Joanne

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Game review | Whoopee doo by IDEAL

IT’S A HOOT WHEN YOU TOOT!! As a family, one of the things we love to do is to switch off all technology, sit around the table and play games together and games are also…

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Gifted | Halloween and pumpkin carving with Feisty Pets

Happy Halloween

Lydia, Leo and Emily love Halloween and we all look forward to decorating the house in preparation for the 31st of October with spooky cobwebs, skeletons, keep out tape and other scary props.

This year we are joined by Feisty Pets, Cranky Cathy and Fabio Flamefart. They are cute, soft, cuddly, interactive plushies that stand 10″ tall. On the back of their box, you will get to learn more about your feisty pet’s personalities and what they like and dislike.

Cranky Cathy likes ding dong ditching, dumpster diving and black liquorice but dislikes daylight, superheroes and pumpkins.

Police received a string of complaints from local neighbourhoods of prank doorbell ringers. Once on the scene, Cathy was found in a nearby garage can eating last weeks meals.

Fabio FlameFart likes cilantro (Chinese parsley), ear wax and English accents but dislikes spicy food, the french riviera and cardboard boxes.

Though do not feed Fabio spicy food, his irritable bowl will make him angry and cause him to attack.

Don’t be fooled by their cute looks because these animals become hair-raising and hideous when you give the back of their heads a gentle squeeze. Their eyebrows become slanted and their mouth turns into a horrifying beastly snarl.

Snarling or no snarling, Lydia and Emily are having great fun chasing each other around the house pretending to be all cute and then scare each other.

Our Feisty pet also brought us a pumpkin carving kit (not Cathy because she hates pumpkins) for us to have a go at creating a pumpkin masterpiece which we all thoroughly enjoyed and got stuck in.

Feisty pets from Jazwares are aimed at children 6+ and can be purchased in Smyths, Argos, Tesco, The Entertainer and Morrisons.

 

*I was sent these products in return for inclusion on my blog*

Read our pumpkin picking experience here.

 

NEW Ice Age: Scrat’s Nutty Adventure | Game review

Ice Age: Scrats Nutty Adventure
Age: 3+
The device tested: Nintendo Switch.

What its about…

For anyone who knows and loves Ice Age, poor Scrat is forever chasing his elusive nut, which often leads him into some precarious and hilarious predicaments. Scrats adventure starts off often where we leave Scrat, just about to enjoy his nut before something happens. This time, his unfortunate curse leads him to discover a hidden world of the Scratazons where Scrat is enlisted to find four Crystal Nuts, each one imbuing Scrat with a new ability to help him on his adventure. Find all the nuts and open the door to the Golden Age of the Scratazons and receive your reward…

Gameplay

The game itself is straightforward enough, a 3D platform game that involves lots of jumping and traversing various paths, roads, mountainsides, etc. while you fight off enemies and collect hidden secrets. The world is broken down into four sections, each section has four stages and a boss level. The boss levels are simple enough once you know the patterns and traversing the routes does get more difficult as you progress in the game, but nothing should be too difficult – for an adult anyway.

The real critic

My daughter is aged 7 and absolutely loved the game. The cutscenes made her laugh and the game was challenging at times for her, requiring a lot of hand-eye coordination, which is where I think these games are really beneficial. Once she got the hang of things, it became easier until the boss levels. It took a little while, but she eventually was able to beat them, something she was very proud of.

Who doesn’t love a puzzle?

This game also has puzzles that you need to solve to find the secrets. There are very easy ones to get but to get them all, there are more difficult puzzles to solve. Watching my daughter try to solve the challenges was interesting as she tried different approaches each time until she found the solution (although occasionally a tip or hint from me was required). While playing the game, not always following the path laid out pays dividends and teaches your child to be aware of what is around them.

The full story is relatively short taking only a few days to get through the story, but solving all of the puzzles and finding the hidden tablets will take much longer (some of them quite a while as you look to find a door you opened somewhere in the map).

Time to compete

For an extra bit of fun (and competition), we timed ourselves on sections to see who could get through levels quickest. This pushed my daughter to move quickly and really focus on her coordination and awareness.

https://amzn.to/2VG9jHJ

One (very small) critique

My only criticism, and my daughters too is the camera which, at times, became a hindrance as it cannot go through walls often leaving you facing the wall if you fell off an edge and every time you moved away reverted back, leaving you running back into the wall again. This can become frustrating at times, particularly during jumping sequences that involved lots of platform-hopping.

Rating

I would give this game four stars out of five (I only drop the star because of the camera). It is easy going, lots of fun and great for children in developing hand-eye coordination and problem-solving and would make a great Christmas present for the kids.

Scrat’s Nutty Adventure is available to buy from Symths, Game and retails at £34.99.

Come and join us at 1pm today over on Twitter to talk all things Scrat

 

*I received this game and a small fee in return for an honest review*

 

 

Gift buying made easier with Wicked Uncle

Christmas gift shopping can be a very stressful experience for a lot of people. I especially find it stressful and it’s the only part of the season that I dislike, but once the shopping is done, the stress fades quickly and then you can enjoy the festivities. This year I was offered an opportunity to review the website Wicked Uncle.

