Reviews - activities & crafts (page 2)
We have reviewed a selection of activity toys, construction sets and crafts, many of which have kindly been sent to us for review purposes. There are craft activities, construction kits, science experiments and many more. They all offer learning value as well as being enjoyable for your child; creative activities are a great way to enjoy time together.
My Fairy Garden: Fairy Light Garden by Interplay
This is going to be a popular item on many wish lists - it's one of Amazon's top selling toys, and not surprisingly as it's just the sort of thing young girls will love. Creativity is encouraged as children create a beautiful home where Fairies Heather and Elvie will love to live; personal to every child, this is so much better than a ready-made toy and will give lots of satisfaction. And for added value, it even includes an enchanted fairy mushroom home that doubles as a night-light - a lovely feature and one that will, hopefully, encourage children to settle down at bedtime to enjoy the soft glow! Just blow on the magic candle through the window to make it light up, accompanied by gentle soothing harp music. There is also a secret home for the hedgehog, and a pretty bridge to connect to other gardens in the series, of which there are many. Lots of play pieces are included - fairy figures, animal figures, a fairy bridge with flowers, coloured gravel, fairy dust, and much more giving lots of scope for imaginative play. The really unusual element, and a nice piece of extra learning and creativity, is the fact that grass seed is included. You will need to provide some compost for this and keep it lightly watered - a spray bottle should do the trick. If this becomes a problem, you could cut green felt (or even a sample piece of artificial turf) to fill the gap. It all assembles well and feels sturdy when made; younger children will need some adult help, but that's all part of the fun. An unusual toy, but one that children are going to love for its fantasy element and the sheer cuteness.
Science MAD! Chemistry Lab Set by Trends UK Ltd
Aspiring scientists and those whose interest in chemistry has been triggered by work at school will love this enjoyable learning product which includes an amazing 100 safety tested experiments. Just imagine how hard it would be to go out and buy all the necessary bits and pieces for this! The Chemistry Lab includes both the chemicals and the equipment needed, apart from a few extras which are easily sourced at home. The set includes 19 assorted chemicals in plastic containers with safety caps, and over 20 pieces of equipment including a spirit burner, test tubes, beakers, a conical flask and adjustable safety goggles. The shaped polystyrene box means everything can be neatly put back into place for the next time. An excellent and comprehensive instruction booklet explains the 100 experiments, and includes pertinent safety advice which is essential reading. Some experiments require further easily obtained chemicals and household items which are listed. There is also good guidance on setting up, carrying out and recording the experiments, which ties in well with NC requirements; children are really encouraged to think about what they are doing. The experiments are divided into varying types, which makes it easy to find appropriate ones to tie in with school learning; the instructions are clear and the scientific background well explained. With Health and Safety concerns rife, schools are finding it increasingly difficult to offer pupils hands-on science activities, especially at the top end of primary school, so this kit offers an excellent opportunity for parents to fill that gap for their children. This is a superb set, well thought out, with excellent attention given to safety. It's ideal to support upper KS2/lower KS3 learning (recommended age is 10+) and the stimulation offered will ensure that children and adults look for opportunities to extend the activities. Highly recommended - a real chemistry set, not a plaything. Home educators will find it a real boon. A far superior chemistry set to most on the market.
We were sent a fabulous selection of Paint Sticks and were amazed by the wonderful variety available. We all love to encourage children to enjoy painting, but it's not always possible to get all the painting equipment out, and to supervise children. These lovelyPaints Sticks mean that children can enjoy painting and artistic creations at any time. First up is this set of 24 Paint Sticks, which includes 12 classic colours, 6 day glow colours and 6 metallic colours - enough to keep any young artist happy! They are really easy to use, just twist up and down like a glue stick, and they dry in less than a minute so no smudging. The paints go on smoothly and the colours are good and strong, giving good coverage. If a slightly lighter coverage is required, the paints can be used with water for washes and to blend colours; otherwise, no water is needed. The finish is excellent and the paints don't crack - sometimes, in their enthusiasm, children can use rather too much traditional paint, which then peels off when dry, so that's another potential problem avoided. And Little Brian have a secret, which you may or may not want to share with your child - as well as working on paper, card, canvas and wood, the paints also work on windows! The paints come in lidded plastic trays which are convenient and reusable. Of course, accidents can still happen, but stains can often be removed by soaking overnight or by using stain remover - painting overalls are always recommended though! The same paints can also be purchased as separate packs of 12 - Classic Paint Sticks and Metallic PaintSsticks. This variety is excellent and gives children plenty of scope to be creative. The Mini Paint Sticks are a great addition to the range, and ideal for younger children as the size is just right for them; these also come in packs of 12 and include black, white and all the colours you'd expect between. Children can experiment with a range of techniques - including blending, stamping, colour washing, scraping and dotting. The versatile Fabric Paint Sticks are bound to be a big success! They are simplicity itself to use, and they work on any fabric - try t-shirts, cloth bags and pencil cases so children can really enjoy the personal touch. Protect the other side of the fabric and keep it flat by slipping a piece of cardboard between the two sides, then get painting. The colours are strong and the sticks allow for a good level of precision. Once the masterpiece is finished, just fix with a hairdryer or an iron; as long as machine washable fabric is used, the finished piece can be safely machine washed at up to 40o. This is a lovely way for children to be able to show off their creative skills and develop a sense of fashion. Our final pack was 20 Chalk Sticks. As we all know, chalk can be very messy, but these are dust-free and don't transfer to the fingers when in use. They can be used on all sorts of surfaces - chalkboard, whiteboard, glass, windows, paper, card and wood - but don't come off porous surfaces. The colours are strong and vibrant, the colour range is excellent, and the fine points encourage precision work. This is a fabulous range of products, well-made, highly functional and perfect to encourage creativity. Now there's no reason to postpone that painting session! These can be available for children to use whenever they feel a creative urge. We highly recommend them for all families.
"Little Brian isn’t new on the paint scene, in fact, it’s been around for quite a while just under its sister name Brian Clegg, leading manufacturer of paint supplying into all schools and nurseries across the UK! Based in Rochdale since 1973, Brian Clegg has a strong heritage and has been working in the education sector now for over 40 years but with the launch of Paint Sticks we now find ourselves on a journey of branching out into the retail industry meeting the art and craft needs of parents and children directly for the first time!"
