The Slightly Annoying Elephant - A Fun Interactive Ebook for Toddlers by David Walliams

Recently I had the good fortune to review a fun new ebook by David Walliams. With two of my older children aged 8 and 10 already huge David Walliams fans, I was interested to see how Sophia, my 2 year old, would take to the author's latest story, his first picture book.

Illustrated by the amazingly talented Tony Ross, this special edition ebook includes lots of fun animation, videos features and even an introductory video by the author himself!

The-slightly-annoying-elephant-ebook
The Slightly Annoying Elephant eBook

The Slightly Annoying Elephant (Special Edition) is a story about a young boy who goes to the zoo and ends up adopting an elephant. The elephant visits the boy's home and turns out to be a rather unwelcome house guest!

I'll not spoil the story, but needless to say, as with all of David Walliams' books, it's a wonderful tale, full of the quirky humour we associate with the author and my daughter absolutely loved it. In fact, it wasn't only Sophia who enjoyed the story, but her sister Sarah and her brother Jack also got almost as much enjoyment from it.

Unlike paperback books, this ebook is extremely interactive. In fact, it is crammed full of so many brilliant activities that it's hard for me to do them justice!

At the beginning you are presented with a choice of having David Walliams read the story to the child or your child can either read it themselves or have it read to them in the traditional way! But, in our house, every single time the choice was for the author to read the story. He has a great way of making even the most ordinary of sentences sound funny and this resulted in my children giggling together as they listened.

Each page of the story also offers children the ability to touch items or characters on the page to see silly things happen and this was perhaps my favourite aspect of the book. It quite literally brings the story to life and I can't even begin to imagine how much enjoyment this particular feature of the book would have brought to me when I was a child!

Aside from the story, the activity sections include:

Arty Elephant - a colouring in section which allows children to colour pictures of the elephant and to incorporate the finished piece into the story if they want to. My older children loved this as they could then see their own artwork hanging on the walls or appearing on the television in the story.

Jumbo Workout - a musical fun game which gets children to tap on coloured lights to make the rather funky elephant boogie. Sophia really loved this and nodded her head and danced along to the music. It's also a fun way of introducing or reinforcing the names of colours.

The Elephant in the Room - a jigsaw section with an easy, medium and hard jigsaw. I must admit to being slightly amazed at how quickly Sophia understood how to drag and drop the pieces into the right places! This is actually her favourite section and it would be lovely to see more jigsaws added to the ebook.

An Elephant Never Forgets -  a card matching game featuring characters and scenes from the story.

Trumpet Chorus - tapping on numerous elephants hats and trunks the reader creates their own own tune.

Sophia easily worked out how to navigate and use each of these features and found her way around the ebook with ease.

Overall, The Slightly Annoying Elephant has become a firm favourite in our house. In fact, Sophia enjoyed it so much that on the first day we got it she refused to allow any one else in the family to use the iPad. Since then she has worked out where it is stored (inside iBooks) and at every opportunity runs off with my tablet and starts the book up. On our first day of reviewing the book I managed to video her in action (see above!) refusing to let her sister Sarah have a go. You might even notice her kissing the elephant a few times throughout!

The Slightly Annoying Elephant ebook is published by Harper Collins and is available from iTunes, priced at a very reasonable £3.99.

 


Tesco to Sell Own Brand £99 Tablet - I Want One!

Woohoo, big news today that Tesco is rumoured to be about to release its own brand 7 inch tablet in the very near future.

Like many parents, with Christmas just around the corner, my family are currently in the market for a cheap tablet ourselves. Although we already have a couple of iPads, we also have four children, aged 13, 10, 8 and almost 2, who are constantly sneaking off with my husband's iPad. I keep mine all to myself so they know better than to ask for it but hubby is really fed up with getting in from work to find he has 3% power left! That's why this year we decided it might be time to buy one or maybe two cheaper tablets for the kids to share. We're not wanting to go too expensive but do want something reliable and so far have considered the Kindle Fire and Google's Nexus 7, the latter of which we've seen on special offer and which gets great reviews.

I'll be keen to find out what Tesco's tablet looks and feels like (although if it does have a 7 inch screen that will be perfect for smaller hands!) and to see how it operates compared to the iPad which I know is in a league of its own but all the same, it'll be interesting.

The children aren't looking for anything too high spec - as long as they can play Sims and similar games and do a little research for homework purposes they'll be more than happy, but for us as parents the more reputable tablets on the table the better for all of us. Particularly for my poor fed up husband!


Blue Microphones Mikey Digital - A Must Have Plug and Play Microphone for Your iPhone and iPad

 

Mikey Digital
Mikey Digital

Like most parents, my husband and I enjoy keeping a record of special moments and fun times in the lives of our children, and as such, we are always on the lookout for gadgets that will make recording these moments a little easier.

