Deadly 60 Factbook

Deadly 60 factbook: Fish, Squid and Jellyfish

We were sent Deadly 60, Factbook, Fish, Squid and Jellyfish to read over the summer holidays and as a family of Deadly fans this book was not going to disappoint!
This factbook is part of a series produced by Orion books and some of the other titles are Mammals, Insects & Spiders, and Reptiles & Amphibians. The factbook is a great pocket size so was great for popping in our suitcase or rucksack over the holidays, as something to dip in and out of on the go. It is a paperback book, but being good quality paper will still stand up to some abuse. We did lots of car travel and this was a good book to pop in the car to keep the boy entertained. There are 78 full coloured pages in our factbook and a great mixture of words and pictures. The fonts are nice and easy to read and I think this would be suited for children aged 4+. The facts are in manageable sections which make this book great for reading in small parts, and also great for picking up as a reference book for school projects.
I love the full colour pages to this book, it makes it very engaging and exciting for children and certainly kept the boy interested. I asked the boy what he thought of the book and he said “its weird”, I think he means it has some strange pictures, there certainly are a few weird looking squid!

We loved this book, and being a great pocket book it deserves a 5/5 from all of us.
Have a look at the Orion website HERE for lots more Deadly 60, and Steve books…

We were sent this book by Orion Star as part of their bloggers network, the opinions remain ours and have not been altered.

Take me back 5 years…

Take me back 5 years and I don’t think I would have been as chilled as I was today taking the boy to the opticians!

As a Mum to be told your child’s eyesight is bad is one thing but to be told “Your child has NEVER seen properly, and may never see clearly”! is heart breaking. I think for any parent to be told there is anything wrong with your pride and joy is emotional, and I remember that day so clearly even now.

It did explain the love of ladybirds in books, high contrast. The acute hearing, compensating for lack of sight. The love of all food! He couldn’t see what he was eating. Since then many conversations with the nurses, specialists, nursery, opticians. Hospital visits, every 6 weeks then 3 months and finally each year. We started in half prescription so as not to scare him, it was that bad! Hard work from all involved but mostly the determination of one little person. He hated the drops, they sting lots. He hated the patching to turn the bad eye in. He hated it even more when we had to patch both eyes because the good one decided to go the same way. Making him do close up work, including reading to improve the vision. Expensive glasses to stop the glare which he still finds trouble him, maybe fostering the love of hats!

But move on 5 years and a new optician can make all the difference. This time recommended, with great patience and many years of experience with children, and I have been told today that the boys sight is now improving. He has perfect vision in glasses, and will continue to improve as his eyes grow. He will never get away without glasses as his squint will come back, but because we caught it early he could have contact lenses if he wants when he is older.

The lesson I learnt is if you notice anything, go straight to a recommended optician. I went to the doctors and waited 3 months to be referred to the hospital. You are entitled to FREE eye sight checks for any child under 16. I didn’t know that you can just go in and ask any optician for an appointment and they can refer you. If you have any history of eyesight problems get you child checked at 6 months! Don’t leave it till your child goes to school for the teachers to pick it up. Having looked at family photos while doing my family tree I have found generations of squints!

There is hope, if you catch it early, and ask lots of questions and tests should be brought back for all children…

Kiddycharts Blog: Parenting Tips Linky

Sea Life Centre Scarborough

The Scarborough Sealife Centre is the ninth park in our Merlin Park Challenge List. None of the family had been to Scarborough before, so we were all looking forward to this visit.

The sea life center is tucked quite away up the North end of the town so we chose to drive and park right up the end and walk back into the town later.
We are getting quite used to the set up of the Sea Life centres as they all follow a similar pattern. First you book in, collect your quiz card, have your photo taken (we skip this bit) and straight into the first room. Like all the other centres they have a great mix of different fish and animals to look at. This centre was a little different as outside it did had a seal hospital as well as penguins and otters.

