Bringing Back The Outdoors With Little Tikes

I am a big believer in the benefits of getting the kids outdoors. In this technology driven day and age a huge percentage of children have very little…if any time spent on outdoor play.

According to a government study more than one in nine children haven’t set foot in a park, woodland or beach in the past 12 months and a whopping 74% of children spend less than an hour outside in the fresh air.

The benefits to outdoor play are endless from increasing a child’s self confidence, building their fine and gross motor skills, boosting those all important serotonin levels to give them that feel good boost and so, so much more.

Little Tikes understand all to well the importance of this too and held an event at The Lookout in the centre of Hyde Park to show just how easy it is to get children excited and engaged about getting outside and having fun.

Luckily for us the sun was on our side for this event and I arrived with two super excited little boys who’s eyes lit up the moment they saw the huge array of brightly coloured, beautiful toys that Little tikes are so famous for.

For us Little Tikes have been a part of our family of the past twenty years. My eldest was bought a kitchen from them for her first birthday and since that moment we loved their hardy, eye catching toys that are certainly built to last and allow childrens imaginations to run wild through play which is so important.

The boys headed straight for the Cozy Coupes as they do whenever we come across one and were really pleased to see the truck version which is a little bigger than the original and has plenty of space in the back for them to carry around anything they wish.

From here they moved onto the playhouses and we were all really taken with the Build-A-House which allowed them to customise their own home with interchanging panels that can be attached with easy to use tools. Oscar was also pretty taken with the BBQ to and loved cooking up a storm for everyone.

After a break for lunch and a spot of face painting they got stuck into the water and sand play. I hadn’t realised that Little Tikes had such a extensive range when it came to this and the boys were literally spoilt for choice.

A big hit with both of them was the Turtle Sandbox that they happily sat in building sandcastles and creating forts with the Monster Dirt Digger. Frankie loved looking on at the Fun Zone Splash Face which was like a tug of war that ends with a splash of water in the face if you loose! Int believe that Mr confident – Frankie was to scared to give it a go.

I spent a good part of the day dodging the bucket full of water that fills and drops without warning in the Fun Zone Drop Zone. This great toy can actually be filled with balls instead of water and used for indoor play as well.

The boys love anything involving wheels and spent a good while winding round the beautiful pathways of The Lookout on the Fold’n Go 5 in 1 trike which has a a fabulous parent handle that allows you control of the steering for a super smooth ride and the Lean To Turn Scooters that give them a super easy ride allowing them to really build their confidence.

As the day drew to an end and I struggled to get the boys to leave it came to my attention that my boys who usually have the shortest concentration span ever had spent half a day through engaged, every muscle in their body used and their imaginations stretched to their limits; we certainly give the Little Tikes outdoor range a big huge thumbs up from us!

My First Baby Annabell:Review And Giveaway

When it comes to dolls in this house there is certainly no gender stereotyping and the boys have loved playing with them just as much as the girls.

The biggest dolly fan though has definitely been Oscar and I love the benefits he gets from playing from them:

Learning Caring And Nurturing Skills – Looking after a dolls allows them to consider the needs of others such as – are they warm enough, do they need feeding, do they need changing.

Building fine Motor Skills – Having to line the bottle up feed the baby, putting on clothing andchanging the nappy are all great ways build their fine motor skills.

Using Their Imagination – The limits are endless to the way they can use their imaginations and role play with dolls. They can build all kinds of scenarios and let their imaginations run wild.

Oscar has built up a pretty good collection of dolls, but what he really wanted was one that can be taken around easily and for me something that is not to heavy and bulky for me to cart around when they’ve had enough!

My First Annabell’s baby brother arrived the other day and Oscar immediately fell in love with him. The squishy body makes him great to cuddle and being a smaller doll than the original Baby Annabell he is perfect to sit on the little ones lap for them to feed with a bottle

He fits easily into my handbag so when Oscar get fed up with parenting I can pack him away easily.

He arrives with a bottle for feeding and is dressed in a pretty, light blue baby grow with matching hat.

He would make the perfect first doll for any child, or a great addition when you want an easily transported doll.

If you want to win one of your very own then please feel free to enter the completion below.

Good Luck!

