Review: Good Orchard Toys for Toddlers and Preschoolers

(AD - Gifted) Orchard Toys have a hugely popular range of educational games. The games are great quality and encourage learning in an age appropriate way for toddlers and upwards. They are battery free and great to play with siblings or family. I have played various Orchard Toys games with my daughters over the years, but it was only when they sent us a selection to review last month that I thought about starting to play them with my toddler. 

A stack of the Orchard Toys games reviewed in this post in colourful boxes
A selection of Orchard Toys games for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Orchard Toys for Toddlers (& Preschoolers)

My son is 22 months and spends much of his time climbing or destroying things, but he is also very inquisitive; constantly watching and working out how everything works. We loved introducing him to the Orchard Toys games because you could see him trying to work it all out. Not having done these sort of activities with him I was surprised with what he could do straight away and his development in a short space of time as he experimented with what went together and how. He is a little young for some of them, but we were still able to play together with my younger daughter to have lots of fun. 

Farmyard Heads & Tails Review

Suitable for age: 18 months upwards
Number of players: 1 to 4

About Farmyard Heads & Tails

This matching game has 24 cards which form 12 pairs of the top and bottom of animals, a farmer and the left and right of a tractor. The pieces are rectangular and children can line them up to see if the animal looks correct.

With younger children it encourages you to have the pieces face up so that they can find the pairs. As the children get older and more confident it can be turned into a game where all the cards are face down on the table and players take it in turns to flip over 2 cards. If they are a pair they make the farmyard friend in front of them, if it’s not the cards go back down and all the players need to try to remember what went where so they can try and make a pair in the future.

Playing Farmyard Heads & Tails

This game was the easiest for my toddler to play out of the 5 we were sent to review. We have had the game in the past and my daughter found having all the cards out a little overwhelming at first so we just did a few at a time, but when we put all the cards out for my son he did well at finding some of the pairs. Obviously the next step is to put the 2 pieces of the pair next to each other to make the animal, but he kept wanting to do this in the air. He has started to lay the pieces down and put them in the correct position, but he is still experimenting by putting cards together in different ways to see what works. The game encourages you to talk about the animals and the noises which we had fun with too. 

A toddler with 2 rectangles with the top and bottom of a farmer on in his lap trying to line them up
Putting the farmer from Farmyard Heads & Tails together

A toddler with the Farmyard heads & Tails game working out how to put the 2 cat cards together
Working out which way round the pieces go together

Mummy & Baby: 2 Piece Puzzles Review

Suitable for age: 18 months upwards

About the 2 Piece Puzzles

There are 6 of the 2 piece jigsaws in the box which are easy for little hands to match and line up thanks to the chunky cardboard, images and shape. Each jigsaw has a larger piece with the mummy on and a smaller piece with the baby. There are: elephants, giraffes, tigers, penguins, bears and whales so you can have a conversation about mummy and babies and what the baby is called (handily it tells you on the box if you aren’t sure).

Playing With The 2 Piece Puzzles

My son loved the animals on these puzzles and straight away started to make the noises or say the names of the ones he knew. He picked the individual pieces up and played with them. He was able to find the 2 matching pieces of each puzzle, but he isn’t yet able to line them up on is own to put them together. When we put the pieces together he picked them up to play with them and got a bit frustrated that they didn’t stay together. Obviously this will change as he gets used to the concept of jigsaw puzzles and they help to develop his hand to eye coordination.

Oh and this box has a handle so my son is enjoying carrying it around!

A close up of a 1 year old trying to assemble a 2 piece jigsaw with a bear on
He could quickly match the pieces together, but can't quite work out how to connect them

A Dad and son looking at the pieces of the Orchard Toys puzzle they were sent to review
The 2 piece toddler puzzles help develop matching skills and hand to eye coordination

Post Box Game Review

Suitable for age: 2 upwards
Number of players: 1 to 4

About the Post Box Game

In the box there are 4 flat cardboard post boxes (with supports to stand up) in red, blue, yellow and green. There are also 16 letter cards. Once the post boxes are assembled the cards are placed face down on the table. The players take it in turns to pick a card and post it through the matching colour post box until they have all been posted.

There is also a variation where each player chooses a colour postbox and they are only allowed to post the letter if it matches their colour post box, otherwise it goes back down. The game in this version can either end when all the letters have been posted or when one player has posted all 4 of their letters.

The letters all have different animals on (as well as suitable animal sounding addresses) so you can have conversations about which animals they are and their habitat too.

