Saturday 29 June 2019

Botley the Coding Robot Activity Set Review

Lily is soon to be coming up to 5 years old and so her understanding of STEM (Science, technology, engineering and maths) is already expanding greatly.

When Learning Resources offered me to review Botley the coding robot. I thought this would be a great opportunity for Lily to learn something new. 

I wasn't 100% what Lily would think and wether it would be something that would interest her but I was so pleased to find out that she absolutely loved him.

So a little bit about Botley.

Botley is the cutest little robot, and his job is to follow instructions that are coded by you. 

You can make Botley - 

Move Forward (one step at a time)
Turn Left

Turn Right
Reverse (one step at a time)
Detect Object
Avoid Object

Make a Sound
And replay a sequence

Learning Resources sent us 2 sets. One was The Botley The Coding Robot Activity Set and the other was the action challenge accessory set set. 

Lily's first reaction to Botley was "Awwww how cute". she was super excited to get him out to play. 

The Activity Set comes with 77 pieces in total. It includes - 

Botley himself
A remote programmer
Detachable Robot Arms
40 Coding Cards
6 Double sided Tiles
27 Obstacle Building Pieces
Starter Guide with Coding Challenges 

The first thing we had to do was put batteries into Botley and the Remote control. The robot takes 3 AAA batteries and the remote takes 2 AAA. You will need a little screwdriver to open up the battery compartments. 

Then Botley was ready to be played with. You then need to switch him on and choose which mode you want him in. Underneath him there is a little switch with off, code and line. 

We decided to try the Line mode first. 

For this mode you can use the line side of the 6 tiles that are provided. You put them together like a jigsaw and place Botley at the start of the line. He will detect the line and start to follow it. Lily was so impressed with it and she kept saying things like "good boy" as he managed to complete the task. Botley will follow any bold black line so you could even draw out your own paths for Botley to follow.

After this we switched to code mode. We flipped the tiles over to the colourful side and made a path which we was going to direct Botley to go. This is where the remote comes in. Botley is quite simple to use. The remote has the 4 direction buttons which are also coloured differently. Lily doesn't understand left or right so I had to instruct her to press the colours rather than directions.
To make Botley complete a corse of instructions you simple press what you would like him to do. So for example, Forward, Forward, Left, Forward, Right, Forward. you then press the giant green button on the top and Botley will move in the way you have told him too. 

Lily was fascinated and cheered loudly when he got to the end of the corse. 

We did this for a little while before we decided to try something else. You can make it so then if Botley spots something in his path then he will move and change corse. For this you programme an original code, and then a secondary code to which Botley takes on when he spots something in his way. He makes cute noises when something blocks him which Lily thought was adorable. 

The set comes with some great obstacles which Botley can move around. You can attach 2 arms to him and he can use these to move things around. We actually played a fun game of football with the balls using the cones from the Activity Set and some balls from the Action Challenge Accessory Set.

The Action Challenge Accessory Set has  40 pieces in total. It includes

A Swinging Hammer,
Rotating Gate

2 Balls
Large Domino
Medium Domino
30 Small Dominoes
Botley Arms
an Activity Guide 

With this set you can create your very own style of assault corse for Botley to run. For example you could make it so he can move forward to push into the dominoes which then hits a large domino and hits the ball on the ramp that falls into the cup. There are so many different ideas of things you could make. 

For this you need quite a hard surface for it to work best. A lot of the dominoes wont stand up on a carpet we found. 

Lily has learn't so much with this toy and is really starting to get the idea of programming. It has so many learning features like understanding the coding, problem solving and really helps a child thought process and concentration. 

Lily has really enjoyed Botley and has taken so much more interest in him than I thought she would. Lily is only 4 and this toy is recommended for children aged 5, so I am looking forward to see how well she does with this toy when she is older. 

The Botley Activity Set is £79.00 and is well worth the money for the amount he does. The Accessory Set is £15 and is a great add on for when your child is developing their programming skills. 

Head to the Learning Resource Website to see more about Botley. 

What do you like about Botley the Coding Robot? 

Tuesday 25 June 2019

PlayMobil Spirit Riding Free Barn Review

Lily has recently started to really enjoy Spirit Riding Free, and so when I found out that Playmobil had a Spirit collection I asked them if they would like me to review something. 

They offered me the Spirit Riding Free Barn with Pru, Lucky and Abigail and it looked great. Lily didn't have anything that was like a barn so I knew she would enjoy this. 

When the box came it looked brilliant. You can see it all set up on the picture on the front of the box and so we couldn't wait to get it opened and set up ready to play. 