Wicked Uncle makes gift shopping an easier experience with it’s organised category sections that include filter search options for gender and age, making it easier to find presents which are age/gender-appropriate.

They also offer a gift wrap service so you can send your gift directly to the recipient with a card and what kid doesn’t like receiving parcels through the post? This year, we wanted to reduce the children’s time on technology, not that they spend a lot of time on there, but I wanted to make sure that there were decent alternatives for their downtime to alleviate any boredom (the usual argument for wanting to play on their tablets).

What I picked for Emily (age 5) and Lydia (age 7)

Emily and Lydia are little artists in the making and there is nothing they love more than drawing, in fact I can guarantee that their artwork is in every room in the house. They both follow step-by-step tutorial’s online, so whilst browsing through the Wicked Uncle website, I came across these two ‘How to Draw Animals’ and ‘How to Draw Fairy Tales’ packs in the section for girl’s age 5 and girl’s age 7

The ‘How to Draw’ packs come with 36 sheets of grid paper, 10 coloring pencils, a rubber, pencil sharpener and a step-by-step book of different drawings.

These books are small enough to fit into their little backpacks for long car journeys or to keep them busy whilst on the go or waiting around another sibling’s after school activity. They are easy to follow and will help the children to illustrate some of the wonderful stories they continually write for us – particularly Lydia.

The third gift I picked was a Horrible Histories ‘The Beastly Best Bits’Horrible Histories ‘The Beastly Best Bits’  book from the girls age 7 section for Lydia. Lydia loves reading and even more, has become very interested in history since she started watching this show on television a few months ago. We have even been to see the movie!

I know she is going to enjoy taking this book around with her and woo people with all her interesting facts on the Rotten Romans, the Gorgeous Georgians and the Terrible Tudors. It will also benefit her at school when they start learning about history and she will have a head start.

Although I found all three of these gift idea’s in the girls sections and they would make brilliant gifts for girls, they would also make brilliant gift idea’s for boys too.

The Horrible Histories book came in at under ten pounds (£6.99) and this would make a brilliant party gift for a friend.

 

*We were given a voucher in exchange for a review*

 

 

Peterborough STEM Festival 2019

Every year Peterborough hosts STEM FEST, a free event to encourage children and educate the public around the world of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Held at Kingsgate Centre and sponsored by Anglian Water, One Alliance and BGL Group, the festival hosted businesses, education centres and organisations that are leading the way in STEM activities. The day hosted various workshops, activities and a whole range of things for children to get involved in.

On arrival, it was clear to see that there were lots to get involved in and certainly an event that you could spend a whole day at. Moving room to room, we tried to get involved in as much as we could. There were lots of coding activities for children which mostly used Scratch, a children’s coding programme, from which children could either code robots to move or play games on the computer by designing codes to pass levels. The first activity we took part in was coding a built cardboard car that had a CPU processor attached to a set of wheels. The children could set whatever directions they wanted the car to follow and release the car on a track to see what it did.

Hackspace is a community workshop that provides space for everyone to create, build and socialise within the STEM community. Using the 3D printers, CNC routers and other technology, there are specialists on hand to help you understand how to use the equipment and start to create whatever project you want. At STEMFEST they were demonstrating just a sample of the equipment they had, including a ‘pi’top, a laptop built with the Raspberry Pi processor. In the same room, there was also a science section with some simple games and activities designed to test your child’s ability to follow instructions while educating them on some simple scientific principles.

The main auditorium hosted a wide variety of different organisations all showcasing how they use some of the latest technologies to support industry. This was really interesting as it showed you how technology was becoming integrated into business to solve challenges faced in engineering and design. One particularly interesting part was Anglian Water who, using Virtual Reality, is able to walk around proposed sites yet to be built to assess design, identify areas for improvement and change and ensure that the site is completely fit for purpose before they even lay their first brick; something that previously would only have happened after the site was built, delaying implementation of the services and cost money. The children were able to play with the VR headsets to look at how water treatment and waterworks plants are built – although they just had fun walking in a digital world.

There was also a retro gaming area, which Leo absolutely loved, that hosted lots of the old systems most of us (oldies) grew up playing, like the Amstrad, Nintendo System (NES), Super Nintendo System (SNES) and more. There were also various stands with technology and software bits for sale to support children in building and developing lots of the ‘gadgets’ they were able to play within each of the various rooms.

The event hosted various speakers and workshops throughout the day but we were unfortunately not able to attend any as we got lost in the activities that were on offer at the various stands and rooms and by the time we moved to the area had missed all the shows.

All in all, it was a very interesting and eye-opening day for the family and showed how technology is everchanging our world. What was most interesting is that it showed how technology can be utilised in industry and started to sow the seeds of how much further technology can go, if you use your creative mind.

I thoroughly recommend this for anyone with children who have the slightest interest in technology and whilst the children enjoyed the day, in my personal opinion the activities are better suited for children 6+ or for children who have a very keen interest in STEM activities. Lydia, who is older, is far more interested in science and technology whereas quite a lot of it went over Emily’s head.