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Corinne Lamoral is a freelance writer and media consultant, practicing part time corporate communications. She lives with her husband and three children on a koppie in Johannesburg where she pretends the distant hum of traffic is the ocean.

With all the focus on supporting proudly South African products over the World Cup – I’ve rounded up three of the best local products I’ve seen recently.  These make great gifts for overseas visiting children or for your little ones to keep them busy over the long holidays…

STAT-IT WITH MENZO ™

My mom-in-law brought a set of these wonderful animal card games for my children.  Similar to the car, bike, truck and plane comparing cards we played as kids, the Menzo™ cards teach your children stats about South African snakes, mammals and large birds while they play one of three variations of games.  In the snake cards, for example, you can earn the highest or lowest scores for venom, length, reproduction, and striking speeds or you can ask a question about the animal and, if the other player knows the answer, he wins the card.

All the Information on the cards is approved by specialists in the field and Menzo’s™ vision is to educate and expose children to nature while contributing to conservation, so each product is linked to a project at Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT).  The cards are well made, reasonably priced and are perfect for long journeys.  They also make great gifts for overseas visitors as they pop easily into a suitcase.

Available from www.menzo.co.za or at the Irene Market, Ladder of Learning in Fourways, Exclusive Books Monte Casino and selected CNA stores countrywide.

PUO EDUCATIONAL PRODUCTS

In an attempt to make raising a bilingual child in Africa easier, the innovative team behind Puo Educational Products has produced educational products in African languages with African images aimed at age 0 to nine years.

I like the thinking behind Puo’s mission – which is to invest in our range of official languages while instilling pride and belief in our varied culture and history.  The range of games currently consists of a Learn to Count game, First Words flashcards and a My Body poster, which includes expressions and senses.

For support and interaction with other parents raising bilingual children, Puo’s website has a blog which covers interesting topics, such as the benefits of learning a second language at a young age and the issues around raising a child in a language that is not your own. Look out for the cute range of T-shirts available online.

Available at www.puo.co.za, Nice on 4th Avenue, Parkhurst, Exclusive books Hyde Park, Sandton City, Brooklyn Mall and Cavendish Square.

52 WAYS TO GROW CREATIVE CHILDREN

by Lisl Barry and her family (Jacana)

This is going to be my holiday handbook during the World Cup. Written by Lisl Barry, a South African mom and artist raising her family in the Gamkaberg Nature Reserve in the Klein Karoo, this book is the real deal.

You can tell that these are ideas and activities that will really work, not just because Lisl has photographed her children and friends doing them all, but also because the instructions make sense, are down to earth and do not require you to be especially creative or experienced.

They have an old-fashioned quality to them – with basics like baking bread, making a scarecrow, making a felt picture board and floating acorn boats. Some ideas need more help than others, such as going camping, or building a tree house, while some are as simple as going walking together or making sand sculptures. The ideas are divided up into the four seasons, which also teaches children to delight in the joys of each season, although many can be done throughout the year.

The 52 ideas are designed to do more than entertain your children; they are opportunities to connect with them, spend quality time together, and to wonder at nature and the joy of simple pleasures.  A gem of a book. Available at selected retailers.  www.lislbarry.co.za

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