Our Jacky Ha-Ha Girls Book Club

Jacky Ha-Ha by James Patterson a top selling author, is a perfect read for girls age 9+.  Packed full of fun and jokes as it follows Jacky Ha-Ha’s day to day life in which she can’t help cracking jokes and seeing the funny side in everything.  She turns any dull moment into a laugh sometimes without thinking it through but is this just a cover for the emotions she is feeling inside?  We were sent a bundle of books and goodies to hold a girls book club at home and my 9yr old Miss M was excited to invite a group of her school friends round.

“With her irresistible urge to tell a joke in every situation – even when she really, really shouldn’t – twelve-year-old Jacky Ha-Ha loves to make people laugh. And cracking wise helps distract her from thinking about not-so-funny things in her life, like her mum serving in a dangerous, faraway war, and a dad who’s hardly ever home.
But no matter how much fun Jacky has, she can’t seem to escape her worries. So one starlit night, she makes a promise to keep her family together… even if she has to give up the one thing that makes her happy. But can she stop being Jacky Ha-Ha, if that’s who she really is?”

The girls all arrived rather excitedly and couldn’t wait to share their thoughts on the book.  They were all enjoying what they had read so we started off by having a little chat, talking about some questions from the prompt sheet I had been sent such as:

  • How did Jacky get her nickname?
  • What are some of your talents?
  • Have you ever stuck up for a friend in the way Jacky sticks up for Meredith?

It was lovely hearing the girls chat and discuss things that we wouldn’t have otherwise and they all seemed to have fun, being inspired by what others said which led them to think of other things to say.  It certainly seems to help reiterate the story line of the book and got the girls to think about parts of their life they may not have otherwise.  They also recalled funny bits they remembered which set them all off in giggles!

Although the book is quite lengthy, it is broken up with black and white images on most pages which the girls enjoyed and helped maintain their interest whilst reading.  Ideal for girls from 9 to 12 years old it is a busy story line but one with meaning and depth behind it.

Once the discussions were over it was time for some fun.  The girls happily did their word searches and coloured the props for the Jacky Ha-Ha photo booth, whilst sucking lollipops and enjoying a refreshing glass of lemonade.

The photo booth was a huge success and they posed in various ways whilst giggling together.

We really enjoyed the Jacky Ha-Ha book club and would definitely like to hold another in the future.  The girls weren’t sure what to expect at first but found it fun and loved that they were all reading the same book.  It certainly helped the girls bond and reinforced their love of reading!

I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity. [I have received a voucher in return for writing this post]

Bunchems! 3D Creations Fun for Kids

Bunchems! from Spin Master are clever little colourful balls that stick together and can be built up to create 3D structures simply and easily.  Just as quick you have built one, you can also pull it apart and rebuild into something totally different.  My children have been eyeing this up over the last few months so I knew they’d be eager to try them out and have fun seeing if they were as good as they thought from the adverts!

We received a Mega Pack and Under the Sea glow in the dark pack of Bunchems! to try out.  Within these sets there are plenty of coloured pieces to start playing with a long with what I thought was a good selection and variety of accessories which can be stuck onto your creations to add personality and bring them alive.

My 6yr old who has been eager to try these for a while, got stuck straight in and was building things all by himself.  I was really impressed at how easy and quick they are to build and certainly kept both him and his 9yr old entertained all afternoon.  The circle pieces have tiny hooks on the end of the spikes which simply hook together as you push them close.  There are also small holes in one side which the accessories attach to.

Within just a few minutes my little boy had recreated this rather cute bird that he saw on the front of the box.  He was very proud of it and I was amazed he made it so quickly and independently.

Before long I was being shown lots of wonderful creations – they all look fabulous!

I think Bunchems! are great and perfect for a range of ages although I’d say my 6yr old enjoyed them the most.  They are non messy and great to do on a table or tray and can just be stored in a box when play has finished (we found a lidded plastic box perfect).  For a different way to craft, create and have fun, then Bunchems! are a great toy to try out.

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the product in order to write an honest review.

Wild! Science Cake Soap Factory

With British Science Week upon us, the sets from Wild! Science are perfect for children to experiment with various things and come up with some fun creations.  We’ve been trying out the Wild! Science Cake Soap Factory and I’m amazed at some of the fun edible looking soaps Miss M has come up with. If you do try out one of the Wild! Science kits then be sure to keep your receipt as there is a chance to win a fabulous competition to Orlando Florida!

