Activity Boxes for the Older Children

I’ve always been a fan of subscription boxes whether they be for the kids or for me. I’ve tried so many of them and most of the favourites were activity boxes.

I try to get the kids interested in doing other stuff at the weekend rather than just sitting on their laptops or other electronics. The girls still like to play with their Littlest Pet Shop figures or Pokemon, and the Little Man likes his lego. But getting them interested in anything creative is really difficult. Boo doesn’t even like to bake cakes anymore *sob.*

Then the Little Man asked me if he could have another Weekend Box. I thought that he was maybe too old now as they are aimed at younger children, usually up to six years and the Little Man is now eight.

So I did some research and found a few boxes aimed at older kids which I’d like to share with you. We’ll be reviewing some of them in the future, so do watch out for that if you want to find out more.

The Weekend Box – STEM activities

The Little Man asked for a Weekend Box and he will get one. By revisiting their site I was thrilled that they now do STEM activity boxes for 7-12 year olds.

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, the things your child learns at school. So, not only are these boxes fun, they are educational.

Example boxes include catapult engineering, bug catching and natural disaster simulators. The weekend boxes are delivered once every 4 weeks.

You can get your first Weekend Box (either 3- 8 yrs or 7-12 yrs) for just £1 and then £8.95 per box afterwards with free P&P You can earn money for referring others and points for answering questions or doing quick reviews. The points can be used against paying for your boxes.

Our review of these boxes will be published soon and I’ll link it here.

KiwiCo

KiwiCo has subscription boxes from 0 to 14 years! The crates go up in levels of learning,

  • Tadpole – 0-36 months, explore and discover
  • Koala – 3-4 years, play and learn
  • Kiwi – 5-8 years, science, art and more
  • Atlas – 6-11 years, geography and culture
  • Tinker – 9-16+ years, science & engineering
  • Doodle – 14+ years, art and design
  • Eureka – 14-104 years, engineering and design

(nothing if you are over 105 though!)

There is plenty for all ages and especially my children, so we are really excited to be trying out these boxes very soon. You can read our review of the Atlas Crate here.

The prices vary on the boxes you choose, and whether you pay month by month, 6 or 12 monthly. The crates cost from £12.97 to £15.26 apart from the Eureka box which costs from £19.09 to £22.91 per month. Or why don’t you try a free box on me, you just have to pay shipping.

Mel Science

Mel Science is a fascinating chemistry subscription box aimed at ages 9-14 years.

When you subscribe you are sent a starter kit which will contain all the equipment you will need to for your monthly experiment kits. You are also sent either one or two experiment kits per month.

Just a few of the experiments include, Tin hedgehog, hot ice, martian rust, galaxy in a flask, starch penguin and many more.

The Starter kit is free when you subscribe and each kit is £29.90, you can cancel at any time.

We will be reviewing Mel Science soon, so please come back to read, I’ll post the link here when it’s ready.

Geo Journeys

These are fun subscription boxes aimed at children 4-10 years to explore Earth and beyond.

There are two types of subscriptions Geo journey to explore Earth and Space journey. When you sign up you get an explorer pack followed by monthly packages with further adventures and countries to explore. They are in line with Keys stages 1 & 2.

What’s in the explorer kit?
Suitcase – personalised letter – map – travel journal – passport – stickers – photos – activity booklet – travel ticket on a string.

What’s in the monthly packs?
Personalised fact filled letter – 2 photos – fact postcard – stickers – activity booklet – travel ticket on a string – a souvenir such as a boomerang from Australia.

You can pay for 6 months at £85, or 12 months from £155. Or you can pay monthly £25 for the first pack and then £12 per month.

Letterbox Lab

Letterbox Lab promise every you need to complete experiments all neatly fitted into a box that fits through your letterbox.

They come in two age groups, the Explore Box for children aged over six and the Investigate Box for children aged over eight.

As I am looking at boxes for older children then it’s the Investigate box that I’m most interested in. So what’s in the box?

