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This is a question that pops up every now and then, ‘Mum, can we have a horse?’

Of course, the answer is no. Where would we keep the horse? Who would muck it out? Who would groom it and feed it? I continue with a long list of all of the elements that go into looking after a horse and win the argument hands down. Every time, like a Boss.

However, then my romantic side kicks in and I let my mind wander back to the place when I was 10 years old and asked that very same question to my mum.

What is it about horses that pull on our heartstrings so much?

I have friends who go horseriding and some who have their own horses too; I don’t envy their early morning starts in all weathers and Every. Single. Day. They have to get out of bed before their day starts and visit the stables to give the basic care for their horse weekdays, weekends and high days and holidays too.

How to care for a horse

If we were to get a horse (which we are not) there would be a lot of things to consider beforehand and in order to explain my decision to the twins properly, I took a quick glimpse into what we would need to have in place.

The basics to consider before taking another step are feed like Spillers Feed Balancer for Horses water and shelter. Already at this point, you are clocking up a bill that will make a substantial dent in your monthly outgoings. The Horse and Hound give a great rundown of costs to consider should you be tempted along this path.

Then you will need to think about the space your horse will have to live in and run around in as the animal will need regular exercise in order to stay fit and healthy. Another element that goes into the horse’s wellbeing is company; a horse is an animal that lives in a herd, it thrives in the company of others and it would be cruel to expect it to live on its own.

Talking of health and wellbeing plans will need to be put in place for feet, teeth, worming and a host of other regular checkups that will need to take place and then of course, insurance. Even Baxter our rescue dog is insured.

Mum, can we have a horse?

Now, when the twins ask me that question, I am more prepared. Rather than a flat no, I can go through these areas of care that need to be considered with them and turn the question into a debate which gets them thinking – and arguing – about how to care for a horse. Initially, it all looks very easy but as you dig deeper, you quickly discover that it’s not.

Of course, if you do go ahead, you’ll then have to kit out yourselves with saddles, blankets, riding gear, grooming gear and lessons to ride a horse. I think it might be a good idea to start with a trip to the local stables and a day mucking out before we go any further with the conversation.

What about you? Have you had a debate on owning a horse in your family?

cool gifts for kids

If you’re searching for the perfect gift for a kid’s birthday, you’ll find lots of awesome toys and gadgets on the market. However, with so much choice available it can be difficult knowing which gifts are worth investing in.

If you’re struggling to find the perfect gift, here you’ll discover some of the coolest birthday gifts for kids you’ll absolutely want to consider.

VTech Touch and Learn Activity Table

If you’re buying for a younger child, the Vtech Touch ad Learn Activity Table is a fantastic choice. It’s designed to teach kids about all kinds of things from anatomy to letters and geometry to drawing. There’s a number dial touchpad, an LED screen and even a mini radio which plays tunes to complement the lessons being taught.

As an additional bonus, the desk can be folded up into an easel, allowing your kids to draw with chalk. It combines technology with traditional learning and is an awesome gift they’ll love to play with.

Hoverboards

If you’re buying for slightly older kids, a hoverboard is a brilliant option. Hoverboards are extremely popular right now and they’re great at boosting motor skills.

There’s a huge range of hoverboards available to suit both boys and girls and they cruise along at slow speeds, so you don’t need to worry too much about them hitting something at speed. They’re one of the priciest gifts on the list, but they’re sure to keep your kids entertained for years.

Mini Hatchimals

Hatchimals have been popular for some time now, but the larger versions can be pretty expensive. If you’re looking for something that won’t break the bank, the mini Hatchimals are definitely worth considering.

Like the larger variations, these mini Hatchimals are designed to hatch when placed in water. There are over 70 different ones to collect and kids love watching them transform before their very eyes.

Kano Computer Kit

If you’re looking for something a little different, you might want to consider the Kano Computer Kit. This very modern gift is said to be as fun to put together as LEGO and it comes with a range of stickers to help your child personalise the computer.

It combines Raspberry PI with attractive, chunky peripherals and once it’s been built, your child will be able to access hours’ worth of entertainment with games and lessons that are designed to help teach them how to code and make apps. It’s a sophisticated and very cool gift that’s perfect for today’s kids.

