Christmas gifts

We are a husband and wife team that started the business with the vision to bring the best educational toys available locally and internationally to the South African consumer. As parents we found it incredibly frustrating to try and find toys for our children that are truly educational and of high quality, and when we did find toys that met this criteria, we discovered that local stores often only stock a selected subset of the range.

We found that the most worthy local brand was the Idem Smile range and successfully applied to become distributors of their educational toys and classroom aids.We then started looking internationally for toys that meet the criteria for being educational and of exceptional quality and entered into a distribution agreement for the Schoenhut range of musical instruments made specifically for children.

We have since added a range of other brands that meet our high standards for quality and educational value based on feedback from parents and teachers regarding products they would like to use or have used in the past. Click on any of the tabs below to learn more about each of the brands we supply.

We are still continuously searching for more exceptional products to add to our offering in order to give our fellow South African parents as well as teachers a choice of toys and products that will be beneficial to the children in their care.

  • Schoenhut
  • Idem Smile
  • Greenbean
  • Phonix in a Box
  • Melissa & Doug
  • RGS Smartplay
  • VIGA
  • Penguin
  • African Treehouse
  • Chalk and Chuckles
  • BuitenSpeel
  • Goldie Blox
  • Little Pals
  • Paris Garden
  • SmartGames
  • SmartMax
  • Zoob
  • ThinkFun Games
  • Learning Tools
  • GROW
  • Find-It

Schoenhut

Albert Schoenhut (1848-1912) was born in Wurtenberg, Germany to a toy-making family. His father and grandfather made wooden dolls, rocking horses, and wagons. At a young age, Albert began making toy pianos in his home. The hammers on the early toy pianos struck a sounding bar made of glass instead of the strings used on real pianos. He later exchanged the glass bars for those made of metal, making the instruments more durable. Albert's toy pianos, more than just playthings, stayed in tune and were accompanied by sheet music to encourage children to play. 

In 1866, John Dahl, a buyer for Wanamaker’s department store, heard of young Albert's talent and brought the 17-year old to Philadelphia where he worked as a repairman on glass sounding pieces in German toy pianos that had been damaged in shipping. Albert struck out on his own in 1872, founding the Schoenhut® Piano Company. As his toy piano business grew, Albert added other instruments including a ukulele-banjo, xylophone, and glockenspiel. He also expanded his line to include dolls, circus figures, and toys. 

By the time of Albert's death in 1912, Schoenhut Piano Company® was the largest toy company in America and the first in the United States to export toys to Germany. The business then passed through a succession of owners located in various parts of the United States. In 1984, Frank Trinca purchased the company. He continued manufacturing some of the toy piano models that had been designed by Albert in the early 1900's. Twelve years later, wanting help with new concepts and in expanding the business, he asked his brother and sister-in-law, Len and Renee Trinca of St. Augustine Beach, Florida, to become partners. Optimistic about the potential for Schoenhut with its excellent reputation and enamored with the small instruments, they jumped at the chance. Len and Renee acquired ownership in 1996 and are adding new styles and colours to the range every year. Four years later, they moved the entire contents of the factory from NY to a new facility in St. Augustine. Frank remains involved with the company as a consultant and also helps at trade shows (Toy Fair, NAMM, etc.). 

Schoenhut goes beyond the all governments' base requirements for product testing. They use accredited laboratories to test for fire hazard, mechanical properties, construction, stability, and toxic elements. A lead-free finish on the sanded wood surfaces of the instruments is smooth for little hands. The design and placement of sturdy wooden legs on piano stools ensure stable seating. There has never been a safety issue or recall of a Schoenhut product.

The Schoenhut range now also includes guitars (acoustic guitars in 2 sizes and an electric guitar), harps, drums and 3 different "Band-in-a-box" sets. The Schoenhut instruments have won various toy awards in the USA over the years, the most recent being the Creative Child Magazine's Top Toy of the Year Award 2011 for Schoenhut Piano Pals. They also consistently feature in various toy industry "top 10" lists for classic toys. 

SMILE EDUCATION and IDEM joined forces in 2007. Both companies have more than 30 years experience in providing quality educational material. Where SMILE EDUCATION focused on "Learn through play" and reaching the market through direct marketing, IDEM focused on providing schools with Learning and Teaching Support Materials (LTSM). The direct marketing model was abandoned in favour of distribution through authorised resellers, such as Bibi Buzz.