  • 6 to 9 bigger and better experiments in every box
  • 24 page full colour, illustrated booklet
  • Series of 12 different science kits
  • “Level up” badge
  • Certificate and free gift in every thrid box

The Letterbox Investigate box costs £20.50 per box and £2 P&P

Mysteries in Time

Mysteries in time logo

Mysteries in Time is a history box aimed at kids aged 7-11 years. Aimed at teaching the kids history in a fun way, each box arrives in a cardboard time machine. There are two boxes to choose from a classic or bumper box. They both contain the same apart from the Bumper Box also including a craft and a history inspired gift.

The costs are £7.95 per month for the Classic Box and £12.95 for the Bumper Box. You can read a lovely review of this box over on The Reading Residence.

I hope you have found this list useful, please do come back to read my reviews.

Lucy At Home UK parenting blogger

Post Holiday Reflections

Devon

Each year we take a holiday with Haven simply because Star is happy to do so because it’s something she is used to. We can go to different camps, but they all have similarities which help Star. 

This year we went to South Devon, near Exmouth. We have been to this camp before but it was eight years ago. Star was four, Boo was two and the Little Man was a bump. We were so excited to go back as we had such lovely memories from there.

Relaxed

I would so love to live near the sea, it was visible from our caravan. I loved waking up, opening the curtains and seeing the wide blue ocean. I would watch the huge ships making their way to Plymouth harbour in the distance, and the little sailing boats bobbing along. 

The holiday camp had access to the beach, but unfortunately it was a very steep decline and I just couldn’t make it in my wheelchair. There was a cafe right on the cliff edge where I could grab a coffee and watch my family explore the rocks. I would have given anything to be able to join them, but it was enough to be able to relax and look out at the sea.

The Beach

Of course we did get to go to the beach at Exmouth which was only two miles away. I was able to get out of my wheelchair and sit on the steps with my feet on the sand. The tide was in and the water close. I know with help I could have walked to it and maybe have a paddle. But the water is cold and a sudden cold shock can make me ill. I didn’t want to take the risk, I was happy where I was, and the kids played on right in front of me.

We visited the beach a second time and found a place where I could drive my wheelchair down the ramp directly to the beach. I then got out and sat on a rock. I was really on the beach! And Boo was really buried in the sand!

a little girl buried in the sand on the beach while her brother digs more sand

Fun Activities

Each day we planned one activity and then just did whatever we felt afterwards. This meant we didn’t miss out on anything we wanted to do, but were not stuck to a particular routine. We spent a whole morning painting pottery, which was relaxing and fun. We had to wait two days to get our finished pieces but we were all happy with them.

four pottery figures, a mermaid, a cat, a fox, a poo emoji and an areoplane

We also went swimming, bowling and had a night out in the club where we saw an Abba tribute. We ate out a  lot but also cooked in the caravan, which had a full size oven and fridge freezer. 

We spent some time just chilling in the caravan, reading, watching television, playing games and the girls even baked cup cakes. It was fun and relaxing, and I loved that I could see the sea all the time.

We also spent a day at World of Country life which was so much fun and we’d definitely go again.

Holiday Success

Our holiday was just what we needed. The chance to chill out in a beautiful location. There was very little screen time and the kids played outside a lot. We managed to fit in a lot of fun things while still taking time to relax. We had no tantrums or meltdowns, no tears or fighting. There was the odd little moaning, but we are only human. I would definitely call it a holiday success. We didn’t even have any hassle on the journey which was amazing. We had our favourite songs on and sang along, to both old and new tunes. It was funny though, Boo asked Graham how far we had to go and he said, we are half way there now. Then the song ‘Living on a Prayer’ came on immediately afterwards and we were all singing ‘ooooh we’re half way there, oooooh Living on a Prayer.’ I did video it but I’ve promised not to share it, sorry. 

Home

Since getting home we have also been relaxed. There has been a ton of washing to do, but that’s normal anyway. We’ve not been out much and it’s been nice to continue chilling out, although, I do miss the sea views.

My word of the week this week covers last week too and it has to be ‘relaxed.’

Debs Random Writings
The Reading Residence

Let’s Make Comics – book review

Let’s Make comics by Jess Smart Smiley

Paperback: 96 pages
Age Range: 7 – 10 years
Publisher: Watson-Guptill Publications; Act edition (7 Aug. 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0399580727
ISBN-13: 978-0399580727
Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 0.8 x 27.9 cm

The Blurb

Create your very own Comics. 

