Monday, 31 October 2011

Scribble and Write

We received the LeapPad Scribble and write from leapfrog as part of our toyologist box.
This is a great little hand held writing tool which is aimed at children 3 + Mikey turned 4 earlier in the year so is currently quite interested in learning to write letters, 

The scribble and write has an attached pen which is perfectly child sized to help to develop the motor skills needed for writing. the cord isn't very long but gives enough maneuvering scope for children to comfortably write on the reusable screen.

There is a display of the alphabet which is clear and simple showing all the letters with both the upper case and lower case letters and a paw print button, which is the main control button on the scribble and write.

There is a slider at the very top which controls the mode of play, there are 4 modes
Drawing - which encourages children to follow the flashing lights and draw patterns and shapes
Upper Case Letters - which shows children ow to form upper case letters
Lower case letters- again shows children how to form the lower case letters
Game mode - where there are two games, Guess the letter where you watch the lights appear until you can recognize which letter they are forming, and Dig and Draw, where you put the pen on the light and follow them as they appear until you hear scout (The leapfrog friendly dog character) bark, which indicates you've completed the drawing the lights stop and a picture is revealed.

These 4 modes give enough entertainment to occupy Mikey for a good while

The marks are made on the pad with the pen, and there is a slider across the bottom which is the eraser and removes your drawing as you slide it across, much like the magnetic drawing boards.

The Scribble and write is great value for money with it being a little under £20, it certainly has lots of features to keep a little one entertained whilst encouraging them to become familiar with letters.

As you select through the modes there are lights which flash to show the child where to start and finish the letters, it does not correct them if they do the letter wrong, which is in some ways great, as it gives them more confidence and means they are happy scribbling away without getting fed up with being told they haven't got it quite right and need to try again, but also means they don't necessarily end up forming brilliant letters.

Over all we like the scribble and write, it is a great way to actively encourage young children to get comfortable with the alphabet in a fun way, you can also use the pen and screen to doodle on when in the off position, and doodle away to your hearts content, which my elder children enjoy, (seems as they are now abit old for learning their letters!) it really does appeal to youngsters and its great that they are learning whilst they play but ultimately nothing really beats a pen and some paper and showing your child how to write the letters yourself.

Heres Mikey showing you how it works :

You may also wish to check out our LeapPad explorer review here:  LeapPad a first look
and the My own leaptop review which you'll find here : My Own LeapTop

Do you Trick or Treat?

Halloween one of those occasions I never really understood, I'm very vague on the actual meanings of it, why do we even celebrate it? what 'religion' if any does it cover? is it accepted by other religions?
this year we dressed up and went for a spooky walk in the woods!

My lack of knowledge is probably due to us being fairly nonreligious, I like to learn about religions I am interested in all faiths but do not follow strictly any one given faith, I encourage my children to talk and learn about every religion whilst I sit on the side lines and haven't really made my mind up as to what I believe if any of them, I always say I live my life doing what I consider to be morally right, you know treat others like you want to be treated, don't kill anyone, don't steal anything all the fundamental morals to co exist, and hope then for the best!

But that's besides the point really, Halloween always bemuses me for the Trick or Treat element of it, yes I like the costumes, I like the decorations, and hey any excuses to put on a bit of a party is always warmly accepted, but why do we go out knocking on doors?

2008 how we normally celebrate dress in a costume but no major Halloween activites
To go trick or treating has always been a source of controversy when I was younger my mum would not let us go trick or treating, we never got dressed up for Halloween, and only occasionally had a pumpkin, mum and dad would answer the door to the odd person who knocked and reluctantly give out their small change or chocolate biscuits, but we never made any form of effort, and I do remember one year wondering why we couldn't go out like 'everyone else did' but it wasn't a great source of anguish and was soon forgotten.

So when I left home and had my own children, did I spare them the same  longing to be included? well.. no. Every year I sort of skimmed passed Halloween, I did buy them dressing up outfits, but more so because they like to dress up in general, not for a specific Halloween purpose, and we did buy the odd decoration, more so because my other half loves decorations! but we until last year (2010) we never went out and never held a party or did anything in particular to mark Halloween itself.

Last year tho, I decided that if the children asked, we would go trick or treating, we were at our old house last year, which was on the outskirts of a small village, so living out of the village we never got trick or treaters coming to our door, so upto this point it had been easy enough to ignore. Last year however the children did ask, there friends had been talking about trick or treating at school, so I arranged with the neighbours and we went up into the local village, the first time I'd ever been out on Halloweens night, and I was pleasantly surprised, there was loads of decorations out in the street, people had decorated their drive ways and created almost a street party feel to it, there were lots of families walking around, Chloe took hand wrote thank you notes, and we walked around a few of these displays collecting sweets from pumpkins mouths, and finding treats inside old coffins. It was quite nice and we returned home after having a fun time.

