Toys

Toys we play with including reviews

old trampoline

When we moved into our current home we inherited a trampoline from the previous owners. It was barely used and I have no idea why they left it behind but after a quick bounce from Dad and a thorough check we decided to hang on to it. Great decision because the girls have used it so much! It’s a perfect excuse to get them out of the house all year round and from tiny bounces they have evolved into ‘bum drops’ scissor jumps, star jumps, and 360s.

I am amazed at how long it has lasted. We have had to replace various parts over the years like the padding that goes around the bottom and the net too, but it was a photo I took earlier this year and posted on Facebook which drew some comments in from our friends.

Deathtrap!

I think that was the one that really opened my eyes and made me start searching ‘parts for trampolines ‘ online.

The photo was of the children bouncing away merrily with no safety net. The net had deteriorated over the winter and I hadn’t got around to replacing it. Plus every time I made a mental note to do so, it would immediately be covered by another trillion mental notes.

Deathtrap!

It might seem a bit harsh but all it takes is a nasty landing and you could potentially be looking at life changing injuries and even fatality.

parts for trampolines

As my trampoline is an odd size and shape (just different to the standard size) I couldn’t find the right net for the right amount of poles, all of my regular searches showed plenty of items but none that fitted our trampoline.

Would I have to throw it away? Where does one start with disposing of an old trampoline? the thought of dismantling it is enough to make me want to sit down and open a bottle of gin!

Time to get my finger out, I sat down in front of an empty browser began my search – parts for trampolines.

People of the internet, I came up trumps!

I found the perfect net and springs too as all of ours were rusty. I was able to order online and the products arrived swiftly plus, they were easy to assemble thank lawd! No swearing from Dad.

parts for trampolines

Top tips for looking after a trampoline

Keep it clean – That might sound odd but dirt and debris left on the mat can eventually damage it or get caught in the springs. To clean it all you need is a bucket of soapy water and a soft brush, if you’re clever you could even convince the kids to do it for you. Surely it would be fun? Make sure they also check for spider webs, bugs, insects and build up of leaves and dirt. If you store your trampoline in the winter, make sure it is completely dry before packing away.

Placement – I discovered this one on my searches. A well placed trampoline can extend the life for years. Look for a shady spot but make sure there are no overhanging branches or other objects nearby that avid jumpers might bang into! Plus, if it’s directly under a tree, that’s going to be a lot of leaves to clean throughout the year! Do we have to say – don’t place it near the barbecue or the fire pit? Possibly yes, let’s cover all bases.

If you are going to place it next to your fence, make sure it’s not by your neighbour’s fire area as embers caught in the wind can travel and land on your rubber mat singing burn holes into it.

parts for trampolines

Parts for trampolines

Are all of the springs connected? Are they damaged?

Are there any holes in the net?

Are any of the poles broken or bent?

Is the netting ripped?

Is the trampoline standing on a flat surface?

Look out for wear and tear on the mat or any sagging or tension issues. Excessive stretching of or damage to the springs.

Is the mat excessively stretched? Is it frayed, ripped or has the stitching come undone?

Check the frame connections. Is it bent? Are the welds broken?

parts for trampolines

Weatherproof your trampoline

Look for a rust resistant frame and a rugged mat. If you have bad winters remove the mat, leaving the frame where it is. The springs can be stored in a box and oiled before reusing. If you can’t store away, turn the frame on its side to prevent leaves or snow collecting on the mat and weakening it. Just make sure there is nothing sharp close by that could rip the mat.

A weakened mat won’t hold a jumper and they could find themselves jumping straight through! So keep an eye out for any accumulation during the winter months and remove it as and when. If it’s snow – it’s the perfect spot for making snowballs, just don’t tell the kids ;)

You can also invest in trampoline covers which protect the mats from frost and make the cleaning of debris easier.

If you have high winds you’ll need to think carefully about the trampoline, we found ours shunted and bent one year after a strong storm. You could look at getting an anchor kit if you didn’t want to dismantle it. over the windiest months. Trampolines have been known to travel quite far, next door’s garden, onto a parked car …

Rules for the trampoline!

To keep your trampoline in the very best shape there are a few rules to put in place that EVERYONE has to adhere to, no excuses for anyone.

No shoes

Only one jumper at a time – we need to be more rigid on this rule.

No climbing up the safety net.

 

Above all have fun! Look after your trampoline and you’ll have years of bouncy fun!

giant pass the pigs

I am organising a family barbecue soon; my daughter is coming over from Italy with her family, my grandmother is going to be 97 and it’s the perfect excuse to get everyone together and enjoy some family time. On family days like this we often play a few games and this year, I have a brand new game up my sleeve which I think is going to be an enormous hit…

Giant Pass The Pigs

Let me tell you more.

Paul introduced the game to me during our first Christmas together and I have been thrashing him playing the game ever since. It’s a really simple and fun idea; you hold two plastic pigs in your hands, shake and drop on the table. The two pigs can land in many different ways, razorback, trotter, snouter, even a leaning jowler and if both pigs land in the same position it’s likely to double your points! Take a look at the scores below for an idea.

