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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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#PlayPatrol : Mission Two : Carpenters Belt and Bruno Soft Plush Toy

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Bigjigs Play Patrol | Posted on 04-09-2014

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Our back garden has been looking pretty chaotic for most of this year. The storms over last Christmas and New Year brought down five of our fence panels – we only have eight in total! – and the national shortage that followed meant it took many months for them to be replaced. For a long time they were laid flat in the garden, covering plants and grass alike. When they eventually got replaced in May of this year – don’t get me started on how long it took… – it wont come as much surprise to find that most plants were dead and the grass was pretty none existent. Shortly after the fence repairs were completed we had a conservatory built on the back of the house – oh and I gave birth in the midst of this too! – so the garden looks hugely different to this time last year. A redesign was undertaken by Nana and Pops and its all looking amazing to be honest. Living plants, a stumpery in one corner, and a nice new decked area. The grass is going to take a little longer to replace, but its getting there.

When Pops came round a couple of weekends ago to fit my decking who better to help him than Little Man, armed with his new Carpenters Belt from Bigjigs. His latest Play Patrol mission needed him to test out the toy with the help of another person – Pops rose to the challenge admirably. Lots of sawing and hammering and measuring and screwing went on in our garden as the decking was built and Little Man had all the right tools to lend a hand.
 The Carpenters Belt comes with a spanner, a hammer, a ruler, a screwdriver, some nuts and bolts, a saw and the all important belt to carry everything around in. All the tools are made from wood as you’d expect, and some of them feature brightly coloured details and branding on them. The belt has a clip to fasten it around your child’s waist, and is adjustable.

Little Man was swift to get to work, being a particular fan of the hammer that got a lot of use banging on the decking. There was also a lot of measuring with the ruler and some valiant attempts to saw the wood with his new saw. He wasn’t overly keen on wearing the belt – “Too heavy!” – but instead chose to lie it on the decking whilst he got down to business.

Overall I’m fairly impressed with this toy. I like the range of tools involved – your little one shouldn’t struggle to find the right one for whatever job they’re doing – and they are all well built. I am a little disappointed that the spanner and hammer feature no colour or detailing at all though – the rest of the set do so I can’t think why these would be left out. The tools are well sized for small hands – this set is designed for children aged 2 years and up – and the adjustable feature on the belt itself is very useful.
Whilst Little Man was bashing around outside Little Dude was getting to know his new friend Bruno in another guise. The Bruno Soft Plush Toy is the perfect size for cuddling, especially when its time for a nap.
Good doggy.

This Bruno features a rattle inside, and has the same textured body and colourings that Bruno Comforter did. In fact the first thing Little Man said was “Two Brunos?!”. Little Dude is big admirer of Bruno and enjoys stroking and grabbing the textured body. The rattling makes it fun for him to interact with too. If I was to change it just a little I’d make the arms slightly longer, but otherwise another great Bruno buddy.

Lots of fun with our latest mission – we look forward to #PlayPatrol Mission 3!


#PlayPatrol Finalist: Wooden Safari Animal Building Blocks

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Bigjigs Play Patrol, Product Reviews | Posted on 29-04-2014

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Well here we are again. So SO proud to find ourselves a finalist in this years search for members of Bigjigs’ epic Play Patrol. We’ve had such fun for the last year “putting fun to the test” and playing with some great toys. We applied again this year as we thought it would be great to get Little Dude involved in the testing process when he makes his appearance next month – eeeek – as well as keeping Little Man entertained. I’d just like to thank George at Bigjigs for this opportunity and wish my fellow finalists the best of luck – those that are picked are going to have SO MUCH fun.

So on with our task – to review the Wooden Safari Animal Building Blocks. Aimed at children from age 1 upwards the set consists of 32 wooden blocks of varying shapes and sizes which have been painted with animal and jungle themed designs, and a drawstring bag to store them in. As you’d expect the pieces are brightly coloured, ideally sized for little hands to hold, and come with a wealth of options for stacking and arranging. So here’s a look at what you get:

wooden safari blocks sussexmummyAs you can see above its a really cute set and a great first building blocks set for little ones. Now Little Man is three and a half so technically not the target market for this set, but that didn’t stop him playing with it. He’s always been a big fan of blocks and stacking things, much preferring stacking blocks to building with Lego for example. I put all the blocks in the included bag and he enjoyed pulling them out one by one and starting to build a rather tall tower with them. He recognised the animal faces on some of the blocks and this once again has been another big help with his speech development. The set has provided lots of conversation with us talking about the colours, the different animals, referring to the trees and bushes and flowers, as well as pointing out one of his favourite things – the moon. There were lots of “Oh dears” when the tower inevitably fell over, as well as lots of “Fall down”.  His bedroom has lots of jungle animal wall stickers up so this set matches that beautifully, though I think we’ll be putting this away for Little Dude to play with when he’s a bit older.

