Sunday, 28 June 2020

Getting Crafty with Aquabeads - Review, Tutorial and Competition

My son Riley absolutely loves Aquabeads and if you are a regular reader to the blog, then you will have seen that we have reviewed a lot of their products over the past few years. My family and I think that Aquabeads are great and provide children with a fantastic way of getting crafty and creative, whilst also helping to improve hand to eye coordination and concentration skills.

During lockdown, we have been using our Aquabeads sets to create some wonderful designs using the online templates that are available on the Aquabeads website here. We were therefore delighted when we were sent some new products to review and Riley decided that he wanted to make some of his own designs and experiment with what he could make.


We had a little look on the Aquabeads website to get some ideas and Riley decided to create a name plaque for his door. He also wanted to incorporate a rainbow theme, so he wrote down a few ideas and did a little sketch so that he had a design to follow. Once Riley was happy with his design, he set about making his creation.

To make his new door plaque we used the Aquabeads Star Bead Starter Set, which comes in brightly coloured star shaped packaging and has an RRP of £14.99. The front and rear of the box are covered in plenty of design ideas to show what you can make with your beads. Riley particularly liked the look of the dragon and the rainbow designs which looked fantastic. Other images around the outer edge of the box, also included pictures of the kit inside, the contents and bead colours.

On opening the box, we found that the contents inside consisted of:
  • 1 x bead tray lid
  • 1 x bead tray
  • 1 x board
  • 1 x flip tray
  • 1 x bead dispenser
  • 1 x bead sprayer
  • 3 x reversible template sheets
  • 1000 beads of varying colours

The first thing that Riley noticed, was that the kit contained star shaped beads, which is something he has never seen or used before, so he was really excited to be able to use these in his designs. Riley had initially decided on a rectangle shape and that he also wanted his name across the middle. I therefore suggested making his name on the board first, so that we could then incorporate the rainbow colours around it. By placing the name first, it also meant that he could check that he was happy with the position, before we began to place all of the other beads on the board.


Once the letters were all in place, we began getting the rainbow colours ready and working out how many rows of each colour we needed. To do this we counted the paces across the board and also checked how many beads we had of each colour. We then began doing the outline and opted for rows of either 3 or 4 in each block of colour.


When Riley first started placing the beads on the board he used his fingers, but as the board began to fill, he found that it was easier to use the bead dispenser to get them accurately into place. We also sprayed the design once half was completed to prevent any beads from moving as the board began to fill. However, just before doing so, Riley decided he wanted to change the black beads for a light blue, so we were able to amend these to his chosen colour before he sprayed the water.


Riley was so pleased as the design started to take shape and he was so proud that it was his own idea that he was making, without the help of a template. The whole design took him around half an hour to complete and he was so happy with the end result. We gave the design a good spray and left it to dry before removing from the board.


We had used a large quantity of beads, so we took advantage of the refill sets to top up our beads. I really like the fact that you can buy refill packs, so that you can continue making great designs, without the need to buy the larger sets. If you already have a board, sprayer and bead dispenser then the refill packs are a great way to build up your collection.


Overall we were really impressed with the Aquabeads Star Bead Starter Set and felt that it contained a huge variety of beads to help make some fabulous creations. As you can see the possibilities are absolutely endless with Aquabeads and as well as using one of the many templates available both in their sets and online, you can quite literally make whatever your imagination desires. With a little patience, determination and creativity, you can create some wonderful designs, animals and objects, which look fantastic once completed. We really like the fact that we can top up the sets with the many refill packs that are also available to purchase and feel that all the products in the range offer excellent value for money.


Aquabeads are available to purchase from most good toy retailers including John Lewis, Smyths, The Entertainer and Amazon.

However, if you are feeling lucky, then we have a fantastic prize to give away of an Aquabeads Star Bead Starter Set for one lucky winner. If you fancy your chances, then simply enter using the gleam form below. Good Luck!

Aquabeads Star Bead Studio Set


Terms and Conditions
  • There is 1 (one) prize of an Aquabeads StarBeads Starter Set
  • Entry is open to UK Residents aged 18 years or over
  • Competition closes on the 11th July 2020
  • A winner shall be drawn within 7 days of the closing date and notified via email.
  • The winner will have 7 days to confirm their acceptance of the prize, before an alternative winner is drawn from the remaining eligible entries.
  • No bulk or third party entries
  • The winners details shall be shared with the promoter for the purpose of prize fulfilment and permission shall be obtained from the winner prior to doing so.
*Disclaimer - We were gifted the Aquabeads sets featured in this post for the purpose of writing an honest review of the products. All thoughts and opinions are my own unless otherwise stated. This post contains an Amazon affiliate link.