Call them comics, comic books, cartoons, or even sequential art. No matter the name, comics are everywhere – from the books you read to the hilarious TV shows and action-packed movies you watch.

Cartoonist and comics-making instructor Jess Smart Smiley presents sixty-five hands-on activities, hosted by best friends Peanut (the turtle) and Bramble (the bear).

With each activity, you can complete a new comic, using a variety of key skills, such as writing, drawing, character design , and story telling. 

Jess Smart Smiley makes rad pictures with his bare hands and loves to crate stories for all ages, He lives in Utah, where he can be found drawing in his sketchbook, hosting a comic jam, or enjoying time with his family. Visit his website at www.jess-smiley.com

What’s the Book About?

This book claims to be aimed at 7-10 year olds but I think it would be fun for kids of all ages. There is so much to learn and do on every page. Forget loads of boring text, your lessons on how to make your own comic are mostly presented in comic format. There are other lessons which involve puzzles and learning to draw, but each is simple and fun. But just because you are having fun doesn’t mean that you are not learning skills and this book has a ton of them to learn. For example:

  • character design; facial expressions, body language, actions
  • drawing skills
  • formatting; the size and shape of your comic and how it impacts on your story
  • Idea-generating; come up with, build and follow through on your ideas
  • Inking; learning how to create easy-to-understand illustrations
  • Lettering; using style, placement and design to create visual word
  • Pacing; knowing when to ‘speed up’ or ‘slow down’ to help readers focus on the important aspects of your story
  • Storytelling; words, pictures, characters, tone and action work together to tell your story
  • Tone-Setting; Mood and environment creation
  • Visual Literacy; Good illustrations tell parts of the story that aren’t clear in the text.
  • Writing; how to create a good manuscript and dialogue.

Our Verdict

All three of my kids have found this book fun and useful. They are aged, 8, 11 and 13 years and all love drawing. The two eldest love making comics and already have many creations. This book has helped them to tone up on their skills, both in writing and drawing. The Little Man found the activities fun and hopefully will be writing his own comics soon. Now that he is home educated I may even have a ‘lesson’ based on comic making.

The lessons are well presented and funny and each page has something interactive so the learning never stops. Neither does the fun. 

Here is the introduction page, as you can see, it’s simple but instructive and you turn the page and get going straight away.

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of the book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post also contains an affiliate link. 

 

Laura's Lovely Blog

The World Of Country Life

We were on holiday last week and stayed at Devon Cliffs holiday park in Sandy Bay, Exmouth. We have been there before and had fond memories of The World of Country Life which is in walking distance from the holiday park.

Sunny Days

We were so lucky with the weather while we were away, but the forecast had been not so good for Wednesday, so this was the day we decided to go. If memory served us right, there was just as much to do under cover as there was outside.

As usual, the forecast was wrong and we had another sunny day. This meant lots of fun in the outdoor adventure park. The kids were enthralled with the all wooden combine harvester, which was a newer addition as we did not remember it before.

The Little Man Driving H4rry the Harvester

There is so much to see and do at The World of Country Life, I wouldn’t be able to fit it all in one blog post, but I’ll try and include some of the best bits for now.

A Trip Down Memory Lane.

There could be no other way to describe this than a trip down memory lane.

Memory Lane

You get to walk down a replica of a Victorian street, minus the cobblestones (which is a huge plus for wheelchairs and buggies.) They are not just shop fronts either, you can go inside and examine the historical exhibits. There is even a pub with a piano and bar games you can play. 

There is so much more in the exhibition centre, from old farm machinery, to fantastic old cars and even a couple of mini trains.

The Little Man would be a perfect driver for this train

I think you could spend a whole day just walking around the museum. I must have over a hundred photos from in here and I didn’t spend much time looking at the old cars, I left that to Graham.

The Animals

Well, you can’t have Country life without animals and this place has plenty. You can feed the goats and sheep in the field, they are happy to come for a feed and a stroke. You can’t feed the Donkey but he’s happy to come for a stroke over the fence. There are also ostriches strutting their stuff out in the field. 

