I first came across Play To Z at the Christmas in July event that I attended earlier in the month and was immediately drawn to the Sensory Tales packs. Their display was full of interesting sensory toys aimed at developing the child's sensory needs. In the Sensory Tales packs, you get a lovely written and colourful book in a well-made sack along with accessories and trinkets in the theme of the story.
We received the Sensory Tale pack "We're Riding on a Caravan" to review and one week into the school holidays, it has been read repeatedly and in various places! Snuggled on the couch all together, in bed as a bedtime story and in a "den" of dining chairs and blankets in the dining room! In the pack you get the story book, coconut shells for the clippity-clop of hooves, "diamonds" (big and small!), cinnamon sticks, silk purse, silk worm cocoons, a soft plush camel and 2 wooden camels.
The story is written as a rhyme which I think helps to engage the children better whilst listening and learning as it strikes up a memory of what comes next - why else do we "sing" our times tables! The language used in the main text was easy enough for my 8 year old to read and the repeated chorus on each page encouraged my 5 year old to join in too. The useful map near to the end of the book helped to visualise the journey that the story is based around - the adventures along the way are described in language simple enough for children to understand but still expanding their knowledge.
The artefacts in the pack were used during the story telling and also as a start point for other discussions. We used the pack in a family situation but I think they would be fantastic to use in a nursery or child-minder setting too. You also get an Activity Booklet to help you extend the learning with your children. It covers areas such as numeracy, literacy, arts/crafts, RE, seasons and time. This would be valuable in lesson planning but we also used it to further discussions with both of my children.
My niece came to visit and so out came the Sensory Tales pack - my children had fun showing her the story and taking turns with the sounds effects and actions. It was nice to sit back and observe them explaining the reasons behind the journey and using their own creativity to expland on the story themselves. We also went the extra mile and made our own "desert" with sand from the beach! It was contained within a cardboard tray to avoid an indoor sandpit!
There are 7 other tales in the series - I especially like the look of "Babushka", a unusual Christmas adventure which will take me back to my primary school days when my younger sister played the part of Babushka in the alternative Nativity play that year!
The packs retail at £45.00 - for a reusable and well-made gift with excellent educational sensory resources, this is a reasonably priced investment for any family or nursery, especially to use for valuable family time, time and time again.
Pop over to the Play To Z Facebook page here and keep up with the fantastic products they have available!
Also as a side point, both of my children struggled with pronouncing the word "caravan", saying instead "cavaran" but after reading the story combined with the rhyme, they now can successfully say "CARAVAN"!