Child Friendly Days Out and Activity Gift Ideas

We all know the struggle to buy toys for a child when you don’t know what they have or what they would like some of the time. Have you ever thought about buying a gift with a difference? A day out? A family pass somewhere? Toy Infinity brings you my favourite South Wales child friendly days out and activity gift ideas.

Child Friendly Activity Gift Ideas

  • A cinema pass. You can buy a cinema pass from most leading Cinemas in Cardiff and South Wales. Load the card up and give the lucky child some cinema trips.
  • An activity through the letter box. Several companies have started producing activity boxes that get posted monthly. Find one you like or meets your budget – after all what child doesn’t like getting post?
  • National Geographic Kids is a magazine subscription service. 12 copies of the magazine are delivered though the year. Find more details here. An excellent educational idea for older children.
  • Tree Top Mini Golf at St David’s Centre Cardiff. A family of four can play for £26.50. Ticket prices are available here. You don’t need to book you can just turn up and play.

Child Friendly Days Out Gift Ideas

  • Techniquest. A children-orientated science and discovery centre in Cardiff Bay Techniquest is a must visit in my opinion. If you have a big budget you can buy a Friends of Techniquest annual pass for individuals or whole families. Details are here. If a day pass is your gift a family of five can visit for £25. The gift shop is great too.
  • Folly Farm. A bit further to travel depending on where you live, but Folly Farm is an excellent day out. Look out this year for your favourite Paw Patrol characters appearing on 16-17 April and 27-28 August. At £13.95 for an adult and £11.95 for over 3’s it is the higher price range for the gift days out.
  • Theatre trip. Take at look at the various theatres that Cardiff has to offer. The Sherman, New Theatre, the Millennium Centre. All of them put on high quality productions suitable for children. Prices vary so it is worth doing your research and do it early because quite often the shows do sell out.
  • The Doctor Who Experience. One for the older children probably! It is cheaper to buy tickets in advance details can be found here, but on the door it is £16 for adults, £9.75 for children over the age of 5.
  • Sport! Rugby and football are incredibly popular here in Wales and particularly Cardiff there are a number of sports teams to choose from. Support the Blues, the Bluebirds or the Devils (if you love ice hockey). If you love Premier League then you can visit Swansea at the Liberty Stadium, if you can get tickets! Nothing beats being in the crowd when Wales play in the Principality Stadium – the atmosphere is always incredible.
  • Dinosaur Park – Tenby. Another potential travel but another good day out. Ticket prices are here but if you live close enough to consider more than one visit they do a season ticket. This is on our visit list for this year when we take the caravan to West Wales for a trip.

So these are my suggestions for child friendly activity gift ideas and family days out to replace the usual toy or wrapped present. All of them are in South Wales so hopefully you will find something that appeals to your and your children. Have fun!

 

St Dwynwen’s Day or Welsh Valentines Day

St Dwynwyn’s Day

Today in Wales is St Dwynwen’s Day. St Dwynwen didn’t have much luck in love and instead became a nun to pray that others wouldn’t have the same misfortune as she did. I can’t see that reaction happening today. I’ll tell you the child friendly version that I tell my own two children about. One of 24(!!!) daughters of King Brychan Frycheiniog, Dwynwen was dead against her arranged marriage having fallen in love with a man named Maelon. When her father refused permission to marry Maelon Dwynwyn ran away. She met an angel in a dream, and the angel made her the Saint of Love.

Dwynwyn went to live in Anglesey, building her own church Llanddwyn, the remains of which you can still see today just off the coast of Anglesey.

So that is a nice bit of child-friendly Welsh folklore for you. St Dynwen is the patron saint for sick animals as well which I didn’t know until recently.

I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day with the husband so St Dynwen’s Day gets over-looked in our house as well. If you are more romantic than us January 25th is a good date for a romantic celebration.

Toy Infinity Is One Year Old!

Happy Birthday Toy Infinity

I can’t quite believe where one year has gone, but yes Toy Infinity is one year old! Over 125 posts have been published, and several You Tube videos with my son. The blog is on social media sites (with varying success).

