Gera Al Hanafy and her husband opened Fundamentals at the end of November. The store offers educational toys for all ages, as well as office supplies and, coming soon, computers and cellphones. (Chelsea Novak/Castlegar News)

Gera Al Hanafy and her husband opened Fundamentals at the end of November. The store offers educational toys for all ages, as well as office supplies and, coming soon, computers and cellphones. (Chelsea Novak/Castlegar News)

New Castlegar store offers educational toys and years of expertise

A former child-care worker with nearly 10 years of experience has opened a store selling educational toys.

Gera Al Hanafy and her husband Khalil opened FUNdamentals at the end of November and the store offers toys suitable for learners aged zero to 99 and up.

“So everybody is covered. We have a lot of sensory toys for infants and then we have more hands-on learning,” says Gera. “Everything is open-ended, so it’s not geared after any TV program. It’s just kid-powered.”

The toys are also all non-violent.

Gera says that while many of the toys are for a specific age range, a lot of the toys can be used past the specified age.

“We have a giant pegboard, which is for 19 months and up, but I have a 13-year-old that likes to come in and play with it. And then the Hexacus is for two and up, but I have college students that like to play with them,” she says. “You can do different puzzles and challenge each other with puzzle activities.”

A lot of the toys are out on display at FUNdamentals so kids and grown ups can test them out, and Gera can also help customers find the right toy.

“I have a lot of experience with the toys, so I can also help with finding the right toy for an age group or the right developmental age, and … we share what we’ve done with the toys and how we’ve incorporated different aspects of just using that product or that item in different ways of play and learning,” says Gera, who worked in childcare for almost 10 years and also raised a daughter.

From her own experience, Gera recommends Motor Works — 3D puzzles that come with a toy electric drill — and Busy Bugs — a pre-math game that teaches kids sorting, categorization, matching, sequencing, patterning, addition, subtraction and more.

There are also plenty of toys suitable for seniors.

Gera recommends Mosaic Mysteries, a puzzle game, and Tricky Fingers, which is very good for finger dexterity.

While older kids and adults are in checking out some of the more challenging puzzle toys, they can also browse Fundamentals’ selection of office supplies — including things like staplers, notebooks, colourful clips and pens and pencils.

The store has not yet held a grand opening, as Khalil is still waiting for more stock to arrive.

“My husband is going to put in computers and phones and they’re going to do services as well,” explained Gera. “So when they get their supply, we’ll do the grand opening.”

Fundamentals is located at 635 Columbia Ave. and during the holidays they’re also offering a wrapping table where customers can use supplies to wrap gifts in exchange for a donation to the food bank.