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I some was under the impression that my son would avoid head lice as he has short hair and I read somewhere that head lice are repelled by red hair and my son does have strands of red in his hair. My son started rubbing his head on the Saturday but he had a sky high temperature so assumed it was sweating. When his temperature started returning to normal and he was continuing to rub his head I knew he needed checking for nits. I found literally hundreds in his hair. This was bank holiday Monday with a five year old child who was still poorly so we went to Sainsbury's as it seemed the easiest option for parking close to the door and getting in and out quickly.
The in store chemist suggested a bottle of Full Marks solution spray which cost £12 for 150mls bottle. It did seem quite expensive but as my sons head was crawling I was happy to pay any amount to end his discomfort.
The box states Eliminates eggs, no traditional pesticides, odourless and comb included. AS soon as we got home I set on a mission to rid my son's head of the lice. It says that it dehydrates the lice to kill them and they can be removed with the fine tooth comb. First it advises to comb the hair to remove tangles then spray the solution on the hair. The spay is very easy to apply with a nozzle that sprays a fine mist all over the hair. You are advised to massage into the head and leave on for ten minutes. I didn't notice a particularly strong aroma of anything. I set the timer to ensure that the spray was on for at least ten minutes.
It was a couple of minutes after ten minutes that I started as I was on the phone. I took the come which had metal teeth and seemed far better than other combs I had previously owned. To remove the lice you need to comb through and wipe on tissue after each comb. The comb removed hundreds of them. Some large ones which looked like they had wings these you could actually see crawling around on the tissue. It took over half an hour of combing before it was clear of lice.
I then treated my own hair. I found it very difficult to see anything in my hair as it was dark but I could see some eggs. I followed the same procedure for my own hair. I seemed to be removing hundreds of eggs but only a few head lice.
The final step was to wash the hair.It does say it can take a couple of washes to clear the solution from the hair. Both my son's and my own hair was still a bit greasy after been washed. I also washed all my bedding and towels to try and ensure there was no repeat need to treat.
Six days after treating I noticed my son was starting to itch once again so checked and sure enough the nits were back. My son had remained at home for a whole week due to been poorly so he wasn't re-infested it was simply not cleared. The head lice were much smaller. I did this time use a Nitty Grtitty comb. I also checked my hair again and found a couple of lice and more eggs.
The Full marks Spray bottle would have treated both my son's and my won head twice. While it did kill a significant amount of lice I wanted 100% results for the price I paid.
While I happily paid for this in my panic it is not something I would purchase again I have found better cheaper treatments.
My son has always been very excited about barbecues and due to the risk of burning it is something I have always avoided. However now he is five he is much calmer and far more able to follow rules so when his friend was coming round for tea I decided to spend £1.97 in Asda and purchase a disposable barbecue.
I had never previously lit one and was hoping it was relatively simple. Before even lighting I explained the rules to both my son and his four year old friend. They knew they were not allowed to touch it run around near it so went and sat in my son's playhouse to keep them out of trouble.
How to use
It is very simple to use. Remove the cellophane packaging, the paper cove and cardboard tray it is sat in on purchase. This reveals a silver tray you would expect from a takeaway with a grill mesh covering the coals and flammable paper.
It is important that you do not place these on any glass source or anything flammable. My neighbour actually placed hers on a patio table last summer and consequently has had to buy a new table. I placed mine on the edge of the garden as this was out of the path of the boys and seemed sheltered from the wind.
To light there is a flammable piece of paper and you are advised to light the corner with a match. I have a long cooker lighter so this was ideal. It lit easily and caught fire to the coals with no problems.
It does state it takes approximately twenty minutes for the flames to die down which was roughly the timing I noticed. The flames tend to die down and a silver ash seems to layer on the top.
On our barbecue we cooked burgers and Chinese pork steaks. I was a little anxious ensuring that the food was going to be cooked all the way through so I did check the boys burgers were hot all the way through. I would imagine you could comfortably cook six burgers at a time. I filled the tray with 3 pork steaks.
It does state the barbecue does keep its heat for approximately an hour and a half and did notice later on in the evening it was still warm to left it on the garden over night too cool.
As this is my first time cooking on any barbecue I was very impressed at how well the food cooked and at this price see no reason to buy a barbecue that I would have to scrub after each use. I have frequently eaten barbecue food that simply tastes burnt and can happily report this was not the case when I used this barbecue. Should we have any more sunny days this year it is one item I will be purchasing again .