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Geomag Review And Giveaway

I would say the toys that always go the distance and have been pasted down and much loved are anything that involves construction. From Lego to Mechano they have been favourites with both the boys and girls and have all stood the test of time.

The benefits of constructions toys are endless and here are just a few reasons I love them as much as the children:

Enabling Creativity – Construction toys allow children to build and create with no limit to their imagination and what they can create.

Improves Gross And Fine Motor Skills – Moving around and manipulating small pieces all help with building their large and smaller muscles in a fun way.

Building Hand-Eye Coordination – Moving pieces into place, lining things up and connecting pieces are all great ways to work their hand-eye coordination.

Nurturing Problem Solving Skills – Thinking through what they initially want to create and then over coming hurdles that they come across along the way is a great starting block for building problem solving skills that will be essential in later life.

Working Together – Construction play is so versatile in many ways and as well as being great for solo play it is the perfect way to get children to put their heads together and work as a team to create something special.

With all of this in mind I was really happy when Geomag offered me two sets to try out with the children. The Panels and Mechanics set compromises of brightly coloured, transparent panels that can be joined together with with its magnetic steel spheres and rods.

This invisible magnetic force allows mechanical movement and allows any of the structures you build to move and rotate.

Geomag is aimed at children aged 5+ so I know it would be absolutely perfect for Frankie who has just turned six and is passionate about creating all types of buildings and structures at the moment.

Frankie’s eyes lit up when he saw the boxes full to the brim with all the shiny pieces and he was itching to get started.

He started simply by creating lines and triangles to get his confidence with them and then once he realised the potential of both the Geomag and himself then he was away!

It wasn’t long before the rest of the children took and interest and joined in with the fun…much to my delight as it is usually a real struggle to get my eldest son interested in anything that isn’t aimed at online gaming!

Unknowingly as well as all the above benefits I have already mentioned, Geomag hits all the STEM needs which cover science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Who wouldn’t enjoy a toy that allows the children to explore all of these important elements in a fun way.

If this sounds like something your little ones would enjoy as much as mine have then below I have the chance for you to win a Geomag Panel set of your own worth £89.99

Good Luck!

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Disney On Ice Is Back With Worlds Of Enchantment

A few weeks ago Izzy and I took to the ice with Frankie Bridge and some of the stars from Disney On Ice to practice some moves whilst they were getting ready for the new show – Worlds Of Enchantment.

It is set to be yet another jaw dropping show with Ariel and her undersea kingdom, Lightning McQueen and his friends racing round the rink, the timeless classics from Toy Story that I know will be the favourite of my boys and of course there couldn’t be a show set on ice without an appearance from Anna, Elsa, Olaf and Kristoff.

Take a look below at just a snippet of what there is to see and keep an eye out of what we thought when we visit the show at the SSE Arena next week. It really would make the perfect day out this Easter!

PJ Masks New Series 2 Viewing Party

PJ Masks has been a favourite TV show in our house for a good while now and the boys have been lucky enough to go along to a PJ Masks themed trampoline session and attend a super cool Halloween party with them all in ‘real life’ over the past year.

Series 2 is now set to hit our screens on Wednesday 28th March on Disney Junior at 4.30 and to celebrate this we were sent a fabulous pack of goodies to celebrate with along with two episodes of the new series to have a sneak peak at home.

They wrote party invitations to each other, donned the masks of their favourite characters and settled down to enjoy the show after arguing over who was going to get the PJ Masks inflatable chair!

Their eyes didn’t leave the screen and we ended up with having a bit of a PJ Masks marathon as it would be shame to let all the party wear go to waste.

After the food had all been eaten and they had had enough of watching the shows they then got creative with the carry along art case and the stamp and sticker play set. I love the fact that they can use their love for their favourite characters in a creative way by making up and writing stories and trying to recreate their favourite character on paper.

If you have any PJ Masks fans in your house then make sure you tune in next week to catch the all new and exciting episodes that I assure they won’t be disappointed with!

Milestone Myths With Baby Annabell Learns To Walk

The arrival of a new baby is one of the most precious and wonderful moments of a parents life, they bring such overwhelming joy and love but also a whole host of worries and anxieties that get to us on a daily basis.

From how much they are eating to how much they are sleeping is a constant worry and also as they begin to grow and milestones are being reached the worries also turn into something a little more competitive. We begin to compare what off springs of families and friends are doing and goals they are reaching.