With Playmobil you do need to set a little time aside to get it all set up, while also making sure your child can be patient. There is lots of building involved and also lots of fiddly bits. On the box it says about 60 mins for building and I think in total it probably was about that. Though I didn't do it all at once so it wasn't timed.

All the parts come in little plastic bags all ready to be used and then you also get some leaflets with instruction. There are also stickers that you need to apply yourself. 

One tip I would give is to put on the stickers before it is assembled. I did it after and found it slightly tricky in some areas and ended up putting on a few wonky. The stickers do add a lovely design to the set though.

When it is all set up it looks brilliant. One thing I love about it all is the colours, the added green really brightens the barn up.

The barn is 2 floored with some ladders going upstairs, and it has a little stable part added to the side. It also has a door at the top you can open and double doors on the bottom which also open. The stable has a door that opens at both ends. It also has a floor which you insert which then makes it a hay floor. 

The set comes with 4 figures and a horse which is a really decent amount of figures to play with. As usual with the figures they need to be partly built with the hair needing to be added. All playmobil characters are made so then you can place things in their hands and this set comes with lots of accessories that they can hold such as a bucket, or garden fork. The characters are made really well in the way that they do look like the characters from the show. Lily recognised lucky from her outfit straight away.

The set also comes with so many more accessories that just build the set up to be able to give so many imaginative play scenarios. There is a wheelbarrow that has moving wheels, there is a hammock for them to lay in, there are storage chests and bundles of hay. But my favourite little extras have to be the cute little animals. There is a tiny little cat, some mice and some birds. I think the little cat was Lily's favourite thing to play with in the whole set actually and she was pretending that the girls were taking care of it. 

There really are some tiny pieces in this set though that I have just kept to the side because I know that within 2 min of Lily playing with them they will end up lost or hoovered up when not tidied away properly by Lily. When she is a little older I will more happy with letting her play with these small pieces. 

I think this set is perfect for any Spirit Riding Free fan, or for any horse fan. You can buy additional sets that add onto the barn or additional horses or characters to extend the play.

This set is for 4+ and is £59.99 to buy. Head to the Playmobil Store to see other sets or purchase the barn. 

Would your child enjoy this toy? 

Saturday 22 June 2019

Monthly Book Round Up - What we have been reading in May

I read to Lily each night with out fail. Story time is so important for settling a child for bed, giving them that extra one on one time plus it will help them with learning to read in the future. 

Lily is a lot fussier with the stories I read her now, and she does go back to her old favourites a lot of the time and as she is at an age where she can start to remember stories, she asks for specific ones. But I do get chance to introduce a few new new books each month, usually around 2.

You can read all my other book reviews from the last few years Here

So last month I let Lily select which ones she wanted to read from her pile of new books we have ready and waiting. As she is getting older many of the stories are getting longer and so we aren't always getting through as many new books each month but I will still be letting you know about the ones we do read. 

Here is what we read in May - 

1. The Singing Mermaid by Julia Donaldson 
Lily dig this one out of our huge Julia Donaldson collection to read this month. The cover of the book is beautiful with sparkles and glitter and makes it so inviting to read. The story is all about a mermaid who likes to come to the shore to sing. One day a circus master finds her and convinces her to come and sing to people at the circus. He promises her a lavish life, but his promises aren't true and the poor mermaid ends up kept in a fish tank. one thing the mermaid does get is some lovely new friends who also work at the circus. After a while the mermaid longs to be back in the ocean but the circus master wont let her go back. So her friends from the ocean and circus team up and hatch a plan and she manages to escape and return back to be happy again.
The story is a really good one with lots of plot and is kept instructing from start to finish. Plus there is lots of repetition and rhyming which is always good for children's books. I would definitely recommend this book. Lily got it as a gift for her birthday but it can be picked up from most book stores.

2. Supermarket Zoo by Caryl Hart  
This has to be one of Lily's new favourite stories. She has asked for it to be read over and over and really likes it.
The story is about a little boy who hates going shopping with his mum, one day she says that they have to go shopping but little did he know it would be a totally different shopping trip to usual. They go shopping in a Supermarket Zoo. The story is full of comedy when the little boy has to go grabbing lizards and lions from the shelf and has to try and keep monkeys in the trolley. Then at the end his mum buys a giant surprise that he never expected. The story is full of imagination which is brilliant for children to be able to switch off to and just pretend that there possibly could be a supermarket full of animals. 
I really would recommend this story for your child as it really is a story like no other. I was sent this book by Books and Pieces and you can pick it up there. 

Which of the 2 stories do you think your child will like the best? 

