do talk about animals being orphaned.  My kids did not find it too graphic but we have spoken about animals been hunted on numerous occasions before and they are fine with it.  There is a photo of a dead elephant and a calf at her side as well as one of a rhino whose horn has been cut off (see below) but these are the only 2 images which I think highly sensitive kids might find sad.

Rescuing Rhino deals with the topic of orphaned animals like this elephant calf whose mom was killed

Rescuing Rhino deals with the topic of orphaned wild animals and does include an images of a few poached wild animals

And then after the factual section there is an activity / craft section.  This includes a footprint activity, some baking ideas and some fun crafts.

Rescuing Rhino a sweet children's book which also includes some craft ideas like this paper plate rhino mask

One of our attempts at a playdough rhino.

Rescuing Rhino a sweet children's story which includes some cute craft ideas for the kids to try after they have finished reading the story

I really like this book as they have combined a lovely story with some information about wild animals and then they included some crafts.  All in one book.  Very impressed.  And there are three other books in the series (so far we have two of the books).

Rescuing Rhino and Tad's Tale. Children's books which include sweet fictional stories, facts about the animals and some craft ideas

The book was originally bought for my kids by their grandparents in South Africa but I have searched online and you can also buy it from Amazon – RESCUING RHINO an orphaned baby rhino finds a new home: plus FACTS about SAVING WILD ANIMALS and FUN ACTIVITIES to make and do: Volume 4 (3 in 1 series)

And the other one is the series that we have is this one – TAD’S TALE the mystery of Tadpole’s disappearing tail : plus Facts about PONDS and WETLANDS and FUN ACTIVITIES to make and do: Volume 2 (3 in 1 Series)

Reading Tad's Tale. A lovely children's fictional story about a tadpole who is sad until be becomes a frog

Rescuing Rhino. A children's book which includes a sweet fictional story about an orphaned rhino. facts about wild animals and some fun rhino crafts

 

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Circular Food Chains

I recently downloaded a few activities on the food chain for the kids but my kids were not impressed with them.  They both did not like the fact that the food chains were represented in a linear manner and that they did not show the full cycle.  The kids wanted it to include what happens to the dead animals.  My oldest fetched a book we have  – Staying alive – and started reading aloud extracts which supported their idea of a circular food chain (Very proud mummy moment). When a lion kills a zebra it does not eat all of the meat, the scavengers also eat some of the meat and afterwards the insects help with the final bits until it is finally absorbed into the soil and the minerals dissolve and ultimately help the plants grow.  Also none of the food chains show what happens when the top predator dies – again there should be a scavenger and insects and the last bits decompose into the soil and act as fertilizer.

So I searched some more and could not find what the kids were after.  I found a food chain sorting activity that we could use for our own food chains but it did not have the scavengers in it. (I emailed the staff at Twinkl and asked if they could add some in and they very kindly did and they emailed me back an adjusted version on the same day – Thank-you.)

Food Chain sorting cards from Twinkl Resources. Perfect for teaching children about the food chain

So the kids used the images and each set out a food chain of their own.

Setting out some food chain pictures to create their own circular food chain using a paper plate as the base. Pictures from Twinkl Resources

We decided that a paper plate would make a good base as the kids wanted to represent it as a full circle, they wanted to show that it is a never-ending cycle, once an animal dies it ultimately goes back into the soil and helps the plants grow.

African animal food chain including a lion created using images from Twinkl Food Chain Sorting Activity. Science for kids activity

 

Bird Food Chain created using images from Twinkl Resources food chain sorting activity

It is very quick and easy to make, nothing flash but it is the result of my kids thinking about a concept and not just accepting the initial food chain activity that I gave them.  I love that they disagreed with the activity and were able to explain why they disagreed with it.

Circular Food Chains created using images from Twinkl Resources. Shows the full cycle from plant back to the animals decomposing and going back into the soil again

 

Circular Food Chains.  A  great science activity for children made using paper plates and images from Twinkl Resources

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Sudoku for kids from Activity Village

I must confess I was one of those people who went through a Sudoku craze.  I loved doing them so last year when I spotted that Activity Village had a Sudoku for kids pack in their shop I naturally wanted to give it a go.  When I opened the download I was initially impressed with just how many puzzles they had included (the whole document is 120 pages of which 70 pages are just Sudoku puzzles – yip 70 pages of Sudoku puzzles, the rest of if a brief introduction including tips and of course the solutions for all the puzzles).

