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Birthday Balloons!

If you follow our posts then you will know that Lottie recently had a fairy garden party for her birthday– she had been planning it for months and months and knew exactly what she wanted to do with her friends but we didn’t know how best to decorate the garden to turn it into the perfect setting, so she was really excited when we were offered to review some of the huge range of Qualatex balloons from Pioneer Europe.

We actually had a lot of fun looking through their online catalogue and choosing the balloons we would like- they have loads. I really like their Star Wars ones but funnily enough Lottie wasn’t keen on then for a Fairy Garden party! They had plenty of choice for any theme though and it gave us some great ideas for future parties we would like to have! In the end we had quite a long list of balloons we liked the look of and were able to start getting them organised.

The balloons arrived really quickly and we were even able to get the weights and ribbons we needed with them and as soon as our helium arrived we were ready to get them blown up for the party the next day.

The balloons looked absolutely amazing when they were inflated, Lottie thought they were beautiful. Some of them- like the trees and bumble bees are absolutely huge and the others inflated to be really round and looked really good.

When everyone started to arrive at the party the children were all really excited about the balloons- we put some of the normal latex balloons at the end of our path, there was a huge bumble bee outside the front door and some normal ones attached to the door, the children then went through to the garden where they were able to see loads of fantastic Tinker Bell balloons, another bumble bee, a huge butterfly and some pretty round flower and butterfly balloons.

My Mum had asked if we needed to do anything special to set the balloons up as Qualatex do some really fancy displays with arches and things that looked like they could be a bit tricky but these ones were very easy to set up- they suggested using a regulator to fill them to the right amount and that the round ones looked nice in groups of three of each of the same balloons. We grouped them like they suggested and they did looked really good in a small bunch and it meant they could be used to decorate each table.

All the parents said how much they liked the balloons and asked where we got them. The garden looked perfect for a fairy garden party, Lottie was so pleased with it.

At the end of the party we gave each of the children a balloon to take home with their party bags, they were very pleased to have one to keep especially when they found out they could be refilled.

The balloons that were left over lasted quite a long time after the party and still were completely inflated for our family tea party three days later and we really like the idea that they can be blown back up.

We loved the balloons, they looked brilliant and were great fun to set up and play with later. The people at Qualatex recommended a regulator when filling them and we didn’t managed to get one in time but my Dad said we definitely should use one next time as the round balloons could have been even bigger if he hadn’t been worried about bursting them, although they were still fantastic ever so slightly less filled!

If you have a Birthday, Christmas or Halloween party coming up soon we would definitely recommend you take a look at the Qualatex catalogue from Pioneer Europe. If you don’t have anything coming up then have a look anyway as you will probably then want to organise something!

 

 

Family Fever
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Giant By Kate Scott Book Review

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Kate Scott’s book Giant to read and review over the Summer. It was so easy to get into that I read it over just a few sessions.

Giant is about Anzo who is 11 and very, very short. This probably wouldn’t be so bad if the rest of his family weren’t very very tall and  everyone didn’t call him ‘peanut’. He gets teased at school and has to play ALL of the seven dwarfs in the school play. His family want to open a restaurant together and everyone has a job to do except Anzo. He wishes he was tall so that someone would notice him.  It makes me feel sad for Anzo that he is so worried he will never fit in.

Anzo’s friend Elise suggests he tries positive thinking. He is not convinced but gives it a go. All of a sudden, over a week, Anzo starts to grow and grow.  However, Anzo soon learns that being tall perhaps wasn’t the answer to all his problems. Anzo starts to learn that if you want things to change you have to change them yourself. He starts to follow his dreams of becoming a comic book creator and goes on an adventure with Elise.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a great story while covering topics like being proud of who you are and how everyone is different. It made me feel sad at times when it made me think about how sometimes people at school can be horrible but it was good at reminding me to be kind to other people and that everyone has different strengths. I like how it shows it doesn’t matter who you are, you can still do anything you want if you try hard enough.

