My mental arithmetic is terrible. I am really slow at working things out in my head. I suffer from the ‘I can’t do it’ as soon as I realise I have to do any kind of sum that doesn’t involve nice round numbers like 10’s and 5’s. So far I have managed to keep my inability to parrot off numbers quite hidden. Until this app came along.
Math Bingo Maths App Game by ABCya
Math Bingo is a fun maths app from ABCya.com. It follows the same principles as a good old game of bingo. Get your sum right and you get a bug. Get five bugs in a row and you get Bingo!
There are three options; easy, medium and hard. Your child can play whichever level is best suited to their ability, or if you’re my son just keep playing the easy level so you can feel good about getting most of them right.
The Math Bingo app also gives you the option of choosing what type of sum you want to do: add, subtract, multiply, divide or a random combination of all four in the mixed level. It has been a fantastic app for my 7 year old to practice his maths. He likes collecting the different bugs and if you tilt your iPad or phone or tap them they move about and make noises.
I’m not so keen on our family challenge. Me on hard level, him on whatever level he picks. Quickest time to finish all the questions wins. I have yet to win. Which is great for his confidence but not so great for reinforcing his impression that I’m the cleverest person in the world. This Maths app has helped to build on the work he has been doing in school, particularly with his times tables.
Each player can have their own profile, and each profile has a report card, like the example shown above. It’s good for looking at their progress and working out which type of sums they could benefit from doing more of.
iPad or tablet time gets a pretty bad press, and is often slated as lazy parenting; while it’s not a great idea to do 7 hours straight actually educational apps like this one are an excellent way of learning. Both my 7 year old and 4 year old find it easy to use (OK so my 4 year old randomly clicks the numbers until she gets a bug lol), it is bright and colourful and more importantly it makes maths entertaining and there is an instant reward to a right answer when the bug appears.
Math Bingo is suited for ages 4 and over, but aimed at children aged between 6 and 8. There is no in-app advertising, no in-app purchases and no social networking buttons, so your Facebook profile won’t be flooded with push notifications. It does need iOS version 4.3 or later. This educational app costs £2.29 from the App Store, or you can buy it as part of a larger bundle of educational apps ABCya Bingo Games for £4.99.
Toy Infinity really loves this app, it is well worth the £2.29 we spent on it. While my son will eventually grow out of collecting the bugs, the maths practice will always be useful. If you are looking for a Maths app this one is an excellent choice.
Sand pits are great fun and great places to learn about co-ordination and cause and effect. This blog post covers what we have in our sand pit, what we’d like in our sand pit and other good ideas. Some will be obvious, others hopefully not so. As always, Amazon affiliate links are provided so you can see my suggestions, use the links, or shop around. I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions, leave me a comment below.
Diggers and Dumpers
An absolute part of any sand pit. You can spend as much or as little as you want. They come in all shapes and sizes. I vote go plastic though so you aren’t risking rusty toys in your sandpit. The pound ships often have diggers for very little money.
Buckets and Spades
Obvious. Choose colours, shapes and characters your children like best. Rakes, spades and sieves are all good fun. You can pick these up anywhere now the summer months are here. I tend to go cheap and get a couple. Not only to sort out arguments over sharing, but to give a bit of variety, in the sand pit and the seaside.
Alphabet Sand Moulds
A great letter learning tool and another fun way to keep exposing your child to letters. Make words, or just have fun making random letters. Find the letter moulds here. And if you fancy a challenge, you can feel a bit rebellious by moulding swear words and getting rid of them before the kids see.
Sand Pit Cooking Set
Melissa and Doug do some really sweet sand play baking toys. Sculpt sand cookies, cupcakes and ice creams with these sand moulds and sand baking sets. I love these, they make a change to boring sand castles and bring an element of role play into the outside. Set up shop as a sand baker and sell your wares to the nearest person. Pebbles make good money.
Turn on their imagination with this fab T-Rex sand mould set. 10 skeleton pieces measuring 35″ when the parts are assembled. It is a great idea! Find it here. I’m definitely getting one of these.
Now this one is dangerous because it encourages taking the sand and dumping it in parts of the garden you don’t want it, or even worse the house! But my two would spend hours wheeling stuff around so I’m putting it in anyway. And you can encourage child labour when you’re gardening by getting them to wheel the weeds to the green bin.
Sand Pit Digger
If your sand pit is big enough these are brilliant. We bought one years ago and it’s one of the most played with sand pit toys. You can use it out of the sand pit too, with anything that you might dig in! Ours is similar to the one in the link and quite heavy so it can’t be dragged around the garden easily.
Cars and Trucks
I put a few of the more bashed up cars in the sand pit. Don’t put your best ones in the sand gets everywhere in them and might clog up the wheels etc.
There are lots of things you can use that you don’t have to buy. Washed out ice cream tubs and plastic containers make great buckets of different shapes and sizes.want a tall tower? Cut a 2L pop bottle in half smoothing the edges so they won’t cut your child and there you have the perfect sand mould for Rapunzel’s tower.