Thursday, 18 June 2020

Garden Fun with the Giant Pass The Pigs Game - A Review

As we regularly enjoy holidays and weekend breaks, it is fair to say that we have accumulated a nice selection of travel games over the years. However, one of our favourite games, which always comes with us on every trip, is the classic family favourite of Pass the Pigs. My children love this game and the simple uncomplicated rules, makes it easy for even the younger members of the family to join in.

We were therefore delighted to hear about an even bigger and better version, that not only could we take on holiday with us, or to the beach, but that we could also play together in the garden whilst enjoying the sunny weather outdoors. But what could possibly be better than the original Pass the Pigs?............GIANT Pass the Pigs of course!!


Giant Pass the Pigs comes presented in a medium sized box. The front of the packaging features a large image of two inflatable pigs, along with an age recommendation of 6+ and a suggestion of 2-4 players. The rear of the box provides more images along with some suggestions of where you could play the game. There is also a contents list that explains exactly what you get inside.

On opening the box, we found that the contents included:
  • 2 x Inflatable Pigs (approximately 50cm x 40cm)
  • A Carry Bag
  • Pencils
  • Score Pad
  • Repair Kit
If you aren't familiar with the game of Pass the Pigs, then it is really simple to learn and very easy to play. Firstly we removed the pigs from the packaging and inflated them, before moving into the garden to begin our game. We each took it in turns to be the "Swineherd", which is the person in charge of both the pigs and the points. You then simply place one pig in each hand and hold them by the ears, before swinging them up in the air at the same time and releasing them. You then have a look to see how your pigs landed and match it with the score point images to see how many points you gained. Super easy and plenty of fun!



There are numerous positions your pigs can land in, which all have various points allocated to them. The aim of the game is to earn as many points as possible and the first to reach 100 is the winner. However some positions could see you earn zero points, lose all of your points, or even force you to retire from the game. The positions and their points are as follows:
  • A Sider (1 point) - This is when both pigs land on their same side.
  • Trotter (5 points) - This is when a pig lands on all 4 legs.
  • A Double Trotter (20 points) - This is when both pigs land on all 4 legs.
  • A Razorback (5 Points) - This is when a pig lands on its back with its legs in the air.
  • A Double Razorback (20 Points) This is when both pigs land on their back with their legs in the air.
  • A Snouter (10 Points) - This is when a pig lands on its nose and front trotters.
  • A Double Snouter (40 Points) - This is when both pigs land on their nose and front trotters
  • Leaning Jowler (15 Points) - This is when the nose, trotter and ear are to the ground.
  • Double Learning Jowler (60 Points) - This is when both pigs land with their nose, trotter and ear to the ground.
  • Mixed Combo (Add points together) - A mixed combo is the combination of a trotter, snouter or learning jowler and you simply add the individual points of each position together.
  • The Rumper (15 Points) This is when you pig lands on its bum with its nose in the air.
  • A Double Rumper (30 Points) This is when both pigs land on their bums with their noses in the air.
  • Pig Out (0 Points) If the pigs land on opposite sides, then you don't score any points.
  • Makin' Bacon (Lose Points) If your pigs land and they are touching, then you lose ALL of your points!
  • Piggy Back (Retire) If you get a piggy back, then you are out of the game.

Overall we absolutely love Giant Pass the Pigs and it has been great fun to enjoy together in the garden. The rules are so easy to understand and it is an enjoyable game to play with family and friends. With an RRP of only £14.99 this represents excellent value for money and I would absolutely recommend Giant Pass the Pigs to others. It is entertaining, fun and easy to play and this will no doubt become one of our top garden games to play this summer. Giant Pass the Pigs can be purchased from retailers including Amazon.

If you would like to find out more about Giant Pass the Pigs or the other games in the Pass the Pigs range, then you can visit their website or social media pages on the following channels:

Website - www.passthepigsofficial.com
Facebook - facebook.com/passthepigs
Twitter - @PassthePigsGame
Instagram - @passthepigsofficial


*Disclaimer - We were gifted the item featured in this post, for the purpose of writing an honest review of the product. All thoughts and opinions are my own unless otherwise stated. This post contains an Amazon affiliate link.

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Outdoor Learning and Education with Learning Resources - A Review

(AD - This review features gifted items)

Like most parents we have been busy trying to juggle our home life, working life and our children's home education over the past few months. My youngest child's school has been fantastic at setting work and this has been easily accessible since the start of lockdown, mixed full of literacy, numeracy and practical homework tasks. However, my son has been flying through the work set and so I have tried my best to introduce some other elements with educational tools we have at home.

With the weather being so nice, both Riley and I have been very keen to work outside and so when the opportunity arose to review some of the fabulous Learning Resources products, we quite literally jumped at the chance and couldn't wait to find out more about nature, our environment and space. We were sent a wonderful selection of items which were sure to keep Riley motivated whilst we explored some fun and creative ways to home school.


