Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts

PAJ All Round Finder 4G Tracker

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Disclosure - We were sent the products below for the purpose of this post. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own unless stated. We were also compensated for our time.

The PAJ All Round Finder 4G tracker is a modern tracking device that you can use for many reasons.  Think ‘find my iPhone’ without the expense of an iPhone to track. PAJ offer a number of GPS tracker products, and the one I wanted to try out was the ‘All Round’ tracker that can be used for tracking people, cars, deliveries, luggage, anything really. 

PAJ All Round Tracker

The All Round Tracker comes with 4G enabled and works in most countries so you really can use it anywhere. The 4G network is more reliable and gives better tracking than less powerful 2G or 3G networks. It has a SIM built in which does need a subscription to be used. Subscriptions come from as little as £4 per month. 

When you set up the tracker you install the PAJ app onto your device which shows the location of the device and allows you to select your preferred settings. Here is where you can really personalise your device to be used how you wish. 

You can set alerts to be sent to your device if the tracker goes out of a certain radius or moves at a speed higher than you select. Great for tracking young drivers who don’t have a black box fitted. There is also an SOS button on the side of the tracker that will send an alarm to your device when pressed. An alarm can also be sent if the tracker is moved or shaken. 

PAJ All Round Tracker

We have been using the PAJ in the car however we are really looking forward to using it over the Summer when we are travelling. It will be ideal for our luggage and also as a people finder when our eldest is out exploring.

With a battery life of 40 days and a short charge time, you don’t have to worry about the tracker running out of power. The tracker will send an alert to your device when the battery is low. 

The tracker is about the size of a first or second generation iPhone, and a little heavier than the phones of today, so it wouldn’t be ideal for little ones to have in pockets for example, however PAJ do make a smaller tracker designed for people. 

PAJ All Round Tracker

All in all if you are thinking about a tracker, the PAJ All Round Tracker is a good choice, with a decent price and low subscription fees. 

Have you considered using a tracker before? Leave us a comment below. 

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Forza Horizon 5 Exclusive Xbox Controller Review

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Disclosure - We were sent the product below for the purpose of this post and is in collaboration with Buy A Battery. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our unless stated. This post contains affiliate links. 

Another year, another Forza game. Probably the most popular franchise in car racing on Xbox sees Forza Horizon 5 release this month.  Alongside the game, Microsoft have released a Forza Horizon 5 controller so that you can really immerse yourself in the experience. 

forza horizon 5 controller

Controllers for Xbox haven’t changed much over the years, however this controller is really striking with its bright neon colours and see through casing. You can see through to the rumble motors inside which themselves have splashes of colour which look great when spinning.  

Since the Series X / S release, controllers have included a new capture button in the centre, a really useful feature for those who like to capture screenshots, live streaming or quick recording features. 

forza horizon 5 controller

forza horizon 5 controller

Another great addition to this particular controller are the rubber grips. A nod maybe to the rubber you’ll be burning in game, these are a fantastic addition and maybe something for all future controllers to consider. The grip is excellent and if you use this and then drop back to a regular controller you really notice the difference. We also own the first series Elite controller and this also benefits from the rubber grips so it’s great to see them on a controller that doesn’t set you back £150. 

forza horizon 5 controller

Coming back to the colour scheme, it really has to be seen to understand how vibrant the colours are. I’m sure some people will think it an eyesore, but compared to the standard vanilla controllers out there, this is my favourite of all of them. 

Finally, I love how Microsoft still allow you to use regular batteries for your controller rather than having to keep it charged. I find it easier to use normal AA batteries rather than remember to charge my controller after use.  I hope they continue this with future controllers.

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Osmo Coding Starter Kit

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Disclosure - We were sent the product below for the purpose of this post. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own unless stated. This post contains affiliate links. 

You may have read a previous post where we have written about Osmo and the various sets and kits you can get to use once you have a starter kit.  We have recently been sent another starter kit - this one based around coding to try out and this is probably going to be our most favourite Osmo set to date. 

Osmo works in conjunction with an iPad or Amazon Fire tablet - so you must already own an iPad or Fire table in order to be able to use Osmo sets. Its a fantastic way of allowing your child to have screen time while learning and enjoying themselves either on their own, with friends or with you to be able so spend some screen time with them.

osmo coding kit

The Coding starter kit includes everything you need to get started. Included is the Osmo Base for iPad, access to three coding games, 31 coding blocks, storage for the blocks.The games themselves include over 100 coding puzzles and over 300 musical sounds. 