I think this was a book about feeling different and being lonely but also about friendship and having courage. This book is aimed at 8 to 11 year olds and I think this is about right. I am sure my sister would enjoy the story but she is perhaps a bit young to understand it all, whereas if you are a bit further through school you have probably felt exactly as Anzo has. I think this would be a great book to read as a class, from year 3 onwards as it would have lots of things for the teacher to discuss that are relevant to their children.

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Creating A Fairy Garden

As you might have seen already Lottie loves fairy gardens. She even had a fairy garden party for her birthday party the other week. She loves to create her own little secret fairy gardens and when she found out that she was being sent some things from Gardens2You to turn our family garden into a fairy garden she was really excited.

Our garden needed a lot of work at the beginning of the Summer and it has never really been safe for small children so Mum and Dad were very happy when one of our friends who is really good at gardening offered to help make it safe so my little brother could go out and play. This soon went from being a quick tidy up project to a full garden make over and our friend even learnt how to concrete and put in new steps!

I had lots of things to do like cutting the grass, cutting hedges down and generally helping tidy up but fortunately unlike the rest of us Lottie has got what my Mum says are ‘green fingers’ (I think she means messy hands!) and she got involved in all the planting and helping build a rockery which she loved. She has learnt lots about planting and looking after plants, which I think she will share in another post, but mostly loved creating her own little fairy garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once it was planted and filled we used the main flower bed for most of the area secret fairy garden and made our own magical stepping stones using old baking trays filled with concrete and setting glass gems in it in patterns, we then topped up the concrete and let it set for a few days before turning the stones out to place in the garden. These stepping stones looked great but we needed something special to turn it into a proper fairy garden. The people at Gardens2You had sent us a bundle of fairy items and Lottie decided the Strawberry Pixies would be perfect to live here- she loved then, they look very cheeky and she likes the idea of them watching out for fairies!

We then had to find the perfect spot for our fairy door– Lottie says this comes to life at night when we are all asleep so the fairies can bring their treasure back. We tried a couple of different spots- against the wall, in among some flowers and against the flower pot- Lottie likes it best against the flower pot so I think we are going to attach it here for her. The door is really nice because it is quite heavy and thick and can be used in lots of different places.

 

We haven’t yet found a permeant place for the little pixie twins and the toadstools because Lottie keeps liking taking them out to play with. She thinks they like hiding behind the plants! We think they are great because they still look lovely even after being in the garden for weeks and also because they are strong enough to cope with being played with.

Lottie loves her fairy garden and has been looking at the Gardens2You website to decide what else she would like to add to her collection!

 

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Term Footwear and stopping the school shoes buying panic!

My Mum is feeling quite happy at the moment, she has already sorted out one of the jobs she hates the most for the school holidays and can tick it off her list! She has got our school shoes already and she didn’t even have to leave our house!

A while ago my sister tested Term Footwear’s wellies and loved them, she still wears them all the time and gets a bit cross when our little brother takes to try and walk in so I was pleased to try their school shoes for myself and see what she was making a fuss about!

I was able to choose a pair of Term’s school shoes a few week’s before the school holidays. We printed off the size guide and were able to measure my feet easily at home. Obviously then my brother and sister had to have a go too! Then we went on the website and choose the shoes we liked the best. There was a really good choice for children of all ages, with lots of styles, all which would have been ok for our school uniform rules. We ordered a pair in the size I had measured and they arrived two days later. My Mum was a bit wary about measuring me herself but they came in exactly the size we had checked and fitted perfectly.

 

I expected to have to wear them around the house a bit to get them comfy enough for school but actually they were comfortable enough straight away. My Mum said I should wear them before the holiday for a couple of weeks in case I grew again and didn’t get to try them (I am currently outgrowing all my clothes and think I am going to be taller than her soon!) but to try not to ruin them straight away! I think she was amazed that they still look as good as new two weeks later as that never happens. I have played football in them, run around the playground and even been to the park in them and they still look really good.