As I mentioned this would make a great introduction to building set for any little one. If gives you the opportunity to make recognisable animals, build safari scenes, or just make a really tall – thought not wholly stable – tower. There’s also chance to talk about the different shapes and colours on the blocks, as well as the animals and safari life itself. The quality is just what you’d expect from Bigjigs and the paint used is totally safe for when your little one inevitably starts chewing on one of the pieces. As ever I just love the fact the toy is bright and colourful and visually impressive.

Keep your eyes open on Bigjigs’ Twitter (@bigjigstoys) and Facebook pages for the announcement of the successful Play Patrol members, and to get involved with some exciting opportunities that the team have lined up for this year.

#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.

Play Patrol: Ferry Boat with Cars

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Bigjigs Play Patrol, Product Launch, Product Reviews | Posted on 15-11-2013

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You’d think after all the Green Toys that we already own I’d struggle to find anything new and exciting about other items from the range. Well, thankfully, I didn’t. Play Patrol strikes again, and once again Bigjigs has sent me over a Green Toy to review. This time, a Car Ferry.
This Car Ferry is brand new from Green Toys, and Little Man and I were lucky enough to receive it first from Bigjigs, at least once George had finished playing with it!
The Car Ferry comes with two cars – one yellow and one red – and has an extendable ramp which allows the cars access on and off the ferry. Now we all know that the Green Toys are dishwasher proof but it never occurred to me to put them in the bath. Until now. This is the ideal bath toy, and Little Man has really enjoyed testing it out at bath time. It has been sailed up and down the bath with the cars on board, they’ve been driven around the edge of the bath, and the ramp makes a rather fun water slide. The ramp is easy enough to use for Little Man to be able to do it himself, and the bottom of the boat is removable for easy cleaning and to bail out when there’s an inevitable capsizing incident!
Educationally wise this would be a great purchase if you’re about to embark on a journey on a car ferry, or if your child is learning about different modes of transport at school or nursery. I think all it really needs is a few people to stand on the deck or maybe a few faces inside the cars.
I can see more of our Green Toys ending up in the bath, especially the Rocket. Little Man has always been a big fan of bath time and its great to now be able to change around the toys he currently uses, and add some of his favourites from outside the bath.

Play Patrol: Flatbed with Red Racing Car

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Bigjigs Play Patrol, Product Reviews | Posted on 09-10-2013

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Another Play Patrol task, and I’m pleased to find another Green Toys product – thanks Bigjigs. This time Little Man got to test out the Flatbed with Red Racing Car – an ideal toy to play with whilst Daddy watches the Formula 1! By now you’ll all no doubt know why I love Green Toys, so I won’t repeat myself. You can find my reviews of their Rocket and Recycling Truck to see more.

The Flatbed with Red Racing Car comprises of a big blue truck, with a red racing car that sits on its flatbed. Pretty simple really. The flatbed tilts so you can get the racing car on and off “properly” or you can do as Little Man prefers and just put it on and off.

As we’ve come to expect from Green Toys its brightly coloured, sturdy and toddler proof. Now Little Man’s Daddy is something of a Formula 1 fan – despite the fact he tends to doze off mid-race every time its on – and so this set is just the thing for Little Man to play with whilst its on. It also led me to thinking about the Play Patrol Mission we’d been set, and this seemed the most appropriate tagline for this particular photo.

Another great quality toy from Green Toys, and another successful Play Patrol mission. Little Man is very much into his cars and enjoys pushing this around the lounge, both individually and with the racing car on board the truck. These toys are always the perfect size for little toddler hands, but are also sturdy enough that I know they’ll grow with him and he’ll still be enjoying them in years to come.