The Happy land Church is part of a town set from ELC. The land can be bought in sections which mean you can construct your town to your personal desires. You can add roads and tracks and also a variety of buildings including bakery, farm, fire and police station
We purchased the church after the royal wedding second hand for £5 as my son was very into church and weddings so this seemed an ideal role play toy. He would have been four years old when I purchased it.
The set contains a church which has a tower which the tower can be removed, a horse and carriage, the bride groom and vicar. The toy is made of strong plastic and is of the high quality I would expect from ELC.
The tower removal shows an on off button for the bells. It also makes storage of this item easier. The button to sound the bell is on the top. The first time the button is rang there is a peel of bells then it is followed the second time it is pressed by the wedding march. The church inside is very plain and outside decorated with Ivy and blue gothic style windows. The horses and carriage doe not tend to hold the horse well and they frequently become detached. The carriage has space for two passengers that can be securely pushed into place. Although this is designed for the bride and groom are the figures you would expect to travel in the carriage other happy land figures will also fit into the seats.
My son still plays with this set now he is five. He does have his own unique sequence of events which are regularly repeated. He firstly rings the bell then panics that the bride and groom are late for church so races them round the lounge. They go to the wedding; he presses the button for the wedding march. The wedding is very quick then they go to a party and dance obviously racing round the lounge to get to the party.
This toy is designed for children 18 months and over and this seems very appropriate. I cannot see much point buying it for a younger child as I am not sure what fun they would have with it.
When I bought the toy I wasn't sure if it was a toy that would have very short shelf life due to his age. Although he doesn't play with this toy every week he does regularly play with it and still has fun. I would say this is in his most played with happy land toys he owns. I do think this toy would work equally well for boys and girls. This toy despite been second hand and well played with by my son it still looks like new.
Sadly this toy is no longer available from ELC but if you are building up a Happy Land town I would highly recommend that you look out for the ivy church second hand.
After attending a cake course to learn to make cake pops I discovered a kitchen Gadget I didn't own that did seem very practical.
I found the Italian none stick meat baller cheapest on Amazon and promptly ordered the item. It arrived a few days later and is very lightweight and plastic so easy to wash. This item is also dishwasher safe but unfortunately my own dishwasher is a bowl of soapy water.
The gadget itself is like a pair of scissors but with two half circles. To use you simply put the ingredients in the cup and squeeze together wipe away the excess open and your small balls easily slide out.
Now while this is advertised as a meat baller it does have multiple uses. I have used this for making small stuffing balls, cake pops, meat balls and cookies prior to be rolled out.
The stuffing balls are quite small but if you do like crispy stuffing it is ideal. I found the cookies were far more even in size and thickness than when I have previously rolled them in my hands.
As an actual meat baller I found they again make even size meatballs. As I am following meatballs most of mine are handmade and this makes even cooking far easier to achieve.
The cake pops do work far better with this gadget as it does squash the crumbled cake and icing together to make a compact ball which without it they would more than likely crumble.
I did find that the scissor action quite difficult and find that it was far easier to squeeze down around the ball directly rather than using the handles.
I have managed forty years of my life without a meat baller so do I really need one? Yes you can live without one. I did buy mine to make cake pops but I continue to find more uses for this gadget every day. This Item is £4.85 on Amazon with free super saver postage.
I would recommend this product if you do cook or bake on a regular basis from scratch and I am sure there are many more uses for this product that I have not yet discovered.
After watching a report on the state of some young children's teeth this week I was shocked to discover the lack of effort that some parents appear to give to their Childs teeth.
I have always been concerned about my son's teeth and after a succession of battery operated toothbrushes which in the end always seem to either not have replaceable heads which means they are essentially a very expensive disposable toothbrush. So when my son's last toothbrush failed I spotted in Morrison's on offer for £17.99 a Disney Cars toothbrush which I knew my four year old son would love the design.
This toothbrush is made by Braun Oral B with the obvious attraction to boys. It has a red and blue handle and is slightly smaller than a standard electric toothbrush which makes it easier for little hands to grip.
It has a small head with an image of Disney cars on the brush head. The bristles do feel softer than my toothbrush but this would be expected for a child's toothbrush too much abrasion can damage milk teeth. It has an oscillation speed of 7,600 per minute.
The Toothbrush is packaged in a very thick plastic cover which it clearly not designed for children or adults to get in as despite been armed with a pair of scissors took about 5 minutes to wrestle out of the packaging.
It takes 18 hours for a full charge and this charge is designed to last for 30 minutes. It uses a two pin socket to charge but should you not have one of these adapters are readily available.
This toothbrush is designed for children who are three years plus. This is due to the speed of the brush makes it too young for younger children so should not be used on younger children.