The set includes everything you need to make the soaps from transparent soap blocks, pigment soap blocks, colours, stirring sticks, glitter, 2 plastic measuring beakers, piping bag & nozzles and of course a cake shaped mould tray.

9yr old Miss M was eager to get started and we found the instructions simple to follow and carry out.  You simply put various amounts of blocks of glycerine soap and pigment into a beaker and melt it in the microwave.  Once in liquid form you can add drops of colouring and stir in, then before it turns to a solid again, quickly pour it into the moulds to set.  We repeated this process several times making different colours and multiple cake pieces.

Miss M’s favourite part was whisking up some water with liquid soap to form a foamy soap which can be piped between or on top of cakes to represent cream.  This was great fun but you have to work quickly before it sets.

Aren’t the finished soaps beautiful?  In fact we think they look good enough to eat although of course they won’t be very tasty!

The Wild! Science Cake Soap Factory is a fantastic educational set in which you can experiment with liquids and solids.  It is fun to use and has been thoroughly enjoyed by my 9yr old who can’t wait to use her new soaps in the bath and shower.

It’s well worth getting a Wild! Science play set at the moment as they have an amazing competition running at the moment.  The Wild! Science Global Challenge is giving families (2 adults and 2 children) a chance to win:

  • A trip to Orlando Florida
  • Entry to Disney World
  • Accomodation to a 5 star resort for 7 days
  • Car hire for 7 days
  • A full set of Wild! Science products
  • Entry to the Kennedy Space Centre to meet a real astronaut

How to enter:

  1. Buy a Wild! Science Kit and send a receipt copy with your online application
  2. Design and create an awesome new Wild! Science Kit
  3. Write and illustrate a basic instruction book to show other kids how to use your awesome Wild! Science Kit

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the product in order to write an honest review.

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Hot Wires Plug & Play Electronics Set

With British Science Week upon us, John Adam’s Hot Wires Plug & Play Electronics Set is the perfect toy to generate interest in electronics and circuits for children.  Miss M age 9 was very excited to try this out as apparently has recently done a similar experiment at school with some wires and a light bulb so she was eager to get started and see what she could create.

The kit contains everything you need to make over 100 experiments along with a full colour instruction booklet that sets out each one clearly.  The connector parts are numbered for ease of use and there are many parts such as lightbulbs, speaker, finger sensor, buzzer, switch, LED lights… the list goes on to the extent that once you get the hang of it you can come up with your own creations.

Miss M didn’t waste any time and was straight in the box, creating before I even got a look in and the next thing I knew, she had an invention ready to show me – it’s that simple!

Miss M and her brother had created some sound effects and thought they were hilarious as I don’t think they were expecting to be able to make multiple sounds from what they saw in the box!  After calming them down, I managed to record this brief clip of the sounds effects in action:

Next up they decided to make a doorbell.  With it having been my birthday the day before they couldn’t believe it when they pressed the finished doorbell, and the tune was that of ‘Happy Birthday’ which none of us were expecting and it was a pleasant surprise.

Overall we absolutely love this Hot Wires set, it’s safe, it’s simple to use and the possibilities are endless.  Miss M can use it independently and create some amazing things that both children enjoy looking at and playing with.  She’s managed to expand some sets with further pieces to change the pitch of the sound that she made.  This really is good to get children thinking, learning and experimenting with electrics in a safe and educational way.

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the product in order to write an honest review.

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Kion Lionguard Talking Plush Toy

The Lion Guard from Disney Junior has been a huge success both in the programme and toy ranges.  Being a spin off from the original The Lion King, it’s sure to appeal to little ones and something us adults can look back on fondly and share with our children as well as enjoy the new Lion Guard series. The new range of talking plush toys are fabulous for little ones and come in either Kion the lion or his best friend Bunga the badger.  We received Kion to try out  from Flair toys and he certainly didn’t disappoint!