Playing the Post Box Game

At just below the recommended minimum age my son had great fun picking the letter cards up and posting them through the postboxes, but he frequently ended up knocking them down. He sometimes posted the letters in the correct colour box, but we couldn’t tell if this was intentional or not, most of the time he just liked to post all the letters and then he would give himself a cheer before we started it all over again. He also spotted some of the animals on the letters and made the noises. I look forward to seeing how his interest in playing this game changes as her gets older.

A 1 year old posting a red letter into a matching red cardboard post box
The Post Box Game is great for teaching colour matching

Green, yellow, red and blue cardboard post boxes and matching colour letters laid out ready for toddler to post
We are only just starting to work on matching colours so played a simplified version of the game

Old MacDonald Lotto Review

Suitable for age: 2 to 6
Number of players: 2 to 4

About Old MacDonald Lotto

This game is a similar idea to a few Orchard Toys games, it is about finding the pieces which match with the pictures on your playing board. All the pieces are turned upside down to start and players take it in turn to pick one. If it matches anything on your board you put it on top, if it doesn’t you put it back down. Whoever has that piece will need to try and remember where it was put down so they can pick it up next time. Each player has to find their farmer and the 6 matching farm cards.

Playing Old MacDonald Lotto

This was interesting to play with my son because he doesn’t understand turn taking very well and he found it hard to match the pictures, the farmers for instance are all similar so he could spot he had picked up a farmer and there was one on his board, but didn’t understand they needed to be identical. My daughter however enjoyed playing it and it is definitely a game we will work on playing together.

A mother, daughter and son sitting around playing the orchard toys Old MacDonald Lotto game
My toddler hasn't quite got the hang of turn taking or matching yet

Close up of playing Old MacDonald Lotto from Orchard Toys
In Old MacDonald Lotto you have to find your farmer and 6 farmyard friends cards

Dirty Dinos Review

Suitable for age: 3 to 6
Number of players: 2 to 4

About Dirty Dinos

This is a fun game with a few different ways to play. Each player gets a playing board with a bath on with spaces for 4 dinosaurs. There are 25 dinosaur cards which have a dirty dinosaur on one side and a clean one on the other with a number of bubbles. There are 5 different kinds of dinosaurs and one of each dinosaur in each colour. 

The main game involves: each player taking turns at spinning each of the 2 spinners and finding the dinosaur of the right colour to put in their bath. If that dinosaur is already in the bath of another player it can jump out of their bath and into yours. The game continues until everyone's bath is full of dinosaurs. To find the winner you count the number of bubbles on your 4 dinosaur cards in your bath.

There are various adaptions it suggests for variety eg playing as above but allowing people to collect only one of each dinosaur type or colour and one where players take it in turns to spin both spinners and whoever grabs the matching dinosaur first puts it in their bath.

Playing Dirty Dinos

We have big dinosaur fans in our house so it’s no surprise that this game is a hit. My toddler is too young for it, but he does like to make dinosaur noises while I am playing with his sister. I liked that my 4 year old could practise her counting by adding up the bubbles at the end. It’s also great that the game keeps on going until everyone is finished so you are less likely to have a child sulking half way through. The game is quite quick, but will take longer the more players you have and there will be more bath hopping by those cheeky dinos which may not go down so well.

Playing Dirty Dinos from Orchard Toys with my 4 year old
Dirty Dinos encourages matching, observation and counting skills

Dirty Dinos from Orchard Toys has 2 spinners and you have to find the matching dirty dinosaur card to put in your bath
You spin both spinners and find the matching dirty dinosaur to put in your bath

All the games are cardboard based with bright printing which is great, but there is some signs of wear already because my children aren't the most careful of creatures. We have lost instructions and pieces of games we have had in the past, but handily you can download instructions from the Orchard Toys website. You can normally order free replacement parts too, but this service is currently unavailable.

All the Orchard Toys boxes clearly say the learning benefits of each game which is helpful if there is a particularly skill you want to work on and there are quite a few of the games that are similar but have different themes eg Landmark Lotto, Jungle Head & Tails and Dinosaur 2 piece puzzles. This is great if you have a child who likes to play the same game repeatedly and you want a bit of a change! You can find the full range of games online, but there is also a leaflet showing you some of the huge range of choice in each box. As well as online you can find Orchard Toys in all good toy shops.

***Disclosure: we were sent these Orchard Toys games for review***

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