Word Has It – Fun from University Games

Word Has It is a fun game that’s suitable for all the family. It is easy to pick up, and a bit like Dobble, one that you’re fairly evenly matched.

Word Has It is good fun – it is easy to follow and has been one of those games we’ve really enjoyed playing, and that H immediately plays with her friends.

Word Has It in action

It has simple rules. There’s a wheel in the middle of the board, spin it to see which letter you need. Then choose a card. Press the button in the middle and you have 40 seconds to select individual word tiles and make a word beginning with the letter, based on the theme on the card.

Word Has It starter button

Now, you would think being an adult vs a child may be an unfair match, however, once the music gets going it’s a distraction. Imagine playing Countdown at home where it all seems lots easier vs playing it in the studio where I’m sure the music would make me even more nervous. Word Has It is like that. You need to focus on what you’re spelling as well as finding the letters. Then you have to build your word and the music tempo keeps building to add to your nerves.

It’s great fun. Even if H takes to putting up silly words from time to time!  The main thing is that if you keep things simple it’s a really fun game. It has been good for seeing how H thinks as well. Options on the cards include ‘made from metal’ or ‘found in a garage’. As an adult I’d think differently to my daughter which has resulted in some clever answers.

Word Has It letters and categories

Word Has It is for up to four players, and is recommended from age 7 upwards. I love that H has played it with her schoolfriends after school;  they’ve sat playing for at least half an hour too. Highly recommended!

For more information head here.

Ravensburger Make It Medley Jigsaw

We have been getting out as much as possible of late, but with some weather you don’t want to venture too far – and we’ve got into jigsaws of late. We have been sent a Ravensburger Make it Medley Jigsaw to review.

The Ravensburger Make it Medley jigsaw is a lot of fun – they’re billed as ‘a tantalising, tricky treat for puzzle fans. It’s challenging…. but not impossible’

doing the Ravensburger make it medley jigsaw

I would honestly say this was a fairly easy jigsaw to do. We had spent almost two weeks doing a Harry Potter jigsaw which felt like it was taking forever. It has a wooden frame around it which is really difficult to assemble – after all, you start around the edges first!

So this Ravensburger Make it Medley Jigsaw was quicker – but that didn’t make it less fun. Someone (aka Shaun) might have stayed up until 1am one morning doing some of it as he was enjoying it so much…

The pieces were good shapes – with enough of each image to work out where it belonged. I liked having the lid and a piece of paper with the image on so we could all share it to work out where things went.

The design of the puzzle has various things you would use to make things; bobbins of cotton, wool, ribbons and more. There were lots of beads on there too – plenty of different things going on.

ravensburger make it medley jigsaw

This was suitable for H (age 8) too. She would often get a bit frustrated if her jigsaw was too difficult, so kept at this one and didn’t need a break from it. When we finished she had a real sense of achievement!

The Ravensburger Make it Medley jigsaw is available now. (affiliate link) We were sent one for the purpose of this review. All opinions are our own.

Glam Goo – Slime Just Got Funky!

We have a Deluxe Pack of Glam Goo – a new slime activity with a twist.

Glam Goo contains some slime, a shoulder bag and a ring. Its purpose is to bling up the slime – and get creative. You also get three types of glitter to mix in, some pink and blue powder for colour, some perfume, and a mixing spoon.

Glam Goo deluxe pack

Inside the kit you get a large tub of ready-made slime, and that’s where the fun starts. It can be quite sticky, the instructions suggest adding bicarbonate of soda but we waited. We were mixing in some colour and glitter and scent.

Once the container is open the slime goes white and looks more like the slime we make at home.

Glam Goo Deluxe Pack contents

Having recently made slime at Brownies I know that the consistency can change quite dramatically with just a tiny bit too much of one element. You have to add a small bit at a time and work it, knead it together.

Mixing before adding Glam Goo

We started with less slime than we needed. H wanted to mix one of the concoctions suggested in the leaflet that comes with it – Shimmer Lake. You add some blue powder – start with small amounts and build it up. We added some glitter – Day Dreams – and finally Violet Vibes, a perfume which you can add a drop or two of.