The Science of Magic Set by Science4You
As the name of the set indicates, this is more than just a magic set for fun, but shows how the scientific principles make the magic happen. Children enjoy putting on magic shows and they are a good way to give confidence; with the wide range in this box, several children can join together to give a performance with optical illusions, colour-changing liquids, a magical paper bag and much more. The set comes with a 36 page educational book which outlines the 17 experiments. The recommended age range is 8+; many of the ideas can be enjoyed by younger children with some adult input. The tricks are solidly based in science and, as always, the best way to understand science is through hands-on experience, and this enjoyable set offers plenty of that. Carrying out the tricks will encourage children to question and that leads, in turn, to greater understanding and enhances knowledge. These tricks work well, are simple to do and well explained. The kit is comprehensive and includes, among much more, protective gloves and goggles (helping children to feel like real scientists and making them conscious of safety), a magic wand (of course!), balloons, food colouring, measuring cups, petri dish and plasticine. All the consumables are easily sourced, so there's no need to end the fun when the supplies in the box run out - and children may develop their own tricks too. If you want to engage your child with science, especially in view of the current emphasis on STEM subjects, and are wondering how, then try this excellent kit; the ideas are firmly rooted in science and really help children to understand and enjoy the concepts. "Science4you is an innovative European company that develops, produces and sells educational and scientific kits which aim to improve society’s education levels. Our scientific toys have been awarded in many occasions because of their innovation and use in teaching environments... Science4you's scientific and educational toys help children to develop a wide range of skills and capabilities such as creativity, concentration, social skills among many others through combining fun with real-world education by fostering curiosity and experimentation... all Science4you toys are included into the STEM toys category as they provide kids with knowledge in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics while having fun."
We were quite intrigued when we received the Style 4 Ever Tape Machine to review as we had not seen a set like this before. Inside the box you get: 1 x tape maker machine, 2 x tape dispensers, 8 x rolls of plain coloured tape, 3 x stencil sheets, 3 x roller stamps, 3 x mini stamps, 3 x sticker sheets, 3 x marker pens and some instructions. We were impressed with the amount of different accessories that comes with it to customise your tape rolls, and the tape machine stores the accessories in different parts along it. There was a little assembly required to put the machine together but this only takes a couple of minutes to set up and you don't need to take it apart again. It is really easy to get going and it doesn't need any batteries, you simply need to slot a roll of tape on to one of the spindles on the machine, find the end of the tape, pull it out a little way and tuck it under the markers on the machine and continue pulling it out until it reaches the other end where it can be slotted in to a plastic ring which will wind it back up for you once you have finished.
|You can design up to two tapes at a time and once they are ready in place the you can start designing! You can design around 6 inches of tape at a time and once that area is covered you can wind the tape on until it is blank again. Let your imagination run wild with the mix of stencils, stamps, pens and stickers; your designs will be completely unique to you and with 8 coloured tapes there is plenty to be creative with. You don't need to design a whole roll before you can use it, there is a serrated cutter that will cut the tape off for you at any point, you can then transfer the roll on to one of the included tape dispensers which also has a serrated edge for cutting the tape. The tape has an adhesive backing, so once you have cut off the length of tape you want you just need to remove the backing and the tape will stick to anything you want. Use the tape to decorate notebooks, phone covers, stationery and anything else you have permission to put stickers on! We think the tape would make a great alternative to sellotape for wrapping presents and would make them really personal. The Style 4 Ever Tape Machine is aimed at ages 6+ which we think is appropriate as although younger children would enjoy using the tapes, they might find using the machine a bit tricky. You can buy refills for the parts included and the Tape Machine retails at £19.99.|
Power Dough is an innovative new toy from Canal Toys which pairs play dough with accessories and power parts which make your dough creation move and talk! In the Power Dough Monsters box you get 2 tubs of coloured dough, dough knife, six accessories, instructions and two power parts. Use the dough to create your monster, there are two ideas on the box that you could copy or you can make your own unique monster. Then it's time to choose your accessories; the ones included in this box are sunglasses, eyes, two mouths, crown and a bow. Once you have chosen your accessories, you can add the power parts. The bow and crown are best suited to use with the power part that spins, the other power part talks so we used the mouth with funny teeth! The accessories work with all types of play dough which means that the power parts and accessories from this kit will last well beyond the life of the dough included in it. The power parts come with batteries already installed and they can be changed when they have run out, different sets of Power Dough come with different accessories and power parts too so there are lots to collect which will allow you to make some fascinating creations! Playing with dough is great for developing fine motor skills, allowing children to expand their imaginative play and advancing their creativity. Power Dough Monsters are aimed at ages 3+ and retails at £9.99 (November 2018).
Rock or stone painting is incredibly popular at the moment and the Marbling Studio will allow you to create some really unique designs. Inside the box you get: 2 x tubes of glitter glue, 135 x decorative gems, 1 x workstation, 1 x brush, 1 x tool, 3 x concentrated solutions, 4 x marbling paints, instructions and 8 x stones (I wondered why the box was so heavy)! To get started you need to fill half the bowl in the workstation with water, add in a bottle of the concentrated solution and use the tool provided to blend the two together. Choose the first colour you want from the marbling paints and add a drop in to the solution, repeat this with the other colours until you have the colours in it that you want. Use the tool to swirl the colours and create a pattern for your stones. Take a stone and clean it off with a tissue just so that there is no dust on the surface and then dip the stone in to the liquid and hold it there for two seconds. Place the stone the right way up on to the side of the workstation until it has dried, once it is dry you can customise it with the glitter glue and gems included in the box. If you want to make a different style of stones you can put the marbling paint in to the dishes in the workstation and then use the paintbrush to brush your designs on to the stones. We really enjoyed this set, it is quick and easy to get going and you can buy refills for paint and concentrated solutions included so that you can carry on designing stones. The solution worked well but we thought that some of the stones included were a little smaller than we expected and those that were shown on the box, but you can source bigger ones once these have run out. The Style 4 Ever Marbling Studio is aimed at ages of 6 and over and the set would make a great gift!
