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Angry Birds have become a household brand many children recognise and want merchandise with the little bird's faces on. My eldest son loves the game Angry Birds and loves anything Angry Bird. My youngest doesn't play the game but has caught onto the merchandise from his older brother. Last Year for my youngest son's birthday he received what looked great fun a remote control Angry Bird green pig in a car. The Nikko Angry bird vehicle will appeal to any angry bird fan and even children that are not familiar with Angry Bird's. What is there not to love about this product? The vehicle is nice and chunky and measures around 20cms in length 11.5cm in width and at its highest point is about 14.5cms. It is ideal for younger children as there are no small parts and everything has a nice smooth feel about it. The vehicle is made up of three colours. The body of the vehicle is a light brown, the pig that is sat on the top is green and the wheels are black. Everything about this product is simple. Even the remote control itself is very simple. A light brown body with a green topping and two yellow buttons and small ariel are what completes the control. This remote control car is very simple to use it has two small switches underneath the vehicle itself. On one side is the switch for on, off and sound. When the switch is in the on position the vehicle can connect with the remote but there is no sound when it is in the sound position not only does it connect with the remote it also plays the angry bird tune over and over and over again. As you can see I am very enthusiastic about this option!! It drives me up the wall. The switch on the other side is to change the band the remote is on. If you have more than one of these products then this would be very helpful as you could put it on one of the three bands A, B or C. The downside to this product is the number of batteries it needs to get it going! And it definitely needs decent batteries too! The remote requires one of those big rectangular batteries that I call your smoke alarm battery! Sorry I am rubbish with battery names! And the car takes two AA batteries which isn't too bad it's the remote batteries that are going to cost you. The remote also doesn't have an on off switch so it does tends to use the battery up quite quickly which is annoying as we don't usually have spares of that type of battery in the house. Just like the look and feel of this product using it is just as simple the two bottoms move the vehicle up and down and round. It really is as uncomplicated as that. My son is four years old and although it does say recommended for children 6 years plus he finds it very easy to use. It whizzes up and down our wooden floor and does as good on the carpet it his bedroom. He really enjoys using it and the two large buttons are so simple as you just press and hold down. There no fiddly switches or knobs to deal with. My eldest son is just as fond of the vehicle too. He is known to winding me up as he drives it under my feet when I am trying to get on. Of course due to the chunky style the car isn't that versatile and although turns well it does take some turning. My older son would probably prefer a more advance remote vehicle. But then this is not just about being remote it is about being from the Angry Birds range! There are two styles available in this range. There is also the red angry bird style one. The green version is available from Amazon for just over £20. The product is well made and although to me does have minor faults I think it is worth the price after all it is Angry Birds!
Tap Tap art is the perfect way for your child to tap into their creative side without making too much of a mess. As long as you don't mind standing on the odd tack this artist piece is right up yours and your child's street!! Your child can create funny pictures with this set and have lots of fun with it whilst continuing to improve their hand eye coordination skills as well. Both my son' s aged 6 and 4 years old enjoy this simple fun and I have to admit I do too. *****Tap Tap art***** Tap Tap art consists of a piece of cork board, some wooden shaped pieces, some bronze tacks and two hammers. These items put together make for some great fun! The cork board is a nice thick piece of cork that measures 24.5cms by 17.5cms. It is quite a robust piece of cork but as you would imagine with any cork it could be picked at if you let your child do so. The set includes a total of 126 pre drilled wooden pieces. The wooden pieces come in many different shapes and sizes and are all brightly coloured. Within the set the wooden pieces are either red, blue, green or yellow. Even though they are few colours that doesn't stop the creativity in making some great pictures. The wooden pieces rage in shape they are some long thin pieces, circles of different sizes, semi circles, squares, moons and much more. To attach these shapes to the cork board the set comes with some bronze tacks that fit nicely in the pre drilled holes and can be hammered into the board. The tacks are a little on the sharp side so your child does need to take care with them but both my boys have been absolutely fine with them. They hurt more when one is left upright on the floor and you stand on them! To hammer the tacks in the set comes with two small all wooden hammers. They are perfect size for you children's hand and perfect size for the small tacks. To help your children the set comes with 14 small cards of which have design ideas on them. All the pieces used in the design are within the set. On one side of the card is a coloured design so your child can copy exactly and on the other is a black and white design so your child with have to come up with the colour scheme themselves. And that is the set complete! *****Opinions ***** My eldest son who is nearly 6 years old loves this particular set it is simple yet fun and he can be creative with it. He instantly got the technique of tapping the tacks in carefully. He found it relatively easy to be fair. To begin with he used the designs provided to make the pictures but as he became more confident and learnt what pieces were available in the box he began making his own designs up. There are plenty of pieces to be really creative with it. The only problem I have with my son is he doesn't like taking things like this apart. He is the same with his Lego creations. We know have a folder on the computer of all the photos I have taken of all his creations that we have had to take apart! My younger son also likes to play with this set and I have found it has really brought his hand eye coordination skills along. His creativity maybe isn't on a par with my older son I just don't think he is a creative kind of guy but as the set includes designs he can have as much fun still. Copying the design does take my younger son quite a bit longer but he is very proud of himself when he has completed a whole design. He gets a lot of satisfaction out of it. Tapping the tacks through the pre drilled hole onto the cork was a little tricky for him to begin with but he has slowly improved his technique. I love the simplicity of this set and I love to see the enjoyment my boys get out of it. It is not something they play with all the time but every time we get it out they really enjoy it. I have to admit to having a go myself and it is quite enjoyable. When people visit the house and it is out I have seen them having a go with it too. My only disappointment with this set is the fact it comes with two hammers but only one piece of cork. The piece of cork is a good enough size for one creations but two children would struggle to share it, well my boys do anyway! It would have been good if two pieces of cork had been provided as there are plenty of wooden pieces and tacks to go round. That said I still love the set and would highly recommend it to others. *****Availability. ***** Tap Tap Art retails for around the £10 mark. It is currently available on Amazon for £7.99. I think that is a very fair price and your child would certainly get their money's worth out of it. Creative and fun what more could you want. I managed to get the set for my children at a local charity shop all complete for £2.50 and it was perfect condition. I feel like I have got a fantastic bargain.
