Honestech Stopmotion Studio 4.0 – Review

Honestech Stopmotion Studio 4.0 is a great way to capture and animate your own films and movies. With more emphasis being put on IT as a subject in schools and the introduction of coding as part of the national curriculum from September 2014, getting children used to using software and creating their own animations is a great way to help them at home. Honestech Stopmotion Studio is available from Currys for RRP £59.99, but is on offer with £10 discount so is down to £49.99, also available online.

The boy and I were excited to try out this software, as we have made a few stop start animations in the past including this fun Lego one. The software was super easy to install from the disc, and once registered online we were set to go. You will have to have your own video camera (webcam or Camcorder) and microphone to use this software, but interestingly it also supports the use of some DSLR cameras. We used a web camera, and found this easy to set up as the software instantly recognised it.

honestech annimation studio

The Honestech Stopmotion Studio comes with a quick set up guide, which I found very useful, but most of the functions of the software were easy enough to work out. Encouraging the boy to think of a story and find some props, he decided to produce an animation with Kermit the frog. We looked at how to capture the images, and then moved onto the sound and adding music. The boy found the auto capture easy to use as the sound alerts you to when the next picture will be taken and has an onscreen countdown. You can also set how many seconds you would like between each shot which is useful.

screen shot of software

We tried using the green screen function with limited success, and I think this would have worked better if we had a plain coloured background rather than replacing the carpet colour. The boy liked the record function and you are able to move the sound file to the frame where you want it to start. The only thing I found frustrating was that you have no control over the music or recorded volume. It was good that you could add both though as you could add in your own sound effects. Like all software I would save often to avoid loosing vital work Like I did, but on a second attempt I found the Stopmotion studio had saved all the recorded files so they hadn’t been lost.

We loved the onion skin effect which allows you to line up each of the frames you take. There is also a function where you can add in your own images as backgrounds. You have all sorts of fine adjustments with this software like frame speed, contrast and brightness. It was also easy to change the frame order and even flip images. With the addition of text, subtitles it would be easy to produce professional looking stories in full HD.

Here is the boys little film, and for something that took less than an hour to make I think it was good fun. Hopefully it will inspire the boy to try something a little more complicated next time.

Overall the Honestech Stopmotion Studio 4.0 has to be the easiest to pick up software we have tried. It was super easy to publish directly to your you tube account, or save as HD quality films on your computer. There are even setting for ipad/ipod which would come in useful for kids who have these gadgets! This software is defiantly something the boy easily managed to pick up on his own, and once you have a good filming area set up endless hours of storytelling.

Both the boy and I give Honestech Stopmotion Studio a big thumbs up, and look forward to testing out our animation skills over the half term holidays. I can see many hours of fun making more of our fun Lego inspired films. I’m thinking of a star wars epic or maybe something with our new lego fencer? The possibilities are endless.

If you would like a chance to win a copy of the Honestech Stopmotion Studio 4.0 for your children to try animation for themselves then why not enter my gleam giveaway below.

honestech

Disclaimer we were sent this software for review the opinions remain our own 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. 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.
  • Winner will be drawn by randomly after the competition closes at 23:59 on Wednesday 4th March 2015
  • 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 and SuperLucky

 

Letts Wild about Maths/English – Review

Status

We have been asked to review Letts Wild about Maths and English books. These KS2 workbooks have been put together to follow the new curriculum which was introduced in September. Wild about Maths and English books are available now for RRP £4.99 each, here is a short video of what sort of things they contain.

There are nine books in the Letts Wild about series, and with a mixture of topics they are the perfect source of information to help support your child’s school learning. there are 5 books on Maths and English subjects for ages 9 to 11, with a further 4 books split into Maths and English in ages 9 – 10 and 10 – 11.

letts wild about

The Letts wild about series are bright colourful workbooks filled with fun animal facts and for the boy made a perfect way to learn, topping up his maths and English skills. Asking the boy to review the Maths books was easy as he loves the subject. Asking him to look at the Wild about English books needed a little Soup Dragon cunning! These workbooks are packed with little bits of information, and once the boy had started to read the facts he was hooked.

letts wild about english

We decided to have a detailed look at the Wild about English Spelling workbook, and in particular Homophones and Homonyms! (I confess I had no idea what these were.) Apparently words that sound the same but are spelt differently (Homophones) and spelt the same (Homonyms) With a mixture of questions and information we soon worked out what we were doing. The boy particularly liked the task of spotting the incorrectly spelt words, and replacing them with the correct spellings. We even made up a little rhyme to remember which was which, and the next day the boy was happy to go to school, telling me he thought he had learnt something useful! He even went as far as saying

“I quite like this English. Can we do some more when I get home tonight?”

