This is a lovely, large Jigsaw that doubles up as a play mat with 12 stand up characters. I really liked the multifunctional aspect of this and my 4 and 3 year olds both really enjoyed playing with it, especially the play mat side of it. I can see it being something that they will keep going back to, and definitely a good one for keeping them busy and quiet during the school holidays!
They were able to play with it independently but my 4 year old also wanted me to join with him and make up stories using the play pieces as characters. There are several adult and child play pieces including a horse rider, and a variety of animals from cows and pigs down to the smaller duck and chicken, and of course the large Tractor piece which was a favourite for both boys.
It is designed to work together with the Giant Road Jigsaw, which we don’t have but I am quite tempted to buy as they would work really well together and I like the fact you can make the road up into different layouts!
Have a look at the video below to see the Farm Jigsaw Playmat in action and see my boys’ reactions to it, and come along to Playfest at 8.30 on Tuesday on Twitter or Thursday on Facebook to see the other Orchard Toys games we all have been trying this week!
We are one of 100 families testing out the Toddlebike, a first bike for ages 18 months to 3 years. We will be testing it out for 3 months to see how our youngest (19 months) gets on with it.
The toddle bike arrived this morning! The first thing I noticed was how light it is, even before I opened the parcel I was surprised how light it was, it almost felt as though the box was empty – but no, it is just super light! It weighs less than 1 kilo. It’s made of plastic rather than wood so that obviously allows it to be much lighter than other balance bikes, but even compared to the usual ride ons we have around the house it is noticeably way lighter.
The next thing that pleased me was no construction necessary, it can be used straight out of the box. A massive plus for me as I hate putting things together.
As soon as my little one spotted the bike he was eager to jump on and straight away was able to scoot around the house on it, which he is still doing as I type this. He seems to be enjoying himself and getting the idea of it pretty quickly, so I will be interested to see how much more he picks up speed over the 3 months and how well it works outside.
I’ll add updates throughout our trial time to see how he is getting on, and some pics and hopefully videos of him riding along.
Now just waiting for the weather to improve so we can get the chance to let him lose on it outside!
For any mums whose little one’s love to try out new toys there is a fantastic opportunity at the moment from The Toadstool toy shop. You can see the details here on Facebook, and get the form to apply.
The first I heard of The Toadstool was when they participated in Izziwizzi Kids Playfest to come and tell us about their new product, the Worry Eaters or “SorgenFresser” BooBoo dolls. They have a brilliant range including loads of lovely wooden toys, so many things to chose from!
We will definitely be applying! And good luck to all the others who go for it.
I was lucky enough to win tickets to The Croods preview screening in the Empire Leicester Square, from another blog: Mum of 3 Boys.
I took my 4 year old and it was actually his first time in the cinema, and my 1st time seeing a movie in 3D and we both really enjoyed it. The 3d element of it was pretty impressive and if anyone else is like me and hadn’t got round to trying a 3d movie yet then I do recommend you give it a try!
The Croods is a brand new movie from Dreamworks, all about a family of cavemen. It’s told mainly from the point of view of Eep, of the teenage girl in the family. The family is made up of Eep, her mum, dad, granny, younger brother Thunk and baby Sandy.
The dad is really overprotective and worried about any possible dangers so he just wants to keep them all in the dark in the cave as much as possible. Naturally Eep starts to gets really frustrated with this and wants to go out, because of her curiousity about the world and what else could be out there. They then meet another character “Guy” and find out from him that it’s going to be the end of the world. Their cave gets destroyed so they have no choice but to make a change and go on a journey to find a new life.
It’s a funny movie which also has its heart warming moments, and although its slightly scary for the more sensitive child my 4 year old managed okay with it, and he does get scared easily!
Although its one for the children, I did enjoy it myself too. It’s very well made and as a lot of the background to the story is the relationship between the dad and daughter then any parents watching will be able to see it from both sides.
I think we will be looking out for it once it comes out on dvd, so that we can watch it again!
My 4 year old boy is mad about maths and numbers, so when he saw this Mathable Junior game he was really excited and immediately wanted to play.
It is a 2 in 1 board game, with a different version on each side of the board and comes complete with 60 number tiles, 4 tile holders, an instruction booklet and of course the board itself.
