Review: Spielgaben

Despite the children being a little more interested in worksheets recently, I know they learn best through what they perceive to be fun: nature walks, playing on apps (on the rare occasion they are allowed screen time), magazines, story time… and playing. So after hearing about the Spielgaben I was quite excited. Then I found out the price. At around £400 once posted, it’s not a cheap investment. So, I had to be certain I wanted it, that it’d get used. That it would help. I researched all I could about it and couldn’t find any reasons not to. So we made the purchase.

I didn’t hear anything for a few days except my initial order confirmation, but then I received shipping and tracking information and the shipment was here within 2 days after that – well the first part was, the curriculum pack. The second package was damaged by the time it reached the sorting depot. However, it arrived after a few days – the box had been repaired enough to stop further damage and this prevented damage to the actual Spielgaben itself, which arrived unscathed.

The packages contained an extensive paper curriculum (including a Kindergarten pack, play guide, inspiration pack, math guide and planar figures pack), the chest of drawers (with removable top squares board,, and a peg board that can be used both upright for pegs, and upside down for dots) and all of the bits and bobs that make up each Spielgaben set – I could list, but there are pictures above and further info on their website here.

It is surprisingly small, yet shockingly extensive and quite heavy, very well packed and nicely finished. The quality can be seen and felt. It will last for sure. The website says it is suitable for ages 3-12. There’s no question that younger children will be drawn to it “things… lots of things… yay!” But so far we have tested it on age ranges 5-10 (3 children). The 10 (almost 11) year old was the one who spent the longest with it, so actually, yes it does appeal to the 10-12 bracket too.  He sat for over an hour making picture after picture using the inspiration cards, and they weren’t all just easy for him – there were some that posed a challenge.

 

So far we have only used inspiration cards, being summer holidays we are not into a full standard routine it’s just too busy everywhere so things are at a much slower pace (and therefore less activities) than in term time. Plus, this humidity and heat we have been having have slowed things immeasurably. However, I have look through all of the curriculum. It is printed on quality paper or card depending on which booklet it is.

I can see that we will be able to get a lot out of this set. Especially for improving hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, which actually is where we have some issues developmentally. Academics will be possible too – being able to discuss the things we are creating, in terms of math or science, building stories and developing language skills. The beauty of the kit is that it will be limited only by the imagination of the user. So I have no doubt, that now that the children have begun to use it, it will get a lot of use, and that it won’t be used the same way every day. These two have quite the imagination, and it’s only likely to grow with stimulus such as this. If I knew what I know now, we would have purchased this a year ago.

I would also add, for those with siblings, we have used this kit with 3 children simultaneously – you have to think a bit about what you are going to have them doing if you are doing separate tasks, but it’s feasible. Otherwise working together “engineer (picture reader), supplier (fetching materials) and builder (performing task of actually constructing picture)” and switching helps the teamwork and communication between the children too.

 

NB I have not been paid for this review, this review is based on my personal experience and observations of the kit I have paid for in full.

 

 

 

Building “the beast”

As promised, I am writing a post about our custom bed, a product of my brain, borne of necessity.  The attic room, our bedroom, is accessed by a staircase that’s only 70cm wide and has a right angle bend in. Given the layout of the room: eaves, radiator, slanted wall due to staircase, alcoves and so forth, I knew it would be difficult to suppose that a double bed could sit against a wall, as well as having wardrobes without having the radiator, among other things, moved. So I knew we needed a storage bed of some variety. I had looked into ottoman beds, but the mattress base tends to come assembled, which we would find quite literally impossible to get into the room. So I tried to look into alternatives. But nothing suitable was coming back. I had a search around on Pinterest a bit, but still nothing overly struck me. Bits and bobs but I didn’t see anything that would suit quite what we were looking for.

After a while sat thinking about what stuff we’d need to be stored etc. I realised we didn’t need hanging space (we are drier to drawer kind of folk, we do own an ironing board, and it does come out for special occasions, but given the children’s inability to do big functions… that’s very irregular indeed). So, I needed drawers, like a cabin bed. Then it hit me… The small Ikea Stuva frames with drawers… perfect. After having measured up the floorspace, I knew I had space for a superking, so now it was down to planning. Once I had the idea though, it just came together…

Fast forward to moving in and all the packages arriving for me to build the frame. I was left to carry all of these boxes up the 2 flights of stairs (whilst trying to keep the children safe…). I am quite disappointed I didn’t lose a stone that week in all honesty, I swear I sweated out more than a stone in weight but whatever…

 

Next came assembling the cupboards as they should stand. I had decided I would need 9: 2 sets of drawers with 2 deep drawers, 4 sets of drawers with 1 deep and 2 shallow drawers and 3 cupboards with doors and a shelving. Then placed into a U shape 30 cm away from the wall so that they were inline with the coving.

 

After a painstaking process of leg adjustments, leveling and screwing each cupboard to its neighbouring unit, I had to add a central and header frame. But ensure that it was low enough that the mdf sheets would slot in and remain flush with the top of the cupboard. And allow for an extension cable to reach the end of the bed, for plans to later be revealed.

 

Once that was on, and we had drilled some air holes in the MDF and hoovered, we could leave the mattress to rest. Although, Bruce got confused and decided that he was called mattress and not Bruce (I should also add that this masterpiece was created by my brain, shopping power and physcial strength and energy… he just helped from the point of drilling holes in the MDF – lazy pants).

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Once 48 hours had passed, I dressed the bed and set about my plans for shelving either side of the bed… The plans were always intended but how they were going to be achieved wasn’t clear in my brain until I got to this point.

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The shelving had to be no deeper than 30cm, but allow maximum capability to store things such as books and the like. But then I found there’s a Stuva unit that is only 30cm deep – so that was perfect. I got 4 and a Besta TV unit, which now houses our TV, speaker and Xbox for when we finally get moments of respite… And that’s the bed (almost) complete. Looking at the picture, there’s a 30cm gap between the edge of the bed and the coving where I intend to do a 30cm square shelving, with double USB port/single plug socket charging point and small cupboard.

Behold, “The Beast”

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PS, good luck trying to get up our stairs and into this after a few beers… it’s a challenge.

A new baby – not ours

We get very excited about babies. Very.

And news came to us, just before we were moving house, that a new baby was coming. Well, the news came the day we exchanged contracts in fact. So it was a memorable day for sure.

Anyhow, we like to make stuff, so the kids set to work on what they wanted to do for the new bundle. They made a felt picture each, in a photo frame, for the baby’s room.

I, being me… home education, children, uni degree, house move, blog, health issues, therapy commitments. Clearly not satisfied I have enough on my plate, commit to constructing a quilted blanket. The children were heavily involved in the quilt in its process, from choosing and pairing the fabric, to being my fabric/thread assistant, or even to just getting me a drink (we have a Tassimo machine, they are happy to make hot drinks roughly every 3 seconds of the day).

Well, eventually we ended up with a quilt, many blisters, very dry hands, sore fingers and a sore bitten lip… but a quilt nonetheless. It may have some wonky stitches, but it was a labour of love and excitement, and I am hoping valued more than something shop bought. It was definitely not a cheap option either, I could definitely buy something for a third of the price, but it’d have less thought and effort put in. And, at cot bed size, will be perfect as a play mat for now, and if it lasts, could be utilised as a quilt on a toddler bed.

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