Toys we play with including reviews

Cool Bandz #toyreview

Cool Bandz

Cool Bandz is a crafting unit to make strip bracelets.

You take a strip of coloured paper and add stickers too it, coloured sticky gems and once you’re happy with the design you run it through the Cool Bandz ‘laminator’ (it uses sticky tape).

The Cool Bandz unit has a puncture device which allows you to make two holes in either end of your bracelet and then you can clip the two ends together with one of the plastic clips provided.

Cool Bandz bracelets

Cool Bandz is aimed at girls 6+ and as my two spend hours making things, sticking things and generally making a mess I mean having fun I thought this game would appeal to them.

It did but they struggled with the unit. The sticky tape doesn’t pull through evenly so they were making mistakes, getting frustrated and the paper bands were breaking when they tried to play by themselves.

We also discovered that some of the plastic clips wouldn’t clip together so they got thrown in the bin before we had even started.

Cool Bandz disater

It’s a shame as this is a good idea for little girls who love jewellery and creating pretty things but the sticky tape kept getting caught up, the bands were breaking as they were pulled through by six year olds and then the clips didn’t work so I’m afraid we have to say we didn’t get on with this game.

I thought this would be an excellent pastime for them over the holidays but I had to intervene way too many times as they were unable to do it successfully by themselves.

The game makes 24 bands but there aren’t many stickers or gems (10) included – after about 4 bracelets we had run out of stickers.

Disclosure: We were sent this game for the purpose of this review

Rio 2 review – Out now DVD and Blu-ray

 Rio 2

If there’s one thing we really love in this house it’s a bit or Rio and Rio 2 doesn’t fail to entertain. Out now on Digital HD  and on DVD and Blu-ray from Monday 4th August you can watch your copy over and over. Here take a look at the trailer and see how much fun is in store…

Blu, Jewel and the gang are growing tired of the magical city, Jewel decides it’s time the kids learnt to live their lives as real birds! The only way to do it, of course, is to move to the Amazon, but when Blu finds the change comes all too naturally, will he lose himself to a life in the wild?

The cast includes Bruno Mars, Kristin Chenoweth, Andy Garcia and of course Oscar nominee Jesse Eisenberg and Oscar winner Anne Hathaway.

For extra fun every Blu-ray and DVD comes with 15 exclusive levels of Angry Birds Rio and Music Machine Sing-Along and Dance-Along songs for the whole family.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment sent us a Digital HD copy to enjoy and we loved it. I know this one is going to get viewed again and again over the summer and beyond.


LeapPad 3 and LeapPad ULTRA XDi

leap pad 3

As a LeapFrog ambassador I get to find out all the latest that is happening at LeapFrog HQ and I have discovered that they are about to launch their brand new, sleeker, faster LeapPad3 and LeapPad Ultra XDi.

We are huge fans of the LeapPad in this house and were massively impressed with the LeapPad 2 we reviewed last year and have continued to enjoy since so we’re very excited about the latest models, here’s what 

LeapPad3 is the fastest, highest-performance five-inch tablet ever from LeapFrog. With kid-safe web, Wi-Fi and a new capacitive touchscreen, LeapPad3 is the perfect combination of performance, durability and safety. LeapPad3 has 4GB of memory – enough to store 20,000 photos – as well as two mega-pixel front and back cameras and video recorders, and a built-in lithium ion rechargeable battery so the exploration and creativity never ends.

The LeapPad Ultra was one of the must-have Christmas toys for kids among top retailers in 2013, we LOVE ours and I can promise you they are constantly in use. The LeapPad Ultra XDi is LeapFrog’s seven-inch Wi-Fi tablet.

Building on the success of the LeapPad Ultra the LeapPad Ultra XDi offers the ultimate in multimedia experience, a high-resolution touch screen, 8GB of memory (enough to store 40,000 photos) and access to hundreds of downloadable apps. LeapPad Ultra XDi also includes front and back mega-pixel cameras and video recorders, a rechargeable lithium ion battery and an on-board MP3 player so kids’ music is right at their fingertips.

Since pioneering the children’s tablet category in 2011, LeapFrog’s award-winning LeapPad tablets have received more than 40 accolades from parenting and industry organisations, and been recognised by retailers’ as a top must-have for Christmas. 

The Best Educational Content

LeapFrog’s Learning Library holds more than 700 games, apps, eBooks, videos, music and more all designed or approved by LeapFrog’s team of gaming and learning experts.LeapFrog is the only children’s tablet maker to employ a full-time in-house team of learning experts, all with PhDs in various specialties including education, child development and educational psychology. 

LeapFrog games draw from 2,600 skills across core subjects like reading, maths, science and creativity, and seamlessly blend LeapFrog’s comprehensive curriculum into age-appropriate gameplay and videos that keep children learning.

With LeapPad3 and LeapPad Ultra XDi, every child can learn and play in a way that is appropriate for them. Select games in the LeapFrogLearning Library personalise the learning to each child, automatically adjusting the level for just the right challenge.

Super Kid-Safe 

LeapPad3 and LeapPad Ultra XDi learning tablets have been designed specifically for kids. With built-in Wi-Fi and LeapSearch™, powered by Zui™, a kid-friendly web environment of videos, games and more that have been pre-screened by LeapFrog’s learning experts, parents can rest assured every web-based content experience is safe and age-appropriate. LeapSearch is an innovative browsing tool that allows kids, including those that are not yet reading, to explore web content in an easy and safe way by categorising content based on topics.