Mixing Glam Goo

 

We mixed everything in a small Ikea bowl to try and contain the glitter which worked well. After a bit of kneading I found the slime gets sticky if you keep it in your hand, but if you keep kneading and squishing it, it has a good consistency.

Glam Goo ring ingredients

Then comes the fun part! Once the slime is ready and how you would like it, you can put into the mould part of the ring – or maybe the love heart of the bag – or even one of the compartments on the back of the bag.

Glam Goo bag compartments

H tried some more Glam Goo, making Purple Rain. This was a mixture of the blue and pink powders with more Violet Vibes – oh, and Unicorn Tears (some really light sparkly glitter circles). It looks really good in a section of the bag.

 

Glam Goo is really easy to use – helped by the slime being ready-made. As you add extra things to the mixture it does change, and it’s quite interesting seeing how much it differs the more you add.

Glam Goo bag modelled by H

The shoulder bag would probably fit a book in it – though it’s more for showing off than being practical. The slime isn’t too runny so it doesn’t gloop out of the bag, either.

zoom in on Glam Goo in bag with different glitter pieces

H says “I really like it – it wasn’t difficult to mix and I liked the suggestions the leaflet has. I want to make my own slime and add that in there too to see what it looks like

Glam Goo bag with three compartments filled

I think it’s safe to say that Glam Goo gets a thumbs up here – at last, slime with a purpose!

Glam Goo Ring

You can buy Glam Goo at all good stores, including Amazon. Their official website is here.

We were sent Glam Goo to review. 

Project Mc2 Pixel Purse – Some STEAM Fun!

H loves Project Mc2 – the Netflix series. She was delighted to try the Project Mc2 Pixel Purse recently. Bry who is one of the gang can be seen with a Pixel Purse – and they’re pretty awesome!

The Project Mc2 Pixel Purse is cool. Really cool. It has pixels on one side of it, which you can customise. Some are preloaded and others you can upload yourself via an app (Android and iOS).

The app is free and works fine on my Android phone, however wasn’t on Amazon Kids, unfortunately so H couldn’t use her tablet.

Project Mc2 Pixel Purse packaging

The Project Mc2 Pixel Purse is a battery operated purse that includes a cable inside which plugs into your phone headphone socket. You can upload your creations to the purse and show them off.

It really is that simple – and it’s a lot of fun. 8 year old H is pretty good with apps anyway and picked it up straight away.

Project Mc2 Pixel Purse phone plugged in transferring design

There are several options – you can create your own design or add a ready made shape – hearts, stars, square, triangle and flower. You can change colour to have all kinds of colourful things going on – it really is a world of colourfun! (my new word I made up there)

Project Mc2 Pixel Purse heart design transferring on phone

Project Mc2 is a series based around STEAM activities with the girls all being pretty smart in their chosen subject. They work for a Government organisation called NOV8 and use their science knowledge to help catch criminals that the police can’t catch alone.

The newest addition to NOV8 is Bry, who wears a Pixel Purse – H was excited when she spotted it in an episode!

The packaging describes what it is about perfectly (and in very small print!).

Project Mc2 Pixel Purse H design

“If you were to look at a phone, tablet or television screen with a magnifying glass, you would see it is made of lots of tiny dots called pixels. For example, when something is HD it means the screen has more pixels packed into it. The Project Mc2 Pixel Purse has very large pixels made from LED lights. LED stands for Light Emitting Diode and they act like tiny lightbulbs turning on when the microchip inside the pixel purse sends electricity to the LED. LEDs can be found in the headlights of newer cars and most traffic lights. Looking at one LED would be boring so we put lots of them together to create fun patterns and images. Each pixel can change colour and inside the Project Mc2 Pixel Purse is a microchip which remembers the images in which order to display them.”

I’ve read some reviews saying the app crashes on Android. We haven’t had that problem, but have found it can run quite slowly. I’d recommend closing all other apps that are open before using. So far we’ve had no problems and have been able to save designs mid-way without any bother.