The Learning Resources products we received are part of their GeoSafari range and included a GeoSafari Jr. My First Microscope, a GeoSafari Jr. Mighty Magnifier, a GeoSafari Jr. Bug Viewer Jar, a GeoSafari Vega 360 Telescope and also some Discovery Acorns. My youngest son Riley was so excited to try these out in the garden and my eldest son Ben was also really looking forward to testing out the telescope at night.

The first item we used was the Discovery Acorns. These are recommended for children aged 3-7 years old and are the perfect size for little hands. Riley enjoyed searching around the garden for little objects to put inside the acorns that we could then take a closer look at. The design makes them look just like real acorns with their natural colours and it was very easy for Riley to remove and replace the lids on them as and when he wanted to.


We played a few little games with these items which were great fun. The first game was that Riley would collect a few objects and place them in the acorns without showing me. He would then describe the items that were inside and I had to guess what they were. This really helped Riley to improve his description language skills and it taught him how to speak about colours, shapes and textures. We each took it in turns to do this and admittedly we both really enjoyed it.


We also played hide and seek with the acorns and I would hide them around the garden. We have quite a large garden so there were plenty of hiding places and Riley loved trying to seek them out. Another game we played was a memory game, where I would place items in the acorns and then Riley had to try and remember which item was in which acorn and write it down. Each acorn has a animal silhouette on its base, so we would write all of the animals down in a list, with another list opposite of the contents and Riley would have to try and remember what was in each one and match it up. The Discovery Acorns are available on the Learning Resources website for only £9 which I think is excellent value for money.


The next item we tried was the GeoSafari Jr. Mighty Magnifier which is recommended for children aged 4-8 years old. This allows children to see items up close and are perfect for scientific observation of nature. As we have been doing a lot of work in the garden over the past few weeks, we have come across many creepy crawlies and Riley loved wearing his Mighty Magnifier to see creatures and other objects up close.


The Mighty Magnifier has a built in headset with comfy eyecup supports which means it can be worn. This allowed Riley to keep his hands free, allowing him the ability to still touch or move things whilst he observed. The magnifier could easily be changed between a 2 x and an 8 x magnification, so Riley really enjoyed experimenting with each. We would play a game where he would look at an object in 2x magnification and write down what he could see, before he then increased it to 8x and would write down anything different that he could notice once the object appeared larger.


I really liked how the Mighty Magnifier is light enough to carry around, so it is ideal for us to take in our backpack on one of our walks so Riley can take a closer look at other nature that we might see on our travels. This item has an RRP of £14.00 and it can be purchased on the Learning Resources website here.


Riley also really enjoyed using the GeoSafari Bug Viewer which allowed him to see all kinds of different bugs up close. Admittedly I was too scared to pick up any bugs or spiders to place in it, so I left that in the capable hands of my eldest son, who was more than happy to oblige. The bug viewer is recommended for children aged 4 to 8 years of age and the jar allows children to collect their specimens and see them through the transparent casing.

Once you have found a bug to take a closer look at, you simply place it in the jar and then secure the magnifying lid. I had initially been concerned about the bugs being able to breathe, however there are air holes and also a handy measuring grid. Riley enjoyed finding different creatures and then using the measuring grid to write down their sizes and compare them. The magnifier has a 3x magnification so it was great to be able to see them so clearly. At a cost of only £4 on the Learning Resources website, this is great value for money and is at a pocket money price too!

Riley's favourite educational item was the GeoSafari Jr. My First Microscope which allowed him to view items up to an 8x magnification. It's bright and chunky design really appealed to Riley and it was the perfect size for him to be able to use himself. It is recommended for children aged 3 to 7 years of age and the fixed platform means that children can observe both flat and 3D objects.


The dual eye pieces are extra large so it makes for very comfortable viewing and prevents the need to close one eye. Riley absolutely loved pretending to be a scientist and soon got the hang of using the microscope by himself. It has a cool feature of a bright LED light which helps you to enhance the viewing of small details and the button was very easy for Riley to control. With an RRP of £20 I think it is excellent value for money and it can be found on the Learning Resources website here.


Riley's older brother Ben has helped him a lot with his outdoor learning, especially when it involved bugs and spiders, so it was only fair that Ben had the opportunity to stay up late and try out the fantastic GeoSafari Vega 360 Telescope once the night sky appeared, so that we could take a closer look at some star constellations and the moon. This is recommended for children aged 8 to 12 years of age and as well as taking a look at the night sky, it can also be used to take a closer look at nature, your surroundings, birds and animals.


The telescope comes with two different eyepieces which are 20mm and 9mm in order to offer different viewing magnifications. We used it together with the included tabletop tripod and we were able to see different objects at 20x, 40x and 80x magnification. Ben loved observing the craters on the moon and was surprised to be able to see so much detail.