Each character is approximately 30cm in size, made to an exceptionally high standard and looks great in both detail and stature.  Being high quality means this little lion plush can not only stand on it’s own four legs but can also sit down on his hind legs independently looking really cute.  A key feature on each character is the ‘Mark of the Guard’ badge on one of their fore legs which lights up as it is pressed.  Each time you press the badge you’ll here one of four unique phrases and sounds.

So what did we think of the Kion plush toy?

The Kion plush from The Lion Guard is utterly adorable and hasn’t left my little boys arms since he received it.  It goes to bed with him every night and he plays with it by day.  It’s a great size, we love it’s quality and it’s a toy I’d definitely recommend to any young The Lion Guard fans.  The detail on the face is perfect and realistic, it has a mouth that is open ready to roar and the whole body is super soft and perfect for cuddles.

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the product in order to write an honest review.

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Time Bomb Today’s Special Value on QVC

Check out QVC Sunday 12th March 2017 to get an amazing deal on Time Bomb.  The Today’s Special Value offer is selling for an amazing £46 for products that would cost £220 if purchased individually.

The ‘Big Deal Collection’ consists of:

  • Take-Off Time Cleanser (200ml; supersize) – engineered with dermatological grade crystals that gently slough off dead skin cells to reveal fresh, smooth, glowing skin beneath. Free from drying surfactants or harsh detergents, leaving your skin feeling moist and looking dewy
  • Collagen Bomb Essential Skin Fuel (50ml; supersize) – highly charged with collagen, this potent, moisturising formula is designed to counteract environmental effects on your skin to create a fuller, firmer and smoother-looking complexion
  • Trouble Shooter Neck, Jaw & Chest Cream (100ml; supersize) – visibly diminishing the signs of ageing while soothing and hydrating your skin for an instant firming effect, this targeted treatment helps to enhance the appearance of suppleness and elasticity, reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles, and brighten the appearance of pigmentation for a more even-looking skin tone. Formulated with chrysanthellum extract, vitamin C, lanachrys, pea extract, olive oil, abyssinian oil and hyaluronic acid
  • Complexion Cocktail with a shot of H20mega (150ml; supersize) – a hydrating cocktail designed to support your skin’s surface layers, help retain moisture for an immediate plumping effect, and counter signs of skin fatigue and dehydration. Formulated with a powerful blend of 12 amino acids, two types of hyaluronic acid, high levels of vitamins B12 and B3, plus chia oil, coconut oil and brown algae

Check it out now as this offer is for today only!!

Having used various Time Bomb products both currently and in the past I can confirm that you won’t be disappointed.  They are all packed with high quality ingredients that deliver and help to protect, improve and enhance your skin.  Being in my early 40’s I need skin care with anti ageing properties to keep a youthful glow and Time Bomb works and feels great on my skin.  Get this offer while you can as it’s a great value pack to experience Time Bomb either for the first time or to stock up on your favourites!

This post is in collaboration with Time Bomb skincare.

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Loopdeloom Weaving Craft Tool

Loopdeloom from MAPS Toys is a unique loom system with pegs that spin around to make the weaving process ultra quick enabling you to produce a woven piece in just a couple of hours. The kit comes with one loom, 15 pegs and a ball of rainbow coloured wool.  The instructions are very clear to follow and show you how to set up and use the loom, whilst directing you to Youtube videos for more in depth instructions to make specific items.

My 9yr old daughter was excited to try this and although it looks a little complex, it’s aimed at ages 8+ so we were keen to give it a try.  I helped her to set it up which was basically just assembling the pegs alternate ways in the loom base and then cutting pieces of wool for the warp strands and clipping them into the top of each peg.

It really then is just a simple case of slipping a strand of wool across the top and pulling it down between the pegs.  Then turn the lever at the bottom which spins the pegs around and put the yarn across the other way down the center of the pegs.  This method is incredibly fast and so easy Miss M picked it up instantly and couldn’t wait to get stuck in creating her piece independently.

Every morning before school and every evening in her pyjamas she could be found with the loom adding another batch of rows.  I even had a go myself and found it really relaxing and enjoyable especially when you can see progress in your work so quickly.  When the pegs are filled with rows of weaving I couldn’t believe how easy it was to extend the piece by simply lifting out each peg, sliding down the weft (horizontal strands) until they go further down the warp (vertical) strands and then put the peg back into place. It literally took a couple of minutes and off you go again, no messing around with any ends of wool, and you can continue like this until you have covered the entire length of the warp strands.

