Every family has their “go-to” toys, family favorites, much loved, worn out games, puzzles and toys that will hold a treasured place in the memories of little hearts, forever. When you live in a special needs family; you really learn the value of time spent together, I don’t mean physically in the same place but that real sense of “together”, connecting on a level that spoken words can’t really describe.
When your child is non-verbal (unable to speak) you take every opportunity you can to help them engage, to learn to communicate, to help them feel that their “voices” are being heard.x It weighs heavy on my heart every day that neither Conor nor Jack can communicate verbally, that they cannot express their inner most feelings, thoughts and wishes.x
I make sure that we spend time “one on one” everyday with the boys together with Hailey as our days are so busy and can be chaotic with appointments, therapies; our daily family life. It is a great idea to spend time doing something fun together when we can.x
Playing games and having fun together has really transformed my relationship with all my children but in particular with Conor and Jack who do not instinctively seek out others to play with them. They will sit on the sidelines watching, wishing to play but are not physically able to express their longing to play.
I remember many years ago Orchard Toys game “Two by Two” was THE game that changed everything for us. It sparked an interest in Conor as a toddler; to learn. He would bring the game over to me as he wanted to play with it, his face would light up when we played the game. I knew he was happy then and it helped me to find to engage with him; one on one all the while helping him to learn in a really fun educational way.
Orchard Toys recently sent on some wonderful games for Conor and Jack to play with as they know my little boys are such massive fans of all their games and puzzles.
They sent on 4 amazing games for my lovely boys. Conor’s game of “Two by Two” has been played with so much over the years that I was delighted for him and Jack to see Orchard Toys so kindly sent on a new updated version of Conor’s favorite game.x
They sent on 4 brilliant games in total; 1. If you see a crocodile, 2. Big Alphabet Jigsaw, 3. Two by Two, 4. Flashcards.
Conor’s absolute favorite Nursery song of all time is Row Row the Boat, his favorite part being the “if you see a crocodile, don’t forget to S C R E A M!! So his new game “if you see a crocodile” was going to be a huge hit from the get go!x
Jack has been playing mostly with the Flashcards, the Big Alphabet Puzzle and Two by Two. He adores the alphabet in general and his favorite song at the moment is the Alphabet song. Although he is non-verbal he has been trying so hard to say some of the letters and out of the blue he will say the letters “O, S, E and A”. I knew when I saw the Flashcards and the Big Alphabet Puzzle that he would be enthralled, and he was of course. We have been using them everyday and also started to incorporate them in to his sessions with his Resource Worker on Friday Mornings.x
The Two by Two game of course has been a massive hit here; given Conor’s many years of playing this game so I knew he would love playing with this one too. Jack loves to “post” things in to boxes so I knew I could gain his interest and encourage him with practice and patience to learn how to play.
Below you will find a review of each game we have been sent, so you can learn more about these fabulous educational and fun toys for yourself.
Orchard Toys REVIEW
The Orchard Toys’ Flashcards are a pack of 50 large color cards which have an animated image on one side together with the name of the image and on the other side it hosts just the name of the image. Both Conor and Jack loved the flashcards.
We have been using a lot of Flashcards with Jack in general to encourage his speech development and language understanding. A focal point at the moment for Jack is for him to learn that everything has a “label” so using Flashcards has been a brilliant tool to help him.
We have been using the cards alot in Jack’s resource hour sessions with his fab Resource Worker Mary. Mary holds a card in front of her and I help Jack to point at the picture. When Jack points at the picture Mary and I say the name of the image he is pointing at. He then (independently) points at each letter of the word underneath the picture and we together say the name of each letter for him and then the name of the word.
I wasn’t expecting him to pay too much attention to the word on the back of the card but actually he really enjoys turning over the card and pointing at each letter for us to say and then finally say the word for him.
I would highly recommend Orchard Toys Flashcards as I have in the past bought so many different type brands of Flashcards for Conor and now Jack. Orchard Toy Flashcards are by far the best ones i have come across because the images are clear and not cluttered with other confusing images. The card stock is excellent quality and the cards themselves are large enough for little hands but also an excellent size for children who may have Visual impairments. They are brightly colored and really appealing to look at so my two little men with Autism who are visual learners are really engaged when we use the Flashcards.
Big Alphabet Jigsaw
The Big Alphabet Jigsaw has been a massive hit here at Little Puddins HQ.x Jack especially loves to play with it. We have been using it a lot in his resource sessions. The best part about the Puzzle I have found is the full color, large sized Puzzle Mat that comes along with the 26 Puzzle pieces.
I really liked that the puzzle pieces them selves were so brightly colored (to keep Jack interested) and were made from thick card stock and were large in size, perfect for little hands to hold. Jack knows all of his alphabet already so I knew he would love this game. Every time he would put a piece in place in his puzzle he would point at the letter and the image on the puzzle piece; this further helps his language acquisition and development. He would make sounds as we named each piece of the puzzle as we went along. I also really liked that the puzzle pieces were placed in a left to right arrangement which is excellent for his co-ordination.
Conor loved playing with the jigsaw as well. As he is older we did no use the puzzle mat to help him as i know he knows his alphabet already so I let him sit and put it together himself. I would ask him to point out different images and letters to see if he understood what i was saying and also that he was able to label each of the image/letters by pointing.