As my son wasn't with me he was very impressed with his new toothbrush and immediately wanted to try it but we took it upstairs to charge and did use it for the first time that evening despite it not been fully charged as my son's old battery toothbrush had turned into a manual brush. He had no trouble gripping the handle or pressing the button on the handle to activate the brush. I was previously using my toothbrush as a timer so the fact his own brush had a two minute timer was ideal for several reasons. Firstly it gave him a sense of independence and an ability to time himself and secondly as my son is still four he does need a little help ensuring the back of the teeth are cleaned correctly so I tend to go over the backs when he has finished so we can now do our teeth separately.
My son very much does like the design of the toothbrush and is very happy. The negatives I have found are that it doesn't hold the charge for long. Despite the eighteen hour charge on further investigation it shows that the brush only holds its charge for five days. It doesn't have any indicator of the level of charge however it does have a safety feature that does mean it cannot be overcharged. As a parent I don't always know when it is running low unlike my own brush and so I have started charging it every few days to ensure my son has optimum results for his efforts. This does also mean if taking away on a week's holiday you do need to take the charger unit with you. I have found the heads do not seem to have lasted long and replacement heads do seem more expensive than the standard heads. The heads can be replaced by other Oral B heads which on one hand would mean as a child's tastes change they can be replaced by another theme however as my son is a huge Disney cars fan I would like some cars design on the handle. These are £10.35 on Amazon with free supersaver Delivery. I do intend to shop around for a cheaper price soon as my son's toothbrush head is ready for replacement after a couple of months. Dentists do recommend that these are replaced every three months but I have not found these brushes to last the three months.
Price and Availability
I have seen these for sale in various outlets including Boots, Supermarkets and Amazon. These toothbrush's do tend be on offer on a regular basis so if you are looking for a new toothbrush for your little one I do recommend this one but wait till it is on offer as this seems to happen quite Frequently. The brush with charging unit is currently £26.00 on Amazon.
I am disappointed with the frequency of needing to charge the toothbrush but otherwise I am very happy with this product for the price I paid. I also recommend if you do purchase this unit it is worth buying spare heads when you do see them on offer. I do like the timer feature and this is the first brush that had had this feature for a child and if your child is not brushing their teeth for two minutes this is very positive encouraging feature. An Electric toothbrush is much more effective at cleaning teeth than a manual brush and so any item that can improve the health of our children's teeth is worth the expense.
I receive Daily emails from Group on and noticed one day one for the Blue Lavender School to make cake pops. I thought they looked very different and while I do enjoy making cakes something I had no experience of making.
I paid through Group on then could book through the website. There was a selection of dates but due to a bit of chaos going on in my life I couldn't book immediately and when I finally booked places were limited. I managed to book a course for a Saturday afternoon which lasted three hours.
The Course takes place at various places in Derbyshire and the course I selected was in a village hall. A week before the course I received an email listing what I needed to take to the course this was simply an apron, container and a tea towel. I was surprised a couple of people had had to buy Aprons to attend which actually does show the diverse level of abilities in the group.
I arrived at the venue 15 minutes before the course began and there had been a complication that the venue had been booked till the time the course was due to start so we were able to wait in the Kitchen where I was greeted by the course organiser Rachel and she made drinks for everyone. Drinks and biscuits were provided free throughout the course but after an initial cup of tea I was far too busy been creative to stop for a drink.
We were all sat in table groups there was a variety of a big group of friends, some pairs of friends and a few on their own which included me. It was only attended by females and Rachel did say that she had only had Females on the cake pop courses although he had some on the cup cake course. There were 17 students on our course that day.
You may be wondering what a cake pop is but they are a simple idea which has made its way over from America so .It is basically a cake on a stick covered in chocolate and decorated to create various deigns and even a simple one can look very effective.
We were all delivered a chopping board with holes drilled in containing 16 cake pops and four empty holes and a selection of decorations and cutters and sugars. We were all grouped together and she gave us tips and techniques on how to decorate the cake pops. We were told we would be taken into the Kitchen in small groups to learn how to make the pops themselves.
I found the whole group to be friendly we all swapped and encouraged each other. I did have one slight problem that I was applying the glue wrong and it wasn't working but found Rachel very approachable to help and I was soon happily creating. I made a whole range of Cake pops ranging from animals, to planets and a space ship especially for my son. I am hoping to recreate these for my son's birthday party in a month's time who wants a space theme so I did focus on space style cake pops although I actually made some covered in flowers which I thought were very pretty.