Project Mc2 Pixel Purse I heart you design

“I really like how you can design your own patterns rather than having the ones that are pre-made” says H. “It’s quite fun to do and I enjoy doing it a lot.”

You can’t put anything inside the purse apart from your phone, so its use is limited. However, creatively it’s a lot of fun and gets a thumbs up from H. It isn’t the sort of thing you would get bored of as you can constantly update it.

The Project Mc2 Pixel Purse is available now from all good retailers. It’s over here at Amazon.

We were sent the pixel purse to review. 

Young Voices 2018

H took part in Young Voices 2018 recently. It was a wonderful, positive experience for all of us – and I’m also claiming it as H’s first gig that she has performed in!

Young Voices 2018 is the UK’s biggest school choir. With showcase gigs bringing the children together to sing at events around the country, it’s a special day. On our night at the O2 there were 7,800 schoolkids performing from around the South of the UK.

Young Voices 2018

H has never been the most confident child. She has never been comfortable speaking out – she can do it, she has to leave her comfort zone.

When the opportunity came to be a part of Young Voices 2018 I did my best to persuade her. An added bonus was her teachers from last year run it. We decided to give it a couple of weeks, see how it goes. That wasn’t necessary – after one week she loved it!

Delights such as ‘Africa’ by Toto, and choruses to ‘Kyrie’ by Mister Mr. Oh yes, my eighties brain said. Add ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ by Procul Harum – my mum and dad’s song – and there’s quite a cross section of tunes.

There has also been a transformation in H – she doesn’t stop singing at home, at all. She has a new-found confidence in other things too. This is all down to Young Voices.

young voices 2018 main show

With our performance at the O2 we decided to travel on the coach with people from school – it still took a while but we had enough time to grab food (top tip, preorder from one of the places inside the O2 – Five Guys was our expensive choice). The biggest delay we had was the security check at the gate to get into the O2 arena itself.

We missed the very start of Young Voices 2018 but only a couple of minutes thankfully. Armed with our National Trust binoculars we soon found H who looked like she was having the time of her life!

The two hours flew by, and before we knew it things were over.

“The children can’t leave until all the adults have gone” is possibly the best, quickest way to get several thousand families out of the O2 in record time. I say that, as some kids were leaving as we got to the main exit/entrance! It was really well done, and well organised.

Young Voices website can be found here. They’re taking registrations for 2019…

Bill and the Little Red Plane by Jonathan Walker and Rosaria Costa

Have you ever wondered where swifts go when the seasons change, and they fly away? In Bill and the Little Red Plane, Bill wonders just that. We have been sent a copy of the book to review.

Bill and the Little Red Plane by Jonathan Walker

Bill and the Little Red Plane tells the story of Bill who is playing outside watching the swifts fly away. He’s wondering where they go, when he sees a little red plane in the sky which does a loop the loop.

He’s taken to an airfield, where he gets to ride the little red plane. The pilot, Edward, wants to know one thing – where would Bill like to go? Bill says he’d like to follow the swifts.

So Bill and Edward keep flying, following the swifts and seeing the different countries they fly over from their plane. Eventually the swifts end their journey in a rainforest in Africa, and it’s time for Bill and Edward to head home.

Bill and the Little Red Plane by Jonathan Walker illustrations

Bill and the Little Red Plane is a lovely book for nature lovers, written by Jonathan Walker and illustrated by Rosaria Costa. This is a great way to introduce children to birds. There are lots of facts about swifts once the story has finished too.

I would put this book at Reception-age children upwards. It’s one which can be read aloud easily but is also good for a first longer reading book as well.

Bill and the Little Red Plane by Jonathan Walker swift facts

Bill and the Little Red Plane also has a Story Monsters Approved patch and a five star badge from Readers Favourites. Both awards are voted for by children.

You can find out more here, Bill and the Little Red Plane is published by Chirpy Stories and is available now!

We were sent a copy of Bill and the Little Red Plane for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own. 

