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Educational Play with Schleich I'm a big fan of learning through play. Unforced educational play. I'm not a teacher and I don't want to be. I want my children to naturally learn whilst they are having fun. When I was contacted recently...

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Say Eh-Oh to the new Teletubbies toys! There back!! Teletubbies made a joyous return to CBeebies last year, and this year marks the launch of the new range of toys. As you know I was sent a box just before Christmas, and today I can finally...

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Travel: Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough Last weekend Nana and I took a rather lengthy journey north for a night away at the Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, with Little Dude in tow. The Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is a luxurious country hotel...

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A Place To Enjoy My Garden I love my garden. I love the fact that I have a garden, especially with the recent gorgeous weather we've been having. Whilst I have a pretty compact garden, there's a lot going on out there. Plants, fruit...

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Cuddles With Ben Cohen Some days I have a really difficult job. Days like this for example. *Ahem* That rather nice young man is former rugby player Ben Cohen. Ben is a bit of an expert when it comes to cuddles. He has...

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#Review: Casdon Toy Shopping Trolley

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 26-08-2015

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Some of you may be aware that I recently got a job. Just three evenings a week, but something outside of blogging and outside of the house for me to do to earn a bit of money and get some adult conversation! I am doing evening shifts at my local supermarket and I’m really enjoying it. I work with a great team and we have a lot of laughs, and its nice to have that small section of life that’s mine, and doesn’t revolve around the boys for a bit. Little Man and Little Dude have gotten used to the idea that Mummy now goes out to work. As soon as my uniform goes on in fact Little Dude starts waving at me and is clearly aware that I’m about to go out. Little Man knows where I work and what I do, and even refers to the supermarket as “Mummy’s shop”.

I don’t do my weekly food shopping in a supermarket – I get it delivered and have for a long time, even before the boys were born – but we do on occasion have to nip to the shops when I invariably forget something, so they are both well aware of the concept. Needless to say I was rather excited when UKMumsTV got in touch with the offer of reviewing a Casdon Toy Shopping Trolley – what better way to explain just where Mummy goes when she leaves for work.

Casdon-Shopping-Trolley-SussexMummy

I was rather surprised when the box arrived and found it was flat packed and that I’d have to construct it myself. The instructions were pretty clear and thankfully it didn’t take too long to put together, but you will need a screwdriver and a hammer to build it. My two main disappointments with the trolley were the size – it says suitable from 3 but it is much too small for your average 3 year old (my 15 month old is about the right height for it), and it’s flimsiness. Whilst the frame is metal – the handle down to the part the wheels attach to – the basket itself is plastic and constructed of three sections that just clip together. It’s doesn’t come across as particularly strong and I’m not convinced it would withstand long term play from my rather boisterous boys.

Little Man is quite into his role playing and imagination play so I thought this would be a fun toy for him to play with but I must say its mainly been Little Dude that’s played with it. He’s so close to walking and spends a lot of time playing with walkers or toy prams or this trolley to help him on his way. It is really light though so whenever he tries to pull himself up on it the whole thing tips over which is a bit of a shame.

I was a big fan of the play shopping that came with it however. A large selection of boxes of food were included – you need to fold them up yourself – but instead of made up products there are replicas of things you’ll find in your local supermarket, and in fact a couple were things we had in the house ourselves. They were largely well known brands and the packaging was a true miniature replica of the real thing which I thought was a great detail. All of these fit in the trolley with room to spare, so to help with the weight balance problems we’ve put in lots of our own play food and we’ve managed to fill it.

I guess the ultimate question is would I buy this toy myself? Sadly I think the answer has to be no. It’s small and poorly built. I would have liked a full metal trolley as opposed to this flimsy plastic version. Admittedly this trolley only has a RRP of £15 so I would expect a metal one to be more pricey, but for something that would last a bit longer I’d be happy to stump up more money. All in all I found this rather disappointing.

Pancake Pile Up!