We went into the kitchen in a group of four and explained how to make and prepare the cake mixture and chocolate. Obviously we didn't have time to make the cake mixture in a three hour course but she did state she would send an email through with all the ingredients listed. I found her explanations very simple and comprehensive and following her instructions I was able to create four of my own cake pops which I was actually proud of. I took them back to the table and they were not distinguishable between mine and the tutors. She did give us tips to prevent the pop falling off the stick and a round cake pop.
To finish off the cake pops we were given wrappers and ribbons .I wasn't able to wrap my spaceship as it was far too tall and delicate. We got to take our 20 completed cake pops home which did look very professional.
Rachel does have a shop selling products although due to the late start she didn't set it up. She did state her priority was not selling products but she did bulk buy so they are below usual retail prices.
Overall this was a very informative, fun and productive afternoon which I am not quite prepared to recreate these for my son. I took these back to my friends who was looking after my son for the afternoon .I did get some tips on techniques that will give me the confidence for my next attempt. Some of these techniques are transferable to various cake making styles. The family of five all tried one and enjoyed the taste thoroughly. My friend herself said the standard was amazing. Most importantly my son loved them and does want them at his party.
If you are in the Derbyshire area and looking to improve your cake making skills I can highly recommend Blue Lavender School of cookery and I will be looking out for further courses. The courses she runs are on a variety of Cake decorating techniques from sugar paste Modelling, royal icing and fun classes like Halloween cup cakes. She does a range of levels from introductory to advanced so there is something for all abilities.When I spoke to her she was planning to run a children's Christmas cake one which I would like to book for my son and I to attend together.
You can check out courses at www.bluelavendercakes.co.uk/index.html
I spotted the Playskool Adventure hero set in Morrison's on clearance. My son had spotted it in a toys r us Brochure and as it was only £8 I thought it looked a great Christmas present for my son is four years old.
The toy itself is designed as a carry back pack suitable for child to carry round. Once in place there is a button on the front which makes the siren noise which is great for play but can be inconvenient when walking round to friends houses. When Closed the backpack looks like the back of a fire engine though this is done with stickers so could get damaged if care isn't taken with it. The back pack itself opens out to be a fire station, complete with fireman, fire engine and a water hydrant. It does take 3 AAA batteries which are included and I have not yet had to replace these batteries.
The fire hydrant actually shoots out a plastic water droplet that can be aimed at the training tower; this can be fixed to the fire station or to the back of the fire engine. It has a fireman's pole which the fireman will attach to and slide down a platform and road for the fire station to drive off.
My son was delighted to receive this toy from Santa. We adjusted the straps to fit him and initially he simply ran round pretending to be a fire engine. Once the novelty of that wore off he hasn't carried it round much but does play with this toy on a regular basis. A green button on top of the backpack opens it out this is relatively easy to do but actually putting it back together is a little bit more tricky so consequently my son tends to not bother to put it away it is left to mum. My son's favourite part tends to be the fireman's pole and the fire engine. He doesn't tend to bother with the water canon at all. The station has a computer desk with press able buttons which my son will use like a telephone reporting fires like the fire chief in fireman Sam to send them out on the mission.
The back pack is made of tough plastic and despite been played with on a regular basis still appears like new.
When I bought it I was a little concerned that it might not have much longevity as the parts do look quite basic I did think he might actually think it was a little babyish however he seems more than happy with this toy. He has played with it with both older and younger boys and they have all loved it. The recommended age for this is three and I would think this is down to the small water shot but if this were removed I think a younger child would enjoy it equally as much.
I think this toy is an excellent buy for stimulating the Childs imagination and not having what to do spoon fed like some toys. It is very transportable and they enjoy carrying their own toys which is an added bonus. As I said previously this is assuming you don't mind walking round the streets sounding like a fire engine .It does have an on and off switch if it all becomes too much for you. The only thing I think that would improve this toy is a hosepipe on the side of the backpack so they can actually be a fire engine.
I have found this toy on Amazon for £21.99 and Toys r us for £29.99 so it is worth shopping round for price but I do now think this is a toy that will get lots of play and great value for money especially at the price I paid.
There is also a police version which would be great for children simular ages in the same household.
"Santa "Bought my four year old son a Pay doh mega fun factory. I happen to know that he paid £9.99 from the Argos clearance a few months before Christmas and as it has a recommended retail price of £29.99 this was a great price.
