Toys we play with including reviews

Educational Christmas gifts

Solar system LeapFrog

Solar System Adventure Pack – LeapReader

When is the right time to introduce children to the solar system? Never too young for LeapFrog who have put together a fantastic Solar System Adventure Pack. This pack is an introduction to our galaxy, a first lesson on the planets that make up our system, the moon phases and how stars form constellations in the sky.

The game using the LeapReader pen rockets you through solar system with over 40 family friendly activities. Explore an asteroid belt, discover what role the sun has in our seasons and travel to the moon.

For one of the most fascinating subjects that interest both adults and children I am truly impressed with this educational game. Not only does it allow the twins to play but they are learning whilst having fun. The game has prompted many questions and lots of conversation too. I think we may need to follow this review up with a trip to the Science Museum.

RRP £16.99

Gold Stars Factivity book – Journey around and inside your amazing body

Human Body Gold Stars book

We are fans of Gold Stars and had lots of fun over the summer doing our challenge books. Now gold Stars have brought out a new line of Factivity books. We’ve been sent a copy of the Journey around and inside your amazing body and I love it. Beautiful illustrations that are very clear and make the science even more interesting. There’s the perfect mix of educational content and integrated puzzles to keep little minds busy plus activities and experiments. The book has 123 pages of fun a glossary, an index and some answers too.

RRP £7.99

Ravensburger The Christmas Farm 1000 piece puzzle Limited Edition

The Christmas FArm Ravensburger puzzle

I love a good puzzle, I find it therapeutic and I’m happy to say the girls love puzzles too. They are great for this time of year as well when the weather is bad and the evenings are dark. This Limited Edition Ravensburger puzzle is entitled The Christmas Farm, perfect for this time of year. The image is similar to a vintage Christmas card with lots of detail in it. I think this would make a lovely gift for anyone 12+ younger children can help but not sure they’d be able to cope with this one.

Nano Blocks – Big Ben

Big Ben nano Blocks


Nano-blocks are micro-sized construction kits that create detailed replica models of some of the most famous landmarks and iconic objects. New to the range for Christmas is the legendary Titanic, whilst London’s Big Ben is a classic. These collectable three-dimensional puzzles will challenge the concentration and dexterity of children.

Big Ben RRP £14.99; Titanic RRP £59.99

BRIO classic pull along horse

BRIO pull along horse

BRIO, the household name of wooden toys has been celebrating it’s 130th anniversary this year and to mark the occasion, they have released a classic pull along horse, the first ever toy it produced. With its bright white flank, flowing golden tail, hardy red wheels and matching string, the Osby horse will bring hours of fun to its owner.

RRP £16.99

Lite Brix Sunset Island Mall

Lite Brix Sunset Island mall

Construction bricks have been around forever and children all over the world have enjoyed creating, building and playing with their own work.

I was really pleased to see the introduction of Lite Bricks on the toy scene at last year’s Toy Fair and we were recently asked to review the Lite Brix Sunset Island Mall.

Lite Brix Sunset Island Mall

It’s exactly the same as any other well known building game where the bricks of multi sizes fit to one another. The toy comes with the bricks and parts bagged up, but sadly not numbered so we had to open them all at the beginning of the game.

TOP TIP: Empty the bags onto a tray so it’s easy to put away if you have to stop mid-build.

There is an instruction booklet included and although the game states 6+ there was no way my two were going to be able to build this one without our help.

The small bits are fiddly for small hands and fingers and sometimes if the girls pushed down too hard they would break the construction. This meant that dad and I took it in turns to help them, asking them to put the bricks together and build where nothing would break but on the more delicate parts we took over so as to save tears and disappointment.

The game comes with a battery holder and the various lights which flash and change colour all plug into one another in a circuit and work off the battery.

Lite Brix Sunset Island Mall

It is a very good display and makes the game look really exciting.

It took a few hours to complete the building and the girls wanted to stick their own stickers on – which set my OCD off! But I managed to sit back and watch only (crying a little bit inside).

The game comes with a couple of girl figurines and this led to an afternoon play of shopping and visiting the coffee shop, buying clothes and watching the lights.

The game is delicate and on moving if you’re careful parts will break so best an adult takes care of repositioning after the game is over for the day.

I think the girls will go back again and again to play with this toy and they’ve been warned to turn the batteries off when not playing ;)

Verdict 7/10 Other construction games have a sturdier brick and fix together better then the Lite Brix

Disney Princess Palace Pets Royal Carriage & Fashion Tails Pet.

