Wednesday 27 May 2020

Aid your Childs learning with Undercover Hippy Bus

(ad - Gifted)

Home Schooling has been an optional thing for us all over the last few months, and some plan to carry on home schooling. I have already made the decision that I will be carrying on home schooling and so i'm really pleased that I have had the opportunity to work with the website Undercover Hippy Bus who kindly sent us lots of resources from their website.

Undercover Hippy bus is a learning resource website which provides worksheets for children. There focus is mostly nature and well being but they also have subjects such as space and geography as well. 

I got a choice of all the resources of website and so I downloaded some and got them printed ready to use. 

My choices were Animal Nature Study, Plant Nature Study, Solar System Study, Self Awareness Pack, Tree Nature Study, World Explorer Study and an edible plant pack. 

I love the choices that they have on their website. A lot of the learning is all about awareness of the things around us which I think are great subjects to learn. Plus with the current problems in the world, the children's mental health pack could be a god send to some people who's children are struggling with the big changes.

Each pack on the website is really fairly priced and starts at £2.99. For £2.99 I am really impressed with the amount of sheets you get. Plus when downloaded you can then print as many as you need. With 3 kids in this household it has been great that I can print 3 of each sheet so then they can all join in. I did find that a lot of the sheets didn't take much ink either. 

A lot of the packs can be done from home, with the odd sheet that with the current lock down in place, can't be done. But perfect to save for a later date. The packs are also great for going on walks, with some of them being about looking at the things around you and collecting items. 

We took the Tree pack with us on a walk so then we could look at different tree's, bark and also learn about different tree's around us.

We have also been learning a lot about planets and also animals so these 2 packs have been really helpful. There was a great cut and stick activity in the planets one and the kids really enjoyed doing this one. It is great that the packs aren't just boring pen to paper and also include lots of chances to draw and be creative.

I did find that the sheets were all really helpful in different ways. Some we decided to implement our own activities with. For example some of the packs come with useful words which come with pictures. We used these for one activity to talk about Habitats. We stuck the picture into the middle of the paper and named different animals that live in that habitat. The helpful words are also great for helping children describe the nature around them and also help learn to spell those words.

Lily enjoyed doing the Self Awareness Pack and loved writing all about herself. This pack is really nice and creative too and also gets them thinking about what makes them happy. 

Over all I would recommend taking a look at the website. I think it could be a really good help towards having to home school at the moment. Plus I think children should be learning all the time so these are going to be great to use over the summer holidays to keep them learning but also entertained. 

Plus Undercover Hippy Bus have kindly given someone the chance to win a £25 spend on the website. Enter below on the Gleam app. 

Which of the packs do you like the sound of? 

Win a £25 spend on The Undercover Hippy Bus Website

Saturday 23 May 2020

Play Osmo - Review

(ad - Gifted)

I have been looking forward to writing all about Osmo and letting you know our thoughts on it. We got sent the Osmo learning base for Lily's fire tablet and 2 games and I have some really positive things to tell you about them.

Let me guess, your children LOVE using technology, especially their Ipads and tablets. Lily really loves using hers to but I usually don't like her spending too much time on it, getting addicted to silly games that teach her nothing. So when Osmo offered me something that can let you child use their tablet but also learn at the same time, I jumped at the chance. 

So what is Osmo? Osmo is an award winning platform that uses an app and tangible pieces to create a hands on learning experience while still letting your child use technology. 

You can get Osmo for Fire Tablets or Ipads, each one having a different base which fits your device. Here is the device below in the image. It comes as a white stand, which also comes with a red piece. The red piece is your camera which gets placed on the top of your device. The cool thing about the base is that the red piece connects to the base so when you are not playing with it, you don't loose it. 

When you own the base and camera, you then are going to need some games. We was sent 2 games from Osmo. I really didn't have a clue what to expect but I was already loving that the games came with things that Lily has to use her hands with, rather than just an app that you touch the screen on. 

I was so glad to find out that it was super easy to set up. You simply go to the website, put in a code that comes with the games, and download the app. When you have done that, the games are ready to play. 

The first game we tried was The super studio Frozen 2. This came with some pens, a pad, and a wipe cloth. Lily and I was both super excited to see how they worked. You also may need to get a cloth or some kitchen roll as you will be needing these for the game. 

