Sounds Like Fun – Jolly Phonics with Cartoonito

Sounds Like Fun is a new programme shown daily on Cartoonito. It uses the Jolly Phonics system – which also happens to be the one H is using at school. We’re impressed!

Sounds Like Fun With Cartoonito

Sounds Like Fun has 42 episodes in total, each based around a phonics sound – as in i, o, ee, ai and so many more. Each programme is just five minutes long, and follows the Jolly Phonics system. The Cartoonitos use a multi-sensory method to communicate each of the 42 letter sounds, teaching children to listen for the sounds in words to quickly improve their reading, writing and spelling.

I’ve watched out for some good phonics programmes, and find this is exactly what H is being taught at school – they don’t do any of the phonics songs but do each sound using the same action (puff out the candle on the pink pig cake – p-p-p vs blow the candle out on the cake) which we’re pleased with.

Sounds Like Fun With Cartoonito

At the start you’re told the sound for that episode, followed by a short film featuring key words based on that sound. These words are then spelt out and blended at the end. Already H joins in and is quick, and with each programme being so short and there being so many it keeps her attention. That also helps as there isn’t too much repetition – while I’m all for her remembering things, a good variety of episodes means there’s almost always one shown we’ve never seen.

Watching television with your child is unavoidable (I’ve found) – I love that Sounds Like Fun is a programme which complements her learning – and that she enjoys watching. I feel it has been well put together and is something I’d highly recommend if you know your child will be following the Jolly Phonics system at school and is a visual learner.

Sounds Like Fun is on every weekday at 8.45am and 4.45pm, (1.50 and 4.45pm at weekends) and each section features two episodes.

There’s a page with downloads and activities on at the Cartoonito website too! I’ve found that Sounds Like Fun is at the perfect time too – right when I’m cooking tea, so potentially she’s learning while I’m cooking. Result!

Topsy and Tim – The Verdict!

Topsy & Tim on Cbeebies


At 5.30 last night (and tonight) someone aged almost four and a quarter told me to “ssssh. I’m watching THIS” and then sat in silence for ten minutes, her face had a smile as what was once just some books became a reality. Topsy and Tim with real people – not a cartoon.

She LOVED it! She giggled at the duvet monsters and looked wide eyed as the story started. It’s a huge hit in this house.

This initial run will be just fifteen episodes long for the first series, and lasting just three weeks. That’s okay though, as it will be back – we already know they’ve filmed quite a few episodes.

As for me, I was impressed. They’re not going to follow the books as such, but they’re staying faithful to them with ordinary everyday events – and it’s a nice touch at the end having a little memory game.

From chatting to other mums it sounds like it was a big hit for our four year olds (and us parents too) – don’t forget to watch it every afternoon at 5.30 on Cbeebies!

Topsy & Tim - H's collection

Topsy and Tim Are Coming to Cbeebies!

When I was a little girl I was a huge Topsy & Tim fan, massive. I remember my 1970’s books – and I was pretty delighted to find one a few years ago at a car boot sale. Fast forward over thirty years, the books are still in print and now H is also a huge fan, so imagine my surprise when I spotted there has been a tv series made! Topsy and Tim are coming to Cbeebies!

Topsy & Tim on Cbeebies

Series 1 of Topsy and Tim will start on Monday 11th November at 5.30pm on CBeebies and is on every weekday afternoon!

Right now I can’t find any start dates other than November, but right now I know one little girl who will be beyond excited when I tell her what I’ve found out. There is one other thing you need to know – June Whitfield will have a role!! This may make me a little more excited than I should be, but really, June Whitfield! Topsy and Tim are coming to Cbeebies!!

Considering the books were first published in 1959, and the editions I’ve since bought, there hasn’t been a huge amount of updating to the books really – a few bits here and there but nothing too drastic. The books are over fifty years old – and in fact are still going strong. ‘Topsy and Tim Meet Father Christmas’ was published this week and it’s on the list to buy before Christmas.

