Create Little Explorers With Little Passports Subscription Boxes

Ameli never stood a chance, really. She was born to a mother with itchy feet, and by her second birthday she had been to 20 countries. That’s more than many people see in a life time! Unfortunately our circumstances changed and our travelling slowed down somewhat, but I like to think the impact of all those travels have landed and she will always be a little world traveller.

When we were offered a 3-month subscription to Little Passports I was really excited, because I knew she’d love it.

Our first parcel arrived, and we set off on our Little Passports adventure. Little Passports Subscription Boxes

Being six, Ameli receives the World Edition for 6 – 10 year olds. The first parcel contains the blue and green cardboard suitcase, a ‘passport’ and a wall-sized world map. It also includes a welcome letter from Sam & Sofia (which I’ve managed to convince Ameli are real people!) and stickers to decorate the case, (later boxes include stickers for ‘passport stamps’ for the passport) a photo of the two friends and an activity sheet. There’s also a boarding pass with an access code for online games in the Boarding Zone.Read more: Create Little Explorers With Little Passports Subscription Boxes


Schleich Farm Animals

For some reason, young children are always encouraged to have an interest in farm animals. From Old McDonald Had A Farm to petting zoo parties to story books, there’s a definite theme there! And it’s a good thing, I suppose. It’s important they have an understanding of the world, especially if farm animals aren’t a regular sighting.

Schleich have a range of farm animal toys out that can pretty much stock an entire play farm. Schleich is a well known brand, and has been around forever, and the great thing about their figurines is that they slot easily into other play – my girls have discovered that they are a great addition to their Playmobil stables, for example, although Schleich also have a beautiful stable and farm themselves.

We received two sets to review – My First Farm Animals Set (41424) (RRP £12.99) and Stable Cleaning Kit with Calf & Lamb (41422) (RRP £6)

My First Farm Animals Set contains an adult cow, an adult pig, a hen and a lamb that my children have decided is female on account of her light colour – not scientific, I know! There’s also a bale of hay, some apples and carrots, cause they need to eat and all.Schleich Farm Animals

The Stable Cleaning Kit comes with  a Shropshire lamb and a Fleckvieh calf, newly born, and it also comes with carrots and bucket and a broom, perfect for cleaning out the stables.Schleich Farm Yard

These are just two of the sets containing hand painted farm animals, but they are obviously highly interchangeable – my girls have decided that the calf belongs to the cow, for example, with no thought to the fact they come from different boxes.

Cows Schleich Farm Animals

Here’s a short video for you on what the girls think of the Schleich Farm Animal sets:

YouTube Direkt

From a parent point of view, Schleich guarantee all their toys in terms of both materials used to make them, and in fact the fair working environment for the people making them too. Their toys meet not only the safety standards of the EU, but also the additional of the US and many other countries too. The plastics and softeners used are the same as those used in food packaging, so while you shouldn’t try to eat your Schleich Farm Animals, you’re not likely to experience ill effects should one end up as a temporary chew toy!

Schleich Farm Animals are available from most major toy retailers and from Amazon

Spring Plant Markers And Critter Crafts #BostikBloggers

We moved house last week, so we are a little late with our BostikBloggers post this month, but moving house and crafts don’t mix.

No matter though – the boxes are almost all unpacked, the seeds are planted, and despite the biting cold, the sun is shining, so we turned our attention to crafts. The box this month had loads of spring themed embellishments, a frame, a paper bag, lollipop sticks and Blu Tack and Bostik Glu Dots among other things, so I let the kids decide what they wanted to do.

Plant MarkersRead more: Spring Plant Markers And Critter Crafts #BostikBloggers

New! Clangers Magazine {Review}

We’re regular magazine junkies here these days, with each of the kids having their own subscriptions to magazines we’ve reviewed over the last few months. The latest we’re reviewing is Clangers Magazine from Immediate Media. Clangers Magazine is based on the Clangers show on Cbeebies.

Clangers Magazine is aimed at helping children discover, wonder, play and explore. It’s full of things to read, make, do, and colour. It has activities like mazes and puzzles to find who belongs to what object. There are dozens of stickers with pages to stick them in. There are two picture stories in each magazine, and regular features like ‘I spy in space’. Clangers Magazine

The new magazine launches today with six issues per year which you can subscribe to or pick up at your local newsagents.Read more: New! Clangers Magazine {Review}

Children and Technology: The Right Click – Internet Safety Matters

I made a parenting decision recently that I really didn’t think I’d ever make. Or at least not till my kids were, like, 35 or something! I gave my 6 year old a mobile phone.