The exhibit that we enjoyed the most was the Claws!
We had seen these horrid huge crabs in the Brighton Sealife back in January, but this centre has a room full of facts about crabs. We all enjoyed the information boards and the crab shaped tanks. You could even test your strength against a crabs claw, which the boy loved.

Like the other centres you can touch some of the animals, which the boy always enjoys. But this time he got to feed the sting rays. We were given (for a £1 donation) a pot of very smelly fish bits, and these we could dangle in the big tank. The boy loved this, and as something new was good fun.

We went outside briefly and looked at the seals but they only had one in the hospital, and this area was a little more tatty than the inside buildings.
Overall, I think this centre is worth a visit, and they had some good offers including 50% off with your car park ticket. We seem to spend about 2 hours and I think this is just the right amount of time.

We gave this Sealife 4/5 and I think our favourite so far would have to be the Weymouth one, just because of the behind the scenes tour. We still have a few to go so will have to see which one comes out the best at the end of the year!

Chessington world of adventure

We have been to Chessington World of Adventure a few times now so counted our recent visit as part of our Merlin Challenge. I am sure it won’t be the last time we visit this year as we really enjoy this park.

New for this year is the Zufari Ride, a jeep safari through the animal enclosures. unfortunately on our visit it was too cold for the animals and they were all indoors. I can see still see in the summer that this will be a fantastic addition to the park. After the usual queueing you watch a short video with a naughty lemur who talks to the audience, before boarding your jeep. You are then driven through the animal enclosures containing, flamingo, giraffe, zebra and finally rhino. Before going into the cave!
You are told not to go into the cave and for good reason, as now you come to the fun bit! You will get wet as you drive through the waterfall and if you don’t they will squirt you anyway. We all thought this was a great ride and such fun for family’s. But be warned there is a height restriction, and I guess this is because of the mild peril aspect.

Some of the park is looking tired, and is actually undergoing a mayor refit, so this meant both the runaway train and Asia falls were closed. So check the website to see if your favourites are open when you visit.
We loved the cobra, tomb blaster, ball shooter, and the viking ship rides. Along with the boys favourite berry blast, I think because he can go on his own!
I think Chessington is best suited to family’s as it has a good mix or thrill and family rides. The park will look better with the revamp, and I think is a good value day out.

We give the park 4/5 and might give it the full five when all the work is complete.

Weymouth Sealife Adventure Park, and park number six on our list

Park number six on our list of Merlin parks to visit was going to be Weymouth Sealife Adventure Park. After a quick skip down the motorway we arrived. The park is located just on the outskirts of the town, with a large car park. After a quick car picnic we headed inside. I have never been to this Sealife park before and was pleasantly surprised that it was quite different to the others that we have visited.
The first thing is that each different environment is in an individual building, so you follow footsteps around the park. You need to go outside, so wrap up warm! This I can imagine would not be so much fun on a wet day, but it was dry but very cold for our visit. There are also some fun splash areas and a mini pool, which I am sure is popular in the summer.

We followed our map through the usual fish, seahorse, shark stingray, and jellyfish tanks. As with the Birmingham Sealife we also had a quiz to follow.
The seahorses at this park are amazing and something a little special. They were defiantly my favorite, and something I would be keen to see again.
The park also has the added extra of a small ride area, Daddy and the boy braved the crocodile splash, but I didn’t want to get wet! The boys favorite ride the jumping jellybean was good and along with a couple of other rides made a nice addition.

The park is celebrating its 30th birthday this year, so there was a nice added FREE tour of behind the scenes. The tour is every 20 minutes and you queued up at a point just past the penguins. They give the first 15 people a quick briefing then whisk you off into the back of the buildings.
For me this was the best part of the park. The guy who showed us round told us a little about the history of the park. Along with details of breeding programmes, release schemes. Animal health and even the naughty octopus!
This tour is short 10-15mins but is so worth while. It was great to learn that all the fish and animals come through Weymouth before going out to Sealife centres all over the world. They health check all the animals before they go anywhere. We were told about how they try to breed all their stock. So less fish are taken from their natural habitats.