I didn’t set myself any goals at the start of this journey. I needed a creative outlet and picked the subject that takes up a lot of my time at the moment: entertaining children. Why not try and get all the games and activities we do in one place? Even if only one person tries out an idea and gets twenty minutes of peace from it then I’ve done something right.

I have more of a plan for this next 12 months. Admittedly, I need one, with baby number three due fairly shortly if I don’t plan nothing will get done! By the end of 2017 Twitter will be in the magic four numbers by the end of 2017. I ignore Facebook largely because it is so hard to get coverage unless you pay for it.

I want to hit over 200 posts, I have a long list to write and schedule. So really I need to do it rather than just look at the list. It’s hard to change from an external procrastinator.

You Tube has been a bit neglected over the last few months. Endless after school activities and school stuff, I haven’t had a lot of one on one time with my son to do any videos. He has a list of Lego sets and Nintendo games he wants to do videos for. He is more organised than me! Hopefully we will get lots of them done.

So I’m going to wish myself a happy birthday and I might even treat myself to a piece of cake.

Candy Floss With The Pretty Pink Candy Floss Maker

The only good point of going to a fairground with the children is that I get to eat candy floss. Preferably a whole bag to myself, without sharing. Ignore the fact I might as well tip 1kg of sugar down my throat, it’s lovely stuff. My mother-in-law bought the children this pretty pink candy floss maker for Christmas. Brilliant was my first thought imagining massive sticks of fluffy sugary goodness. It is clever but it’s not brilliant. Purely because (unsurprisingly) one spoonful of sugar does not make a massive amount of candy floss.

Pretty Pink Candy Floss Maker

Firstly, you get the machine and a measuring spoon. You need to put the bowl together but after use it does fit back in the box still assembled, just separated from the heating unit. It runs on electricity, so no batteries are needed. The candy floss sugar got bought separately. Now this sugar is coloured and flavoured, but you could use regular sugar instead.

It is simple enough. You turn it on to heat up for a few minutes – keep children away from it, I burnt my hand on the heated spinning metal disc by mistake. Turn it off. Load it up with your spoonful of sugar and turn it back on and wait for the magic to happen.

Candy floss maker, baking, pretty pink candy floss

The first few goes give a disappointing amount of candy floss, as you have the machine on longer it does get better. We ended up with a lot of re-crystallised sugar (that you can see in the bottom of the bowl – it still tasted lovely!)

Here’s my problem with it. Cleaning it. Ever tried getting melted then cooled sugar off a metal disc before? It’s hard work. The plastic bowl is ok when you soak it but sugar is now welded to this metal centre. I’ve heated it back up but still got some residue.

The manufacturer’s age recommendation for the Pretty Pink Candy Floss Maker is age 14 and over. This makes total sense due to the heat involved.

So, What do we Reckon?

The Pretty Pink Candy Floss Maker is easy to put together and chunky enough I think it will be durable. It is simple enough that the children could do it, but the heat rules this out from my point of view. Ignoring the bright pink colour, boys and girls love candy floss.

You can buy candy floss sugar online we have these sugar flavours pink vanilla, blue raspberry and orange from Amazon UK. At £9.99 (plus £4 delivery) they are quite expensive (January 2017 price), ordinary sugar is more appealing from a cost point of view. We have tried adding food colouring to ordinary granulated sugar to get the same effect. I suppose you could add flavours too, but I didn’t have any in the house.

No sticks come with it so don’t forget to buy those too. We have these bamboo skewers which were less than £2 including delivery (January 2017 price).

Keep an eye out in the pound shops, candy floss makers are regularly found there. The Pretty Pink Candy Floss Maker is actually very expensive on Amazon, but Argos currently have it for £17.99 (January 2017).

This will get used, maybe not regularly but it is a good treat reward without visiting a shop. No home candy floss maker will ever replace my love of the fairground bags though!