We would definitely recommend Term footwear for school shoes- I loved how comfortable they were and my Mum loved how much choice there was, how easy it was to order and how well they fitted. I am so happy not to have to be dragged out school shoe shopping next week!

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Lottie Loves… Sylvanian Families Cosy Cottage

This review is by Lottie age 5 (with typing help from Mummy and photos by Luke)

I was sent the Sylvanian Families Cosy Cottage and the Chocolate Rabbit family to play with and see what I thought of them. I was really surprised and excited and jumped up and down when they arrived. I haven’t had any of the Sylvanian Families things before but I really wanted to play with them.

I couldn’t wait to open the boxes and have a look at it all. I was allowed to stay up a little bit late that night and see what they were like and have a little play.

The house has a kitchen, a table and chairs, a bed and a ladder that moves. You also get some food and cooking things. Cosy Cottage  comes with Freya who is one of the Chocolate Rabbit Sisters. You can take the top floor of the cottage out and open and close the door and you can make Freya’s bed up and cook her dinner. I really like the house and like setting it up. I am going to save up for bunk beds because I also got sent the Chocolate Rabbit family and so Freya’s twin sister needs somewhere to sleep too.

The Chocolate rabbit family have a Daddy Rabbit, Mummy Rabbit, Sister Rabbit and Brother Rabbit, the all have clothes on, which you can take on and off. They came with a little story book which I liked. I have read it lots of times and have a favourite picture in there. The other Freya rabbit isn’t in the story so I think she must have gone to the shops. The Chocolate Rabbit family are really cute. I love playing with them and sending them on adventures before tucking them up in their Cosy Cottage for the night.

I am so lucky to have these Sylvanian Families toys, they are one of my very favourite toys now and I have asked for some others for my birthday which is in two weeks… I hope I get some! My friend came to play with them the other day and she really loved them too, we had lots of fun making up stories and chatting with the Rabbits.

My Mummy is a bit worried that I have started another collection now…I think she is right!

 

 

Family Fever

Disclaimer: I was sent the Sylvanian Families Cosy Cottage and Chocolate Rabbit Family to review but all thoughts are my own.

Post contains affiliate links

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Aquabeads Cars 3 3D Set Review

My sister, Lottie, has been doing a little bit of a project with our latest Aquabead set.

She is making a 3D Lightning McQueen from the  Aquabeads Cars 3 3D range. It is more complicated than the Aquabead sets we have reviewed previously because it is built up in layers, so you do a layer, spray it with water and leave it to set before taking it off and starting the next one.

 

Lottie has really enjoyed this and has done a layer each day over the last week. You only need to leave it for a short time before you can remove each layer but we have found the longer you can leave them the better they set so doing a layer each day has worked well.

 

Lottie is really pleased with how Lightning McQueen came out- it’s brilliant how ‘real’ it looks when made out of Aquabeads. You can even drive him around because the wheels really turn but Lottie is so pleased with it she is going to put it on display in her bedroom.

We had already been enjoying our Aquabead sets but Lottie enjoyed the challenge of making a more tricky set. She did need some help with stacking the layers to make the final car but otherwise, other than needing Mum to cut up the templates which are on the instructions for her she was able to do it all herself. Her tips are to use loads and loads of water (far more than you think you need), leave them to set slightly longer than you think they need and be really careful to not use the grey beads instead of white! We also found that you need to try and squash the layers together a bit so it’s useful to have a heavy small box to put on top of them to keep it all flat.

We really like the 3D Aquabead sets, and they do some other ones as well as Lightning McQueen, including Cruz in the same range so you could have a pair! They are aimed at children age 4 plus and I think a four year old could make this with some help but we think they are perfect for children age 6-8 and would make great birthday presents for children of this age group.

 

Disclaimer: We were sent this awesome Aquabeads Cars 3D set to review but all views are my own and my sister’s.