What more is there to be said about this? We’re beyond excited this is happening, with real people rather than cartoon-y, and hopefully on tv at a good time after school as well! Topsy and Tim have covered so many scenarios that we’ve faced with H they’ve become a good way to help explain things (though as Alex pointed out earlier, there isn’t a book about death).

On the BBC website they say “While the stories of Topsy And Tim are told and shot from the perspective of the five year old characters as they capture everyday childhood experiences. I hope audiences will enjoy and identify with both dramas.” (there’s also a piece on Katie Morag)

So yes, SOON! Did I mention Topsy and Tim are coming to Cbeebies?

BBC Article here

Oh, and don’t get me started on The Clangers too – how excellent is all this?

App Time – Ben and Holly’s Magic School

Ben and Holly Magic School

P2 Games have recently released ‘Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom – Magic School’ where you’ll find familiar games, sticker rewards and all the characters from Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom all together.

I currently have Nanny Plum telling me to “GO onnn! Touch the game you want to play!!” which amuses me.

The sections you get in this game are:

Wand Creator – Get creative by designing your very own wand! Pick your wand shape, colour, face, sparkles and sound! What will you choose?

Wand Practice – What will you turn Wise Old Elf into? Practice your wand skills by joining the stars to transform Wise Old Elf into a variety of objects and animals!

Potion Making – Create your own magic potion by picking ingredients and fairy dust and mixing them in a large cauldron to test the funny effects on Ben!

Magic Picnic – Help Holly transform the plates of food for each character into something tastier! Use your wand to tap and zap the right food at the right time!

Box of Burps – Holly wanted to show off her magic skills by creating a beautiful flower but she accidently created a box of burps instead! Use your wand to stop the burps escaping from the Box!

Elf Tag – Touch the elves and fairies that are covered in jelly to splat it off them with your wand.

End of School Photograph – Create your own imaginative photo with the stickers you have won.

Yet again the game is a hit with H – she enjoys all of the games and I like there’s different difficulty levels in each section – she particuarly likes changing the Wise Old Elf into various characters (it cracks her up, she thinks it’s hilarious!).

If you’re a fan of the show you’ll love it – and it’s available now from the App Store for £2.99.

We were sent a code to review the app, the link is an affiliate one.

App Time at Mum Friendly

A Tickety Toc Website Launches

We were lucky to get a sneak preview of a newly launched Tickety Toc website – based on the popular Nick Jr tv show which H enjoys watching.

Tickety Toc Homepage

I’ve found that when we do things online we tend to do them on the iPad rather than the laptop, however, I do know that from September H is going to be learning on a computer so needs those skills – but here we are on a laptop… so not exactly what she’ll be taught and I’m pleased to say she found scrolling around the Tickety Toc website really straightforward – I could leave her to get on with it, without needing to help which is good for her computer confidence and means I get a coffee!

The site is set up so that wherever you are in the world it will recognise the time – and as we’re trying to get the concept of time to H it all helps with learning.

You have several video options to choose from, watching random video clips from the show, as well as some games. We’ve started on the games (there’s one where you have to find objects around the house within a certain time) and are going to try those on the iPad as the site is built in HTML5 and CSS3 (rather than flash-based), so compatible across mobile devices.

The Tickety Toc website has a built-in feature which you can set which allows your child to play for a set time before Tommy and Tallulah pop up – so after ten minutes up they popped, and H promptly moved away from the computer as she knew her time was up! It’s done really nicely so your child doesn’t feel like something is being taken away from them.

Tickety Toc bye

As a parent, what I like is the lack of adverts – it’s just Tickety Toc, and if your child is a fan of the show then they’ll like the site. One minor criticism, as H can’t yet read (but does recognise some letters and words) it would be handy to have a voice tell you which option you’re choosing – but as I was sat with her I was able to tell her.