Before long Miss M had a wonderful piece to show us – it looks amazing and feels so soft and thick.  Because it was her first attempt at using the Loopdeloom she hadn’t really planned what to make as we weren’t sure how it would turn out but we are really impressed with the results.  She has decided to use this first piece as a mat on her bedside table but can’t wait to try out something else soon.

The Loopdeloom is a brilliant crafting tool that is very simple to use.  It can also be joined up to another Loopdeloom which will enable you to weave wider pieces of work.  Likewise you can remove pegs from this one to make a narrower piece if you wish.  It is so versatile and with a little imagination you can create lots of woven pieces such as scarves, bags etc.

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the product in order to write an honest review.

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Chill Factor Frozen Brain Slushy Maker

Chill Factor are know for their fabulous home slushy cups and have a new edition to the range called the Frozen Brain Slushy Maker.  This has a fun monster style face on the casing with a brain shaped lid, which is appealing to most kids believe it or not!  My daughter was excited when it arrived and couldn’t wait to get the inner cup into the freezer ready to try it out later that day.

The cup comes with easy to pull apart pieces that are all washable.  To start you need to dissemble and put the bottom part in the freezer for at least 4-6 hours although I always find it best to leave it overnight for optimum slushiness the next day.  You also need a chilled drink to make slush so my children always make up a cup of juice and put in the fridge to chill until their slushy cup is ready.

When your drink is chilled and cup is frozen simply piece the cup together, I did find the monster eye a little fiddly initially to fix on, but once you get the hang of it, it’s ok.  Pour your juice inside and begin squeezing.  Within a minute or two you will see that the juice has turned into icy slush.  It’s quite fascinating to watch and has never disappointed my children who adore drinking a slushy drink.

The straw needs to be inserted under the lid upwards and then you can get the spoon end down into the slush which adds to the fun of drinking these.  Excellent for Summer months, these are the perfect cooler drinks for when kids are playing outside.

My daughter absolutely loves slushy drinks and this Frozen Brain Slushy Maker cup will get regular use having had the thumbs up from Miss M!

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the product in order to write an honest review.

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Lee Stafford Lighten Up Mirror

The Lighten Up Mirror from Lee Stafford Electricals is perfect for everyday use either for doing your make up or hair.  I do have a great dressing table mirror but in the early mornings when I don’t want to disturb anyone this is great for taking into the bathroom or elsewhere and use to get ready whether it’s my hair or make up.  With it’s soft glow illumination and 3x magnification on one side the Lee Stafford mirror just what you need for close ups.

The mirror takes 3AA batteries in the base and the light is operated with a simple on/off switch at the front.  The mirror swivels 360° very easily with one side showing a normal size reflection and the other being three times magnified.  I’ve found this great getting ready in the morning as I can move it around and it has helped as I only have a dim centre light in my bathroom so this is great for applying make up.  I can also take it to wherever my hair straightners are plugged in and use it as I do my hair.

The light is a soft glow and although useful isn’t as bright as I expected.  It does increase visibility and add light to your face but in a soft way, so okay for general use but you’d probably need something brighter for fine detail.

Overall the hot pink Lee Stafford mirror looks great, is relatively lightweight and great for everyday use.  A definite addition to my mornings where I can escape with it anywhere around the house to get ready without disturbing the family or trying to peer in a wall mirror!

All reviews are my own and my family’s opinions and we received the product in order to write an honest review.

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Best First Pets for Children

Kids need entertainment, kids need companionship, kids need fun, and they need to learn some responsibility too. In all reality, there is no better way to provide all of those things for your child than by getting them their very own pet. Here we have a list of the best first pets that you can get for your kids, ones which will certainly make them smile.

2 Common First Pets For Kids & Families

These are without a doubt the most common first pet choices that kids get and the definitely make for some solid choices. Let’s talk about them quickly.

Dogs

A dog is a fantastic first pet to get any child, especially a smaller dog. First of all, dogs are really fun for kids, mainly because dogs love to play. Dogs like playing fetch and they like running around the house chasing things, just like kids. Guaranteed your child will have loads of fun with a dog. Moreover, most dogs are extremely friendly so you don’t have to worry about your child’s safety, plus a good dog can guard your child from threats if need be. There is also the fact that dogs really don’t take that much maintenance either.

