For an alternative Easter present, consider a Beaker
Creatures Reactor Pod for your child!! We were gifted* a Beaker Creatures
Reactor Pod for the purpose of this review, and you can read about it below.
How do Beaker Creatures Reactor Pods work?
You need a bowl of water and lots of towels (trust me on
this one!). Simply place the egg into the water and watch it dissolve. After a
few minutes, you’ll end up with a toy within a small, waterproof plastic egg.
Open the egg, and voila, you have your toy!!
The children loved the colour and the fizz of the egg as
well as getting a toy at the end. They especially enjoyed the purple water, playing
with the dissolvable egg and crunching with their fingers. They continued
playing with the toy in the water which I though was a great sensory experience
but it got a bit messy for the grown-ups (hence the need for towels)!!
What do you get with a Beaker Creatures Reactor Pod?
Within the box, you get a mini creature, a poster with
some facts and a classification card on which monster could be in your pod.
How many Beaker Creatures Reactor Pods are there?
Within Series 1, there are 30 to collect! If truth be
told, you might be fed up sooner than the children if you try to collect all
From what age are Beaker Creatures Reactor Pods suitable?
The recommended age is 5+ although younger children will
enjoy the fizz and the colour of the product, there is a choking hazard. As
such, children under 3 years are probably best staying away from the toy or
being closely monitored.
How much does a Beaker Creatures Reactor Pod cost?
They are currently £4 and can be purchased from Learning Resources here:
* Whilst the product was gifted, no attempt was made to
influence this review. Also, no money was given for this review.
Wow!! What a year 2018 has been!! So many positive things have happened this year for Heidi and I. Looking back, I think that it has been the best year for quite some time.
Holidays in 2018
2018 was the year when Heidi and I went on our first overseas holidays as just a two. Taking a 4 year old halfway across the world is both scary and exciting, but something that was long overdue! We went to Jamaica in February, and Spain in August and we have both got the confidence to do it again!
The highlight of the Jamaica trip was swimming with dolphins, which you can read here. You can read about our Spanish trip here. If you’re thinking of travelling alone with a 4 year old, this blog post is ideal for you!
Love in 2018
2018 was the year in which I started dating after separation. Whilst an extremely terrifying and stressful experience at start with, it does turn out that you can be happy after separation. Who knows what the future will hold. But right now, we are living in the moment, and enjoying being in each others company, when possible.
Having 2 single parents date each other is extremely difficult on the diary. We have had 2 child free weekends in the entire year!! However, both children love each other very much and get on really well. We will always put the children before the relationship and that is so important to us.
Unfortunately, there was sadness in 2018, when our family dog, Jack, died. Telling Heidi about his death was awful and probably the worst part of the year. You can read about how we coped, with some hints/tips to breaking bad news, in this blog post.
However, with most things, there is a happy ending to the story, and we have a new dog, Harley, and Heidi is besotted with him!
Days Out in 2018
Because Heidi turned 5 in 2018, it is a little easier to go on days out and be more impulsive. We did a random day trip to London, went to Chester Zoo, as well as Go Ape at Temple Newsam. I think the favourite was taking in the Operation Ouch stage show in London, where Heidi met her idols, Dr Chris and Dr Xand. I really hope that they bring that show elsewhere in the UK.
Days Out are much easier now, and I hope that they give inspiration to those who have been in a similar situation. Life does get easier and there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
Blogging in 2018
I always said that the blog is an online diary that I will give to Heidi when she is old enough. That will always be the case. However, I have had more and more fun with it 2018. We have travelled across the country with National Express coaches, been on a podcast and been invited to be on TV.
Perhaps the coolest thing was being in the Yorkshire Evening Post and when Heidi saw her face in the paper, it was amazing! She is starting to pick up bits about what the blog is and that her daddy is “Leeds Dad”, but I try to keep it separate from her.
At some point, she might want me to stop, or want to join in, but until that day, it will always be about creating an online diary for her.
Work in 2018
Whilst some people do blogging on a full time basis, I am nowhere near that stage, nor would I want to be! However, this year I got a new job, with a new set of challenges to overcome! It provides more stability for Heidi and me, and I’ve taken the step to be open and honest about my martial situation, which was a great relief. Also, I have been open about the blog and so most of the office knows what we have been up to over the weekend before Monday morning!!!
We have already booked to go to Florida in 2019, which will be amazing as always. However, I just hope that 2019 is just as exciting, positive and enjoyable as 2018.
A lot of people have read the blog this year, and to each one of you, thank you. Every comment really does make it worthwhile and I hope that there are loads more positive things to talk about in 2019!