My Favourite Places to Download Children’s Activity Sheets

The internet is a wonderful thing! If you have a printer at home, and a wifi connection there is a massive range of colouring and activity sheets available online if you don’t have anything to hand at home. A lot of them allow you to download for free for personal use. This blog is about my favourite websites that I have found to download interesting and fun activities; particularly for themed activities like Christmas. Some are free colouring pages, worksheets for kids but all are printable at home.

www.twinkl.co.uk

The Twinkl website gives education-inspired resources. Twinkle resources are free or you can subscribe from £2.50 a month as an individual for the full range. It is free to join as a parent, but not every activity is available to you, some do require the subscription, but there are still a lot of excellent ones available. Twinkl produce resources for teachers so you know that the educational quality is there.

https://www.activityvillage.co.uk

Not all of the activity sheets are free but there is a good selection of free ones offered and you can choose sheets based on your child’s educational year or ability. Activity Village produce a lot of creative activities for kids. I like the printables section. Particularly the Mother’s Day and Father’s Day printable rosettes – a lovely (and free) home made gift for a parent. A lot of sheets have been made members only so it takes some navigating to find what you want. Or you can become a member for £12 a year. Pretty good value if you intend using a lot of these ideas.

http://www.crayola.com/free-coloring-pages/

Some excellent colouring sheets and printable activities for kids here, including Disney. There is a search function as well so you can narrow it down to the themes your child is interested in. Some sheets are mosaic or puzzle/maze activities as well. We did this birthday party invite sheet one year for the family to come to a birthday party at home.

http://www.kidspuzzlesandgames.co.uk

I recently discovered this website. It has puzzles also aimed at older children. My 8 year old isn’t often that bothered on colouring but he loves these crosswords.

http://www.leapfrog.com/en-us/learning-path/printables

LeapFrog have some nice printable worksheets, with guidance on the key stage it is suitable for. They cover maths, science, english, problem solving – a whole range of activities and interests. Excellent for a rainy day when you can’t take them out to burn off energy so you try and get their brain working in the hope that will do it.

What do you think of these printable activity sheet suggestions?

I hope you like these suggestions of mine. I’ve used them all over the years to provide activities for my children. I print off loads to take away in the caravan because they are easily transportable and cheap! Unlike buying a regular puzzle or colouring book you can pick and choose your children’s favourites. How about printing some off for a party bag? Or even a party activity in the home? None of these websites are endorsing me or this blog I’ve written about them because I like them and the activity printables they produce.

If you have any favourite sites – mention them in the comments so that other parents can discover them for themselves.

Twin Mummy and Daddy

 

 

 

Wordsearch the Board Game: A Review

I love games that incorporate a bit of English language learning, without making it seem like learning and Wordsearch is a brilliant example of this. My son had this for Christmas from a good friend and it has been a massive hit in this house It has been played with almost daily after he received it. For such a simple idea you can have a lot of fun with it.

What is the Game Wordsearch?

You get 10 Wordsearch discs with different searches on both sides. Slot the disc into the console and you are ready to play. At first I missed the small cut out that shows you the word you are looking for. As you move this cut out round the Wordsearch disc moves around so everyone has a fair shot at having to read upside down. Unless of course, one of your children likes cheating, in which case they move around with it. It is simply first one to spot the word. When you do, you put your colour counter over the letters. If you spot another word that overlaps a found word then you can take over that counter space with your own colour. Whoever has the most counters at the end is the winner.

Can I just say I love the counters! They remind me of big coloured plastic contact lenses and they feel lovely to hold. I’ve not asked the rest of the family if they agree with me, in case they think I’m slightly mad.

Who Played?

We all did! The game is recommended for 1-4 players and the manufacturers age is 8 years and over. My son is a competent reader and could cope with trying to read upside down. However my 4 year old really enjoyed it. Sometimes she spotted the letter patterns first. She can only read a few three letter words and capital letters aren’t her strong point, but visual recognition is. We wrote the word out on a piece of paper in capitals and asked her to find it. I don’t like leaving one of them out of a game, and with a bit of help she felt involved. No help whatsoever could avoid the tantrums if one of her coloured counters got removed by someone else taking it over.