Lego Star Wars Sustainable Advent Calendar 2017

It has become something of a tradition in this house every December that we buy H a Lego Advent Calendar. This year, however, things have changed for the better. Lego have launched a Lego Star Wars sustainable Advent Calendar!

The Lego Star Wars sustainable Advent Calendar looks exactly the same as previous years. Each container which holds your Lego surprise is made from 100% Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper which can be recycled along with the box.

Lego Star Wars Sustainable Advent Calendar 2017 - what it looks like

Given previous Lego Advent Calendars have had a plastic tray, this is a big and good move forward as far as reducing waste goes. That will save over a million plastic trays going to landfill sites.

Of course, rather than just recycling the trays, there are several other uses for them.. I’m thinking of a way we could use ours at Brownie meetings – they would make great seed trays to grow something in the new year.

Checking this video, I’m tempted to have a go at a few Stormtroopers too.

Then again… my attempt looks a bit like an ageing Stormtrooper! Still, we have plenty of others to practice on! Have you tried to make any? Share your pictures if so, I’d love to see!

Lego Star Wars Sustainable Advent Calendar 2017 Stormtrooper craft from the tray, easy crafting using Lego Star Wars recyclable trays

What I love the most about the Lego Star Wars Sustainable Advent Calendar is that it reduces landfill. This is such a good thing, and more companies should take this on board – it isn’t difficult to make little changes like this.

H’s Lego Star Wars advent calendar also has her current favourite in there, alas not due until Christmas Eve…Lego Star Wars Sustainable Advent Calendar 2017, Christmas BB-8 from the 24th December

Maybe next year it will be a Lego Porg….

The paper pulp tray is starting to appear this year and is available in approximately 60% of advent calendars. The advent calendar paper trays are one of the product innovations to improve the sustainability of LEGO packaging. The LEGO Group is working on improved product labelling to promote correct recycling, and recycled or bio based plastic packaging, among other initiatives.

Since 2013, the average size of LEGO boxes has been reduced by 14%. Using smaller boxes has so far saved approximately 10.000 truckloads, over 20.000 tonnes of cardboard, and CO2 emissions by 35.000 tonnes.

We received a Lego Star Wars Sustainable Advent Calendar for the purpose of review, all opinions are our own. 

Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre

We recently went to see Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre – the current home of Croydon’s Pantomime.

Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre runs from now until 31st December 2017.

The ingredients for a good panto : one dame. Essential. Must be in gaudy outfits, the more bright and outlandish the better. Slapstick. Essential component to hold things together. Laughter. Usually fits of giggles from the castmembers, especially if someone forgets their lines. Ad libbing. See previous, also essential – you must be able to think on your feet. Songs. Pop songs are always good, especially if everyone is likely to already know it. Audience participation. Essential. Compulsory. “It’s behind you!” and “oh no it isn’t” and joining in with songs or dances (if invited).

Jonny Awsum (Billy Trott) and Tim Hudson (Dame Trott) in Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre (photo James Spicer)

As seasoned panto goers, if our pantomime experience ticks all these boxes then it’s job done. Last night we saw Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre and can safely declare that it’s a good ‘un!

Jack and the Beanstalk stars Jonny Awsum (who reached the semi finals in Britain’s Got Talent – I recommend watching some YouTube videos of his performances beforehand), and Paisley Billings who is the receptionist on E4’s Tattoo Fixers. I think that underplays Paisley’s talents a lot – this lady has stage presence and a big, powerful, incredible voice.

Jonny Awsum plays Silly Billy Trott, the token daft character who keeps the story going. He’s funny and his facial expressions made us laugh a lot. You know when someone is naturally funny? That’s Jonny Awsum.

Paisley Billings is Fairy Kale. She pops up throughout the story, helping Jack Trott with his beanstalk issues and acting as a narrator.

Paisley Billings (Fairy Sweet Pea) in Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre (photo James Spicer)

There’s plenty of cheers and “HELLO BILLY!” goings on from the audience too, as well as the compulsory “booooooooo!” to Fleshcreep played marvellously by Steve Edwin.