 

 

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A Day Out with Hamerton Zoo Park

We recently discovered Hamerton Zoo Park is on our doorstep and were pleased to be invited for a day out there so we could see for ourselves what it was like.

We found it easily met up with our friends before heading in. Even though the car park was really busy it quickly felt quite peaceful and quiet once we got through the gate and although there were plenty of other people there it didn’t feel at all crowded like lots of places do in the school holidays.

I really liked the set up of the zoo. There were lots of animals I had never even heard of before as well as some that I had that were very rare. I really liked the white tigers, they were awesome and I had only ever seen one before in a zoo in France.

Taking a break from the admiring visitors!

 

I especially liked Hamerton Zoo because it felt more like a conservation place than a zoo. The animals all had nice big enclosures and plenty of things to keep them busy- some had long tunnels and runs going off their enclosures too. There was a lot of information about the animals and their habitats as well as explaining how their population was in different parts of the world, this was really interesting to read and some of it was quite shocking.

My very favourite animal was the white tiger but I also loved the chipmunks who were great fun to watch, the monkeys and meerkats who are really entertaining, the kookaburra who made a brilliant noise and the tortoises who are actually surprisingly fast and have an enormous enclosure that they race around. Actually I am sure there are lots more animals that are on my favourites list!

 

    

Along with the enclosures and information we were also very impressed with how the zoo managed to blend with the environment generally. We saw two nests with baby swallows in and my friend’s Mum, who loves all things to do with nature and wildlife pointed out that there was lots of plants like buddleia that were good for bees and butterflies and plenty of bamboo and other plants too so it was good to see that Hamerton are supporting all the other wildlife too.

Tiny baby swallows in their nest.

 

One of our tests as to if somewhere is a good family day out is whether or not it has something that keeps us all happy and Hamerton Zoo seemed able to do that. My brother, Sam is two and liked being able to see the animals himself through the little windows in the side of the enclosures- he also absolutely loved the train. My Mum felt this was a little pricey at £2 per person (although she is judging this for our family of 5 which can make things seem expensive) but she said it wasn’t too awful because it was a longer ride than we expected and you got to see quite a few animals on route.  Lottie and I also loved all the animals, I especially liked having all the information to read but also we both really enjoyed the play area too, this had a great selection of play equipment, with a huge climbing frame and a zip wire. There was a smaller play area for under fives too which had much better things than a lot of areas aimed at small children and kept Sam entertained for a fairly long time. There is also a stone maze within the play area which we all had fun walking on.

There is a café which served a selection of snacks and things like hot dogs and sausage rolls as well as lots of benches that you could use if you had taken a picnic so it had a good set up for having a long visit.

We spent most of the day at Hamerton, it was a great place to visit, we loved the fact that there was plenty to do but also liked the fact it wasn’t so big you couldn’t go back round and see things again.

 

My Mum felt that although a zoo visit is always quite an expensive day out Hamerton Zoo was good value for money at £13.99 for adults and £8.99  for children with under 3’s going free- we will definitely be going back again and have already suggested it to lots of our friends for the Summer holidays.

 

Disclaimer: We were lucky enough to be given free entry to the zoo in return for our honest review and all thoughts and comments are our own.

Please note several pictures in this post were taken by Diana Evans. For more of Diana’s projects or to contact her directly please visit Diana Evans Artist

The Places We Will Go
Plutonium Sox
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Awesome New Airfix Quick Build Sets

I have been interested in learning about both World War One and World War Two since I went to Ypres last year and have read a lot of books about history and fighter planes. I am now really looking forward to going to see the new Dunkirk film with my Dad, I have read some really good reviews of it.

I was very excited when Airfix asked if I would be like to try out their new Quick Build Sets ahead of the release of Dunkirk. They sent us a Spitfire and a Messerschmitt in the Quick Build version and the same in the normal Airfix starter model sets.

