Christmas Gift Guide for Children 2018 I love this selection of gifts this year in my Children’s gift guide. I have a variety of games to suit young and older children, STEM products, slime and…View Post
Meet Botley, the new coding robot from Learning resources. Botley is designed to help children as young as 5 learn the basic skills of coding.
It encourages Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) by engaging them through play. It also has an advantage of unlocking advanced features as they progress.
Lets have a look at whats in the box…
- Botley the coding robot
- Easy-to-use remote programmer
- Detachable robot arms
- 40 coding cards
- Six boards
- A sheet of stickers for customisation
- A variety of accessories to create obstacles and activities for Botley: Eight sticks, 12 cubes, two cones, two flags, two balls and a goal
Lydia has never done coding before, so when we received Botley I was looking forward to see how she would get on with it and I was pleasantly surprised. Botley is good to go straight out of the box (after popping in 5 AAA batteries in the remote and Botley).
Daddy Knight was also very keen to have a go at coding Botley and had a quick go before he started setting basic challenges for Lydia. He laid 3 tiles in a straight line on the floor and explained to Lydia what the buttonson the remote do and that she had to stop on the orange tile at the end.
In no time at all Lydia and her 12 year old brother, Leo, was setting up courses and coding them into the remote for Botley to follow. We also set up a course where Botley had to guide a bolder around, placing it into the circle and then going back for the other bolder to do the same.
We love the little sounds Botley makes in his fun robotic voices when he’s moving around. If he is stationary, he beeps at you so you still know he is there, which is very cute.
The coding cards are designed for the child to set up their own sequence of where they want Botley to go before programming it into the remote. It acts as either a reminder of what they have pressed so they can plan Botley’s activity, or use it with problem solving so they can plan what they need to do before programming the sequence into Botley. I like the idea of these as sometimes its good to actually see what you are doing instead of figuring it out in your head, which can get really frustrating for them.
Here is a little snippet from the booklet with some ideas you can do to start off with. There are 10 basic challenges to get your imagination flowing and then you can have lots of fun creating your own obstacle courses.
I also like that there is no tablet or screens needed to play with Botley. It’s just you and your brain and being able to actively think about what course you are going to make up and how you are going to code it. Botley works best on hard flooring.
Botley retails for £79.99 and can be purchased here.
**I was sent this product in return for an honest review**
As an auditor, I am often on the road to businesses, carrying out reviews and site tours while taking notes to ensure that all I need for my report is captured. The easiest way for me to do this is through paper, but my quick hand often ends up being cryptic, requiring deciphering that even I am unable to do at times. Electronic recording is great, as it removes most of the deciphering, but carrying out site audits with a laptop is somewhat tricky and tablets, while they are easier to carry around, I often find it hard to type on them.
I was given the opportunity to use the Chromebook for work and it has made my life that little bit easier. The ability to use the device as both a touch screen and keyboard to write with, makes the use while moving a lot easier. The device is small, lightweight and easy to carry around.
In addition, the battery life on the device is really good. I decided to test it to see just how good it is. With a whole days (7.5 hours) use writing a methodology report, the battery had only reduced by around 60%, which when compared to my laptop is seriously good. On my laptop, if I am lucky, I can probably manage about 3 hours off a full battery, which is a good benefit to me during a site review where you are unsure how long you will be on the premises for.
Getting used to the device took a day of playing around to learn the functions and quick ways to move around the apps and software, but anyone that uses Google or an android phone shouldn’t find it too difficult to get to grips with. It is very quick to load at start-up, which is fantastic when compared to my laptop, and you can move between the apps and internet easily with the function keys and touch screen. As I already have a Google account, once I logged in the device picked up all of my information, reducing the setup times as the all features I currently use on Google were automatically loaded (bar the games).
However, I will say that there are elements I am still getting to grips with. Functions you get used to on a laptop are not there, particularly key functions however, with the use of the touch screen you can easily get around this. As part of my office package I also use Microsoft Office and have often found that the two do not always play well together. Google does try to take over by pushing me towards using Google Docs or Google Sheets. However, again this is a minor issue and something that has occurred during my induction period.