Their vision, "TO LIVE, LOVE, LEARN AND LEAVE A LEGACY" compelled them to build on SMILE and IDEM'S strengths to evolve into a company that now supplies more Learning and Teaching Support Material to more parents and teachers in our country and abroad, than ever before.

Smile has been the number one choice in educational products for many parents over the years and has proven time and time again to be excellent quality and value for money. Through a range of innovative and fun products, Smile teaches every academic skill required by children from 18 months onwards. An excellent range of products is also available specifically for schools covering Grade R to Grade 2 : Numeracy, Literacy and Life Skills

Greenbean

Greenbean aims to support teachers and parents in the amazing journey to kindle the minds and develop the leaders of tomorrow. They have a vast assortment of educational tools, toys and aids which will help you in your quest.

Greenbean's range includes pre-school educational toys, toys and equipment for active play, puzzles, construction and science kits, and an extensive range of products to assist children with learning of numeracy/mathematics skills.

The range is expanded on a regular basis after careful evaluation of each product to determine the quality of the product and the educational value.

Phonix

Phonix in a Box® is a South African based company. Their goal is to provide accurate phonic resources for Teachers, Remedial Therapists, Speech Therapists and Parents. Phonix in a Box® launched their phonic flashcards in June 2008 to focus on helping children with spelling and reading skills while playing fun, educational games. Many homeschoolers have enjoyed using the resources as a supplement to their homeschooling curriculum.

The phonic resources:

  • use easy, phonic games
  • are created by a phonic, reading and language expert
  • combine phonic and language skills
  • follow a uniformed, phonic progression in the pre-primary and primary grades
  • develop emergent literacy skills
  • teach reading and spelling skills

Phonix in a Box® launched new phonic workbooks in November 2009 for Grade 1-4 and there was an overwhelming response. Teachers and students love the language & vocabulary activity page each week. Due to huge demand, they released a Grade 5 phonic workbook in 2011. A further two new phonic books complete the range and they now offer workbooks from Grade R-6.

As more schools are becoming aware of the importance of becoming more inclusive of learners with special needs, there is a huge demand for good, phonic resources that can be used in small groups in the classrooms and in specialised therapy groups. The phonic flashcards games are perfect for learning support teachers who provide extra support for learners experiencing difficulties with literacy skills and for small remedial or speech therapy groups.

About the author

All the resources have been designed by a Speech-Language Therapist, who has been practising in the area of literacy and pre-literacy development for over 18 years. Her knowledge and practical experience of literacy development and the strong link to phonemic awareness development has resulted in the development of these phonic cards and workbooks and she has assessed these games in the classroom, therapy setting and small groups.

Her practice was based at a private school in Johannesburg for 10 years and she has had experience in working with teachers and therapists in the school setting and classroom for many years. She has written numerous articles and presented workshops at conferences and courses.

Melissa Doug

Over 24 years ago Melissa & Doug (yes, they are actually real people called Melissa and Doug) started their company in the garage of the home where Doug grew up — they had to be careful not to disturb Doug's parents who were still living there! Thanks to their customers' support, they've been able to move into a real office down the road, a building that actually has separate ladies and men's bathrooms!

Their philosophy has remained the same over the years–to make each and every customer a happy and permanent member of the Melissa & Doug family, while offering products with tremendous value, quality and design. Their range offers something for everyone with over 2,000 innovative products for children of all ages.

From day one, they’ve signed their names, Melissa & Doug, to every product they make — it’s their commitment to you that you can trust the products you bring into your home. All their products also have to pass the test of going home with them, where they enjoy playing with these same toys with all six of their children

They firmly believe in " AUDIT, INSPECT, AND TEST", not only once, but at various phases of the production process. Additionally, they specifically test their paints and coatings very frequently, to be sure their toys meet or exceed US government recommendations limiting heavy metals, lead and phthalates in children’s items. They have cabinets full of thousands of passing test reports, and these passing results have been verified by 3rd party independently accredited testing laboratories, considered by many to be the best scientific laboratories in the world.

 

RGS

RGS is a wholesaler of high quality jigsaw puzzles and educational toys and games.Their exceptional range of beautifully illustrated educational products, marketed under the name of Smart Thinking and Smart Play, is fast becoming a favourite among teachers, therapists and parents nation-wide.