The toy wasn't played with on Christmas day as there were many other toys to play with but the next day I set it up. The Factory does require two c cell batteries which are not included. The factory comes with a mat to lay the factory machine on which not only is a good cover for the table but also has shapes to cut out and a plan for children to follow. The factory itself is in three parts which do slot together easily. The machine and the mat are made from bright bold colours so does draw the eye in. The machine is made from tough plastic which makes it easy to peel play doh off and has not yet incurred any damage to looks like new when cleaned up. The first part is where you squeeze the play doh through to make a long think stripe ready for cutting. The next part is the conveyer belt which does have an on off switch which is easily operated by little hands. The play doh travels along the conveyor belt till it reaches a wheel. There are two choices of wheels one makes various sweets and the other toys. This is operated by simply pressing down and again my son can easily do this. It then reaches the cutter where the items in the moulds are separated. It the travels to the end of the conveyer belt where it drops to a collection point. This set does include six tubs of different coloured play doh.
My son has a lot of play doh cutters and shapes which he has had great fun. Play doh itself is a very beneficial toy for building up strength in children's hands which will increase their level of control when they are drawing and writing. He was very excited though once it was set up. It has not taken much explanation for him to b e able to play with this toy independently. He does need help changing the moulding wheels over. He has played with this toy on a regular basis since Christmas and has created toys shops sweet shops from all his creations. Like most play doh kits the colour have mostly now got mixed together in one purple/ brown colour but this does not detract from the fun. When my son first started playing with it he had to stop the belt in order to stamp out the various objects but now he leaves the belt running and will complete his order in record time.
I have found this to be a great toy. Despite been regularly played with the batteries have not yet run out although I do not buy cheap batteries as I find them false economy. This toy has not only sparked my son's imagination but also helped him with manipulating the play doh. He has had hours of fun from this toy and while its excitement may look quite limiting it doesn't seem to be for my son.
This game has also been played with by a two year old girl and another four year old boy. It certainly held the interest of the boys longer than the girls, this may be down to age and concentration but the boys did find it easier and were able to do it with no assistance where the girl needed help with some parts.
I have seen this toy on offer in a few places and it is currently on offer on Amazon for £15.50. I still think this is a good price that has given my son hours of fun and creations. It is recommended for children aged three and over and I do think that this is quite appropriate due to the strength required to operate some of the tools.
Overall this is a very entertaining toy that is easy to set up and dismantle and stores well back in the box. Most importantly it gives hours of fun play which actually has both intellectual benefit and benefits in developing fine motor skills.
My four year old son has slept on his so called comfy cushion for a couple of years now. It was a small cushion I used when breastfeeding and was really too small for his head but I didn't think it was something that could simply be replaced with a bigger cushion. When we were in Pound stretchers we spotted a shelf full of Cuddle Buddies. My son had seen the advert on TV and was instantly sold on the idea.
A cuddle buddy is a super soft pillow that folds in half and is held in place with a piece of Velcro to create a toy to cuddle. There is a range of different Animals: Polar bear, dog, duck, frog, Ladybird, unicorn, monkey pig and the one my son chose a Bumble bee. Folded out they are the equivalent size of a standard pillow.
The bumble bee is as you would expect to have black and yellow stripes with a red nose and antennae. When folded up it is a lot squarer than a standard toy but my son has had great fun ridging it around the room. He does use the Velcro strap as a handle.
When sleeping on the pillow it is a little higher than a standard pillowed, simply because the antennae prop the pillow up slightly. At first my son put it on top of his standard pillow but always seemed to roll off but now we have removed the other pillow he is much more comfortable. As it is made of super soft fur it does have that cuddle affect my son loves to sleep with.
These are fully machine washable but I haven't washed my sons I simply put it near an open window to air. I would have loved it to have a removable cover as I would of felt happier washing the cover than the whole of the pillow, as most pillows never really return to their original state after been washed. The Velcro does have a cover so it doesn't catch on sheets when opened up.
One of the features advertised is that you can put your pyjamas inside when going for a sleepover; this really isn't a selling point for me.
My son has owned this pillow for a couple of months. He now never turns it into a bee but does sleep comfortably on it.
I picked my son's up at Pound stretcher reduced to £4.99 however the website is selling them for £19.99 plus £4.95 postage and packaging. I am more than happy with my purchase but would not spent £25 on what is essentially a pillow.
Overall my son loves his pillow. Other children may actually play with them but for my so once the novelty wore off he simply likes to sleep with it. I would look out for them in the shops and think they are overpriced on the website.
I bought a few Mister Maker craft kits from House of Fraser for £2.50 in the January sale Last year when they were half price. One was a set to make Plat pet sticks. When I bought them I thought they may be quite useful for my son to use in his puppet Show. Mister Maker is a presenter of his own art show on CBeebies which is a favourite with my son. We have actually made quite a few things from the show but these have often required me to prepare the night before.
The set is designed to make eight pets: Four cats and four Dogs.
