Monday, 1 September 2014

Bright Starts Hide & Spin Monkey

Recently LM was sent rather a large parcel. Inside we found a Bright Starts Hide & Spin Monkey, a brand new toy for LM. I've seen Bright Starts toys on sale but this was the first one that my children have owned so we were really keen to try it out.

Bright Starts Hide & Spin Monkey

Aimed at children aged from 6 to 36 months, LM is in the upper middle age range for this toy. You can try it out in the box so I knew it was musical before we opened it, perfect for LM as she loves noisy toys. This is a large toy, it stands about 50cm high which means that it can be played with either standing up, or sitting down for younger children. As LM is so active she prefers to stand up and place the balls into the top of the monkey's head.

Upon opening the package it is clear that you have to assemble the toy at home. This was a relatively straight forward procedure, complicated only by having to screw the top part of the barrel on to the main toy. I struggled to get the screws tight enough and to firmly attach it so Ian was called upon when he returned home from work. You will need quite a fine Philips head screwdriver to complete this. The toy also requires 4 AA batteries which are included.

Bright Starts Hide & Spin Monkey Assembly

The monkey arrives with five balls and to play you insert them in the hole in the top or front of the monkey. You then press his nose and he will hide in his barrel and deposit the balls into the bottom tray where they will spin around. The balls are kept in the tray using four leaf gates but these can be opened to allow the balls to roll onto the floor and allow your child to chase after the balls.

Bright Starts Hide & Spin Monkey

The monkey has three buttons on his hat which flash and, when pressed, play a song featuring the name of the shape on the button and it's colour.

This is a really fun, but educational toy and can help with many key toddler skills, including:

  • active, physical play
  • colour and shape recognition - using the buttons on the hat
  • facial feature recognition - LM won't point to her own nose but she can press the monkey's nose, when asked, to release the balls!
  • Hand-eye co-ordination and fine motor skillls - pressing buttons and popping the balls into the toy
  • Understanding processes - all six of the balls need to be put into the toy and then the monkey's nose must be pressed to release the ball
It's really hard to show this toy in use through photos so here's a short video showing how LM plays with it.

We've really enjoyed this toy. LM has played with it on a daily basis since she received it and her big brother gets involved with it too. At four he's not too old to help his Sister out. That said I do think the age range is spot on with this toy and it's a great way to bridge the age range from first sitting up to running around. At £39:99 it is a more expensive baby and toddler toy but I do think that for the complexity of the toy and the fun, and learning opportunities it offers, it is good value for money. I would recommend it.

Bright Starts Hide & Spin Monkey

The Bright Starts Hide & Spin Monkey is available from Smyth's Toys for £34:99 and would make an excellent Christmas gift for a baby or young toddler. 

Dsiclosure: We received this toy for review purposes.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

CALAFANT Treehouse - Review and Giveaway - #AsobiAmbassador

Recently we had a lovely opportunity - to become guest Asobi Ambassadors for the month of August and promote the CALAFANT range of cardboard construction kits. CALAFANT has an extensive range of these kits aimed at a range of ages and it was a hard decision to choose which we would like. In the end, following Bud's fascination with the Eurocamp treehouses on our recent holiday, that was an obvious selection.

CALAFANT Treehouse

CALAFANT kits are designed to be built, decorated and played with. Opening the box sees a series of cut out pieces and an instruction sheet. This recommends that you allow thirty minutes for construction, I found ours took about fifteen minutes. Each piece is cut very cleanly and all tabs and slots are exactly where they should be. It was simple to build as a result and it is sturdy when completed.

CALAFANT Treehouse Pieces

There are lots of details which are pre-cut into the design, with a balcony, doors and windows and a staircase all adding to how attractive the model is. Bud  loves the cut outs in the tree canopy part of the model and we've had lots of his little figures, animals and dinosaurs visiting it through the holes. It's an impressive build and stands around 60cm high! I found it quite impressively engineered and was really pleased with it once built.

All of the pieces are white so you build a plain white model. This is then meant to be a blank canvas for your child to decorate as they wish. In theory. Bud was aghast at the idea that we would decorate the treehouse, sadly, and insisted that we kept it 'all nice and lovely'. Sigh. I'm planning to get it out when his older cousins next visit and we will see if his very artistic girl cousin can persuade him to personalise it!