Setup is easy enough - you just need to find each of three games on the apple app store, download them to the iPad and then set the iPad in the base with the connector on top of the iPad. Each game guides you through a guided demonstration of how to use each of the coding blocks and then throughout the games teaches your chid how to include more complex coding instructions in a really simple and enjoyable way. The more you code, the further you get in the game and the more rewards you are given in game to use on unlockables. 

osmo coding kit

osmo coding kit

osmo coding kit

We started with Coding Awbie which is the recommended starting point to learn basic concepts. Little J really loves this game.  You control a character called Awbie who needs to make his way through the outdoors in order to collect items to build a nice big, well decorated campsite. You move Awbie by giving coding instructions using the blocks which the Osmo setup will recognise when you place them under the iPad. You start with a direction, then a number of steps in a direction, followed by more complex strings of instructions with movement in different directions and numbers of steps.  You can even move up to grabs, jumps and bounces as you go.  Little J managed a string of 7 instructions which the Osmo was able to pick up and follow perfectly which gave lots of rewards and really helped Little J understand how to plan a route and set instructions.  The coding blocks are easy to use, well designed and have a quality feel to them too which really supports a good learning and playing environment. 

osmo coding kit

osmo coding kit

Next it was time for Coding Jam, this is a more intermediate app which allows you to compose your own music using patterns and loops. This one has a much more detailed practice mode which teaches you how to line up coding blocks to make beats, rhythms and layer these over each other to make songs.  The more you progress the more musical sounds unlock and the more you can overlay your creations.  The app will remember creations and allow you to layer new ones over them to make intricate sounds.  This game felt more 'open' than Coding Awbie and has less of a clear path through the game. You can be more creative with this game and really see how different code strings affect the songs you can make.  Little J preferred Coding Awbie this game, but he did enjoy making his own songs and naming them. 

osmo coding kit

The final app is Coding Duo which is a more advanced Coding challenge, setting puzzles to be solved using the coding blacks.  This can be played solo or two player and we have decided to save this one until we have all mastered Coding Awbie and Coding Jam.  It looks like the more practice you have had at the previous games, the better this one will be to play. 

osmo coding kit

All in all, we really loved this new addition to our Osmo collection. It's really clever how the app is able to your coding instructions. It also feels as though the 'reading' capability has been improved from some of the previous games we have played using Osmo. 

You can find out more about  Osmo by visiting Play Osmo online.

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5 Screen-Free Activities to Explore with Your Child | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration. 

It's undeniably difficult for us to get away from technology, especially our smartphones. The same applies to children and lots of parents have concerns about their child’s screen-time. The question is: Are children using their phones and games consoles at a detriment to their physical and/or mental health? 

boys in the woods

Of course, there are lots of benefits to technology. It allows us to stay connected with friends and family all around the world, and the internet is a great source of information. We have also used technology over the last year to help us make homeschooling fun. There are also downsides to technology and parents should try and find some alternative activities to get their kids into so that they’re not staring at a screen every waking moment.  A prep school in Lincolnshire have the following suggestions for some screen-free activities.

If you’re looking for something different for your child, and perhaps a way to help them relax, yoga might be a good option. It can be done indoors or outdoors, depending on the weather, and all you’ll need is a mat. Yoga improves strength, endurance, balance, and aerobic capacity, so it’s also great for their physical health.

Ask your child to keep an eye out for pictures and words that have meaning to them in newspapers, magazines, or books. They could even print some out and stick them into their scrapbook. Scrapbooking is a great way for children to express themselves and get their creative juices flowing. In school, children are often told they are right or wrong during lessons and are restricted to a timetable. Creative activities like scrapbooking make a nice change because there are no rules, no right or wrong, and no time constraints. 

If there’s promise of a tasty treat at the end, most kids love to get involved with the cooking or baking. It’s actually a very education activity for them, because they learn how to use utensils safely, how to follow instructions in a recipe book and how to calculate oven times and measurements. 

