Monday, 1 July 2019

LaQ - made for creative kids, made for making!

Have you heard of LaQ? We loooooove it!

We have been long term LaQ fans since discovering it by chance at a Japanese toy 'pop up shop' in a shopping centre, about six years ago! Lily sat down and was instantly entranced, connecting up all kinds of shapes with her teeny little fingers. I loved the fine motor aspect and how engaged she was, so we ended up buying a small kit. It's been a well loved open-ended toy in our home ever since!

Recently, a lovely little small business called Smarty Pants Toys reached out to me - I guess they heard that we were big LaQ fans :) They kindly offered to send us some new LaQ - what a treat! The more you have the more you can create, so we were very grateful. I am thrilled to partner with them as I think it is a top quality construction toy that I really think serves as a worthwhile ‘investment buy’ for families. 

So what is LaQ exactly?  It's a series of seven small plastic shapes (triangles, squares and joiner pieces) in 12 bright colours, that click together horizontally to create pretty much whatever you like, whether 2D or 3D or even spherical! The pieces join together in the most satisfying little 'click' and then are easily separated by bending till they 'snap' and come apart. I think this is part of the pleasure of building with LaQ - the sensory satisfaction! They are really fun to build and create with... and just engage children in a really beautiful way, unleashing all sorts of creativity with infinite design possibilities! My kids just love squirreling themselves away to make their LaQ creations as I have recorded many times on this little blog, such as here – this one was five years ago, and look how tiny the kids are!!

LaQ are sort of like Lego. Like Lego, you can build kits or just free build. With Lego you generally only build 3D tower/vertical shapes, but with LaQ you can get really creative by connecting the pieces horizontally to make 2D (flat) images or fully 3D curved and angular shapes - it's flat and flexible. LaQ are so fun to snap and click together and apart - unlike the agony of prising apart two Lego blocks with your fingernails, haha ;) We love and play with both, but I have to say that LaQ has that Japanese quirkiness and ingenuity that I just love!

LaQ has so many benefits apart from just the pure fun! 

As mentioned, LaQ has fantastic sensory input - the click and snap is sooooo satisfying and really helps even the youngest users understand when the pieces are securely attached. It makes it an enjoyable breeze to build and rebuild and I think the added sensory input really engages kids. For kids who struggle to focus (as mine do at times!), LaQ is a great way to settle them down and draw them in with a focused fine motor task.

Educationally, LaQ are excellent for developing planning skills when following the easy-to-use instruction guides, and encouraging creativity when free-building. I also love seeing the kids use their maths skills (unaware!), through counting and sorting the pieces and calculating what is required to build whatever they choose. Learning through play is so beneficial and with LaQ you really see that in action! It is like seeing mini-engineers at work - the perfect STEM toy 😊 The wheels and axels means the kids can play with what they build, not just make display pieces too! LaQ develops spatial ability, concentration, fine motor skills and more, all while engaging both left and right brain. It really is a clever but simple toy – seven parts and endless possibilities!

Other educational benefits come in when building flat (2D) shapes. My son had the idea to start creating numerals from one to ten, which is a great way to work on numeracy and literacy in a hands-on way (which we all know helps information sink in deeper!). My kids also like making patterns and mosaics out of the colours which is another rich learning activity.

I am very selective about the products I endorse on this little blog of mine, because I know you guys trust me to only recommend things I genuinely like. Well, we have had LaQ in our home for over 6 years and I still think it is a winner!

If you are looking for a toy with a difference for an upcoming gift, why not invest in something that is open-ended and allows for endless learning and creativity. I don't think you can go wrong with LaQ! It takes construction to a whole new level of fun! Find out more here

Ok, now here is a truck load of photos, taken over the last few weeks as my kids have returned to our new LaQ set again and again to make a range of creations 😊  

One box that can create all of this!!!
Reading the easy-to-follow instructions before starting to create!

Love seeing little hands reaching into a massive pile of LaQ!

Miles busy creating a little truck, all out of his own imagination!

Counting and sorting... when maths looks like (and feels like).. play!
Is there anything more precious than these moments? Father and son, building together!
On a mission to make a huge robot!

This creative girl doesn't need a plan. She loves to build according to her own vision! Love to see her create.

Love the 'to scale' diagrams that make it so easy to follow!
Grubby fingernails and creative kids! Made his own little truck and was very pleased with himself :)

A salad sandwich!
He was very pleased with his bicycle!

This amazing robot!!! It took a lot of combined effort from the boys of the family but how cool is he? Worth it :) The arms and legs move and the head swivels! Such a cute little guy, we are in love and never want to dismantle him.
I feel like this is the kind of toy that would come to life in Toy Storey 4, huh???

Our Princess made a (quirky) tiara! 

This post was kindly sponsored by Smarty Pants Toys. All opinions are very much my own! 

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Sixty Days of Summer / Photography Challenge / Part One

I used my DSLR so little last year (2018, that is!) that I didn't even download the images between July and December - six whole months! (gasp). And I had only taken a few dozen in that time (barely anything compared to what I used to). So I decided to pick up my (BULKY!!) DSLR again for a self-imposed 'Sixty Days of Summer' Challenge - a photo a day through December and January. It is such a wonderful time of year (with plenty of light and plenty of activity and memory making) I knew it was a season worth capturing well.

And so I have! And the photos have often been dodgy and grainy but I continued anyway (I think my camera and lens are pretty old and need a service or upgrade. Well, I am half blaming my equipment when I am sure it is mostly my rusty skills!!!). I love using my iPhone these days and have faced the fact it is always going to be my primary mode of photography from here on in because let's face it - soooooo convenient! And I am too lazy to haul my big camera around anymore. But I just don't 'see' my children and take photographs in the same way with a phone as I do with my DSLR. Hence, my challenge to myself. Because this childhood is fleeting and precious and I have realised lately how much this documentation is for them as well as me - the kids look through our annual photo books almost every day! And now they say to me 'Can you take a photo for the phooto book!' haha. I realised belately I would have hardly any images to include this year. 

So, here is a daily photo (or two..or three)... starting in early December. I will post in batches as I get them edited. I knew that daily editing/posting at this time of year would just be an extra level of pressure I didn't need. So I committed to myself to take the photos, even if I wouldn't be editing until later!

It starts with Christmas Tree decorating...(I think this was actually late November but let's be flexible!)

Christmas carols....

Trampoline evenings...

(to be continued)....