When the game starts you will need to make your child a profile. This is great because if you have more than one child they all get to make a profile each meaning they are not playing each others game. After that the game is all ready to go. Simply go to page one of the pad, and push this against the white stand. It is important that the pad stays pushed up against this through out playing the game. 

So the game itself is super creative. You need the volume up so then you can hear the instructions that you are given. You then get instructed on what to do, in this case it is drawing. Lily found this app magical, because what ever she drew, then appeared on her tablet. You get to do all sorts, creating bridges, dresses and scenes. 

A few pointers is that you need to make sure that your drawings are all connected up. For example if drawing a square, all sides must not have gaps. This means that when the drawing goes up on the screen, it will be able to be coloured. After making each picture, the pad will need to be wiped and dried for it to be turned to the next page. 

Lily who is 5 found this nice and easy to do, though at times struggled to understand that for it to work well she needed to first do her drawing inside the white area provided and that it had to be a connecting shape for it to be coloured. She also at times forgot that the pad needed to be pushed right up to the base for it to register the drawing correctly. 

I am really really pleased with this game. Not only did it keep Lily entertained for ages, I was pleased with the amount of pages of drawing activities there was. Plus when you are finished with the pages of the book with the frozen activities there are extra pages where you can draw what ever you like and send them up onto your tablet screen. Lily super enjoyed getting to do 2 of her favourite things. Drawing and playing with her tablet. 

We was also sent Little Genius ABC's and squiggle magic which is 2 games in one pack. These come with a roll out mat and a tub of shapes. Both Little Genius and squiggle magic use these to play the game.

Little Genius Abc's is all about the alphabet and you can use the shapes to make your letter and also pictures that relate to the letter. When you have placed the shapes down on the matt, you can then make them go up on your screen. Lily didn't find this as magical as the Frozen game, but she still enjoyed it. I am really pleased that while she is using her tablet, she is also doing something with her hands. This game as well as helping her with the alphabet, is also helping her fine motor skills and co-ordination. 

The Squiggle magic game is a little more creative and is all about making different shapes to make faces, animals and other pictures. It works exactly like the ABC game with connecting up the pieces to make shapes and then your pictures comes alive on the screen. 

I would really recommend these games and Osmo must be the best thing I have ever owned for Lily's tablet. I am really pleased to have something for her that is educational as well as fun. Lily has played the games loads and will carry on to do so. Osmo has lots of other games which we LOVE the look of so if you would like to see more. Head to the website

Osmo have starter kits that come with games as well as the base, or you can buy the base and games individually. 

The games are all a range of prices ranging from $29 to $49. 

What do you think to this new way of learning? 

Tuesday 19 May 2020

Fun Learning with Orchard Toys

(ad- Gifted)

We have been a big fan of Orchard Toys for years now. I have always found them to be the best for educational games and really put thought into how to make learning fun. 

As a lot of us are all home schooling and some us probably still going to be home schooling for a while, you may want to look at Orchard Toys for ideas to help educate your kids. 

Plus when your children do go back to school, it is always good to carry on their leaning at home. 

Orchard Toys supply games for up to 8 years old and have recently made home learning packs for pre school to key stage 2. These include either a selection of games or games and an activity book. They all include essential learning including counting, spelling and time telling. 

Their activity books are really good and we have got quite a few of them now. They have colouring books which help with numbers and spelling and also activity books which have fun puzzles to solve which also aid learning. They also include stickers, which is Lily's favourite part about the books. 

Plus if you head to the Orchard Toys website, you will be able to see lots of activity ideas as well as some brilliant print outs. We have been using some of the print outs and Lily finds them really fun. They include crafts, baking ideas, colouring sheets, maths sheets, phonics fun, plus fun facts.

I 100% recommend Orchard toys for fun and for encouraging your child to learn and I know I shall carry on using their games through Lily's Learning. 

Do you own anything from Orchard toys?

Saturday 16 May 2020

Keeping the Kids Entertained with Spin Master Games

(ad - Gifted)

There are many times that we are looking for things to keep the kids entertained, that horrible rainy day for example. Well Spin Master has some amazing games on offer that will really come in handy and stop kids saying those dreaded words "I'm bored". 

We was sent 4 games to try out -  

Baby Shark - Lets go hunt fishing game
Jumanji - The Next Level

Lets start by talking about the Baby Shark Game.