In our house we have numerous Orchard Toys games. I love their range they are educational yet my children find them fun. Everything about them is appealing to a young child in their fun and bright appearance and the fact they are also learning along the way is a bonus for me. One particular game is quite simple yet helps your child with their counting is called Spotty Dogs. This particular game belongs to my youngest son who is four years old. The Orchard Toys Spotty dog game is recommended for children aged 3 years to 6 years old. The game is very simple but quite fun to play. The game comes in a small bright box with dogs on the front with their bones. The box is roughly 19.5cms by 14.5cms and 5cms in depth. It is a perfect sized box to store away and unlike many games on the market doesn't come in an oversized box for the contents! The games consists of a small rules book, a strong cardboard spinner with numbers up to six on it and 24 small rectangular cards. The cards are again made from strong cardboard like the spinner. On one side of the card is a lovely picture of a dog. There are many different types of dogs on the cards some are stood up and some are laid down. Each dog will have some spots or no spots at all on their back. The pictures of the dogs are appealing to the children and do make it fun. On the other side of the card is a red basket with a certain number of bones in it. There are either no bones at all, 1 bone, 2 bones or 3 bones in the basket. There are actually 6 cards of each combination. And that is all the game includes. The idea of the game is each player (a maximum of 4 players can play) spins the spinner and whatever number the spinner stops on your have to pick a card up with a dog that has that many spots on its back. Of course it can have as many as six spots on its back. When they have picked a card it is kept by their side till the end. If there are no cards with that number of spots on the next player goes until all the dog cards have been picked up. At the end each player turns the cards over they have collected and then count the dog bones up. The winner is the player with the most bones. Nice and simple. My youngest son is four but he struggles to keep his concentration with games and his little mind often wonders but with this game the simplicity keeps him in it. He loves trying to find the right dog with the right amount of spots on and I have noticed over time he has got the concept of counting the spots in his head rather than pointing to each one. The end of course is a task as we have to count the bones up and he can often end up with a good size number. But in the last couple of months we have really been working on his number skills and now he manages to do this alone which he finds a real achievement for himself. My older son is nearly six and he still enjoys joining in when I am playing this with his younger brother and from time to time they will sit nicely and play it together. My eldest son is getting a bit older now and prefers games with a bit more tactical play but those cute dogs just draw him in! I am really pleased with this game and it has certainly aided in helping my son with his counting and number matching. It does say it has been linked with National Curriculum Math Key Stage 1 which is the Key stage my son is in. I love the fact we can play this together and he finds it fun whilst I know it is helping him with his counting. I would recommend that this game is more suited to children who are learning to count rather than a bit older child that confidently counts. Orchard toys Spotty dogs retails at £7.50 and can be bought from numerous places. I would highly recommend the game and many of the other Orchard Toys games too. You can often pick it up a little cheaper Tesco and Amazon both currently has it for sale at £6. I managed to grab myself a bargain last year at a Nearly new sale and paid £1.50 for it.
Lego City range is fast becoming a firm favourite with my eldest son in our house. He still loves to come up with his own builds with our large collection of Lego bricks and loves using his imagination for it but he is fast becoming a fan of the City sets. The sets do contain quite a lot of small detail and can be quite fiddly so they do take time and concentration but my son loves the challenge they provide. The Lego City sets come in a range of sizes and can be collected. There are fire service sets, police sets, aeroplane sets etc to collect and build up and all which range in size and price of course! *****Lego City 4200 The mining 4 X 4***** This particular one my son has is on the small size it is number 4200 and is the Mining 4 X 4. It comes in a smallish cardboard box measuring 19.5cms by 14.5cms and 6cms in depth. The box contains the necessary bricks and little bits to build the vehicle and a 24 page step by step booklet to build it. All the pieces come in strong plastic wrap so when you first open the box there are no little bits flying everywhere! Unlike most of these Lego builds the vehicle when built does actually fit back into the box so can be kept safe when your child is not playing with it. This set contains a total of 102 pieces so as I have said is relatively small compared to some much larger ones my son has. It is recommended for ages 5 to 12 years although at 12 years old I think this set could be a little below their abilities. I personally would not buy it for a child over the age of 9 years. My son received this set when he was 5 years old. The set when built makes a lovely yellow 4 X 4 vehicle and comes with a miner minifigure and a small amount of accessories like dynamite with a timer, an explosive sign, a big gray rock that opens up to show it contains gold etc. The yellow 4 X 4 vehicle is an average sized vehicle for the City range. It measures roughly 10.5cms in length and 5cms in width and at its highest point is about 5cms. It is a nice size for children to handle along the floor when playing. The vehicle comes with some nice chunky black wheels, an open rear with a storage container attached to it, both doors of the cab open and there are hooks either side of the vehicle for tools to attach too. *****The build***** The booklet provided to help your child build the mining 4 X 4 is nice easy step by step guide. My son aged 5 years old found it easy enough to follow alone. The booklet begins with the small bits to put together like the minifigure, sign, rock etc. Once these accessories have been assembled they can be put aside. These lovely bits and pieces will aid your child in play later on. The booklet then moves onto the building of the main product in this set the 4 X 4. It begins with the main bottom body of the vehicle and slowly moves on. The sets does move on nice and slowly and each step only contains a couple of pieces being added so I don't think your child would feel too confused. Altogether there are a total of 23 steps to complete the vehicle. Once completed your child will have a really good quality strong vehicle with plenty of accessories to go with it too. The first time my son completed this set he managed to build it all by himself and was very pleased with himself. He followed the instructions to the tee and produced the vehicle pictured on the box. It left him with a feeling of satisfaction he had built it himself. I was very surprised how little time it took him to complete it and he didn't come across any parts he found difficult. Since the first time he built it he has taken it apart twice and rebuilt it. *****Our opinions***** Although my son does play with the vehicle a little and enjoys blowing things up with his dynamite it is the construction side he enjoys the most with this set. But then my son is like this with most of his City sets. The set is small but then you would guess that when buying it as the price you pay for it. I was particularly happy with the accessories you got with the vehicle and really feel they can enhance the play opportunities of the set and playing with it alone rather than having to add it too something else. Both me and my son are pleased and not surprised by the quality of this product by Lego. The vehicle feels very stable and all the pieces are well made and connect together very tightly. The wheels on the vehicle are really good and my sons love to whizz it across the wooden floor. *****Availability***** The set is widely available and retails at £7.99. I think for what you get this is a reasonable price. As always with Lego you pay that little bit more for better quality and once again you get that with this set. It is available from Tesco, Amazon etc. I would happily buy this as a present and feel the child would get plenty of enjoyment out of building it.