When you first look at the board it is immediately noticeable that it has some similarities to a scrabble board, and the game is like an adaption of the popular game scrabble but changing it from letter and words into maths and numbers. The rules involve adding or subtracting two numbers next to each other on the board, to get an answer which allows you to place one of your tiles. It seems to be a fairly simple concept and my 4 year old was able to grasp it with some guidance. The number tiles go up to 20, so the game requires the child to be able to do addition and subtraction only up to a total of 20.
The recommended age group is 5-9 years, which seems about right as my 4 year old needed a little guidance but a child of 5-9 may be able to play this game among themselves without needing an adult, depending on their ability.
My little boy really enjoyed it, and kept asking to play it again, and when his aunty came over he got it out and got her to play it with him too.
The game play was longer than I expected, it seemed to last about one hour to use up every single tile, but it kept his attention all that time and he wanted to play it again straight after. I would say for an adult its not the most exciting of games to play but for a child who enjoys maths they will really enjoy it and I felt it had a lot of educational value. My son is in reception year at school and I’m sure this game will be reinforcing the type of things he must be learning in school.
I have seen there are various other Mathable games available in the range, for older children. So those will be something to look out for in a few more years once my son has outgrown this one. There is ’Mathable’, ‘Mathable Deluxe’, ‘Mathable Quatro’ – a card game, and even a Mathable game book, and perhaps even more that I have not come across, so it is quite a good range for whatever age or ability of child you have. But for the younger maths enthusiast like my son, Mathable Junior is definitely a good option combining fun and learning!
Little Tiger Press: “Look Out Ladybird” & “I Don’t Want To Go To Bed”
We recently joined the Little Tiger Parents Panel along with several other families, and have been enjoying reading the books we have been sent. We always make time to read a book (or normally quite a few books) before bed and these story books from Little Tiger Press have been ideal for bedtime reading.
First up is “Look Out, Ladybird!” by Jack Tickle
This is a lovely colourful book featuring Lazy Ladybird. The story is all about the Ladybird trying to learn to fly but finding it difficult. She feels like she will never learn but eventually she gets it right. This is something all children will be able to empathise with and is a nice positive message that if you keep going you will achieve in the end!
On her journey Ladybird bumps into various animals and there are lots of sound effects written in the book. What I really liked about it is that her flight path is shown on every path with dotted lines so this could be traced by the child. The boys and I also enjoyed how the book has a very onomatopoeic feel and rolls off the tongue nicely. The characters are also done with very expressive faces so it’s quite a lively book.
The last page also has a fold out feature to extend the page which shows the ladybird on her way as she has finally learned to fly – although she is about to bump into a big purple bear!
The next book is “I Don’t Want To Go To Bed!” by Julie Sykes and Tim Warner. This was actually supplied by Amazon Vine (a separate review programme I am on) and not the Parent’s Panel but when I saw this book available I was keen to try it out as the boys had really enjoyed the other books we had from Little Tiger Press.
This is a new version of a classic children’s book. I actually think I remember the story from when I was little myself. It is all about a tiger who doesn’t want to go to bed because he wants to stay up and play. One day his mum let’s him stay up so he goes around to see all of his friends but he finds everyone else is getting ready to go to bed, and in the end he is not sure what to do and starts to feel a bit scared so he goes back to his mum and falls asleep.
It’s a simple and cute story with loads of bright and appealing pictures throughout the book.
Both of these books were very suitable for my 4 year old, he enjoyed listening to the stories and as they are quite simple with not too many words on each page they are ideal for early readers to start reading themselves with help for some of the trickier words.
We were recently asked by the Mummy News website to try out the new Little Dish range of fresh filled pastas, as I am one of their Mummy Reviewers.
There are two types of filled pasta in the range: Mini Tortellini with cheese and tomato, and mini ravioli with spinach and ricotta. They are recommended for babies and toddlers of 1 year + so were perfect for my 18 month old, but also enjoyed by my 3 and 4 year olds.
Little Dish meals are carefully created without any unnatural ingredients or unnecessary salt, so I felt happy that even though it is an easy and quick option it is not a meal you would have to feel guilty about giving.
