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“All of those cars were once just a dream in somebody's head.” Peter Gabriel, Mercy Street

Month

March 2016

Orchard Toys: Giant Road Jigsaw

Orchard Toys: Giant Road Jigsaw extra large floor puzzle

* This is a real review – I spent my own hard earned money to purchase this product.  This is not a sponsored or paid promotional post in any way.

Today my order from Modern Teaching Aids turned up.  When Yagga Yagga heard the dog barking at the courier he was desperate to see what was inside all of the boxes.  His eyes lit up when he saw the rather big box for the Orchard Toys Giant Road Jigsaw and couldn’t wait to test it out.  I’d been planning on putting it away in the cupboard to save for a rainy day or when I had some work deadlines to power through, thankfully he was so excited he forgot to ask what was in the other boxes!

So I made him sit on the couch and inspect the box while I gave the floors a quick sweep and then it was game on.  The box was open quick smart and the giant puzzle pieces were in a heap upon the floor.

photo 1 (00D)

Orchard Toys – Giant Road Jigsaw 20pce
Big and chunky puzzle pieces are easy for little hands to join the road sections together
Orchard Toys – Giant Road Jigsaw 20pce
The first hastily constructed puzzle road. The beautiful and colourful details and illustrations on the puzzle sections of road are gorgeous and eye catching.

 

We have several games from Orchard Toys and love them.  Monster Catcher and Spotty Dog.  All of the game pieces are made from hard wearing, thick and heavy duty cardboard finished with a gloss laminate or coating that makes it easy to wipe grubby bits of goodness-knows-what off of them.  And these giant puzzle pieces looked to be the same high quality.

Each puzzle section of road fits into any other puzzle section in any direction so there is no right or wrong way to put the puzzle road together.  Yagga Yagga had a bit of a crazy and frenetic free for all just adding random sections of road together.  He was busy muttering to himself and exclaiming at all the delightful little details on each section of puzzle road.  A man on a red scooter, a cyclist, cats, dogs, workmen drilling, people with shopping bags and even a fox slinking near an overflowing bin.

Once he’d used up all the puzzle pieces he noticed that on the box there were a couple pictures with suggested ways to assemble the puzzle that resulted in a closed road loop so we had to pull his road to pieces and then put it back to together following the picture on the box.  When his dad got back tonight they reassembled the road again before dinner – not before he demonstrated to us how his cars drive on the roads.

Once the puzzle was assembled into a giant road, the cars came out and play began in earnest.  More and more cars joined the road and he was lost for several hours.

There are 20 individual pieces that are big and easy for little hands to interlock into other pieces.  They come in a large and very sturdy storage box.

Orchard Toys Giant Road Jigsaw

This really is a giant road as you can see in this picture.  The fact that it pulls apart and connects easily will make it great for travelling and storage.

Like any play road, the excitement and shine will wear off after a period of time, so the key to keeping it fresh is to have several different play roads and bring one out at a time. 

I find that the excitement level when a favourite play road is brought out from storage can actually be even higher than when it was brand new.

And I can tell that our new Orchard Toys Giant Road Jigsaw is going to be a firm favourite in the play road department.

Expect to pay about $45 to $60 for the giant jigsaw floor puzzle – which is on the pricey side but if it’s as hard wearing as our other Orchard Toys games then it’s money well spent.

It’s a happy talent to know how to play – Emerson

Orchard Toys – Giant Road Jigsaw 20pce
Even Jandal the cat thinks the new road is a bit awesome!

Play roads and car play mats form a big part of Yagga Yagga’s most imagination filled and fuelled play sessions.  We have strict limits on TV and don’t do other technology like iPads and iPhones with him – but with a favourite play road or play mat he can literally become completely engrossed in fully independent play for several hours at a time.  Each car has it’s own distinct personality and even different voices that he creates for them.  I know he’s fully engrossed in his play world when I can hear the shouted conversations his cars have with each other.  If I spend too long watching him while he plays like this, he’ll often look up at me and say in no uncertain terms “you can go now mummy”!

My next few post’s will be about finding cheap and quirky play roads in the most unlikely of places.  So stay tuned!

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Build Your Own Toy Garage-Recycled, Eco, Sustainable and Free!

Make Your Own Toy Garage from Recycled Fruit Boxes

What’s better than a wooden toy garage? A totally free and completely environmentally friendly recycled fruit box garage.  No child slave labour was used in the production of this toy garage.  Just a little over time from mum.

Last night I took advantage of Yagga Yagga staying at his nanna’s overnight and made a toy garage out of a couple of fruit boxes that I’d tucked away in the garage just for this purpose.

They were perfect. Fitting together all snug and secure.  All I needed to do was cut out a few holes and a ramp then draw a few arrows and some road lines and I would have one very happy child and a great big chunk of guilt free time to get some work done.

It might look a bit simple and bare bones but the KISS principle is a good one when it comes to toys that stimulate imaginative play. It’ll become one of our projects over the next few weeks as well. We’ll probably paint it, put stickers on it, use wooden paddle pop sticks to make a barrier over one of the entrances and maybe glue some sand or glitter on it somewhere.  I’ll make sure I post an updated photo in a few weeks.

Yagga Yagga loves dramatic play and there is invariably a violent crash, mayhem and catastrophe as cars collide and building’s fly to pieces. Our free or cheap recycled play props are perfect for this as they can literally be destroyed, smashed and broken as part of imaginative play and no one becomes sad or angry.  It gives him an outlet for this kind of destructive play – he knows that destroying other toys and objects like books is not acceptable and this rule must be respected so I’m not worried that this encourages aggressive or destructive behaviour.  I think that it’s important to recognise that those feelings and urges to break and destroy are part of the normal spectrum of emotional expressions for a pre-schooler, or any aged child.  Having a “Yes” space where he can experiment with and learn to modify and control those urges appropriately is important.