Playmobil is a well loved brand in our house. The detail of the products provides my children the tools to create some great imaginary worlds. My two boys have several sets all of which they love and play with often. One in particular that my youngest son and myself like is the 'Take along Modern Dolls house' although we reframe from calling it a dolls house! It is just as it describes on the box it is a house that can be taken on the move. Unlike many of the wonderful Playmobil sets this particular one is compact and easy to move. **The Playmobil 5167** The Playmobil take along house is a small compact house that although is relatively small still gives plenty of play. The house comes ready assembled (a fantastic bonus with Playmobil!) in a cardboard box that is just big enough to slide the house in and out off. The house itself when closed up measures 26cms in width, 25cms in height (to the top of the roof not including the handle on top) and 24cms in width. This then opens out in half with two rooms either side one upstairs and one downstairs. So the house has four rooms altogether. Along with the house there are also three Playmobil people, two dogs and over 75 accessories. Some of the accessories do require assembly but that is very limited and very easy. After opening all the sealed bags and tackling the small assembly and stickers it will take you about 15 minutes. The house itself is a bright looking modern day house, one that wouldn't look out of place on one of these new build estates. It has two dormer style windows in the roof on one side and one on the other. All three of which are just cosmetic. Apart from the house opening up there are no exterior moving parts. On the side of the house is a small red catch that is easily lifted up to open the house out. As the house opens out four rooms inside are revealed. All the rooms are equal in size and already decorated on the walls to determine which are which. On one side we have the living room and the bathroom above and on the other are the kitchen and the bedroom above. The bedroom and living room decoration on the walls gives it mood lighting style and makes the rooms feel warm. Whereas the other two look practical. Although this house is described as a dolls house I feel it is very much unisex and both my son's are very happy to play with it. **The accessories** As with all Playmobil products this house isn't light on accessories. There is plenty included to make it great fun for your child. The living room is kitted out with chairs, coffee table, sound system, television and other little accessories too. The bathroom has a bath, sink and toilet which comes with a toilet roll dispenser. The bedroom comes with two single beds, a cot and bedside tables. And last the kitchen is fully equipped with a cooker, sink, big fridge/freezer, table and chairs and a highchair for baby. Along with all of this furniture there are also full accessories for the kitchen pots, pans, plates, food etc and each room has relevant accessories. The detail in the accessories is fantastic and although some of the pieces are extremely small the quality is not lost in them. As some of the things are very small I would recommend you stick by the recommended age range of four years plus. Many of the furniture pieces have doors or drawers to open so you can store the tiny accessories in them. **Our thoughts** We have had this Playmobil house for over six months and from the moment my youngest son opened it he was raring to go. He eagerly awaited as I opened all the little bags of accessories and as quick as I was getting them ready he was stocking his house. I was amazed by the amount of bits you got with this small house. This house is great for developing your child's imagination as the ideas are endless with it. My youngest son is four years old and loves it but even my nearly six year old son enjoys setting it up and playing houses. I don't think I can think of anything they have missed out from this compact house. As the house is quite small I do find the boys prefer to play with it on the table as they get neck ache bending down to it but a lot of their sets they do this with. Occasionally they do play together with it but I find they prefer to play alone with this particular set. I feel it is more of a one child house. On opening the box and pulling the house out I was surprised by how light it felt. Although the house feels light to lift it has a really good quality sturdy feel about it. All the pieces included in this set are the fantastic quality you would expect from Playmobil. After six months of play it is still in fantastic quality. All of the Playmobil sets we have, have kept very nicely. I think this is down to the great quality of the products and also the respect my children have for the sets. The added bonus about this set compared to many other Playmobil sets is that it is compact and everything can be packed into itself. This house can be taken on the move and we have done just that. The small carry handle is a nice size and is big enough for an adult to hold. We tend to put the house back in the cardboard box it came in to just give it that bit of extra protection. But Playmobil have cleverly left a small hole in the top of the box so you can get hold of the carry handle. The only negative about taking it on the move is you have to make sure all the tiny bits are collected up and you don't leave a trail of Playmobil bits at family's houses! Not only is it great to take on the move because it is compact, being compact means it is great to store away in toy cupboards too. **Availability** The Playmobil 5167 Take along Modern Dolls house is available to buy for various places. It retails at £39.99 and can be bought directly from the Playmobil website. It is available from Amazon, Toys R Us and Play.com. For basically £40 I think you get an excellent toy which you are definitely going to get your money's worth out of it. In six months it has provided plenty of play for both my son's. I was very lucky to get my son's for a bargain price of £25 and I really could not be happier. If you are after a detailed yet compact unisex dolls house then I would point you along to this toy. Yet again Playmobil have not failed to deliver.
Toy Story fleece blanket Whilst preparing for winter last October I came across this lovely Toy Story blanket in my local Savers store for a great price of £2.99. Previously my two son's had been sharing a Peppa Pig George blanket to snuggle down on the couch with on a evening. So they were in a need of another one as they are getting bigger. The Toy story fleece is made by Character world and can be found in many stores or online at Amazon. It retails at £8.99 which I think is a bit steep as it is quite a light blanket. But at £2.99 I felt I had got a bargain. The fleece is made from 100% polyester and is very soft to the touch. I was very surprised how soft it actually is. Since buying it, it has been washed several times on a low heat and has washed nicely, compared to the slightly older George Pig blanket that has ended up very bobbley quickly. After a few months of use and washing it, it still feels very soft. The blanket is of a reasonable size measuring roughly 120cms by 150cms. My eldest son aged nearly six years old has claimed it and there is plenty of blanket to cover him even folded. On occasions I have used the blanket myself and for a blanket to cover you whilst sitting on the couch there is plenty there. The fleece blanket isn't that thick but yet it seems to keep you quite warm. For the purpose I bought it for I say the thickness is just about right. If you were wanting to use it on a bed I would say it would do as like a dress blanket but its lightness wouldn't keep your child that warm alone. The design of the blanket is a bit different to many children's blankets you can buy. Instead of one main large picture printed on it, it is made up of a printed pattern of familiar characters from Toy Story. The main colour of the blanket is nice dark blue with different coloured patterned pictures on it. The orange face of Mr Pig and the lime green of the alien's faces brighten the dark back colour up. My son loves the style of the blanket as he thinks it is more grown up then previous blankets. As well as being used on the couch or for some people the bed we also take ours out on the move in the car. It would also make a nice light blanket for the pushchair too. The boys do a fair bit of travelling in the car and like their blankets to feel more snuggley on a longish trip. We have all been very happy with this stylish, fun, warm blanket and would recommend it for casual use.
