ScienceX Dinosaurs kit – Review

We were asked to review the ScienceX Dinosaurs kit from Ravensburger over the summer holidays. I am always looking for new things to get the boy excited about learning, and this kit which is part of a great range of ScienceX kits looked a perfect place to start.

scienceX Dinosaurs

The ScienceX Dinosaurs kit is available on-line and from shops with a RRP £7.99 and recommended age of 8+. The age advisory on this kit is due to the inclusion of plaster in the kit, where adult supervision is essential. The ScienceX Dinosaurs kit contains 6 activities, with a bright colourful guide full of information as well as details of each activity.

Supplied: Dinosaur cut panels for two models, Excavation block, Plaster powder, Plaster mould.

Not supplied: Tools for excavation (we used an old butter knife), paint brush, glue, measuring jug, and a pot to mix the plaster.

You can start with activity one, a fun Dinosaur timeline game, which explains when each species of Dinosaur lived, or like the boy, jump straight into building the T-rex! The first think I noticed about the ScienceX Dinosaurs kit is that it is not over packaged. The box is the perfect size for the content, and sturdy like the jigsaw boxes that Ravensburger produce. As a parent over packaged toys are a big bugbear of mine, and its nice to see that this ScienceX has only the packaging that it needs.

The boy set about activity six, building the T-Rex skeleton. He needed no help from me for this activity. The pieces pop out of the panels, and slot together to form a very pleasing model.

scienceX dinosaurs trex

Next was the excavation of the Megalosaurus tooth. We talked about how archaeologists would take their time and care when digging up a fossil. So despite the boys keenness to get the tooth out, he did attempt to take his time. The block is formed of a fine powder, easy to scrape away with a spoon, or like us blunt butter knife. I think out of all the activities in the ScienceX Dinosaur kit this was the boys favourite. He was proud of his findings, and was excited to get on with the next activity.

sciencex dinosaurs megalosaurus tooth

There are two activities where you can make a plaster model of firstly a Nautilus, then an Archaeopteryx, and the instructions do tell you to weigh out 50g of plaster for each. As the kit only contained 50g of plaster we worked out that these two models had to be made at the same time. We used a plastic cup to mix our plaster and a lolly stick was a perfect stirrer. The boy couldn’t wait for his fossils to dry, and we were very pleased with the finished results.

sciencex dinosaurs plaster

The only disappointment with the kit was the Pteranodon model. You will need strong glue, as we used a PVA and this didn’t work at all with the shiny high gloss paper. The boy was disappointed with this model, and said he didn’t think it looked very good at all. I have to agree with this, and think it would have been more fun to have the Pteranadon as a flyable paper aeroplane, type model.

dinosaurs sciencex kit

Overall we are very impressed with the ScienceX Dinosaurs kit. From my point of view the boy was entertained for  a couple of afternoons, and learning. The kit is great value for money, and something I will consider for a friends party gift. It’s not over packaged (hurrah) and the boy?

He said “It was great fun getting the tooth out, the Pteranodon was not good, but the T-rex is the best and I think I will put on my desk”

 

Disclaimer, we were sent this product for an honest review.

Mickey & Minnie Eiffel Tower – Review

When we were offered the Mickey & Minnie Eiffel Tower, I was hardly going to say no! Especially as this Ravensburger puzzle is 3D. Since we reviewed the 3D Taj Mahal the boy has been excited at completing a few more jigsaw puzzles which make a nice change from his usual construction toys.
I was excited to see what made the Mickey & Minnie Eiffel Tower different from the other Eiffel Tower puzzles that Ravensburger make. First it was nice to see that this puzzle comes in a box the right size for the content. I hate over-packaged toys, and this smaller box is a much better size. As with all the Ravensburger puzzles the Mickey & Minnie Eiffel Tower is made from the sturdy plastic pieces with their unique folding system.
Mickey & Minnie Eiffel Tower
Each piece locks beautifully together to form the tower starting from the heavy card base up through the two floors to the summit. There are two ways to complete the puzzle.
The hard way: look at the picture and match up the different sides, linking each floor together.
The easier way: Look at the back of each piece and follow the number and arrow system.
The boy loves the number system and as soon as this parcel arrived he wanted to put it together, even though we had visitors at the time. He sat for ages in his PJ’s before I made him go to bed, only to get up bright and early in the morning just so he could finish it.
building Mickey & Minnie Eiffel Tower
Mickey & Minnie Eiffel Tower is a great puzzle, and was slightly easier to put together than the Taj Mahal, despite its smaller size it still has 216 pieces, and took the boy over an hour to complete using the number linking system. This puzzle has to be a must for all the Disney and puzzle fans, and despite the recommended age of 12+ the boy completed all except the very tricky top-level completely on his own.
finished Mickey & Minnie Eiffel Tower
The finished model is 44cm high, and quite impressive, I love the colours which give a night-time look with added Disney details of Micky & Minnie kissing under the tower. I think this would be a great gift for any Disney fan, and we have enjoyed building it. The Mickey & Minnie Eiffel Tower from Ravensburger is available online and in shops for RRP £22.99