The RGS range of puzzles, both children and adult puzzles, deserve a special mention. The puzzles contain beautiful images and many of them could be permanently fixed and displayed as art (much like the Smile range of puzzles used to be many years ago before it was discontinued). There are puzzles for every age group and puzzle-building skill level — from 2-piece puzzles for toddlers to 2000-piece puzzles for the advanced puzzle-builder looking for a challenge. (These puzzles are some of the only items you will find on this site that is not aimed at children or teachers.)

VIGA

The VIGA factory manufactures quality wooden educational products, most of which are made of hand-painted rubber-wood. The paints are non-toxic and all products are certified as compliant with EN 71 and ASTM F963 toy safety standards which are recognised world-wide.

The range includes kitchen and shop accessories which are ideal for fantasy play which is an important part of the school curriculum in every Early Learning Centre.

VIGA baby walkers are just right for the 1 - 2 age group and the hammer bench will delight every young DIYer, age 2 – 5.

The colourful blocks are essential for learning about size, shape, length and height and will provide hours of happy constructive play for every 2 – 6 year old at home and at school.

You will find a brilliantly designed doll’s house, threading blocks and beads as well as beautifully illustrated puzzles with and without knobs.

The magnetic animals and vehicles are truly educational and the train set will keep every little boy busy.

This is truly early learning at its very best!

Penguin

Quality paperback books, at a price the ordinary man could afford, hit the streets of London in 1935. This was the vision and gamble of Allen Lane, a gamble that more than paid off - by the following year the newly formed Penguin Books had sold 3 million paperbacks.

Over the years the familiar orange spine and the famous bird of the logo ensured that Penguin books would become the trusted and treasured companions of generations of readers.

In 1970 Penguin became a wholly owned subsidiary of Pearson Longman Ltd, now Pearson plc, and it was in the '70s that a distribution office selling UK published books was set up in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Almost 80 years after its inception Penguin remains a brand accorded strong recognition around the world, and today the Penguin Group has companies in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, India, Canada, China and South Africa, and distribution networks for its titles around the globe. And each of those companies has its own vibrant indigenous publishing division.

Penguin publishes in all formats and in a number of imprints, and its publishing covers a very broad range of subjects for both adults and children. Its imprints are recognisable each in its own right - Alastair Sawday, Allen Lane, Alpha, Avery, BBC Children's, Brady Games, Dorling Kindersley, Fig Tree, Hamish Hamilton, Michael Joseph, Particular Books, Portfolio, Puffin, Quadrille, Razorbill, Rough Guides, Sunbird, Viking, Warne.

Today Penguin Books South Africa is a leader in the book publishing industry in South Africa. Besides their own South African list, they sell, market and distribute books from the rest of the Penguin Group, as well as a number of prestigious publishing houses.

Ladybird

Ladybird books are known and loved the world over. For millions of people, they bring back the golden days of childhood - learning to read, discovering the magic of books, and growing up.

Today, Ladybird is part of Penguin Children’s Books alongside alongside Puffin, Frederick Warne, Sunbird and BBC Children's Books, and continues to evolve with the needs of today’s parents and children. Alongside its famous learning to read series, traditional tales and innovative formats, Ladybird’s portfolio has grown to include some of the most popular children’s brands in the world including Peppa Pig,Hello Kitty, and Lego.
Ladybird’s extensive range of toddler books uses rhyme, stories and songs in fun, sturdy formats to give children a head start in learning.

Fostering an early love of books is essential to encouraging reading confidence in young children, and Ladybird is committed to supporting parents, teachers and children every step of the way. Ladybird’s flagship learning to read series, Key Words with Peter and Jane, has achieved unparalleled success for over 45 years, and still remains a favourite with parents and teachers around the globe. Based on the ‘look and say’ approach to reading, it remains the simplest and easiest way of teaching children to read, step by step, level by level. As children gain their confidence with reading, Ladybird’s Read it yourself series guides them on their journey towards independent reading, and Superhero Phonic Readers further supports their phonic training learned in school.

"African Treehouse" is an ongoing project to bring African music to kids around the world. It's the brainchild of the SAMA (South African Music Award) winning team of Graeme Sacks and Erika Strydom.