We were invited to review a number of Edu Print Plus posters for this review. Edu Print Plus supply a range of educational prints which are fun, inspirational and really well designed.
The Edu Print Plus posters fall into two main categories – Educational and Motivational. The educational posters are either based around multiplication, which we have, or around vocabulary. I guess it depends on what stage your child is at, but the vocabulary ones are lovely because they provide a number of synonyms which will expand your child’s vocabulary.
The motivational posters are my favourite however, because their messages are so powerful. The problem that you’re going to have is picking one (or two!) that mean the most to you and your child!
I chose the “Dream Big, Be Kind. Work Hard” poster because it is everything that every child should do and hopefully it will rub off on Heidi.
I also chose the “Don’t be afraid to be different”. This is because Heidi is at an age where children can start being a bit cruel and it is important to reinforce the message that it is ok to a bit different, a bit special. The image along with the narrative is very simple to understand for a child as well.
I love these types of posters so much, that I wouldn’t mind having a few of them in the office at work!!
The posters are not made out of the glossy paper which you normally associate with posters. The are made from art paper and with a velvet finish and surface protection, they are really durable.
One slight problem is because of the weight and the finish, the Edu Print Posters don’t stay on the wall with sellotape. As such, blu-tack is the way to go!!
The poster is A3 in size and as such, is just big enough for above a child’s bed. They don’t come with a frame, but to be honest, they look really nice without a frame!
As at November 2018, Edu Print Plus will ship for free anywhere in the world, when you order 4 or more posters.
All in all, Edu Print Plus provide a really good quality of poster, which would be ideal for a Christmas or birthday present. I’m sure that over time, we’ll get some more as Heidi grows up.
Full Disclosure: We were provided the posters free of charge for this blog post. However, no attempt was made to influence or alter the content of the post.
Sounds of the Forest is a book and owl whistle combination that is designed to help bond adult and child whilst reading. It is beautifully presented and is perfect to introduce children to the world of reading.
Sounds of the Forest – Book
The story is about a baby owl going through the forest, experiencing all the sights and sounds that the forest has to offer. Given the age range (2 to 7 years) there clearly won’t be anything scary or anything that needs checking beforehand!
The book is about 12 pages long with generally a short paragraph on one page, and illustrations on the opposite page. It isn’t a difficult read and so children in Year 1 and 2 should be able to read most of it.
When reading it, it is quite an easy book to get into a rhythm whilst reading and it is more like a poem rather than a book. As such, it is quite a soothing read.
Just a word of note that the story uses “Mommy” rather than “Mummy”, which might need some explaining!!
Sounds of the Forest – Owl Whistle
The Owl Whistle is relatively small for grown-up hands, but pretty much perfect for pre-school hands. Even better, the whistle isn’t too loud, therefore it’s not going to get on anyone’s nerves, or wake up younger siblings!
The Owl Whistle is also not too difficult to use, even for pre-schoolers. This means that they can get involved with the story pretty much straight away. This is especially because the whistle needs no assembly or batteries, only a quick little wipe!
The book is quite easy to follow and so your little one will easily learn when it is the right time to blow the whistle!
The book lends itself to using other sounds, rather than just the whistle. As such, if you get creative, you can have a tapping of a woodpecker and a crunching of a squirrel. Perfect if you have children fighting over the whistle!
Where you can buy Sounds of the Forest?
You can buy Sounds of the Forest from a range of retailers. However, a couple are:
The Little Tikes Remote Control Dozer Racer is a really cool remote control toy, aimed at children 3 and above. It has a full range of movements and the tipper can go up and down. Whilst the remote control aspect may be difficult for some, it is a good toy even if you only use it manually.
Because the toy is a bulldozer and a car, as well as being manual or remote controlled, little ones should have hours of fun with it!
The Little Tikes Remote Control Dozer Racer has a sturdy outer plastic shell which means that it should be fine it it gets rammed into doors and walls constantly!! Because the wheels are on tracks, it means that it can take a bit more wear and tear compared to other such toys.
The remote control is a bit small and I can see that it could get lost to the bottom of the toy box. As a result, you probably need to keep an eye on it!! We did notice that the remote control lost signal at times as well. However, the set up of the toy was quite straight forward.
The videos within this Little Tikes Remote Control Dozer Racer post will speak much better than the words!!
The vehicle can move forwards and backwards at ease and has a very small turning circle. At a push of a button, it can transform from a bulldozer to a car and whilst it does make a bit of noise, that is probably good so that oncoming adults and pets can move out of the way!
The vehicle moves really well on carpet. Whilst a hard floor would be best to get top speeds, we didn’t have any problems on carpet.