  

I had tried Airfix a couple of years ago when I was 6 or 7 but had found it quite tricky at that time and so although I love any building toys and activities it hadn’t really been a range I had looked at recently. When the sets arrived both my Dad and sister were keen to get involved. The Airfix Quick Build Sets are aimed at children age 5+ so it seemed like it would be alright for Lottie to try and we set a challenge to see if we could build ours quicker than Dad could. I got started on the Quick Build Spitfire, Lottie on the Quick Build Messerschmitt and Dad on the original sets.

 

I was able to get straight on with the Airfix Quick Build, the instructions were really easy to follow and it went together really well. Lottie found it slightly more complicated but still managed to follow the instructions and build it mostly herself with just a little bit of grown up help- sometimes she wasn’t quite sure what she needed to do next and a couple of times she couldn’t quite clip the pieces together fully . We think it was still very good for the first time she had made something like this and we also think if she was more used to building construction type models she wouldn’t have needed any help so think the guidelines of 5+ are about right- she is 5 and didn’t need too much help really. We were both very pleased with the finished models and Lottie was really proud of her building.

 

 

We easily beat my Dad in the challenge- mainly because we kept stopping him to ask him questions but he and I were able to sit down and build the Airfix Starter Set Spitfire over the next couple of nights. I think I am nearer to the right age to be able to do these now too.  It is still a bit tricky to do the fiddly bits but I was able to follow the instructions easily enough and had enough patience to sit down and do it over time including letting it dry. My Dad also really enjoyed it, he likes doing practical things and making things but hasn’t done any model making since he was a child

 

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Once we finished Dad let me paint this one- I think it came out quite well for our first attempt!

We will definitely be revisiting the Airfix range- I loved the idea of the Airfix Quick Build sets. It was good that we were able to get on with it ourselves and it didn’t need lots of setting up or worrying about paint, glue and making a mess. I also like the fact that it comes with a display stand too so you can play with it and also display it like a proper model. I really loved doing the Airfix starter sets too as although I found bits of it difficult I really enjoyed this as an activity to do with my Dad.

 

 

 

Disclaimer: We were sent these Airfix kits to review but all thought are our own

 

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Fletter- A brand new word game!

I was really excited when I was asked if I would like to review a brand new word game. If you have been reading the blog for a while you will know we often have family game nights and this Fletter sounded exactly like the type of game we would enjoy.

It arrived the other day and I was excited to test it with my friend this afternoon when he came round for a play. I asked if he wanted to try Fletter out and he shrugged and said we could give it a go. Within 5 minutes my Mum said she had never heard us both laughing so hard when playing a game and by the time it was time for him to go home he was telling his Mum that Fletter was brilliant and really, really funny and that they had to get it to play with his big sisters.

You get two boxes of cards with letters, each worth a certain number of points and these get divided out between the number of people playing (at least two). Each player puts down a card in turn and then it is a race against players to find words whilst adding more cards to the game. The first person to make a word from the letters gets to claim those letters and the points they are worth but if two people shout the same word at the same time then neither can claim and the cards get taken out of the game. If you shout out a word that doesn’t exist then the other players can give you a special card that makes you ‘Flettered’ and this means you have points to deduct from your total. Once you have put down all the cards and made up as many words as possible you can tot up your total from your letters, deduct any ‘Flettered’ cards and the person with the highest number of points wins the round. The game winner is decided after four rounds.

 

You can even make the game more difficult by playing in specific rounds- so on round one you make three letter words, on round two you do four letter, on round three it’s five letters and on round four it’s six letters which would really make your brain work! If you get the wrong length of word you would also be Flettered!

I like the fact that it’s an exciting game, you are immediately in the middle of playing without waiting round. It’s quite noisy with words being shouted out and very funny with silly words and trying to shout the loudest the fastest. I don’t think you have to be an amazing speller but you do need to be a quick thinker and be able to make yourself heard. It’s also great because you could take it and play it anywhere. I also think lots of people could play it together so it would be great for a holiday, sleepover or school trip.