The two have been composing and producing music together for over ten years. Graeme & Erika have written and recorded music for theatre projects, a number of South African artists, a series Afrikaans "Goggatjie" children’s CDs (3 of which received SAMA nominations), and many radio and television commercials. Both are freelance guitarists.

Top South African musicians appear on the albums including: Relebogile "Lebo" Mabotja, Concord Nkabinde and Kelly Petlane.

ChalkChuckles

Chalk and Chuckles was founded in 2010 with a mission to provide kids with playful learning tools that enable them to develop creativity, confidence and responsibility all while having fun! The products are inspired by the latest research in child development and the team consists of professionals in the area of child development, product design and most importantly people who love kids and know them!!!

Chalk and Chuckles is a brand of interactive and engaging toys/games designed to teach developmental skills. Targeted at children above the age of 3 years, the games are a perfect storm of fun and learning where children imagine, create, discover and explore. The essence of the games is to learn in a way which is engaging, allowing the children to nurture their playfulness. They appeal to ‘all minds’ and assist the child’s growth holistically-cognitive, emotional, social, language and motor skills.

BuitenSpeel

BuitenSpeel is based in Haarlem, the Netherlands. Since 2006 they enthusiastically develop games and toys for all ages for playing outside, under the brand BuitenSpeel (outdoor play).

Children who regularly play outside are more satisfied, eat better, sleep better and develop better. Moving in a natural way helps to keep normal weight, promotes physical motor skills and teaches children at an early age how to deal with each other. Although children naturally play and exercise, this happens less nowadays.

These games and toys make playing outdoors more enjoyable: from sporty to creative, from agile to smart, together with the family or individual, with this wide range we have it all. BuitenSpeel has developed games and toys for different age groups - for adults and older children they also developed more challenging games and toys.

The outdoor toys are not only beautiful and fun to play with, in the development of the products, the handling and use is also considered. The products are easy to carry and to store and can be used everywhere: at home, in the garden, in the school playground or on the beach. The toys are original, large in size and made of high quality material.

GoldieBlox

At GoldieBlox, their goal is to get girls building and to help level the playing field in every sense of the phrase. By tapping into girls' strong verbal skills, the story + construction sets bolsters confidence in spatial skills while giving young inventors the tools they need to build and create amazing things.

In a world where men largely outnumber women in science, technology, engineering and math, girls lose interest in these subjects as early as age 8. Construction toys develop an early interest in these subjects, but for over a hundred years, they've been considered "boys' toys.” GoldieBlox is determined to change the equation. Thay aim to disrupt the "pink aisle" and inspire the future generation of female engineers.

We hope that Goldie and her friends provide a vital way to see all the different things that girls can be, and are inspiring examples for girls and boys alike. We believe there are a million girls out there who are engineers. They just might not know it yet. We think GoldieBlox can show them the way.

Little Pals leads the way in children's gardening with garden tools including a child's watering can, spade, lawn rake, forks and trowels as well as gloves, garden kits, tool sets and much more.

Children's cooking sets and baking kits such as cupcake baking sets, cookie baking kits, party sets are great fun for kids. Cooking accessories including baking mats, children's aprons, cookie cutters, cupcake cases, mixing bowls, mixing spoons, and rolling pins.

Little Pals products make great children's gifts. Kids gift sets of children's garden tools and kids cooking kits make terrific birthday presents, Christmas gifts or presents for fun at any time.

Paris Garden

Paris Garden™ offers guaranteed to grow, planting kits designed by experts. The kits provide adults with sustainable gifts and educate kids to a greener place.

The company, established in South Africa, utilises the experience and significant research obtained from years of development by their sister company in Paris. The products offer fantastic value with beautiful re-usable containers, natural seeds & soil, easy to follow instructions and extra accessories for every kit.

The containers are manufactured using sustainable recycled materials wherever possible. The stylish packaging comes with clear product images & essential information.

The products are all environmentally friendly, are a great learning opportunity for children and make a wonderful & unique gift.

SmartGames

Play SmartGames anywhere, anytime, no opponent needed. Although SmartGames are designed to play alone, it’s also great fun to solve the brain-teasing challenges together.

Challenges are divided into 4 or 5 levels of difficulty. You start with the easiest challenges. Gradually, the challenges get more difficult, so that they stay interesting and fun. Have fun exercising your brain! Utilize skills ranging from spatial insight to pattern recognition, while improving your problem solving abilities and your memory.