These filled pastas are very easy to cook, you just boil for a couple of minutes and they are ready. They can be eaten either with a sauce or without, and I served them simply with chopped raw vegetables alongside, so an extremely quick meal – yet wholesome and nutritious.
I was also surprised that the bags actually go further than you would think. It is quite a small package but makes enough for several meals. I made the mistake of over estimating it the first time I made it, and had some left over so I thought I would give it a taste myself! I found it nice, so definitely felt comfortable giving it to the children knowing it is something I would have been happy to eat myself. They are actually very similar to the fresh filled pasta you can find for adults in the supermarket, but the main difference would be that they are all natural and without any added salt and that they are slightly smaller.
My children enjoyed eating them. They regularly enjoy pasta with sauce and vegetables but filled pasta is not something I had thought to give them often, but I will now bare it in mind to give them again as it just adds a bit more variety! My 4 year old said he preferred the ravioli and the younger two seemed to prefer the tortellini, but they were all happy to eat both.
Little Dish were also kind enough to include some money off vouchers along side these meals, so we thought we would give a try to some of their other ranges and got some of their children’s ready meals for our 18 month old to try. We got the fish pie and the pasta with cheese peas and broccoli trees. There are loads of other delicious looking ones too. My little boy also loved these meals especially the fish pie!
All the Little Dish products the children tried were good quality and extremely convenient for me, while being tasty and healthy for them so I would have to say its great, and something that can really help out on days when you are short of time and need something quick and easy to feed the children. I have to admit that like many people when in a rush I do sometimes go down the route of ready made fish fingers from the supermarket, or an oven pizza or anything like that but health wise, especially thinking about the salt content, the Little Dish meals are drastically better so will definitely be looking out for Little Dish in the supermarket in future.
We have recently joined the Little Tiger Press parents panel and received a couple of books to look at and review. All 3 boys really enjoy books and reading so they were eager to get started straight away! The first book I am going to talk about is the My First Touch and Trace: Count 123.
Count 123 is a lovely book with hard pages and flaps to lift up on every page but the aspect that really makes it stand out is the tracing. All of the numbers are slightly indented, creating a groove for the child’s finger and have arrows to show which direction to trace. It also has small indented circles on the last pages for the child to touch and feel while counting, first to ten and then to twenty.
It’s a simple concept – but very very good! The idea of finger tracing reminded me of sand paper letters which are used in the Montessori method, and is beneficial for children’s pre-writing skills. I felt that the tracing added a really nice extra tactile element to the learning, particularly for my 3 year old who is on the autistic spectrum and has very delayed speech. He’s not able to clearly pronounce any of the numbers but does have an interest in them and we are starting to teach him the concept of counting and numbers, so what I really liked was that with the tracing he is able to actively participate in the book rather than just passively being read to. He seemed to get a lot out of it and I will be revisiting it regularly with him.
Lifting the flaps and looking at the pictures also engaged him and kept his attention. All the pictures are very nice and bright, and modern.
I like that it goes up to 20 rather than just 10 as some books do, as that made it more suitable for my 4 year old too. Although it is probably more aimed at preschool children and my 4 year old is in reception and able to count and write these numbers already he just absolutely loves numbers so the moment he saw this he was all over it and really did enjoy it. The tracing is supposed to help improve motor skills, which would help to neaten handwriting so it may still help him.
I would really recommend the book, we were quite impressed with it.
Look out for our review of Look Out, Ladybird! also from Little Tiger press, which will be coming soon on the blog as that is the 2nd book we received.
For a simple craft activity to keep the kids busy in half term, we decided to do painting rocks and stones. I had seen some really lovely examples on pinterest, and although ours are maybe not as impressive as some (well the kids are only 4, 3 and 1 – and I am a bit “artistically challenged” shall we say!) they really enjoyed the activity and I think the results have come out quite well.
This is a really simple activity to do, all you need is some paints, some paintbrush, some quite large smooth stones, and any extras like glitter to decorate if you want.
We took the easy route and bought a kit with the stones in it from the works, but now that we have done this I will be looking out for any suitable looking stones and rocks when out in the garden or park, or a similar thing could be done with shells collected on a day out at the beach.
The nice thing about painting on stones is that it adds an extra sensory element to just normal painting on paper! It really got them more excited and kept their concentration.
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