This is a large set from the innovative Power Dough toys; in the box you get: four different coloured tubs of dough, a dough knife, four power parts, fifteen mix 'n match accessories and some instructions. From the four power parts you get two moving parts, one that lights up and one that talks.The fifteen mix 'n match accessories mean that you can create a huge variety of creatures; the accessories include wings that can be connected to the power parts as well as a horn that connects to the light power part so you can create a colourful unicorn! There is enough dough to make around 2-3 animals at one time and we love how bright the colours are. The power parts are simple to work; the batteries are included and the power part comes to life when it connects with the dough, you just have to connect the accessory of your choice with the power part and then push it in to the dough. The power parts work with all brands of play dough so this set will outlast the life of the dough and the batteries are replaceable which also adds to its longevity. Power Dough comes in a range of different sets, each with various accessories so you can expand your set to create some truly amazing creatures! The Power Dough Magic Pets set retails at £14.99 (November 2018).
So Glow DIY Magic Jar StudioIf you haven't come across So Glow DIY before then take a look at our review of the Magic Jar Kit (below). The So Glow DIY Magic Jar Studio goes a step further and lets you decide on what combination of special ingredients you put in to your jar. The studio comes with one large light up jar, two small light up jars, glitter and glitter tubes, confetti, magic powder, five collectable figures, sticker sheets and instructions. There is minimal assembly required as you just need to click the arm in to the base.Step one is to fill the jar you are using up to the line with water and place it on the stand; after this you can chose your combination of glitters, confetti and magic powder and add them to the jar. Add your special character and then mix it all together using the mixer.
|Once it is all mixed together remove the jar from the stand and press the button underneath the jar lid so it powers on. Screw the lid tightly on to the jar and give it a good shake! The jar will glow as the lid contains a colour changing LED light which looks fantastic as all the glitter and confetti float around the jar. Finish the look by using the sticker sheets to personalise your jar and place it on a bedroom shelf or windowsill where you can watch it glow! The So Glow DIY Magic Jar Studio is aimed at children of 6+ which is the perfect age for this set. It can be purchased from toy shops such as Argos and Smyths.|
So Glow DIY Magic Jar Kit 3 Pack
I knew these So Glow DIY jars would appeal to my mini reviewer as soon as I saw them! This Magic Jar Kit is a 3 pack from the So Glow DIY range which lets you create glowing and glittery jars that you can decorate. The box contains three plastic jars; inside each jar is a sheet of stickers and a silver packet which contains a bag or glitter, a bag of confetti, a bag of magic powder and a surprise character. To make the jars you first need to take the lid off, underneath the lid you will find a button which creates the glowing light; press this on and put it one side. Remove everything from the jar and fill it up with water to the line, from the silver bag add your special character, the glitter, the confetti and finally the magic powder. Once all the ingredients are in you can screw the lid back on to the jar and give it a shake.
The light in the lid softly glows and changes colour while everything inside moves around (a bit like it does in a snow globe). They do look really magical and if the light goes out you only need to give it a quick shake to make it come back on again.
|The stickers can be used to decorate the outside of your jar and they have a clear backing so they blend in really well and help to create a scene on your jar. Once finished they look really good sitting on a windowsill or bookshelf. There are different jars to collect and in our pack we had 'Chill', 'Cosmic' and 'Dream'. The So Glow range is aimed at ages of 6+ which I think is realistic as it means your child can do them by themselves, or with little just a little help. This set retails at £12.99 and you can buy from toy stores such as Argos and Smyths.|
National Geographic Volcano Science Kit
I am a huge fan of National Geographic Kids books, so I was thrilled to be asked to review some of their kits - and I am glad to say that the same high quality is found. Everything you need to make an exciting volcano is here - no searching around for elusive bits and pieces but you need to create a volcano, paint it and make it erupt.The set includes pumice, an obsidian arrowhead, and a geode specimen so children can discover all about each unique volcanic specimen; there are also clear instructions. The learning guide provides many interesting facts and is designed to promote a love of geology and science.
Hands-on science is the way for children to learn - theory is all very well but it's the actual experience children remember.The kit includes National Geographic's learning guide so children can write an A+ report, which again will help learning- as well as impress the teacher! STEM subjects are much to the fore at present, so this kit will really support that aspect of learning. This is a classic STEM project that teaches children about chemistry, geology, and earth science and it's a really good and inexpensive homeschool resource. The kit is backed by National Geographic's 100% satisfaction guarantee. This is a really professional kit that will meet with the approval of serious scientists. Great fun to do as a family, extremely educational and it's great value too. Highly recommended.
National Geographic Red Crystal Growing Lab
Another wonderful kit that shares many of the attributes and positive comments of the one above. There are four colours available and we received the red crystals; amethyst, glow in the dark and blue are also available. It's a perfect family activity and children will enjoy the thrill of feeling like real scientists with this classic science kit, as they enjoy the fun and learning value of watching their crystal grow. The best and most memorable way for children to explore the wonders of science is through a hands-on project, and it's good experience for them to follow the instructions. National Geographic's excellent learning guide will teach the fascinating science behind this experiment - it's a real asset to the kit.
The pack includes a real Aragonite crystal for your child's rock collection and they can compare the Aragonite to the red crystals they grow with this kit. The kit is a great buy for home educators, as it supports the KS2 science curriculum. Excellent value too, as everything you need is included - always welcomed by parents! The kit is recommended for girls and boys of 8+, and the pack gives safety advice regarding adult supervision, as the kit contains chemicals. Providing children with the best educational toys, this kit comes with National Geographic's 100% satisfaction guarantee. All these kits are a superb support for STEM learning, which is high profile at present and a really important area of study.. See a range of National Geographic Kids products here.
I knew as soon as I saw this set that I would have a couple of little reviewers that would jump at the chance of playing with slime! We have the 3-pack of slime and the colours inside are yellow, green and pink. There are just 3 simple instructions on the back of the pack to follow and it says it is mess free.
Each pot has a lid and inside each pot is a silver packet; inside the packet is small bag of coloured powder, a small bag of glitter or confetti and a surprise figurine. All you have to do is to empty the bag of powder and the bag of glitter in to the empty pot and then fill with water to the marked line. Put the lid on the pot and then shake for 30 seconds, take the lid off and then leave it alone for 5 minutes.