These are just some of the coolest gifts you’ll want to consider buying for a kid’s birthday. No matter what their age or interests, there’s sure to be something above to match their needs.

Disclosure: Collaborative post

11 + exam

Summer 2018 has been a fantastic school holiday so far but a toughie at the same time. The 11+ exam is set for our first week back to school and the girls decided that they want to have a go so, our summer has been a mixture of fun activities mixed with a lot of studying.

We’ve been going over English and maths, we’ve checked their comprehension skills and we’re taking a look at verbal and non-verbal reasoning, two areas that aren’t covered at school as they’re not part of the national curriculum.

We’ve had tears and tantrums along the way but I’ve got to hand it to them as they apply themselves and are very upset when they don’t get top marks. They have the school they want in mind and are afraid they might not get in. I can’t take the exam for them but I can help them as much as possible to try and make their dream come true.

Husband and I took the decision to not tutor the girls. The cost was a huge part of our choice along with the fact that we didn’t want to push them into doing something that was out of their reach. I couldn’t think of anything worse than gaining a place in a school only to find them struggling to keep up with the class. I certainly don’t want to set them up for failure but I do want the very best for them.

I bought a set of Bond books from Amazon aged 9 – 10. The girls were doing very well and getting 80% and over which was very encouraging. The advice at the back of the book is to go up to the next level if they are getting 80% +. So I did.

Uh-oh. I didn’t know that between the two levels there was such an enormous gap and the girls were coming across work they haven’t even covered yet at school. After a quick online discussion a friend, who is also a tutor, informed me that that level was intended for children in Year 6 who take the exam in January and therefore are slightly ahead. With this knowledge, we started to look at the girls scores in a different light and saw that actually, they were doing well. My friend also advised me to concentrate on the verbal and non verbal reasoning with continued exercise in English and Maths.

Fingers crossed. The twins will sit their exam on 6th September. If they don’t get it, it’s not the end of the world, there are plenty of other great schools out there but for the moment, we’re going for the dream.

Good luck to anyone else who’s going for it.

Numbalee

Does the thought of helping your child master maths make you groan with despair? I feel your pain. I can show the twins spellings, comprehensions and English tests until my heart’s content but try anything maths related and it’ll end in tears if I’m not careful. When I was asked if we’d like to review the new fun maths game Numbalee, I jumped at the chance with every hope that it would be fun and the girls would become more confident in their maths.

Numbalee is a neatly packaged game in a zip bag containing 150 number tiles, two 12-sided number dice, one maths symbol dice and five symbol discs alongside an instruction booklet for 12  family games.

The game is aimed at players aged 6+ (perfect for Key Stage 1 and 2) and can be played from 1 – 8 players as there are a range of games to play solo for practice or competitively in a group. Players are encouraged to talk through the sums they are making to improve their understanding and their confidence.

Each of the games has been designed to cater for a wide range of abilities and specifically to improve skills in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

The game was initially created by Oliver Leck to help a friend’s daughter who was struggling with maths in school. He spotted that there weren’t any fun maths games on the market and together with his father, a teacher, he developed the game with primary school children in mind.

What’s the verdict?

With my teaching assistant hat on I can say this game is an excellent resource for practising the essential maths skills needed in everyday life. It also makes my afternoon interventions more exciting, the children look forward to playing a game with me rather than ‘doing maths’.

I also gave Numbalee to a few members of my school Blog Club to get some feedback and where they (Year 5 and 6) enjoyed the game and played happily for an hour, they said it wasn’t for them. I asked them why and they said it was ‘too easy’ for them.

Would you recommend it to anyone else? I asked. ‘Yes, for the younger students. It would be perfect for them.’ came my reply.

Numbalee is now available online (RRP £19.99) at www.numbalee.com as well as on Amazon.

Reima Go kidventure map

“Mum, can we take a look at our Kidventure Challenge progress on your phone?”

I know a lot of children that have asked for Fitbits which I have to admit, I found really odd to start with. But the more I think about it, the more I can see it from a child’s point of view … it’s a competitive thing. Look how much I walked today! And let’s face it, in today’s sedentary tablet world the more we can get them up and out the better.