I really enjoyed playing Fletter and I know my friend did too, it is my turn to choose the game for our game night on Saturday so I will definitely be getting my parents to play this with me. I think grown ups will enjoy this game just as much as children. I think the age rating of 8 plus is probably right but my little sister will join in and make a team with my Mum – she will enjoy being in charge of the dictionary and giving out the Flettered cards for any made up words! Lottie and I just had a practise run of playing a round together and she really liked it.

Taking over Mum’s office with a quick practise round of Fletter!

We will definitely be introducing all our friends to Fletter and would recommend you keep an eye out for it’s arrival in the UK as this is the perfect game for a family celebration.

 

 

 

 

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Great Gifts for Teachers

If you saw my recent blog post you would know that Lottie and I have a lot of teachers between us that we need to buy gifts for this year and it has actually been really hard to choose what to get them because they are all interested in very different things.

My Mum and I have been doing some research and have found some great presents ideas for teachers and teaching assistants which we thought we would share with you. Even if you are lucky enough to have already broken up for the Summer these will make fantastic Christmas gifts too so well worth keeping in mind.

Funky Tape Measure

We recently reviewed (and have a chance for one reader to win) the Funky Tape Measure and think this makes a brilliant gift for any teacher but especially one who teachers maths, science or design because they would be able to use it all the time.  You can personalise the tape measure with a message and design of your choice and it comes in a nice box so it makes a really good gift.

Choc on Choc Teacher’s Apple

All my teacher’s like chocolate but this Teacher’s Apple is so much better than a normal box of chocolates. The apple looks quite realistic and comes in a little box perfect to wrap as a gift. It is made of white Belgium chocolate (yum!) and looks really shiny, like a nice ripe apple! It is only £6.99 so a great alternative to a box of chocolates. We tried one and it was absolutely delicious and felt like a real treat. Apparently it will keep for a year but I am not sure how you could keep from eating it for that long!

bakerdays

If you are looking for an edible gift for your teacher that is a bit different or perhaps to share between teachers. I would recommend you have a look at the cupcakes from bakerdays They are made from the same delicious sponge recipe as the letterbox cake we recently tried from them and then topped with vanilla icing and an icing disk. You can choose from vanilla and chocolate or a mixture of both. They are £25.99 for a box of 12 so would make a great gift for the staff room. They even offer next day delivery but you can order ages in advance so you could cross them off your Christmas list already!

Luke Drew This

I couldn’t resist having a look at this company because their name was brilliant! They turn children’s artwork into gifts and it looks like a fantastic gift idea. I like the idea of a very personal present that the teacher can use for years to come.

They do all sorts of different things but we especially like the look of the bags and pencil cases. Lottie’s teacher’s favourite animal is a giraffe so she would like to make her a pencil case with a picture of one on- these start at £24 and make a unique and unusual present. It looks like it is really easy to do because you can just email them your picture and they get straight to work.

 

2 Little Boys

We love this Change the World Mug for a gift. Every teacher needs a mug they know is theirs and I really like this message. I haven’t seen this one up close but I have seen lots of other things from 2 Little Boys and have really liked everything they do, we have found the quality to be really good. They tell me that these are porcelain and made in Stoke on Trent and are really nice to drink out of which sounds perfect for a teacher’s gift. At £13.50 this would make a lovely present for your main class teacher.

It’s also worth looking at their stationary items if that is more your teacher’s type of thing as they have an amazing selection

 

Sprout Pencil Herb Pack

I think this is a really great idea, your teacher can use the pencils until they get too short and then they plant it and water it and then it grows into a flower or herb. They are £6.99 for a pack of 8.

 

 

 

 

Bubbablue and me school days linky

Please note I was sent some of the items within this post for review purposes and others are simply ideas we have found. All opinions remain our own

This post may contain affiliate links which should your purchase from I receive a small amount of commission at no cost to you