CALAFANT Treehouse Built

On to play. When I was building the treehouse I was sceptical as to whether Bud would enjoy playing with it. It's important to note that, even though it is sturdy, it will come apart if your child is too rough with it and I thought my heavy handed four year old might be. However, he's quite gentle with it and has really enjoyed playing with it with his animals and little men. It's been quite sweet to watch him play imaginatively, placing toy animals in the tree top and talking about which animals live in the trees and what they eat and where they would sleep. It's been used in much the same way as his toy farm and castle and I've been surprised to see this. Even without the decorating there is enough detail to keep him interested and the treehouse has found pride of place on his bedroom shelf, next to his castle and rocket. The CALAFANT range is a mixture of toy, craft and junk modelling and I must admit I wasn't sure about it when we were chosen for the project, I've definitely been persuaded otherwise though and I'm planning to pick up a couple of the small models for Bud for Christmas. Let's see if we can persuade him to decorate those!

CALAFANT Treehouse Play

CALAFANT toys are stocked by who are offering 20% of the CALAFANT range in September. Simply use the code CALAFANT at checkout to secure your discount.

I've teamed up with Asobi to give one of my readers the chance to win their own treehouse to build, decorate and play with. To enter please complete the Gleam widget below, the blog post comment is compulsory and will unlock a range of additional entry options. Please read the terms and conditions.

Calafant Treehouse

There are nine other CALAFANT reviews and giveaways this month. Check out the following blogs for the chance to win other CALAFANT models.

Susan K Mann - Robot
A Mummy Too - Pirate Ship
Lilinha Angel's World - Pirate Ship
Dancing In My Wellies - Pirate Ship
Hello From Jo - Horse and Carriage
Blog By Baby - Robot

Asobi Ambassadors

Win competitions at

What's Happened? What's Happening? - Preparing for Back to School

The Summer holidays are fading away and everyone is either back in school or enjoying their last week of the holidays but I know you're all still out there enjoying days out and making the most of time together as a family.

I'm getting around your links and there are some fascinating days out featured. I love a good air show so Family Fever's account of Dawlish Air Show is a must read for me. We always seem to miss the air shows local to us. I must get one in the diary for next year.

Tami from Mummy of Two and Jai from Kiddy Reviews have been exploring on family holidays with trips to Edinburgh Zoo and Bath respectively, while Grumpyishmum shares a camping trip to a site we have visited - Red Bank Farm. It's a lovely site for a family stay and we really enjoyed it too.

I'm seeing lots of Summer round ups being posted and I'd love to see a few of those linking up next week. It's great to read all about the fun you have been up to!

In What's Happening, That Lancashire Lass is looking forward to Burnley Beer Festival. Another local one for us, best not to tell Ian about it, it sounds right up his street!

What have you been up to? What are you planning?

I'd love you to link up your blog posts to What's Happened? - featuring events, days out, holidays, film, theatre and restaurant reviews and any other 'happeneds'. What's Happening? is the place for you to link your event previews, ongoing events and ticket giveaways.

I read and comment on every one and share on Twitter, Facebook. Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.

I've created a Pinterest board where I pin all of your posts, feel free to follow it.

As always, I would love it if you would add the linky badge to your post to direct your readers here

What's Happened? What's Happening?

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The Gallery: Summer

I haven't joined in with The Gallery for ages but I do like seeing the prompts and responses to it. When I saw the prompt this week I knew I had to join in. I'm still writing up lots of my Summer posts but I've wanted to share this photo for ages.

We've had a busy Summer, full of holidays, days out and fun. Bud starts school in a week (sob!) and we wanted to make these last few weeks before losing him to school days memorable. This photo was taken on our first holiday of the Summer at Bluestone Wales. It's a selfie snapped on a tractor ride. It's not the most glamorous shot, I certainly don't look my best, but it shows us doing what we do best - getting out and about as a family and enjoying being together. I love it and it makes me smile every time I see it.

Summer Selfie - The Gallery

Head over to Sticky Fingers to see the photos that others have linked up showing their Summer. Which photo would represent yours?

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery
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