Shells, twigs, leaves, flowers, pebbles. Everything you find in the great wide world can be used in sand pit play. Hide them and pretend you’re discovering dinosaur bones.
Old baking moulds you can’t use anymore? Chuck them in the sand pit. Don’t forget to bring them in so they don’t rust in the rain. Old spoons, old plastic cutlery, even an old fish slice make great tools. Old jugs make fun work of measuring sand and if it’s really dry are great for making sand flow out and onto or into other things. Ask friends and family if you have none you are getting rid of, someone is always replacing things like that.
Don’t forget cats like sand pits too! Cover it over so you don’t uncover an unexpected and rather messy new toy. I hope the sun shines on us long enough to get out in the sand and play!
Not for yourself! I’d hope you were old enough to know what you’d like to do on a plane but for your children. Last year we took our first long-haul flight to Orlando. First time on a plane with two kids and first time on a plane for them. I looked at Trunki and other posh kids suitcases, and opted for a cheaper one with wheels from Sports Direct. Had to be Disney going to Disney! First mistake. It broke on the way out: somewhere in Heathrow airport is a tiny screw that held the handle on.
Now this blog is going to concentrate on my 3 year old. It was her I was concerned about being disruptive and getting bored easily. What lightweight, easy to transport and fun activities could I take for her? What toys are good on planes?
Colouring: obvious and relatively lightweight. Pick a small enough book to fit in your hand luggage easily, pack some crayons and off you go. It didn’t get used. There was no interest in colouring.
Play Doh: I have lost count of the horrified faces of people when I said I took Play Doh in my hand luggage, only a small pot and some shape cutters. I must admit I had some last minute worries about being pulled aside and questioned. I put it in the clear bag you put your liquid in. Nobody was concerned. Waste of time. I forgot how messy it was. In the end I hid it in my own hand luggage to stop her playing with it.
Books: Mr Men books are the ideal size to travel with. We took a couple in each carry on. Best thing I packed! Perfect for distracting the 3 year old with at take off. Big hit. Books are a definite for next time.
Surprise bags: You will have seen them in the pound shop for £2-3. They are usually aimed at boys or girls. One each to stop arguments. They were fairly successful; not that they ever contain much to hold a child’s attention, but they were new enough to be fairly exciting. I’d take them again.
Top Trumps: Now these are for older children primarily and they also need some input from yourself. However, my daughter had a Ben and Holly set for her birthday aimed at pre-school children. Excellent. Well worth packing, they are small and the games last.
Character toys: We took the smallest Doc McStuffins and the stuff that comes with her. Kind of useful, kind of embarrassing having a 3 year old insisting you do the stupid voices you usually do at home.
Disney travel agents brochure: only a small thing, not the huge book with every hotel under the sun. Something to get them thinking of the holiday and what they would like to do. A huge success. And they remembered things they would like to do in the parks as well.
So if you’ve been searching google for ideas on what to take on a plane and stumble across my blog, I hope these help. To be honest we flew Virgin and the in-flight entertainment was so good they didn’t look at anything in their bags really. The internal flights the packed activities were more useful for, the flights were shorter and had no kind of entertainment at all, apart from asking stupid questions about the passengers sat around us much to my shame.
Good luck on your journey! Oh and if you are flying from Heathrow terminal three. Find the family room with a small soft play area and let them rage around it before your flight. Our journey outbound was much less stressful because they had burnt off a lot of energy.
Party bags. Most party organisers hate them. It’s a pain to put them together, it’s a pain to put decent things in them without spending a fortune. Let Toy Infinity help you! Here I have scoured Amazon party bag gift ideas that work out less than 20p each.
24 sea life creatures. Soak them in water and watch them grow in size. £2.85 (with free postage) which makes them 11p each.
50 bouncy balls. £4.24 (price includes 99p delivery cost). 8p each! Cheaper than anything I have seen in the supermarkets.
I hope I’ve given you some ideas here. Obviously your total outlay depends on the number of party bags you are making, some of them come in sets of 10 or 20 that would need more than one set purchasing for a typical whole class party. If you put one of each of my 10 suggestions in a party bag it would cost £1.17 per bag.
Look out for my future blogs on themed party bag gifts and ideas.
I can’t wait to see this film, I’ve seen the advert loads of times and finally next week we’re going to see it (keep an eye out for the review). Every film comes with a host of official merchandise and toys aimed at children, but these Beanie Babies by Ty have to be the cutest ones I have ever seen.
Suitable for ages 3 and over, you can collect the main characters Chloe, Buddy, Snowball, Gidget, Duke, Max and Mel. As always you can either buy them singly or buy the full set.
If you have never heard of Beanie Babies,they used to be the children’s soft toy equivalents of collectors items. There are special editions, film editions, super special rare ones and normal Beanie Babies. They are different to other soft toys in that they are stuffed with plastic beans, rather than soft stuffing, which makes them more poseable and gives them a different feel.
