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N. Hopkin (UK)
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Wedgits Starter Set
Wedgits Starter Set
Price: 16.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Wedgits endless interest, entertainment, education, 9 Nov 2013
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Wedgits Starter Set (Toy)
This set is a wonderful addition to the other wedgits as it has the additional larger green size. I bought these at The ideal home show for my godsons over 20 years ago. They rattled then when shaken. I have found that over the years they never lose their attraction.
I have added the newer expansion sets, including the more advanced white sets for my grandchildren, with amazing results. I found that when children came to play with my grandchildren, not only were even the tiniest fascinated, and became absorbed with the wedgits, but their parents also became fascinated and started using them. It has been most interesting for me to see the visiting parents, giving up conversation to sit on the floor with the children building constructions with wedgits. I have quite a lot of them now. Girls love them as well as boys.

I bought two cars but found the translucent blocks less attractive than the normal ones; the children were less taken with them too and didn't play with them after building the cars. Even though my eldest godson is 24yrs now, he and his brother will still sit on the floor constructing with the wedgits, on the occasions when they visit and my grandsons aged 11years and 9years both end up absorbed whenever they visit. As I keep the wedgits in a corner of the sitting room they continue to be used, even by adults when no children are around and they have noticed the brightly coloured blocks and asked about them.

Wedgits are pretty indestructible, clean, waterproof and wonderfully versatile. I am constantly picking up new additions of used wedgits from various sources as they remain like new regardless of use. Another thing that I have noticed is how wedgits seem to have had an amazing effect upon my grandsons' mathematical and artistic development, especially the younger who started using them as soon as he could sit up properly, around 8 months. At 3yrs he was building constructions taller than himself and most intricate, using the expansion pack. Having an older brother certainly provided competitive motivation.

Both boys have developed very good conceptual understanding of maths and structure, even before they started school. The younger has also a fascination with structure and interest in buildings and his artistic ability to draw places he visits on holiday etc. is quite startling. As a psychologist, I do connect the flourishing of these abilities to be connected to their ongoing association with Wedgits from such a young age.

Although Wedgits are expensive to buy, they are a very good investment and can safely be kept for the next generation regardless of the appeal of new technology


The Game of Mah Jong (Penguin Original)
The Game of Mah Jong (Penguin Original)
by Max Robertson
Edition: Spiral-bound
Price: 7.38

2.0 out of 5 stars Latest revision of Max Robertson's The Game of Mah Jong., 31 Aug 2013
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There is very little additional information in this new version, however it now has 92 pages instead of 49 pages; a substantial increase, especially when the text size is so much smaller and more closely packed than the original.

The original versions of Max Robertson's book, not only have larger type, the text and headings are very well spaced and presented. There is clear highlighting of, the headings, (in bold), and the important bits within the text, (IN CAPITALS). This make it very easy to follow and gives clear and speedy access to the basic and special hands used in the game. The rest of the information in the book is also more easily accessed for the same reasons.

The spiral binding of this latest version of the book is useful, but the shortened squat size of the book reduces the amount of information on each page, in spite of the closeness of the lines and the very small type. I find that this makes it more difficult to check the player's tiles against the descriptions of hands in the book. Far more pages need to be checked to find some potential hand for the tiles a player is holding, or to find what one is looking for. in general, the small type and density of the text, while clear is more off-putting than the more accessible text of previous editions.

In the new book the descriptions of the hands run from page 41 to 66 = 25 pages to look up
In the original book these descriptions run from page 23 -37 = 14 pages to look up. There are approximately 6 -7 hands clearly described on each set of double pages in the original book, in comparison to approximately 2 -3 hands per double page in these new versions. In spite of the greater number of hands on each double page in the original, the information is clearer and more accessible, owing to the way the text is sized, highlighted and arranged.

I was deeply disappointed with my purchase. I had hoped to purchase 4 books as it is useful to have a book for each player, but will definitely not now do so. I have also found that the friends who are learning won't use the new version if they can get the original, of which I now have two having 'borrowed' one of my original copies from my son. Everyone prefers to wait for the originals!!