As far as computer skills go, it was good to get H using the touchpad on the laptop, which she picked up quickly (one finger to move the cursor, two to scroll down) – I’ll post a follow-up once we’ve had a try on the iPad.

Arnie and Barnie are back on Nick Jr!

Way back last December we were invited to the Nickelodeon studios to watch some filming of the new series of A Bedtime Story with Arnie and Barnie – and as an added bonus we’d also get to meet the storyteller – Konnie Huq, formerly of Blue Peter.

Becky Overton watches Arnie and Barnie being filmed

We met the children’s writer Becky Overton who writes all the stories for the show and had plenty of time to chat and find out what inspired her to write stories – in a nutshell they evolve from regular stories about regular things with a little twist at the end. Occasionally she’ll write a new fairy tale based on an existing one, adding an alternative ending – and given Becky has done this for ages now, and we’re on series seven I reckon she’s on to a winner! Sometimes Becky has written stories with the person reading it in mind – the first in the new series is a re-imagining of Jack and the Beanstalk, called ‘The Jumping Beans’ read by the Olympian Greg Rutherford (who of course competes in the long jump!).

I asked if any of her stories would ever be compiled into a book – we do a lot of reading and I do feel like sometimes I drift when watching tv, so having a large collection of stories would be nice – and it’s something Becky said she’d like to do.

We were taken into the main studio to have a look at the Arnie and Barnie set (Wormy Glen) – going up for photos which was fun  – and fortunately the people behind the puppets were well covered up keeping the magic going for the little ones!

H and I meet Arnie and Barnie

Actually, that in itself is interesting too, as the stage setup means they’re at a quite awkward angle – though in being that way they’re both well propped up! It sounds quite comfy, actually….

So H was terribly excited about having met them, and we were led back into a room for a spot of lunch, including some fabulous Arnie and Barnie cupcakes. Konnie came to join us – giving us time to have a quick chat.

H and I meet Arnie and Barnie

So, what did I find out? I have to say. Konnie looked fabulous (something she disputed having not had a huge amount of sleep the previous night), and we had a good chat – any organised person would have made notes somewhere, but not me, so I’ve forgotten most of what was said – other than when we got a chance to watch Konnie filming she was a natural, switching between accents – I think it was also the first time Becky had seen her stories being filmed too.

Each story takes around 30 minutes or more to film, then gets pictures and more added to it which takes an additional two to three months until finally it’s ready to go – and tonight was the first episode in the new series.

I spotted this link on YouTube about the Importance of Bedtime Stories (which will be a live broadcast in just under a week!) and looks pretty interesting too.

Konnie Huq and Arnie and Barnie

Actually, the best thing in all of this is how A Bedtime Story With Arnie and Barnie keeps the same format – songs and stories and chatter and it’s really good at engaging H – she’ll sit listening (and laughing) at the stories – we tend to catch the Nick Jr 2 showing at 6pm (which are earlier series – we’re recording the new ones!). Nick Jr have launched a new section with some stories in too which is worth checking out!

A Bedtime Story With Arnie and Barnie is on Nick Jr every Friday at 6.30pm. The list of episodes coming up are…

15/03/13 Greg Rutherford The Jumping Beans
22/03/13 Konnie Huq Three Princes and the Pea
29/03/13 Samantha Womack Freddie The Brave
05/04/13 Stacey Soloman The Grimble
12/04/13 Kimberly Wyatt Sausage on Sticks
19/04/13 Kara Tointon The World Behind Walls
26/04/13 Stacey Soloman The Horse with Funny Hats
03/05/13 Helena Dowling Be Quiet Benny!
10/05/13 Konnie Huq The Sheep That Couldn’t Sleep
17/05/13 Kevin Duala – Blues Clues The Great Pillow Fight
24/05/13 Gemma – The Go! Go! Go! Show The Secret Club
31/05/13 Steve – The Go! Go! Go! Show My Cat’s a Superhero

Disclosure – we received no payment for this post, just an invite to the studios. All opinions are our own.