Pass the pigs points

This version is perfect for playing at home, pulling out after a meal one evening. Christmas and family get togethers are always a great occasion to play and being in a handy case, they are great for taking on holiday too.

Back to the Giant Pass The Pigs, they are really cool, they are easy and quick to blow up – the twins did ours! They also have a string bag to keep them in once deflated along with the score pad, pencils and other bits and pieces that you need for the game.

We had our first game one weekend whilst staying at our caravan in Thanet, it was a really fun moment playing in the garden. Although Bessie’s face might not say it – I think she was concentrating on a win ;)

playing giant pass the pigs

 

This game can be played anywhere, indoors and outdoors, it’s easy enough to take to the park, beach or even on holiday as it packs away neatly and is quick to assemble. Like I said, it’s a family favourite.

Just look at them … they’re adorable, aren’t they?

Treat yourself to some family fun!

giant pass the pigs

Disclosure: Pass the Pigs and it is suitable for all ages, the younger players might need some help adding up the scores but that’s it. We were set a set of each game for the purpose of this review.

unicorn 3D puzzle Ravensburger

We haven’t done a puzzle in ages and it’s a task that once we start we really enjoy completing. I’d go as far to say puzzles are therapeutic and great for stilling the mind and creating at the same time.

Ravensburger continues to be a huge favourite of ours, we’ve been using them for years, and we have been asked to review some of their latest 3D puzzle range.

This will be a new challenge for the girls, working out how to make a 3D puzzle and the beauty of these jigsaws is that the finished puzzle is also a handy object that they can use and keep in their bedroom. No more breaking it up to put it back in the box!

There are many different kinds of 3D puzzles, the first that I ever saw were of buildings, like Big Ben which we gave as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago to my nephew, who loved it. The latest range of 3D puzzles includes unicorns, and we love unicorns in our house so we were delighted to take a look at them

3D puzzle Ravensburger

Discover unique puzzle fun in the third dimension with 3D Puzzles from Ravensburger! Thanks to ourEasy Click Technology, the plastic puzzle pieces fit together precisely. Create stunning 3D objects with individually shaped and bendable puzzle pieces – no glue required!

There are four products in the unicorn range, a vase, a vanity box, a jewellery tree and a pencil holder. The puzzles are different sizes and this may help you decide which one to get judging on the age of the child.

Unicorn Vase – It’s aimed at children 9+ but the twins, who are 8 can do this with a little help. There are 216 pieces in the box and the finished vase stands 24 cms high. There is also a water container to place inside so your vase can hold real flowers.

unicorn 3D puzzle Ravensburger

Unicorn Vanity Box – Also aimed at children 9+ and also has 216 pieces. The finished dimensions of the box are 23 x 16 x 13 cms (LxWxD) and there are some handy plastic containers that sit inside to hold the objects you wish to place in it. The box is perfect for hairbrushes, hair bands and paraphenalia, nail varnishes, make up and jewellery.

unicorn 3D puzzle Ravensburger

Unicorn jewellery Tree – The jewellery tree is aimed at children 8+ and contains 108 pieces. The finished product is a flat picture of the unicorn held in a pink and purple plastic stand with branches to the sides which can hold all manner of bracelets and necklaces, plus the tray at the bottom can hold hair grips and bows, rings or earrings.

3D puzzle verdict

I think they are really cool gifts, they will keep children occupied whilst they are constructing their toy and afterwards they are able to use the product in their room and be rewarded daily by their creative efforts.

This is a toy that challenges the brain, keeps children occupied and away from screens and also offers a purpose once completed. They are reasonably priced

One last mention, if unicorns aren’t your thing then you might like the owl range.

Disclosure: I was sent a selection of puzzles to review from the unicorn range, all opinions are my own.

Project Mc2 dolls

Being part of the Netflix #StreamTeam has meant we have discovered a whole new meaning to watching television. Each of us has our own area where we can find programmes suited to us individually, one of the twin’s favourites is Project Mc2.

In fact Project Mc2 is a huge hit amongst girls their age and also parents. When I was a kid I played for hours with a couple of Cindy dolls. I would change their clothes and role play with them. But dolls have come along way for today’s kids, we now have a group of geek chic fashion dolls to play with that not only allow girls to change their clothes but also encourage them to role play intelligent games, not just, ‘What shall I wear today?’ of ‘I’m going to a party, I need a new lipstick.’

The group of friends are McKeyla McAlister, Adrienne Attoms, Bryden Bandweth and Camryn Coyle and they are on a secret mission to make sure that tween girls (and boys) know that cool is smart and to love S.T.E.A.M subjects (that’s science, technology, engineering, art and maths). The new season launched over the summer on Netflix presents two new recruits, Devon D’Marco and Ember Evergreen and together the group of girls complete undercover missions, as part of secret organisation NOV8. Their missions uncover themes such as hacking, cyber bullying, anarchy and the threat of technology blackouts.