Disney Princess palace pets

If you have little ones who live in the world of the Disney Princess’s like I do you will have become aware of the Disney Princess Palace Pets. Each Disney princess now owns a pet and also a horse.

It all started a couple of months back when I saw the app and downloaded it on the iPad, the girls spent ages playing with the pets, washing them, combing them, making them look pretty and then taking photos of them, yes I found pages and pages of photos of the Disney Princess palace pets on my camera roll but it is a fun game for them to spend some time on now and again.

Over the summer we were invited to a Build a Bear birthday party and the latest rage was a Disney Princess Palace Pet, Alice came home with Beauty who is Aurora’s kitten and Bessie came home with Teacup who is Belle’s puppy. These pets fast became the girls number one friend.

More recently I was asked to review the Disney Princess Palace Pets Royal Carriage & Fashion Tails Pet.

Disney Princess Palace Pets Royal Carriage

The carriage has two seats and a table in the middle which comes with a teapot and cup. The package also comes with a Palace pet and includes some accessories like sunglasses and a sparkly cape.

RRP £17.99

Fashion Tails Pet

We were also sent a Fashion Tails pet which is one of the Disney Princess Palace Pets with an extra two tails in different colours and textures. They can be changed very easily and add to the fun as many a tail gets changed for various functions and activities. It also comes with a brush to eep the tails looking their best.

RRP £9.99

Aimed at girls aged 4+

Disney Princess Palace Pets


Our verdict

The girls loved them and the carriage gets brought out on all sorts of occasions and is even used by the princesses themselves. I caught Cinderella using it once. A great toy that has fuelled imaginations and given lots of fun.

Paul Lamond Toys: The Story Telling Game and Shop till you Drop

Paul Lamond have and excellent range of toys for all ages, they sent through a couple of ideas from their Children’s Games section to see how we got on with them.

The Story Telling Game 6+

The Story Telling Game

I love the idea of this game as for little ones putting the ideas buzzing around in their heads into a well thought out sentence is difficult at first. They know what they want to say but to start off with they intersperse with a lot of umms and ars and errs. This game is perfect for training their brains to think quickly so in the long term will help with their speech, their reading and their writing. It also encourages quick thinking as you are up against the clock.

Each player is dealt ten cards the others are placed face down in the centre. The first player winds up the timer and starts with ‘Once upon a time…’ the story can be about anything they like, fairy story, scary story. Before the time ends they must use one of the words on their cards, put down that card and shout ‘Next!’

The next player on the left takes over and continues the story including one of their words, plays the card and shouts ‘Next!’

Eventually one player is caught talking when the timer ends. That player has to pick up all the cards played plus an extra card from the discard pile.

The next round starts with the player who lost starting with ‘Twice upon a time…’

Verdict: 10/10 It takes a little time for little ones to get used to the idea but in time will become a really fun and imaginative game.

Shop ‘Til You Drop

Shop till you drop

I love this game, we had so much fun playing it. It’s about precision and care in placing objects in the shopping trolley very very carefully so encourages finer motor details in little hands that often may be clumsy.

You set the shopping trolley up in the centre and there are lots of blue and yellow objects to choose from to put inside. You throw the die and it will show yellow or blue with an arrow indicating IN or OUT. Other die options are skip a go. So you’re not only carefully popping objects into your trolley but also taking them out. Once the trolley has had enough it pops and everything bursts out onto the table.

Hours of fun, the first time we played it we had to have about

Verdict: 10/10 Lots of laughter

On review Nintendo 2DS – for Netmums

Nintendo 2DS

The first Nintendo to enter the house was in fact mine, I got it for Christmas from husband when the girls were about 6 months. It came with the game Brain Training and I whimsically could see myself playing a game or two whilst the girls slept. Needless to say I hardly ever used it as when I did sit down I was too exhausted. However once the girls came to console age, we invested in a Nintendo Peppa Pig game to see if they enjoyed it.

They LOVED it and it was the cause of many arguments and our first step into ‘sharing toys nicely’.

We bought a second one to avoid any disharmony and they played happily whilst we invested in new games every now and then.

Then Netmums asked us if we’d like to review the Nintendo 2DS….

The Nintendo 2DS arrived on our doorstep on the same Friday we were leaving for a weekend on the Costa Brava, I unpacked them and started charging straight away knowing they would come in very handy for the long airport transfers and as in-flight entertainment. Being used to the Nintendo DS Lite I noticed the console was now flat (as in it doesn’t fold and pack away) and the two screens are one above the other.

Netmums sent us pink consoles much to the delight of my very pink-loving twins and with them we were sent a few games, New Super Mario Bros 2, Pokemon Art Academy and Phonics fun with Biff, Chip and Kipper vol 3 here’s how we got on.