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Product Reviews | Posted on 28-02-2014

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With pancake day just around the corner – next Tuesday in case you weren’t aware – Daddy and I are looking forward to tucking in to some pancakes. Little Man is less of a pancake fan. There’s always a degree of vague indifference to them, and rarely eats one let alone a stack. We’re obviously going to try them out with him again this year, probably with some chocolate involved which is bound to get him eating them. However I have another plan to help him mark Shrove Tuesday in the form of a brand new game from the ever popular Learning Resources.

Pancake Pile Up is a great little relay based game aimed at children from aged 4 upwards. You choose a card which has a stack of pancakes on it, and you then have to recreate that picture using the plates, pancakes and spatulas provided. Now you can do this in teams in a relay fashion, or for younger ones you can have them building the stacks by themselves.The pancakes come in a range of obvious flavours – plain, blueberry, strawberry, chocolate chip and banana – and you even get little pats of butter to place on the top of your finished stack. The plates are fairly simple cardboard discs but the spatulas are really cute. I thought we’d get Little Man doing some solo building for starters and then incorporate teams and relays once he’s used to the game.

pancake pile up sussex mummy

This is a great fun game for building recognition as well as being a great way to get children running about. I can see this being played lots in the garden this summer, both independently and in little teams. For now Little Man happily sits on the floor and builds piles of pancakes, sometimes following the cards and sometimes just seeing how many he can stack in one go! And of course he occasionally pretends to eat them as well. Maybe this is a good sign for next week and eating some really pancakes!!

 

#Play Patrol: Wooden Construction Set

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Bigjigs Play Patrol, Product Reviews | Posted on 13-02-2014

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Little Man has never really gotten into Lego. He’s had Duplo but he’d much rather stack blocks than stick them together. We have a supply of Lego in the loft ready for when he’s a bit bigger and hopefully he’ll warm to the idea soon. He can merrily sit piling wooden blocks on top of each other, building walls or towers, and then invariably knocking them over. Usually with an Angry Bird. He also likes to help Daddy when he’s doing DIY. Getting hold of one of Daddy’s screwdrivers or hammers and “helping” fix a fence panel or build flat pack nursery furniture. He’s been using his Drill Set from Learning Resources for ages and still loves it, but when I paid a visit to Toy Fair last month and had a chat with the lovely George at Bigjigs he suggested this construction set would be an ideal Play Patrol mission.

Bigjigs Play Patrol Sussex Mummy

This Wooden Construction Set comes in a handy bucket – perfect for tidying up time – and contains 50 pieces of wood and bolts and a wooden screwdriver. The wooden pieces are varying shapes and sizes – some are just lengths of varying size, others are curved, some are large pieces, plus there’s blocks to add dimension to your build, and a wealth of nuts and bolts. There’s even some wheels included. The kits comes with no instructions at all, its totally designed to give your child a free reign to build whatever their imagination comes up with. On one hand I love this. I want Little Man to use his imagination, to build wild and wonderful things. On the other hand, its a bit of a pain when your son desperately wants you to build the helicopter that is on the front of the bucket and baby brain makes it neigh on impossible! Thankfully Daddy came home from work and created it in no time – the benefits of being married to an engineer!

The construction set is very solid and robust, and stands up to use, building, demolition and rebuilding with ease. I love the chunky nuts and bolts, and the wooden pieces are clearly built to last. The colours are bright – as you’d expect from Bigjigs – and it is aesthetically a great toy to look at. Since the helicopter was built on day one its not been taken apart. The leftover pieces have been played with, but Little Man has spent a lot of time flying his helicopter around the house with lots of enthusiasm and wooshing noises.

I continue to be hugely impressed with the quality and variety of Bigjigs toys, especially after visiting their stand at Toy Fair. Once again I can only recommend this toy for any budding engineers or for children like mine who don’t do Lego but do like tools. A great choice George.

