Archive | November, 2012

Review – Garden Draughts

30 Nov

I’m loving the fact that my son has reached the age where he’s becoming more interested in board games. He’s doing quite well with ones that involve rolling a dice, moving around the board and then following an instruction on the square you land on. We have a few different ones in this style, and I thought it might be good to try a game that required a completely different way of thinking. So we got some draughts. Not just any old draughts though, thanks to Big Game Hunters we have Garden Draughts!

Although they are designed to be used outdoors, I don’t think we’d get away with playing draughts in the swimming pool that is currently our garden, so we had to give it a try in the house instead. The board is actually a large mat measuring 1.2m x 1.2m and the counters are chunky but light, making them perfect for little hands and impossible to lose down the back of the sofa. I think that when we do get to use it outdoors, the mat will probably need weighting down to keep it flat while playing on it.

With a little help from nephew and granny, we started off with a simplified version of the game; just one row of counters each, so that the boys could learn how to move them. They picked it up in no time at all and so I added another row, just making it a race to get all your counters to the other side. The games went really well until I tried to add jumping and capturing each others counters. Or, as they saw it, stealing. I don’t think they are quite ready for that bit yet!

Considering the size of the game when playing, it all packs away quite neatly back into the box (which is no bigger than some of my handbags!) making it easy to store away or take with you on trips to the park.

It seems the Garden Draughts will be used for much more than just draughts. As they are quite chunky, they roll easily and so the first new game involves rolling the counters and trying to get them to land on a square of the same colour. They have also been wheels on the side of a cardboard box fire engine and runway lights. My son has such an imagination, I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

 

All opinions are honest and our own. We were sent the Garden Draughts free of charge for this review.

Review – Open And Play: Recorder Pirate Pack

25 Nov

I am a big lover of music, so you may be surprised to hear that I thought it would be a good idea to give a three year old a recorder. A bit ouchy on the ears, yes, but it will get better (I hope). Let me explain. A while ago, my son got a ‘wizzle’ free on the front of a magazine. It’s impossible to play a tune on it, but he has shown a lot of interest in trying and so I thought it would be better to have an instrument that actually works. This pirate themed Open and Play Recorder Pack seemed like a good choice.

The pack contains a blue descant recorder, cleaning rod and carry bag, pirate sticker sheet, fingering chart and a ‘Starting to Play’ tutor book and cd. Son was very excited when he saw the box and couldn’t wait to have a go. He actually left the stickers, which is unheard of, and went straight for the recorder. After a couple of minutes of crazy dancing and trying to deafen me, he handed me the recorder and asked me to play a tune. It’s a long time since I’ve played a recorder, but I gave it a go and it didn’t sound too bad. Son just stared and me and asked, “will you show me how to do that one?”

Using the tutor booklet as a guide, I explained about how to hold the recorder and position your fingers over the holes. The book is easy to follow and starts off with the note B. It starts to introduce basic notation and rhythm by playing the note B to the rhythm of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Old MacDonald. It then tells you how to play the note A and goes through the same tunes using both notes together.

Son is doing really well at learning the first two notes, he seems most impressed about the fact that if you play BABABABA it sounds like a fire engine! He hasn’t tried playing along with the cd yet as he is still mastering the notes, but he tells me that he will try it soon so he can play in a real band.

I think that the Open and Play Recorder Packs are a great way to start a child off playing a musical instrument and at £9.99 they are pretty good value too. The packs are available as either the Blue Recorder Pirate Pack that we have, or a Pink Recorder Princess Pack.

 

All opinions are honest and our own. We were sent the Blue Recorder Pirate Pack free of charge for this review.

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326/366

21 Nov

325/366

20 Nov

Halloween – Painting And Pumpkins

20 Nov

Ok, I know Halloween was nearly three weeks ago but that’s how long it’s taken to get this post written. Things have been difficult with my son not being himself and I’ve been too tired to write at night like I usually do. One day, maybe I’ll be able to write about why things are so difficult but, for now, pretending it’s all not happening seems to be working just fine.

