Oh I adore Spring. The lighter nights, the warmer days and the promise of things to come. We are a pretty active family and the boys take the opportunity of lighter night to play outside. In fact they don’t come home until we go find them and can often be found playing football under the light of a street lamp. But for those of you with kids that are reluctant to leave the warms and familiarity of the screen for outside play here are some great spring activities.
We love board games and have a regular family games night every week in The Mad House. We are rather over-competitive when it comes to games and have a cupboard full of games to choose from. The MiniMads are currently 9 and nearly 8 and so when Two Little Fleas asked me to post about family games night I jumped at the chance.
When I was younger ever one wanted to be in the pony club. My friends all went horse riding regularly, whilst I stood by and watched them. I did give it a go, but each and every time something horrible happened. I was bitten, bucked off and fell off each and every time I got on to the back of a horse. I used to watch my friends longingly as they rode along the beach on the horses, but was thankful that I didn’t have to get up early to help muck out! I bet my parents were also really happy that I wasn’t in to horses growing up, as it more »
e kit did make for some interesting conversations about crystal structures and we spent one evening researching this on the computer and looking at salt and sugar under the microscope. Now the boys are at school I think this will get a lot more play as it is something they can start after school and continue with the next day.
The Human Body
As a family we LOVED this kit. It costs £27 from Hobby Craft, but is jam packed with things to do, games to play and experiments, such as building your own stethoscope and finding out about finger prints. It really tapped in to the boys imagination at 7 and 8. I think it was perfectly pitched for their age range. The kit is full of primary coloured based kit and is really engaging. It is not something you have to spend hours with all at once, as it is broken down in to different sections and covers the five senses. This has been returned to again and again over the summer and we still have more to do and use, plus it comes with a 48 page book. A super buy.
Puzzler Brain Games for the DS
This came in to its own on one of our many long road trips. It is perfect for all ages and both the boys, their cousin and the Frugals played with it. At under £12 it is a great value game for any DS owner. Rather than use it in main game mode, which is a 90 tournament designed to improve your brain, they played it in practice mode, which is more like accessing mini games. The 20 puzzles are based on training 4 different brain function categories – Visual, Word, Mathematical and Memory. During all thge time it was played over the summer the boys never had the same content twice, which was pretty impressive.
We were recently sent Spooky Steps, which is a fun game for 4 to 12 year olds and focusses on maths skills. It costs £14.99. The boys both loved this and built it and played independently without any input at all from me and MadDad. The instructions were clear and concise and they loved the 3D effect of the game board. The quality of the materials is really obvious and although it has been played with extensively it does not yet show any signs of wear.
The object of the game is to creep through the spooky house to reach the cauldron and break the witch’s spell. It encourages math skills, but also adds chance to the game, so evening out any age differences in players.
As a parent this game was a real hit as it meant that the boys were using mathematics in a meaningful context without even realising that maths were involved. This is the joy of Orchard Toys. If your child means a little encouragement in a specific area you can focus on it without them even noticing and it makes learning a fun experience through play.
The good points:
The boys do not fight when playing Skylanders together. Although there is a lot of “battling” in the game, this does not creep out in to real life like it can in some games with the boys.
It is a pretty social game. They can share their figures with friends that also have Skylanders, even if they use a different games platform as the figures are universal.
Maxi loves the Mini games.
Even if you do not have extra figures you can still play a lot of the game.
No more worries about what birthday present to buy as it seems all the children play Skylanders, so a character is a great present.
The not so good points:
It can be hard for an adult to get their head around. I initially thought that we had to but the other 48 figures to be able to play all the game.
It is complicated getting to know which element each figure belongs too (for adults)
It could get expensive if you gave in to pester power
1) How many PEGI ratings are there?
A) There are five age ratings; 3, 7, 12, 16, 18
2) Which 3 PEGI age ratings are legally enforceable?
A) The 12, 16 and 18 ratings are legally enforceable for retailers – 3 and 7 are advisory only.
3) How many PEGI Content Descriptor icons are there?
A) Content Descriptors explain a little bit more about why something has been given a particular rating. There are 8 in total
4) What does the Spider icon mean?
A) It means “Fear” – i.e. it might be frighening for younger children (handy to know, as my younger daughter is quite sensitive!)
5) What does the Fist icon mean?
A) It means that the game in question will include depictions of violence.
6) Parental Controls are available on Smart Phones; True or False?
7) Parental Control features on a video games console can be used to control the amount of time that your child plays on the device per day? True/False?
A) True. This is an absolute GODSEND for me to have found out, especially when it comes to no.1 daughter, who is notoriously difficult to wrench away from games!
The second part of the challenge was for us to set up Parental Controls on our Xbox. You can see how I got on below:
The mini mads are very fond of board games. However, at the moment, Mini is an extremely sore loser, which is compounded by the fact that Maxi is older and does tend to win more often when it is a strategic or tactical game. So although we adore Orchard Toys and have never had a bad game (in fact I think we already all their games), I did hold out much hope of the Football Game being placed by just the boys on their own. How wrong could I have been.
The football game is a take on the standard game of snakes and ladders, but with many added extras all linked to football (which my boys loved). In order to win you have to score the first goal, but this is a game of chance as you have to spin the spinner to score the goal and be careful as you could get a red card if you land on the wrong space.
The instructions are clear and concise and very simple to follow. I had one game with the boys and by then they had the hand of things and have played it often ever since on their own.
I adore that this game has leveled the playing field for my boys, th