 

Disclaimer we were sent the 3D Mickey & Minnie Eiffel Tower to review the opinions remain our own and have not been altered.

Dobble Kids – Review

We were sent the new Dobble kids game to review, and just like Dobble it didn’t disappoint! This versatile little game may be simple, and even at first sound like the appeal would be over in five minutes. We have found that it is a game that we keep coming back to.

The difference with Dobble kids, and original Dobble is simply the pictures are easily recognisable to children of ages 4+ and maybe younger. Being animals and not objects means everyone can get involved, with play for 2 to 5 players. The boy loves original Dobble, but some of the pictures are not everyday objects, i.e.:  a treble clef.

dobble kids

Dobble Kids, comes in a great tin with instructions, and 30 cards. The basic concept of Dobble Kids is snap. Spot the animal in common. Depending on the mini game the one with the most/least cards is the winner. There are 5 mini games in the instructions and each takes only a few moments to learn, but as I found out, given a couple of goes and the boy was beating me on reaction speed.

playing dobble kids

With only 30 cards in Dobble Kids as opposed to 55 in Dobble, the games are shorter, the boy was also able to make up his own games, and even sat and played solitaire finding the matching animals. This game has been a great distraction on the train, as well as last week in our hotel. It’s such an easy game to grab and throw in the rucksack, with no fear of loosing parts, or getting dog-eared in its cute round tin.
Here is an example of game play, lots of concentration and guess what the boy wins!

We are huge Dobble fans, and as with all simple games, I am sure Dobble kids will become a classic game that all families have in their games cupboard. If you would like the chance to win your very own then simply follow the Gleam instructions below, and fingers crossed.

Dobble Kids

Dobble kids is available from Amazon RRP £12.99 follow the Dobble fun on Facebook, or buy now in time for Christmas!

Disclaimer, we were sent Dobble kids to review, the opinions remain ours and have not been altered.

Terms & Conditions:
The giveaway is open to the UK only
  • It is mandatory to leave a comment in the post comment section answering the question specified, you are also required to like Dobble on Facebook. Other tasks completed will gain additional entries. The winner will be checked to make sure they have both left a comment and completed the task for the winning entry.
  • This giveaway ends Monday 15th September at 23.59 GMT
  • Winner will be drawn randomly with the Gleam app.
  • The winner will be sent an  e-mail to the e-mail address left at time of entry. The winner will need to reply to the e-mail within 7 days of the notification. Every effort will be made to contact the winner, but if no response is made within the 7 days a new winner will be chosen.
  • The prize details are stated at the top of the giveaway, and no alternatives will be offered.
  • The prize will be posted by the promoter, unfortunately I cannot be held responsible or replace missing parcels. Please contact me if there is a problem.
  • Please alow 28 days from notification for your prize to be sent out.
  • This competition is listed at: Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

Sandcastles on the beach

We are so lucky to live near the sea, and I know that as a family we don’t spend nearly enough time taking advantage of this free local resource!

This year is my first as a SAHM. I decided days building sandcastles on the beach, either cycling down for an ice cream or simply rock pooling would be part of our summer days out. Sometimes it’s so easy as a family to think that spending vast sums of money on expensive days out will bring family happiness. But as we are finding the simple, fun, and often free days out are more memorable.

sandcastles

When I saw that Littlehampton (just down the road) were having their sandcastle competition, I dragged the boy and Dad along. As a child I remember enjoying making complicated castles, and know that you can make spectacular and elaborate sculptures in sand. The boy and Dad, were sceptical, but after a little practice, and some persuasion were brought round to my way of thinking.

