Winter nights don’t have to be dark and dull. Our 10-year-old reviewer tries out five toys and games that are fun and interactive for all the family to enjoy.
Occasionally you come across a game that is surprising for all the right reasons. Top It is that game. On the face of it, it doesn’t look that exciting. But it is an easy to learn and play game that quickly becomes addictive and has become our go to choice for winter nights.
The simple premise is you get a topic on a card, for example, ‘famous singers’ and you have a limited time to come up with as many famous singers as you can starting with the letters in the 9 letter grid-board. Each time someone comes up with a right answer their counter is placed on top of the one before – basically they top it. The counter on the top when the time is up wins all of the points for that letter. Both the grid letters and the cards are changeable, so coming back to it feels fresh every time.
Cheatwell Games Top It £18 from Zatu Games
Charades has long been a popular party game for all ages. This boxed game gives younger ones a little helping hand in coming up with ideas to act out, and helps adults playing with them too by making sure everyone has child friendly mimes.
The cards come in 6 categories: objects and animals; people and characters; actions and phrases; films and TV; books, songs and rhymes, and an all encompassing anything and everything. The first team to guess a mime in all six categories wins the game.
Cheatwell Games Kids Charades £12.49 from Amazon
The Thumbs Up! Orb Retro Dance Mat
This is one for big kids, especially those adults who remember playing dancing games in amusement arcades or early computer games like Space Invaders. The mat needs about two-feet square of floor space. It is easy to set up with a TV – just plug in and play. Working out the rules of the game is a little more tricky, because the instructions aren’t great. But when you get the hang of it, it’s an active game that comes with 9 different games, 10 dance characters, 110 original songs, and three levels of increasing intensity.
The Thumbs Up! Orb Retro Dance Mat £29.99 from Prezzybox.com
On The Go Games
As it says on the tin, this is a compact set of games that is ideal for travels or taking to play with friends and relatives. Card games work well for all ages, and these cards are attractive colours and well made. The pack also includes 6 dice and comes with instructions for three dice games: Chicago, Going to Boston, and Midnight.
Kikkerland On-The-Go Games £10 from The RNLI Shop
Dantoy BIOplastic Bio Baking Gift Set
Dantoy’s BIOplastic Baking set for kids is versatile in that it can be used to make real edible cookies from dough as well as role-playing for very young children, working with modelling clay or making shapes in sand.
All the products are made from BIOplastic, which is both biobased and recyclable. In this case the biobased material is 90% sugarcane, formed from a by product of processing raw sugar cane into sugar.
This eco-friendly toy set includes a rolling pin, a whisk, 2 bowls and dough cutters. Whisking, rolling and cutting out fun shapes helps to support fine motor skills, learning play and imaginative fun, as well as encouraging children to learn about renewable plant-based materials that offer a greener way to play.
We made real cookies with it and while the small sizes meant it was a little challenging at times, the bio-plastic equipment made for a fun afternoon of break-free baking.
Dantoy BIOplastic Bio Baking Gift Set £10 from Smyths.