Because the toy is easy to use, it makes it a really fun toy to play with. You could imagine that the grown-ups would have just as much fun with it as the little ones!!
The Little Tikes Remote Control Dozer Racer requires 8 AA batteries to work (6 for the vehicle, 2 for the remote control). These do not come with the product, so please be aware of this before giving it to your child!
The remote control aspect of the Little Tikes Remote Control Dozer Racer may be a little too precise for preschool fingers without assistance. However, that just means that they can have fun pushing and pulling the bulldozer manually.
This saves the batteries for when the children are asleep and the adults can have a play!!
IMPORTANT! I was gifted the Little Tikes Remote Control Dozer Racer for the purposes of this blog post. However, no influence has been made to influence this post.
We were invited to see the new Thomas & Friends movie “Big World! Big Adventures!TM The Movie” at the Showcase de Luxe at Leeds. Due to it falling on a “non Heidi” weekend, Heidi didn’t come along. So it was me, my new-ish girlfriend and her 2 year old boy watching the sneak preview.
The plot is relatively simple and given that this post is aimed at adults. As such, I’m going to assume that you don’t mind reading about the plot!!
Thomas comes across a new character, called Ace, and his eyes are opened to the possibility of travelling the world. Along the way, he comes across friends and challenges to make the journey easier and harder in equal measures. Thomas has to work out for himself what is the right path to take throughout the movie.
The movie takes in all 5 continents along the way, so there is some geographic education within the film. However, the basis of the film is educating morals and the right way to behave.
The Thomas & Friends movie is 80 minutes long and that is more than long enough for the target market. After about 45 minutes, you could hear that some of the children were getting a bit restless but that is bound to happen. However, it appeared that virtually everyone made their way to the end of the movie, which is quite an achievement.
As with all trips to the cinema, it is always worth getting food and drinks to keep the little ones occupied. A teddy bear often works well, especially when it goes really dark!
The old favourites from the island of Sodor are in the movie at the beginning, including Annie, Clarabelle, James and Gordon. However, when Thomas makes his around the world adventure, a couple of new characters enter the world of Thomas. These are:
Nia, who is a Kenyan female train, voiced by Yvonne Grundy. She is remarkably positive and thoughtful throughout.
Ace, who is an Australian rally car, voiced by Peter Andre. He is quite a selfish character, who leads Thomas astray but he isn’t as brave as he thinks he is.
The Scary Bits
As the movie is aimed at the little ones (probably 8 year olds and under), there aren’t any very scary parts. There is a scene towards the end which might be considered frightening. This is when the trains are on a snowy mountain and might crash, but that is the only part really.
The movie doesn’t contain any really loud parts of the movie either and so little ones who get scared of loud noises or music should be fine. Given this, I can imagine that the movie would suit children with autism, but I can’t speak from experience on that one.
Thomas & Friends’ “Big World! Big Adventures!TM The Movie” is certainly a child friendly movie that will entertain Thomas enthusiasts throughout. If a movie can keep a 2 year old entertained and still, then there must be something good about it. At the time of writing, IMDb has the movie 6.7 out of 10, which feels a little mean to be honest. I feel that if you’re in the target market, you’ll enjoy it.
The release date is 20th July 2018, and you can book your tickets now for your local Showcase Cinemas here.
Full Disclaimer: We were offered free entry to Thomas & Friends for the purposes of this post. However, no influence has been made to alter the content of the post.
We were invited to review “The Clangers” magazine, (for those who don’t know, “The Clangers” is a children’s TV programme which runs on the BBC) and given the success of the programme, they have launched a spin-off magazine, aimed at 3-6 year olds.
As a bit of a change, the review is in a Question and Answer format:
Did your child enjoy the new Clangers magazine?
Yes, seeing the smile on her face when she opened the parcel and started reading it. You can’t fake that kind of reaction!
Which part did they enjoy the most?
Definitely the stickers! I think that every child likes stickers, although Heidi particularly wanted to wear the stickers for some reason!
Would you buy it again?
Did you find it educational?
I particularly liked the alphabet pull out (we had been searching for one all weekend. Also, the page about the moon was very good, particularly as we are getting into planets/space etc
The font type particularly for the Singing Asteroid was nice and clear and large and while it sounds like a simple thing, it makes it easier to teach letters
What did they think of their free gift?
(The Clangers Whistle) The whistle didn’t have a blowhole in (presumably a manufacturing fault) and it took me a while to work it out – in fact, that should have been the most educational part…for me!
Once we did a bit of DIY we managed to get a decent sound out of it and played with it for almost as long as the magazine
Which Clanger do you love the most?
For the purposes of the review, we received a copy of the magazine for free.