My youngest took to Sudoku straight away, but then he is the one who loves puzzles and most logical thinking challenges.

Working on a Sudoku puzzle from the Activity Village Sudoku pack. lots of examples for the kids to try

My oldest did not initially “get it.”  And she was a bit frustrated that her younger brother understood it so easily.  My oldest is a very visual, tactile learner so I decided to try and explain it to her using some coloured snap cubes.  We went back to the easiest example and we used 4 colours – one colour for each number.  Then we placed our snap cubes on the numbers and we talked through where would the colours need to go.

Sudoku For kids explained using snap cubes to represent the different numbers

Just being able to pick up her snap cubes and place them in the correct place made a huge difference for her.  And she did a few more all by herself using the snap cubes.

Practicing Sudoku using snap cubes to create a colourful pattern

Once she was confident with this method we introduced another step.  For each number we used a different coloured pencil.  Eg 1 was blue and 4 was green.  So although she was not using physical objects to help her so was still using colours to help her with the patterns.

Solving the Activity Village sudoku puzzles by using coloured pencils to help create a pattern

She loves this and even now that she is more confident doing the puzzles she likes sticking with the coloured pencils as it makes the page look “more cheerful”.

An Activity Village for kids Sudoku puzzle solved used coloured pencils

The Sudoku puzzles are split into different groups.

4×4 puzzles – 20 different puzzles

6×6 puzzles – 30 different puzzles

9×9 puzzles (standard) – 30 different puzzles

9×9 puzzles (moderate) – 15 different puzzles

9×9 puzzles (tricky) – 15 different puzzles

hidden code – 10 different puzzles

Sudoku for Kids from Activity Village includes some hidden code puzzles

What I also like about this pack is they have included symbols on each page which tell you how difficult the page is.  So apples are the easiest, then a chicken until the hardest have a lightbulb on them.  I have not actually pointed this out to my kids but I use it as a check to make sure no-one is trying something that is just going to be extremely frustrating.

And yes I know you can buy Sudoku books almost anywhere these days but the beauty about the download is once you have bought it (£3.95) you can print and reprint the pages as often as you like which is a bonus when friends came over and want to give it a go.

Sudoku for puzzles from Activity Village. 70 pages of puzzles starting at easy 4x4 puzzles and gradually building up to difficult 9x9 puzzles

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IQ FIT – a compact logical thinking game

I have mentioned a few times that I like buying the kids logical thinking games as I believe it is an important skill and something that can be developed.  I also like having games / activities that I can take with us when you are out and about in case one of the kids ends up waiting for the other (we do own an iPad but it does not go out with us).  The IQ fIT is just this.  It is a great logical thinking game that is compact, light weight and easy to keep stashed in a bag for those moments when I need to keep one of the kids busy.

Playing our IQ fit game while she waits for her brother to finish an activity

What I really like about the game is the 3 dimensional pieces.  You have to slot the pieces into the holes on the board to complete the solution but the pieces are different depending upon which way you turn and rotate them.  I love this !! The kids are really being challenged to think about how the pieces could fit as they have to consider all the ways they can twist and rotate the pieces to fit into the available holes.  It really does make you think of all possible solutions.

IQ fit a Smart Game which involves placing the 3D pieces into the empty holes in a manner which results in no holes been left open

And I like the fact that it is tactile.  The kids are picking up and holding the pieces, they are feeling the shapes while they are figuring out the solution.

IQ fit. The 3 dimensional pieces can be twisted and rotated to fit into the holes

The game comes with a booklet containing 120 puzzles (the booklet also has solutions for all the puzzles). We have owned this game for a few years now and both kids have not yet completed all the puzzles.  They tend to play it for a few weeks and then pack it away and when they return they often repeat a few of the same puzzles again before they try new ones.

I think it is a great logical thinking game to have in the home or in your bag for those moments when you need something to distract a child or for when you are travelling.

The whole family highly recommends this game (even my husband who has been caught having a go a few times).

The IQ fit game by Smart games even the parents have a go

We bought ours from Amazon here – Smart Games IQ Fit Brainteaser Travel Game

I bought this game for my kids and this is just my opinion about it. 

I have included Affiliate links. If you follow an affiliate link and go on to purchase that product, I will be paid a very small commission, however your cost will remain the same.  I only include affiliate links for products that we own, use and love.

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