Lots of kids love hands-on activities, so getting them to help you out in the garden might be a good option. Watching plants grow from seeds is a rewarding activity and teaches important life skills, like patience and determination. Gardening is also a chance for children to get some fresh air and exercise. 

Survival Skills
Another way to get your kids outside is to teach them some fun survival skills, like water purification or building a fire. Perhaps it could be turned into a screen-free family camping trip, during which time you get to bond, make memories and teach your child some valuable skills.

One of our favourites isn't mentioned above but we love searching for places to visit in the North West and heading out on a day out. It's such a lovely way to spend a morning, an afternoon or even the whole day. There is nothing better than exploring in the woods, riding a rollercoaster or having a picnic in the park. 

Do you have any screen free activities you enjoy?

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Xplora XGO2 Smartwatch Review

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Disclosure - We were sent the product below for the purpose of this post. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our unless stated. This post contains affiliate links. 

The Xplora XGO2 is designed to be your childs first Smartwatch.  The XGO2 focusses on safety for your child and control for you.  The watch itself is availble in four colours with Black, Blue, Green and Pink available to choose from.  The XGO 2 has a premium feel to it, and although a little chunky has been designed for small hands to be able to use with ease. 

XGO2 Smartwatch

The user interface is pretty straightforward, with button presses, screen taps and swipes enabling you to navigate the menus within the basic setup.  The XGO2 is able to make calls and send messages using a SIM, and the watch will then have its own phone number that can be used.  Most sellers ship the XGO2 SIM free so you can choose your network and pricing structure.  With a built in microphone and speaker both making and receiving calls is pretty straightforward. 

XGO2 Smartwatch

With a focus on safety the XGO2 makes use of GPS, Wifi and GSM triangulation to provide a reasonably accurate idea of where your child is.  Using the parental app, you can track your child's movements to be sure where they are, and you can also set up 'Geofences' or 'safe areas' where your child can move within.  If they move out of these preset areas you will be notified straight away. 

XGO2 Smartwatch

The watch can also be set to 'school mode' which limits the user to watch display only for the during of the school mode time.  Using the parental app you can still track your childs movements and Geofencing will still be active.  There is also an 'SOS' mode which can be used in the event of emergency to contact you. This will remain active even in school mode

XGO2 Smartwatch

For the children the watch can be used as a step counter which has proved popular here, and these steps can then be converted to Xplora coins which can be used to play games on the Xplora website.  Sometimes there are also competitions for highest scores on games to be able to win prizes.  The current prize is based around Fast and Furious and Tom and Jerry with prizes available for steps and gameplay scores. 

XGO2 Smartwatch

There is a small front facing camera for taking selfies, which can be saved and viewed, however the watch has no internet browser or social media apps, which could be positive or negative depending on your point of view.  The camera is sufficient for children to take a quick picture but at only 0.3 Megapixel, you are limited on quality. There is a flashlight built in which can be accessed from the user interface quickly and easily. 

Finally, the included charging cable is magnetic, which makes it easy to attach and disconnect, however the battery life on the watch means you will need to charge at the end of every day in order to be sure there is sufficient charge to last the next day in full.  

XGO2 Smartwatch

Its important to remember that the focus for this watch is on safety and peace of mind for parents and carers and this watch does deliver in that regard. Whilst there is no internet of built in games the watch doesn't try to hide that fact and looks instead to reward your child for moving around. If this is something you are looking for then the XGO2 is a great choice. 

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Intelino Smart Train Review

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Disclosure - We were sent the products below for the purpose of this post. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our unless stated. This post contains affiliate links. 

Intelino Train Track

We have always enjoyed playing with train sets. From when Big J was little we still have both the wooden and plastic Thomas the Tank Engine sets that come down from the loft from time to time. Of course times have moved on and although the classics are usually the best there is also room to add and innovate these days with technology. 

Intelino Smart Train

Intelino have developed the 'Smart Train' which looks to build on the classic set with a number of add-ons that can help children's development in STEM and in coding, which is really popular at the moment. 

Intelino Smart Train track pieces

The starter set itself contains the Train and Wagon, 20 pieces of track, 40 colour snaps and some stickers to decorate your train. You can also buy extra packs containing track, snaps and there is also an adaptor set that you can buy that will allow you to add the intelino set to your existing wooden train track. 

