NW Equipment & Resources Awards 2019: Prime Areas

Two gold, two silver and one bronze medals were awarded.

Tales Toolkit Online Training

Package and Resources

Company: Tales Toolkit

Price: £800 for a year's

subscription with resources included

Age range: 2-5

Website: www.talestoolkit.com

This toolkit provides ongoing online training to support practitioners with helping children to create and write interest-led stories. A set of resources are labelled with symbols for Character, Setting, Problem Solving and Solution, which gives the children the tools to create fun, interactive stories and weave magical tales. ‘Wow’ and ‘outstanding’ are some of the adjectives used by our reviewers to describe this resource.

It is a ‘rich language resource’ with ‘clear and informative’ training and ‘clever accompanying resources’, the testers reported. They said the bags, pockets and Velcro wristbands added to the excitement as they often had to gather items.

TickiT Rainbow Architect Sets

Company: Commotion

Price: £19.99 - £24.99

Age range: from 12 months

Website: www.commotion.co.uk

These sets of rainbow-coloured beechwood hollow blocks in four geometric shapes – squares, rectangles, triangles and arches – contain seven graduated sizes for nesting. Described as an ‘outstanding’ resource with ‘endless’ learning opportunities, these sets were used in one of the settings to build different objects, nest together and colour match, and produced lots of ‘rich language, moving and handling and collaborative play’.

The smooth edges are safe for younger children, and a child with special educational needs in one setting loved them and said ‘rainbow’ for all of them because of the colours. Testers commended the open-endedness of the product and their value for exploring a range of concepts – colour, size, shapes, curved and straight – as well as how shapes fit together.

Early Soundplay Bundle Collection

Company: Clickety Books

Price: £285

Age range: 3-5

Website: www.clicketybooks.co.uk

These Bundle Bags, which have been designed by experts to boost children's early language skills, contain books, puppets and a USB stick loaded with audio books and easy-to-print pdfs of guidance, resources and activities. Jake the Snake, which was a favourite book in one setting, can already be recited by heart, and the accompanying puppets added to the fun when reading this story.

Testers described the online resources as ‘comprehensive’ and ‘ideal for a new practitioner or someone less confident looking for ideas’. It contains ‘good but simple ideas’ for how to approach the book, including how to read a story successfully and lots of follow-up activities and cross-curriculum suggestions, all of which are ‘great’ for developing language skills. Staff enjoyed the resources and felt that they were a great way to reinforce Letters and Sounds Phase 1. The books and activities were also described as ‘well-matched’ to the stated age range and the stories were appealing ‘simply as stories’ to those children who are not yet ready for phonic work.

In all, a ‘well thought out’ and ‘nicely packaged and labelled’ set of resources that would be easy to use in pre-school or Reception with small groups.

Pop Like Popcorn CD and Teachers Guide

Company: Funky Feet Music

Price: £35

Age range: 3-7

Website: www.funkyfeetmusic.co.uk

Using short, simple repeated phases – ‘jig like a pirate’, ‘party with the dinosaurs’ and ‘crawl like a crab’ – this compilation of 20 songs is designed to motivate children to move, developing both the body and brain. It comes with A4 cards for each song with instructions on how to help recognise the EYFS areas of learning.

It provoked ‘lots of laughing and giggling’ in one setting, which was ‘lovely to see’, according to one tester. It was also described as a ‘great fun and high-energy’ CD, promoting lots of physical development while encouraging listening to instructions and singing out loud. Settings found the accompanying ideas and instructions ‘clear and helpful’.

Babo the Dragon

Company: Baby Erasmus

Price: €24.90 (about £21.90)

Age range: 2-5

Website: www.babidibulibros.com

An activity book for learning basic concepts – colours, numbers, shapes and seasons – following the early years curriculum. It can be used for learning English as a first or second language and contains 60 activities including games, flashcards, stickers and songs. The ‘bright and age appropriate’ pictures appealed to children evaluating the product and the book is described as ‘of high quality’.

Each activity is printed on card so the children were able to use glue, paint and stickers to complete them. Each month is represented by a colour, and during the month children work on a number, colour and vocabulary related to that topic. In one setting practitioners sent the cards home with the children to encourage parents to be part of their children's learning. This was followed by a ‘show and tell’ where the children talked about how they completed the tasks and which materials they used.

© MA Education 2020. Published by MA Education Limited, St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road, Herne Hill, London SE24 0PB, a company registered in England and Wales no. 04002826. MA Education is part of the Mark Allen Group. – All Rights Reserved