When you select and buy one of Orchard Toys games or puzzles, you know exactly what areas of development you are buying into: Maths; History; English; Science; Geography; PSHE (personal, social, health education); Personal Languages – so it’s not just a toy, but it ‘is’ still a lot of fun!
Another thing that I like about Orchard Toys, is the age ranges that it covers. It doesn’t state the typical ‘suitable for 36 months and over due to small parts’. But instead, covers a wide range of age groups (although children do develop at different rates – and they do remind you of this). You can expect to see ages 3+, 3-6, 3-7, 3-10, 4-7, 5+, 5-9, 5-adult, etc. So you actually get a better idea of what your child should be learning or be aware of at this time of their life. I did avoid saying ‘your child should know’ because again, children learn at different rates and more appropriately, they tend to learn more about what they are interested in. So it should always, always, always be fun and interesting.
Another reason for me liking the variation in age ranges with Orchard Toys is that I have 3 children of different ages (and abilities): H’boo is almost 12, bright, articulate and creative; O’Pops is almost 11, bright but unable to display his creativity in the usual way. I shall elaborate – O’Pops has CP and so he is less able to use his hands, but perfectly able to use his mind and voice; K’Boo is 4, bright, articulate, creative and wants so much to copy off her big Sister and yet be her own self (all rolled into one). All 3 of the children love to play and so I felt it appropriate to choose a game that all 3 could have a go at, enjoy and learn something (even with their age/ability differences).
There were a few games that fit this criteria for me, but as the girls are performers at heart, then “What a Performance” was the obvious choice for us.
So I was thrilled when Lynda of Orchard Toys asked me to review a toy and naturally pleased when she agreed to let me choose this one. I make a point of only reviewing products that are relevant to my family and myself or something that I’m passionate about – I’m wasting mine and everyone’s time otherwise! I think you can gather by now that I was happy to review one of Orchard’s Toys
The box arrived within 2 days and K’Boo was very excited to see a package that, needed un-packaging, on the lounge floor. When I told her it was a suprise, she was very eager to get into the box and would have done if she could. She looked so cute draped over the box that I had to snap a shot.
We went about unpacking the box and K’Boo carefully examined the pieces to see what they would do. We did unfortunately find just one piece missing, but a quick call to Orchard at 5.00 pm and I was told by a very helpful lady that they have a ‘piece replacement service’ and that although
the person who dealt with this had already left (can’t say I blame her at 5.00 pm on Friday evening) that they would be happy to replace – I was assured that the packer would not be put in the stocks or forced to wok in isolation for a week with not socks (it was me who asked, not a suggestion of theirs). I also emailed Lynda, who responded in as witty a way as I have reported the missing piece – and she assured me that the Scandinavian Fairies that had recently been seen in the area taking a liking to ‘spyglasses’, would hopefully not be seen again. My replacement spyglass was sent 1st Class and arrived as soon as Royal Mail could deliver.
Pieces complete, I took to snapping more shots as though the missing piece had never been away from it’s rightful place and given that we didn’t have to wait very long, it hardly mattered anyway.
K’boo re-inspected the pieces and started to put them together and was happy for me to snap away as she did. We are a happy snapping family – she’s used to it!
When the other two children came home from school the inspection turned into fun and they had a go at the game, occasionally even looking at the rules :o) I was not allowed to take photies at this point as they
didn’t want me to show them looking silly while acting out their roles, but it was funny and they did enjoy it.
The game involved shaking a dice, moving around the board and if the player lands on an activity square then they had to select a card from the top of the pile.
If the square says “Who am I” they has to mime an action (no words or noise) for the others to guess the action, person or animal that is on the card. If the square says “Make a Noise” then the player hums or whistles the song or makes a noise of what is on the card for the others to guess what it is (this time no actions). The first player to guess correctly moves their counter forward one square. If no-one guesses or the player refuses to do the activity on the card then they have to do the forfeit on the back on the card. This is where the spyglass comes into play – it is needed to read the forfeit on the back.
If the square says ’Action’ then the player must read the action aloud fro the selected card, using the sand timer, if it is shown. If the player cannot or refuses to do the activity, they must do the forfeit on the back of the card, as before.
The game continues till one player reaches the ‘finish star’.
It sounds a little confusing – it really isn’t! It is a hilarious game and I can only imagine how it would play out with adults only playing after a glass of wine (or two).
The children loved it, it was a great way to chill out and laugh till your sides hurt. Watching them take it on the chin when the others couldn’t guess was really sweet, but they tried even harder next time and that just made it even funnier!
An example of a card’s actions is: Who am I? – Pretend to be a chicken (no noises remember); Make a noise – Hum or whistle oranges and lemons (no actions); Action – Hold your breath for 5 seconds; Forfeit – all players with blue eyes move forward tow spaces.
Another card: Who am I? pretend to be a shopper in a supermarket (no noises); Make a noise – make a noise like a foghorn (no actions); Action -find something smelly; Forfeit -go back to the same space as the player or team in last place.
The educational guide for this game states: Link with National Curriculum Maths and English; Encourage personal and social skills; Develop language and communication skills.
So what was the verdict in the HonieHouse?
The board pieces were of thick, colourful board and very good quality. The additional game pieces, timer, dice shaker & dice and player pieces of a durable plastic. There were some discs made of board to make spinners with in the package and also a colourful poster and catalogue detailing the toys, jigsaws and activities and which would most likely suit who. It was a lovely package to receive giving the impression of good quality and thought out care.
The children enjoyed the game and making fun of themselves and laughing with each other whether they got it right or wrong made it a good fun, family game. I agree with the educational guide and think it’s a great way to develop these skills.
I think the game is good value and given the quality of the game pieces, it is likely to last for years to come.
I was very impressed with the communication from Lynda and also when I called Head Office for the lost piece. I got the impression they were a nice company to work for. The products are well packaged and well presented and the aftercare is second to none.