The Ikea Bekvam Step stool has been in residence in our house for a few years now and is still going strong. Recently it became a project for the children which I will explain later. But this solid wood step stool has been a very useful stool in our household that is favoured by all and really has been great value we have certainly got our money's worth out of it. *****The Bekvam step stool***** The stool is made from solid beech and on initial inspection you can tell it is a well made product that looks like it will last. It is a two step stool with narrow bottom step and larger top platform step above. The top step has a nice size hand hole slot to make carrying it easier. The step stool is quite a bulky product when assembled so you may need to take this into consideration. It doesn't fold which does give it a more sturdy solid feeling but can make it difficult for storage. The product does come flat packed so does require a bit of assembling. As I have mentioned we have had the stool a few years now so trying to think back I don't think it caused too many problems for my boyfriend! He recently dismantled it for the children's project and managed to re-assemble it easily without any instructions. Once assembled the step stool measures roughly 42.5cms at its widest point which is the bottom step, 38cms in depth and 48cms in height. The bottom step is narrower than the top at 42.5cms across but only 13cms in depth. Whereas the top step is 38cms across but 25cms in depth making it a good size platform. With the natural wood finish and the chunky style wood it looks a nice looking step stool that I personally think would fit into any room. The wood is good quality beech wood and the pieces that make up the step stool are nice thick chunky pieces. *****The Bekvam uses***** Over the couple of years we have had the stool we have found many uses for this fantastic sturdy step stool. It always comes in handy. It is very handy for me as it has a good height to help getting to the top of the kitchen cupboards. Being only 5 foot 3 and my boyfriend 6 foot 3 I tend to struggle reaching things he has put away! The stool is very sturdy and I feel very safe that it will hold my 8 and half stone weight without wobbling over. It has come in very handy as an extra seat at the table. When my youngest son moved from the high chair to a normal dining chair we had a lot of trouble with him messing around and swinging on the chair so we sat him on the stool. As it doesn't have a back on it he realised he couldn't mess on and it and his behaviour at the table improved instantly. He does now sit on a chair but if we have extra people round for tea we have the stool as an extra seat. In the summer months the stool is often taken outside and used as steps to get onto the trampoline. As the stool is strong and sturdy I am happy for the boys to use it and know it will be safe for them. The children also use it as a stool to stand on in the kitchen when watching their daddy cook or helping with the baking. It is easier to move about than a dining chair and helps them reach up to the height of the worktop. They also use it for brushing their teeth in the bathroom. The children in the past have also used it as a little seat and table all in one. When they were a little bit younger they could sit their bottom on the bottom step and use the top platform as a little mini table to eat at or draw at. I have to admit at four and five and a half years old they are getting a bit too big to do this anymore. Another use I don't personally use it for but my younger sister does is as a mounting block. She often calls ours a mounting block instead of a stool. She says at the local stables she goes to they have several as mounting blocks and they work well. So as you can see we get plenty of use out of our Bekvam step stool from Ikea. *****The Bekvam project***** As we have had our stool for several years I have to admit it was looking a little bit on the grubby side. It can be wiped down which I did often but with two little boys things never quite look the same. The stool has basically become my son's stool so we came up with the idea of the boys decorating the stool with their paint and then varnishing it to protect it. The once lovely solid wood finish now has a new take on it a children's step stool! Their dad dismantled the stool which he made look easy and sanded the stool down to get rid of any marks and then reassembled it quite quickly. Then the boys went to town on it painting it with their normal poster paints. Once it was dry we let them doodle on it with permanent markers. It was then varnished with clear varnish and after two coats to protect it; it looks like a new step stool! The boys had a lot of fun doing this and the stool still works just the same as before. *****Our Thoughts***** When we first bought it I was a bit dubious as it is quite a bulky stool and we are quite limited for space in the house. But it didn't take long for the step stool to grow on me. It fitted into our lifestyle maybe not our house easily. As I have mentioned all the things we use the step stool for it really is a multipurpose item and the space it takes up I can put up with. It never stays in one spot for long is always on the move! I liked the original look for the stool with the natural wood it fitted nicely into our cottage and would look good in any house. Now it has had a makeover it does look unique and is definitely a child's stool! Yet somehow it fits into our quirky little cottage. I often use the stool for reaching things especially in the kitchen and for sitting on at the computer although I have to say it isn't over comfy to sit on for long periods of time. The boys love the stool and often fight over who is having it. Although it is solid wood it isn't too heavy and both my son's manage to drag it round the house. I have even found it upstairs in their room on the odd occasion when they are trying to reach something. My eldest son often uses it as a little table to sit at to do some drawing which he is mad on. It nicely fits a sheet of A4 paper landscape way. They are always finding new uses for the stool that they now call their own. When we bought this step stool I didn't realise how useful it would become and the value for money is fantastic. Ikea have come up trumps with this product in my eyes and I would highly recommend it to anyone. *****Availability***** The Bekvam Step stool is available at Ikea priced at £11. I think for £11 I got a real bargain with such a good quality product. The stool is now available in a black finish or white finish now too. The two finishes are more expensive both costing £14 instead of the plain wood finish costing £11. You can buy the product from the likes of Amazon but it will cost you quite a bit more for the same Ikea product.