I looked it up on Amazon to put a link on this post but it’s really expensive! I’ve seen it in Tesco for £13 and most retailers in the run up for Christmas were selling it for around £13-£15.

Wordsearch is a game worth buying. There is a bit of competition about it (especially between my husband and I. I like to think I’m much better at English than he is so it was a matter of pride that I didn’t lose lol). It encourages reading (which is always a plus in my book) and it is a great family game. You can get expansion packs like this one from Amazon UK for £8.99 with 10 extra Wordseach discs, giving you 20 extra games. I have never seen the expansion packs in the shops but the Amazon price of £8.99 is cheaper than other online retailers I’ve looked at after a quick Google.

Toy Infinity loves this game. If I was to re-write my favourite board games blog post http://www.toyinfinity.co.uk/my-all-time-favourite-childrens-board-games-that-i-like-to-play/ Wordsearch would definitely feature on it.

Toy Infinity’s Winter Alphabet Scavenger Hunt Ideas

Even in Wales sometimes it isn’t always rainy during Winter and the cold blue sky days do guilt you into getting some fresh air. Now I can get my two outside hunting for Pokemon with no moaning but suggest a walk? It is like I have suggested I cut off their foot and use it for a hat. This Winter alphabet scavenger hunt helps to minimise moaning because I bill it as like Pokemon hunting with no phone or Pokemon. Appealing right? Otherwise known as give in Mum has told you we are going for a walk and you will enjoy it.

Scavenger hunt, children's activity, nature

Winter Alphabet Scavenger Hunt

The title says it all. Find something beginning with each letter of the alphabet. Some letters are obviously harder than others. Like z. Impossible, we cheat and add a silent z at the start of something inane like twig.

Winter does make it harder. There are minimal leaves and flowers around and most wildlife is hiding so it takes more concentration and observational skill to fill each letter.

No fancy equipment is needed, although if you have a handy clipboard that is useful. Take a pen and paper out or the notes app on your smartphone and enjoy some time together.

Further Ideas

Don’t think this is just a nature activity. Try it in a city centre or town. If you have a branch of Zara you’re laughing for z. There are just as many things to spot in the urban environment and let’s face it you may not have access to the countryside.

Your local park. Cardiff is blessed with a variety of parks and green spaces. Each has something different to offer. Try the parks in your area.

Use it all year round! This isn’t just a Winter idea. Do it in each season and then at the end of the year compare what you found each time. Is it the same?

A lifesaver activity for a child who gets bored quickly in the supermarket. Find a food or brand to fill each letter. You might end up taking longer to do your shopping if they take ages though.

So, this is my favourite activity at this time of year the Winter Alphabet Scavenger Hunt. If you try this out I hope you have fun!

Twin Mummy and Daddy
A Mum Track Mind

The Great Snow Debate

It happens every year at some point. Watch out a bucket load of snow is going to fall on your head from a great height. It will cause transport chaos, closing schools and meaning your children pelt you with snowballs they have compacted into ice.

Most years it is nothing more than headline grabbing but apparently at the end of this week, an Arctic blast from Eastern Europe will bring us snow. I can’t work out if I’m hopeful for snow or not.

I love snow when it is white and fluffy but after a few days it gets all grey and slushy and instead of trudging through it you are skidding down the pavement while trying to watch your language. If the school shuts then I know all I will hear is can we go sledging? Now I live at the top of a hill (fairly common in Wales), there are endless sledging possibilities. Except I’m 30 weeks pregnant. I really could do without breaking their hearts by saying no, or trudging up and down fields dragging a sledge behind me.

So if the weather Gods are listening, minimal snow. Enough to have fun on then have it disappear. If the garage Gods are listening (i.e. him indoors) for goodness sake leave the sledges near the front and not under the 10 years of accumulated crap they are hidden under now.

Does he thought of snow fill you with joy or dread?

