Chances are that you’ve seen an advert for a monthly children’s subscription box or even had one through the post as a trial. If you have younger children, maybe you felt that you couldn’t fully engage them in the activities, or you ended up making them yourself (I still have the ‘parrot on a stick’ I made once!).
The Octopus Learning box is different. It’s specifically aimed at children under the age of five, so it’s perfect for little ones. All of the activities within the box are designed alongside the goals of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) which are the standards followed by schools, nurseries and pre-schools. The concept of the box is that there are eight friendly octopus characters, who all support a different EYFS area, and you will find an activity relating to each octopus.
Everything that you need to complete the activities is in the box, although you may need some items such as scissors, glue or sellotape on occasions. Each of the activities has different skills to be mastered, and there are also suggested extensions or further activities you could complete with your child.
Octopus Learning is the brainchild of Tanya Fish, who has taken a break from nearly 20 years of primary school teaching after the birth of her second child. Tanya had tried out a couple of subscription boxes with her eldest child but found that they were not engaging enough for younger children. So she decided to design her own! The perfect way to combine her teaching experience with striving to be a great parent. Tanya is passionate about helping children from all backgrounds and walks of life and feels that every child should have access to language and social skills before starting at school. She is working with the Crisis Classroom charity, with a donation from the sale of each box going towards their work supporting refugee families.
Tanya has been nominated in the Social Impact category of The Mpower National Business Awards, which is a series of awards celebrating UK parents who manage the difficult task of juggling business with family life.
The Test Run
My two children are five and nearly three, so are at the target age for the Octopus box. They are both used to the type of activities you find in Cbeebies / similar magazines so I knew that they would be good critics!
The first positive is that the box is addressed to your child(ren) when it comes through the post; it’s a really small detail but it meant a lot to my son that the postman had bought something just for him!
Inside the box were the eight activity cards, and then the rest of the materials underneath, including a packet of stickers and a paper bag full of paper circles, very intriguing! Once we had laid everything out on the floor, we talked through which activities we would like to start with. My son immediately went for the stickers, and it was lovely to listen to him make up his own story as he stuck them on the water background paper.
We then went on to two of the other activities, which were the fruit and vegetable cards and the octopus matching game. The fruit and vegetable cards proved very entertaining and my children made up their own extra games, by finding the relevant plastic versions from the play kitchen! The matching game was a great exercise in patience and co-operation. It was a simple game of turning over two cards at a time, and trying to find a matching pair. My daughter had never played this before, so it was really encouraging to see my son explaining it to her, and helping her to find the pairs.
We would definitely purchase one of the boxes again, it has a great variety of activities in, and many can be revisited or tweaked so that they are not just one-offs. It’s brilliant to have something that both of my children can engage with, and together.
Monthly subscriptions are priced at £9.95 plus £1 P+P, which includes a donation to the Crisis Classroom charity. You can find Octopus Learning and sign up for a subscription at www.octopuslearning.co.uk.