We checked back on the pots after 5 minutes but the slime was still a little sticky so we left them for another 10 minutes, after which time the slime easily came free from the pots and it was of perfect consistency. My mini reviewers have been having fun mixing it together and playing with it (and also working out that it makes a rude noise when you poke it back in to the pot with your finger). The yellow seemed to work the best - it had normal sized glitter added to it and it stays within the slime when you are playing with it. The pink pot had very tiny glitter pieces added to the slime and these did end up on our hands whenever we touched it. The green pot had purple confetti hearts, and these work fairly well but some of them didn't stay in the slime.
I like the concept of these, I know there are many ways that you can do DIY slime but they all seem a little messy so having it all contained in one pot is great. The slime can be made really quickly and the bright colours and added glitter make it really fun. It says ages 6+ on the box but my 5 year old found it easy to get involved and to follow instructions. So Slime DIY is available in other colour sets for £9.99 as well as single pots with prices starting at just £3.99.
Parents in Touch were kindly sent two packs of Pintor Marker Pens to review; we have the Classic pack which have six 2.9mm fine point nibs and the Fun pack which has six chunkier 4.5mm nibs. In the Classic pack you get black, white, blue, green, yellow and red and in the Fun pack you will find black, purple, blue, green, pink and orange.
The Pintor pens are water-based paint markers which are suitable for all surfaces and depending on what surface you use them on they will either be permanent or washable. When they are used on surfaces such as wood, cardboard or fabric they will be permanent but if they are used on glass, plastic or chalk boards then they can be wiped off using a damp cloth and washing up liquid. We decided to test them out by painting stones (see our hiding stones blog post here). The children really enjoy doing this and we would normally use marker pens as they are not as messy as using paints. The Pintor pens are first used by shaking them up and down for a few seconds and then pressing down on the nib a few times to get the colour flowing. We have two sets of very vibrant colours so we hoped to make some very colourful designs. They are very easy to use and they really do look like paint, the coverage is excellent so you get really bold lines. On a couple of stones we completely coloured in the surface of the stone and then added different layers of colour; the paint dries quickly so you are able to add the next part of your design and the colours don't run.
Having the white pen in the Classic pack is great as a background colour and for adding fine details and the thinner nibs allow you to draw well on even very small surfaces. The thicker pens allow you to colour in greater areas with ease, although we did find that the thicker pens were slightly runnier so they needed more time to dry and you had to be a little more careful with them so that the colours didn't run.
I imagine that these would be fun for lots of different applications like jazzing up shoes and bags and they are great if you want to paint but without the mess or the hassle! They are available in a range of sets including metallic and pastel shades, you can take a look at their full pen range here. We will definitely be investing in more of these!
This educational and fun energy kit includes 22 fascinating activities that will help children understand the relevant parts of the Science Curriculum - great to support school learning and for home educators. Home educators will really appreciate the fact that everything is in this one neat package (or will be easily obtained), ensuring their child has a really valuable resource. Energy is high on the agenda, so it's important children understand the implications and what might happen in the future - this will help them enormously.. They will discover what energy is, how we make it today and what choices await us in the future. The 22 activities include Build a solar racer; Launch a supercapacitor car; Make an electric car; Spin a flywheel generator;; Build a battery to light an LED; Do a kinetic chain reaction; Store potential energy on your head; Discover how solar cells work and Focus the sun's energy with lenses. This is an exceptionally good range of activities - and the kit provides what you need to try them out. It's all great fun to do, and parents will enjoy working with children on this. This is a straightforward way for children to learn about energy with excellent highly visual instructions and explanations that will give them an enthusiasm for the subject. With its attractive box and integral illustrated instruction booklet, this makes a great gift for 8 year olds upwards. There are lots more superb Science Wiz packs to enjoy too. To support these excellent packs, Science Wiz have produced a fabulous range of supporting activities which are all available on their website. These are superb for helping children to really understand the concepts through hands-on ideas, well designed and easy to understand, so do take a look. To give you an idea of just some of the supporting activities for energy, see the image below. I highly recommend this kit to support learning and really enthuse children.
We were thrilled to receive two sets of packs from My Busy Bots. My first impression was how lovely and colourful they are, and how attractive the zip top bags are in their bright colours. The first pack we explored was the All Sorts pack, which is a great introduction to the products, with its exciting range of topics to help children (recommended age 4 - 8) explore and understand their world. The first bag is Shapes are all around - a really good topic for incidental learning as shapes really are all around us. This bag helps children to observe and remember by using familiar everyday items and linking them to 3D shapes in our world. Parents will be inspired by the contents to build on learning and they can add their own bits and pieces to extend the value of the contents. Bag 2 is ARE WE THERE YET? which provides an inspiring way to help children learn to write as they drive their car around the track and form their upper case letters, with clear directions on where to start each letter. Bag 3 is Googly eyed monster which develops number recognition and counting skills up to 10.
Our second pack is The World All About Us, suitable for ages 3 - 7. The world is an exciting place for young children; help them make sense of it and make the most of the discussion opportunities offered by these packs. Bag 1 is called Beep beep, choo choo; it brings vehicles to life as children sort the foam shapes into colours, match silhouettes and discover which parts of our world they travel in. In Bag 2: When I grow up, children's knowledge of jobs is developed and they are encouraged to value and appreciate all of them and understand how they contribute to the community. Bag 3 is Block it. It helps to grow and develop the muscles needed to help with writing and cutting at school. In this My Busy Bots bag children fill silhouettes of everyday objects with brightly coloured blocks.
All the activities are reusable and parents can develop the ideas themselves as well as using the excellent suggestions included in each pack, to suit a range of ages. The brightly coloured bags are perfect for slipping into a travle bag or using in the car - perfectly designed for stimulation when out and about, or visiting - or even when waiting for appointments. Every bag has a practical sheet of suggestions for using the contents, but you are not limited to these - your own thoughts and children's imaginations will be stimulated by the contents. Between them, these bags develop a wide range of essential early learning skills, including fine motor skills, early writing skills; hand-eye coordination, concentration, problem solving and visual perceptual skills are just a few of them. For full contents of each pack and more information about the skills developed, take a look at the My Busy Bots product page. The sets of three packs are priced at £15.00 (December 2017). An excellent concept, with ideas to suit every child. Attractive and stimulating, we think these are a lovely innovative idea.