2010 trick or treating display in the local village
This year however we have moved, I do realize that the small community feel to Halloween is not the 'norm' and this year not knowing anyone local to go to, I am not sure if we will be going out Trick or Treating.

I am not sure I like the idea od knocking on 'strangers' doors, I can see the attraction if it is a community thing, and everyone is happy about it, but I don't really like the idea of going to peoples houses who I don't know, and knocking on their door asking for treats.

So this year, having just moved house and not knowing anyone here, I think we will be carving the pumpkins we brought the other day, we will eat hot dogs and drink cherryade, we will eat the sweets we brought our selves and tell spooky stories.

and while I'm thinking about it I might go and look up the true meaning of Halloween.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Back to School

So that's it the half term has just about come to an end,

It has gone too fast once again I am completely un prepared, my boys really needed new shoes and I just never got round to getting them any - bad mother award number 1! We haven't even looked in the school bags since they came home on Friday, bad mother award number 2 and I haven't neatly sorted out the clothes for tomorrow! So once again we'll be rushing to find everything tomorrow and no doubt forget something. Bad mother award number 3!

But we've had a truly lovely half term that involved

Baking Cakes...

Dressing up...
Spooky walks in the Woods... 
 Making new friends...
Exploring the outdoors

 and a trip to the zoo..

Such a wnderful week, shame that the holiday is over and the schools are back, and even more concering is that next time the children are off it will be for Christmas! This year has flown!

A star in the making?

We received a Paper Jamz Pro mic in our Toys R us toyologist box

Chloe was thrilled she is forever singing along to something or other and couldn't wait to get her hands on this microphone.

I was interested to see what the PaperJamz series was all about, before receiving this I had not looked into the range of musical instruments made by WowWee although I have heard of the PaperJamz guitars, I thought PaperJamz were made from paper, and was always inquisitive to find out how they worked, The PaperJamz Pro Series Mic is made from plastic and is a good quality microphone, the amp is also made from plastic the buttons are touch sensitive flat buttons, even the volume control is flat and you control it by rubbing your finger along it.

The ProMic is a stand alone amp with lots of effects inbuilt and a microphone, it comes in several colour options, we were sent the universal Red, it boosts that it will make you sing like a star!

The box explains to you that you can connect to a computer and download  MP3's to expand your playlist.

The two songs which come installed were not songs we were familiar with, although the words are included in the leaflet, we decided to connect up to the computer straight away to see how easy it was to add our own favourite karaoke tracks.

You connect to the computer with the supplied MP3 cable which plugs into the side of the amp.
You need to visit the PaperJamz website and download the software here : PaperJamz
it's easy to install you follow the on screen instructions which takes about 10 minutes to complete.

Then you can open the PaperJamz software which is easy to navigate with a simple drag and drop style operation, where on the left you have your library which you can add songs from your computer to, and on the right you have the 3 song slots on the amp. You simply upload the MP3's from your computer to your library then drag and drop them into the song slots, then Sync the songs to your instrument and your ready to go.

The Sound quality is great and the amp produces a loud enough sound you do not need to plug into additional speakers, or power source, it takes 4 AA batteries and as yet we have not had to change ours, and Chloe has played with it alot! There is also a Belt clip on the back so you can clip it on your belt and dance around whilst singing. The amp is about 10cm x 15cm so is easy to handle.

The only down side is that the song slots on the Amp only fit  a set length song, if your song choice is longer than the space allocated you will use up 2 slots for one song.

With the ease of connection to a computer you can quickly and easily change the songs on the Amp so you can keep on practising your latest pop song!

This is a great Microphone for any musical lover it is sure to provide hours of fun!
it is currently priced £29.99 from Toys R us and would definitely be a great Christmas hit which everyone in the family can have some fun with!

Here's a video run down for you..

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Silent Sunday

Halloween Fun!

So its nearly Halloween, We dress up and enjoy looking at all things spooky, my daughter really likes the look of the Monster High Dolls which seem to be popular at the moment, and with young Dracula on CBBC which my elder two also like it seems monsters ghosts and ghouls are rather cool!

So when we were asked if we would give our verdict on a new childrens online game called Little Horrors, I thought it would be something all mine would be interested in.

