Thursday, 2 July 2015

Kano - Build your own computer

Last year as part of the Imogen Heap festival at the Roundhouse there were several music/computing workshops. One of them that we attended was Building your own computer. Nate wasn’t quite 3 at the time of the workshop so I was incredibly impressed that he was able to put together the Kano with little help from me. He happily sat and put the pieces in the right place and then waited for the computer to boot. He was really proud of the computer he had built.
The next part required a little help from me, as he wasn’t reading, I sat and read the instructions and guided him with his typing. Nate didn’t quite get the programming tasks on the Kano which is understandable as he wasn’t reading at the time but was willing to have a go at it and played the games that we created together. 

I’m not sure I’d bill it as build your own computer but it certainly was as close as many people will get to building their own computer and is a good starting place for children who are interested in computers.

Sunday, 28 June 2015


Yesterday we were lucky enough to attend a screening of the 2nd series of Yonderland, Yonderland is family fantasy comedy by the same team who star in Horrible Histories. The first series was hit with me, although I hadn't shown it to Nate until yesterday morning as I wasn't 100% sure he would cope with the darkness of the show but he happily watched the first two episodes. 

At the screening however, he wasn't quite able to cope with it being dark(lights out) while being dark (the show). Thankfully the really dark bits were small enough that he just hid during those bits.

Nate asked Simon why he was the baddie in this show

As I don't want to spoil series 2, in series 1 you meet Debbie of Maddox who is an ordinary mum of two who is taken on an adventure in Yonderland through her larder by an elf. Yonderland is a magical land and this is where all of the (very cool) puppets live. Debbie of Maddox is called the chosen one within Yonderland... (you just need to watch it!)

Look out for this pass in the second episode!

I think the second series is a lot more adult in some its content then the first series, these were jokes that most of the smaller audience wouldn't get so still in keeping with the family title. I particularly liked the second episode, especially as some of it was about problem solving. There is a scarier character in the second series which scared Nate a little bit but he still enjoyed it.


After the screening, there was an Q&A session with the writers/actors. They were asked questions by the interviewer and then the room. Some of the questions were what puppets were their favourite, how they got here and which demon was their favourite. An interesting fact - the demons are named after the voice actors parents.

Yonderland series 2 starts on 13th July at 8pm, it's got a later billing and on the 13th both the first and second episode will be showing.

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Monday, 8 June 2015

Role play

Nate loves being in the kitchen, he wants to be involved with cooking or buttering toast. It really doesn't matter what we are doing he wants to do it too.

That other day, we made from rice krispy cakes with mini marshmallows. Nate was not happy to finish once all the mixture was done he wanted to continue cooking. I had an idea, we had marshmallows and flour and a couple of chocolate buttons. Nate loved 'cooking' with those few ingredients. He stirred them up and spooned them from his bowl into the pot the buttons had come from, he was happily playing for at least an hour. 

Monday, 13 April 2015

Samsung TV and Hopster

Last Thursday we were invited to an event by Samsung. They were launching their new suite of kids apps. These apps included Hopster. 

Firstly we were shown their curved smart TV. Before seeing the curved screen I was a little skeptical about whether there would be any distortion of you were directly in front of the TV. However, I could see any, it looks perfect for those who have the TV in a corner and having seats around it. 

The Samsung TV, was a smart TV. A smart TV directly connects to the Internet and is a computer of sorts of its own. Mainly they run apps, like phones and the leading tablets. In the version we saw they had a hidden camera which popped up so you could have a video chat over Skype. 

The main app being showcased was Hopster. Hopster is an amazing app for toddlers/preschoolers. The only have suitable TV shows and they also have games for them to play. There are no adverts around there children's TV shows. Nate has loved Hopster before I let my subscription lapse. I let it lapse as the time we used Hopster was in the car on the way to somewhere and I couldn't find the way to download shows so I was using my limited data on it. I have no w however been shown that you can download shows but only limited shows for 7 days. Please licensors can we get them for longer and more shows, Nate loves Super Why but I'm sure there are children who love all of the content on Hopster. Personally I enjoy Louie who draws nearly everything in the episode. 

I really like Hopster as you can possibly tell. The subscription costs £3.99 a month and has loads of content for little children to watch and do. 

Hopster cake pops. 

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Glow Away Kickstarter

I'm a bit of a Kickstarter fan, normally I stick to the technology pages but I have recently started to widen where I look. I'm glad I did because I found Glow Away, please go and have a look. I love the idea of this product as Nate is already scared of the dark and we are starting to talk about why he is scared and what he thinks will happen. Just talking about things seems to have settled his nerve surrounding the dark and adding in a story which teaches him techniques to deal with his fear may be just what he needs.

Glow Away is a product to help children who are afraid of the dark. It's not just like a night light but a  way of helping children overcome their fears. It features a book and a duvet cover, the book is about Sam overcoming his fear and he learns a spell, the words of this spell then glow on the duvet.

Please have a look and pledge if this takes your fancy because Nate and I would love one and they are a little off their target.

Sunday, 15 March 2015


Late last year, I got the dreaded letter in the post stating I had to chose the school and second choice school I would like Nate to go to. I'd already got an idea in my head which one I wanted him to go to. Then came the dilemma, I had to justify to myself that I had chosen the right school. What is a good school? Is it results? Is it the feeling you get when you are around it? Is it how the children behave outside of the school (in uniform)?

For me it wasn't about the results, or how the children behaved (it isn't senior school) it was about that feeling I got. Now admittedly I have spent a lot of time in his chosen school recently and haven't really explored the other schools in the area nearly as much as this one. There was also word of mouth, you know which school has the best reputation in your area but you don't necessarily know why. 

The school Nate is going to rarely comes up in conversation. Is that because it's a bad school? Or mediocre? Or just off the beaten track? I don't know but the children in the school are always seem to be happy, polite and interested in what they are doing. 

Should I check those league tables? No, I'm sticking firmly to my guns that I won't chose a school based on results. It doesn't tell me how happy the children are, or wether the school is setting them up for senior school and enstilling a love of learning. For me these are far important than scoring well in a test, results can only get your so far.

I just hope that this is the right school for him. 

Zip It and Train Review

Nate and I recently received two lovely books from Little Tiger Press, Zip It and Train.

The first book Nate sat and 'read' was Zip It. Zip It is great for little hands its a board book which contains five different fastenings to play with. Nate found the Zip a little hard at first as it was stiff but after opening and closing it no less than a hundred times he found it a lot easier.

The piggy button works really well, as it does look just like a pig nose.

The only page that I'm not sure about is the hen page which has velcro on it, on our version Nate has only used it a few times and it is already looking a bit worn. 

The best page has to be the last page where it teaches them how to tie shoe laces. 

Next is the book Train, this has been printed as a board book. As I am trying to teach Nate how to read I have really enjoyed reading this book to Nate as there are words that are repeated a lot it has meant I read the story and Nate reads the repeated words. These words have a different coloured background to help with identifying which is great for early readers as it allows them to feel like they are reading a proper story.