Intelino Train and Track

Intelino Train and Track

Set up is easy. The track pieces snap together easily and you have enough to create a reasonably complex track if you wish. The train requires a charge before first use, but does last a long time before needing charging again.  The snaps, which are the coding instructions for the train to follow snap into the track really easily and come out again just as easily. 

The Smart train offers two different ways to play. You can choose to use a device such as an Ipad to control everything, or you can use the snaps alone to code instructions onto the track that the train will then follow. its good to have an option that is device free to give some time away from the screen. 

track pieces

To use the Snaps, you first start with a white snap piece that tells the train an instruction is coming. Next you use a combination of colours from the instruction sheet to give instructions.  You can choose the speed from three settings, tell the train to go left, right or straight on at an intersection, make the train stop, make the train drop off the wagon, make the train make different sounds and also change the lighting on the train. You can even put the train into reverse.  Its amazing to see how the train reacts quickly to the snaps, especially when you put a sequence of instructions one after the other. 


Intelino Train Track

When in device mode, you need to download the intelino app, pair the train within the app via bluetooth and then you have a very simple control panel to control everything. You can control the same things as you can with snaps all at the touch of the screen. The added benefit of pairing with the app is the ability to design your own snap instructions. This gives an extra layer of complexity for the child, and we loved the idea of choosing our own instruction for the train. 

Intelino Train and Track

Intelino Train

Overall, the Intelino Smart Train is great on its own, or when combined with your existing wooden set.  We haven't added the wooden set in yet as we wanted to explore everything that the set can do before hand. Little J has really enjoyed playing with the set and creating his own tracks, and it's been good to see him using his imagination with the snaps and coding and develop an understanding of how programs work in a simple way. 

To read more visit Intelino or view the range to buy on Amazon.

If you would like to be in with the chance to win your very own Intelino Smart Train Starter Set then all you need to do is complete the entry form below. Make sure you pop back every day after 8:30pm and check the entry form for extra chances to win. 

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Nintendo in 2020 - The Fun Games

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Disclosure - this post contains affiliate links. These add no extra cost to you but if you do buy through my link I may earn some pennies.

A selection of Wii GamesThis year both Microsoft and Sony will be releasing the next generation of Xbox and Playstation. What are Nintendo releasing? Nothing.  There are rumours of a Switch 2 or Switch Pro but nothing will be released in 2020.  Does that mean that Nintendo are ahead of the competition following the updated Switch Lite release late 2019, or are they behind?  Are they even in the same competition? 

I have owned Nintendo consoles since the early days of the Super NES, Nintendo 64, Gameboy and Gameboy Advance.  Right up to the later releases of the Wii, Wii U and more recently the Switch. That said, Nintendo have never been my favourite consoles and often left me thinking "how much better that could have been", although many people would disagree with me. 

However, there is one thing about Nintendo consoles that still ring true today, they have fun games. Fun games that I find myself returning to, to play with the family, especially on the original Wii.  There are so many game releases these days that look amazing, offer huge gameplay times and detailed storylines but actually miss out on the whole point of gaming.  In my opinion, the fun. 

That is why, these days, where we spend more time at home than anywhere else, I recommend you dust off your old Wii or Wii U console.  Boot it up and then play some of the games below to rediscover what fun gaming is all about. 

wii u and switch

 1 - Wii Party.  (Wii) An absolute classic and the reason why Wiimotes are still for sale on the likes of amazon. The original Wii Party has so many games modes to choose from, made up of mini games that are really fun to play for all ages and accessible to all.  We still play at least once a week and this game has been in out home since 2010. 

2 - Nintendo Land (WiiU).  Another mini game orientated fun set of games.  Makes use of the Wii U control pad to add an extra layer to the mini games.  The extra screen on the control pad is really useful for hide and seek type games. This is also played on regular basis here, originally released in 2012.

3 - Super Mario Bros. U (WiiU)  / Super Mario Bros U. Deluxe. (Switch).  There isnt much to be said about Super Mario Bros that hasn't been said a thousand times before. The game is much the same as it always has been - why change what isn't broken?

4 - Mario Strikers Charged Football (Wii). Another game that has been with us for a while. In fact since 2007 around the time we first got a Wii console. This game offers a replayability that even the most up to date Fifa can't match.  It's frustrating and fun all at the same time. 

