Pirate Shapes by Orchard Toys – A Review of the game

Pirate Shapes – a fun and educational game from Orchard Toys, really appealed to me as it is one of the few turn taking games available for young children.  Suitable for ages 2 and half plus, I had the perfect candidate to test it out – Mister B.  Having an older sister who loves her games, he always takes an interest when we play but usually is too young to understand the rules.

 Pirate shapes - Orchard Toys

Suitable for 2-4 players, Pirate Shapes comes with four brightly coloured, high quality cardboard picture boards, each with six shapes cut out.  The object of the game is to complete your board using overturned shapes in the centre of the table and take turns in selecting a shape and to see if it fits your board.

Being a simple concept it was really good to see how well Mister B picked up the idea of taking turns and definitely a great introduction to game playing for him.  Five year old Miss M was very encouraging and loves to help him although being the older sibling, she took the more tactical approach in selecting her shapes and always completed her board first!!

This didn’t bother Mister B who was happy and smiley every time he found all his shapes and gave himself a little cheer.  The other major educational benefit to Pirate Shapes is shape recognition, along with learning colours and we even spotted a few patterns.  I’ve found that Mister B is the perfect age to benefit from the learning aspects of this game.  He already recognises some basic shapes and colours so Pirates Shapes reinforces these along with teaching him a few more.

We’ve loved playing this game, and even when on his own Mister B has enjoyed playing the game like a puzzle, finding the correct shapes and fitting them to the boards.  A great game for two young siblings to play together.

Please watch our short review video of Pirate Shapes in action:

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions. We are not paid for reviews although we do receive the product to try out and enable us to write the review.

Animal Safari by Orchard Toys – Review

Animal Safari is a fun, tactical board game from Orchard Toys suitable for ages 5+.  With Miss M being a huge fan of games and loving her Orchard Toy collection I knew this was sure to be a hit and I was also keen to try a game with a higher starting age to give Miss M the challenges she needs and thrives on.


The game is suitable for 2-4 players who use a stand up jeep playing piece to move from the camp in the centre of the board, around the board hoping to collect some animals before returning to camp.  There are various viewing points across the Animal Safari board that if you land on you can pick up an animal card.

To move around the board are two dice and this is where the game gets interesting.  In place are the number six on each, is a picture of binoculars, and rolling one of these allows you to take an animal card of your choice from another player.  You can also tactically use the amount rolled on the dice to determine where you land on the board by either moving the amount on just one of the dice or the total of both.  By having to total up the two dice also brings in basic mathematical skills which is perfect for young players.  Miss M who is 5 is just learning basic addition in her first year of school and I felt this really benefitted her in practicing without realising it.

I was surprised by the variety of different animal cards – to include monkeys, parrots, flamingos, lions, tigers, zebras, meerkats, giraffes to name just a few.  They are all brightly coloured and fun pictures to look at which helped add value to the game.  Miss M loved looking at them and picking her favourites when she had the opportunity to take some from my pile.

Animal Safari retails at £11.75 which we think is good value for such a durable lasting game that is fun, enjoyed by all and contains hidden educational aspects.

Please watch our short review video of the game in action:

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions. We are not paid for reviews although we do receive the product to try out and enable us to write the review.

A Game of Ladybirds by Orchard Toys

I was looking forward to reviewing A Game of Ladybirds by Orchard Toys for the Izziwizzi Kids Play Fest as it looked like a simple, easy to play game that encouraged counting and observation skills.  I thought it would be a good, fun game for Miss M to play to reiterate her number observation which she has only recently got to grips with (without pointing and counting with her finger) and overall counting skills which are used at the end of the game to determine the winner by counting how many ladybirds are on the leaves.

The game is very easy to set up with all the cards (of the usual standard of high quality, durable, shiny card from Orchard Toys) being turned face down.  This game includes a dice with a small plastic shaker which is used to determine which number card you pick up.  The little shaker was fun and kept Miss M excited as I think it is one of the first games Miss M has played with a dice.  The game requires you take turns in continuing to throw the dice and picking up a card with the same number of spots on until all the cards have been taken.

When you pick up a card you turn it over to reveal a number of ladybirds on the leaves.  A key point in this game is that you have no idea how many ladybirds will be on the card you pick up as the number of spots has no bearing on the number of ladybirds on the leaf – in fact some leaves have no ladybirds at all!  This ensures no cheating can take place and the game ends up being pure luck as to who the winner is.