Monster surgery by Spears Games is a take on the popular game Operation. It has the same feel and idea behind it and although the quality and size doesn't match that of Operation it can still provides some fun. A simple game which of trying to operate on the monster without making him shake is the idea of the game. As a child I remember the game operation it was a game that used to infuriate me I hated it getting the better of me. A steady hand is the name of the game. Monster Surgery is quite a small basic game. We have been bought this game twice for my son's aged 5 ½ and 4 years old and even after it was bought a second time it still didn't encourage my children to play with it more. As soon as I opened the large cardboard box measuring 33.5cms by 26cms and 7.5cms in depth I was instantly disappointed and so were my son's too. The actually game measures 24.5cms by 17.5cms and 3cms in depth. The box itself was packed out with cardboard. The size of this game makes it perfect for sitting on your knee but not that brilliant for the recommended 2 to 4 players! When set up on a table it feels like you are sat round a postage stamp! The green man monster isn't too scary for young children and has a slight comical look to it. Within his body are 11 different shaped holes with a small depth of about 1cm. To put in the 11 different shaped holes are 11 different shaped very thin items that loosely fit in the correct holes. Like the game itself the lose items are very small and can be a bit fiddly. The tweezers that are attached to the game by a small thin wire are then to be used to get the pieces out. But to make it difficult with the help of 2 AA batteries the monster shakes when the tweezers touch the metal bottom of the holes. To decide which piece you are to try and tackle in removing it there is an arrow dial you flick and twist with the pictures of the miniature pieces. Whichever the arrow ends pointing to you have to try and remove. I think having the dial attached to the game is handy. The game itself is fairly simple and was one both my boys picked the concept up pretty quickly. What they didn't like about it bearing in mind neither of them had ever seen operation so couldn't compare like me was the size of the game and the rather weird shake it would give when the tweezers touched the metal bottom. Instead of a shake it was more like a violent quick shudder. My youngest son tired of it quite quickly as he didn't like the shudder motion and my eldest son wasn't long after. It different provide quite the fun I first thought it might. Everything about this game is on the small side and that disappointed me a little. Since that first game both of my boys rarely bother with it and when they do they general just play alone. Me and the boyfriend have played it a couple of times but just like Operation I get frustrated with it. For me it is the shudder that gets me I would much prefer a buzz concept like operation. Even though the game is quite small as I keep mentioning it is quite neat and compact. At the top is a small pull out draw that houses the loose miniature pieces which I find handy as then they don't get lost. I like this redeeming feature of it and of course the dial that is at the top of the plastic board. The game is available from Tesco's priced at £5 which I do think is a fair price. I guess with this game you do get what you pay for and you are not getting a bargain. If you can put up with the strange shudder and the size of it then I would recommend this game, not really for us though. Recommended at age 4 years and above I would definitely say stick to this and maybe even older.
The Bigjigs Rail BJT441 Heritage collection Duchess of Hamilton is one of three Bigjigs heritage trains my five year old son owns. He is a big fan of old trains and the railway. It was on a visit to the National Railway museum in York that he saw the Duchess of Hamilton with his daddy. The Mallard in its striking blue is actually my son's favourite and it was the Duchess of Hamilton that caught his daddy's eye in the beautiful red. Of course as daddy liked this one my son had to have it for his wooden train tracks so the Mallard and the Duchess could travel the tracks together. The Bigjigs Duchess of Hamilton is a wooden replica of the real thing. The train is made up of two play parts with the main train itself measuring roughly 13cms in length. It is a perfect size for a wooden track and my son finds it is easy to push along the track. At the end of the train is a magnetic coupling to attach the small fire box which also has a magnetic coupling allowing your child to attach further trains, carriages etc to the back of it. This Bigjigs train like all in the range is compatible with most leading wooden railway sets. This replica is made to a very high standard with good quality wood. The train is fitted with steering wheels making it perfect for pulling many carriages along the wooden track. It pushes along the track straight and smoothly of which my son finds easy. The detail on the train itself is fantastic. It carries the stunning red and the gold lining beautifully. The train carries her own name and her own number 6229. As the Duchess did in her prime this replica carries quality and sat on the pale colour of the wooden tracks it really stands out. The train itself runs very smoothly on the wooden tracks my son has. He is able to attach many other wagons from different sets to it. From the moment we bought my son this Bigjigs train he loved it. Along with the Mallard from the same heritage set he gets a lot of enjoyment out of his trains. He really looks after this train and after 2 years it is still in fantastic condition. It is wooden so it could have a tendency to chip if you are not careful with it but this is one item my son is extremely careful with. Although this is a simple piece it has provided my son with hours of fun and really added class to his train set. Priced at £10.99 on Amazon or directly from the Bigjigs website I think you are getting a very well priced train. Bigjigs are enabling you to have a bit of heritage and class to your childs wooden train set. I am very pleased with this train along with the others we have from this range. Good quality item for a very decent price.
