Clockwise from left: Totem deer, Oscar by Architect Made, Animal masks by Mitik, Karl Zahn bear and Toyella Nanoblock sheep
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Experimental feature

Totem deer

Build this impressive creature from recycled cardboard pieces. £13.50;

Oscar by Architect Made

A classic design, 60 years old, Oscar runs, walks and sniffs as you please. £75,

Animal masks by Mitik

A set of eight plain cardboard masks ready for painting at home. £16;

Karl Zahn bear

This beechwood bear has a hidden box compartment in its belly. £40;

Toyella Nanoblock sheep

A neat Japanese building system; other Nanoblock animals include a giant panda, budgerigar and mallard duck. £7.49;


The line-up: C is for computer

From September 2014 there will be a forward shift in computer education in schools, with the introduction of a new national curriculum in computer science. Programming will be at the heart of the mission, with pupils taught from five years old how to make a simple program.

Raspberry Pi minicomputer

The Raspberry Pi minicomputer (from £24) is designed to address this need. Manufactured in the UK and developed a by Cambridge-based charitable foundation, it is a small motherboard that can plug into external devices such as a television monitor, enabling children to get into a Bill Gates frame of mind with their own makeshift PC.

Code Club World, co-founded by computer programmer Clare Sutcliffe, is a network of after-school coding clubs for children aged nine to 11; some 1,289 have been set up so far around the globe. Code Club World provides the projects and materials, while volunteer teachers organise a location and timetable.

The US website is another good place to start learning these skills, with links to tutor sites such as Light-bot, Hackety Hack and App Inventor. Designed for children and teachers, it takes users through the basics of coding by showing them how to control a cartoon dog, Karel.

And finally, for the very youngest, there is this chalkboard “I-Wood” laptop from Donkey Products (€39.95, There’s also a wooden smartphone in the same range.

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