I tend to like games with this approach for younger children as I find it more enjoyable for the adults to join in.  The game is suitable for 2 – 4 players and has a suggested age range of 3 – 6 years.  I think this is a great game for those beginning to count and to get to grips with recognising groups of numbers.

I think it would be most suitable to purchase for a child from the lower end of the age range to give them the most value out of the learning opportunities within the game.  I can’t wait to see Miss M playing this with Mister B next year – he loves counting but is still a little young for the concept of game play – he would want to turn all the ladybirds over at once although we have had him sitting counting out the ladybirds on each card – so cute!!

The game retails for around £7.50 which I think is good value for the game – a great introduction into turn taking and counting incorporated into a cute little game – we’ve enjoyed it and played it again and again.  With each turn being quick to play, children won’t get bored easily and with each game lasting 5-10 mins you can squeeze it into a small time slot or play multiple times if you have more time.

To see the game in action, please watch our short video:

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions. We are not paid for reviews although we do receive the product to try out and enable us to write the review.

Monster Catcher by Orchard Toys – Review

The first thing that struck me when opening the Monster Catcher game from Orchard Toys were the brightly coloured picture cards.  They are really appealing to any little ones and 4 yr old Miss M loved them.  I think monsters are quite a neutral theme appealing to both boys and girls.

What I loved about this game was the fact that it was very easy to play and grasp the rules but was also complex enough that it had several elements within the game that allowed for added interest and also longer engagement with the game.

The object of the game is to collect the most monsters, which are broken down into two halves.  There are also extra cards such as a net full of monsters, the “Monster Catcher” cards which if you are unfortunate to pick one up, you have to place all of your completed monsters into the centre of the game play.  But then the lucky person who picks up the full net card can rescue any monsters from the centre of the game and add them to their cards.  There is also a timer feature where throughout the gameplay you will come across six picture cards which are put together like a puzzle to make a picture.  Once all these cards have been found the game ends and it is time to count up each players monsters to decide who the winner is.

Orchard Toys always include an educational guide with their games on the box which for this game suggests:

– Develop matching and counting skills
– Encourage social interaction
– Develop instruction following and turn taking
– Link to National Curriculum and Early Learning Goals

We played this game a number of times with both 2 and 3 players and Miss M loved the thrill of the monster catcher cards.  Although she was disappointed when her monsters were caught, it gave an exciting element to the game and she became even more excited when she picked up the card enabling her to rescue all the monsters that had been caught.  I thought this game was packed full of elements for young children to really engage themselves with the game and become totally immersed in the play.  Being fast paced and relatively short there was constant action and always a change in who was in the lead.  As this is a game of chance rather than skill, it makes it more enjoyable for older children and adults to join in with younger players.

A great game for family’s with young children and highly recommended by us.

For a more detailed view and to see Miss M’s views please watch our video below:

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions. We are not paid for reviews although we do receive the product to try out and enable us to write the review.

Where’s my cupcake? game by Orchard Toys – Review

When we were sent Where’s my cupcake? game by Orchard Toys for izziwizzikids.co.uk to review, Miss M’s face lit up immediately.  The girly pink box is covered in cupcakes – she couldn’t wait to play.

The game consists of cupcake shaped cards in 10 different varieties and the object of the game is to match cupcake cards and end up with the biggest pile on your plate!!

Miss M loved the different cupcake cards and when it was her turn always described the cards by the topping whether it be the chocolate one, sprinkles, strawberry, sparkles, lemon etc etc.  This in itself proved a very entertaining part of the game that is different and fun compared to usual card type games.  It also adds a girly element that is hard to find in games for younger players.

An added learning element to the game was “manners”.  During the game if you pick up a card that you are unable to match and keep, you can offer it to other players if they have a matching card on top of their pile.  To do this the player with the card is encouraged to ask “Would you like a cupcake?” to which the recipient replies “Yes please” and “Thank you” once given the card.  Miss M really enjoyed doing this and it reminded her of manners.  Not only did it encourage verbal manners but also the act of sharing and giving the card to someone else – something a lot of young children are reluctant to do.

Also included in the box is a cupcake recipe card which Miss M was really excited by and couldn’t wait to make them so the next day we followed the instructions and had a fun baking session that resulted in some delicious cupcakes.

This is a fun, girly game that we have played over and over again. We’d definitely  recommend it and know it would make a lovely gift for any little girl.

Below is a video of Miss M & I playing Where’s my cupcake? compiled by izziwizzikids.co.uk:

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions. We are not paid for reviews although we do receive the product to try out and enable us to write the review.