My youngest son aged four has recently discovered the world of the Nintendo DS. My eldest son who is five and a half has had a DS for over 2 years now but my youngest has never seemed interesting in it till he realised there was a Peppa Pig game for it. How did he miss this it was my eldest son's favourite at one time. He is now hooked to the simple delights of Peppa Pig world on the DS. The fact the game is extremely simple and he can work it out for himself is something he probably likes. He has always struggled with his development and is about a year behind his peers. So the world Peppa creates on the DS is one he can lose himself in. *****The Game***** This particular game is actually the second Peppa Pig game released but we don't own the first but that doesn't matter. This game has a total of ten games plus a bonus dressing up game too. All the games are very simple and only really last a few minutes. On first setting the game up you can have a few users simply typing in your name. Once you have clicked on your name each time it takes you to your saved game. Then the first screen is of four areas of which you can play. The first is the bonus game of dressing up then the other ten games are split across the other three screens. The ten games included on this DS game are: Feeding the ducks with Peppa: Using the stylus you tear chunks off the slice of bread Peppa is holding and throw it into the pond. And you watch the ducks eating it. Picking Apples: Help Peppa collect the apples by using the stylus to put them in her basket. As well you need to help George pick the rotten apples up in his bucket for the compost heap. Watering the flowers: Use the watering can to water the seeds and watch the flowers grow. Watch the snails though they are trying to eat the flowers. Making a picture: Using the different shapes below use the stylus to move them above and make a picture. Bursting Balloons: Using the stylus tap the balloons to burst them and find Peppa and George underneath them. The balloons keep coming back so make sure you keep bursting them. Decorate the Cupcakes: Help Peppa and George decorate the cupcakes by sliding the toppers from below onto them. This game is very similar to the making a picture game. Blowing out the Birthday Cake: Help blow out Rebecca rabbit's birthday cake by tapping the flame on the candle or blowing into the microphone but be quick before they relight. Popping bubbles with daddy pig: Tap the bubbles Daddy pig is blowing out in the garden for Peppa and George. Again this game is very similar to the bursting balloons game. Clean the bike: Using the sponge clean the dirty bike and then spray it with water to wash the bubbles off. The Rocket game: Using the stylus steer the rocket through space to the moon but mind the flying bits of rocks and spaceships. The bonus game is a dressing up game with Peppa: You can change her outfits, hat and shoes and dress her how you like then take a picture. The pictures you take are stored in an album for you to look back through. Once the album is full you can go back through the pictures and delete them by clicking the rubbish bin icon. *****Our Opinions***** From the moment my son switched this game on he has been able to navigate around it alone which for him is a special achievement. He loves the fact he can be independent with this very simple game. Everything about it is nice and simple and follows suit. Getting back to the menu screen from any part of the game is easy as you click the little door icon in the bottom corner and this is in the same place throughout the game. The cosmetics of the game are very much like the television programme brightly coloured, bold and fairly simple. The game mainly consists around Peppa and George and only features a couple of characters in some of the games. That said this game would appeal to any young Peppa fan. And let's be honest most children who are interesting in Peppa are fairly young. Playing throughout the games is the Peppa Pig theme tune. Thankfully the DS comes a volume control as after a while this can get a little annoying! The voice over from the show also does the voice over for this game simply explaining the idea for the game at the beginning of each one. When my eldest son used to love this game (now five he says it is too babyish) he loved the rocket game. For him it seemed to have more about it. For him at three years old it resembled more of an actual game to play as you navigate the rocket past flying things. It took him a few attempts to get the control of the rocket with his stylus but he had soon mastered it and since then he has liked playing more complex DS games on his DS. As my younger son is quite young for his age he likes the repetitive games on this DS game. He particularly likes the bursting balloons game and gets excited by the noise of the popping sound the balloons make when they pop. He also really likes the bonus game of dressing Peppa up and the innocent laughter as he dresses her in some odd combinations is lovely to hear. My son has struggled with the grasp of his pencil for some time now and the idea of being steady and gentle. Using the stylus on this simple game has really brought him along. He has slowly got the action of being slow and steady and now uses this skill when using a pencil to paper. Being able to do this simple game alone has also helped his confidence which since starting school in September has been knocked a little. For my older son he grew out of this game quite quickly as the games are very simple and don't last very long. He craved something a bit more complex and something that lasted a bit longer. I would personally recommend this game for DS starters and quite young children. Obviously my younger son is an exception in this. *****Availability***** This game is available for around £13 on Amazon. I think this is a good price for the game as I don't think it will last most children that long. I would only recommend for true Peppa Pig fans as if your child isn't that fussed by Peppa they may get bored. I have loved the change this has brought my younger son. He has also tried other DS games but it is the simplicity that makes this his favourite.
Mouse Drop is not a game I had come across till my youngest son received it for his birthday in the summer and since I haven't really come across it again. It is a wonderful fun simple game that children and adults can enjoy together. Since my son received it in August it really has become a family favourite. The game Mouse Drop is a bit of a take on the game Kerplunk. It has a similar feel and look about it. Mouse drop is made up of a large tall yellow plastic tower which is shaped to look like layers of cheese with holes in the side. Thin coloured plastic straws are feed right through the tower through the holes to stop the mice from falling straight through. The game includes 24 small purple mice that have a long curled hooking tail on them, making them great to attach to the straws. The top of the plastic cheese tower is made up of attachable triangle cheese that you fill with the mice and attach to the top of the tower and slide back the underneath cover allowing the mice to drop into the tower. The whole game is made quite simple. The cheese tower does come in two parts for storage. The plastic is relatively strong but I could see if a lot of pressure was added to it, it would probably crack. So far our game is still in excellent condition. How to play the game Once the game is set up which will only take a few minutes and the order of players is decided (with up to 4 players) you crack on with the game. You take it in turns to pull a straw out of the cheese tower. You do have to start with the straws in the top layer and work your way down through the game. If some of the mice drop down to the bottom of the tower onto the floor on your turn you must collect them and keep them to one side. Once all the straws have been pulled out the game is over. Then you must count up how many mice you ended up with and the one with the least mice is the winner. Very simple, fun game. Our opinions Both my son's aged four and five and a half love this game and so do I too. Setting the game up is quite easy although to begin with they did need a little assistance especially with the concept of the attachable cheese container on the top but after a few goes they got the hang of it. Sliding the straws through the holes is easy enough and the boys soon got the hang of the fact you need to spread the straws out throughout the cheese tower! The game requires a little bit of logically thinking as to which straw to pull out but at the end of the day it is mainly down to luck which my boys really like as they can relax with the game. At the end of the game we have a counting up session which I encourage my boys to do alone. The noises of excitement and joy throughout the game from my children are enlightening and really make me smile. I love how simple the game is and as an adult I really enjoy playing it with my children. Availability I would buy this game for children as a present and would feel quite confident they would enjoy it as much. My only down side is the availability of the game. I have seen it is available from Smyths toy store and that is pretty much it. It costs £4.99 which I think for such a lovely game is a great price. It maybe isn't the most well made game available but the amount of joy it has provided my son's with is enough. Amazon also has it for sale on their site but with postage cost added on you are looking at over £10 for the game.