I can confirm that if these books can inspire the boy, then they can inspire any child. The boy has been struggling with school recently, and to see him so excited about learning again was a lovely sight.

letts wild about maths

Letts Wild about range of workbooks are lovely, well-printed fun and most striking of all full colour books. They seem to have the perfect balance, and even when the boy found a page to hard, or something he hadn’t done before there were both answers if we got stuck and a log book page to keep a record of progress. Finally towards the end of the book is a page to test what you have learnt.

For parents the Letts Wild about books are based on the new primary curriculum, so you can be happy that there will be no conflict in learning the right topics and to the right level for KS2 children. I know this has been one of my concerns in the past with workbooks that the boy tried. Overall I have been very surprised how easily the boy has taken to the Letts Wild about series of books, and would recommend these not just to help kids catch up on subjects that they may be weaker at, but also as a fun way to pass the time, as well as animal fans.

For more information on the Letts range of Wild about workbooks visit their website where you can download fact files, puzzles and activities. You will also find the range of Wild about books for KS1 and even enter the competition to win a trip to Marwell Zoo!

Disclaimer, we were asked to review these books, the words remain our own and have not been altered.

Labyrinth – Review

Labyrinth is a game for 2 – 4 players aged 8+ made by Ravensburger, available from £14.99 and with two additional versions, Junior and Disney we reviewed the classic version of this game.

Labyrinth, is a fun game of strategy, and the box contains maze cards, 4 coloured playing pieces, the board and your treasure cards. The rules like those of Make ‘N’ Break are simple. Deal out the treasure cards between the number of players. Starting from your coloured home spot you have to move the maze by pushing it with the spare card, and then move your piece onto the matching treasure square.

labyrinth

Each player takes a turn and this continues until you have found all your treasure and then it is a race for your coloured home square. Labyrinth might at first seem a simple game, but as we found out the game play can change depending on the number of players. The frustration of getting so close to the treasure only for it to be moved out of reach is a great fun aspect and dead ends are common. We soon discovered it mattered a lot which way round you feed the playing pieces back into the maze. The other great frustration are the fixed puzzle pieces!

Labyrinth, has been a great success with the boy, we have enjoyed battling to find the most treasure, as well as out whiting each other by setting up dead ends. Even if you get off to a flying start it only takes one tricky treasure square and you can be slowed down enough for other players to catch up. This means it really is difficult to tell who will win until you finally make it home. Labyrinth is a great thinking game, and we have all enjoyed it, even granny. The boy got a little frustrated that he was loosing only to finally win his game, and Dad and I have challenged each other to a game when the boy went to bed.

play labyrinth

I would recommend Labyrinth to family’s of all ages, as it is really a mixture of luck and strategy. This means that the boy is not always the looser like we have found with some quiz games. Dad Dragon is most impressed with Labyrinth, and we are both surprised that we have never come across it before. The game of Labyrinth would make a great Christmas game as it’s not to long to play, easy to learn, and younger children could even take part as teams. There is a Junior Labyrinth for children 5+, but I think that this game is easy enough that most children could pick up this version quickly.

 

Disclaimer, we were sent a copy of Labyrinth to review the opinions remain our own and have not been altered.

Journey Around and Inside your Amazing Body

Journey Around and Inside your Amazing Body is a great addition to the Parragon books gold star range, and a great way to encourage children to understand a little bit about how their body works. This book has a RRP £7.99 and is filled with facts and fun puzzles.

The boy wanted to know how eyes worked and after a long discussion I remembered I had this book in my to do pile. The Amazing Body book has the right mix of information without being to graphic and with great illustrations I was able to show the boy the workings of an eye. The boy was keen to find out more and spend quite some time looking at the facts and using the fun quizzes to test my knowledge.

amazing body

The boy chose to take the book on a car journey at the weekend just to finish off the puzzles. He loved the mazes and questions and simply skipped the bits he wasn’t interested in. I like this book as unlike a work book you don’t have to start at the beginning and work through. Each section stands alone so you can read pages and come back to others when it suits. I liked the experiments that you can try out from testing your reflexes to skipping and testing your pulse. The boy has enjoyed this book a great deal and I am sure the knowledge he has gained from the pages will help him with his understanding of how his body works.

parragon books amazing body

Disclaimer we were sent a copy of this book for review, the opinions remain our own and have not been altered.

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.

The Boy in the Dress

The boy has been asking me to set up a vlog for him for ages, but with all his after school clubs, and activities it can be difficult to find time to sit down and work out what he wants to talk about. We decided that Childrens Book Week is an ideal opportunity for the boy to talk to you about a few of his favourite books.