I live in hope that this present version of an excellent book of information/ instructions, will soon be upgraded back closer to the original format; although, thinking of competitors and today's more visual new players, it would be a bonus if there were some coloured examples of some of the hands and the tiles as others have done. With or without the examples, a new version following more closely on the old would have at least 10 people (Possibly more given my children's circles of friends), all wishing to buy 4 each of such a book.

I expect that throughout the world there will be many who think as I do, so the change should be a potentially excellent business opportunity for the publishers and whoever else may benefit.


Beacon Readers: At Play Stage 1, Pt. 2
Beacon Readers: At Play Stage 1, Pt. 2
by James H. Fassett
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Beacon readers, 26 Aug 2013
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This is an excellent series for learning to read. I use it for remedial teaching. I bought the entire series many years ago when we went to live in Canada for a number of years and find it endlessly useful in my present work. I believe that the beacon readers is THE best reading scheme available/or not so available. My 4yr old daughter, now 43yrs, taught herself to read using the Beacon Readers.

After having mastered, with help, the sounds of the alphabet and the simplest phonics such as cat, bed, hand, I was quite astonished to find that not only was she able to read fluently, but that she was able to read the stories in the final book of the reading scheme. I took this book out of its sealed wrapping, when the teacher, whose Kindergarten class of 5yrs olds she would be in at the beginning of the school year, visited to introduce herself and meet her new pupil. My daughter had been reading this teacher a story, after which, the teacher asked if I had anything that the child hadn't had access to and the William Tell book was it.

She read the first story, then decided to read Androclese and the lion as well. The teacher was not the only one to be astonished. I was so surprised as I had deliberately refrained from any activities which would encourage/assist academic learning since Canadian children started school at 6yrs and my son was having difficulties adjusting to a classroom in which the children had been at school for 6 weeks only.

My daughter had accomplished this reading mastery completely by herself. she had spelled a few words out asking for the sound, but that was all. On starting school she was accelerated into year 1 after initial testing and the teacher's recommendation. Her ability to read well has allowed her to continue to progress with confidence through school and university. Early difficulty with reading affects all aspects of school learning and the damage to confidence makes this worse. As a psychologist, I find that this generally continues to hamper students throughout their academic years. Even those, who achieve success, could probably have enjoyed school more and also most likely have achieved even greater success, owing to greater academic confidence and self esteem.

I have researched a number of reading schemes and not found anything to surpass The Beacon Readers. It is a little old fashioned but new/young readers won't mind that. It is extremely well thought out, with carefully chosen vocabulary and plenty of repetition to encourage confidence as well as learning in the early stages. All new words are listed for each book so that they can be looked at/learned separately before starting each book. All the new words for each piece of reading are introduced in a separate heading above the beginning of each new story, poem or playlet. The stories as the books progress, are both familiar e.g., the little red hen and new e.g., William Tell, The Little fir tree, Who has seen the wind etc.(From the last book in series).

At the back of each book are tables of words for practice in both spelling and pronunciation. These again, are extremely well set out to aid both phonics and pattern recognition; the two main elements needed for learning or improving the child's ability to read. Even adults with the need to improve their reading/ spelling abilities can benefit.

Personally I just wish that these books could be re- issued and re-established in schools, so that both children and teachers could benefit. Fewer children would have such difficulty learning to read; the repetition gives confidence and the simple stories draw the children in. As they progress the repetition is graded and the stories are more interesting and complex. Only a very little revision would be required to bring the series up to date, as the majority of the content of the books is made up of stories from all over the world and there is very little stereotyping or other to clash with todays complex societies.

Anyone who has children 2 1/2 yrs and above, who can access these books should do so if they can or wish to, especially if they have school age children who are having difficulties with reading. All the instructions for teacher/parent are included along with clear information about each step of learning within the books.