I gave her ‘her own’ phone because while most families have grandparents and aunts and uncles that can pop round for tea from time to time, my children have none of that. Sure they have families, but no one comes round for tea at the drop of a hat because we’re separated at the minimum by a 12 hour flight. But that’s no reason the kids shouldn’t be able to have daily, at the drop of a hat, contact with their family.

So, I made the decision to give them my phone when I upgraded recently, but it wasn’t a decision I made lightly because young they may be, but within days they were downloading apps and recording things – the six year old even joined Flipagram and I was scrambling for an account so that I could keep an eye on her!

I have to be honest and say that no, I don’t really believe that my six year old is entitled to any privacy where her online life is concerned, and though she asks repeatedly, she isn’t allowed a Facebook account or her own YouTube channel yet. These are limits I have set. Her phone also only works on wifi, so there’s no need for her to take it out of the house. Another limit I have set.

And that’s the main lesson I’ve learned in giving my child freedom to own and be part of technology: That I can and must set limits.

Not long after I was grappling with how exactly to protect my child online, I was invited to find out more about The Right Click campaign with BT.

The Right Click Campaign

We went off to the BT Tower in London – what a treat that was! We even received a certificate to say that we’ve been to the rotating restaurant up at the top! – to find out more about the campaign, and I’d encourage all parents to visit The Right Click:Internet Safety Matters and find out more.londonRead more: Children and Technology: The Right Click – Internet Safety Matters

Vango Starwalker Junior Sleeping Bag {Review}

Summer is coming! As I write this, the sun is shining brightly, though there’s still a chill in the air. Soon though, soon, the weather will be balmy – or as balmy as it gets here in the UK – and we’ll be heading out to sleep under canvas. Read on to find out why the Vango Starwalker Junior Sleeping Bag is a must-have for young campers this summer.

The Vango Starwalker Junior Sleeping Bag for kids comes in either a panda or dragon design. We received the panda free in exchange for our review, and if you watch this video, you’ll see just how much the children loved it.

YouTube Direkt Read more: Vango Starwalker Junior Sleeping Bag {Review}

A Visit To London For Thomas The Tank Engine {Book Review}

We were sent the new A Visit To London For Thomas The Tank Engine is the latest Thomas the Tank Engine Book published to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday next week. We like Thomas, but my girls aren’t in love with him as some kids might be, and we are also not overly big Royalists (is that a thing?),  but we absolutely loved this book.A Visit To London for Thomas the Tank Engine

We live on the Isle of Wight, and Sodor is an island from which a ferry needs to be taken to the mainland, just as it is from our Island, which really resonated with my children. Thomas chugs along to Greenwich – where we used to live – and sees things that are very familiar to us, like the Cutty Sark and the Greenwich Observatory.Read more: A Visit To London For Thomas The Tank Engine {Book Review}

Skandika Teepee Review

At the very end of last summer we were sent a Skandika Teepee tent to review, which we took out in the last week of the summer season at our local holiday park. We were offered a number of different tents, some very practical for families, some great for erecting single-handedly, and everything in between. I really had my heart set on the Teepee -style tent, and despite the warnings from Skandika that the tent didn’t have a sewn in groundsheet, I really wanted it, so they were kind enough to send it out.

Skandika Teepee Review

Things I loved about the Skandika Teepee:

I love the look of it, and the design. I love that I can stand up in it, and that there’s so much room, you can actually enjoy yourself, even on a rainy day – which let’s face it, if you’re camping in the UK, you’re bound to come across.

I love that it has two doors because it is a polyester tent, so when the sun is baking down on it, it can be really, really hot. Having the two doors open allows the wind to blow through, cooling everything down. This is a real winner!

I love how easy this tent is to put up. I put it up on my own with two little helpers and it took us less than 20 minutes, including having to move it as we realised that one side of our pitch was slush and the other was cement. The main thing is to make sure that you have the guide ropes in the centre laid out properly, otherwise it’s all skewed and takes forever to figure out.

I love how it looks on a field, with or without other tents around. It stands out as different from most other tents. There might be regular tents, or bell tents, but ours was the only teepee tent. I really liked that.

I also love the golden colour of the sunshine through it on a bright morning.Skandika Teepee Review

Things I didn’t love about this tent:

Okay, so the fact that the groundsheet isn’t fitted bothered me a lot more than I thought it would, and I was warned about it, so it’s not fair really to put it in things I didn’t like, but at night, it did feel that the lack of sewn in groundsheet (combined with the really soft ground) caused the tent to billow above our heads. I did find that unsettling!