LeapPad tablets are also equipped with safe wireless peer-to-peer chat and gameplay. Children with LeapPad3 or LeapPad Ultra XDi tablets can play together using the included Pet Chat and Pet Pad Party apps, or extend the fun with multiplayer games such as LeapFrog Kart Racing, Roly Poly World, Arturo’s Bug Adventures and Go Gopher Go apps (sold separately).

Kid-Tough Design

Built kid-tough with special impact zones to insulate and protect the tablet, LeapPad3 and LeapPad Ultra XDi have been thoroughly drop tested, impact tested and compression tested in LeapFrog’s Quality Lab to ensure that it not only keeps functioning, but remains safe for a child as they play on their tablet. The shatter-safe screen prevents glass from coming loose and is sealed with a silicone gasket for extra energy absorption for worry-free fun at home or on the go.


LeapPad3 (RRP £89.99, for children 3-9 years old) will be available in green and pink and LeapPad Ultra XDi (RRP £119.99, for children 3-9 years old) will be available in green and pink online and at major UK retail locations on 28 July 2014.  

leap frog blogger panel

Chit chat: Sunshine, riding bikes and building Wendy houses

sloe gin

Who had the most fantastic weekend this last one? We did and I really hope you had a lot of fun too. I just love the Sloe gin that Gordon’s has made, have you tried it yet?

First things first, the British weather played ball and husband got his BBQ out TWICE! He was over the moon, a barbie and a beer and my man is the happiest soul on earth.

wendy house completed


Secondly, we got round to building the girls wendy house I mentioned in my Asda Direct post a short while ago and they LOVE it, we hadn’t got the roof on and they were already moving in.

mari and grandmother

Thirdly, we invited the Golden Oldies round to share our BBQ and we had a wonderful meal outside.

But our fun weekend doesn’t stop there, the girls finally at very long last have picked up how to ride a bike, at school they’ve been practising on balance bikes and gaining confidence. We have been asking if they’d like new bikes for their birthday in July and been met with tears and angry frustration, ‘But I can’t ride without my stabilisers!’ no manner of ‘We’ll help you-s’ went to aiding the situation and we had even started thinking of other presents and then school jumped in and did the ground work for us, it’s amazing how they’ll dig their heels in with us but go ahead quite happily with their teachers.

Anyway, very content with themselves, we had a practise run before turning the camera on and it went perfectly and then we went for a second take…oops!

I should have foreseen it shouldn’t I? Typical!

Anyway here’s my third attempt with Alice showing off her new skills – you can hear me saying ‘Watch where your going!’ this time too :)

I weeded my veggie plot and it’s now looking respectable again, I need to get my hands on some sawdust or make a quiche quick, crush the egg shells and use them to deter the slugs and snails from eating my baby vegetables!

vegetable plot 17 may 2014

So a quick run through of our building Wendy house task, we started on Saturday and had to dig up the uneven garden, lay a base – we used patio slabs on sand and here we put the base down to work on.

wendy house base

Second part was to start constructing the front panel, adding the door and windows and that took us to about 4pm on Saturday when we called it a day as we had family coming for a BBQ.

Sunday morning we were up and out by 9am, we wanted to get as much done as possible quickly so we could sit back and enjoy the gorgeous day, the next part is to put the back and sides on followed by the front, once this part was done the girls were LOVING it and already moving bits in whilst we carried on with the work

wendy house construction

The roof was next and by this time it was getting hot, I’d like to point out that no money was added to the swear box and the instructions were easy to follow too.

wendy house construction

The roof went on, the felt cladding went on, which is a dirty sticky job and then the last fascias and what nots to finish off the job. You’ll notice I haven’t added the panes to the windows yet, this is because I want to paint it first and don’t want to fiddle about with masking tape

wendy house twins

The girls are in their element, I do worry they may grow out of it quite quickly, so to make it more personal I’m going to put some pictures up on the wall they’ve brought home from school, add some books and toys in there and to start them off well, we all went in on Sunday evening and had a game of Uno, they thrashed us! I taught them far too well it would seem.

playing Uno

I’m taking part in Point and Shoot this week




Did you ever play that game in the playground in the olden days with a ball in a pair of tights, you’d stand against a wall and bang the ball from side to side whilst you sang a song, you’d lift a leg to the side and bang the ball in the middle and so on. Excellent fun. I spent hours playing this game.

Another playground favourite was the French Skipping, a very long piece of elastic was tied and two girls would stand inside with the elastic around their ankles, feet shoulder width apart, this lifted the elastic off the ground and stretched it so other girls would take turns jumping in and out of the elastic expertly crossing one side over the other and making all sorts of skips up as they sang along. Brilliant game.

Ot the hoop of wool or string held around the two hands a game called The Cat’s Cradle, hours and hours of fun we had playing this game but like all things in this world games have changed and TWISTER the famous floor game have come up with a great idea called TWISTER Rave SKIP-IT.

twister rave skip it

It’s aimed at children aged 7 – 12 but I loved the look of it and hoped that maybe the girls would get the hang of it so we could all play together.

Basically you have a hoop that goes around one ankle and then you swing it and hop over it each time it passes.

Now that may sound easy but it’s not, the first time I tried indoors I got all tangled up and couldn’t get the hang of it, perseverance is the name of the game and with a continued trial each day you’ll get you there. No I’m still not there yet either!

The cool bit about theTWISTER Rave SKIP-IT is it glows. There are four colours and as you skip they start to light up, once you get all four colours to light up you’ve made it – no I haven’t yet, I need to practise more.

The colours have 20 light patterns to work through but if you stop the Skip It resets.

Fun, a brilliant work out and a bit tricky for younger girls to get the hang of but I’m hoping this is going to become a top favourite over the summertime. In my opinion older girls than my 6 year old twins would get a lot of fun out of this game.