Beacon Readers: William Tell Bk. 6
Beacon Readers: William Tell Bk. 6
by J.H. Fassett
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars beacon readers, 10 July 2013
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As a psychologist and teacher/remedial teacher, I have found no better reading scheme to enable children to acquire reading skills quickly and well. It is a great shame that it has not been revised and that it is no longer used. These graduated reading books are excellent for teachers too. ALL the work is done for them and there is helpful information at the front of each book, including a list of all sight words (already learned? in the first books/ required for reading in each of the later book), as well as lists of all new words (with page Numbers} used in each book from the very 1st book. As described in a previous review, at the back are groups of phonic tables to ensure that the children can become familiar with these groups of words and sounds BEFORE progressing to the next book. this gives great confidence when beginning to read the next book and keeps building confidence throughout the process of learning to read.

All new words are written above each story/reading section so that the child can practice these first before going on to the body of the story. In the early stages words with special sounds e.g., st, th sh were highlighted in red to remind children of the combined sound. Repetition is vital when learning to read and the Beacon Readers have been carefully crafted to combine a high level of repetition within interesting, amusing and some familiar stories, poems and drama. Situational stories requiring 3 or more children to take part in the story/play are also included. Parents can take part in these at home...children love this.

My three children learned to read very quickly and easily using Beacon Readers. My elder son loved books and was a confident reader at a very early age. On moving to Canada in 1974 I bought the entire reading scheme to take with me. My daughter, then just turned 4yrs old couldn't start kindergarten until the September of the following year. By the time she started she had progressed, (by herself) from the introductory and 1st books to the 2nd last book of the scheme. When she was visited by her new teacher prior to starting school she offered to read a story. We were both most surprised at her fluency and I provided the final book, still in it's cellophane, so that she could show the teacher that she really could read properly. She read the story of William Tell and also Androcles and the Lion. She had been able to progress by herself, asking occasionally which word a group of sounded out letters was. the books had maintained her interest as well as provided a framework enabling her to progress by herself. My younger son (6YR gap) was in a great hurry to catch up with the elder two and became an accomplished reader much earlier than the first two. They all loved Beacon Readers and now my grandchildren have also become confident and accomplished readers quickly and easily, not only enjoying the content of the books but loving the fact that they were reading the same books that their parents had read and learned from.

I now do remedial teaching as part of my work and I use as my base The Beacon Readers...old style. The children respond very well. Because of the repetition, the children's confidence grows throughout each story, so that a halting or nervous beginning soon picks up, with this repetition, into fluent reading with emphasis, interest and an understanding of the story, to finally, self assurance and enjoyment. Parents are often quite amazed when their resistant children start picking up (carefully selected books) and start reading voluntarily. As confidence grows the children expand the type and reading difficulty of the books they choose to read. ALL their schoolwork improves.

This is a series any parent can use with their children from a very early age; all the information on how to proceed is there and everything is laid out very simply and easily. Any parent struggling with a child having difficulty learning to read, if there is no visual problem, should consider purchasing these books rather than other more visually appealing but less repetitive or helpful in learning to read.

A further complementary series is the Violet Brand 'Spelling Made Easy' series, which has also a continuing and ongoing story throughout, using the spelling words. This can be read by the children and also written as dictation, improving their writing and listening skills as well as their reading and spelling.


Heelys Jazzy Black/White Kids Shoes UK 3
Heelys Jazzy Black/White Kids Shoes UK 3
Offered by Kates Skates
Price: 44.90

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'JAZZY' Really excellent Heelies/trainers., 2 July 2013
I bought my grandsons aged 9yrs and 7yrs each a pair of Heelys, (2 wheels). Knowing nothing about these, I bought the only pair available for my younger grandson....Jazzy black/white. Both boys were able to use the Heelys quickly, despite some initial frustration and despondency on the part of the 7yr old, who likes to keep up with his brother. The Jazzy Heelies are especially excellent as they are so light in comparison with other heelys. They are very comfortable both as heelys and as trainers. The 7yr old mastered the technique very quickly, in part I think, because of the lightnes of the heelys. He loves them and wears them lots in both modes. I would definitely recommend these, they have been more than worth the money and have provided very good value. I bought a size larger because that was all I could find: as a result, he has had even more use than usual and the shoes are still in excellent condition with plenty of wear left in the wheels. The larger size was not a problem as the heelys are light. Now that he has outgrown the 1st pair I am buying a 2nd pair, also a size bigger than necessary of the same Jazzy heelys.


