Capital weather we're having

28th February 1997 at 00:00
Sunflower Fabric Wallchart Doctor's Kit Hospital House

Pounds 18.75; Pounds 14.50; Pounds 13.75. Bright and Early, Resource House, Kay Street, Bury, BL9 6BU.Tel: 0161 763 6232

Age range: 2-6

The fabric toys in the Bright and Early range certainly live up to their name - they are bright and highly appealing to children of early years.

The felt sunflower date and weather chart has a garden theme and is visually attractive. A large yellow sunflower clock sits boldly in a beige flowerpot against a dark purple background. The petals of the sunflower are not completely stitched down, which gives a delightful three-dimensional effect and the hands of the clock can be moved to show different times.

Hiding behind the sunflower petals are small coloured felt buckets, which are easily removed and can be placed elsewhere on the chart. I used these with my class to focus on a colour each day. The buckets have the colour's name printed on. However this is written in capitals, which are more difficult for early readers to decipher and the colour grey is spelt the American way, "gray".

There is a pocket marked "WEATHER", (once again, embroidered in capitals) which contains clouds depicting different conditions. This is cleverly done with the use of facial expressions on each cloud. For a bright and cloudy day, use the smiley faced cloud; a rainy day calls for the sad faced cloud with lots of tears and a windy day requires the cloud with puffed cheeks and pursed lips. There is also a cheerful yellow sun, sporting a very happy smile.

Along with the weather symbols are two charming bees, which the children enjoyed moving around the chart. These enhance the idea of a garden theme and the bees can also be used to "hold" a colour bucket.

All the pieces are backed for strength and durability, haveVelcro attached, and are user-friendly for little hands.

The Bright and Early date and weather chart, although busy is not too overcrowded and offers young children an opportunity for discussion and learning about what is happening in their world. Its easily movable parts encourage children to take an active role in recording climatic changes and develop an interest in their environment.

The Doctor's Kit comes in its own small, padded, zipped bag with carry handles. It can be easily opened up by a very small child to reveal all the necessary equipment needed to carry out an extensive hospital check up!

It contains a thermometer, steth-oscope, syringe, cough syrup and pill bottles, even something for checking blood pressure, which was a great hit with my pupils. All of these are made of fabric and for this reason are safe for the very young to play with. The under-twos liked bringing the items out of the bag, but did not initially have enough experience to play with them in the way they were intended. With adult interaction, they quickly became more involved.

The older children were enthusiastic and soon converted the home corner into their own medical centre and later it became a veterinary surgery. There is an apron to enhance hospital role-play, which was mostly used on a large doll as it is quite small. We also found that the stethoscope was too short for children older than three years.

The Hospital House is a good accompaniment to the doctor's kit, being a bag of the same size with carry handles. Through a small door in the bag can be found three delightful small dolls - a doctor, an adult and a baby patient, and there is a small padded wheelchair.

The doctor's kit and the house were popular, especially with those pre-school children who love enclosures and enjoy hiding things in small containers. The addition of the wheelchair offered scope for disability awareness among the children and could lead to discussion. They offer the very young an introduction to real-life situations through play.

The toys are mostly machine stitched, but there is some hand stitching which became undone after a very short time. The manufacturers recommend dry-cleaning.

Education Show stand PV155

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