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The John Crane Memory Game, So Much More Than Just A Toy

3 Nov

If you read yesterdays post you will know that Paul, daddy of two girls and owner of “When I was a kid”  & ‘John Crane ltd’ are on a mission to uncover which of their toys are the most beneficial to a child, especially those on the autism spectrum or those with special needs. 

The idea is to make sure the toys are the best they can be and in a way that’s beneficial to all children, not just your “typical child” but also those who have developmental delays within a spectrum of areas, difficulties with sensory processing, occupational health, communication, etc.

I also wrote how I was sent a large catalogue displaying the current John Crane ltd toy range, which was just huge, yet extremely pleasurable to look through. There were some great toys, making it quite difficult to select just six off the them to which I would provide some feed back on. Well, as you may have guessed already, they liked what I had to say and that’s why today I’m going to share some of that feed back I gave on one of their products with you guys. 

  My first selection was ‘Memory’ part of the John Crane ltd GoGo range

 Below is the product description from the online toy shop ‘When I was a kid’

 Who didn’t love “Picking Pairs” as a child? I know I did, my dad and I would play for hours with a pack of cards – all 52 of them laid out on the floor. Heaven knows how we memorised them and picked the pairs!


One of our suppliers, John Crane toys has seen the fun of this traditional game and also the educational benefits too and come up with an up to date and colourful wooden version – called The Memory Game!

Little green and orange ‘mushroom’ shaped pieces fit into the tray and are easily lifted by little fingers whilst a number of cards fit below – offering loads of memory challenges on differing themes – such as insects, transport, food etc…

Memory games help with all sorts of skills in younger children, even early reading skills are enhanced!

 First Impressions 

I was instantly drawn to this impressive well made wooden game as soon as I saw it in the catalogue. I love educational toys especially those that benefit all children, while providing them with a fun activity in the process. 

As mentioned above, Memory is a game that has been played for many years and is normally done so with a few decks of playing cards. 

Well, this has the exact same concept as a game of pairs but instead its been transformed into a beautiful wooden game with insert-able brightly coloured cards that have images on either side providing lots of visual stimulation. Each card has a theme there’s animals, fruits, clothing, transport and more. 

The wooden board has two slots, one where cards are stored and the other for when in playing mode (where you slot your desired card) The pictures are then hidden with the help of the wooden lids.

 Playing time per game

Playing time per game, depends on your child and the amount of players (I would recommend no more than two or your game may be over to quickly). 

If your used to the rule, “For every pair you find, you get another turn” I would recommend you don’t use this mode of play! Remember, playing with a deck of cards results in a larger number of pairs needing to be found, which is why “When I was a kid” have introduced the toy in its toddler section. 

 Why I chose this game as one of my autism friendly six! 

 Many Children with autism or aspergers syndrome have exceptional long-term memory, especially when it comes to the child’s particular “Special interest” which is often true for the child with Aspergers. This could be anything from names, dates, specific periods of time, facts about space, or like little man, “Bus numbers and destinations”  However working memory (which is more commonly known as our short-term memory) can often be a weakness, which is why many children on the autism spectrum struggle to follow simple sets of instructions, especially if it involves doing things in sequence. Yes, its easy to become annoyed with a child when they seem to lack the basic skills required to follow basic sets of instructions, more so if the child is yet to gain a diagnosis. For me, it was the difficulty I had when trying to understand why my child was able to remember vast amounts of information that related to, “Buses” but couldn’t carry out the smallest of tasks, like sending him to brush his teeth or put on his shoes, having only just reached the top of the stairs he would have forgotten what it was he was meant to be doing?

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What is Working memory?

Working memory is a process that most of us engage in without even releasing it. An example would be your boss giving you a set of instructions on a project that needed completing. We listen, process and store the information we’ve been given! We may jot down notes later but still need to recall the information in our heads and do so in the appropriate order.

If you’re a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, there is a pretty good chance that your child’s teacher has reported that your child has poor attention or refuses to listen to any instructions being given. This is an all too common assumption, when in actually fact the child is listening extremely hard but the amount of information being given in such a short time frame leads to the child’s confusion, they become muddled within their own heads simply because they didn’t have time to process the information. 

The above can then lead to a host of other difficulties for the child, like challenging behaviour and low self-esteem. The child could even be branded as naughty, another all to common scenario. 

It’s for reasons like those above, that children with autism work well with visuals. Its well documented how children on the autism spectrum are better at carrying out day-to-day task with the help of visual prompts. Maybe… think about it as a set of instructions you follow when putting  together a flat pack! This is how the child uses visuals. 

The John Crane ‘Memory’ game is the perfect tool to aid this area of weakness. Children with autism will have great fun memorising where each picture is on the board, they will learn the skills of patience and turn taking as well as the concept of competition, all while improving they’re working memory. 

Little man loves this game, but has now studied all the cards over a few weeks and now beats me far to easy (see this is where his talents come into play as once he wants to store information over a longer period of time he will set about doing it and does so very well) what’s great though, he still wants to play everyday. At 11 years old his working memory is still poor but improving all the time. Speech and language therapy as well as certain games we play and task I engage him in, such as asking him to remember things on a shopping list, are just a number of things I believe has brought about these improvements.

As much as Little loves this game, I would recommend to the younger child with and without autism, maybe a larger board with more pairs to match would be better suited to the older child.

  Recommendations

Personally I’d recommend  Memory for children between the ages of 2-7 (note the recommend age is 36 months) However I would also recommend this to a child that bit older, who is seen to have greater developmental delays whether this is a child with autism or another form of disability

 Parental perspective, given by a mother of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome 

 This is both a toy and a great resource for a child with special needs. It would be a great if ‘John Crane’ were to bring out additional packs of cards. These could then be sold in addition to the game, meaning parents could buy additional packs of cards as and when they like. This would therefore provide the child with more off a challenge, and they would never become bored, while also giving them that aspect of forming a collection (which they love to do). 