|Candice and Leanne, founders of My Busy Bots, tell us: "We create Busy Bags containing fun, educational activities that will engage your little ones and keep them occupied... Our Busy Bags can be used either at home or on the go – they’re perfect for keeping children happy and absorbed... As busy mums ourselves we love how they captivate enquiring little minds and encourage time away from using screens! But our bags are not only a fun distraction… Our activities help them discover new topics as well as develop essential abilities (like fine motor skills and visual perception skills). They are not crafts (so they can be used over and over again) and they are not toys. We use items that will intrigue your child – and, more importantly, not stain or make sticky any surface in your home!" Find out more and see all that are available on the My Busy Bots site.|
This fun energy kit includes an amazing 22 activities activities that will help support school science learning; the kits are especially good for home educators, as they offer complete coverage of the topic in an easy to use pack - it's great to have everything in one place. The set includes a motor, buzzer, test leads, LED, pinwheels, crocodile clips and much more. All you need to add is a D-cell battery and some easily obtained household items. Children are introduced to the concept of a loop, and the various activities build on this; they include building circuit loops, sending coded messages, conductivity, lighting bulbs and connecting batteries and buzzers. A straightforward way for children to learn about electricity with excellent highly visual instructions and explanations that will give them an enthusiasm for the subject. With its attractive box and integral illustrated instruction booklet, this makes a great gift for 6 to 10 year olds. There are lots more superb Science Wiz packs to enjoy too. To support these excellent packs, Science Wiz have produced a fabulous range of supporting activities which are all available on their website. These are excellent for helping children to really understand the concepts through hands-on ideas, so do take a look. To give you an idea of just some of the supporting activities for electricity, see the image below.
This anatomy model kit allows you to put together, piece-by-piece, a model of the internal and external parts of a scorpion. Constructing the body in this way teaches the user about the internal and external structure of this arachnid and how the organs work together, allowing an insight into this important species and evolution itself. Buy from Thames and Kosmos, price £26.00. It's an excellent way to show children exactly how this fascinating creature is formed, and they will learn and remember so much from constructing it for themselves
We all love to encourage children's creativity but there are tines when messy play isn't possible - and that's when the innovative Playmais comes to the fore. PlayMais is an all-natural crafting toy, made from organic corn grits and water and coloured with food colouring (Playmais is non-staining). Obviously, young children need supervision but it's good to know that the product is safe. It is so simple to use - shape it easily with your fingers and it sticks by dampening with a minimal amount of water. As well as sticking to itself, Playmais can be stuck to a wide range of other materials including paper, cardboard, glass, wood and even flower pots; this offers great potential for creating all sorts of decorative objects. Playmais has a high educational value and is a great way to promote manual dexterity, fine motor skills, creativity and imagination. It's non-messy qualities make it excellent for use in schools. It's good to know that PlayMais is a natural product that is 100% biodegradable and doesn't impact negatively on the environment. Playmais is suitable for children from 3+, and will be fun for many years as children progress from simple shapes to complex 3D creations. We received the Playmais Fun to Learn ABC, a big box full of Playmais (550+ pieces according to the box - I didn't count them!) in six colours - red, yellow, orange, blue, green and yellow. It would be better if the box wasn't quite so full, so the Playmais pieces don't spill out when you use them. Resealable buckets are available and these would be a lot easier to use and for storage. The box also includes 14 printed cards which help children learn the letters of the alphabet, making this an excellent educational resource. We also received the Lion playset. The pack comes with yellow, white, brown and orange pieces, plus felt to embellish the completed lion; instructions are included. This is one in a wide range of animals on offer. See the whole Playmais range on their website; you will also find plenty of free downloads for even more inspiration. A super product with lots of educational and creative value, completely non-messy for easy play fun.
SmartLab Smartphone Science Lab
This is a great product which can be used with any smartphone or tablet with camera; it would make excellent use of a redundant phone! There are 20 varied experiments to test out on smartphone or tablet and it includes a clip on high powered microscope. Children are endlessly fascinated by microscopic images, so this is a good and inexpensive way to let them experiment; there is a slide included with three specimens. The 24 page full colour book is packed with ideas which include under the microscope, optical explorations and sound experiments, each with a range of suggestions, clearly explained and illustrated The scientific principles behind the activities are explained, providing a good practical background for KS2 science. Then, of course, having tried the ideas, children will be stimulated to develop their own ideas. A really good feature is that the images are stored straight onto the device, so children can refer back to them. As well as the book, the kit includes a Universal smartphone / tablet mount, a microscope, four filters and a filter adaptor, a specimen slide and a neat tidy carrying case. Simple to use, this is a fun educational toy which will encourage scientific investigations.
Snazaroo Face Painting Kit from Weekend Box
The latest offering from Weekend Box goes away from their usual mixed assortment of activities. This time, we were sent a Mini Theme Packs from Snazaroo. The first includes black, white and yellow face paints along with a brush and a sponge, to create a tiger face. "Priced at just £2.99, and coming at a compact 10cm by 11cm, there are five vibrant themes – Summer, Carnival, Halloween, Christmas and Easter – kids are covered all year round. The colourful summer packs include a fun Festive Mask (made up of bright pink, white and royal blue) and a Jester (featuring grass green, white and purple)." All you need is a drop of water to use the paints - and they wash off really easily too. The face paints are fragrance and paraben free and specially-formulated to be gentle on the skin. They are suitable for children over three, and older children will be able to use them by themselves... but preferably with some adult supervision! The second pack is a Birthday Party Stamp Kit, priced at £4.99, which includes green, yellow and orange paints and three stamps - a cake, a smiley face and musical notes. Snazaroo face paints bring children’s imaginations to life while easy to follow three step guides empower you to transform them into their favourite characters from a world of fantasy; unfortunately, I could not locate these guides so cannot judge their usefulness. Logos for use online are available from this link. These mini packs are a useful first face painting set. See the whole extensive Snazaroo range.
Oonies are the inflatable mini balloons that join together to create a whole world of miniature characters. The Oonies Inflator Starter Pack comes with everything needed to create a variety of fun balloon designs. The inflation chamber easily inflates mini balloons that stick together to create a whole host of characters. Simply add the Deco Bits to make animals including birds and kittens!