I’ve already deleted several draft posts as I thought that they were ‘too late’ to post and now I feel sad, like those times have been lost somehow. Well, not any more. I still want a record of what my son and I have been up to together and if that means writing about things weeks after they happen then so be it.

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I love Halloween. I love dressing up and playing tricks on each other and making spooky food and watching scary movies and carving pumpkins and, oh, you know, everything really. Plans started at the beginning of October and I had some brilliant ideas. As some of the decorations would need time to dry in between different parts, we started making them a week early and my nephew joined in too.

First we made some spiders. These are really easy to make with toddlers as they are just handprints with the palms overlapping. Don’t put paint on the thumb though, or your spiders will have too many legs. When they have dried, add some googly eyes and cut around the edge. We made quite a few of these and son insisted we have a mammy spider too!

Next, we made some spooky tree pictures. I think these would look great stuck onto card as an invitation to a Halloween party. We used some blue paper, cut it to the size we wanted and stuck on a moon cut from white paper. We mixed some black ready-mix paint with about the same amount of water and painted a tree trunk. We put a blob of the watery paint onto the top of the trunk and blew through a straw to spread the paint out for the branches, adding another blob of paint when needed. The boys needed a little help directing the straw, but had fun blowing the paint around. They were to be finished off with sequin bats for an extra spooky touch.

I don’t like to finish decorations completely too long before putting them up. If they have been finished and put away in a box for a week, they seem to lose a bit of their magic. I think it’s much more satisfying to finish it and stick it up straight away, with a definite ‘I made that’. So I left all of the finishing touches for Halloween morning; the googly eyes for the spiders, the bats for the pictures and, of course, the pumpkin carving.

I also made some gingerbread biscuits cut into ghosts and bats, and some fab chocolatey treats with rice krispies. They were a bit of a last minute idea and I had no idea if they would work but I think they turned out brilliantly. I’m so pleased with them that I’m going to make something similar for Christmas but with little trees or snowflakes perhaps.

Unfortunately, that was about it for our Halloween. The weekend before Halloween, son had a rough time; it took him almost a week to get over the worst of it and he’s still not right. It’s a shame because he’d really been looking forward to putting up decorations and getting dressed up, but all he wanted to do was lay on the sofa and watch a bit of tv. As you can see, he didn’t even want to finish off the decorations he’d taken such care making or try on his costume. He did help me choose a picture to carve onto our pumpkin, although it was a day late. He said he wanted ‘pumpkins on a pumpkin’ so this is what we ended up with:

If you’d like to see some more pumpkin creations, have a look at this linky over at The Boy And Me, there are some brilliant pumpkins linked up.

Hope you all had a fabulously spooky Halloween!

319/366

14 Nov

Review – CBeebies: The Album

11 Nov

As we now have to do a lot of long car journeys, it’s always good to have something on standby to keep my son entertained. He has his own cd wallet that he keeps in the car so he can choose what to listen to, but it’s been full of the same cd’s for months now and he’s starting to lose interest. Luckily for us, CBeebies have just brought out a brand new album.

CBeebies: The Album is a 2 CD set featuring 50 songs from popular shows on the CBeebies channel. Most of them are instantly recognisable as a theme tune, including some of our favourites – Mike the Knight, Timmy Time, Andy’s Wild Adventures and Tree Fu Tom. Surprisingly though, the biggest squeal of excitement from my son came when the Iconicles theme tune came on!

There are a few songs from within the programmes too, such as Momo’s Song from Show Me Show Me and I’m A Shape from Mister Maker. We’re also really pleased to see the presenter songs on there as we’ve always liked the seasons songs in particular.

The album has proved to be a huge hit with my son; he currently has one disc in the car and the other in the house and tells me he will change them around next year. The only slight problem I have, is that I now have Raa Raa The Noisy Lion stuck in my head and keep catching myself humming it while out shopping.

CBeebies: The Album is a great compilation and I would happily recommend it as a nice little Christmas gift for any CBeebies fan.

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CBeebies: The Album is available to buy now in stores nationwide and through online music retailers.

All opinions are honest and our own. We were sent CBeebies: The Album free of charge for this review.