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Paw Patrol Little Heroes Paw Awards 2019

Lily has been a huge fan of the TV show Paw Patrol for a couple of years now. She loves all the characters getting into there life saving hero modes and saving the day. 

For the second year running, the hero pups are celebrating 'real life' heroes by running their very own Paw Patrol Little Heroes Paw Awards. 

Its now time to get nominating a little one for the 2019 awards. So if you know a little one who is aged 3 to 10 and in need of some recognition, then this is the award for them. 

There are 8 Categories you can nominate in and your little one (or a friends little one with their parents permission) could have the chance to be selected by a panel of judges to attend a pup tastic awards ceremony.

The Categories are - 

The Skye Award for Courage 

Did your child do something courageous or face their fears or maybe help a friend overcome theirs? Let us know by nominating them.  

The Rubble Award for Strength 

Did your child recently overcome something by showing great strength, emotionally or physically? Do you want to show them how proud you are of them? Then this is the award for them! 

The Marshall Award for Loyalty 

Loyalty is very important and is not always easy to do or show. But it can be done in many ways. So if your child has shown loyalty in some way. Then get them nominated in this award. 

The Rocky Award for Making a Difference 

There are so many ways a child can make a difference! Maybe they supported a charity, did something good for the environment, or simply came up with a brilliant idea. Show us how much of a star your child is by nominating them in this award. 

The Everest Award for Kindness and Friendship

It is important to always be kind to our friends and family but if your child has gone that extra mile to show their kindness and friendship to someone then we want to know how. 

The Chase Award for Leadership 

Being a leader is all about maturity, responsibility and confidence. If your little one is a great leader then this award is for them. 

The Ryder Award for Kindness to Animals 

Maybe your child has recently helped an animal in need, or is always showing great care to that pet at home. We want to know in what ways your child shows kindness to animals. 

The Zuma Award for being helpful

There are so many ways a child can be helpful. If your child has gone that extra mile to become helpful wether to you, a friend, a neighbour or a stranger then this is the time to let everyone know by nominating them in this award. 

The Award Ceremony and prizes!

All the award winners and their families will be invited to enjoy a luxurious VIP weekend staying in a family Studio (2 adults and 2 children under 12) from Friday 11
th until Sunday 13th October. Breakfast is included and each family will receive £200 spending money! 

The award ceremony is being kindly hosted by the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London. It will take place on October the 12th in one of the hotels function suites. Paw Patrol Characters and special guests will be helping serve high tea before the ceremony takes place. 

After the brilliant event as a special finale, our winners will get to an exclusive prize of a closed door experience around Hamleys. You will get to have a run of the store plus be involved in exciting activities while hanging out with their favourite paw patrol characters. Not only that but Hamleys have donated a voucher to be spent on any of their store toys. 

Each winner will also receive an award keepsake and a bundle of the latest PAW Patrol toys including the Mighty Pups characters! 

How to Nominate your Hero!

You can enter the Awards by visiting and sharing why the little one deserves to be one of the PAW Patrol LittleHeroes of 2019. When nominating someone else’s child, Please seek permission of the child’s parent first.

About the Paw Patrol Toy Bundle 

We got to check out some of the toys that you have the chance of winning. We was sent an Ultimate Construction Truck and A Ride and Rescue with Marshall Set. 

Firstly we took a look at the Ultimate Construction Truck with includes Rubble. Rubble is Lily's favourite so she was very pleased to see him and this massive truck. 

Lily's favourite thing about the Truck is that it makes noise. There is a button on the top that you click and then it makes truck noises. The truck does all the general things you need it to do which means your child can start to imagine herself in scenarios where Rubbles help would be needed. 

On the back there is a dumper section plus an arm with a ball and chain hanging off. Perfect for knocking down bricks. It also has a digger arm. 

This toy also comes with a smaller vehicle that can sit in the back of the truck until rubble is ready to head off for smaller jobs.

As all the paw patrol toys, its very durable and your child won't be disappointed with the amount of play they can get out of it. 

You can buy the Ultimate Construction Truck for £34.99

The next toy we tried was the Ride and Rescue toy and Lily loved this one the most. 

It comes as Marshall's Fire Engine and has a Marshall character to ride in the toy. But the cool thing about this toy is that it opens up into a whole fire scenario with lots to do. 

You can make Marshall's Ladder pop up by pressing a button to be able to rescue poor chickaletta who is on the roof next to a fire. You can pull up a fire gun and shoot pretend water at the fire which come in the form of plastic water shaped bullets. Then You can put out the mini fire which is enclosing the bear via another water gun. Marshall saves the day! Then you can close up your fire truck to carry out other missions. 