5 - Wii Sports (Wii). The original Wii sports came packaged with our Wii in 2006. Its another one that comes out time and time again.  The Tennis is the best of the games, although the bowling is a close second. If you are looking for some quick sports action that is really fun - then look no further. 

You can still pick up most of these games for a reasonable price on amazon, however if you are looking for a Wii or WiiU you may best looking in some car boot sales or charity shops as the prices on these are really high at the moment as they are no longer made. 

Whichever you choose, there is no doubt that Nintendo still have a recipe for a fun game, and its this quality that keeps gamers coming back for more, no matter the generation of console they are using. 

Do you still own any older devices? What are your fun game recommendations? 

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XBox Series X - Casual Gamers Guide

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Disclosure - This is a collaborative post

Xbox Controller

Most things are now known about the XBox Series X release, due before the end of 2020 and hopefully in time for Christmas this year.  There is a lot of focus on Power, Components and many comparisons being made between the new Xbox and a high powered PC, but what does this all mean for the casual gamer, and will the Series X be an upgrade that the casual gamer needs?

There is a lot of talk around 'Teraflops' - This is basically the ability of the processor that is central to the operation of the console.  To give you a basic idea - the Xbox One S has 1.4 Teraflops of processing power and the Series X will have 12.  That is a huge increase in processing power.  Whilst the Xbox One X was more powerful than the One S, it doesn't have the power that the Series X will have. 

So power aside, what else is new? Loading speeds are going to be much faster. I'm not sure how much this affects the casual gamer, as having been playing since the days of the ZX Spectrum, loading speeds now still impress me compared to a fifteen minute loading time from a tape.  But to some it will be important and a significant improvement.   This is mainly through use of an internal Solid State Drive, with the ability to buy expansion Solid State Plug in drives to hold anything above the already included 1 TB.  This is one area that I feel could get expensive to make the most of.  I currently have an 8TB External Drive plugged into the back of my Xbox to hold all my games and those I have downloaded from Game Pass.  With games likely to be significantly larger in size than previously, 1 TB wont last long. As an example Red Dead Redemption 2 on currently generation was nearly  89GB, that is almost a tenth of your storage gone with one game.  That said, existing drives should still work, but may not take advantage of the faster load times.   One idea could be to have the games you are currently playing installed to the Console and those on the 'waiting list' or played less on your external. There are so many great games that you can play, from fantasy games, fighting games and even ones like madalin stunt cars 3.

What else do we know? The console isn't everything.  Microsoft are heavily promoting the game pass service, to the point where X - Cloud is included, and all Microsoft Studios games, including Halo Infinite, are going to be available to game pass subscribers from day one, without having to purchase the game itself.  Game Pass works as more of a rental service, where you pay a monthly fee and have access to the games on game pass at that time.  As new games arrive, older ones leave and you have an ever changing library of games to play.  These are all digital games, removing the need for physical discs, and also any chance of trade in you may once have had. 

Backwards compatibility is always important. The Series X will run all Xbox One games (except those that required the Kinect) and all games from Xbox 360 and Original Xbox that are already backwards compatible so thats good news from Microsoft. 

What we don't yet know at this point are prices. And if there are likely to be any variants of the console. Sony have opted for two PS5's at launch, one with a disc drive and one without so it will be interesting to see if Microsoft do the same.   Prices are expected to range from £400 to £500 for the console, however this is yet to be confirmed. 

Although I am a casual gamer, I am hoping to be able to buy a Series X at launch. The two things that appeal to me are the new games (including Halo Infinite) and the processing power of the console. 

What are your thoughts on the next generation of consoles? 

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Osmo Pizza Co. | Review

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Disclosure - We were sent the products below for the purpose of this post. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our unless stated. This post contains affiliate links. 

boy playing a game on iPad

We have been using Osmo now for almost a year now and it has made our home schooling a little easier and definitely more fun. We currently have Osmo Detective Agency and Super Studio Mickey and Princesses but today we are reviewing our newest addition to our games, Pizza Co.

What is Pizza Co?
You have been left in charge of a pizzeria whilst the owner takes a well earned vacation. He hands you the keys to the shop and that's when the fun begins. Each day you will have a variety of customers come in to your pizzeria to purchase a pizza. It's up to you to make the perfect pizzas for each customer and create a 'buzz' about your shop.

osmo pizza co game

osmo pizza co game

How To Play
To play Pizza Co you need to have the Osmo Base, red reflector and a compatible device (iPad or Amazon tablet) which is not included. If you already own the items you are ready to play.