Play Fest with special guests Orchard Toys

Every parent wants to do their best for their children and an important part of being a child is playing.  They learn and experience so much through play, helping them to engage in the world around them and build up their social and interactive skills.  Which is why I love Play Fest – a fun, interactive weekly chat with other parents based on a guided topic along with friendly chat held by izziwizzi.  You get to share ideas and pick up lots of tips and activity ideas to do with your children.

You can find izziwizzi on Tuesday evenings on Twitter and Thursday evenings on Facebook from 8.30pm for fun chat – Play Fest.

Next week the wonderful Playfest have a special guest – Orchard Toys!!  For those who don’t know, Orchard Toys produce some fabulous board games and puzzles, and next week they are looking for your input into a brand new Orchard Toys product launch – Where’s my cupcake?

The topic will be turn taking and sharing in play, and Orchard Toys will be there to give their views as well as opportunities to talk about new products, get product recommendations and discuss Play Fest Orchard Toys product reviews.

If you register in advance then when you participate in Play Fest you will have the chance to WIN Orchard Toys games including the brand new release Where’s My Cup Cake?. Plus there will be extra give aways in the Twitter party on the evening! And on top of all that you can get a free Tangram on your next order at OrchardToys.com when you register.

So hopefully I’ve inspired you to come along and join in the fun – don’t forget to register and hopefully I catch up with you at Play Fest next week.

Happy playing!!

Dinosaur Race by Orchard Toys – Review

We were asked to review Dinosaur Race by Orchard Toys for izziwizzikids.co.uk.

With Miss M being quite young we have only just started playing board games but when I was offered the opportunity to try out the new Dinosaur Race game from Orchard Toys for ages 3+, I knew she would love it.  She is an avid dinosaur fan having watched the Jurassic Park films over and over again and has a number of dinosaur books on her bookshelf.

An exciting aspect of this game that jumped out at me was the race track and medal podium – with the 2012 London Olympics this year, what a fabulous way of introducing children to sport and helping them to engage with the largest event to be held in the country this summer.

Having already experienced a number of Orchard Toys games, I knew the quality of the pieces would be made to their usual high standard especially considering they are made of 75% recycled cardboard.  The pictures on both the box and the game are highly colourful, bright and eye catching – perfect for the suggested 3 to 10 years age range of this game.

Miss M couldn’t wait to get the pieces out of the box when she saw it and was very excited with the various contents.  The first little novelty was that the game board was like a mini jigsaw and mummy was ordered not to touch it while Miss M carefully put the pieces together.  I liked the fact that the dinosaur playing pieces had little plastic stands to create a three dimensional effect to the game.  And the ultimate finishing touch has to be the medal podium complete with medals enabling you to hold a medal ceremony at the end of each race – London Olympics 2012 here we come!!!

We played the game with the maximum 4 players and this definitely produced a fun, exciting atmosphere that created tension and competitiveness as the dinosaurs approached the finish line.

We all had great fun playing this game and definitely felt it was different and unique to other games we had seen before.  It retails at £11.75 which I feel is a reasonable price for the game and is available to purchase from Orchard Toys.

Here is our video review of Dinosaur Race by Orchard Toys for izziwizzikids:

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions. We are not paid for reviews although we do receive the product to try out and enable us to write the review.

Fruit Frenzy by Orchard Toys review

We were asked to review Fruit Frenzy by Orchard Toys for izziwizzikids.

Fruit FrenzyA fruity card game that’s fun and simple to play.  Collect five matching fruits to win, but watch out, when the spinner shows “fruity frenzy” it’s everyone for themselves! This game has great educational value:

  • Improves observational skills
  • Develops social communication
  • Promotes healthy eating
  • Links with Early Learning Goals
  • Links with National Curriculum Science and PSHE Key Stage 1
This was a fun, easy to play card game with thick, durable cards and a spinner which added interest and gave the game another feature which helped with the amusement and fun factor.
Miss M thoroughly enjoyed playing this game and it has become a firm favourite for her – although she does prefer to win!!  But the educational benefits have been great for her especially with social communication.  As she is quite young we have only just started introducing games into her everyday play and this has encouraged learning to take turns, following rules and playing together.
We all loved this game and had lots of fun playing it.  We also used all the cards to play alternative games such as pairs which we found a lot of fun.  The pieces are all exceptionally durable and it comes in a compact box ideal for taking on holiday etc. therefore we would definitely recommend this game from Orchard Toys.Here is our video review for izziwizzikids:
This game – Fruit Frenzy – can be purchased directly from Orchard Toys £7.25.
All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions. We are not paid for reviews although we do receive the product to try out and enable us to write the review.