Hey Hey Hey Have a Henry Hugglemonster Day!

We’ve already mentioned Henry Hugglemonster on here a couple of weeks ago – are you ready for some episodes? Did you catch the sneak peek a couple of weeks ago? Are you ready for some monster-y family fun?

We were invited into central London to meet Niamh Sharkey, the creator of the ‘I’m A Happy Hugglemonster’ book the show is based on, and learn how to draw Henry – something H really enjoyed doing.


Niamh read the story to us (and later H recognised another of her books which Henry reads in the story – The Ravenous Beast)

Henry Hugglemonster


Henry Hugglemonster features voices by Brian Blessed

Brian Blessed-HH-lores-9207

Brenda Blethyn

Brenda Blethyn-0368

Geri Halliwell


and we LOVE it! Catch it this Friday on Disney Junior at 5.50pm!

Subscribe to Disney Junior’s YouTube channel for loads of sneak peeks at the show – here’s a preview from Dough-De-Dough

Henry Hugglemonster is coming to Disney Junior!

Henry Hugglemonster's Family

Dear Peppa Pig,

H has loved you obsessively now for around two years, but I’m afraid you have a rival on the horizon. We still love you, but the good thing about love is that you can share it around many things and never run out.

Sorry, but I’m sure you’ll understand,

H’s Parents.

p.s. if your child is scared of monsters like H was, then this programme may well be one that helps turn it around – she’s giggling her head off right now at how funny the family are.


Henry Hugglemonster

Henry Hugglemonster has just entered our lives – and he’s set to enter yours too. Henry is a five-year old middle child, well, monster really and is based on the book ‘I’m A Happy Hugglewug’ by Niamh Sharkey (published by Walker Books).

Niamh has been very closely involved with the production – and having watched the preview episodes it has lovely graphics, a really nice message, catchy songs and the kind of thing you could let your child watch and know they’ll find it funny (rather than being troubled about something) – plus – it’s all about family and togetherness and gets the message across really well.

Today in Central London we were invited to meet Niamh to learn more about Henry and his family – and we all got to draw a Henry (H’s work was good – she helped colour in mine) – as well as having the book read to us.

Niamh Sharkey and H

So, what do we know? Niamh wrote the book back in 2006, and worked on a short piece which Disney Junior loved and commissioned straight away with Brown Bag Films based in Dublin. Niamh is also Laureate na nÓg, Ireland’s laureate for children’s literature – in fact, H has been going on and on about a book ‘The Ravenous Beast’ which they read a lot at nursery, it ends up* Niamh writes and illustrates that as well (so I see another favourite author on the horizon here). One thing she mentioned today was how she likes bringing pictures into reading – especially at the age our kids are now, they can’t read – but they can identify pictures and a lot is about having a good visual behind your story.

Henry Hugglemonster is voiced by Brian Blessed (hurrah!), Brenda Blethyn and just announced earlier today, Geri Halliwell as well as others. Then there’s the songs – ohh they’re catchy – especially the theme (which refuses to leave my head).

Geri Halliwell Henry Hugglemonster

There’s a sneaky showing this Friday at 5.50pm on Disney Junior if you’re not sure what all the fuss is about – there’s 48 eleven minute episodes made, plus two longer ones for seasonal times – so quite soon Henry Hugglemonster will be everywhere! The show premieres on February 8th on Disney Junior at 5.50pm and is shown twice a week. Seriously, don’t miss it. You won’t thank me for the earworm, though you’ll be happy to hear your little one giggling along to it!

Disney Junior are over here
Niamh Sharkey’s site is here

* Henry is in fact reading it on one page, H spotted it!