The Boy in the Dress is a book written by David Walliams, and is the 3rd of David’s books that the boy has read. He is really enjoying the exciting and engaging way David Walliams writes, and is excited to read more. Here is a short video of what he thinks of the book.

If this has made you smile, or inspired you to buy yourself a copy of this book, then it is available from bookstores now RRP £6.99,  there is also a link below.

Disclaimer, we were not asked to review this book, it is one we have read and enjoyed and wanted to tell you about.

We're going on an adventure

Fishbourne Roman Palace

This week the boy had an extra day off school due to his teacher being on strike so we decided that we would make use of a quiet day to visit Fishbourne Roman Palace. This seemed fitting as the boys upcoming topic will be Romans. So on a slightly cloudy morning we set off with our notebooks to find out all we could about the ancient Roman civilisation.

Roman Gods

It has been a long time since my school days, and I wasn’t sure how interested the boy would be in this history lesson so with the plan to just go with the flow, we arrived at the entrance. Being a weekday it was super quiet and only 2 coaches of school children meant we had the whole place to ourselves for the first hour.

Welcome to the largest roman home in Britain. Imagine the luxury that would once have surrounded the proud owner of this lavish Roman residence. This palace was certainly fit for a king. Stroll around the recreated Roman gardens – the earliest gardens found anywhere in the country – and enjoy the largest collection of mosaics in situ in the UK.

We started our visit in the Museum as the lady told us it was the warmest part of the building. The entrance contains the history of how the site was initially found by workmen in the 1960 while digging a water main for the area. There are plenty of hands on exhibits as well as the static ones you might expect. We built a Roman road, and looked at Roman Gods.

roman road

Because there were schools on site there was also a lady dressed in roman costume who happily told us all about the Romans and their love of keeping clean. This was great as it was a one to one and the boy enjoyed having the time to ask lots of questions.

roman weaving

After a lovely Mum, Son lunch in the Café and a chance to have a little sketch of some stones he had in his pocket, we continues through the main building to see the mosaics. The scale of the site is amazing, and  thinking how old these little pieces of history are is very humbling.

roman baths

The boy enjoyed playing a game of mosaic bingo, which you can get for free from the entrance and it was more difficult than it looked. I am sure I must have been here on a school trip at some point, but I don’t remember seeing the mosaics or remembering how beautiful and big they are.

mosaics

There is plenty to look at in this part of the building with more interactive exhibits in the lower part of the museum. We built our own mosaic and looked at Roman armour. After another quick pit stop for tea and cake in the café we crossed the site to see what was in the collections and discovery centre. We had the whole of this building to ourselves and after looking at some of the windows full of artefacts we discovered some draws of examples of finds from the site and the local area. The boy and I decided to sketch these so that we can put together some information for him to take back to school after Easter.

roman pottery

I love the detail in the boys sketch and he worked hard to include all the different patterns on the piece of samian pottery. It was incredible to see these items up close all be it in a glass draw. Before we knew it, it was time to head off for the boys fencing lesson. The time had gone quickly and I am sure that the boy has learnt a lot. I know that I have enjoyed spending time with just the two of us and doing the things we love most chatting and learning!

Below are the opening times for 2014, and admissions, we are English Heritage members and received a 50% discount on the costs which made our day out very affordable even with the costs of our lunch and tea included.

January open Saturdays & Sundays only: 10am – 4pm                                        February open every day: 10am – 4pm                                                                     March – October open every day: 10am – 5pm                                                     November – 15 Dec open every day: 10am – 4pm                                                      From 16th -31st December open Saturdays and Sundays only: 10am – 4pm

  • Adult £8.70
  • child £4.30
  • concessions £7.70
  • family (2+2 or 1+4) £22.00
  • Admission price for groups of 15+: Adults/students/seniors £7.00, children £3.50.

Keep up to date with everything that is going on at Fishbourne Roman Palace by joining their Facebook and Twitter pages, where you can also find details of the events and workshops going on over the Easter and Summer Holidays.