Little Horrors is brand new free to play 3D online game, where you can create your own little horror, vampires or werewolf and train to be a great monster at the monster academy, the game is browser based and an add on is required to play but it is very simple to install and use, really easy to follow instruction help you get going in no time at all, you can sign in using  facebook, and a message is sent to your email address confirming your Monster name, and to tell you an account has been created.
Once you have signed in you can customize your monster character, the monsters are cartoons who are rather cute and certainly appeal to anyone who likes Monster High.

''Little Horrors is set in a school for the monstrously gifted where children are encouraged to carry out numerous assignments that are fun and educational.''

There is no fighting blood or guts in the game at all, it is exceptionally child friendly the quests to complete involve things such as collecting pumpkins and making clothing to wear and finding new characters to talk to. As you progress through the game the tasks get slightly harder, the idea is to provide a fun game for children to enjoy and whilst they are doing so they are actively engaging reading skills, and following instructions in tasks which vary in educational departments

''Many of the development team at the Monumental Games Group who created Little Horrors are Mums and Dads themselves, so we’ve spent a considerable amount of time creating a safe environment for children of all ages''

My eldest is 9 and he struggles with reading, games like this are great because they are about the only time he genuinely wants to read, so for me I don't mind at all that he spends a certain amount of time on games such as little horrors. They are fun and so engage him, but he has to read the instructions to progress in the game.

As this game is very new we have only just started playing, there are loads more features to be discovered, there is a place to invite your friends, and then a leaderboard to see who has been succeeding in the tasks and gaining the merits at the Little Horrors monster Academy, and it is sure to be one that we continue to enjoy and play, and I look forward to finding more out about the features that are part of this game.

Be sure to take a look here:

(We were asked if we would like to try out this game, and to partake in a treasure hunt, and as a reward we were sent a goodie bag with stickers and sweets and a poster in,  we received no other payment and were not told what to include in this post, as always my views are my own, and the details I have stated here are the things I found out when I looked up the game for myself.)

UPDATE: The game has been removed and so it is no longer  available - sorry

Zoobles Winner is...

Thank you to everyone who entered. The winner was choosen by my Daughter .....

Congratulatiosn Suzanne Cooke

Friday, 28 October 2011

Much more than just a 'teddy bear store!'

Today we were invited along to our local Build a Bear workshop, we are Huge fans of Build a Bear and have quite a large collection of these beautiful Furry friends, so of course we were over the moon to have been invited along!

If you have never been to Build a Bear then I would strongly suggest to try and make the effort to go and visit, it is a wonderful experience and the Bears are simply adorable!

When you first walk into a store you are often greeted by a member of staff, then you can go and take a look around, the stores all work in the same format, you walk around visiting each station and completing the process and end up making your own bear, it is much more than 'just a teddy bear shop!' it is a real experience in itself.

Your first stop is to decided on which bear you will be making.The range of bears is exceptional, there is something to suit everyone, there are beautiful teddies in all sorts of colours and styles, the new Bears for winter 2011 are an Artic Polar Bear, a Kola Bear, a Blue Snowflake bear to name just a few.

Build a Bear also have a Pudsey bear, where money from each sale is donated to BBC children in need, and often do characters such as Hello Kitty and Smurfs. They change the range of bears through out the years but some regulars are always available, however if you do want one of the seasonal bears you have to get in quick as they often prove to be very popular!

Once you have made the exceptionally difficult choice of picking a bear, you move on to the sound station, where you can add a musical box to your bear with any one of a number of sounds in it, you of course do not have to add a sound, you are making the bear exactly the way YOU want, which is what is so wonderful about Build a Bear, each one is so unique and personal to you.

After this you move on to the Stuffing machine, which is manned permanently by a member of staff, who will talk you through the stuffing process and allow you to stand on a pedal to start up the machine and watch as the bear is brought to life, you can then decided where abouts you wish the sound box to be placed, hand, foot, tummy etc, and you can say if you'd like the bear soft and cuddly or abit firmer or of course anywhere in between!

The next step is to pick a heart, every Build a Bear gets a heart, which is what brings them to life, the member of staff will talk you through making a wish and giving your bear extra powers by rubbing the heart on your head (for a brainy bear), arm (for a strong bear) or feet (for a dancing bear!) The staff always seem to have time for you and make you feel special, even tho every time I have been to a Build a Bear it has been busy!

After you have made your wish the heart is placed into your bear and he is quickly stitched up via special stitches, Build a Bear, also offer a lifetime pass should the stitches come undone you can return your bear to the store at any time to be restitched (we have had to do this on one occasion as we went for a firm bear who popped open!)

The next station is to give your bear a good wash and brush, so they look beautiful and then you are set free on the clothes and accessories, which are simply stunning, the attention to detail on the outfits is second to none, they are lovely, clothes range in price, on average you can get a outfit for £10 which includes top and bottoms, there are hundreds of styles available and because they all fit all bears you can mix and match to your hearts content and find a style that suits you down to a T.