Included in the pack are:
Felt tip Pens
, googly eyes
And PVA glue
The only additional item you need is a Pair of scissors.
How to create your pet?
To create your own pet the first job is to pick, although the sticks do have the same design they are not identical in shape. The next job is to decorate your pet using the felt tip pens. The design is completely in your control; although brown is included also more obscure colours for the fantasy pets such as green and red. Glue on the eyes using the included glue. The ears are made by cutting out the shape out of the felt sheets. The pom poms are a wide mired of colours and can used for tails or noses The pipe cleaners create a colour which you can thread your tag through. If you want to Name your dog it is easier to do so before you put it on your pet.
I gave my son this set for his fourth Birthday. The first time we decided to make a pet we did so with one of his friends that was three at the time. The felt tips were very fine so probably great for accuracy in and older child but for the two boys it meant they really struggled to fill the area without gaps. Mister Maker did suggest spots or stripes but the boys were more like scribble in multi colour all over. They managed to glue they eyes on. The boys both wanted to do dogs but wanted to stick eyes on both side but due to the amount of eyes included these could only be stuck on one side. I let the boys pick out the colour of their dogs ears but I had to cut them out for them and then they managed to stick them on for themselves. The both picked names for the tags and the pipe cleaners were all to long so I needed to cut them for them and neither was capable of adding the collars. They both wanted pom poms for tails. Overall the boys were delighted with the results and were able to make two very unique designs. I have also repeated this activity on a further Occasion with another boy who was nearly five at the time and had a similar experience, I did however offer different felt pens which made them easier to colour.
I find the whole concept of this pack quite confusing. Mister Makers is clearly marketed at preschool Children and while young children I would expect to supervise when taking part in a craft activity I was surprised how much my son and his friends were unable to do by themselves. I would have expected an activity by Mister Maker to be requiring less preparation.
We still have four pets left to complete, despite my son having owned this craft set since his birthday in April. I am sure at some point we will repeat the activity but due to the fact my son's writing is huge he still would not be able to write the collar .I struggled to cut the pipe cleaner so don't expect he will find that any easier.
I think more preparation would have made this kit far easier for a child to complete with minimal help. I also think that while Mister Maker is a marketing tool by the time a child is old enough to complete this on their own they would not want a craft kit with a presenter from CBeebies.
It is now £5.89 on Amazon. I actually think that this is far too much for this kit unless you have a particularly talented preschool child.
Both my son and I have got a great deal of entertainment and that has helped his educationally by Orchard Games. I bought this game for £3.50 when it was on offer. I do find that some Orchard games can be quite similar but this one looked very different to the other games he owned.
Orchard Game as are British makers of quality board games and puzzles. These are quality products which don't focus on the current marketing trends so these games don't go out of Fashion.
The game Crazy chef is designed for between 2-5 players with an age recommendation of 3-7 years of age.
Setting up the game
To set up the game each player decides which dish they want to create. You have a choice of prawn noodles, cottage pie, fairy cakes, Pizza and Kebabs. Each player selects the board that goes with the dish. All the small cards are placed face down, the empty plates are put in a pile and the finished meals are also put on one side for near the end of the game. The game also comes with a spinner but again this is not needed at the beginning of the game.
The game starts with choosing who goes first, Orchard do state on all their games the youngest player goes first but this is something I disagree with so always chose to ignore it. The players take turns to turn over one of the 35 small game tiles and check whether the ingredient is one needed for their dish. If it is then they place it on their food board and if not then it is returned face down to its original spot. The idea is to collect all your ingredients to progress to the next stage of the game. Once you have all the ingredients for your dish then you spin the spinner on your next turn. The spinner has two plates and four children. First you need to land on the plate to get an empty plate to serve your dish on. This is placed on the hands the image of your chef on your food board, it makes it look like the chef is actually carrying the plate. On your next turn you need to spin and land on a child to complete you dish. The completed dish card is placed on the empty plate. The game does continue to give everyone a chance to finish but the winner is the person who finishes first.
I have to say I am happy that my son doesn't just pick the cakes to cook he will cook a variety of meals. I do think it is actually a great idea for helping children to understand the ingredients that go into a meal as well as the utensils that are used in creating a dish and it doesn't appear magically on a plate by the food fairies. I started playing this game with my son when he was three and as a result we had to simplify the game. remembering which card out of 35 he had checked was far too many to we played a far less competitive version which meant when we played we simply checked every ones card. If it was an ingredient not used we put it on one side. This meant that the game did have a completion point. I found that although my son does already know many ingredients he didn't know a few such as spring onions and for any child who had little knowledge of different foods and opportunity to learn. Now my son is at school I was amused that he thought the mince for the cottage pie was Quorn as it is regularly featured on his school dinner Menu. I have found the spinner does need to be on a fairy hard surface but spins freely.