Scales a basic piece of kitchen equipment yet essential. The variety of scales on the market is vast. But down to basics you can either get digital kitchen scales or mechanically kitchen scales. Over the last 6 years we have tried both types but have reverted back to digital scales. We currently own Argos colour match digital kitchen scales and have done for a few months now. The scales are part of Argos great value colour match range. They have sixteen different colours some pastel shades some very bright and have numerous home products in the particular colours to match around your home. Not only that but they are great value products which you could afford on a budget. This simple designed digital scale is perfect for your kitchen at home. The scales have an LED display screen and a function button either side of the screen. The left touch button is for on and off and the right function button is to change the unit. The scales can be changed to measure grams, pounds and ounces, millilitres and fluid ounces. Changing through these units is as easy as taping the button till you get to the one you need to use. The scales them self measure roughly 18cms by 20cms and are quite thin they really are compact scales and they fit nicely on top of my trays in the drawer. The scales will hold a maximum weight of 5KG which I feel for what I use scales for is plenty. These particular scales come in six colours from the colour match range and they are jet black, poppy red, tutti fruitti green, bubblegum pink, jellybean blue and apple green. We opted for the apple green and I think the vibrant green colour is brilliant and bright. I would really recommend it to brighten your kitchen up. So far these scales have been excellent I couldn't have asked for more and the fact they measure in imperial and metric is great. I also like the fact they measure liquid too. They are very easy to use and whether it is a bowl or jug you want to put on top of them it doesn't matter. It is quick to weigh to the nearest gram etc and doesn't take long to settle at a weight like some previous scales we have had. The display screen is a decent size and the numbers are large and bold making it easy to read. The glass finish to the top of the scales means wiping them clean is very easier and as the function buttons are touch screen there are no gaps to collect dirt. I particular like this I hate areas were bits can get into. The best function of all with these scales is the add on weight feature. If I have a bowl and add flour in grams then I can zero it change it fluid ounces and add liquid. Fewer pots are needed so that is always good in my eyes! Now the price of these scales are the added bonus costing a grand total of £9.99. Which I think is fantastic. Of course you can only buy them from Argos but with these scales you certainly get value for money. The only trouble is when these eventually see the end of days I will need ones that measure liquid as well as I have got so used to being able to do this now.
We came across the Junior Scrabble giant floor puzzle in a local charity shop and it wasn't till we got it home we realised what a real gem we had picked up. I am always on the lookout for fun games that have an educational side to them as well. My eldest son is five years old and at the moment he really enjoys doing jigsaw puzzles. When he saw this on the shelf of a charity shop he wanted it. With only 49 pieces I did think it wasn't really a challenge but at 99 pence I gave into him! The Junior Scrabble puzzle is much more than the puzzle I first thought it to be. Not only is it a fun large floor 49 piece jigsaw it has extra activities to do after to keep your child entertained for longer and help educationally with their learning of words. The puzzle itself is roughly 50cms squared so isn't too big for a young child to handle. The jigsaw looks like a junior scrabble board with the blue background and then the yellow tiles making words up joined on to one another. Alongside the words are small pictures of the word. The jigsaw is bright and colourful and not too over crowded for the eye. My son soon had the puzzle put together quickly but then at 5 and half years old you would expect him to make a 49 piece jigsaw look easy. The words in the puzzle are good easy everyday items that your child will come across again and again at home and in their school life. Words like cake, giraffe, sea, chicken etc are used. The great thing about this puzzle is the extra activities that are included in this jigsaw puzzle. When the puzzle is complete you can see some of the words have letters missing and a square is left blank yellow. Included in the box is 26 letters one each from the alphabet and the idea is for child to put the letters onto the correct squares. The letters are on little cardboard square tiles like you would find in junior scrabble. This was where my son found the puzzle more challenging and to begin with he struggled to find an easy way to sort the problem. To begin with he was picking a letter tile up and trying to find where it went until I explained it would be easier if he looked at the puzzle and a word with a letter missing and try and work out what letter that was. Once he got this concept he was on a role. My only personal negative about this puzzle is on the back of the letter tile is the picture of the word it goes with. To me this was a bit disappointing as my son could cheat if he wanted. I know the picture is there to aid children when they are stuck but for my son I felt it took the fun away a little. So for him I had to keep my eyes on him to make sure he didn't turn the tiles over! As well as this great activity which my son always enjoys doing every time he does the puzzle there are also two further activities for your child to do on the back of the jigsaw box. The first activity is pairs. There are seven pairs of words that go together they give you the first one and your child has to find the other six within the jigsaw. The first is sun and moon. The second activity is living things. It asked for your child to name ten things on the board that are living things. The answers to both activities are on the bottom of the box. My son enjoyed doing these puzzles too but once he had done them once he wasn't really interested in doing them again. I am amazed by how something so simple can provide so much fun for my son. I love the fact he enjoys it and is learning at the same time. The puzzle is recommended for children 4 years plus and to be honest I would say for them to get the whole benefits out of it I would say this about right. To get the full benefits out of the puzzle your child should be able to recognise and sound out letters and forming words with them. Me and my son have had so much fun with this puzzle and it currently stands as his favourite game at the moment! Replacing the missing letters is getting him to spell words out and trying to sound for the missing letter. As you know this can sometimes be difficult with our English language something all children come to learn! I can't believe we managed to pick this up for a bargain price of 99 pence second hand. It retails at £12.99 but can be found cheaper if you look around. Debenhams currently have it for sale at £9.60, Amazon and Tesco's are selling it for £7.99. For that price I really feel it is worth the money. Gone is the day the jigsaw puzzle is put together and it's done this jigsaw provides so much more than that.