Toddler groups turn into a mine field of parents either bragging that their little ones have sat up for the first time or the poor parent at the other end of the scale that is still waiting for their child who is of the same age to even roll over.

As the years have past and the more children I have I’ve come to the realisation that hours or staring at developmental charts and comparing my babies with others is a negative waste of time and the focus should be on getting through those milestones when they are good and ready and not when a chart tells you they should.

As adults we are all still learning new skills which will be easier and done quicker for some than other and this is no different to when we a little. We all have strengths and weaknesses and this is what makes us all so wonderfully individual.

Being a Mum of five I can tell you that all of mine have taken their first steps at times rating from 9-14 months, some have crawled from as early a 6 months when others never crawled at all but ultimatly they have all reached those goals when they are good and ready.

With babies milestones in mind Baby Annabell have come up with the fabulous Baby Annabell Learns To Walk.

Doll mad Oscar was very excited to have a new friend to go with his favourite Little Brother doll and was in sheer amazement who he saw all the amazing things that this new doll could do.

Baby Annabel makes her way through those all important milestones from sitting to crawling and walking.

As with all children she has a few hiccups and when she is crawling will drop to her tummy and cry. This is not a problem as she will be happily picked up and sits on your knee whist wriggling and fidgeting around.

When it comes to walking she will happily take her first steps whist holding onto your hand a bubbling away with each move.

This doll has made a very welcome addition to our household and Oscar has been amazed with everything she’s does. The interation they can get from this doll is amazing and I’m sure this would be a welcome present under any tree this year.

*collaborated post

Keeping The Magic Of Christmas Alive At Lapland UK

Do you remember the wonder that each sparkling light on the christmas tree would behold, how the smell of the fresh pine needles used to fill the house and your heart with such excitement, how every sip of warm hot chocolate and each bite of your delicious mince pie would fill your tummy not only with good food but with butterflies from the anticipation of the arrival of Father Christmas each and every year.

As we get older sadly these feelings dwindle and our hopes and expectations of christmas change and the magic slowly fades away.

However once we are blessed with the gift of children this magic fills our hearts once more as we see the wonder through our children’s eyes.

I have soaked up every moment of my children’s twitchy fingers as they try to adoren the tree with the delicate decorations, looked on in wonder at each and every nativity play as the stand their fumbling through the words of those heart warming christmas carols and for me one of the most magical moments is clinging onto their wriggly bodies as they stand in line to see meet the big man himself…Father Christmas.

All these moments are precious yet sadly as fleeting as our own and each and every year I try my upmost to keep the magic alive for as long as possible.

Familiar traditions such as baking the Christmas cake and writing letters to Father Christmas all help with this but as with anything as children grow and their knowledge widens the belief in Father Christmas begins to be questioned and I can honestly say that the reality of having a non-believer has always been way harder on me than it has been for them.

If there was a place you could visit that was as magical and as mysterious as the thought of Father Christmas himself then surly this would help keep the magic alive for that little bit longer would it not?

This is what I has high hope of when we were asked along to Lapland UK last weekend. In its tenth year now I have never heard a negative comment about anyones trip and after meeting the charming husband and wife team Alison and Mike at an event last month I knew that the love and passion that came across as they spoke so fondly of their creation was going to shine trough on our trip.

I decided for my sanity to leave telling the children about our trip until the day before we left. I am completely at fault when it comes to making the children little balls of excitement as this time of year but even I couldn’t take how excited they were going to be on hearing they would be going on the trip.

The invitations get sent through the post in a beautiful presentation box with each child having a personal invitation, complete with a gorgeous wax seal.

The box itself can be placed in the freezer to make for a gust of cold air when they open it up which Frankie was absolute amazed with and went rushing over to the window to see if he could see the tail end of Father Christmas’s reindeers that must have just delivered them.

That night was like putting the children to bed on Christmas Eve, the excitment was immense and after reading The Untold Story Of Father Christmas which is written by the founders and is the perfect way to get them familiar with the lovable charters they would be meeting the next day, they finally settled.

We couldn’t believe our luck when we woke to snow the next morning and as we came off the motorway and drove a short way through snow covered woods it really couldn’t have been a more magical build up to or visit.