Disclaimer we visited Fishbourne Roman Palace as a day out and the opinions remain ours and have not been altered.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Grobots from Galt

Grobots are a fab new and exciting way to get children growing. With four different and customisable Robo Crew figures to collect you can make them your own with the supplied stickers, water, and watch their hair grow. Available from the Galt website and other Galt stockists for RRP £6.99 these little ceramic robots look sweet sitting on our kitchen windowsill.

grobots

We started our Grobot adventure at half term and have had great fun giving our little robot friends different haircuts each week. Grobots come in a small plastic box with everything you need to get started. The Instructions are basic, and you will need to soak the figure in water before you start putting the stickers on. I would advise you do this before showing your children as once the boy had seen the robot he didn’t want to wait to get customizing. The instructions say that you should wait for the hair to grow, but we wanted to customise our Grobots straight away.

grobots 2

We were sent 2 Grobots Rosie and Red, you can also get Teccy and CanMan. Each has a unique colour and personality, with stickers to suit boys and girls. I set about adorning Rosie Grobot with little flower stickers and a weird face which the boy said made her look sad. The boy opted to pinch a few of my stickers to go with the smiley face that he had. There are plenty of different stickers which are all peel able and can be changed as the mood takes you.

robocrew

Once we had finished putting the faces on our little friends we would have to wait and watch them grow. This didn’t take long with the first shoots appearing in around a week. the growing part of the Grobot is formed from a seed ball in the head of the Grobot. There was no mess and it was fun to see each morning who had the most hair. It turned out that Red won the hair race, and Rosie was left looking a little patchy. I have found that due to the round opening Rosie is also a little more tricky to water than Red with his square head. I also was told by the boy that Rosie looked sad so I gave her a new smile when she started to get new hair!

grobots with hair

We have enjoyed watching our grassy grobots grow, and trimming their hair into funky styles.

So here are our new friends, tell us what you think?

Disclaimer, we were sent this product to review, the opinions remain our own and have not been changed

The What On Earth Wallbook of Science and Engineering

The What On Earth Wallbook of Science and Engineering, you don’t have to start at the beginning or finish at the end with this book you can start in the middle if the mood takes you. This interactive book, folds out to a poster size to explore together of can be read as a traditional book by turning pages. This great fact book RRP £15 is part of a series of books made for the Science Museum, and is available in bookshops and online now.

The What on Earth? Wallbook of Science & Engineering tells the complete story of human invention from the dawn of civilisation to the present day and beyond. More than 1,000 pictures and captions tell the story of Maths, Measurement, Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Biology, Earth, Land, Building, Invention, Transport, Communication, Sky and Space. A3 in format and opening into a 2.3 metre long. On the reverse side a second narrative identifies 18 of the most amazing moments in the history of science, from Greek engineering genius Archimedes leaping out of the bath shouting Eureka to the rise of the World Wide Web.

 

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If you would like the chance to win a copy of The What On Earth Wallbook of Science and Engineering simply complete the rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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. 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.
  • Winner will be drawn by the Rafflecopter randomly.
  • 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 Rafflecopter, 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.
  • #World Book Day additional terms: In some cases there are multiple prizes, therefore prizes may not be sent out until all winners have been drawn, please allow 28 days from 6th March 2014 for all  prizes to arrive
  • For a simple guide to  Rafflecopter, please read Di Coke’s Rafflecopter Guide

Junior Wordsearch

Wordsearch Junior from Drumond Park is a great game for children aged 4+ it can be played with 2 to 4 players and with three different levels of difficulty is a great way to get children interested in patterns and word finding.

The boy was keen to work out how to play this game, and it was easy for him to put the board together without any help from me. Wordsearch Junior comes with 12 double-sided coloured discs you choose your difficulty:

Blue finding picture patterns
Red finding words with picture hints
Green finding words

Place a disc in the slots on the top of the board cover with the clear board piece and line up the ring ready to start. Players take it in turns to turn the ring, finding the animal sequence or words before their opponent’s, the first player to find the word shouts out and points, if correct they cover the word with one of their coloured discs. Play continues, and if a word crosses an opponent’s word remove their disk, replacing with one of your colour.
The winner is simply the person with the most coloured discs when all the words or patterns have been found!

This is a fast game and something the boy has enjoyed playing, he found the animal sequences too easy so moved onto the harder word ones. The boy has also found that it is easier when the words are the right way round, but by turning the disk this means that each person has the same chances of finding words when they are upside down!

Wordsearch

We were also sent a copy of the Adult version of Wordsearch this is for ages 8+ again 2-4 players. The setup for this version is the same as the Wordsearch Junior. This time there are no picture clues, just the words, and each disc has a different topic. I challenged Dad to a game while the boy was in bed, and was soundly beaten. I just wasn’t fast enough finding the words. This would be a great Christmas day game for us as we like to play something after our Christmas feast, so I think we might be challenging Granny to a game very soon!

If you would like to win a copy of Wordsearch Junior in time for Christmas then just follow the rafflecopter instructions below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Drumond park games can be found in all main toyshops Wordsearch Junior RRP £18.99 and Wordsearch is RRP £19.99

Disclaimer we have been sent a copy of each of these games to review the opinions remain ours and have not been altered.