sandcastles on the beach

We set of with spades, buckets, and a few props to see if we could wow the judges with our Dragon inspired creation. The boy was entered into the under 11’s, a tough category, and although we did help with digging and collecting, the sculpting and decoration was all the boys handiwork. I especially love the stones for eyes, which the boy found complete with holes.some great sandcastles on the beach

I think he did a Fantastic job as this was his first real sculpture, and I love the detail he added in for the scales. We didn’t win a prize, but with 200 entrants, it was always going to be about having fun. We decided that we all needed a treat, a nice cup of tea, and some of the new BN biscuits from McVitie’s would be perfect. While the boy thinks the chocolate BN biscuits are not chocolaty enough, I think both are fun, and certainly went down well with a cuppa.

#sweeet

Making sandcastles on the beach is a cheap and easy day out, and one that we are planning to repeat at the end of the month. I have entered us into the Wittering’s Sandcastle competition, where we will compete in categories for the tallest, most elaborate, and people’s favourite. It should be fun as we have a full 3 hours this time for our creation, and we have high hopes. Now fingers are crossed that our sandcastles wont be washed away by the rain!

This post is an entry for 42 Days of Summer Linky Challenge sponsored by McVitie’s BN  Learn more by visiting their website  #sweeet

Medieval Tournament week at Arundel Castle

Medieval Tournament week at Arundel Castle took place this year from 22nd to 27th July and is just one of the many special events run by Arundel Castle through their visiting season which runs from 1st April to 2nd November 2014.

I had heard good things about the Jousting tournament week, from one of the boys fencing  Mum’s who said that they go every year, and I will confess to being more than a little excited to be going. When Mary from Over 40 and a Mum to One said that she was coming to Bognor for an event, a plan was formed and we picked Friday to go and find out more.

arundel castle

Mary and Monkey had told us all about the Jousting they have seen at Blenheim Palace, and the boy and I were even more excited to see what all the fuss was about. We were not disappointed, after the very short drive, we parked in The Mill car park. (Arundel can get very busy in the summer, so parking can be a real problem. Arrive early and the Mill Car Park opposite the castle is a reasonable £5 for the whole day). A quick walk across the road, we headed to the gate to collect our tickets and on into the castle grounds.

Arundel Castle is set high above the surrounding countryside, and the views as you drive in towards the town are beautiful, but as you enter the grounds of Arundel Castle, you are still taken aback with the size and splendour of the 11th Century castle. We didn’t have to walk far before we realised that we were on the lower lawn where the jousting takes place, with the first joust of the day, we picked our spot lay out a rug and waited.

arundel castle jousting

The jousting itself takes place three times each day, with a slightly different format each time. There are four teams to cheer on, with some very different characters, and magnificent horses. While the commentary was given clearly through a pa system, nothing was missed. Of course the boy chose to cheer on England while I just chose to cheer whenever I could. Both boys were transfixed and despite the day starting to heat up as well as the battles, we enjoyed the demonstrations of skill and horsemanship. I just kept wondering how on earth they were still riding in full armour in the heat with 70lb of armour, as I was melting sitting on a rug!

jousting starts at arundel castle

We were treated to amazing displays of skill, all demonstrating beautifully just what was expected of a medieval knight, resusatating the poor dummy who had a nasty blow to the head made us all chuckle. With a whole camp to walk round, tents to admire we didn’t leave the lower lawn till lunchtime. Heading into the Encampment area, you are taken back completely in every way to a medieval camp. With so many people all in costume, it is like the whole castle has been transported back in time.

jousting at arundel castle

While Mary and I were seeking shade, Monkey and the Boy were keen to watch the weapons demonstration, with swords and more costumes, we were all encouraged to cheer on our favourites. We all needed some lunch and after a quick picnic, and some strange tree climbing from the boy. We headed towards the castle entrance this time distracted by the story-teller, with his tale of George and the Dragon. Members of the public form the cast, and the peasant hat game fun was a giggle to watch. I think the mums enjoyed the shady story as much as the boys did.

story tellers at arundel castle

Before we knew it was time for the next joust, and the boys didn’t want to miss it, so back the way we came this time we had a different viewing angle. With all four teams, England, Poland, France and the Burgundian Alliance competing to win not just that days matches, but score and win the weeks tournament, there was plenty to get excited about. If like the boy and me you have never seen jousting, you are in for a treat as it was full on, fast and had plenty of thrills. I didn’t think anything to rival watching the boy fencing, but jousting is now up there on my list of exciting new sports!

knights of arundel joust

By the end of another very hot jousting session, and England clinging onto their lead in the competition, we were all keen for something cool. Ice cream was the answer, and the Castle has a very nice restaurant and coffee shop. After a quick regroup, Mary and Monkey decided to explore different parts of the castle, while the boy wanted to have a go at archery (ages 8+) so we agreed to meet for the last joust of the day a bit later.