We were sent the Oonies Starter Pack to review, inside the box you get an instruction sheet, along with:
1 x Oonies Inflator
36 x Oonies Pellets
6 x Oonie Connectors
18 x Oonie Deco Bits
6 x Display Connectors
12 x Oonie Eyes
The balloons that are inflated start off as small pellets with flat bases. One of these is then inserted in to the Oonies chamber, which is then attached to the Oonies inflator. The chamber is locked down in place and a fine needle pushes through the base of the pellet and inflates it in to a balloon while you pump the handle on the right. The gauge at the top of the chamber shows 3 balloon sizes - small, medium and large. Once your balloon reaches the desired size, the chamber can be unlocked and removed from the inflator. Open the chamber and carefully remove your Oonie.
The pack comes with various Deco Bits to allow you to create different characters. Oonies can be stuck together using the supplied connectors and the Deco Bits simply stick to the Oonies. Display connectors are also included and these allow you to display your creations, they will even stick to windows. The instructions are very clear and easy to follow. I often worry a little about kits like this and wonder if what we create will have any resemblance to what it is supposed to be, or if it looks like anything on the box. I was pleasantly surprised that we did manage to create a couple of characters from the booklet and one of our own. From a distance they look like glass ornaments when displayed, especially the elephant.
Oonies are designed for ages 5 and over, they are great for developing fine motor skills and coordination. Oonies retail at £19.99 and can be found at www.character-online.com. You can also buy refill packs with different themes, allowing you to make lots of different characters.
Wannabees are imaginative role-play packs which provide everything children need to play 'let's pretend' to be the profession person of their choice.
We recently received the Wannabees - I want to be a Teacher role-play pack to review. Even before we had opened it we were very impressed with the size of it and could see it was packed full of things to do. The pack is spiral-bound, allowing the sheets inside to be easily turned with no ripping. The front cover is thick glossy card with fun illustrations and on the inside of the cover is an introduction to the teacher pack from 'Miss Flower', giving you tips on how to use each page and the order of the day.
Inside the pack you get the following sheets:
Register - 7 sheets, with room for 25 names covering 31 days
Timetable - 7 sheets plus one example
Lesson planner - 5 sheets plus one example
Classroom Job List - 4
Lunch List - 6
Weather Chart - 4
Counting - 3
Number & Letter - 4
Medical Note - 9
Reading Log - 9
School Report - 12
Achievement Certificate - 12
Stickers - 2 sheets of 15
The back cover is also a thick glossy card, it also cleverly converts in to a stand for the pack. Each sheet is printed on premium paper, you really do feel like you have bought a good quality product that will stand up to small hands flicking through the sheets over and over again. All children love role-play and it is such an important part of growing and developing skills. My two reviewers were keen to give this pack a go and they spent a great deal of time playing very well together. My eldest is 6 and has just finished year 1 at school, he couldn't wait to be the teacher so he could show his younger sister (starting Reception in September), what the school day is all about. I think she was most excited about the lunch options and the stickers though!
The whole pack is very well thought out and each sheet is very detailed, realistic and clearly a great deal of thought and effort has gone in to producing these. The Wannabees packs were launched by two Cheshire mums who together have developed these comprehensive and high quality packs that have already won awards, fighting off competition from major brands in the process.
The packs are perfect for taking when going away on holiday or travelling as they they will keep children busy for hours as there is plenty to do. We will definitely be packing ours when we go away next month, great entertainment but takes up little packing space. The packs are aimed at ages 5 and over, I would say this is a good recommendation as your child will need to be able to read, and have relatively neat handwriting to fit within the box space given on the sheets. Wannabees packs retail at £14.99 and they are available to buy direct from Wannabees. You will also find them on Twitter and Facebook.
The Dessineo learn to Draw is a new product from Jumbo's educational range. It aims to teach young children to draw in just 4 easy steps by using the included projector box and slides. Included are 30 slides, each of the transparent discs has 4 different steps of the drawing to complete. Once you have chosen the image you want to draw you simply attach the slide on to the turntable inside the projector box and then shut the lid. You then choose a background sheet, there are 10 included but they are A4 size so you can also use plain paper. There are guides on the projector box to help the paper stay in place.
At this point the turntable with the slide on needs to be set to 'step 1'. The steps are clearly marked at the front of the projector box and you simply click round until you reach the first step. The on/off switch lights up the image so that the child can start drawing over the lines shown. Once all of the lines have been completed the disc can be moved round to step 2 and you continue on in the same way until step 4 is finished. Once all the steps have been done you can colour in the brilliant drawing you have created!
The slides have an assortment of images including animals, vehicles and fantasy characters, the background sheets also have good variety to choose from. The Dessineo Learn to Draw comes with 1 black marker pen and instructions. It requires 4 x AA batteries (not included). It is aimed at ages 4+ and this is reflected in how simple it is to use. The slides are effortlessly placed on to the turntable and can be worked by a child with ease once they have been shown how. The images are easy enough for children to draw over accurately, but they also produce great pictures. The Dessineo Learn to Draw features a carry handle and all of the slides and paper can be stored inside it, with another compartment for the pen. This is a great 'learn to draw' product and the simple steps given to follow encourage children to try and re-create the images by themselves after they have used the slides a few times.