We had hoped to catch sight of the International Space Station and the Space X Rocket on the first launch attempt, but due to it being postponed for a few days, we were unfortunately unable to spot this. However, now that the weather is dry again, we are hoping to get back out in the garden and look for the space station once again using the telescope.

We found the telescope to be really easy to set up and really lightweight too. I have already promised Ben that once we can travel again, we will take this on holiday with us, so that we can take a closer look at different environments. The GeoSafari Vega 360 Telescope is available on the Learning Resources website for £48 and is the perfect item for budding young scientists.

Although Riley is in bed before it gets dark at the moment, he is looking forward to searching into space later in the year once the early nights return. In the meantime he has loved listening to what Ben has spotted and he has also enjoyed using the telescope to look at some of the birds that land on the top of our shed.


If you would like to find out more about Learning Resources and their fabulous range of products, then check out their website or social media pages on the following channels:

Website - https://www.learningresources.co.uk/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/LearningResourcesLtdUK/
Twitter - @LRUK
Instagram - @learningresourcesuk


*Disclaimer - This is a collaborative post and we were gifted the items featured for the purpose of writing an honest review of the products. All thoughts and opinions are my own unless otherwise stated.

Friday, 12 June 2020

So Slime Tie-Dye Slime Kit - Review

(AD - This post contains gifted items)

You may remember that a couple of months ago we reviewed the So Slime DIY Slimelicious Soda Shop, which Riley thoroughly enjoyed. He loves getting creative and he also loves slime, so the Slime DIY kits are perfect for him and with a great selection to choose from, there is plenty of different products for him to enjoy.

This month we were sent the So Slime Tie-Dye Slime Kit which is recommended for children aged 6+. The front of the box is really bright and colourful and features plenty of images so that you can gain a clear understanding of the product.


The reverse of the box provides very clear images of what is included inside and there is also a colour chart which gives you an indication of what kind of tie dye effect you can create by mixing different colours. Below all of the images you can find a contents list, which consists of:
  • 3 Clear Slimes
  • 1 Tool
  • 3 Glitter Bags
  • 3 Scented Colourants

Riley carefully opened all of the packaging and we lay the contents out on the table and read the instructions before continuing. Just like the previous set that we reviewed, it seemed very simple and after making sure we were clear on what we needed to do, Riley started to create his very own Tie-Dye Slime. Riley's brother Ben also decided that he wanted to join in with this review, so each of them selected their colours and began the process.


The process of creating the tie dye slime was extremely simple. As the slime is already prepared, all that you need to do is select which colours you would like to use in your tie dye slime from the choice of red, blue and yellow. You then add a drop of the colour into the slime and mix it together using the tool provided.



Ben decided that he wanted to make a galaxy themed tie-dye slime and so he mixed the blue and red colours together, before adding the pink glitter. This gave it a fabulous effect and we were all very impressed by the colours.



After seeing Ben's creation, Riley decided to mix the blue and green colours. This created a really vibrant green and created a fabulous effect.  He loved seeing how the tie-dye effect changed as he began to mix it and really enjoyed being able to change how bright the colour was by adding another drop of colour.


When Riley was happy with the colours of his tie-dye slime, he then added some coloured glitter, which he chose to mix in with his hands, whilst also playing with the slime. This gave the tie-dye slime a lovely sparkle effect which you could see glistening amongst the colours.


Riley commented that he would have preferred the 3 clear slimes to have each come in a tub of their own and I would agree with this. As there is only 1 tub, the other slime creations have to be kept in a grip bag. This is of good quality, but for ease of storage Riley would have preferred a tub for each one.

Overall we really enjoyed playing with this set together and with an RRP of only £9.99, I think that it offers good value for money. Riley would have preferred the option to make his own slime as opposed to it being pre-made in the pots, however from a parents perspective I really liked the fact that it had been pre-prepared as this ensured that any mess was minimal. It also meant that it would be the right consistency as when you make your own  I have found it can be a bit hit and miss at times. The fact that there were three lots of slime included, meant that we could also experiment with the colours, as well as having something to store the slime in once we were finished. Again we have been impressed by the So Slime DIY Kits and look forward to trying more of the range in the future.

This item has an RRP of £9.99 and is from Canal Toys. It can be purchased from shops such as Argos and there is also a great choice of So Slime products available on Amazon, If you would like to find out more about Canal Toys and their great range of products, then you can visit their website or social media pages on the following channels:

Website - www.canaltoys.com
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/canaltoysglobal/


*Disclaimer - This is a collaborative post and we were gifted this item for the purpose of writing an honest review of the product. All thoughts and opinions are my own unless otherwise stated. This blog post contains an Amazon affiliate link.