A short walk from the carpark we arrived at a beautiful snow covered building where we checked in with the friendly elf and enjoyed a quick snack before our tour started.

It wasn’t long before it was our turn to be guided through the huge bookcase into a magical enchanted forest where we were told the story of how each tiny pinecone turns into a elf that then helps out with making all the toys for Father Christmas to deliver.

This is also what our children had been enrolled to do and as we were about to set off to take up the challenge the huge set of doors was slowly opens to reveal a cascade of snow and a stunning snow covered walkway.

Once inside the workshop the children were all settled at work benches where they has the job of stuffing super cute polar bears ready for delivery on Christmas Eve. This could have lead to many tears and tantrums as the toys were not for them to keep, however the story had been told so well and their role for the day described perfectly so there was not one tear or moan from any of the children in the room.

After all their hard work we then made our way to meet Mother Christmas in her kitchen; the kitchen was snug and cosy and the warmth from Mother Christmas was infectious. The children carefully decorated their gingerbread trees and packed them away to hang from their own trees once they got home and then settled down to a story read by Mother Christmas herself whist the parents got the chance to snack on a delicious biscuit themselves.

When all the work was over we had free reign of the village where you could grab something good to eat and drink or like us get tempted by a few to many sweets in the sweet shop. We picked up a small gift in the shop that really was a child’s dream with a huge selection of gifts and of course not to be missed a trip to the ice rink.

Skating is really not my forte and although I braved it I stayed pretty much in one spot while the children fearlessly skated off with their Dad. Oscar was over the moon as ice skating is normally of the agenda for him as he is only three, but with the help of some super cool strap on skates and the aid of a penguin he was well away.

It was now time for the most anticipated part of the day…our trip to Father Christmas. The walk to the grotto held yet more beautifully snow covered pathways, the cutest of little elf homes and of course a stop off to visit the reindeers where we also got the chance to help out with preparing their food.

We had a very short wait until the children names were called and we were lead to his Grotto, the doors opened and the beaming smile from the big, jolly man filled the beautifully decorated room.

The children sat next to him, hanging on his every word in complete awe. The heart melting moment for me though was the look on the children’s faces when he spoke bout each one individually, letting out little snippets of their lives that they never imagined he would ever know.

Mouths aghast at what they had just experienced and me with tears in my eyes I know that there is no way that this visit could ever be topped and will certainly never be forgotten.

The attention to detail at every point is unbelievable, there wasn’t a queue in sight and the whole day ran seamlessly. But I think what stood out most for me was I didn’t hear a moan, a cross word or a cry from any child all day which is certainly a first for us and just shows that the whole experience is put together with the childs enjoyment being the top priority.

I experienced this day with children aged from fifteen to three and each and everyone felt and shared the magic of this wonderful place. Archie integrated with his younger siblings and loved every minute of watching their delight as we did and although he is way past the age of believing it was still an amazing experience for him.

The one that I most wanted to see the reaction of was Izzy though as the start of High School has already had an effect on her and her belief has been waining since last year, yet the sparkle in her eye and the smile on the face after this trip has given me at least one more year of magic with her and for that I will be forever grateful.

*we were given tickets for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Festive Fun At The London Transport Museum

The London Transport Museum is always top of the list of the places my youngest two want to visit. The museum gives the children the chance to explore the history of the London transport system in a fun and hands-on way and is the only museum I have ever visited that I have to literally drag them out of kicking and screaming!

This weekend we had a very early start to experience their festive fun event before it opened to the public.

We walked into the museum and were hit with the sound of Christmas tunes that lead us to the beautiful Santa’s grotto tucked behind a huge London bus.

Snow covered branches were delicately drapped with pretty fairy lights and the little snow covered path lead you into the scandinavian inspired grotto full of sheepskin throws, cosy cushions and plenty of toys play with.

Inside the grotto we enjoyed a story time session with one of Santa’s super friendly elves whilst outside there was a crafting session taking place where we tried our hand at making some origami tree decorations they weren’t as easy as they looked!

After doing a little exploring of the museum and learning some interesting facts about bus tickets from the very knowledgeable staff we had worked up a bit of an appetite and made our way to have a scrumptious hot chocolate and some absolutey delicious waffles they I was extremely impressed with.

It was time to get our craft on again, this time by creating a candle light holder that Frankie really went to town with the decor on!

