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I purchased the Early Learning Centre Sand and Water Table for my son's 2nd birthday and it cost £45. We chose this one over the others because it's plastic (easy to move around), came with a lid (making it waterproof) and is very sturdy. It looks quality, not cheap like some others I've seen. The table measures: height 45cm x length 65cm x width 65cm. We've found that it's a great height for toddlers (the recommended age is 18months+) but for older children, like my son who is now 4, it's a bit low down.
The sand and water table came boxed and with instructions. It was easy enough to put together. The legs slot in place and the 2 troughs click together. It also came with some plastic toys meaning you don't have to buy any extra and your child can get straight in and start playing. The toys included are: 1 boat, 2 star moulds, 2 funnels, 2 spinning wheels, 1 scoop, 1 roller and wheel set, 1 rake and 1 spade.
The table looks really impressive when all the pieces are in place. There are holes in the middle of the table, where the 2 troughs meet, and this is where you can fit the larger toys (funnels and spinning wheels). These holes in the centre is also where the lid clicks in to. We've found that the lid isn't 100% waterproof but it does a very good job at keeping the majority of the rain water out. My son mainly uses this table with sand, but he has played with water in it and has had lots of fun with it. He's plays a lot with it with the lid on because the lid has a road track on it. The road track is wide enough to fit the ELC magnetic vehicles so he likes to play with that and his ELC garage in the garden at the same time.
Sand for the table is available separately. You can get in from the ELC or from most larger supermarkets and garden centres. It only costs a few pounds and one bag is more than enough to fill both troughs.
We've had our sand and water table for over 2 years now and it's been played with every summer. It's still in fantastic condition and both my children, and their friends, love it. It seemed like an expensive purchase at the time, but actually it's been worth every penny and offers very good value for money.
After seeing the Skylander's starter pack advertised on TV we decided to buy it for our son for Christmas. We bought it from Tesco and it cost £49. The game is suitable for children aged 7 years and over, but my husband (29) loves it too. The box contained the Skylanders game, portal of power, 3 figures: Spyro, Gill Grunt and Trigger Happy, a poster, 3 trading cards, a sticker sheet, 3 web codes and 3 AA batteries (for the portal of power). I believe there are up to 29 other characters available. Figures are available in single or triple packs. Single figures cost around £7.99 and triple packs cost around £19.99. My son quite happily played the game with the 3 starter figures for a while and then began to save his pocket money up so he could buy more characters. There are also adventure packs available that include toys/figures that when placed on the portal load up completely new worlds (levels) that were not previously included in the game. These packs cost around £21.99. Each character figure falls into an element group: Air, Life, Undead, Earth, Fire, Water, Magic, and Tech. Chracters from each element help to unlock gates and paths throughout the levels.
The game was easy enough to set up, though the instruction manual isn't great and doesn't really help with the gaming side. The figures themselves are excellent, I'm really impressed with them. I thought they'd be quite cheap and flimsy, but they're not at all. They're well made and a lot of attention to detail has been given to them. The portal is also very well made. Once the characters are placed on the portal, the characters come to life in the game. The graphics are really good and you get drawn right in to the game.
There is also an official Skylanders website that lets you showcase your characters (by using the web codes that you get with the figures) and allows you to interact with other players.
My son (and husband) love this game. It can be a bit cheesey and isn't for serious gamers, but it does offer a lot of fun. The new characters and new words allow you to expand the game and it keeps my son and his friends entertained for ages. I gave this 4 out of 5, only because of the price.
This purchase was an easy one for me. I've always had Dysons and I've always been very happy with them. After my last Dyson broke (it was given to me second hand and I'd had it myself for 6 years) I decided to ake advantage of the Christmas sales and I ordered the Dyson DC32 Animal from Amazon for £199.99. The RRP is £319.99. I decided on this one over the other Dyson models because I have 2 young children, a dog and we have a mixture of wooden flooring and carpets. This one seemed to fit all of my needs.
The Dyson came boxed with the manual, quick start guide, turbine head, brush tool, stair tool, crevice tool, small turbine head, hard floor tool, product registration card and a free 5 year guarentee card. The instructions were very easy to follow and had lots of diagrams, making it easy to fit the parts together.
The Dyson looks great and all of the tools fit nicely on to the machine, making it really easy to store. There's 2 buttons on the machine; 1 for retracting the power lead and 1 for turning the machine on and off. The vac is quite heavy, at 8.5kg, but it's very easy to maneuver and easily glides over wooden and carpeted floors. I love the hard floor tool because it's wide but very thin and fits in to all of those annoying places like under the sofas, down the side of the fridge etc. The small turbine head is great for the stairs or in the car and the full size turbine head works brilliantly, picking up all of the crums and dog hair out of the carpets. The dust bin has a 2 litre capacity which is good for what I need. I vac up the ground floor of my house every day and find I need to empty the dust bin every 2-3 days, which I don't mind at all as it's so easy to do. You press 1 button to release the dust bin from the machine and press 1 more catch to release dust from the vac in to the rubbish bin, then just close the lid and click it back on to the machine. The power lead measures 6.5 metres which I found perfect when using it to vac the stairs. No more running up and down to swap plug sockets. Another great feature I like about this Dyson is the way it's shaped to sit on the stairs. Before, I had to try and juggle to vac, the hose and the wand, whilst trying to hold on to the stairs. With this Dyson, it sits on the step, the wheel on one step and the dustbin sits on the step above, keeping my legs and arms free to vac the stairs. It also means that the weight of the Dyson isn't an issue because you don't have to hold it.