This is a great place to visit, and I can imagine is very popular on a sunny day. we gave this park 5/5 as it was so interesting and a bit different to the others we have visited. This park would have cost £22.50 adult and child. The website has some good offers including combined tower and centre tickets

Spooky Steps from Orchard toys

Spooky Steps is a great new game from Orchard Toys.
It is for children aged 4-12 and 2-4 players, and costs £15.95.
As with all Orchard Toys it is made of bright coloured and strong board, with the promise to replace any bits lost, mangled or chewed! Which I think is a great initiative on behalf of their customer service.

 

We loved playing this game as a family. You start the game as a frog and have to travel through all the rooms of the house past the sleeping witch to the cauldron where you get a chance to turn back into a human. there are educational elements to the game, thinking about the probability of getting a ghost card, lots of counting and doubling. We think it is good for all ages, easy to learn, little ones will like the jigsaw pieces and building the house. The cauldron was a bit tricky to fix together but once put together stores neatly in the box. You do need quite a bit of space so this may be a good game to play on the floor if you don’t have a big table. We think the artwork is fun and the boy loved looking in all the spooky rooms. The rules are easy to change to make them age appropriate, or even just to make the game last longer.

Overall a fun game, something special for Halloween! and we gave it a thumbs up 5/5
Another great toy from Orchard toys

That’s My Hero

I think we all have our own Hero’s growing up, whether they are family members or sporting stars. I know that mine was, and always will be my Nan, she was a big part of my family life and I have lots of very happy memories of summers spent in her garden or playing in the park.

So when I saw this competition with Tots 100 and Money Supermarket to find your Child’s Hero I though it would be a great question to ask the boy. I did wonder who he would choose, maybe a family member, maybe a friend maybe even his fencing teacher? I wasn’t really prepared for the answer!

So tonight I asked the question “Who is your Super Hero?” The answer was very clearly “Miss B” with no hesitation it was quite clear that he had though long and hard about it. Now this is a shock to me for one reason I didn’t think that he got on with his temporary teacher. His class has had a rocky start to the year with their permanent teacher being in hospital for a major operation. I didn’t think that they had realised how lucky they were to have just one teacher in place for the last 8 weeks! Clearly I was about to be proven wrong.

So here she is in all her super hero glory, and this is what the boy says…

Miss Super B

Miss B has secret powers and is able to fight crime and send children flying to Mrs A (The Head) just by clicking her fingers. She can speak 15 different languages “That’s my lucky number” She can tidy up so quick if you blink you miss it, as all the things fly back into place. She can breath in space and lives in Cornwall!
With her sonic click, objects can knock baddies out and sends them to prison. Miss B has lots of mysterious things, that nobody knows. If you think there is no end to her talents you are wrong she will have more hidden! Her clothes never get dirty and she always wears her hidden outfit. She can defeat criminals even if she is in the swimming pool, and everyone will be “flabbergasted!”
She knows the answer to every sum even the hardest sum in the world, and I like her!

In the picture you can see Miss Super B in the classroom sending a sonic message to Mrs A because she has spotted someone in the playground being naughty.
There is a shelf to hold the class dancing clown, and she is just about to tidy up using her sonic click.

I know that we all hope as parents that our child’s teacher will spark their imagination, and encourage them to learn. So I think that all the lovely things the boy said about Miss B are high praise indeed. Coming from a 7-year-old who I know is not always the most cooperative child, and who has had his fair share of being sent to Mrs A!

This post is an entry into the Tots100 MoneySupermarket That’s My Hero competition.

You can enter to, and the details can be found here

Who is your Hero?

Wednesday is the best day of the week…

I love wednesdays!