Qizels Kingdom: Castle Attack
Qizels are a unique concept - simply make, spray and play. There are plenty of sets to choose from, for girls and boys but I do think this one will have especial appeal to boys. Bugs, pirates, dinosaurs, monsters and racing are just a few of the many other themes. Once created, these pixelated characters can be used as individual toys to play with or make great bedroom decorations. The Castle Attack pack comes with all the parts needed to make a Kingdom Castle; assemble the castle from the pre-formed plastic shapes (there are 1000 cubes in this set), which slot together cleanly; different configurations are possible, so plenty of scope to be creative. Then it's time to add your own touch, by assembling the Qizel cubes (which come in an array of bright colours) onto the base plates (there are 2 of these, so one can be drying while another is being assembled) - create your own design one Pixel at at time, which is a super way for children to express themselves. When you are perfectly happy with the design, simply spray with water, wait half an hour and you have your completed masterpiece - no heat, no glue and no mess! You may wonder if the finished creation really does stay together - well, we did too, but I promise you it does, but do make sure the Qizels are totally dry. Qixels are totally safe to use; this set is recommended for 4+, but at this age, children will need adult help (but that will be a pleasure for any creative adult!); older children can be left to their own devices in total confidence that Qixels are perfectly safe. The Kingdom Castle Attack Play set allows the user to build their own fortress, create an army of trolls, kings and dragons.and forge mighty weapons. Young players can use their imaginations to prepare for battle and defend the kingdom; other sets can also be used with this to extend the imaginative possibilities. Hopefully, your child might also take an interest in medieval warfare, and learn more about history. It is a great way to encourage boys to enjoy creative activities; it will extend imagination and also enhance concentration skills - a superb toy, highly recommended. Qixels can be purchased from www.character-online.co.uk (price £29.99 May 2017)- you can see the whole range here and purchase Castle Attack here. The themed sets are £9.99 (May 2017) and can be purchased here. Play value and imaginative possibilities can be extended even further with the Qixels 3D Maker - once they have mastered the technique of Qixels children can take their designs to the next level. There are a variety of 3D characters to create including aliens, bugs and jungle characters. (RRP £24.99 May 2017) Theme Packs - There are so many cool designs to create including Dinosaurs, pirates and even monsters! (RRP £9.99) There's also the Mega Refill Pack – the fun is as endless as your child’s imagination with the Qixels refill pack which includes 1500 cubes including 750 glow in the dark cubes (RRP £12.99 May 2017). The variety of sets is impressive and combining them together makes them even more fun and productive. Unusual and innovative, providing hours of fun.
Letterbox Lab! Science Experiments
The Letterbox Lab box is a new science subscription box for children. There are 2 different boxes to choose from; the Explore Box for ages 6+ which contains 2-3 experiments and the Investigate Box for ages 8+ which has 3 hours of science fun along with collectible equipment.
We have been reviewing the Explore Box, my mini scientist is very nearly 6 so he is the perfect age to get stuck in. Our box was called Hidden Rainbows. Inside the box you get a bag of science materials and an instruction booklet. The booket is printed on high quality paper, it is full of bright colours, fun illustrations and easy to follow instructions. We started off by making Rainbow Spinners, everything we needed for these was in the box, including scissors (I was very impressed as my mini scientist is left handed and they worked perfectly for him). Each instruction has an accompanying illustration and a simple to read explanation which makes them easy for young readers to follow. There are questions after each experiment so you can record what you have found out and a 'What Did You Discover' page which goes in to more detail about the experiment you have done along with some science facts. These are all written in a way that a 6 year old child would understand, showing well thought out continuity across the product. The questions keep children thinking and learning, they are not just making something and not knowing anything about it.
We did the other 2 experiments (Rainbow Glasses and Incredible Inks) and had great fun. Once the Explore box is completed you earn your first sticker, when you complete another box you level up, and on your third box you get a reward.
The boxes support the curriculum with the skill development and knowledge range of Key Stage 2, you will also recieve online resources to supplement each box before it arrives. The Explore Box is £7.68 and the Investigate Box is £21.26. You can choose how often you get a box and you are not tied in to a contract, and they really do fit through your letterbox! Head over to https://www.letterboxlab.com to take a look for yourself!
Wild Science Perfume Factory
I wonder how many of us remember trying to make perfume from rose petals and landing up with a soggy brown mess that was anything but fragrant? Well, for anyone who wants to make perfume, I promise you this will be far more successful! With this Wild Science kit, you can extract and blend your own secret formula scents using the special pressure filtering tools. With an assortment of real base notes and top notes the possibilities are endless, so you can make a very personal perfume for each lucky recipient. And to make a lovely gift, the perfumes can be presented in the beautiful stained glass bottles. The set includes five small bottles for experimenting with different scent combinations and these can be labelled with the stickers which are included. As well as perfumes, the kit allows you to make perfumed Ruby Gel Pot Pourri to make your room smell lovely. Keep all the bits and pieces neat and tidy and ready for the next experiment in the pink storage unit. This kit contains all you will need, and the instructions are clear and easy for children to follow. It gives a different slant on science and this kit will obviously appeal especially to girls, encouraging them to enjoy science and helping to make them aware of the huge potential and variety of science. Using a kit like this is excellent for showing children how to follow instructions to echieve the desired result and the end result will really be something of which they can be proud. You can see the whole Wild Science range here. All the kits are available from Smyths - the price of the Perfume Factory March 2017 is £14.99. The kit is suitable for children of 8+. When you buy one of the wide range of kits, your child can enter the Global Science Challenge - see below for the superb prize on offer.
The Wild! Science Global Science Challenge is giving families (2 adults and 2 children) everywhere the chance to win:
How to enter:
Build Your Own Edison Style Phonograph by Science Wiz
Just look how much you can create with with the projects in this amazing sound exploration kit! The main project is to build a working Edison Phonograph and all the parts for this are included, but there are 20 projects in all, which allow children to explore sound vibrations. These projects require simple materials and tools which can be found around the home. And here are the projects: Build a working Edison style phonograph; Record and play back your own sound recordings; Vibrate your vocal cords and visualize your voice print; Measure sound with a decibel meter; Use an audiometer to test your hearing; Hear and transmit sounds many adults cannot hear; Make a kazoo and a banjo; Play a tune on water glasses; Play the sound location game; Transmit sounds through solids, liquids and gases; Determine if sound waves travel through a vacuum; Use a slinky to model sound waves; Bounce, absorb and amplify sound waves; Listen to your heart beat and explore how your ear works; Discover whether fish have ears, what dogs can hear and how dolphins, whales and bats use sound; Spin a sound tube to Doppler shift sound. The instructions are clear, take you through step-by-step, and they are highly visual (see the image below which shows this) so that they are easy for anyone (8+) to follow, encouraging maximum learning potential. The 40 page Sound booklet splits the experiments by type eg sound through materials, sound waves, musical instruments and the speed of sound. This works well alongside he curriculum, allowing children to develop their learning in a practical, hands-on way. As well as instructions, the booklet has informative text about various types of sound and this is well supported by the practical activities which really do help understanding. This is an excellent kit, well explained by the booklet and with a real working model to enjoy at the end of it.