The only things I thought were actual ‘flaws’ in the tent though, were the windows. Some of them were windows that you tie up, and some are the pretty plastic diamonds. The problem is, there’s no way of closing the diamonds, so anyone walking past can see in. We put suitcases and backpacks in front of them. The other thing is that the ones you could cover you could only cover from the outside, so you had to head out of the tent in your pyjamas to do them up in the middle of the night. Not really ideal.

So for me, this isn’t really an overnight tent, which is unfortunate as they are a few design issues that could be changed to make this a superb tent. That said, if you’re camping in a group this could very easily be your central, communal area between your tents, giving you a covered space to be together away from the elements. It is certainly spacious enough!

So what is the Skandika Teepee good for?

We used it for Aviya’s birthday party in March, decorating the inside and put all the food inside too, so the kids could run around in the marshy field we were in, but have a dry floor to sit on to eat and play party games. If we had a big garden I’d put it up without the groundsheet all summer long too, as it would make a perfect summer house, of sorts. It’s a fantastic event tent, able to hold at least 15 seated people, which is what we had in it for Aviya’s birthday party.

I have to say, despite the windows and the groundsheet, I still love this tent. If I knew we’d have good weather the whole trip, I’d love to sleep under this tent without the groundsheet. Couldn’t get much closer to nature than that.

In terms of Skandika as a brand, however, I have nothing but good things to say about this tent. It held it’s own in the wind, the pole is sturdy, the stitching is good on the tent, and I would happily try another Skandika tent, because I can’t complain about the quality!

The Importance Of Writing Love Notes To Children

I’ve been thinking a lot about a dying-out medium, that of letter writing, and specifically, writing love notes to children.

My mom and I had what I remember as a difficult relationship during my teen years. Not an uncommon story, I know, but still something that impacts into your adult life.

A few years ago, my mom’s cancer took a terminal turn a few weeks before Christmas. On Christmas eve, the UK was deluged in rain and our garage flooded, along with many parts of the country and some of our neighbour’s homes. On Boxing day, my mother died, and all flood debris was ignored until a few weeks later.

I was going through a trunk full of old photos, cards, letters, and other things I had at one point deemed important enough to keep, when I came across letters that I had quite honestly forgotten about. Discovering them was shocking to me, because I had forgotten their existence. But it was powerfully affirming of my mother’s love for me. I mean, I knew she loved me but seeing those letters reminded me of the days I’d come in from school and find a letter from her on my bed. Love Notes To ChildrenRead more: The Importance Of Writing Love Notes To Children

8 Ways To Not Lose Your Mind When Moving House

Moving to a new places is fun. I should know. I’ve done it a dozen times in my adult life. Moving to a different house in the same area lacks a lot of that excitement because, well, all that’s new is the place you’re moving to. Moving house with children however, is a whole new ball game. You’ve heard those jokes about tidying up with children being like making a smoothie with the blender open? Or brushing your teeth while eating an Oreo? Those apply to moving house with children too.

And add to that home schooling children and it’s like being caught in an episode of a really bad slap-stick comedy. I can just visualise it. Pack a box of toys, go make dinner, come back to those toys all over the living room floor. Repack the box of toys, sit down to check your emails, telling the kids to get ready for bed. Go to put them to bed and find that same box of toys all over their room!

Yeah, it’s not funny when you’re living it. So here are some things to consider doing if you’re moving house with children.

  • Find somewhere else to stay

I’m not kidding. I grew up military and whenever we moved we’d have two weeks in a hotel on our exit destination and a week in a hotel near the new house. I thought it was a nice gesture from the army. As a parent I realise that it was the military’s way of keeping military wives from mutiny!

Find a hotel or a holiday park, spend four or five hours a day packing, then leave. Have somewhere comfortable to sleep, cook healthy food without having to think of what to pack and what to leave out. Get to your accommodation, have a swim, relax, get to bed early, start fresh the next day. It’s for your mental health!

  • Get one room completely finished first

If you can’t stay somewhere else during your move, or if you still have children around while you’re packing this is especially important.

Get one room packed up and cleared out as your first priority. The temptation might be to get the biggest job done first, but by getting one room done you either have a place for the children to ‘be’ without being surrounded by boxes, or you have a place for all the boxes to go once they’re packed, making the room out of bounds. (We weren’t able to do this this time, and it showed in the constant unpacking and repacking of not-yet-sealed boxes.)Moving house

Read more: 8 Ways To Not Lose Your Mind When Moving House