Ambi Toy's Fishing Boat. The latest bath toy in our house is the Ambi Toy's Fishing boat. We bought it for my son's fourth birthday three months ago and although I was a little reluctant at the time due to price I am very pleased with this fun bath toy and both my son's aged four and five and a half years old are too. Not only is a boat that floats on top of the bath water with a man steering the boat but it is a fun bath game too with fishing keeping your little one's occupied for some time. *****What the boat includes***** The great thing about this boat is all the extras fit into the boat itself so there is no need to find extra storage for bits and no fear of losing bits either. The boat comes with a bulky non-detailed man, a steering wheel that also doubles as a life ring, two masts one either side which are also the fishing rods and nine flat fish that can be stored inside the boat at the back in a small lift up bit. The boat itself is large and chunky and sits in pride of place on the edge of the bath near the taps. The boat is made up of four colours red, blue, yellow and white making it a perfect unisex boat. I love the simple colours of the boat. The whole feel of the boat reaps in good quality strong plastic. There is nothing flimsy about this product and I can see it all lasting for a long time to come. The man and life ring are quite plain but nice and bulky for a young child to hold on too. One word to describe this boat would be chunky. *****The fishing game***** As well as a nice chunky boat with a man and life ring to play with the boat also comes with a fun game to keep your little ones occupied in the bath and sitting down rather than insisting on stand up all the time. The boat comes with nine flat fish made from strong plastic. The eye of the fish is a large hole that your child uses to hook them onto the fishing rod. There are three of each colour, red, blue and yellow and the fish's measure roughly 7cms in length so are not too big. The two rods which slot into holes either side of the boat are red plastic rods with a small length of thick string with a red hook on the end to hook the fish. The fish float on the bath water and the challenge is for your child to fish them out. *****My boys thoughts***** From the moment my son opened his bath boat he was desperate to try it out in the bath and so too was his older brother. He instantly grasped the idea you used the rods to fish the fish out of the water. To begin with the boat aspect didn't matter and I could have easily got away with a fishing rod and some small fish but as time has gone on his games have included the boat and fetching the fish into the boat and the man in his life ring. My older son loves playing some imaginative games with the boat. Both of my son struggled to begin with the fishing the fish out and I have to say after trying it can be a little tricky at time but it is possible and the boys have great fun trying. The nice thing is it comes with two rods so more than one child can have a go. My boys rarely bath together now they prefer to have separate ones as they like to spread out but from time to time they still do and this boat is always the number one bath toy they have out. *****An adults opinion***** I love the game aspect of this bath toy as it is great for my children's dexterity especially my youngest as this is an area he still struggles with, with his development being about a year behind. Before this toy my youngest insisted on stand up all the time not getting much of a soak in the bath but now he is so busy fishing he doesn't have time to stand up. It is very rare now for him to have a bath without the boat. And as for my eldest son he gets as much fun out of it too. Now looking at it you would think it would be too babyish for a near six year old but when it comes to playing in the bath it is perfect. I also like the fact the fish come in three colours in packs of three. It is good for my youngest to sort things out by colour. The boat comes apart easily so it is easy to keep clean and leave apart for it to dry off. I am very impressed with the quality of this product *****The price***** For a bath toy this is on the expensive side and I for one have in the past been reluctant to pay too much on a bath toy but I have been converted now. I prefer the boys to have one or two good quality bath toys rather than a load of cheap rubbish one that only last a few months. The boat retails at £14.99 which at the time thought was a lot for a bath toy but when you get to see the quality and entertainment this boat provides you realise it is worth every penny. I managed to get it for £10 which now seems a bargain. Amazon currently (Nov 2013) have it for sale at £12.81. I personally feel this toy should be on ever parent of a young child's list of things to get them for Christmas.
Bob the builder Scrambler to the rescue. Having younger siblings I remember Bob the Builder very well from my years at home growing up. First aired in 1998 all three of my younger siblings enjoyed an episode or two of Bob the Builder, especially my brother who was born in 1995. I now have two son's aged five and a half and four years old. My eldest was never that fussed by Bob and the gang but my younger son has enjoyed a fair few episodes over the last year or two. For my son's fourth birthday he was bought two Bob the Builder DVD's. This particular one is Bob the Builder Scrambler to the Rescue! *****Bob and the DVD***** 'Bob the builder Scrambler to the Rescue!' is about an hour long DVD with the feature story Scrambler to the rescue and another three episodes too. The DVD does mainly focus on the character of Scrambler but many of the other characters feature in the stories too. Bob of course is in all the episodes. Scrambler is dark blue quad bike who has a bit of a mischievous side to him. He is an eager little character who always wants to be on the go. Sometimes he needs to slow down and think first. Although Scrambler wasn't my son's favourite character in Bob the Builder he still really enjoyed the DVD the first time he watched it. And since has watched it a few times. Each episode begins with the famous Bob the Builder tune it is a fantastic song I think most children and adults know! Both my boys love the song and know most of the words to it. I have to admit to doing so too! The animation in Bob the Builder is lovely and crisp and enticing to any children there is always plenty going on in an episode to keep your child entertained and good moral behind the story too. *****Feature episode***** The feature episode to this DVD is Scrambler to the rescue. This particular episode lasts around twenty minutes long. Bob and the gang are building a hall for the Sunflower party. Bob's mum and dad (called Robert and Dot) are coming to the party and as a surprise for Bob they have renovated and got running R-Vee the old building van. There is great excitement around the place as they prepare for the party. The weather is turning cold and snow starts to fall. Overnight lots of snow lay and there is worry about the upcoming party. Scoop is in the mountains with Bob's mum and dad and can't get through. They need Scoop to clear all the surrounding roads with the snow plough. Without him the party won't go ahead. Scrambler is eager to help but Bob is reluctant. Zoomer is sent on a mission to get the snow plough to Scoop in the mountains but he doesn't know the way so eager Scrambler is allowed to go along to show the way. But as Zoomer and Scrambler show off and compete against one another time is wasting away. They need to work together if they are to succeed and reach Scoop. My son really loves this episode out of them all. The winter setting is lovely and with Scrambler as the main character there is definitely a lot of action! Zoomer and Scrambler are fun, hyper young characters that add great excitement to the story which my son enjoys. At the end of the episode there is a lovely catchy song that includes all the characters. The song really fits the episode and as my son is quite musical and loves singing he enjoyed this a lot. *****Other episodes***** The rest of the DVD is made up of a further three episodes which are as follows: Scrambler in the doghouse Scrambler and the colourful cave Slow down Scrambler So as you can see all the episodes feature around the little blue quad guy. *****Overall***** Bob the Builder DVDs can be picked up in lots of different places. Our local works sell plenty of them. Currently (Oct 2013) Play.com sells this particular DVD for £1.50 which I think is a real bargain. Even if your child isn't familiar with Bob and the gang I am sure they will enjoy it. My eldest has enjoyed watching this particular one from time to time even though he insists he will only watch Scooby Doo. With plenty of action and some nice songs it is a lovely DVD.