Steve Edwin (Fleshcreep) in Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre (photo James Spicer)

Pop songs there are aplenty, all recognisable which is always a winner in panto terms.

A special mention must go to the Panto Dame Tim Hudson who made us laugh out loud several times throughout the show too.

The slapstick was as required, and the supporting actors and local young performers did a fabulous job too.

For the last two years the Croydon Pantomime has left its old home of Fairfield Halls and has moved to the nearby Waddon Leisure Centre. We had no idea what to expect either. It’s the main hall area, converted into a popup theatre – and it works too. The rear seating is raised as well, guaranteeing a good view for all.

Charlotte Bramwells (Princess - centre) and cast members of Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre (photo James Spicer)

One thing I thought they could maybe add is a big sign asking people to please not take photos or videos… I think I had 15 people in front of me doing just that which got a bit offputting at times! But it didn’t distract from the show too much as the performers gave it their all and delivered.

Q Productions who created this panto felt that Croydon not having a production would be wrong – and fortunately all the companies they needed to agreed it could happen. I’m delighted that we have a local panto, especially since we’ve recently lost theatres in Carshalton and Sutton. These pantomimes can only be a success if you give your support, and if they’re a good production. Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre is exactly that, you can still buy tickets, just head over here.

Jack and the Beanstalk at Waddon Leisure Centre runs for two hours. This does not include a 20 minute interval between acts. We were sent tickets for the purpose of review, all opinons are our own. 

The Letterbox Club Festive Appeal

BookTrust have a scheme, The Letterbox Club who send out books to children in care throughout the year. The Letterbox Club Festive Appeal has just launched. Please read on and if you can, please donate.

The Letterbox Club Festive Appeal is happening now. For £10 a child in care will receive a book and gift this Christmas. Here’s an example of the kind of package they receive through the year.

Book Trust Letterbox example
We visited the BookTrust offices a while ago, and while there learnt about The Letterbox Club – a service they provide which sends children in care books to keep. Children are sometimes taken from their parents with very few possessions, and until they’re placed with adoptive parents, often have just a handful of toys and very little that truly belongs to them.

The Letterbox Club sends them a book package throughout the year and is put together specially for them. Often it can be the first item of post the child has ever received.

Then I heard about The Letterbox Club Festive Appeal via a friend on Facebook. By donating £10 you can give a child a book, somewhere they can escape and enjoy, hopefully making their days a little bit easier. BookTrust have selected six hardback books which will be sent to children aged 3-13 years. The Books are picked according to the age of the child and each child will receive a specially- created festive poster and postcard by illustrator Adam Stower.

The Letterbox Club Festive Appeal

BookTrust CEO Diana Gerald said:
Christmas can be a particularly difficult time for children in care. Books have the magical ability to transform children to different worlds and to make them feel a part of something special. Why not donate today and help make a child in care’s Christmas that bit brighter.”

H and I have donated, and I hope you will take time out to as well if you can. There are 9,700 children in care in the UK.

Case study 1: Emma Norry, aspiring author, Bournemouth.
When you’re a child in care, you have very little control over what happens to you and the choices you make are often limited. To be able to choose which fictional worlds to explore, enter and escape to is invaluable.

“Books are a way out of and into what you may be experiencing. They are a chance to make new friends, access new worlds and to realise that you might not be alone after all. Books took me places I needed to go. No matter who came and went, books were always there showing me how similar we all were inside.

“For me, I knew that between the pages of a book was a place I was always welcome. Books didn’t mind who I was or wasn’t, where I had come from or where I might end up. Books remained the same even though all around me
was constantly changing. I clung to my books like a life raft. Books were my constant home and I carried words inside me, as armour and protection and comfort.”

Case study 2: Darren McCartney: “I spent some time growing up in care it was sometimes difficult. It wasn’t a particularly unhappy time but sometimes I
would struggle. I felt like I needed an escape and I found that in books. Reading gave me a method of forgetting about what was happening. You don’t realise at the time that’s what you’re doing, but looking back if it hadn’t been for a good book I realise now my time in care would’ve been a lot more difficult.