Having said all of that, the twins still don’t possess their own fitbits. Which is a good thing as Reima got in touch recently and asked if we’d like to review their latest multi award-winning project, Reima Go Kidventure Challenge.

Reima Kidventure Challenge

Reima outdoor clothing for kids

Reima is a Finnish clothing company that specializes in comfortable and stylish outerwear for children. They’ve been making clothes for all the family since the 1940’s and as they stepped into the new millennium, they chose to focus entirely on children’s clothes and perfected their range from 0 – 12 years old.

In 2016, they took their product one exciting step further and introduced Reima Go which has won many awards for innovation, design and user experience.

ReimaGO sensor

Reima Go is a sensor that sits in the child’s clothes or on an arm strap and logs all of the activity that takes place every day. It has been created with kids in mind and allows parents to keep track of their movement via an app on their phone.

The sensor, created together with Suunto, turns on when your child starts moving and stores the intensity and duration of movement. It is very sturdy and waterproof plus it has a long battery life.

As the children move around and play they can check later on the app, that their movement has turned into energy for the game character and they can power through exciting new worlds. The more they move, the more rewards they get.

#REIMAKIDVENTURE

Reima Kid Adventure globe

The company mission is to “encourage children to discover the joy of movement” and the next step was to come up with a challenge to inspire children and grown-ups to get moving more! The challenge, set together with Visit Finland and Ruka Kuusamo, is to collect 1 million active hours from children all over the world

The benefits of movement

Whenever I ask the girls to put their tablets away I get groans of despair and more fequently, ‘I’ve got nothing to do!’ Of course you haven’t because you’re not using your imagination! It takes some careful discussion and some persuasive arguments but once they are convinced, they love it which just proves to me how important it is. Push through the initial argument and get them up and out.

If you’re stuck for persuasive arguments, here’s a few ideas to try on them to create their own Kidventure

  • A trip to the local park or playground is always a huge winner with my two.
  • Walk the family dog. I like them to think they are responsible for Baxter too and walking at weekends as a family is vital for him.
  • A walk on the beach searching for treasures brought to shore by the latest tide.
  • Put the tent up in the back garden and watch how much stuff they take out (and that will need bringing back in!)
  • Set up a gymnastics mat on the grass with cushions, mattresses from sun beds, blankets and anything to soften the blow a bit.
  • Get the bikes out and take them on a cycle ride, make sure you trace the journey to show them after.
  • Rollerblades, skating rinks, ice skating. All fabulous ways of getting children moving and having lots of fun.
  • Climbing walss – this will be our next challenge.

Our Reima Go experience

Reima Kid Adventure globe

As mentioned above, there was a lot of excitement when the activity sensors arrived and they wanted to start them up immediately and get going. My first thought was, ‘How long before they lose them?’

The sensors are small black discs about the size of a 50p piece and are designed to fit into the Reima outdoor clothes in specially designed pockets. Not having those jackets, the girls decided to keep them in their school shirt pocket. One week later and one has already been lost. It was on the day they had a swimming lesson so I am hoping someone has found it and handed it in.

I think it would be a great idea to make them into a wristband and that way you would have to take it off to lose it. I would also recommend sticking a name tag on them, firstly to differentiate whose is whose and secondly, in case one gets lost.

We downloaded the app on my phone which meant all daily checking had to be done on my phone. They did want to download on their own tablets – which would have been a better idea and given them more control over the games and challenges but it requires my email address. I was a bit worried it might be linked to sales and so I have said no.

Win a Trip to Lapland

Reima are offering a holiday to Finland for the whole family to be in with a chance to win here’s what you have to do.

  1. Post a blog post, vlog or share on your social media: Why is kid’s physical activity so important? using the tags #millionhoursofjoy and #reimakidventure
  2. Tag three friends on Facebook or Instagram who might like to join in too. Link your post to #millionhoursofjoy challenge campaign page www.reima.com/kidventure and ask your followers to donate their kids’ activity hours to the global challenge.
  3. Register your post here to be in with a chance to win https://www.lyyti.fi/reg/Reima

Disclosure: We were sent a lovely Gift bag by Reima for the purpose of this post and included were two Reima Go Sensors. All opinions are my own.