The highlight of the morning though was just about to happen when Santa made his way into the museum to greet the children.

He had a good chat with each and every child and asked my terrors if they thought they were on the ‘good list’. I admired the confidence in their answers but a few sideways looks were thrown my way in fear of me interrupting!

After all the christmassy excitement we spent a good while enjoying the museum and as usual had a pretty hard time getting the boys to leave, especially as we passed through the gift shop that was hugely tempting…even for me.

From beautiful train sets to london buses in many different guises to pretty snow globes and the most amazing tree decorations there is something for everyone and is a far cry from your usual museum gift shop.

The whole morning was the perfect mix of festive cheer, good food and automotive fun. I loved that it wasn’t your usual structured visit to Santa and instead he was wandering around and the children were free to go and say hi whenenver they were ready.

If you are still looking for somewhere for a Santa visit this year then this comes highly recommended from us.

*We were asked along to this event for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

PlayStation Family Showcase

Gaming is something that has never really grabbed my attention for any length of time and aside from playing Packman and Tetris when I was younger I have never really given it a lot of thought.

This however is the complete opposite for my eldest son who is an avid gamer and in fact has been trying to convince me for the last two years that gaming is a viable career and a path that he really wants to follow.

With this in mind when I got the invitation to Playstation’s Family Showcase I was hoping that they would open my eyes to something I know very little about.

Walking into the event at the cool and quirky Perseverance Works in East London the boys eyes lit up and neither of them new where to start first.

The whole area was set out into different sections with a huge variety of games to try your hand at, plenty of refreshments to keep you refulled and if you fancied a bit of a break from the screen time then there were lots of crafts to keep you busy and some yummy cupcakes to decorate with lovely Cookie Girl.

The boys quickly found the NBA 2K17 basketball game and sat together playing whist I grabbed a coffee and chatted to the hilarious Ellie from ‘Scummy Mummies’ who was there to host the event.

Archie seemed to quickly find his favourite games FIFA17 and the super cool Gran Truismo and settled down to challenge the experts that were walking round to help out with any tech questions…there were more than a few from me!

Frankie however was overwhelmed with the choice and flitted backwards and forwards between games such a the fabulous new Lego Ninago Movie game that really bought one of his favourite movies alive in front of his eyes, Marvel Superheroes that went down a treat as he got to play some of his favourite superheroes and Crash Bandicoot which was in fact one of the first games I ever bought Archie.

There were even two fantastic games – That’s You and Knowledge Of Powergames that allow the whole family play together with the use your smart phones or tablets to answer questions and really interact together that would make the perfect alternative to the usual board games this christmas!

Watching the boys play together and make new friends by joining up and using the two player option on the games really made me see gaming in a different light. I had always seen it as a solitary pastime that kept them very isolated when in fact games can help team building skills, make healthy competition and create social skills. All of these things I had never really considered before.

I think the boys christmas lists have certainly grown since this event and I would definitely advise any of you to check out some of the games I’ve mentioned as they would make super gifts for any gamers out there.

My First Scalextric:Review

Scalextric tracks are something that I remember fondly from my youth, in fact the first one was bought out in 1957…my memories don’t go that far back.

I never had one of my own but loved going to my cousins to challenge them to a race and spent hours watching the cars speeding round the track.

My eldest son still has a set that he is keeping well out of reach from his destructive little brothers, much to their annoyance.

When I was asked to review the My First Scalextric I had high hope for what the boys were going to think.

Their eyes lit up as soon as they saw they saw the brightly coloured packaging and they couldn’t wait to get inside.

Once opened the figure of eight style track was super easy to assemble which was very pleasing as the boys were itching to get started.

It didn’t take them long to pick up what they had to do and the adjustable hand controllers allow you to use variable speeds depending on the ability of the child. They are also colour matching with the track so they can easily know which car they are racing.

One of my less fond memories of Scalextric is the moment the cars come flying from the track just as you were in the lead. Thankfully they now use magnatration which has a strong magnetic force allowing the cars to keep better traction.

As well as being heaps of fun My First Scalextric helps to improve fine motor skills, manual dexterity, hand eye coordination and give them great practice in playing well as a pair which is much needed in this house!

With Christmas not to far away this would be a very welcomed gift under any tree.

*collaborated post