I do find due to the way we play this game it is quite a chance of who actually wins and I do not let my son win games all the time not because I can't bear losing but simply I think it teaches them how to cope with winning and losing. If I win I don't make too much of a song and dance and if he wins I do shake his hand and say well done. I am hoping that my modelling how to deal with winning and losing does rub off on him when he is playing with his peers.
Overall this is a game we do play regularly. He enjoys it as much a year and a half later. The game still looks like new which is reflective of the quality I have grown to expect with Orchard Games. I do think this helps children with learning about cooking, Learning taking turns and social skills and sharing. If played the traditional way it does help with memory skills.
Summary and Availability
This is a game that I would recommend certainly for children aged 3-6. This game is easy to adapt to the ability level of the child, This game is currently available on Amazon for £6.70 and while I paid less I still do think this is very good value.
I bought my son a Francesco Mini speeder in the Sainsbury's half price toy sale so it cost me £7.50 which is far more than I planned to spend on him for a treat but as what he picked originally was something Santa had already bought I had to use diversion tactics. The toy for a more basic description is a mini remote controlled car.
The toy comes boxed and in two sections a small scale model of Francesco and a control box which is approximately 15cm by 10cm and requires Four AAA Batteries are which are not supplied. These are secured by a small cross screw. The batteries for the car are included. To charge you have to open the Flap on the top of the unit and push down and pull back, this is not simple and something I struggle to do each time so for a young child I would think impossible. One the car is finally attached you simply press the charge button and it takes 5 minutes to charge. There is a green power light that indicates that it is still charging which will turn off when fully charged. Removing the car is a little easier but still fiddly.
There is a tiny on off switch on the base which needs to be turned on but then it is ready to play with. The Base unit has a number of options from A, B, C, D...You are told in the instructions that Francesco is on Wavelength B It operates on infrared and this means that should you buy other cars in the series they can all be raced. This is something I would think would be useful in a house with more than one Sibling into cars but as my son is an only child he won't be getting more than one toy the same except a different character.
Controlling the direction of the car is relatively easy. It has roughly standard controls one switch that moves the car backwards and forewords and the other one changes direction. My son loves this toy he doesn't need me to operate the remote control. I find that due to its size though it does get stuck under the sofa but however due to its size when it does crash into things it doesn't cause any damage. What I do like about this Toy is it has a Turbo boost button, this does mean that for younger drivers it can go at a slower pace but as they become more of an expert driver can steer faster. The car's charge is supposed to last only 5 minutes but it has always lasted for longer than that on my son's car. When we have come to use the car the next day the charge has gone out of it...Initially I did think this was due to leaving Francesco on but after ensuring it was turned off it still is flat the next day. This isn't too much of an issue as my son is able to wait for 5 minutes to play with a toy.
The great thing about this toy is it is great to slip in your handbag when visiting people or to take away on holiday as once it is charged is a toy they can play on their own and doesn't take up much space. I did find the instructions quite difficult to understand. They are translated into multiple languages however the words are tiny and I really struggled to read them.
My son is completely sold into merchandising so it does love the character Francesco but I do believe it was not a recognisable character he would still equally love this toy. This toy is recommended for children age 4 and over which does seem appropriate however do expect to have to help them charge the toy
These cars are available on Amazon for £28 and are available in four different designs, Lighting McQueen, Matter, Fin Mcmissile and Francesco. Lightning Mc Queen is £19.50. These were £15 full price in Sainsbury's so it is worth shopping around.
Overall this is a good toy that does not keep my son occupied for hours but does entertain him and will continue to do so long after his love of Disney Cars has passed. I do think it is worth shopping around but a great toy for any young boy.
My son is the sort of boy who put him with any other children and all he wants to do are the typical boy things play with the vehicles and construction toys at nursery. I was one of the smaller groups of parents who didn't come home with piles of art work he had created. I actually spoke to the nursery one day about his comments he wasn't good enough to join in group painting and while they did encourage him his hand grips and writing skill seemed to be a little behind his peers. This did not concern me but I did look for activities to encourage him to practise his writing skills in preparation for starting school.
I spotted a write start kit on a Car boot for 20p despite it been brand new and in its original packaging.
What is included?
It comes with
A 24 page wipe able book
A wipe clean pen
A triangular pen grip
A small brown cloth
10 dinosaur stickers.