This is a classic came for kids but with a baby shark twist to it. You simple have to catch the sharks as they pop their heads up, and the baby shark twist? Well that's the game singing Baby shark to you, over and over again! Lily loved that is had this element to it. Me not so much, as just like most parents, the song can slightly drive you crazy. But not to worry, it just means that your child spends ages in their bedroom playing it while you drown out the music with other things like vacuuming. That is the one thing I do love about the game, Lily can play it all by herself as well as with family and friends. 

The game is super easy to set up and you simply pop the fish into the holes. You will need 2 AAA batteries to make it work. It also comes with 4 fishing rods which are all different colours so the players get a colour each. Winner of the game is the one who gets the most sharks. It is a lot of fun to play though and me and Lily have had lots of games of it where we raced to catch the most sharks. If your little one likes baby shark then this is one for them! 

The next fun game is called Hedbanz. This game you need at least 2 players but you can have up to 6 players involved. It is recommended for ages 7 plus but we played it with children aged 5, 6 and 7, and they all enjoyed the game. That said they did all need a little help understanding how the game was played. Especially Lily who is 5. 

The game comes with 6 headbands that can all be easily adjusted to different sizes. Then it comes with cards that all have either a object, food or animal on it. The card shows the picture and says the word. This gets slotted into the front of the headband. It also comes with a timer and some rewards chips that get slotted into the headband when a player correctly guesses. 

The idea of the game is to wear your card on your head. But your not aloud to look it. Only the other players of the game can see it. You then have to ask questions to be able to figure out what picture is on your card. There are 3 cards in the pack which gives you questions that may help you figure out what you could be. For example "Am I an animal? 
For each go, you turn over the hour glass times and you are meant to try and ask your question with in that time and see if you can figure out what you are by hearing the other players answers. We ended up stopping playing with the timer to give the kids a little more time to think. The other players are meant to only say yes or no to the answers. Though we did say a little more to again help the kids be able to guess. 

I really enjoyed this game, and so did the kids. It can be quite amusing when you get the answers wrong, or when you find out you are something funny like a biscuit. It is a game that really gets you thinking and makes such a good guessing game. I love how much everyone gets involved in the game which makes it such a good one for families. 

The next game is called Otrio and this one was my favourite. I had never heard of it before and I will be honest, looking at it in the box it didn't excite me, but when I got playing (and winning) I really grew to love it. It did take my head a little time to understand how to play, but when I did understand, it became really good fun. That said, I am going to try and explain the game the best I can as I think the game is easier learnt through playing over and over. 

The game is a little like noughts and crosses only with a lot more ways of winning involved. Instead of playing with noughts and crosses you are playing with circles. You get 9 in total of each colour, and 4 colours, meaning you can play with 2 or 4 people. When only 2 people are playing, you play with 2 colours each. 

The circles are all different sizes. So you get 3 large, 3 medium and 3 small. You have a while playing board that fits all the sizes of the circles on. The idea of the game is to get 3 in a row, but there are many different ways you could get this and different patterns you can use. 

For example -

3 of the same colour and size,
Small, Medium, Large (all in the same colour and in that order) 
Or you could build up, by placing small, medium, and large in the same circle. 

My partner says that if you are a fan of chess then you will probably enjoy this game as it can be a lot about thinking ahead to make the other player move in ways you want them too. The game is recommended for 8 plus. We played this game alone and also with the kids and I'm not sure the kids fully knew what they were doing but they somehow still managed to beat us at times. I do love games that you are able to play between 2 people and also play over and over again and so I do really recommend this game. 

The last game is the Jumanji game. I am a big fan of the films and so was really looking forward to this game. Though was unsure how they would make a game out of it. 

The game comes with board that spins, some tokens, a pack of cards, dice and some token boards. It is pretty easy to set up and you can be ready to play in no time. 

It comes with instructions, which I did find it took time to get my head around but when we did, it was easy enough to play. The idea of the game is to collect the tokens and fill up your token card to be the winner. But there are things that can stop you from winning and you also only have 3 lives. 

The game is very much a draw of the cards sort of game. You pick a character and start with 3 cards and the youngest player who goes first gets to choose a card they wish to play. Each card has a meaning to it. You could end up in battle, taking a token from another player, gaining an extra dice, or spinning the board which would end up meaning you have a new character. You may also be lucky enough to win an extra life card, which you can save to use when you need it. 