Cinderella Lego Set 41055 Cinderella’s Romantic Castle Review

I think Lego is one of the best learning toys on the market and for Christmas my daughter was lucky enough to get this set. Although Cinderella Lego set 41055 has an age range of 6-12 on the box there is absolutely no reason why younger children can’t do it with a bit of help. As long as they no longer try and stuff everything in sight into their mouth that is! That is where her big brother and her parents come in to help with the correct placement of the bricks because her spatial awareness from diagram to 3D is still under development.

Lego castle, Lego princess, Lego 41055

 

This set has 646 pieces, so it’s not a build in a couple of hours set. It took us a week in short bursts to complete this set. The detail on Cinderella Lego set 41055 is really good with enough small features to make it a playable toy afterwards. You know what I mean sometimes you make a set and put it on the shelf to look at it. With this set she wanted to play with it.

Our favourite features were Lucifer the cat and Bruno the dog, who each had their own special Lego areas of the castle, including Lego bones. (I wonder how soon before the bones get lost!) Two Lego figures are included in this set; Prince Charming and Cinderella herself. My daughter loves making them dance on the turn table at the front of the castle.

Lego Cinderella castle, Cinderella Lego, Lego castle sets

One word of warning! The sticker sheets are loose make sure you search the box if you are going to throw it away.

Our Final Thoughts

A great detailed set. Although it was too hard to build on her own my four year old loves it. She isn’t interested in Duplo anymore and while she still loves Lego Juniors this was a brilliant introduction to her first proper Lego set. Toy Infinity highly recommends this one.

Princess Lego, Castle Lego, Cinderella Lego set

Cinderella castle toy, Cinderella castle, Lego 41055 price

Me, The Man & The Kids

Baby Born’s Big Sister Doll: A Review

We thought this was an apt ask for my little girl, she is due to become a big sister in 2 months. Baby Born’s big sister doll might encourage big sisterly thoughts? Might being the important word. So what do we think of this oversized doll?

It takes hours to cut it out of the packaging. Are all those bit of string necessary? There is nothing more frustrating than a small person dancing around your feet than to find you still can’t pull the toy out of the box because of another hidden tie.

Luckily, there aren’t too many small bits to lose, which is a bonus in our house, small parts nearly always enter the black hole never to be seen again. A hair brush, two bracelets (well to her highness they are bracelets), and a matching bracelet for you and your doll. The last one for my daughter is lost already. I am running a tab on how long she keeps both shoes though.

So What Does Toy Infinity Think?

Baby Born’s big sister is a nice sturdy, tall doll, with moving limbs. Most bizarrely moving knees which I’ve never seen in a doll before. She can stand unaided with her arms in a variety of positions. Her hair feels lovely. It won’t stay lovely for long after the amount of “hair styling” but with the cheat of watered down fabric conditioner I hope I can rescue it in the future.

The biggest downside is it is tricky to feed Baby Born’s big sister her water. My daughter gets frustrated because her hands aren’t quite strong enough to squeeze the bottle. I get frustrated with constant requests to feed her. She also can’t manage to squeeze her arm hard enough to make her cry. If I had realised this I wouldn’t have shown her because feeding requests are always followed with the words ‘make her cry Mum’.

This is a good doll for her to grow into and all that squeezing should strengthen her fingers lol. Baby Born’s big sister fits the outfits that Baby Born does so there is some element of dress-up with her and you don’t need to buy a whole lot of other clothes.

I like this doll. My daughter loves it. Her arrival has brought a whole new game to playing babies, with two children to look after. What I’m not so keen on is hearing my own phrases directed at Baby Born’s big sister who seems to be told quite often to sit still and stop moaning while she’s brushing her hair, stop hitting her brother and to pack it in. (That last one is pure 1980’s child rearing!)

Where to buy Baby Born’s Big Sister

Baby Born’s big sister usually retails for around £45, but you can find the odd bargain. The cheapest I can find at the moment is Smyth’s toy stores, where it is retailing for £39.99 (price correct on 5th January 2017 and is subject to change). It is a brand new release, so there probably isn’t much of a second hand market at the moment. That might change towards the end of the year.

The Tale of Mummyhood