Over in the Old Farmyard you can meet a mummy pig with her piglets which are just too cute, but my favourite was the two Alpacas, Sven and Olaf. I think I can guess where their names are from. 

More Animals

We were so lucky, we arrived at the goats just in time for their daily walk. It was hilarious, the kids were told to just follow the goats and not pull, but to let go of the lead if they ran off. We were lucky enough not to have any runners, but the kids had a real fun time walking their goats. Some were insistent on headbutting any other passing goat, and some were just too stubborn to move. I’ve got some videos to edit to show how much fun they were having. In the meantime here’s a photo.

Taking a goat for a walk

There were lots of Birds of Prey to see too. Each day they do a show but we didn’t catch it on our day. We also didn’t catch the ferret racing, but there is just so much to do, and we didn’t have time for everything.

The kids had so much fun walking the goats, we didn’t think that anything would top this. Then we went on the Deer Train. We had been on before on our last trip eight years ago, but I hadn’t remembered much about it. I think mostly because I was 6 months pregnant and not prepared to hand feed the animals, and the girls were a lot younger at the time, two and four years old. This is an amazing experience, but you need to be prepared to be hands on and not afraid of animals getting really close and personal. (oh, and to be prepared to get a bit messy too!)

The Deer Train

The train is open carts pulled by a tractor and everyone climbs aboard expectantly. The train then rumbles along and the driver, through speakers in each cart, tells you about the unusual sheep in the field. Then he tells you about the deer and llamas that you pass as the train goes around in a circle then stops. 

While circling the driver has thrown out feed for the animals and they come rushing over. Then the driver walks up and down the cart filling everyone’s hands with feed and the animals get right up close to fill their tummy’s. The deer are so beautiful and friendly and once they’ve moved on, the llamas come up for their turn. Finally it’s time for the babies to feed, there is a pecking order here. 

The cart was filled with squeals and laughter as the animals came up to feed. Hands and clothes got mucky and I remembered what I’d forgotten before. The girls had been terrified last time, and I couldn’t feed, so we’d huggled up in the middle of the cart to avoid them! This time though, was amazing. Even better than the goat walking!

More Fun

We had fond memories from our previous trip of the large pirate ship play area, which is indoors on a bed of sand, so great for any weather. The ship can keep kids playing for hours, there is so much to explore and once their imaginations get going you’ll find them role playing their own pirate adventures. Well, that’s what my kids did. I remembered joining in last time, holding my then two year old, Boo’s hand and helping her climb the decks and walk across the rope bridge. This time they didn’t need any hand holding and Graham and I enjoyed a nice cup of coffee while they played.

Ahoy! Me Hearties
It’s a Pirate Life for me!

A Great Day Out

The World of Country Life is really worth a visit, it’s a fabulous day out for the kids but there is loads for the adults to enjoy too. 

The kids (and Graham) also had fun on the air bouncer and the huge slides. There are also swings, roundabouts, trampolines, soft play centres, bouncy castles, sand pits and so much more.  

Accessibility is really good, I had no trouble at all in my wheelchair, although the battery was getting very low towards the end. Pushchairs would be no problem at all, and there are plenty of paths if the grass gets wet or muddy. I had to transfer from the wheelchair to go on the Deer Train but there is a sheltered area to leave wheelchairs and pushchairs. There are two steps up onto the train cart and the seats are wooden and hard inside. 

The pricing isn’t too bad either, it’s £55 for a family of five (£45 for four), which is great value. I checked my Kids Pass the day before and found out I could save on two of the kids tickets, a total of  £22.40! Once inside they have a few rides dotted around that will eat up your pound coins (conveniently we didn’t have any, but the kids were fine with that anyway.) We didn’t have food there but the coffee was reasonably priced, and you can always take a picnic, there are plenty of tables both inside and out you can use. We had to pay an extra £1.50 for the Deer Train, but you get the food included (Which is normally £1 a bag) It’s really worth it. 

Kids Pass

I saved over £22 on admission to The World of Country Life with my Kids Pass. You can save too on all sorts of attractions and eateries. You can try Kids Pass for yourself for just £1 for 40 days.*

Disclosure: I am a KidsPass Mumbassador. *If you don’t cancel your account at the end of your trial you will be charged the full membership.