The device doesnt have the capability of being able to remove the keyboard, instead the screen folds all the way across so the keyboard site behind the screen. The software then locks out the keyboard so any strokes are not registered and the rubber ends and sunken keyboard mean you can place it flat without any issues. This is fine, but for me I found it difficult to walk around with just the tablet bit as the keyboard on the back just felt odd.
As for games, which my kids and I love playing (although mostly me on this device) the Chromebook is great. With the touch screen function all the games I play on my phone I can easily play on this device, just now with a larger screen. My daughter is now jealous because Daddy has a ‘laptop tablet’, so obviously she wants to play with it constantly.
All-in-all I have found the device really easy to use, both at home for fun but also at work for my needs. It sits on my desk nicely given its size and allows me additional functions as I work with it and my laptop. At home it is great to use as a laptop when I am browsing the web (which is great with both touch screen and keyboard) and also when playing games whilst chilling on the sofa. A great kit that I would recommend to anyone, particularly those who already use android.
The Chromebook comes with a built in microphone, webcam, 2 speakers, 2 Usb ports, 4GB RAM, LCD screen It does not have a CD/DVD drive or a micro sd memory card slot. To read more on the specifications for this particular model you can visit their website here.
**I received this Product in return for a honest review***
November 16th 2010 will always be an important date in our lives. On that day Leo underwent a life changing operation in St Louis USA. This operation we hoped would give Leo the chance to stand on his own and ultimately walk. We had fundraised and travelled to the U.S because at the time SDR was not available on the NHS. Leo was 4 years 11 months and had been diagnosed as having Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy for almost 3 years. Although Leo could not stand or walk he could pull himself up on furniture and got around by high knee crawling. This mean Leos world was almost all indoors. He was unable to play outside of his garden without literally ripping his knees to pieces. He did go to nursery but couldn’t understand why his legs didnt work the same as his friends. He thought a lot about what he couldn’t do and this became obvious when the U.S Dr asked Leo what did he want to be able to do and Leo answered ‘go to the toilet without mum watching.’
I am not going to sugar coat this. The experience of fundraising was tough, its hard to talk about what your child can’t do. Hard asking strangers for help, hard standing outside shops with collection tins but we were really lucky in the number of people that helped us reach the target we needed. Listening to his doctors here advising us not to go ahead, telling us Leo needed his spasticity for the little control he did have of his legs, Hard going against their advise. Hard defending yourself on why you were intent to put your healthy child through such a traumatic operation so far from home when there was no guarantee the operation would even make any difference. However we knew without this chance Leo would definitely be in a wheelchair and dependant on others for the rest of his life. That the spasticity would cause damage to the rest of his body . Cause more pain as its a proven fact spasticity causes premature aging of the muscles throughout his whole body. Even muscles not affected by spasticity age as they compensate for the muscle groups that are affected.
Once we arrived at St Louis Children Hospital and met Dr Park and his team we knew without a shadow of doubt we had made the right decision and no matter what the outcome was we would be able to look Leo in the eye and tell him we gave him every chance we could.
For us the outcome was amazing. Three days post op Leo stood clinging to Mike ( the physio) and placed his feet flat on the floor. By the following week he was standing with a walking frame days after that he rode a therapy bike and most amazingly of all 6 weeks after the SDR Leo walked for the first time. First of all a few shaky lurching steps very quickly became more confident. He could now go to the toilet without his mum watching, He could also help himself to drinks and food from the fridge. He would often be recognised when he was out and about because he had been featured heavily in our local paper and people would come over to talk to him and say how surprised they were he was so mobile.
Leo is now almost 13 and has continued to become more and more independent. He has completed 5k fun runs, can go up and down stairs on his own, Can look after his own personal hygiene and very recently completed 5 widths of his school swimming pool. This week he prepared cottage pie for his family not only using a knife but allowing his hands to get dirty. Leo doesn’t like getting his face wet or his hands dirty.
To say he is totally independent would not be true. He has to use a K Walker around school ( more to stop people bumping into him as he falls easily). During growth spurts his walking becomes unstable and he falls. The cold weather makes his gait worse and occasionally uses his wheel chair if he is expected to stand for any length of time ( i.e. church parade with his scout troupe). He still gets upset that he cant keep up with his peers and complains that he has to go to bed earlier than his friends.