In fact, that was one of the reasons I bought an iPad 3 last year - I knew it would make it so much less hassle to capture treasured moments without having to go the bother of setting up my digital camcorder and then transferring the videos onto my computer for viewing. An iPad meant I could just get on with recording instantly and then watch my footage back as and when I wanted to!

However, pleased as I am with my iPad, I've always been a little disappointed with the sound quality of my recordings. The sound is slightly tinny and, dare I say, cheap sounding, and compared with my old digital video recorder, well, there is no comparison really!

As well as wanting to record my children, I also make relaxation voice recordings and occasional Youtube videos and for these, in particular for the relaxation recordings, I require professional quality equipment. An iPad simply isn't good enough, or at least it wasn't until now...

I've been using Blue Microphones Mikey Digital this past week and from what I have seen so far it is no exaggeration to say I've been astounded at the recording quality. Seriously, from the moment I made my first test recording and compared it with the same poem spoken through my iPad's microphone, the difference was incredible. The Mikey Digital, which attaches to the power outlet of your iPad/iPhone, delivers crisp, clear, stereo cd quality recordings with a lovely soft tone that is very similar to what I refer to as BBC radio quality. You'd actually think you had made the recording in a proper studio setting.

Continue reading "Blue Microphones Mikey Digital - A Must Have Plug and Play Microphone for Your iPhone and iPad" »


Play Online Bingo with 888ladies - A Fun Way to Enjoy Social Gaming Whether You Have Experience or Not!

888ladiesAre you a social gamer? Have you ever played online bingo or are you keen to prove your Bingo skills? If you can answer yes to any or all of these questions, then you may be interested in trying out ladies online bingo at 888ladies.

To be honest I haven't played Bingo myself for quite a few years, but from what I recall, I always found it a lot of fun and an entertaining way to spend an evening with family or friends. However, these days with everyone busy getting on with their lives, it can be difficult to fit the time in for an evening playing games with family and friends and that's where online gaming comes into its own. You can play wherever and whenever you feel like it - and you might even win some nice cash prizes too!

Continue reading "Play Online Bingo with 888ladies - A Fun Way to Enjoy Social Gaming Whether You Have Experience or Not!" »


Curly Girl Method for Wavy Hair - UK and Ireland Products Please!

I'm enjoying my time becoming a Curly Girl advocate but as more of a wavy girl than a curly girl I'm noticing there isn't a lot of advice for fellow wavies online... Or maybe I just haven't found it yet!!

From what I have found I know that one of the things Curly Girls are encouraged to keep away from is the dreaded hairbrush. Now, as a wavy girl, I'm trying very hard to accept and apply this advice to my wavy head but it's very difficult. Maybe the difficulty stems from childhood when our hairbrush perched on the hall table and we had to brush vigorously every morning before heading out to school. Even today one of the questions I rountinely ask my own children every morning is "Have you brushed your hair?"

Continue reading "Curly Girl Method for Wavy Hair - UK and Ireland Products Please!" »


Week 3 Curly Girl Method - Surprisingly Difficult

Well, I'm on day 19 of the Curly Girl method and I must admit I'm struggling big time. Yes, my hair feels much better and is enjoying the break from my ghd's, but I'm finding the unpredictability of the whole experiment rather tedious.

Before I continue, I'll own up that I haven't fully embraced the whole Curly Girl method as I'm still shampooing my hair although as mentioned previously I have made the switch to a sulfate free one, Organix Coconut Milk Shampoo . I've also changed the way in which I shampoo and no longer pile all my hair on top of my head and give it a good old scrub; instead I massage my shampoo into my roots and then coat my hands in more shampoo and gently run my fingers through the length as seen in a Youtube video.

It's definitely a much gentler way of washing and does get my hair lovely and clean. In fact, I've started thinking about my hair as a sort of special care fabric. Instead of sticking it in the hot wash and scrubbling the life out of it, I now use a cool wash for delicates! I wash it in warm water but drench it in almost cold at the end before applying a little bit of leave in conditioner.

Continue reading "Week 3 Curly Girl Method - Surprisingly Difficult" »


Peace at Last - Let the Home Baking Fun Commence!

This morning, after yet another bad night's sleep, I decided on the spur of the moment to make some scones and right now the house smells yummy. It's brought me right back to my childhood where I recall regularly returning home from school to the smell of apple tarts cooking and my mum standing in her apron, rolling pin in hand! Of course she always left a little dough behind for my sister and me so we could make jam pies but since there was only one rolling pin, one of us had to make do with a milk bottle!

My first port of call these days when looking for recipes is usually Google and most times I find great recipes. Today's was no exception with the good old BBC coming to my aid. If you'd like to try the recipe I used, here it is! I had to alter it ever so slightly as I had no sultanas and used raisins instead. Raisins are clearly inferior though as the mix is quite dry and juicy sultanas would have worked much better. However, aside from that minor niggle, this is a recipe for my keepers list and I'll definitely use it again... with sultanas next time!