Nintendo 2DS console

Ours are pink but available in other colours, light and easy to handle for small hands. It slopes down from top to bottom and has two screens, the top one for playing the bottom one for interacting with the stylus. In addition to the YXAB buttons and the cross button there is also a ‘joystick’ button above the cross.

There is a sleep slider that allows you to not turn off completely but to save the battery whilst you eat, go out, do homework and so on and a volume control to turn down the music.

There is also a slot for an SD card and by holding the two buttons together  (L& R) at the top of the console the camera switches on and you can take photos which are recorded to the SD card.

Playing with the Nintendo 2DS

There is no learning here, the girls switched the devices on and they were off. They learnt very quickly to work their way around the various controls and once they got the hang of it they would spend huge amounts of time playing the various games.

Fortunately all the old games we have can be played on the new consoles too so they have enjoyed playing with some old favourites, even Peppa Pig got a look in.

Nintendo 2DS playing

Games on the console

Mii characters, Nintendo asked us to make a Mii character, I am happy to report the girls enjoyed this bit so much they made their entire class into Miis.


This is a game you can play with your Mii characters and the girls have had a lot of fun reading the speech between two characters and unlocking gifts which then are used in the game.

Super Mario Bros 2

They LOVED this game, I am always the one who has to walk over and say right swap with your sister now or that’s enough for today. It took them minutes to work it out and once they had mastered the game there was no stopping them. It is the game they run in from school and want to put on, it’s the game they wake up in the morning and want to play, which is great because after years I finally get to watch the news in the morning!

Phonics Fun with Biff, Chip and Kipper

It goes without saying that this game has been less played against the other two. It is also a game which requires a parent too which is often difficult as when they are playing I am usually doing something else, preparing breakfast, tea or other tasks. Another thing I have to say is when I do sit down with the girls it’s normally to do their school reading, Mathletics ( a computer aid for learning maths) and other school homework so finding time for Biff Chip and Kipper is a struggle especially when I’m up against Super Mario Bros. However this does look like a very helpful game to assist children to read and write with confidence. The age is 4 – 7 and this game would have been of enormous value in Reception year but now the girl’s reading is more advanced than the start of the game so they lose interest quickly. I have to see if there is a way of jumping directly to Level 5, 5M and 6 so they discover the books to read.

Pokemon Art Academy

Another super hit with the twins. A great game which basically teaches you to draw with step by step lessons as you ‘draw’ the various Pokemon characters. The girls can save their artwork and then use it in the Miiverse too. My next step will be to prove to them that they can draw using the same techniques on paper.

Nintendo eShop

Once you have set your Nintendo 2DS up to the home WiFi you can access the Nintendo eShop and download games directly which can be saved onto an SD card too.

We were sent a £10 code and asked to download a game. We went for The Legend of Zelda (£5.39) A search of objects and completion of challenges to help Link return home after he was shipwrecked. The longest bit of this process was me deciding which game to buy as we are new to this, once my mind had been made up it was a very swift process and I left the console to download for a few minutes, when I came back the new game was ready for playing.

Parental controls

These can be found in System settings (it took me a few goes to work that out;) and I have now set the controls that won’t allow the girls on to the nintendo eShop to buy what ever they want when they want. I’ve restricted friends through the internet and I’ve set a certificate of 7 years for them for downloads coming from Nintendo. There is a lower setting for Age 3 and I’m not sure if it’s a bit early for the 7, time will tell.

Activity log

Interesting. By checking in the activity log I can see how many steps each child has taken, how many titles have been played and click on a software library which tells me each game broken down into times played, for what amount of time and an average. This could come in very handy when you need to argue about screen time as the child can see exactly how much they’ve been using it.


I love the Nintendo 2DS and so do the girls. I like that they can use the old games we had on it and I like the way we can download other games from the internet very easily. My only downside and this is most likely to having younger players is looking for the stylus every time. As it cannot be attached to the console it often gets dropped on the floor or worse still forgotten and lost, under the sofa, in the bed, at the bottom of a bag.

This has been a review for Netmums, other bloggers are taking part and some are reviewing the Nintendo 3DS.

Actually Mummy has reviewed the Nintendo 3DS

Northern Mum has reviewed the Nintendo 3DS


I am a member of the Netmums Blogging Network, a unique community of parent bloggers from around the UK who have been handpicked by the Netmums team to review products and brands on their behalf. I may have been paid expenses, and have been supplied with a product sample for this review, but retain all editorial control. All my Netmums Reviews will display the Netmums logo within the post.

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