Walking through the grounds you get a feel for the size of Arundel Castle, and the archery tucked up near the Fitzalan Chapel was the perfect activity for the sporty boy. I decided that if I had to queue up as well I had better give it a try. It was great fun, and while some people made it look easy, I found that only one arrow hit my target. The boy after a change of hands, as he cant shut one eye at a time? was a little wobbly. He did still enjoy the archery and if there hadn’t been a long queue would have liked a second go. As the wind had picked up and black clouds were looking ominous over the castle keep, we headed back past the entrance, for the last jousting match of the day.

archery at arundel castle

The boy had bumped into his fencing friend B and the two of them were mock fighting their way down the hill. Mary and Monkey were waiting for us, and as we took up our spot under a tree the rain set in. Despite the cold rain, we stayed till the last fight had been won by France, before saying our goodbyes and heading home.

When I look for days out, I find myself looking to other counties, Arundel Castle has given us the most fantastic day out on our doorstep. I think I loved the jousting more than the boy, and the elegant and amazing horses, costumes and even smells coming from the encampment transported me back 100’s of years in time. It made the whole day something I know I will remember for a long time. We didn’t get time to see inside the castle, so will have to make sure we come back another day, and I will definitely be putting the jousting week in my diary for next year.

Arundel Castle prices vary so it is best to visit their website, but start from £9.00 upwards to £19.80 for an adult depending on which parts of the castle you want to see. We were given a family gold+ pass to visit the castle during jousting week and this would cost a family £49.50 which covers up to 2 adults and 3 children (children under 5 are free). I think that Arundel Castle was a much better day out than I had expected, there was certainly plenty for all ages. Even thought the boy has been to Arundel Castle recently with school, he still learnt something new and there are some great special events coming up including Pirates and Smugglers days.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
Disclaimer, we were given press passes to attend the medieval jousting in return for a review, the opinions remain our own and have not been changed.

Summer Holiday Activities

I cant believe that the summer holidays are here and we are already a week in. I decided a while ago that I would attempt to put together Summer Holiday Activities to help make the time fly by. This will be the first summer since the boy started school where I haven’t had to play the childcare juggling game, it has therefore taken planning of a different kind.

Each year I have made a simple wall calendar that the boy can customise, with details of which childcare provider he was visiting, a mix of grandparents, paid clubs, and parent holidays. This year I have made a planner and added days out. Having one special day out a week means he can see where things fit in. The fridge is the ideal place, and post-it notes can be added for extra activities.

I have been looking for inspiration from from other bloggers, like this summer holiday boredom board from The Life of Spicers. I have searched websites as well as social media for ideas of fun things to do together as a family. I also hunted out some fun kids competitions and this year there are some great ones, look on Super Lucky for a list of current kids competitions, and tips on how to maximise your entries.

So here is my list of Summer Holiday Activities.

Treats: Treats don’t have to be expensive, sometimes a walk to the park, playground, or beach and an ice cream are a great way to get out of the house over the summer and have an inexpensive treat on the way!

scooby-doo selfie with beechdean and butlins

Family Days out: Days out can be expensive, so I plan one or two over the holiday, and this year we went to Arundel Castle to see the Jousting, this was a great way to spend the day, and something new that we had never done before. Look for vouchers in newspapers, and your local Tourist information, sometimes you can get some great discounts.

a day at arundel castle

Going out on two wheels: We love to get out on our bikes, but the next best way to get out is on a scooter, and this is the boys new favourite mode of transport. The Zycho stunt scooter from Zinc, you can see our review here.

stunt scooter

 

Playing board/card games: sometimes it nice, especially if its wet outside to get out some of your favourite board games. One of our favourites for this year has been Dobble Kids as its easy to play and great on days out.

dobble kids header

Sandcastles: if like us you are lucky enough to live near the coast then why not pop to the beach and build some sandcastles. This year we took part in a sandcastle competition, and it was great fun.

sandcastles on the beach header