It’s also great fun for me to do as well. It gives me a functional creative outlet.  He doesn’t care what it looks like so there’s no pressure on me to get it perfect like there would be if I was submitting it for judgement from another adult.

Since we’ve been home this afternoon he’s been desperate to play with his new toy garage. So after a swim and a rumble with the new kitten he’s now been playing happily for a couple of hours while I get some work done.  It was well worth the 15 minutes it took me to build this recycled fruit box toy garage.

For extended play value, tonight I added on another recycled fruit box car garage and connected them with a little drawbridge. Took me all of 2 minutes to cut out the doors, use sticky tape to make a connecting drawbridge and cut in the ramp to the top story.  I am blessed with a double garage that is not used for cars so I have plenty of room to store our boxes and other found objects that we use for building our car themed play probs.

And when the Car Crazy Kid tires of his recycled toy garage it can be repurposed as a multi-story play box for the cats.

photo 5 (007)

toy garage

What you’ll need to make your

  • 2 or more sturdy boxes that fit together snugly. Matching fruit boxes, like mango boxes are ideal.  Your local fruit and veg shop will be more than happy to save and give you a couple of boxes.
  • A sturdy knife for cutting out the doors and the ramp. I use our Friday 13th movie inspired knife.  I just push down on the handle and it cuts through easily.
  • A pen and/or pencil for drawing in road lines or mark out the areas you plan to cut out as access doors
  • Sticky tape

Instructions for building your recycled, eco toy garage

  • Fit the boxes together.
  • Mark and cut out the entrances and exits to the toy garage. I only cut out doors on 3 sides to keep the structure nice and strong and sturdy.
  • Cut out the ramp on the top box and use sticky tape to secure it to the bottom. You could also attach some rope to the ramp so your child can pull the ramp up with their cars on it.
  • Use a pen to mark in some road lines and car parking spaces.
  • Place your garage somewhere that your child likes to play and leave some toy cars close by then let their imagination run wild.
  • Now put your feet up and have a cup of tea or get some work done.
  • When they get bored with playing with cars, give them a box of crayons or texta pens and let them decorate their toy garage.

 

If you enjoy making your own car themed toys then you might find my post about DIY Car Play Mats useful and inspiring as well.  If you’re looking for ideas to inspire and excite your car obsessed child then stay tuned as I’ve got lots of ideas to share.

 

Car Crazy Kid

Resources, ideas and inspiration for parents and carers of kids who love cars

Education, Imagination, Stimulation

 

 

Car Nursery Rhymes

Nursery Rhymes to help develop pre literacy skills in Car Crazy Kids

I never really got into nursery rhymes with my Car Crazy Kid until very recently. We do plenty of singing together, usually when we’re out and about in the car we make up silly nonsense rhymes that we take turns singing.  They usually go something like this:

“Car Par pudding and pie

Kissed the letterbox and made it cry

When the trees came out to play

Car Par ran away”

 

I must admit I’d always thought of nursery rhymes as, well, a bit silly really. Cutting tails off blind mice, poor broken humpty who couldn’t be mended, Jack’s broken crown and poor old Miss Muffet being terrorised by a spider.  Really?  What is that sort of stuff meant to be teaching kids about the world?

Turns out I was wrong and that there’s a reason that nursery rhymes are beloved by children around the world. It also turns out that by memorising nursery rhymes it’s actually helping them to develop the language and learning foundations that will help them with literacy, reading and writing skills.  Apparently if a child has memorised 8 nursery rhymes by the time they’re 4, it’s highly predictive of being an accomplished reader by the age of 8.

Car Crazy Kid’s nanna is a bit of a YouTube gun and has found several car themed nursery rhymes that he just loves. I catch him singing them to himself throughout the day and he’ll often ask me what comes next if he can’t remember.  I’ve had to brush up on my humpty dumpty and incy wincey spider big time.

And we’ve got some new fodder for our silly songs while we’re driving in the car as a result of listening to kids nursery rhymes.

 

“One, two, my car’s blue

Three, four, hear it’s engine roar

Five, six, I’ll show you some tricks

Seven, eight I’m drivin’ straight

Nine, ten let’s race again”

 

These two free YouTube nursery rhyme channels will be loved by car crazy kids and before you know it you’ll be humming along too.

 

Vehicle Songs by Little Baby BumVehicle Songs by Little Baby Bum

There are some rather annoying ads throughout this but aside from that it’s a great little compilation interspersed with some road safety messages about using crossings and looking both ways. Apparently there is some type of free software that will remove the ads for you – but I’m not tech savvy enough for this (that’s Car Crazy Kid’s Nannas job!).

 

Car Nursery Rhymes, Songs and Videos by Little Red Car on Kid’s Channel

This one is Car Crazy Kid’s favourite, despite having the creepiest car spider you’ll ever see performing Incy Wincy Spider. It has all the classics, from Hickory Dickory Dock through to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  It’s all about the cars.

car nusery rythms
Hickory Dickory Dock featuring a car as a mouse AND the clock!

 

No affiliate links in this post, just some links to a couple of car crazy nursery rhymes on YouTube that parents of Car Crazy Kids will hopefully find as useful and fun as we have.  Who would have thought about combining vehicles and nursery rhymes together.

 

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