Your battles are the cards you need to use to be able to win tokens. Each character has special moves, which give you extra points. So when battling, you need to beat the cards XP by rolling the dice. So for example, 20Xp, you need to roll more than 20. You can get other players involved to be able to roll more, and this is also where the extra dice comes in handy.You also can look at your character and use their special move to add up the dice total. It would for example say +2 on there board section. If you beat them you and the other players who helped win a token, if not you and only you loose a life. 

We did not play this with the kids as we felt they were too young with the game being 8+ and us trying it first and finding it tricky to get our heads around. It is a great game to play together and I think the more players you have, the better the game would be. 

Over all we have had so much fun with these game and it really has kept us entertained. We can't wait to spend more quality time together playing them. 

Which of the games do you like the sound of? 

Monday 11 May 2020

Simple Activities to Make Home Schooling More Fun!

Home Schooling has definitely been a big change for a lot of us. Some of us are enjoying it (ME!) some of us are probably hating it. Same with our children, some like Lily are enjoying it, and some are probably struggling with it.

I think the key to getting your child to want to do school work is by breaking it up with some fun but still educational activities. That is exactly what I have been doing with Lily. There have been some fantastic websites with some great printables and also online learning, but a child really doesn't want to have to sit at a table and do pen to paper work all day or computer work. So here are some of the activities we have been doing. 

All activities can be made for your child's age to make it easier or harder. 

Fun Fair Maths and Phonics

One thing that we will have all missed out on this year is all the wonderful spring fairs that are usually on. So why not try make your own fun fair, but put a learning twist to it. Out of all the activities I list to you today, this may be the most costly, but I am also on a budget and so I made sure it didn't break the bank. So here are a few fun ideas that you can do. Remember you can always change the difficulty of the questions for the age of your child.

Hook a duck and Fishing - Kids love playing hook a duck at a fair. So all you need is a paddling pool, bucket of water, or even the bath tub to make this game. You can buy hook a duck and fishing sets from places like pound stretcher, so they don't cost much to get. For this activity you can do maths or Literacy. For maths its a simple hook a duck and read the maths question, all you need to do is stick the question to the bottom, but make sure that there is plenty of tape over the paper otherwise it will leak onto your paper. Then you need to write the answers of the questions onto other pieces of paper and your child has to find the answer and place their duck on top. 
Our set came with fish as well as ducks and so we did literacy on these. Focusing on Phonics. On each fish I taped a middle sounding phonic, for example "oo, ee," then on pieces of paper I wrote words with the middle sounding sounds missing. Lily then had to work out which words the sounds could fit into. For example, Green.  

Water Gun Fun - It has been lovely weather to learn outdoors lately, though if you can't do this outdoors then this can also be done in the bathroom. All you need is paper and water guns, which can also be bough from pound stores. We did this game as a phonics game, but you could do it as any question and answer game really. For our phonics game I laminated lots of words, but these words all had the starting sound missing. I then wrote out lots starting sounds Eg "Th, Ch, Qu" I did a few of each sound. The way to play if that they have to figure out which sound is missing from the start of the word and then squirt that sound with the water gun. Lily loved getting to soak the letter through. 

Mini Golf Maths - You can pick up cheap Mini golf sets online or from Poundstrecher. The game is pretty simple but fun, get your child to hit the ball into one of the holes, on the back of the flag is a maths question. They have to answer that question to be able to move onto the next hole. 

There are plenty other fair themes you could probably think of, like popping balloons with maths questions inside, egg and spoon races with letters on to make up words, or a throwing game where you have to knock over something with a question on. All great for encouraging children to want to learn. 

Maths and Letter Hunt - We played this game twice, once with maths and once with letters. You simply need a pen and paper for this game and its one of Lily's favourites. This game can be played around the house or around the garden/back yard. For the letter game you need to write out each letter of the alphabet, get these hidden around the house or garden and get your child to hunt for them, for each letter they find, they need to think of a word that starts with it. You could make it extra tricky by using more complicated phonic sounds if you need to. For maths its the same game but this time you write some sums on the pieces of paper. We did about 10 sums of adding and subtraction. 

Around the World Learning - Here is a good way to get your children learning about the different continents of the world, while keeping it fun rather than a sit down activity. All you need is a map of the world. If you don't have one,you could print one or you could get one up on your tablet or computer or even your phone. Printed is better though. First start by telling your child the names of the different continents. Repetition is the best way to get your child to learn about these sort of things and that's why this is a great game for it. Now you need to raid your cupboards for things made in different countries. So your food and toiletries and especially beauty products as a lot of these are made in different countries I found. You then need to find out where the object is made and get your child to mark it on the map. It is a great way to get your child learning while keeping it not a sat down activity. 