Overall, I absolutely love this Dyson. I've had cheaper vacs in the past, various brands/models, and I've never found anything like the Dyson. It's brilliant and, in my opinion, worth every penny.
I recently noticed that my youngest son was starting to outgrow his current car seat so I had a look online and decided to buy the Graco Junior Maxi Car Seat. It's for group 2-3 and suitable for children from 4 years-12 years (weighing 15kg-36kg). It's a forward facing car seat and uses a 3 point seat belt. It has an adjustable head support, 2 cup holders and seat belt guides on both sides of the head support. The covers can be washed and the car seat can also be used as just a booster seat (without the back and neck support). The car seat conforms to ECE: R44.04 European safety standards.
I purchased my car seat during the Baby Event at Asda so it only cost £25, which I think is amazing value. The seat came boxed. Inside the box the seat was split into 3 parts; the booster seat, the back support and the head support. The instructions were very clear and made putting the pieces together very easy. The instructions also show you how to position the car seat in the car, how to position the head support and where the seat belt should lie.
Fitting the car seat in the car didn't take long at all. All you need to do it feed the seat belt through the seat belt guide and click your child in. My son loves this car seat. It makes him feel grown up, like his older brother. The cup holders have come in really handy for when we are long journeys. No more trying to juggle juice cartons.
I'd definitely recommend this car seat. I think it offers great value for money and will last a long time as it can be easily adjusted to grow with your child.
I bought this workout DVD from Amazon for £4.97 after hearing friends discuss the 30 Day Shred, another of her well known fitness DVDs. I was looking to tone up rather than lose weight so I decided on this DVD. I'd seen Jillian Michaels in the TV series The Biggest Loser and I liked her no nonsense & straight to the point attitude.
The DVD targets shoulders, chest, arms, abs, back, legs, hips and glutes using 7 circuits (6 minutes each). There's also a warm up (5 minutes) and a cool down (5 minutes).
You can chose to do the whole DVD at once or choose from one of the 6 minute circuits. She uses weights in her circuits, so if you haven't already got some it may be a good idea to buy some first. I'd also recommend a mat because some of the workouts are on the floor and this will help protect your back. In each circuit you do 12-15 reps of 4-5 different exercises and then repeat once more before moving on to the next circuit. The circuits are:
1. Shoulders & Legs
2. Chest & Abs
3. Biceps & Butt
4. Thighs & Triceps
6. Upper body & Core
7. Lower body & Core.
I really like this DVD and actually enjoyed the workout, especially the variety of exercises. She combines upper and lower body exercises to keep the heart rate elevated and burn more calories. I found Jillian very motivating and she explains all of the exercises very well and explains which muscles you're working. It's a really good work out and I can definitely see and feel the difference afterwards.
I bought the LeapPad Explorer from Boots for my son's 4th birthday. It cost £79.99 and is suitable for children aged 4-9 years old. We got the green coloured one but it's also available in pink. I was drawn to this straight away because we've had a lot of LeapFrog products before and they've always been very good. It's also compatable with other Explorer games which was a huge bonus for us as it saves buying the same games again. It uses 4 AA batteries, which I thought was fine, but later discovered it eats them like mad so we decided to buy some decent rechargeable batteries. The LeapPad has a 5 inch touch screen and stylus, 2gb storage and a built in camera and video recorder. It comes with apps (see below), a USB cable, installation CD, instructions and a spare stylus. We decided to buy a screen protector, gel skin and carry case for it seperately.
Before you start playing with this it needs to be connected to a computer and set up (the installation CD and instructions are included and I found them very easy to understand and follow). It can take a good half an hour to set up so if it's a present it might be a good idea to do it the night before. You can create up to 3 user profiles, which is great if you have more than 1 child. These individual profiles allow you to follow the progress of each child. Once you've completed the registration you can download games, eBooks or videos. Our LeapPad came with 4 apps included (Pet writing app, Story Studio app, Art Studio app and a free downloadable app).
There are hundreds of games, eBooks and apps available from £3.50 up to £19.99. Most of them are educational and my children (even my 7 year old) loves playing them and enjoys learning. Most of the eBooks and games can be adjusted to suit your childs ability. For example, on an eBook starting at level one each page only has short sentences with words that can be sounded out using phonics. As the child's reading ability grows then you can change the reading level so that the sentences are longer and the words are trickier and more descriptive. I really do like being able to follow their progress and see where they're improving and where they might need extra help. I think the best thing my children love about the LeapPad is the camera and video recorder. They take photos and edit them, adding funny stamps and pictures.
As a family, we all love this and the only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is because it does eat batteries and there is no way to charge it up like you would a DS.
I bought 2 of these for my 2 children, aged 4 and 7, after a friend recommended them for our holidays. I purchased them from John Lewis because it was the only place that had them in stock at the time. They were packaged well and came with detailed instructions. My first impressions were good. They look great and feel sturdy.
As a car booster seat it's excellent, one of the best booster seats I have come across. It has a strong sturdy hollow base, it's lightweight and has fold out seat belt guides for added safety and comfort. The fabric can be wiped clean and there's also ID tags on the fabric which is a great idea when you have more than one child or when your children take them with them on nursery/school trips.
As a backpack, although heavier than normal, it's still very good. The back of the backpack and the straps are all well padded, for extra comfort, and there's also a reflective trim. The base of the booster seat can be unzipped giving you access to the empty hollow shell. Items can be stored in here and are well protected due to the sturdy plastic. My children can easily fit a drink, snack, jacket and toy in theirs.
We've used ours in hire cars on holiday, on school trips, at the airport, at cinemas and at restaurants. They're one of the best purchases I've made and I've recommended them to all of my friends. Best of all, my kids love them.