I love the underlying message of the show that allows girls to think they too can be super heroes and change the world.

We have been sent two dolls to review and as the girls opened the parcel you could hear shouts of glee as they discovered the contents. We were sent Adrienne and her bath fizz experiment and Ember who comes with a hanging garden to make.

Here’s a quick run down of each doll and the experiment they are presenting.

McKeyla’s Glitter Light Bulb
The show’s main character comes with her own glitter light bulb experiment – that shows how simple tap water can actually conduct electricity. Mix water and food colouring, add glitter and glycerine and watch as it really lights up!

Adrienne’s Bath Fizz
Culinary chemist Adrienne teaches children how to make their own bath bomb in this innovative kit. Using citric acid (because it is a solid) and baking soda – plus optional ingredients such as glitter, sprinkles and food colouring – in the mould provided. Guaranteed to make your bath more fun!

Project Mc2 dolls

Bryden’s Panda Speaker
Tech genius Bryden comes with a Panda speaker – you just have to complete the electrical circuit to make the music play. Feed an apple slice to the panda to play your favourite song!

Devon’s Puffy Paint
One of the new members, Devon teaches you how to mix household ingredients such as flour, water and salt to make ‘puffy paint.’ The salt forms crystals when the paint dries (to make it sparkly) and the process of the water evaporating makes it appear ‘puffy’.

Ember’s Garden
Learn about the science of gardening with Ember’s Terrarium (an aquarium for plants). Add rocks, soil and seeds to see the water cycle in action and learn why it is essential to plant life.

Project Mc2 dolls

Project Mc2 products

Another couple of products to keep in mind with the upcoming gift season that shan’t be mentioned yet –

Project Mc2 Ultimate Spy Bag (SRP £39.99)

The Ultimate Spy Bag – as worn by Adrienne Attoms in the show contains a forensic fingerprinting kit, an air blower disguised as a perfume bottle, a magnifying glass hidden in a make up compact, a torch hidden in a nail polish bottle, a secret message launcher disguised as a lipstick, test tubes and much more!

A.D.I.S.N – Advanced Digital Intelligence Spy Notebook (RRP £24.99).

Just like McKeyla McAlister become a secret agent with your own personal, digital notebook. With fun phrases directly from the character in the TV show, a booklet containing secret missions, hidden compartments and a special NeRDy bracelet. The Notebook also ties into the free app, Project Mc2 Case Files, for even more action.

Ultimate Lab Kit (RRP £49.99).

Conduct your experiments on the go with this ultimate lab kit! Unzip the “bag” to reveal over 30 pieces, including a real microscope, test tubes, lab flasks, safety goggles and more! Using household ingredients, you can perform over 15 experiments with this clever kit.

Play games and find out all the information at www.projectmc2.com

Disclosure: We were sent two dolls for the purpose of this post. all opinions are my own.

 

Disney Art Academy

 

Disney Art Academy

Our latest review for the Nintendo 3Ds is Disney Art Academy which is guided art lessons whilst drawing some of the most popular Disney characters. If your child has ever said, “I can’t draw’, then this one is for them as following the mini lessons using the stylus you quickly see your drawing of the Disney and Pixar characters come to life.

It’s also a fantastic game for children who can draw and want to improve their skills, even mums and dads can have a go!

Characters to choose from include Disney princesses, Mickey Mouse, Nemo and WALL-E, the twins particularly liked drawing Olaf, everyone’s favourite snowman.

When you first pick up the game the level of difficulty is simple, tracing lines and filling in with colours. as you go along you are taught about expressions and portraits. There are some excellent tips included for young artists, like where to place the eyebrows and how a slight angle to the mouth can change an entire facial expression showing the emotion of the character.

As you go through the lessons you are taught how to use layers, it’s a great base for future users of Photoshop!

The beauty is, when the kids are in bed you too can have a go and learn some great drawing techniques and as there are no user profiles you won’t be messing with their levels – just don’t save your work over theirs!

The more characters you complete, the more you find and the more you are enticed in to learn and develop your skills.

  • Playable on: Nintendo 3DS
  • PEGI: 3+

Perfect for rainy days over the holiday or for quiet moments.

Wii U Premium Pack and Mariokart

Wii U Mario Kart Premium Pack

A second fantastic addition to our Nintendo games this summer has been the Wii U Premium Pack. Straight out of the box, it is so simple to set up and connect to your Nintendo account that we were up and running right after breakfast.

Mario Kart 8 is pre installed and very simple to work the controls to discover where it is. One simple click and we were in.

Since then the girls have been playing daily, absolutely loving the race track, the music and the fun character Mario. Dad has to wait for the girls to go to bed to get a look in and can’t wait to tell them in the morning how he got on.

As part of the Nintendo UK Family Blogger Network, we look forward to bringing you news of lots more products both for the Nintendo 3Ds and the Wii U.

Disclosure: The above mentioned products were sent to us for the purpose of this post, we are part of the Nintendo UK Family Blogger Network.

Nintendo blogger