Perfect gift ideas are wedding bears, doctor bears, football bears amongst many many other character outfits from top films such as toy story and star wars, you can buy underwear, swimwear, night wear and a whole array of day wear for your bears with beautiful shoes to match! There is also a whole host of accessories such as glasses, skateboards, microphones, wardrobes and beds!

The only down side is you will want some of it all which would get rather pricey!! so it is best to go with a set figure in mind, if you tell the staff the limit you are wishing to stick to they will advice you on various options, the bears range in price from £9 up to around £20, and the items of clothing and accessories again range from £3 up So it is definitely wise to have a limit in mind before you let your children loose in the store!

Once you have picked, stuffed, brought to life and dressed your bear in whatever way you choose, you then name them on the in store computers, where you can register your details so should your bear get lost they can be found and returned to you via a bar code hidden safely inside them. This part of the process really makes the bears that bit more special than your average cuddly toy, it gives them an identity that you have chosen for them. You are then presented with a birth certificate and your bear is brought home in a club condo sturdy cardboard box, if you are purchasing the bear as a gift you can select any date you choose to appear on the birth certificate.

The Bears truly are lovely and from the first time I went into Build a Bear I have fallen in love with them, you do not need to purchase al the outfits and accessories in any one go, the great thing is they make perfect Birthday and Christmas gifts, as you can buy a bear undressed, and then the receiver can go along and purchase whatever outfit they wish as and when they want, also once you have your bear, you can add to their wardrobe for birthdays and Christmas for years to come and get a whole lot of love from just one bear, not to mention the online build a bearville which also adds to the fun!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Birthdays old and new...

Yesterday it was my birthday, I had such a lovely day got spoilt by the children with their home made cards and chocolate they had wrapped up for me.
Then in the afternoon we went over to my Mum and Dads house where I was spoilt with presents from other family, yummy biscuit collections and my mum had made a beautiful Tortoise basket, home made cakes were a plenty too.

Then my other half took my Mum to a hospital appointment and when they returned they had a brand spanking new Camera for me!! I absolutely love it it was such a wonderful surprise, everyone who knows me will know I don't tend to do much for birthdays the home made cards, and small token presents normally home made from the children, a cup of tea in bed accompanied by a chorus of 'Happy Birthday To you', is about as far as it goes for celebrations, so yesterday was a real treat.

We then stayed at my Mum and Dads and were treated to a chip shop tea, the children had the mast ridiculously large meals and were well and truly stuffed after,

I took along the smart games and perplexus (if you've not heard of the perplexus range then be sure to keep your eyes open for my review soon!) and we had a  lot of laughs laughs playing them.

But you know what was a highlight of my day? a blast from the past! When I was younger I was a huge Sylvanian families fan, they were a major focus of every birthday and Christmas for as long as I can remember from my childhood, and they all still reside in my Mums loft!

Many many years they have been kept priestly in the loft, all neatly sorted and stored, but then my children grew and we decided to bring some down for them to play with.

Over the years they have been played with by  my children and other visitors to my Mums, (closely guarded by my Mum) but where as I kept them in perfection, I never undressed them, or mixed the sets up, my children and the others who have played with them over the years, like to re arrange them and undress them, my Mum has had several puppies over the years too, and these pups have chewed and nibbled more than their fair share of sylvanians legs, ears and heads off!!

My precious toys which will always hold such fond memories for me, are now all jumbled and mixed, chewed and battered.

So I spent a good while yesterday sorting them out, finding the members of families to reunite them together, putting the missing pieces of the building back together and teaching Chloe the art of care for these beautiful vintage Sylvanian Family toys.

My mum has recently got an new Puppy, a beautiful little beagle, but a trouble maker non the less, and I am scared my beautiful sylvanians will not last many more puppy nibbles, so we decided the time was right and a few of them could come home with me, and take pride of place in my daughters bedroom, only a few mind, the rest remain boxed up in the loft, but I have said to Chloe if she looks after these ones I will ask Granny if she can have the others.

So my Birthday was all round great, topped off to with a friend coming over on our return home with a lovely bath bomb set which I can't wait to enjoy! So my birthday has been filled with the family who I cherish most, and new presents which were more than I ever imagined, and old memories which I hold so close.

Thank you Darren, Mum and Dad for making it a wonderful day!
(and now I'm going to go and play with my shinny new camera! Which I will be sure to take with me tomorrow to Build a Bear as we've been invited along to their store tomorrow!!)
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