Aside from feeding, walking, and a little grooming, there is not much effort needed to take care of a dog. Your child can learn some responsibility by having to feed and groom the dog, and even take it on walks too. Most things which a dog requires can be done by your children. If your child is too young to really take care of the dog, you can be happy with the fact that they don’t provide too much work for you either. Dog is man’s best friend and your child’s too.

Cats

A cat is another great first pet choice for your child, and that is mainly because they require virtually no maintenance. Unlike a dog, cats don’t need to be walked. You can either let them go in the litter box, in which case you will most likely have to change the litter, or if your child is old enough they can do it themselves. Other than that and regular feedings, you really don’t have to do anything to take care of a cat, something that makes it perfect for kids who don’t have too big of a sense of responsibility yet.

Also, cats make for great snuggle buddies and they just love to curl up beside you, something that your child will appreciate every day as they are watching TV on the couch. Moreover, cats can be pretty entertaining too. They do a lot of wacky stuff that we all love to watch, plus they love playing with string and toys. Your child will get hours of fun out of a cat and that is a guarantee. Cats are awesome pets that are fun, easy to take care of, and quite friendly too.

If you do decide on either a cat or dog, it’s always a good idea to consider pet rescue homes as there are lots of animals that need a home, and you are doing a good deed by rescuing too.

3 More Suggestions That Don’t Require Too Much Maintenance

If you are not a big fan of either cats or dogs, and you would like something smaller that does not require much maintenance, you can always check out these great pet ideas for your child’s first pet.

Hamster

A hamster is a fantastic little first pet choice for your child. First of all, they are small and soft, which means that your kid can lift them up and cuddle with them as much as they want. They aren’t heavy, so that’s not a problem, and they are very cuddly too, something that everyone can appreciate. Moreover, as far as rodents go, hamsters are probably the friendliest of them all, with minimal chance of being bitten by them.

Hamsters are also very fun to watch. I don’t know how many times I have caught my own kids watching that furry little creature run itself into exhaustion on that hamster wheel. Something about watching them run on that wheel is just so mesmerizing for little kids. Best of all, hamsters don’t require much maintenance.

All you need is a cage, some food, a water dispenser, some bedding, and of course the hamster itself. Occasionally you need to clean the cage, remove the hamster waste, change bedding, and make sure it has food and water. However all of those things are very easy to do, they don’t take long, and they don’t have to be done that often. Even if your child is too young to really take care of the hamster, at least it won’t be too much work for you.

Betta Fish

In our opinion, one of the coolest pets that you can get your child is a fish, specifically a Betta fish. Now, these animals take a little bit more maintenance than others, and they require some special tools too. You will need a special betta tank (Aquascapeaddiction has covered some good tank options) and a protein skimmer (this post explains how skimmers help), a filter and a light, and some fish food too. However, in the long run, none of these things are very expensive, nor are they hard to set up or use.

Once you have the aquarium set up, all that needs to be done is to feed the betta fish regularly, change some water, and clean the filter, all things which a child older than 6 or 7 can probably do on their own. Also, betta fish are very beautiful creatures that will add a certain elegance to your child’s room. These fish are also very fun to watch as they swim around the tank all day long.

Ant Colony

The final cool first pet choice to get your child, and the one that takes perhaps the least amount of maintenance, is the ant. Well, you don’t get just one ant, you get a few dozen ants, which is called a colony. These are interesting pets, because sure, you can’t

pet them or really lift them up, but they are definitely fun to watch as they borough through the dirt and create a plethora of tunnels.

There is also the fact that ants require virtually no maintenance. As long as you have a glass ant house, some lettuce or carrots, and a handful of dirt, there is nothing standing in the way of a thriving ant colony. All you need to do is feed them, that is literally the extend of an ant colony’s required maintenance, something that every parent will appreciate.

Conclusion

There are many different cool first pet choices which you can surprise your child with. Just make sure that your child will be able to keep them alive on their own, and if your child can’t, you need to be fine with doing the work yourself. That being said, a pet is a fun, rewarding, and educational thing for any child to have.

In collaboration with Craig from Aquascapeaddiction