App Time – Everything’s Rosie

H playing the Everything's Rosie appWe were sent two Everything’s Rosie apps to review, and almost immediately we hit a problem – a minor one but one which slowed us down – our iPad is a first generation, and while the app worked, it would quite often crash so we could never work our way through it. However, as good luck would have it, we now own an iPad Mini, we loaded the games onto it and so far, brilliant!

Are you familiar with Everything’s Rosie? Surely you must with the catchy song (hear it once and you’ll probably not get it out of your head, even if you can’t remember the words) – Rosie is a lovable ragdoll character who has friends she has really sweet adventures with. These apps are two of them.

Everything's Rosie Bedtime Activity Fun
Everything's Rosie Bedtime

Firstly, we have Everything’s Rosie Bedtime – where you get a bedtime story and Colouring Fun & Spot the Difference in the Activity Fun section. The story is read out and H enjoyed it, and even recognised some words (gulp!) – plus I found there were good fonts, nice and clear too. (and no comic sans – hurrah!) The colouring, well yet again she amazed me – she’s started to use different colours on pictures and got on with it, she seems to love colouring in things on iPad games and picks up all the different settings and colours very quickly.You have a colour wheel and a choice of brushes on this one.

Everything's Rosie Playtime Everything's Rosie Playtime Activity Fun

We also have Everything’s Rosie Playtime – a daytime story which again had H hooked, reading it (and recognising a few words!!) – I like how each word is highlighted as it’s read so there’s a good educational element there too. The activities with this game are Magic Mazes and Funny Faces – there’s four different mazes based on each character which are a little bit difficult, so take a little bit longer (but not prohibitively so!), and Funny Faces which is just that – and is easily H’s favourite part to play.

Everything's Rosie Funny Faces

If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll love this. It’s currently H’s favourite app (she declared this fact to us tonight!)

You can buy both Everything’s Rosie apps for £2.99 each  at the App Store

Everything’s Rosie Bedtime App
Everything’s Rosie Playtime App

We were sent a code for the purpose of this review, all opinions are our own.

App Time at Mum Friendly

It’s a Dog’s Life in Disney’s Superbia

Superbia Logo

From January, fans of Superbia, the popular online game for kids and tweens themed around hit Disney Channel shows, will be able to adopt and care for their own virtual cats and dogs, chosen from a range on offer in a brand new Pet Shop. Superbia has experienced a record breaking launch, with one million players logging in since it launched in February.

Whether or not tweens receive a pet this Christmas, they will be able to practice caring for one in Superbia, where pets’ happiness depends on how clean, well fed and nurtured they are. Players will be able to buy a range of toys and accessories for their pets, and spend time grooming them. In return their pets can be entered into special competitions to win prizes for their owners, or be sent on missions to dig up treasure.

Boel Ferguson, Vice President & General Manager, Disney Channels and Disney Online UK & Ireland, commented:
“We know it’s been a dream come true for many Disney Channel viewers to get the chance to move into Superbia and live side-by-side with characters from their favourite shows. Now, as well as dressing up and making friends, players can visit the Pet Shop and practice caring for animals. What better place to teach kids how important that is, when they’ll be directly rewarded by their happy, well nurtured pets with hidden treasure and competition prizes!”

Disney Channel LogoLaunched in February 2011 and based on the hugely popular Disney Channel Italy game Fun and Friends, Superbia is a colourful virtual world of Disney-inspired places, from the Austin & Ally music store to the Shake It Up dance studio. Following a record-breaking launch, a million players have moved into town, creating their own Disney Channel persona, dressing up, shopping and decorating their new virtual homes. Superbia residents are guided through the game by their new neighbours, Ella and Max who help them to complete quests to unlock new rooms and content.

Players can make friends with each other, send gifts and emoticon messages and visit and ‘like’ other people’s rooms, in a safe environment with no free text chat, or display or exchange of personal information, giving parents complete peace of mind.

Superbia is the latest addition to Disney’s successful raft of digital environments – which includes BAFTA-nominated Club Penguin.

Superbia Activity page