SmartGames are easy to store, so you don’t have to worry about losing parts. SmartGames are either very compact, include a storage compartment or can be stored inside the packaging.

Each SmartGame is carefully designed and produced using quality materials that last. And with so many included challenges, each game can be replayed over and over again. There are SmartGames for children as young as age 3, but many games appeal to teens and adults as well. The multi-level challenges provide loads of fun for everyone from novices to puzzle pros.

SMARTMAX® allows kids to explore the fascinating world of magnetism in a safe and fun way.

Magnets have a magnetic north and south pole. The cold colors, green, blue, purple and white have their north poles directed outwards. The warm colors, red, orange, yellow and pink have their south poles directed outwards. Unlike poles attract, like poles repel. All bars with a cold color can be connected to all bars with a warm color. All other combinations repel. SmartMax balls are attracted by all bars, regardless of their color. More than 20 bars can be connected to one ball. The magnets of the long bars are stronger than those of the short bars. Long bars can lift more weight or make stronger connections.

Zoob

ZOOB™ is an award-winning building set with a difference—the pieces move after you put them together. So you can play with your creations, instead of just looking at them. Although we provide instructions and suggestions for models to build, we think the best part of playing with ZOOB is exploring, inventing, and discovering how you can build what you want to build!

Thinkfun

ThinkFun was founded in 1985 by husband and wife team Bill Ritchie and Andrea Barthello. Bill was a born puzzler, so defining his dream company was no challenge, but the 80's were a tough time for toy companies. Retailers were moving away from games, and the Rubik's Cube, which had broken through in the mass market, was losing popularity. No stranger to a challenge, Andrea vividly remembers the day she pulled up in their driveway and declared, "We can do this!" In the early years, Bill and Andrea's basement served as assembly line, home office, and distribution center, and their first product, the Hexadecimal Puzzle, was born right out of that basement!

Despite humble beginnings, Bill and Andrea founded ThinkFun, originally called Binary Arts, with a noble mission, "To translate the brilliant ideas of the craziest mathematicians, engineers and inventors into simple toys that can be appreciated by boys and girls around the world." They still believe this today.

Today, ThinkFun is a respected global company represented in over 60 countries and translated into over 20 languages. For people of all ages who want to challenge their mind and sharpen their skills, ThinkFun is the world’s leader in addictively fun games that build reasoning and creative thinking skills through play.

Learning Resources

Learning Resources® is a leading global manufacturer of innovative, hands-on educational products trusted by teachers and parents and loved by children. The Company's 1100+ high-quality products are sold in more than 80 countries, serving children and their families, preschool, kindergarten, primary, and middle-school markets. Among the Company's brands are Pretend & Play®, Smart Snacks®, Primary Science, Rainbow Fractions® and Reading Rods®. Learning Resources is headquartered in Vernon Hills, Illinois, with a European office based in Kings Lynn, Norfolk, England.

GROW

In the educational material world, Grow Learning Company is a prominent and respected name. Grow Learning Company is a national provider of products and services that enhance children's learning. There should be no barriers to education. Teachers and educators deserve access to the content, tools, resources, and people that can help them do their vital work.

Grow Learning Company's diverse product line of over 2000 products, serves children and their families, day care centres, homeschoolers, pre-primary and primary schools (foundation phase) in all areas of development learning outcomes.

90% of the products are locally manufactured.

Find-It

The Find It Game is a “contained adventure” – a family-friendly treasure hunt in a tall clear tube. The first Find It Games consisted of small household objects hidden in a pound of bird seed and then encased in a clear plastic pop bottle. The Founders made these early “production runs” at their kitchen table. When the concept caught on among friends and family members, they decided to take the product to the next level. They rounded up their savings and created the business that would one day become a household name for millions.

Today, the Find It game has been engineered for safety, using high-impact materials like styrene and polycarbonate, as well as inert plastic pellets inside. The objects inside range from everyday items to custom designed shapes and images, depending on the theme of the particular version. No matter which version – “Sports”, “Wildlife”, “Glitz and Glamour”, etc. – the game is virtually indestructible. It makes for the perfect game to keep out in the den, game room or kitchen and is a big hit as a travel game. It is also suitable for ADD/ADHD children