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One of our favourite companies, Learning Resources sent us Play Foam to review. The Play Foam comes in this pack of eight bright colours, which all have very appealing names.
When it arrived, the first thing Mr W said was, "That looks messy!" I pointed out that the packaging said NO MESS, but he wasn't convinced, and to be honest neither was I!

This is what Learning Resources say about Play Foam.

Playfoam may have a new look, but rest assured the product inside still offers the same mess-free creative play fun!
Children simply shape it into anything in their imagination before squashing it down and starting all over again. 
PlayFoam is completely mess free, it does not stick to hands, clothes or carpet. It never dries out, use it straight from the box for creative play on the go. The bead-like structure promotes sensory perception and fine motors skill development and the vibrant colours can be mixed to create multicoloured shades. Best of all, its non-toxic formula offers safe creative play for youngsters.
Includes original and sparkle pods in eight vibrant colours.

You can check it out here.

Megan and Ben were very eager to open it, but I persuaded them to wait till the weekend, at the thought of all the impending mess!

Sunday morning arrived, and bright and early (note the PJ's in the pictures) we were ready to open!

The bright, colourful pack.                                                 

I carefully opened the pack as I wasn't sure if it was going to explode out everywhere! It didn't and amazingly all the foam stayed in place!

Megan thought it felt' "really weird", and it did! Squidgy and squashy and pliable and pleasantly unmessy!

Megan began by making herself some ear rings! Very glamourous.

Pizza was next on the menu and it looked delicious.

Ben made his own version of pizza too! And then we decided to make some different animals.

Ben made two worms!

My fab cat!

Megan making a cat too!

Our completed zoo - cats, worms, snails and fish!

After we had finished playing there was no mess anywhere! The brilliance of Play Foam is that you can make and play with NO MESS. Mr W was suitably amazed too. Another bonus was that the play foam doesn't dry out and can be reused again and again. I put it away and a couple of days later it feels exactly the same!

I would definitely recommend that you look into this for your little ones, especially anyone who breaks out in a cold sweat at the thought of 'crafty activities!'

Learning Resources are running a competition on Facebook for you to win your own set of Play Foam!
Head over here and enter. The competition closes on Friday 7th June 2013.

The lovely people at Learning Resources sent us The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game to review.
It is brilliant!
It's not often I say that about a game, but it is.
For starters, we can all play it. Ben is now at an age (3 and a half) where he wants to join in with the games Megan plays. As Megan is 8, that isn't always possible as the games she plays can sometimes be more complicated than Ben can understand. Not this though, it says 3+ on the box and I would have to agree with that.
The idea of the game is simple, spin the spinner, follow the instructions on it and try and fill your log with correctly coloured acorns. The first one to fill their log wins.
There is a squirrel to 'pick' the acorns off the tree, which adds a fun twist to the game.
Another thing which really impressed me about this game is the quality of it. The base of the box is the tree and is made me sturdy cardboard, as are the logs and the spinner. The acorns and the squirrel are made of plastic and great for little hands.

The creator of the game is Riley Wilkinson, and this is what it says on the box about him:

When we opened the box, we couldn't wait to get everything out!

Ben very carefully put the acorns on the tree.

Megan was the first to win an acorn!

Ben was really good at matching the colours.

A log full of acorns!

Ben won the first game and was sooo pleased! Megan won the second and Daddy won the third!

As well as being great fun the game has the added benefits of, "helping preschoolers master matching skills, develop fine motor skills including pre-handwriting skills, social skills like taking turns and strategic thinking skills.

We would definitely recommend this game to families with young children and for birthday presents for 3 and 4 year olds.

To get your hands on one of these fantastic games pop over to the Facebook competition here.
The closing date for this competition is Tuesday 30th April 2013.

Or have a look at the Learning Resources website here for more information.

Founded in January 2013, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers is the children’s imprint of Little, Brown Book Group.
We publish fantastic fiction for children aged 5 – 12, with a focus on growing talent for growing readers.
From fantasy football to petticoat pirates, monsters to mythology, scary stories and lots of laughs, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers is the place to come for brilliant children’s books.

Click here to find out more about L B Books.