Continue reading "Peace at Last - Let the Home Baking Fun Commence!" »


RAILFEST 2012: BRITAIN’S BIGGEST RAIL CELEBRATION

Members of the public are encouraged to save the dates 2 -10 June 2012 for Britain’s biggest rail celebration at the National Railway Museum – Railfest 2012.

The nine day celebration of Britain’s railways will see an enormous space the size of 11 football pitches bustling with an awe-inspiring line up of more than 50 locomotives including record-breaking historic and modern locomotives from the museum’s collection and visiting locomotives from across the UK. A wide variety of railway-related activities, attractions, sights, sounds and smells will add to the exciting atmosphere with the opportunity to get up close to the exhibits.

The festival will bring together over 30 record-breaking locomotives that have made their mark on rail history for being the fastest, strongest, first, last and oldest. Among the confirmed record-breaking attendees is holder of the record for the word’s fastest steam locomotive at 126mph, Mallard, the newest mainline steam locomotive in operation, Tornado, and the most powerful industrial tank engine built for use in the UK, Mardy Monster. The first steam locomotive to reach 100mph, Flying Scotsman, is also set to attend the event. The locomotive is currently undergoing major restoration work and will be on display to the public during Railfest with further work being carried out on Flying Scotsman after the event. Railfest 2012 will welcome the largest gathering of railway record breakers ever brought together in one place.

Continue reading "RAILFEST 2012: BRITAIN’S BIGGEST RAIL CELEBRATION" »


Guys and Dolls - Sales of new Oobicoo soft toy Ollie outstrip Orla 2:1

Boys’ dolls are selling twice as fast as girls’ dolls according to Totseat founder Rachel Jones, who believes the media have been integral in helping to break down gender stereotypes.

The UK toy industry is worth £2.96bn and since launching the soft toy tots Ollie and Orla last year, multi award winning entrepreneur Rachel Jones has sold twice as many of the boy ‘doll’ Ollie. Sales of boys’ toys take 55% share of the UK toy market and Rachel believes sales of Oobicoo Ollie reflect society’s changing perceptions of traditional gender stereotypes.

Rachel says, “We live in a culture where many people look to the media as a guide to behavior and as a result many people conform to majority norms. Traditionally girls have been expected to play with dolls and wear pink and many parents have discouraged their sons from playing with dolls per se, however there appears to be a shift in this gender stereotyping which can only be a good thing.”

Oobicoo was originally developed and sold as a mannequin to display the multi-award winning Totseat; a safe, portable, fabric highchair for families travelling with babies. Rachel soon realised their appeal when they became the unlikely classmates of her daughter Freya and her friends, who loved the fact that they were so big and cuddly!

The adorable, soft toy tot Oobicoo is made from gorgeous soft plush fabric and, at 60cm tall, is the same size as a six month old baby - the perfect size to be an instant baby brother, sister or best friend. They come in their own wee fabric 'pod' and are designed to be dressed in hand-me-down-baby clothes. This simple idea not only saves money, it encourages the reuse of outgrown baby clothes, teaches children dexterity and provides Oobicoo with an instant wardrobe.

With sound eco credentials, Oobicoo is filled with recycled polymer, manufactured from recycleable fabric and is raising money for the Children's Immunology Fund - £1 from every sale goes to the charity. Oobicoo even has its very own dance tune, penned by Emily Philips and Josh Wilkinson who co-write for pop superstars One Direction and Alexandra Burke!

Rachel added, “Oobicoo not only helps your child’s development, they are perfect for imaginative play, great for teaching dexterity in terms of dressing and undressing and because of their realistic size, they give children someone to cuddle!

“We are delighted to announce the launch of Olwyn, our fourth soft toy tot, who has a different skin tone to the other Oobicoo tots. We are keen to encourage diversity and since launching Oobicoo Ed last year, who is entirely bald, we have had great reactions to the entire Oobicoo family.”


Need to Occupy Your Children Using Only One Hand? Try These D.I.Y. Face Paint Tricks (Guest Post)

If you are a stay-at-home mom, you have most likely discovered that there are just not enough hours in the day. If you’re an at-home mom currently nursing, you have also noticed that you never have enough hands available to get anything done! This is when it comes time to break out the one-hand wonders of activities. Face paint is an easy way to give your toddler some attention while holding your infant; and the best part is, you only need one hand!

Face paint can easily be purchased at most grocery or convenient stores, but it is also really fun, cheap, and easy to make at home. In fact, you probably already have the ingredients available in your medicine cabinet now.

Continue reading "Need to Occupy Your Children Using Only One Hand? Try These D.I.Y. Face Paint Tricks (Guest Post)" »