Place your pizza base close to your iPad with your ingredients to hand. Your customers will enter the shop and order a pizza. It's up to you to create the perfect pizza for each customer. They may order plain cheese pizza or a pizza with two mushrooms on and a pepper, it changes every time. Once you are happy that you have made their pizza you swipe the pizza to the right. This will push the pizza in to the oven on the screen. You will be able to tell from your customers reactions whether they are happy or not.

The customer will sit down and enjoy their pizza. They will let you know when they have finished and are ready to pay. To let them pay you turn the pizza base over and they will hand you their money. However sometimes the customers require change so you will have to work out how much change is owed and place their change on the upside down pizza base.

It may sound easy but believe me you will soon have a queue of customers waiting to be served and also waiting to pay. It's very fast paced however you can change the setting to fit the level of ability. There is also a junior mode too.

osmo pizza co game

What Is The Aim Of The Game?
The overall aim is to make your customers keep coming back for more and have lots of people talking about your pizzeria creating a 'buzz'

At the end of each day you will be given a review of your day including your income, how much you spent on ingredients, rent and also how much in tips you received. You will be then given your total net income which will go straight in to your bank and you will receive your buzz score. You can use the  money you have earned to upgrade your shop with new items such as a new oven or wall decorations.

osmo pizza co game

osmo pizza co game

Is It Educational?
Absolutely.  Osmo definitely makes learning fun and can help encourage the following..

Following Instructions - You need to follow the customers instructions to make their pizza.
Colour Recognition - Customers may ask for just green ingredients or red.
Sorting - Your ingredients and money have their own trays so they need to be sorted after each day ready for the next.
Patterns - Some customers may ask for a smiley face pizza or a sunflower.
Maths - Maths features throughout the game with addition and subtraction when customers are paying their bills and also fractions when a customer just wants half a pizza with ingredients on.

osmo pizza co game

What We Loved
Having physical items to use really enhances the play and makes it more realistic when playing. The pieces come in a compact storage box too which is very easy to store. The option to change the settings based on ability is a great feature. You can choose to just include notes when handling the money or for more complicated maths you can include coins too. The game can be played alone however I really enjoy playing with little J too. Sometimes I will be in charge of restocking the ingredients or handling the money whilst little J creates the pizzas.

What Could Improve
Not really an improvement just a recommendation but you need to be in a well lit room as sometimes the sensors don't pick up the pizza sliding in to the oven or the ingredients on the pizza.

For more information regarding Osmo and games available you can visit Osmo 

Pizza Co is definitely our favourite Osmo game so far. It's fun, fast paced and educational too without the kids realising.

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MentalUP Brain Games For Children | Review and Giveaway

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Disclosure - We were gifted an annual subscription for the purpose of this post plus prizes to giveaway. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own unless stated.

MentalUP App

We found out last week that little J won't be returning to school till September and I have to admit I did let out a sigh of relief when I heard the news. When lockdown began I always thought he would return in September and any earlier seemed too soon so I am definitely happy although our home schooling has hit a brick wall recently. Like most at the beginning we had a strict routine for home schooling with lots of ideas although now it's 14 weeks later and the excitement and motivation has definitely fizzled out. I have been looking for ideas on how to make home schooling fun again for little J and I came across MentalUp.

What is MentalUp?

MentalUP is an award-winning brain game app for children between 4 and 13 years.

MentalUP was developed by game designers and academics incorporating innovative teaching methods to offer dozens of mind games with suitable difficulty levels to improve cognitive skills in a gamified format to engage children.  MentalUP also receives a 5 star review from teachers on Educational App Store which is a discovery, review and recommendation platform for educational apps by professionally experienced teachers.

MentalUP believes the ability to solve problems and think in new creative ways is as important as literacy and numeracy skills and they have devised a series of brain games that expose learners to new types of problems and the different ways of thinking required to solve them
. The app addresses five key skills: Attention, Memory, Problem Solving (Logic), Visual and Verbal and includes sub-skills such as counting skills, and geometry.  Importantly it provides a safe space for children as it does not include any adverts, harmful content or in-app purchases.

