Thursday, 29 September 2016

Diary Of A Minecraft Zombie Steve by MC Steve - Children's Book Review

My youngest child is absolutely obsessed with Minecraft, and we have 5 players in the house, so I was intrigued by the idea of a fiction book for children. Diary Of A Minecraft Zombie Steve 3: The Lost Temple by MC Steve is a book for independent readers aged around 8+, so it's stretching my 6 1/2 year old, but he's been very determined to read it himself.

The book is set out as you would expect a diary, day after day, and each date has 2-4 pages. This breaks up the text and makes it seem less intimidating for newer independent readers.

The story is that of a Zombie named Steve from the game Minecraft. He works as an architect and wins a huge contract to develop the Isle Of Mists. When he sets off to carry out his work, his boat goes astray and he finds himself thrown into an adventure.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Rubiks Spark - bringing the cube into the 21st century.

We've all played with a Rubik's Cube. They were first introduced in 1974 and have remained incredibly popular and possibly frustrating ever since. Brand new for this Autumn is the Rubik's Spark, an electronic version with 6 different games to play, either alone or competitively against someone else.

The first thing you spot is that this cube doesn't move or twist in sections, you turn the whole thing to control where the flashing light travels. It's very different and takes a bit of getting used to at first.

You start the games by tilting the cube - and it's noisy - so expect it to go off if you move it unless you are very careful - it arrives cable tied to it's packaging and is set to a 'Try Me' demo mode. Something to remember if Santa will be carrying wrapped presents around the house on Christmas eve night!

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Dinosaurs In 30 Seconds Children's Book Review (age7+)

We love a good dinosaur book, and our latest review for Ivy Kids is a good dinosaur book. Written by Sean Callery and illustrated by Sam Hubbard, and released on October 6th, the full title is Dinosaurs In 30 Seconds: 30 Fascinating Topics For Dinosaur Detectives Explained In Half A Minute.

This is a book written in a style which really appeals to young independent readers. All of the text is in small snappy paragraphs which aren't too intimidating, and the whole book is broken into five segments each with it's own glossary, so even new words are introduced a few at a time, and nicely explained.

Specsavers Opticians Review (and my 8 year old's photography debut!).

A couple of weeks ago we visited Specsavers Opticians to review. As I couldn't really take my own photos, I let my 8 year old loose with my camera. This is a real 'child's eye-view', and he did a great job.

I was given a £150 budget and this paid for everything I received, including my eye test, Glasses with coated lenses and Sunglasses...

Specsavers is actually our regular family Opticians. The prices, range of glasses and service have always been great, and we've been using this branch for the last 9 years. It's familiar to our 6 and 8 year old boys, who have had their eyes tested regularly since they each started school.

My 8 year old was quite excited when I suggested he take the photos, but it was nothing compared to his 6 year old super-charged sensory-seeking brother, who was meanwhile bouncing off the walls. I have to credit all of the staff for ignoring him to the best of their ability and for not making me feel like a bad Mum. All bribes and even a screen ban threat were not getting him to stand or sit still.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Coconutgrass Personalised Children's Wooden Bag Tags review and Voucher Giveaway

Coconutgrass are a small company who sell interesting and often quirky printed gifts for all the family. Some items can be personalised, and my 6 and 8 year old boys have each been sent a Personalised Children's School Book Bag/Luggage Tag.

Using the website and ordering was really simple, and less than a week later the tags arrived beautifully wrapped, which is excellent if you are giving items as gifts. Obviously it also protects them from damage during their journey, although the finish is a nice high gloss which doesn't seem as if it will scratch or chip easily - ours certainly haven't so far.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Colt Express Family Game Review (age 10+)

Our latest game review is another more grown up game from Asmodee, suitable for 2-6 players aged 10+. Colt Express is a turn-taking battle with a difference, as each round has a set up phase, and then the action is played out - and it never goes exactly as you expected!

Inside the box are 132 game cards, wooden bandit-shaped counters and a Marshall, a press-out cardboard 3D train and scenery, 26 loot tokens and a rulebook.

The train once assembled has a locomotive and 6 carriages. A different number of carriages are used depending on the number of players. We played with 3, so used 3 carriages.

In a stroke of pure genius the Colt Express box is decorated inside and split into compartments to store the entire assembled set safely. It makes a really nice feature from something that is actually incredibly useful.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Minuscule: Valley Of The Lost Ants family DVD Review And Giveaway

Minuscule: Valley Of The Lost Ants is one of the latest family DVD releases from Lionsgate. A movie suitable for anyone, it mixes animation and live action backdrops really well, to create a nice tale that has enough adventure to keep my boys watching throughout, and is gentle enough to be perfect for a family movie afternoon.
This is a tale of excitement and peril starring a little ladybird who has become separated from his family. He very quickly finds himself attacked by some rogue insects (flies), and in the battle loses a wing.

Almost defenceless and crippled, he befriends a black ant named Mandible, and joins forces with his colony to defend their nest from an invasion by red fire ants.

Ninjago Event until October 20th at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, Manchester

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in Manchester has transformed into the world of Ninjago to celebrate the brand new LEGO Ninjago adventure Day of the Departed Ninjas. We went down first thing on Saturday morning to be among the first people to take a look for ourselves...and to meet the 6 foot tall Kai minifigure obviously....

All the children can take a ninja headband on entry - which they were all delighted about. During the Ninjago event children arriving at LEGOLAND dressed as a Ninja can have a free poster (while they still have stock). The trip starts with the Factory Tour, this time with added Ninja skills!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

This Book Thinks You're A Scientist book review (age 7+)

We've been reading a few non-fiction books recently, and one of our latest reviews 'This Book Thinks You're A Scientist' has really captured my 6 1/2 year old's attention. He currently wants to be a Scientist, and loves experimenting, especially Chemistry...

This Book Thinks You're A Scientist is by Harriet Russel. Absolutely crammed full of activities and experiments that children can do in their own home, if necessary using everyday items that most children can get hold of.

Monday, 19 September 2016

How I Came To Love Gary The Cat....

Well, I must love him because I just paid £181.30 to the nice vet for operating on him this morning. I don't usually shell out that sort of cash for randomers who turn up at my door wailing, but since I let him into the house 6 months ago, Gary has kind of grown on me. I still generally don't like cats though, let me make that one clear...

I'm actually a dog person. Dogs are loyal, they get excited to see you and care about you. It may be superficial, but I'll take it, I'm not proud. They mainly just want to sit as close as possible* to you and be petted.
*Unless there's a fire or other source of heat in the room, then you are history.