The BBC's Tweenies have been brought to life with interactive technology that allows them to read entire stories. As Storytime Tweenies, Bella, Jake, Milo and Fizz have their own individual style and interesting, gaudy skin tone. They also come with a book, and when squeezed they "read" the story aloud. At the end of each page, another squeeze is needed to continue the story. Storytime Tweenies are available from most toy stores at pound;24.99 each.
Save time and sticky tape with Easi-Stick re-usable vinyl decorations. Shapes include crackers, Christmas trees, stars and baubles, and they can be used on any smooth surface. pound;13.95 plus VAT per pack from Easi-Stick, 20 Eastland Road, Thornbury, Bristol BS35 1DS. Tel: 01454 415140.
The Christmas Mobile Kit from SBS will give you a break from glitter and tinsel decorations. It includes craft stems and a multi-coloured range of laminated foam sheets. The kit costs pound;14.95 including an ideas leaflet. Also from SBS is a multi-faith spiral year planner, which includes all the major days of observance from 12 religions. For an SBS Christmas catalogue, tel: 845 300 1089, fax: 0800 056 1438.
February brings the Tudors, May means Ancient Greece and August is for Mods and Rockers. The BEAM (Be A Mathematician) 2001 Calendar develops the theme "Maths through History". Each month has a full-colour picture devoted to a historical era from the primary curricuum (with an unfortunate error in the portrayal of the Globe) and each day offers a related mathematical problem or investigation. Did Queen Elizabeth I reign longer than her current namesake? How many sides in a heptagon? The real masochists have to calculate how long would it take to watch the Cliff Richard film Summer Holiday 15 times. The BEAM 2001 Calendar (Code DA4) costs pound;6.99 plus VAT from BEAM, Maze Workshops, 72a Southgate Road, London N1 3JT. Orderline: 020 7684 3330 email: email@example.com. Website: www.beam.co.uk If you crossed a picture book with a Rubik's Cube you would probably get something that looks very like a Bookube. These ingenious little blocks have 48 images printed on squares that can be folded and twisted to reveal images and text. Early years Bookube titles include ABC and Colours amp; Shapes. Fairytales such as Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks and the Three Bears are among the primary choices. Older children can try out Wild Animals, or a collection of quotes from writers including Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde. Bookubes are more suitable for younger children as the amount of information each cube can carry is limited. But older children will probably enjoy manipulating the cube long after they've memorised the information on it. Bookubes cost pound;3.99 each or pound;9.99 for a set of three, and are available from major bookstores or by calling 01582 501060.