That said we have absolutely no regrets regarding SDR and would go through it all again in a heartbeat. Luckily SDR is now being carried out in the UK following Dr Parks technique
Leo underwent Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy which is a life changing operation for children/adults who have cerebral palsy performed by the legend which is Dr Park and then two weeks later Leo had more surgery performed by Dr Matthew Dobbs to lengthen his hamstrings and heel cords in both legs both of these were carried out in St Louis hospital in Missouri.
On Saturday 27th October, Lydia and I were invited to a DesignaFriend VIP style press event in London. I told her about this a few weeks prior and she had been talking about it non-stop ever since; she was especially excited for one-on-one time with mummy.
As we approached the event venue, which is called The Icetank in Covent garden, we could see the DesignaFriend banner and a red carpet welcoming us as VIP’s. As we got closer, we could see inside and her little face had the biggest smile.
Inside we were greeted by the lovely Rachel, who looks after DesignaFriend’s PR, and she gave Lydia her name sticker, directed us downstairs to hang up our coats and to have lots and lots of fun.
All the dolls were set out for the children so they could see the variety of dolls they can collect, aswell as seeing all the fashionable stylish outfits they can wear.
We made our way down the swirly stairs and as we got to the bottom, Lydia’s little jaw dropped. Everything Lydia loved was down there; pink, arts and crafts, and a little hair and nails salon.
All the stations were named after the dolls.
Milly’s styling salon, which had a charm jewellery making table that consisted of sets from Interplay’s craft box charm jewellery ranges – mermaid, fairies and unicorns, three of Lydias favourite things.
Lydia also had her nails painted in Milly’s styling station. She chose a lovely turquoise colour using Fablabs style lab to match the colour in her hair. I personally love these nail varnishes as they painted on so nice, they didnt need two coats and dried fast too. Another great thing about these is that they just peel off when you want to either choose another colour or to take it off for school.
There was a little hair salon where she could have her hair styled and have colours added using Fablabs style lab hair chalk. Lydia chose the same colour as her nails, which surprised me as I thought she would go for pink, but I think she just wanted to be different. The hair chalks are great too and easy to use. The colour was vibrant and washed out easily that night.
It was lovely watching her have her hair styled. She looked so adorable just sat there smiling in the Hollywood styled mirror like a little celeb.
Also downstairs was:
Ella’s fashion school where the children got to design their very own outfit using materials and bows used on the actual dolls. They had everything set out from the fabric, bows, a huge variety of different shades of glitter, paint sticks by Little Brian – which are brilliant as they do not make a mess and dry instantly – glue sticks, scissors and everything a little fashion designer would need for her board.
After having a really fun time downstairs we decided to go upstairs and explore. The first thing Lydia spotted was the pink lemonade and all of the delicious tasty treats. There was DesignaFriend cookies, dainty cupcakes and biscuits decorated with edible flowers. They certainly know how to make little people feel very special and important. She was in her element and so was I.
Bella’s glamping tent was a huge tent styled to match the DesignaFriend glamping tent, which was also set out in the middle for the kids to play with. There were other furniture sets, set up from their range like the dolls house. Lydia loved the dolls house.
Last but not least was Arianna’s photo studio where the girls could dress up and twin with their dolls for a special photoshoot. Lydia chose a pug onesie for her and her doll Ella and off she went to get changed ready to be papped.
Here is one of the photo’s we got to keep.
Lydia was given a very generous DesignaFriend gift bag before we left that was almost as big as her. It was full of lots of goodies and included:
-DesignaFriend Doll, she was thrilled to receive Ella.
-DesignaFriend Outfit, Lydia received a winter wonderland outfit in Pink that included glittery leggings, a pink top, sparkly skirt ,pink boots, a beautiful winter coat and a fluffy headband to complete the look.
-DesignaFriend gold handbag.
-Fablab face glitter tattoo’s.
-Snow fairy charm jewellery.
-Little Brian Day glow paint sticks.
The morning had gone so fast as we was having so much fun, but all good things must come to an end so off we went back downstairs to get our coats on and say our thank yous and goodbyes.
To WirePR and DesignaFriend, thank you so much for inviting us both. You really made my beautiful girl feel extremely special and we thoroughly enjoyed our day. It couldn’t of gone any better and all of the staff were so friendly and approachable with big smiles on their faces.
Lola (left) Lydia received for her birthday and Ella (right) received from the DesignaFriend event.