Jigsaws are an excellent way as well to improve concentration and over the years we have had shelves stacked high with all the puzzles Hailey and Conor have loved. I have found in the past that many puzzles aimed at younger children were either too simplistic (and boring), leaving little room to extend the play quality of the game/puzzle or the imagery was too detailed; needlessly frustrating Hailey and Conor as they wanted to finish their puzzles but found it too difficult. The Big Alphabet Jigsaw is a “must buy” in my opinion for all children of all abilities.
After I saw how much fun Jack had playing with the Big Alphabet Jigsaw I went online and ordered the “Big Number Jigsaw” as he already knows all of his numbers up to 10 so I know he will love playing with this just as much as the Big Alphabet Jigsaw.x
Two by Two
By far this is Conor’s most favorite game of all time.x I was delighted that Orchard Toys so kindly sent on a new version of the game for Jack and Conor to enjoy as I know Conor likes to keep his own version all to himself in his room lol, so now thankfully they have a game of Two by Two they can share. As I have mentioned before this is the game that first sparked Conor’s interest to engage and learn, to seek me out to play with him all those years ago. I adore this game because it is so bright and colorful but also because of the sentimental value it holds now especially after all these years and how it has positively impacted on Conor’s communicative and educational journey.
Two by Two is created for children aged 2-6 years, it is a matching and memory game, packed full of fun and character. The idea behind it is that you and your child pair up all the animals (two by two) and post them into Noah’s Ark.
With this game you get 1 3D Noah’s Ark, 42 circular (animal) cards, 2 character pieces and an instructional leaflet. It really is an excellent way to encourage turn taking, matching, memory skills, social skills such as sharing, turn taking and learning to play with another child/person. It is an excellent way for your child to learn how to “label – identify) and each strong circular card is created with little hands in mind so it is also excellent for hand/eye co-ordination together with building up fine motor skill abilities.
Conor and Jack’s favorite part of this game is when they have posted all the pieces into Noah’s Ark as when it is all complete we sing the song about the animals going “two by two”.
I also encourage them both (although to be fair Jack has his own ideas) to clean up after wards and put their game away. Conor usually tries to hide some of the game pieces for himself lol so I have to remind him he has his own “two by two” in his room and this one is for sharing with Jack.x
As both my gorgeous boys are autistic I really want to encourage them to interact with each other. This is the perfect game to do so, as it is simplistic in nature but engaging, educational and fun packed so I know both my little men will want to play it. In time they will enjoy the sharing in the fun with each other.x
If you have a child with Autism like Conor and Jack I would really recommend this as a first game to try out, watching their little faces light up when they match all the animals really is breathtaking.x Conor and Jack may not be able to speak just yet but watching their smiling happy faces as they play this brilliant game, tells me all I need to know about how much they love this super game. x
If you see a crocodile
By far Conor’s most favorite song of All TIME if row the boat, and the line “if you see a crocodile, don’t forget to scream!”. He LOVED playing with this game his most favorite part of course was when he would see the crocodile on a circle and we would all scream lol!
The idea behind this fab game if for your child to row the boat to the boat house by matching the color spot dice to the colors on the game board, all the while watching out for the crocodiles.
It really is an excellent fun packed learning game that encourages color recognition, observation and matching skills, helps to develop listening and “vocalization” skills. It also encourages number and counting skills, imaginative play, together with social and personal skills.
The game contents are- 30 doubled sided circular cards, 6 “finish” cards, 4 boat characters, 4 character stands, 1 board (made up of 8 jigsaw style pieces when complete), 1 3D boat house, 1 3D boat, 1 color spot dice and 1 instruction leaflet.
I really liked how durable the game board itself was and how vibrant and colorful it was too, I knew it would really catch Conor’s attention and keep it too.
To play the game you piece together the 8 large pieces of the Board game itself and also you “make” the boat and boathouse. All are super easy to put together and the 3D shapes really make the game so much more fun. You then gather all of the colored disks and place them the “color” side up in the center of the “board” game.
To play the game each player rolls the color spot dice (which has 6 differing colors on it), the player then picks one of the colored disks which matches the color of the dice he has rolled and then turns over the colored disk. If the other side of the disk shows just water they move forward BUT if it shows a crocodile you then all “scream” lol! So much fun!!
Conor adores this game and it was great to see him taking turns, waiting patiently for his turn. He thoroughly enjoyed this game and i know now it will be his new favorite 🙂
If you follow the Little Puddins Blog you will already know how much we love Orchard Toys.x I highly recommend them to all parents who have children with Autism just like Conor and Jack. There are so many ways to play all of the differing games, you will be helping your child to learn and at the same time they find out for themselves that interacting with others, playing together is so much fun.x Conor may not be able to speak right now but every time he got the crocodile disk on his turn he would let out a little shout and start giggling away to himself! It was so lovely to see and was so lovely to watch Conor and Hailey play together while I watched from the sidelines.x
I received no payment whatsoever for my honest review of the brilliant Orchard Toys Games that were sent on to my super cute little boys. All opinions expressed are honest and my own. For me as a mother of two boys on the Autism Spectrum I highly recommend Orchard Toys to all parents of children with and without special needs. They are our “go to” toys and are always on our toy shelves ready for another game of fun packed learning.x
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