You can buy Marshall's Ride and Rescue for £18.99 or if you prefer Chase, he also comes with a Ride and Rescue Set. 

Do you have a little hero in the family?

Will you be nominating anyone this year? 

* Disclaimer - We was sent these toys in return to write about the Paw Patrol Awards*

Tuesday 11 June 2019

Day out to Madame Tussauds Blackpool - Review

I was super excited to be invited to go to Madame Tussauds in Blackpool. It is somewhere I have always wanted to go but never had the chance so I jumped at the opportunity to go!

I also got to take with me Lily and her Auntie and Uncle so it was a full family day out.

We got on the train and headed there for the day. If you don't know what Madame Tussauds is, it is a an interactive and immersive experience offering selfie opportunities with all your favourite stars. But instead of the stars being real they are made from wax. 

Madame Tussauds has very life like wax figures of some of the most famous stars and characters and this may be the closest you could get to rubbing shoulders with the stars. 

As we stepped through the doors we were greeted by lots of flashing lights from pictures of cameras on the walls, it was like walking the red carpet. We carried on walking where we met Simon Cowell. It looked just like the real him, and if you wern't looking properly you could swear it actually was him. 

As we did arrive, the music was super loud and Lily was not a big fan of this. She started crying and instantly wanted to go home. This was a shame that she was a little afraid and I think if the music wasn't so loud she would have been okay. That said, if you know your young child is okay with loud music and noises then I think they wouldn't have a problem and would enjoy the day. There was plenty of children Lily's age (4) getting excited and enjoying having there picture taken. 

As we walked through the exhibition of stars, we got to see the new Doctor Who exhibition with the new Doctor Who star and the Tardis. The Tardis provided a brilliant photo opportunity and is from series 11 of the hit show. 

There was so many different areas with different themes and genre's of stars. The I'm a celebrity section was brilliant and has lots of interactive things to do such as shoving your head into a bowl of bugs. (not real ones of course). This is where you can pose with the amazing Ant and Dec! 

There was a sports section, a comedy section and a music section. All which provided fun opportunities to pose with the stars and take selfies. The sporting Heroes Academy section had an interactive part where you could play football yourself, kicking an invisible ball to a goal. This was all done by computers and Lily found it so much fun to do! I found this section the perfect place to do a silly selfie, seeing if the wax figure was ticklish! 

Another exciting part to Madame Tussauds Blackpool is all the set up photo opportunities that they have provided for you. You can dress up as Doctor Who and stand on a green screen which makes you part of the Doctor Who set. Or maybe you want to become a superhero and get thrown into a comic book as you fight villains. This is something Lily's auntie and uncle loved doing and they went away with a cool looking photograph of them as super heroes. 

The next part was my favourite. I myself am a big superhero fan and Madame Tussauds Blackpool now have a MARVEL SUPER HEROES section where you can pose with your favourite super heroes. You can pose with Thor, which I must admit I enjoyed very much. It is the closest I will get to getting to grab hold of that body.. even if it was wax! Haha Or you can pose with Hulk, Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy or maybe the newest addition Captain Marvel. There is also a set to have your picture taken with Spiderman!
The MARVEL SUPER HEROES section was brilliantly interactive, you can try and lift Thor's hammer or maybe lift up a taxi just like Hulk does! 

I really enjoyed getting to see some of my favourite stars, such as Freddie Mercury from Queen, David Attenborough and even the stars from Little Britain in the comedy section. There was also a cool Festival Fields area where you could pose in different festival scenarios and see some festival stars on the stage. So much to to be had all over Madame Tussauds Blackpool and I think of of my favourite additions was a mirror maze that you could walk around. Lily found this area really entertaining and fun! 

If that isn't enough, there is also a Coronation street section. This area has lots of Corrie stars old and new and you could go and sit in the bar where some of the wax cast of coronation street are sat. The bar is a real bar and so you can actually experience having a drink in the Rovers Return. 

The wax figures are made so well, they are amazing in detail and look just like a real person is stood next to you. I really was shocked by how good they were. It is really strange to be sitting or standing next to someone that looks so real but doesn't move! 

There really is so much going on at Madame Tussauds Blackpool and I must admit there is more to it than I ever thought there would be. We all really enjoyed out day out there and so if its a place you haven't yet visited then it is well worth the visit. 

Head to Madame Tussauds Blackpool to see more! 

There are all sorts of deals to visit Madame Tussauds Blackpool and ticket prices and tickers  can be purchased on the website. 

Have you been to Madame Tussauds Blackpool? What did you think?
Would you like to go if you haven't already? 