That may seem a strange day to pick, I know and this time last year I am not sure I would have said this. Why? Well its a strange one, but I have a new love of fencing. No not the type you have in the garden, but the one with swords, or foils to give them their proper name.
I know its a bit of an odd thing to say, but since my son started fencing about a year ago I have finally found a sport that I enjoy. I never had been a fan of football, tennis etc. I can put up with some of the different sports especially those in the winter olympics, but am definatly a sofa kind of sports person.
I suppose I was lucky that my son chose fencing as a sport to try in the first place. He saw a flyer in his school bag and asked to give it a try. I never have been a mum to force him to do things (except for swimming) so try not to say no if he finds something he thinks he might like.
After a term at school I discovered the teacher was not in control and the boy found that the others mucked about a lot.
I found a new club, with a new teacher so we tryed it out and he loved it! So now every wednesday I sit and watch, the teacher is amazing with the kids and teaches them respect and lots of life lessons.
The boy has taken part in 2 competitions and done really well by winning a trophy on the first one. Hes just been given another best fencer trophy, and a gold medal.
So here I am on a Friday night, writing this post in another sports hall as now the boy has decided that 1 day is not enough. The things us mums do for our kids…But this one does make me smile…

Wreck it Ralph

I was lucky enought to win tickets to see Disney’s new film Wreck it Ralph. We had to drive to Brighton’s odeon cinema, but thought we would make a day of it.
We arrived early so early the cinema wasn’t even open! But didn’t have to wait long.
As a family we have never seen a 3D film so we did get a bit excited, especially Dad.

The film is ok, I confess I was thinking it might have been exceptional. The boys thought it was great, and time didn’t drag. I loved the references to arcade games thatvi played in my teens, this went over the boys heads. They liked the guns and monsters. I think girls will like the heroine, so something for everyone.
The story is easy to follow lonely bad guy looking for a friend and some nice effects, although not as many as I expected.
I won’t give the plot away, but it all ends well.

I am glad I didn’t spend lots to see it but its still a nice film.

The film is out in cinemas from 8th feb…

Review Rory’s Story Cubes for Izziwizzi Kids Play Fest Dream Toys

Thanks to Izziwizzi Kids for letting us review another toy this time for Playfest join in on Tuesday 4th December Twitter and Thursday 6th December Facebook

This time for the top Ten Dream toys or slow toys, I understand this means no batteries!

So here is our review of Rory’s Story Cubes from The Creativity Hub.

So lets start at the beginning!

The story cubes come in a neat little box and an outer sleeve with nine six-sided dice with pictures and a small instruction booklet. This game retails at £10 and despite its size I think it good value for money. The box is nice and sturdy, with a hidden magnetic catch which keeps it firmly shut. The dice come with interesting and creative pictures which are detailed. There are faces, animals people and then objects like clocks. With 54 images and 10,000,000+ combinations plus two other expansion packs there are lots more possibilities.

The basic game idea is that you shake the nine dice and make up a story starting “Once upon a time…” with the nine upturned pictures. You can start with the first picture which appeals, and carry on till you have completed all nine pictures and come to the story end. This at first may seem easy but for me proved more difficult, as I ran out of ideas and then my mind went blank! If you are playing with lots of people it is up to them to decide if your story is any good, but ultimately there is no winner, just lots of fun, giggles and imagination.

We have played this game a lot in the last few, and its been great fun to get my son creative, we experimented with changing the number of dice and not repeating parts of previous stories. We think this a great portable game that could be kept for car journey, as the dice can be popped back in the box. (As a lover of all things Disney, this would be great for killing time in those Disney queues, or other queues for that matter) The boy loved them too, and asked if I could pop them in my handbag for when he gets bored! The box recommends that ages 6+ and I think that this would be about right, although if you have kids with very active imaginations who are younger they may love the story cubes too, as you don’t need to be a good reader to get the ideas. We even used them for my sons story writing homework, I just hope the teacher didn’t think that his story was too random!

Overall I think this is the best game we have reviewed and I can see why it has won awards already. I noticed it says an app is coming soon, (on the website it says available now) and I think this will be a great hit as even more portable.  I think I would certainly consider this as a different toy gift, and even better that it needs no batteries just an active imagination!

We award Rory’s Story Cubes a family 5/5* + extra learing imagination and education points!