If you like these Beanie Babies the good news is Ty have produced other licensed Beanie Babies featuring characters from Doc McStuffins, Shrek and Ice Age to mention just a couple.
These are good quality soft toys, and often stocked in the high street toy stores, as well as online. If you know a massive fan of Secret a life of Pets one of these would make a lovely birthday gift or pocket money treat.
On the face of it St Fagan’s might not be your first choice of place to take your children, but I hope to convince you that it is a fabulous place for children of all ages.
The Museum of Welsh Life is full of old buildings reconstructed as they would have been originally from all over Wales. It is worth saying now that the buildings aren’t pram friendly and you can’t take them inside so if you’re going with a young baby it is worth bearing this in mind.
So here are my favourite things about St Fagan’s.
The animals. Not quite as fun now the building work has started and you can’t get to the farm but there are still pigs, cows and sheep dotted about in the small fields.
The greenery. It is a lovely walk around the site, even if you don’t go into the buildings, and it’s safe. Keep an eye out for the building work traffic at some points, and the tractor ride lol.
The newts. A good activity is heading to the Tannery with its outdoor water pits and spotting the newts. To give you an idea in six years of going to St Fagans every couple of months I have seen a newt once. My daughter thinks she’s trying to spot something the size of the model on display. Thankfully she’s not lol.
The bakery. Lovely cakes and bread freshly baked everyday. Well worth taking a few pounds just for this shop.
The new tractor park. The first in a series of new projects at St Fagan’s the tractor park was a massive hit. There isn’t much there; a tractor shaped climbing frame with slide and some peddle tractors with a track to ride them on, but the big mound in the middle was the most popular part!
The tractor ride. This only runs at weekends and certain times of the year and you can ride it around the site for a small charge. Kids love it.
The main house. Take the path to the right as you go in through the entrance to get to the main house and it’s beautiful gardens. This is the best spot for a picnic.
If you are local to Cardiff and likely to go more than once it’s worth buying an annual parking pass for £25 (price correct June 2016). Although entrance to St Fagan’s is free, it costs £5 to park for the day.
This has been one of my favourite spots to bring my two children. It’s safe, has friendly staff, it’s getting outside in the fresh air and you can do something different every time. It is definitely on my list of must see places to go to in Cardiff.
Are you looking for a present for a child or gift idea for a Secret Life of Pets fan? These are my top picks for small gifts under £10 as stand alone small treats or additions to a larger gift. Amazon affiliate links are provided. All prices are correct at time of this blog post but might be subject to change, but as always shop around!
Secret Life of Pets sticker book with 1,000 stickers. After all every child loves stickers. Available at Amazon for £3.99.
A PVC pencil case. Fill it with pens and craft treats for a cool present. Priced from £1.50.
Secret Life of Pets carry along colouring set. This would go great with the pencil case. Available from £2.55.
The Secret Life of Pets original soundtrack, released 1st July 2016. £7.99 Pre-order now for delivery after release.
Secret Life of Pets junior novel. Your child can read a full re-telling of the story. Paperback is available for £5.99.
Microwaveable child’s melamine mug, £3.99 with free delivery.
Ravensburger Secret Life of Pets mini memory game £7.44.
Like most Play Doh sets the barbecue set is bright, colourful and full of different shapes to make and create. It centres around the barbecue that comes in three parts that need putting together.
Now I don’t know if this happens in your house but we try and make our Play Doh creations using every colour, trying to be realistic, like the box shows. The only thing that does happen (that the box doesn’t show) is we end up with a big brown ball of Play Doh at the end. Try explaining to a 4 year old it’s too late to separate the colours once you’ve squashed them all together.
You get five tubs of Play-Doh (much admiration to you if you keep them separate lol), themed ingredient moulds, a large steak and drumstick mould, extruders, utensils for cutting and a plastic burger and hotdog bun.
This is an excellent set, we tend to use this set and the breakfast cafe to make our own Play-Doh game of cafes. The extruders can be a bit stiff, but then this is good for strengthening little fingers ready for school. The plastic burger buns also contain moulds to make ingredients, I didn’t notice them for a while. The kebab skewer that fixes on the top has been a pretty pointless addition in this house. It has never been used properly, it is pretty much for threatening anyone who attempts to interfere with her Play-Doh set.
The extruders on the side is impossible to get all the old Play-Doh out as you can see in the photograph. This is a minor gripe of mine, my kids don’t care about that at all.
I love this. Play-Doh is fun. It smells nice. It’s sturdy and the toys are good quality. I always choose Play-Doh over the cheaper brands. The Play-Doh doesn’t dry out as quickly and it stays much more malleable than the pound shop versions.
It is one of the more expensive sets (it was about £27 in Toys R Us), we bought it as part of a 3 for 2 offer and kept two hidden for birthday and Christmas, but the amount it has been played with makes it good value for money for me. The box is quite large though so it is a pain trying to fit it in the small craft cupboard in the kitchen with everything else.
I’ve got more Play-Doh toys to review on Toy Infinity, and hopefully some video reviews will be coming soon as well.