The Abominators are a group of school kids, Mucker, Boogster, Cheesy and Bob, who get up to all sorts of mischief. The antics that they get up to really made Megan laugh, and me too, when she told me, like tipping vegetable oil all over the hall floor, causing it to become a skating rink and resulting in the head teacher breaking his leg, arm and collar bone!
The story includes the new boy, Cecil who wears panty wanty woos! Cecil wants to be in their gang, but the gang don't want him so they set up three impossible challenges for him. Cecil however overcomes all of these with resourcefulness and sheer luck so he is eventually admitted into the gang as an associate member!

The book has lots of lovely pictures so it is not too over facing for younger readers. Megan really enjoyed this  and wants to read another Abominator book! This is a book Ben will enjoy in a couple of years as the 'naughtiness' will really appeal to boys!

We would both recommend you reading these books as they are brilliant!

We were sent the Magic Moves Wand from Learning Resources.

Learning Resources is a company I love, both as a parent and as a teacher. In my opinion their products are top quality and reasonably priced.

Magic Moves is an active, high energy game designed to develop gross motor skills, creative expression and listening skills.

Ben was very excited to have a go. The wand is very easy to use. There is a play button and a repeat button and two volume levels.

The green play button has 90 different commands, with accompanying tune and light show.
Commands such as, 'dive like a dolphin' and 'growl like a wolf' give children an opportunity to tap into their creative side and when playing it with older sisters or mums, like we did, it becomes really good fun, to see who can listen and follow instructions with lots of expression.

The wand helps to develop language skills and familiarity of new words, such as strut, slither, glide and stomp. Ben needed help with these words, but older children should be fine. The wand is aged 3+ bye Ben is 3 and half so it is ideal for his age and up.

The only downside to this wand is the fact that the voice (Kelly Miyahara) is American and can be a bit hard for little ones to understand, even I struggled with some of the commands as to what she was saying.

You can visit the Learning Resources website here and have a look at all the lovely things they have no offer.

We were sent the Magic Moves Wand from Learning Resources for this review. All opinions are our own.

     Ben listening to the different commands.

    Megan stomping like a dinosaur.

    Ben growing like a tree.

    Ben slithering like a snake.

We were very excited to receive three books through the post. We love books in our house and me and the children have got loads, but you can never have too many books!

The lovely people at My Big Little Town sent us three books to review.
The books are written by Calvin Innes who is a UK author and illustrator.

We were sent :
Pale Henry 
Stuart the Bug Eating Man.  

Megan was really excited as there books are aimed at her age, 7 years plus. Megan picked Jenny for us to read first.

The blurb said:
She would play in the rain, 
The thunder and lightening
And in all the places, 
Other kids would find frightening! 

 You see Jenny is made 
From a different mold... 
She's a werewolf hunting 
Eight year old! 

Who could resist that?! Certainly not us! We loved it, it was our favourite of the three books, although Pale Henry came a close second and we loved the fact that the story was rhyming too. The story was original and perfectly aimed at 7 years and upwards. What is great is that the story has got lots of great illustrations throughout it to really bring the story to life.

Pale Henry was our next read.

The blurb said:
Gather round children,
Let me tell you a tale,
Of a young man named Henry,
Who was terribly pale.

He looked gaunt and sickly,
from his head to his feet.
Haggard and thin,
and as white as a sheet.

Another great story about Henry who really does want to play out with the other boys and girls but is too afraid, but eventually plucks up the courage and has a ball!

And finally, Stuart the Bug Eating Man.

The blurb said:
Stuart would eat bugs,
with his fork and with his knife.
Much to the disgust,
Of Harriet his wife.

He'd munch them and crunch them,
legs and all.
While they'd wriggle and squirm
and scurry and crawl.

He he, a totally disgusting tale!

I would defiantly recommend having a look at their website here for lots of lovely books.

We were sent these books for review but all opinions are our own.