Cook up a feast with this colourful Cupcake Carousel. It's perfect to encourage imaginative and creative play as children create all manner of wonderful treats, and then present them to their favourite adults at a tea party. Cupcakes are all the rage and with this box full of tools, moulds and shapes, children can create colourful cupcakes that look just like the real thing. The piper/plunger is an especially clever device which enables the cup cakes to be decorated just like real ones. This kit includes 5 medium pots of dough (white, brown, purple, yellow and red), plus 2 plates, 2 modelling tools, cupcake mould trays (these have a variety of different shapes for excellent detailed results), a three-layered cake display, 2 cupcake cases and a piper with plunger. The dough is excellent quality - soft and malleable, with vibrant colours; they mix together well to produce other colours too and it's a good idea that a key to this is included on the pack. Once the cupcakes are finished, show them off on the pretty three tiered cake stand which is included - a lovely way to showcase children's creations, and one that will make them really proud. Of course, your child doesn't have to be limited to cupcakes - they will soon be creating all manner of teatime treats, including sandwiches and other cakes. I like the way the set encourages creativity by offering such a wide range of shapes to use, and then allows children the chance to display them beautifully on the carousel. An excellent set which has been well though-out to offer plenty of play value, inspiring creativity and imagination. Buy yours from The Toy Shop.
Ready Steady Dough Nick Jr Lots of Pots Set with Cutters
This bumper set contains 10 pots of modelling dough in a range of colours - red, yellow, pink, green, orange, purple, turquoise, blue, black and white.. Plus lots of tools so children can cut, squish and shape the dough to their hearts' content. I am really impressed with the quality of this dough - the colours are really strong and vibrant and the dough is soft and very easy to mould and shape. This will make a great gift for ages three and up, with so many colours, as well as a mini rolling pin, 8 assorted shapes, a zig-zag cutter and two pipers with plungers, children will be creatively occupied for many hours. Of course, children can have a more limited set of colours and blend their own, but that won't be in any way as appealing as this lovely set of pots with their multi-coloured lids - and they store tidily if you keep them in the box which has a cut-out card insert to keep the pots in place. Of course, the colours can be blended, and they blend easily, and there's a handy guide on the box - a great way to teach children about how colours are made. This set will really encourage imaginative play, with its endless possibilities; playing with dough is also great for enhancing fine motor skills. A lovely collection of colours, complemented by an excellent range of modelling tools - this really is a good set. Highly recommended. Buy from The Toy Shop.
LEGO Star Wars 75155 Rebel U-Wing Fighter Building Set
If your child loves LEGO and loves Star Wars, then they are going to be over the moon with this super-sized model. It's a magnificent and amazingly detailed model which reflects the high brand values of LEGO and Star Wars; there's everything the most ardent Star Wars fan would expect - four big engines, an opening minifigure cockpit with transparent lower observation window, opening side doors with pull-out stud shooters, dual spring-loaded shooters at the front, rear storage hold, huge wings that sweep back to create an even bigger model and 3 blasters and 2 blaster pistols (plus extra ammunition which is great as it can be frustrating when small pieces go missing. With so many moving parts on the model, this really does offer excellent imaginative play value once the fun of creation has been enjoyed; play is enhanced by the inclusion of five minifigures: a U-wing Pilot, Bistan, Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor and a Rebel Trooper - a great selection. Children can recreate scenes from the film, or make up their own adventures. This set offers an age-appropriate building experience for ages 8-14. The impressive finished fighter measures over 10cm high, 44cm long and 20cm wide with wings closed, opening up to over 38cm long and 64cm wide with the wings open. For ease of construction, the parts are packed in five separate bags, and these are correspondingly used in the instructions. The full colour instructions are fantastically detailed - every step of the way (all 202 of them!) is pictured and shows the exact piece(s) to use; this means that even children at the younger end of the advertised age range can tackle construction confidently, giving them a huge sense of satisfaction. LEGO have to be commended for producing what must be considered the ultimate in instructions. Of course, being LEGO, it all clicks into place perfectly and the finished product is sturdy enough to withstand plenty of play. I am not a Star Wars fan, but am assured by those who are that the model has excellent accuracy and attention to detail, and will satisfy any fan. A wonderful model that is great fun to build and which offers plenty of play value. Buy direct from LEGO - and see the rest of the Star Wars range.
I really like the way this set gives children a focus for their modelling activities; you can give children Play-doh but they can quickly get bored, not knowing what to make; this set gives them an activity on which to focus. With this colourful set, children can make all sorts of picnic food as they use a range of techniques - moulding, rolling, patting, cutting and sculpting. The set includes 5 pots (85.05g each) of colourful dough (pink, green, blue, yellow, red of dough - and don't forget, you can blend them to teach your child about making colours). The dough is, as it says on the packet, soft, and it is easy for little fingers to model. There is lots of play value in this well designed set - the dough pots have moulded lids with Peppa and her friends for extra value. It includes a play mat which is perfect to show off the finished picnic, 4 dough cutters, a moulding tray and modelling tools, plus a moulding extruder and a selection of cutters to form a variety of shapes. There is lots here to ensure children are happily occupied for a really good length of time. Buy this super set from Character Online and give your children many happy hours of creativity - and you will probably be invited to a picnic at the end of it! Children will probably want to get their teaset out to play with alongside the picnic - and the whole lot comes neatly packed in a carrying box with a handle which is ideal to transport the finished picnic - a super way to encourage and develop role play. It is excellent value at £12.99, and the recommended age is 3+. Of course, Peppa Pig is hugely popular with pre-schoolers, so they will love to 'entertain' Peppa and friends to a picnic.
Box of Shocks Magic Set from Drumond Park
Get your friends gasping and screeching, oohing and aahing with this fun-filled box of magic, mystery and mayhem. That’s what you get with the fascinating and hilarious Number One best-selling Box of Shocks (8 to adult, rrp £19.99)! Irresistible to tricksters of all ages, this sparkling and witty magic set is one of the foxiest, most shocking collection of pranks and tricks for playing on friends and family that has ever been put together. The kit comes with excellent move-by-move instructions, and inside is just what it says on the box. Here's a taster of the activities - The Shock Glass - Pour water into a cup then toss it over your victim (without them getting wet); Deadliest Creatures Booklet - Show some of the world's deadliest animals and amazingly make one appear totally shock your victim; The Crazy Ketchup Pen - "Squirt" tomato ketchup over their new shirt (without staining it); and the Magic Disappearing Pen - "Draw" a black line on another victim's sleeve (without leaving a mark). and you’ll have just a whiff of what you’ll find in this top-selling compendium! Perfect for a not-so-quiet family evening in.