Country Kids linky

The Pretender – A Fantastic New Fun Game for the Family

We love playing games and I love it when I get a new one to review. The Pretender is a new game from Gamely, we reviewed  another Gamely game back in April, you can see what we thought of Randomise.

The Pretender comes in a box, just a little bigger than a box of playing cards. It is indeed a card game, but it’s so much more. Here’s a brief description.

The Pretender is a hilarious social deduction game of mini-charades, bluffing and suspicion that will make you laugh and get you thinking creatively. Each round, every player has the same identity except for the Pretender.  The aim of the game for the other players is to discover who the Pretender is, while the Pretender must fake their way through the game, escaping detection and trying to work out what on earth everyone else is miming!

In The Box

Quite simply you get a number of cards and a small instruction sheet. Each card has two categories and you get six of each. Each category has 10 entries to choose from. However, one of the cards does not have any entries, it just says Pretender 10 times instead.

The cards are all you need to play the game, well, along with your imagination.

 

How To Play

The rules are pretty simple and the game can be played by most ages. However, it depends on the players how cleverly you play the game.

The game is for four to six players and if you have less than six you will need to take away the excess cards, but make sure the pretender card is still there. Then the cards are shuffled and randomly passed to each player. One of the two categories is chosen before play and then whoever is chosen to go first will pick an entry from that category.

The pretender will not know what has been chosen, apart from the category, so they will be playing blind.

Each player in turn then mimes the chosen entry and the Pretender has to try and guess what it is for their turn. Or just wing it. When everyone has had their turn they players then choose who they believe the Pretender to be by pointing to them.

If they guess right the Pretender has one last chance to turn it around by correctly guessing what the entry was.

Example

The category chosen is sea creatures, and the entry chosen octopus. Each player has to mime octopus and the Pretender has to guess that they are miming octopus and mime it themselves. Of course this becomes very difficult if the Pretender is going first. Their only hope then is to pick any sea creature to mime and get away with it.

The players are faced with the dilemma, do they mime it really good so that they don’t get chosen as the Pretender, but risk the Pretender guessing it easily. Or, do they mime it obscurely so that the Pretender doesn’t get it, but risk being pointed out as the Pretender.

Winning

The winner of the game is either the Pretender, who doesn’t get spotted, or knows the correct entry. Or the other players for guessing the Pretender correctly and the Pretender not knowing what the entry is.

Conclusion

It’s a simple game that is not so simple. The rules are easily picked up but the skill lies in how well you play it.

The recommended age is 12 years but we played with an 8 year old. He found it quite difficult at first, especially when he got the Pretender card, he gave the game away immediately by exclaiming ‘my card says nothing but pretender.’ He did actually get the hang of it though after a couple of rounds.

We love that this is a compact game which can be taken anywhere and it easy to pick up and start playing. You can also choose how long you play for. It takes around 15 minutes for one turn, and you can have as many, or as few, turns as you like. We find that it’s only fair that we all get a turn at choosing the item from the category.

How to Get Your Hands on a Pack

You can buy The Pretender on Amazon.

This is an affiliate link.

The pretender is from Gamely Games and you can find out about this and their other games by checking out their Twitter,  Instagram  and Facebook 

Other fun games from Gamely include Randomise and Soundiculous

Disclosure: We were sent this game for the purpose of this review, all thoughts and opinions are our own. This post contains an affiliate link to Amazon. This will not affect the cost to you if you choose to buy anything.

 

A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

Some people only write reviews when things go wrong with products, which is good because it lets people know that there could be potential problems. I’ve also seen negative feedback with say things like, I had to return this item because the colour did not suit me…is this useful?

I write reviews on most items I buy because I like to give genuine feedback. If I have a genuine problem with a product I will write my review in the appropriate place.

I write reviews on my blog too, but they are mostly positive. Why? Because I only write reviews for the things I’ve loved. If I don’t love them I let the person who sent me them know with details why and then let them decided if they would rather me write a negative review or not write one at all. It’s always the latter.

This is my blog, my place and I’ll let you know about the things I love. If you want to find out what other people have hated about the product then you will need to look elsewhere.

My reviews may all be positive, but they are still genuine.