Quiz hunt - This is something I have been doing once a week to help recap and test what Lily has learnt. We all hate tests! Sitting down to a table and answering questions..boring! So here is a quiz on the move. Write out the questions on paper (coloured paper if you have more than one child) then cut them out. I did 10 questions but you could do more. Mark each question 1 -10 on the back. Now time to hide these around the house. Give your child a sheet of paper with 1 to 10 written on it and now they have to hunt for their questions around the house. I usually do questions on the topics she has been learning about, for example farm animals, plants, bugs, space etc. After they have answered all the questions let them mark there own answers like you do in a quiz and don't forget the reward of stickers or sweets at the end as a treat! 

Hopefully some of these ideas will get your child to feel motivated and encouraged to want to get learning. I know they work with Lily and also help her to then sit down and do some of her pen to paper work. 

How have you been finding home schooling? Do you plan to get doing some more fun learning activities. 

And here is a chance to WIN a £10 HobbyCraft Voucher to help towards activity must haves. Enter on the Gleam app below. Prize supplied by me via email and can be used online! 

Win a £10 HobbyCraft Voucher

Thursday 7 May 2020

Summer Fun Games from Tactic Games - Review

(ad- Gifted)

Although its only spring its starting to feel like summer. We have had some lovely sunshine lately and although we can't enjoy it on a beach, we have been making sure we still have some fun in the sunshine. 

Tactic Games have helped us with this by sending us some games that are perfect for play in the house, your back yard or garden. Meaning summer fun for everyone. 

We have been sent Beach Bounce and King of the Hill and we have already been playing both of them loads. 

First of all let me tell you the favourite of the 2, and that has to be King of the Hill. 

What looks like just a basic box of bricks is actually a challenging fun throwing game where you have to try and score the most points to win.

The set comes with 8 bricks and 3 cylinder shaped bricks which all have a picture on the front. These are the king and his 2 knights, and the other bricks are to build the castle they all live on. 

The set also comes with instructions and score sheet. The instructions give you a few ideas of shapes of castles you could make, or you can make your own. Then it also comes with 2 soft red balls. 

The way to play the game is by throwing the ball aiming to only knock the king and his knights off. That's the way to gain the most points. You must try and not hit any bricks of the castle as each brick standing is worth a point each. If you knock down the knights and not the king, then you score 0 points as the king is still standing. But if you hit the king and not the knights then you loose 2 points for each knight standing. 

That means that you could end up with 4 bricks standing but if both the knights still stand then you would still end up with 0 points. 

Every player gets 2 throws of the ball each and then you total up the score at the end. Everytime the castle is knocked down it needs to be built exactly the same for the next player. You play until the first player reaches 25. You could stick with the same castle throughout the game or you could change it on each round. Which is a great way to vary up the game. 

We have loved playing this game, and Lily found it lots of fun even though she found it challenging and only got a total of 4 points. The game is great for all children no matter the age, but then they will understand the game and play it better if they are older. 

The next game we played was Beach Bounce. I love how summer themed this game is, its perfect to help us enjoy a beach theme with out being able to go to the beach. 

This game comes with 2 balls, and some cardboard pieces that need to be pieced together to make the playing board. The box that the game comes in ends up also being needed for the game and becomes the base. It is super each to piece together and in minutes your ready to play. When the game is set up there should be 9 squares and also a shark zone at the front.

The idea of the game is to bounce the ball over the shark zone at the front and let it land in one of the squares. You need to get 3 in a row and get all of your flags onto the island to win. Sounds easy but its a lot more tricky than it sounds which makes it lots of fun. You can play in teams or make it a 2 player game, each team or player selects if they are a seal or a dolphin and when you get a ball into a square you place the animal tile into the square to show you scored. 

Each time your team gets a 3 in a row you then get to place a flag on the island at the back. 

But to make it trickier, if you bounce your ball and there is already a tile in there, turn it around as that now belongs to the other team.

This game is super fun and super simple to play, making it fun for kids aged around 4+. We have played it loads so far and Lily is getting better at playing it each time. 

Both of these brilliant games are available from Tactic Games and you can see more about them here on the website. 

Which game do you like the sound of?