Christmas 2013: Hendon Kitchen

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Christmas, Christmas Gift Guide, Product Reviews | Posted on 27-11-2013

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Whenever we went to baby and toddler groups or toy shops there was always one toy that Little Man would make a beeline for. The kitchens. Generally always the ones that were that big that they’d fill my house and would look fancier than my own kitchen, but cooking and pressing buttons was always something that enticed him. I bought him a compact table top cooker from a charity shop in our village about eighteen months ago and its had lots of use. It came with a good stash of play food, and when combined with some new pots and pans he was set and would often bring us random meal combinations. Whilst I was at Christmas In July this year I spent a lot of time at the Plum Products stand where they were displaying their new indoor toys, to compliment their extensive outdoor range – some of which is occupying our garden, as well as Nana and Pops’. The stand out product for me was the Hendon Kitchen, and Plum were kind enough to send us one over to review.
The main thing that stood out for me about this kitchen was the colour – its not pink. SO many play kitchens – especially the quality wooden ones – are pink. Now believe me this has not stopped my Little Man from playing with them, but wouldn’t it be nice for someone to create one without the pink stereotype, assuming only girls want to cook? What I also love about this is its size. Despite incorporating a cooker top, a sink with taps, an oven and two shelves its surprisingly compact and takes up very little room in our already jam packed lounge. It is in fact the ideal height for my Little Man who plays with it loads, and randomly gets himself a drink of air from the taps during the day, or washes his hands, or even, on the really odd occasion, gives Teddy a bath in the sink.
I like the details too. On the end of the cooker there are three hooks to hang the included utensils on, and there’s a picture of a tea towel hung up too. There is a hot and cold water tap – they don’t move but Little Man is happy to press them and make the noise of water coming out. There’s two dials on the front which turn round and make clicking noises to control your oven, and there’s even a (fake) digital clock. The two spacious shelves are well sized and we’ve managed to cram plates and Little Man’s tea set on there so all his “cooking” items are together. I must get him some new cutlery for Christmas though, as currently we get to eat our meals with either a ladle or a teaspoon!
Could it be better? Yes. Whilst its a great little kitchen I’d make a few small changes. I would add a shelf to the oven itself – currently its just one huge space and more like a cupboard than a realistic oven. I’d also make the taps turn and click in the same way the oven dials do. I would probably also make the overhead shelf run the full length of the kitchen and perhaps add a second, for items like condiments and tins of food.
On the whole this is a brilliant little kitchen, and it was really easy to put together, even with the help of Little Man. At £70 it is also really well priced, with other wooden kitchens on the market for a lot more. Whether its for a little boy or a little girl I think this compact kitchen would look great in any lounge, bedroom or playroom this Christmas morning.

Play Patrol: Build Up Train

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Bigjigs Play Patrol, Product Reviews | Posted on 18-06-2013

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When your little one learns to walk it is often with the aid of a push along toy. Once they are walking on their own its good to get them a pull along to trundle around after themselves. I know we had a couple for Little Man during his early toddling days. If you are looking for pull along toy inspiration you can’t go far wrong with the Build Up Train from BigJigs. What’s more, is that its actually TWO toys in one.

The Build Up Train is a lovely pull along toy for children aged 1 year plus. There are three “carriages” which can be separated too, and a nice long cord to pull them along.  Each “carriage” holds a selection of wooden blocks and shapes as well as a few friendly looking passengers. The beauty of this toy is that these blocks and passengers can be taken off and rearranged as your child wishes. Each “carriage” has three wooden poles on it for the pieces to slide on to. The combinations and patterns are endless, and its a great toy for honing those all important fine motor skills, as well as imagination play. Once everyone is loaded safely on board the train can be pulled around till it reaches its destination.

I think this a really lovely toy for children aged 1 to 2 years old. Its brightly coloured and has nice solid chunky pieces to play with. Little Man however was a bit underwhelmed. He pulled the string a bit, poked around with a few pieces, and then wandered off and hasn’t really looked at it since. But Little Man is two years and eight months old so I think in all fairness this toy is a bit young for him anyway. I love the multi-use you get from it, as both a pull along and a stacking toy. I can see young train fans being thrilled with it, and I’m certain Little Man would have loved it a year or so ago. Not a complete loss though. We’ve packed it back up and its currently stored in the loft for any future members of the family that may appear in the next few years.

A great first foray in to pull along toys for any new walkers. Thank you BigJigs.