We were sent Answer Buzzers from Learning Resources to review.
You can visit their site here.
They arrived at just the right time as we had just opened a box of crackers that had a family quiz in and Megan wanted to play it.
These buzzers come in four different sounds. There is a 'boing', ' ding', 'ding dong', and a 'honk honk'.
The idea is that you can use them for any game to liven it up or for quiz games.
We used them to play the quiz and they were great fun. It was good for every player to have their own buzzer so you can tell who knows the answer first.
The different sounds make the game much more fun, rather than everyone shouting out at the same time!
You could also use the buzzers to play other board games as they could easily be incorporated into the game.
These will be brilliant over Christmas as it is a time that we all play lots of games, especially quiz games.
If you want to liven up a quiz game I would definitely recommend these buzzers.
A word of warning though, young members of the family, (Ben), could get very annoying with these buzzers!

We were very lucky to be sent Spin Mania action game to review.
Spin Mania is a new game from Drumond Park. You can find their website here.
Megan in particular was very excited as the game is aimed at her age, (about 6+) and up.
The aim of the game is to 'spin up' three plates, one at a time and using a spin spike, transfer them, whilst they are spinning to the separate stands and stop the timer before the plates stop spinning! You can then record your time with the marker pegs and the next player then has their go. The winner is the player who takes the least time to transfer all three spinning plates.
An added twist is that the other players can put the stands for the spinning plates anywhere within an agreed area and they can be in a hard to get to place!
Sounds dead easy right?! That's what I thought too until I had a go at trying to transfer the spinning plates!
That alone takes time and patience to master, (unless you work in a circus!) Everything I picked up a plate with the spike it fell off!
But we cracked it, Megan did it before me, I was really impressed with her persistence.
Once we had mastered this, we had a game. It was good fun deciding on where to put the stands to try and make it difficult for each other and I have to say, Megan was far better than me at this game and easily beat me!
The game requires good concentration skills and steady hands and an ability to move quickly too!
The great thing about this game is that it can be played alone or with family and friends. It can even be turned into a group challenge for extra fun!
I think the age of 6+ is ideal as younger children wouldn't have the skill or concentration for it, but would probably have fun trying.
This game would make a good Christmas present as the whole family can join in and challenge each other whilst developing very important skills.
We were sent Spin Mania to review and all the opinions are our own.

We were lucky enough to be sent a Hot Dots Pen and Hot Dots Numbers and Counting Set to review.
Hot Dots make interactive activities for children from early years to key stage 2, covering ten key areas of learning and are activities that help to reinforce new skills taught in school.
As a teacher and mum, this sounded perfect for us!
Hot Dots work with a pen that you use to check your answers. The pen rewards you with different phrases when you are correct and encourages you to try again when the answer is wrong. The pen is purchased separately and comes in three different styles, original, Kat the Kitty and Ace the Dog. The bonus is the pen can then be used with any of the card sets you buy, and ranging from £6.95 to £8.95 it is reasonably priced too.
The card sets cover early skills,numeracy skills, literacy skills and science and each set has activities for different abilities. These are priced from £6.95 to £9.95 which is great value.
The numbers and counting set we were sent is aged 3-6 years. Megan who is 7 got first dabs and loved the activities and went through them quickly, counting and using the pen to answer. She also liked getting the answers wrong to see what happened! Megan then requested that we get another set of cards aimed for her age 'as these are too easy!' I pointed out that these were actually aimed at 3-6 years! After flicking through the leaflet she decided she would like the Reading Comprehension cards!
Ben who has just turned 3, then came to see what we were doing. I loved the fact that the cards can be used in different ways and I selected the simplest game which was matching the numbers. Ben quickly picked up that he had to 'find the same one' and he loved the pen praising him and kept repeating the phrases, 'way to go', 'good choice', 'perfect', 'that's brilliant', 'awesome', to name a few!
The other activities include, counting objects and matching to the written number, finding two numbers the same, number sequencing and a few others.
One other thing to mention is the cards have questions on them to help you guide your child through their learning. This is a great idea as I think these are an activity you would do together, rather than a game you let them play by themselves.
So, would I buy these cards? Yes, without a doubt, as a teacher and a mum and I will be recommending them to other mums too and my teacher friends.
Check out Hot Dots website yourself here, and pick out a set for Christmas.
Hot Dots are also running a competition on Facebook, click here to join in and win some Hot Dot goodies!
The competition closes on Friday 16th November 2012.
We were sent the Hot Dots Pen and Card Set to review but all the opinions are our own.

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