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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.

Reviews-activities-and-crafts (page 1)

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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!

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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.

Wild Science

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The Wild! Science Global Science Challenge is giving families (2 adults and 2 children) everywhere the chance to win:
• A trip to Orlando Florida,
• Entry to Disney World,
• Accomodation t a 5-star resort for 7 days
• Care hire for 7 days
• A full set of Wild Science products
• Entry to the Kennedy Space Centre to meet a real astronaut!

How to enter:
1. Buy a Wild! Science Kit and send a receipt copy with your online application
2. Design and create an awesome new Wild! Science Kit
3. Write and illustrate a basic instruction book to show other kids how to use your awesome Wild! Science Kit.
4. Closes 31 December 2017.

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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.
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Ready Steady Dough Nick Jr Cupcake Carousel Set

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.
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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.
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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.
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Peppa Pig Picnic Softee Dough Playset

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.
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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.
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