Analog's Children of the Future
Analog's Children of the Future
by Schmidt Stanley
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous book great for adults and children, 13 Oct 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I was so pleased to find this book, especially in hard cover. Although it was written for adults, I wanted it for my 9 year old grandson as it is a collection of science fiction stories about children. After reading a couple of stories to him, he was off on his own. He loves the book, some stories better than others. There's not too much real science fiction around these days, especially for children, which is a shame since science fiction books open the mind to all sorts of possibilitios and new ides as well as encouraging creativity in children, (and adults).
N. Hopkin, Herts.


Cat Mate Pet Fountain
Cat Mate Pet Fountain
Price: 23.90

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars drinking fountain gets unanimous pussy approval, 13 Oct 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Cat Mate Pet Fountain (Misc.)
My son had this and was delighted with it because his cat preferred to drink the water that drained down through the soil into the bottom cup of his large rubber plant. Now she and her playmate, both adore the water fountain. They also can be seen to drink lots more water.I had two adults and seven 6 week old Burmese kittens. The kittens were quite lively and often the water dish went flying, so I thought I'd try this instead.

I have had the water fountain for about two months, (maybe more) and I am so pleased with it, It is quiet and it's quick and easy to clean, which I do about once a week. It doesn't get knocked over and now that the kittens have gone I top up the water on average every 3 - 4 days; just a quick look to check the level in the bottom chamber is all that's required.

The cats love it and drink more now than they used to. I think that the review people, who have had problems, must be just unfortunate and I hope they were able to be re-inbursed or have a working replacement. My son has had his for over a year without the slightest problem and I find the fountain gives me peace of mind as I found that the cats often would't drink the water no matter whether it was newly drawn or had been sitting around for days, so I was constantly trying different bowls eg., metal, ceramic, plastic, deep, shallow etc. Now that's a thing of the past.
N, Hopkin, Herts


Transcend 16GB SDHC Class 6 Memory Card
Transcend 16GB SDHC Class 6 Memory Card
Price: 7.00

5.0 out of 5 stars memory card., 29 Sep 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
An excellent purchase and buying experience, good value, fast delivery. My son, a computer and technology genius, recommended the memory card and found the site for me. I am extremely happy with this 16GB memory card.


Handwriting Practice: Age 5-7 (Collins Easy Learning Age 5-7)
Handwriting Practice: Age 5-7 (Collins Easy Learning Age 5-7)
by Collins Easy Learning
Edition: Paperback
Price: 2.00

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars improving handwriting., 11 Feb 2010
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This is a straightforward and interesting book for children to use. It is one that they will be self motivated to work in and enjoy.

It is set out in a manner that is easily accessible to all and each new join is shown clearly with space for practice before going on to simple words using the join. The initial writing practice has specially lined practice sheets which are larger than normal, graduating down smaller until the 2nd half is normal size.

This allows children to acquire joined up writing skills more easily and also encourages those children whose written work has become too small and cramped to return to a larger, more open and readable script.

Each page has enough written practice, but not too much. Thid enables and encourages the children to work through the book at their own pace, getting a sence of achievement and a new sense of enjoyment in writing. So many children dislike having to do joined up writing but this book makes it fun and easy for them, so much so that they happily want to do more pages not less.

The book progresses naturally to longer words, ultimately to sentences once enough practice warrants this. Again small ammounts graduating to larger sentences. I would recommend this book for all children and their parents. the script is in keeping with that current in schools. N. Hopkin


Cosmos
Cosmos
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 12.73

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars music of the cosmos vangellis, 15 Mar 2009
This review is from: Cosmos (Audio CD)
I have the LP but have been searching for the CD as a present for my son because he loves it. As has already been said, this is truly one of the most hauntingly beautiful musical albums I have ever heard, it feels timeless and one can really feel suspended in space and at one with the universe. It accompanied the TV series about the cosmos and each piece of music was most apt for the episode it accompannied. Although different, it has something of the feel of the impact of the opening music of Star Wars and Superman when they first came out, only more so. I would recommend this album to anyone.


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