I consider ‘Memory’ to be a valuable resource & toy that could be used in the home, at school or nursery, even during a speech and language session! 

 Overall Quality  

 As always, ‘John Crane ltd’ have brought us a beautifully crafted wooden toy that is hand finished to perfection. This is a toy that I’m sure Paul is pleased to have featured on his site. 

Memory is likely to withstand the test of time and could be passed down generations with a little love and care. 

 Where to buy

 So, there you have it! A perfect toy for a child with or without autism, that displays a friendly price tag of a reasonable £32.99

 Whether it’s your child’s working memory you seek to improve, or just the chance to have fun playing with a fun but educational toy, then I can’t see where you could go wrong when buying Memory!  

 Visit, ‘When I was a kid’ the online friendly independent toy shop, who provide its customers with fantastic customer service and an excellent delivery service (get it the next working day or within 2 working days via the fast track service) 

Just click HERE to get yours

Why not like ‘When I was a kid’ on facebook or check out the ‘John Crane’ blog    

 

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Joining Forces

2 Nov

autism awareness ribbon

Image via Wikipedia

A boy with Aspergers, When I was a kid & John Crane are joining forces 

 I know that the blog has been showcasing some toys recently as part of the ‘Santa’s Little helpers feature’ however I’ve also made a very exciting agreement with ‘Paul’ the daddy & owner of the independent toy store ‘When I was a Kid‘ alongside the people at ‘John Crane’

 So, what’s so exciting about this you may ask? Well, a while back I was sent a huge (I mean Huge) John Crane catalogue that contained each and every one of their products. The Idea was for me to choose six items and then give some feed back on them. Why? Because Paul (When I was a kid) & John Crane, generally want to make their toys more autism friendly.

How great is that!

 I felt privileged that Paul came to me with his ideas and given this is a project that will benefit children like my own I wanted to get involved. 

 You see, most of us don’t actually want a special range of toys designed especially for children on the spectrum! We are forever heard saying that we don’t want our children excluded from daily activities, we state that our children should be allowed to play freely amongst their peers. We don’t want them being pushed together playing with their “specialist designed toys” 

Don’t get me wrong people, my son goes to a ‘Special school’ so plays amongst his peers on the spectrum daily, It’s not about that, It’s about making toys appealing to all.

 What we do want is for more toy brands to be aware of children with special needs whether its autism or something else all together. We want them to consider children as a whole when designing their toys. Ok, Yes, their will be toys, aimed at different interest, ages and abilities but shouldn’t brands be thinking of the benefits each toy makes to the non “Typical” child too?

 The reason I started doing the ‘Santa’s Little helpers’ feature was mostly down to the number of visitors who found my blog as a result of googling terms such as, “Toys for children with autism” or “What toys may be suitable for children with autism at Christmas” etc, etc…

 Like all children, those on the autism spectrum all have different interest and abilities and I’m not stating that one toy that is beneficial for one child with autism is beneficial for all. I’m simply stating that certain toys have that edge to them, whether it’s educational, sensory, visual and so forth. When you get one or even better, a number of these things combined you often find that the toy at hand is actually more beneficial to the child with autism than some may think.

 I do hope that what I’m about to write, isn’t taken in the wrong way!

There are to many toy companies out there who take a toy slightly adapt it and label it as a “specialist” toy! This type of toy can be found in specialist shops, may it be those aimed at the sensory side of things or Occupational side. The thing is with this toy being given the label “Specialist” it then tends to score in price! Why should it be a way to make additional pounds?

Now not all specialist toy companies do this but so many do!

Now when you get a toy with developmental benefits that states its good for all children including those with autism, doesn’t brand itself as specialist, therefore containing the same price tag as it would for a similar toy in its range that doesn’t make the above claim, then isn’t this fairer? I think so!

 That’s why when we review toys on, ‘A boy with Aspergers’ we try to look at the benefits for all children and If I feel the toy in question would also suit the child with autism or special needs, then you will happily hear me state it (Well, in most cases write it). Maybe that’s why you find toys from your everyday brands here on the blog. I hardly ever review the toys branded “Specialist” There are a great section out there, yet the price attached to many are enough to give a reader a heart attack. I have visited sites that state that they sell specialist toys for children with disabilities, I have seen some of the prices, I’ve then gone to an everyday well-known retailer and seen similar or the same toy for less. Yet many parents buy the first toy! Why? Because they think it’s the right thing to do!

 Both ‘When I was a kid’ & ‘John Crane’ already have shelves stacked with toys that offer great benefits to a child with autism & special needs. I want to help them uncover them and then share them with you guys!

 I saw some toys in that catalogue that got me very excited (I’m a big kid at heart). Many were great in their current form, others would be extremely beneficial to all if adapted slightly. 

 So, yes I’m really overjoyed to have a part in this and am looking forward to working with these guys.

 What you can expect over the Coming months

 A number of toy reviews that will be extremely detailed in order to show you the benefits of a toy for both the child with autism and other special needs as well as the child without. 

 A specially designed page both here and on the ‘When I was a kid’ website, showcasing the toy reviews and other beneficial features

 Guest post by me on both the ‘John crane’ & ‘When I was a kid’ site.

 This is more than a toy review. All toys featured will be sent to customers with an attached note detailing some of its benefits while letting you know we recommend it! 

So, next time you google that question, “What can I buy my child with autism as a gift?”  My guess is… you’ll now get your answers and for me that’s pretty awesome. 

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