The book is on a spiral pad and it is double sided and starts with skills 1 - 12 on one side and the remaining 12 exercises are in the reverse of the book. Inside the front cover are tips for parents, what I found particularly helpful was positioning of pen and paper to help Left handed children. My son has always shown a preference for writing with his Left hand and as a right handed person I can find it difficult to demonstrate things which are backwards to my mind. The exercises do all have a dinosaur theme which runs though the book. It starts at the level which was very appropriate for my son's stage of writing. The first picture of rain drops with dotted lines dropping vertical for the child to draw. The book follows a pattern of getting increasingly difficult but through fun games such as mazes, joining dots on dinosaur's scales and son practise of drawing shapes which will eventually turn into words. The final exercises in part one start to draw letters C and O. Part two is much more word orientated and actually practises letter and words.
As soon as we returned home my son wanted to try the writing sheet. He was instantly drawn to the dinosaurs. He really did not have the control to follow the lines closely but he did have fun trying. He didn't follow the exercises in order but I was not concerned about this. I considered it to be about an opportunity to do something that helped develop his fine motor skills. He does tend to enjoy wiping the lines away as much as drawing which is quite effective. My son did however leave the top off the pen so it dried out. I replaced it with a wipe able pen off another board we owned and I make sure he now keeps the top on when he puts it away. I found this has been a great tool that we have used at home but also has been great for occupying him on long car journeys. The stickers got separated from the toy as I didn't want him having a sticker till he could actually do what was expected of him.However he forgot about them and they still remain tucked away in a draw 8 months later. The set does come in a sturdy box which is more like a carry case. It has a small dot Velcro handle and a string handle for transporting around.
My son has used this now for about 8 months. He now can follow the lines and do the words but he does still prefer to follow the lines of the Dinosaurs rather than writing letters. I have no problems with this as he is still developing his hand control skills and his actually writing has developed rapidly since starting school.
This is suggested for children aged 3-6. I would expect most children would have grown out of this by the time they have completed their first year in reception but overall this is an excellent product to encourage your little one to draw. I do think the designs on the page do tend to lean more towards boys than girls but would be equally beneficial for both.
I cannot find this to be widely available but if you do come across one then I strongly recommend it for your young child.
My son like many young children loves play dough. I have always made my own play dough except when it has come in kits. Most of his cutting shaped came from a car boot but when I spotted a pack of cutters in Wilkinson's I thought they would be an ideal addition to our collection.
The pack is hanging in the art and craft section is a clear plastic bag so you can see exactly what comes inside. It comes with four tools a rolling pin two circular cutters and a knife type cutter. The Cutters do feel like they are not made of expensive plastic and feels like they will snap easily. They are all brightly coloured.
The rolling pin as actually ideal for little hands to hold it is quite light but it isn't important in this set. The wheels have one curved and one with straight edges these work like a pizza wheel. These roll easily with no real force required. The knife doesn't actually have sharp edges.
My son often plays with his play dough with the two girls next door as they are not allowed it as they walked it into the carpet on one occasion to many. I simply put a plastic sheet down. This toy has been popular with all three of them and of course they all want the same tool at the same time however these tools have been very effective for all sorts of creations. My son was two when he was bought this set and two and has been played with children ranging from one to five. When he first started playing with them he was really cutting for no purpose other than to cut but as he has got older his designs have become more creative and it has mattered which tool he has used rather than been bothered which tool someone else was using. The wheels seem to create far shaper lines than the knife.
I paid about a pound for this set and two and a half years later despite hours of play it remains in mint condition. I do think play doh is a brilliant toy that helps develop fine motor skills and creativity and this set is a great addition to any play doh fans collection. At £1 this set is a bargain in my opinion.
As a toddler who seemed to have difficulty distinguishing the difference between paper and walls I was always on the lookout for pens that didn't damage the walls long term. I spotted a pack of Crayola washable pens and decided that they were worth a try. The pens came in a pack of twelve and they are not fine tip but a thicker tip. I found for my son they made ideal colouring instruments and he while was at the age where he scribbled was able to produce blocks of colour.
The big question is, are they washable? As a parent I got the chance to test these out on a variety of surfaces. I found they didn't seem to wash of skin and better than an average felt pen, the walls were still very hit and miss, it did work well on Painted walls but difficult to get off wallpaper without damage. What was exceptional though was how they seemed to wash out of clothing first time.
Despite my son now been four and now generally understands what he is allowed to draw on I bought him a second pack when they were on Offer at Wilkinson's for £1.95. The reason is how smoothly they do draw and how effective they are for colouring in although a little too thick for actually drawing pictures.These have also lasted well qkeeping there bold colours. Overall a felt pen for colouring but not drawing and is washable on clothes.