*AD - We were gifted free tickets in return for the review, all words are my own*

Thursday 6 June 2019

Winter Gardens Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream coat Review

Now with this amazing show we really are taking a journey into my childhood! As a child I was a huge fan of musicals and Joseph was one of my favourites. I loved this show and think I could use the words I was pretty obsessed with this show! I saw it live, I had the dvd, I had the soundtrack, I sang it 24/7 and then I even did my own little shows for my family and friends. 

So of corse loving Joseph and his Technicolor dream coat so much I was going to introduce it to Lily. She also loves musicals, anything with singing and dancing in and she is happy. So I found the recorded version of it and put it on the tv for her. She loved it, and wanted it over and over again. 

Not long after this I find out that there is a live show on at Winter Gardens Blackpool! and they invited Lily and I to go and see the Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat show. 

If you don't know the story of Joseph and his Technicolor Dream Coat it is a biblical story about a guy called Joseph and his eleven brothers. He gets given an amazing coat that make his brothers jealous and they sell him as a slave. But Joseph is no ordinary man, he interpret dreams and there for becomes a very special guy. Although this is a biblical story, you do not have to be religious to enjoy it. The storyline, music and dancing alone is brilliant and well worth a watch.  

I was super excited and so was Lily when I told her we was going. 

We went to a 5pm showing on a saturday, the theatre was busy and the stage was set with a golden border around the edging to help set an Egyptian feel. As the curtains opened I was so excited to hear the music play, playing soundtracks with no words of all the best Joseph songs. 

The show stars Jaymi Hensley as Joseph who is origionally from Union J a band that came from X Factor as he came onto the stage he sang his first song "Any Dream will do". I would say this is the most famous songs of the whole of Joseph and he sang it brilliantly. His voice hit every note perfectly and you could hear every word perfectly. Throughout the show he was brilliant! Full of energy, expression and played the part of Joseph exceptionally. 

Of corse another main part of the show is the Narrator and she was played by Trina Hill. The narrator is a big part to play with lots of different type of songs, sung fast, sung slow, sung loud, sung quiet and she did a brilliant job with all of them. 

Everyone who played a part in this show was amazing. Joseph and his Technicolor Dream Coat always has a choir of children as backing singers and they did amazing. Some looked quite young and they all moved to where they needed to be in time and also sang brilliantly. 

I must talk about the brothers, all eleven of them played their part brilliantly. As a group they all sang together with loud powerful voices and then when they had solo parts they took on there own character perfectly. They were full of life and there dancing skills were amazing! I could not rate the brothers part in this show more highly. 

Now on all shows, there is generally one of two things you don't find perfect and unfortunetly there was one part that I felt put a negative to the show. If you know the show Joseph then you will know that the Pharaoh generally has a elvis vibe to him because he is the king. So usually the voice of Pharaoh is very elvis like and his style may have a slight elvis feel to it. Well unfortunetly in this show I was slightly thrown off to the way they portrayed Pharaoh. The costume that Pharaoh wore was way to Elvis looking, as was the hair. So for me when he started singing the Pharaoh's songs, although he sounded amazing, it felt to much like Elvis was singing rather than a Pharaoh. Then to add to more confusion he sung a love type song that isn't even in Joseph. Looking around I could see other confused faces in the crowd wondering what was going on. I suddenly felt swept from Joseph into a elvis impersonator show. 

But you did soon get over that when it jumped straight back into joseph and the songs you knew and loved were playing. 

Next to mention is the amazing set, costumes and lighting. It all worked together so well. Costumes were colourful and the cast changed in and out of them quickly to play new parts. The set was brilliant, it moved around and they had all sorts of props and big Egyptian statues to set the scene. Then the lighting just added to it, making it even more colourful. At the start of the show when Joseph got given his coat, it wasn't very 'Amazing' and I thought, is that it??? But I was super glad to see that at the end of the show it was brought out and when grabbed and pulled out it showed the array of colours that is Joseph's coat. 

The finale to the show was brilliant and had a the crowd up on their feet singing and dancing and clapping along. I was loving it so much and Lily and I got up and danced to!

Lily really enjoyed the show, in fact I think she enjoyed this most out of any show she has ever seen! She sang, she danced, she clapped and then when she came out of the show she could not stop singing. 

Literally for days after the show it is all she can talk about. 

Winter Gardens Blackpool put on such an amazing show and it was such a wonderful venue to see it in. There are so many amazing shows coming up and I would recommend you get booked now to go see some of them. Head to the Winter Gardens Website to see whats coming up. 

Have you ever seen Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat? 

*AD - We were sent tickets in return for an honest review, all words are my own*