The Letterbox Club Festive Appeal is something which is so easy to donate and give back to. If you head here £10 will send one book to one child, £50 to five children, £100 to 10 children.

Blue Peter Book Awards 2018 Shortlist

We’re a bit late to the party this year, but we’re still here and supporting! The fantastic Blue Peter Book Awards 2018 shortlist has been announced – and there are some great books in there.

Blue Peter Book Awards 2018 logo, unveiled with the Blue Peter Book Awards Shortlist

The Blue Peter Book Awards 2018 shortlist has been announced! Wizards, warriors, wabbits, weird worlds, leper colonies and creepy things take the 2018 top spots. They’re all competing to win the Best Story and Best Book with Facts.

The contenders for Best Story are ‘The Island at the End of Everything’ by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, ‘Wed Wabbit’ by Lissa Evans and ‘The Wizards of Once’ by Cressida Cowell. Each of these nominations have strong girl characters who must undertake dangerous journeys in their quest to triump over evil. But who will triumph from the Blue Peter Book Awards 2018 shortlist?

Battling to be crowned Best Book with Facts are ‘Corpse Talk: Ground- Breaking Scientists’ by Adam Murphy & Lisa Murphy, ‘Real-Life Mysteries’ by Susan Martineau, illustrated by Vicky Barker and ‘Beyond the Sky: You and the Universe’ by Dara Ó Briain, illustrated by Dan Bramall.

Blue Peter Book Awards 2018 Shortlist

BookTrust are again managing the Blue Peter Book Awards. All the books are published in the last 12 months. They are voted for by over 500 children from 12 schools across the UK. The winners will be revealed on World Book Day on the 1st March 2018.

The judges are ‘Kid Normal’ authors Greg James and Chris Smith, Poet and ‘Darcy Burdock’ author Laura Dockrill. School Librarian of the Year 2016 Amy McKay and Blue Peter editor and non-voting chair Ewan Vinnicombe make up the panel. They also selected the shortlist.

Greg James said. “Chris and I love Blue Peter SO much so to be asked to judge their Book Award was a total dream. It was brilliant to lock ourselves away and get lost in the entries. It was an incredibly tough choice but we are confident we’ve chosen books that will inspire a new generation of young readers.”

Amy McKay said: “It was a massive honour and pleasure to judge the Blue Peter Book Awards, I loved every minute of it! There were many fantastic books to choose from and I’m very proud of our eventual shortlists. I’m already eagerly awaiting hearing which books children vote as the winners.”

Blue Peter editor, Ewan Vinnicombe said: “In Blue Peter’s 60th year the Book Awards will play a key role in our celebrations. The shortlist is just so exciting and shows the creative strength in children’s publishing at the moment. With a diverse mix in both categories, I can’t wait to find out what school children in the UK decide are their favourites.”

The Blue Peter Book Awards have been celebrating children’s literature since 2000. BookTrust has managed the Blue Peter Book Awards since 2008. The 2017 winners were Kieran Larwood and David Wyatt who won Best Story with Podkin One Ear and David Long and Kerry Hyndman who won Best Book with Facts for Survivors.

Laura Dockrill explained. “I adored judging the Blue Peter Book Award. The nominated list was incredibly strong and made judging the prize so difficult. Which I think is a very good thing for the world of children’s books! I met wizards, talking toys with speech impediments, and was flown across the globe to marvellous new landscapes. I met big foot, uncovered mysteries
and had my head blown off by space facts. It was a wonderful privilege and the shortlist is stunning!

Diana Gerald, CEO, BookTrust commented. “The Blue Peter Book Awards are a brilliant way to celebrate children’s literature and get youngsters excited about reading. BookTrust is honoured to be involved in such prestigious awards and hopefully inspire even more children to become lifelong readers.”

Keep up-to-date with the Awards at www.booktrust.org.uk/bluepeter and on Twitter by following @Booktrust and #BPBA

H earns her first Blue Peter badge