MentalUP App

Getting Started

After downloading from the Google Play Store or App Stores you are ready to set up your account. First it will ask whether you want to set up an account using email, facebook or google. We chose email and had to enter our email address and a chosen password.

Next we had to select little J's grade, this means what year in school. I had to google this as it is American and we don't have 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades etc here. Little J is going in to year 3 in September so I chose 2nd Grade.

It will then ask what areas you would like your child to improve on. You can choose from

I selected all but if you want to just focus on a specific area or two you can just highlight those areas.

That is it, we were ready to begin. The limited version of the app is free and you can have access to 20 free games however if you upgrade to premium you open up 120 games.

MentalUP App

Let's Begin

The app sets out a very colourful path which you follow completing games along the way. You click on number 1 to start and a random game will be selected and you will be given the instructions and rules for the game. They are brief and very easy to understand.

Once you have completed the first game you will be given a score out of 3 stars and also some MentalUp coins. These can be used to customise your character.

Next you move on to level 2 and so on...

MentalUP App

What Type Of Games Can I Expect?

There are so many games available however so far we do have a few favourites...

Memory Cards - Find The Pairs.

Ice Creams - Find the cone which has the number of ice cream balls specified in the voice instructions.

Highway - Count the number of specific vehicles moving along the highway.

MentalUP App

Should I Upgrade To Premium?

The premium version of the app, which usually costs just £20 for an annual subscription, provides access to over 120 games (compared to 20 on the free version) and includes reporting systems which MentalUP believes is important in the current situation in order to help parents monitor progress, provide skills analysis and highlighting strengths and weaknesses so that they (and teachers when they return to school) can easily track children’s cognitive development and compare with same age groups.

MentalUP has five million users worldwide and to help UK teachers, homeschooler parents and parents that have found themselves working from home with the kids is offering a discount of 30% at the moment taking the cost of the app to just £14.99 for the year. This works out at less than £2 per month!

You can read more by visiting the MentalUp and you can also download the app from Google Play Store or the App Store


I have teamed up with MentalUp to offer 5 of my readers and followers the chance to win an annual subscription and 25 runners up prizes of a 3 month subscription.

All you need to do is complete the entry form below and remember to pop back daily for bonus chances to win.

Who would you like to win MentalUp for?


Competition closes on Sunday 12th July 2020
Entrants must have a valid UK address. 
Bulk, third party or any other entries using automated software will be disqualified. 
All entrants and entries are checked and verified. 
30 lucky winners will be chosen at random by the Gleam application. 
Playdays and Runways will contact the lucky winners within 7 days of the competition closing. 
The winners will be emailed to the email address given at the time of entering. 
The winners must respond within 28 days, if no response a new winner will be chosen. 
This prize is non-transferable and there is no cash alternative 
The first 5 winners drawn will win an Annual Subscription to MentalUp
The next 25 winners drawn will win a three months subscription to MentalUp
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Win 2 Amazon Kids Tablets To Celebrate Tiny Pop TV Friendship Wherever

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boy playing on an iPad
These past few months have been so strange, we have been taken away from our normal everyday lives and thrown in to the unknown. Most of us have been in lockdown and not been able to see our family and friends. As an adult I have struggled at times with every day feeling the same as the last. Luckily both the boys have taken it all in their stride and have adapted their lives quite easily. The one thing I worried about was how they would both be able to keep in contact with their friends. It's been easier for big J as he is 18 so has a phone but little J has been relying on his tablet to send messages.
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Is Social Media Dangerous For Our Children?

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Disclosure | This is a collaborative post

Boy lying in bed holding an ipad
The internet is an incredible tool and can provide children with a huge amount of helpful information, however many parents worry about their children using social media channels and the dangers they can bring. There are risks involved and there is always the worry whether our children are safe online as we let them explore the internet and use social media networks, however by talking about these dangers with your child, you can help to keep them safe online.

Explain that talking to strangers online isn't safe and sometimes people aren't who they say they are. It is important to stress to your child that they should always be careful about what they share with strangers on social media and they should never give out any personal information.

It is important to discuss appropriate image sharing and help your child to understand which photographs are inappropriate or could cause offence to others. They should also never share any images showing their school uniform as this can allow predators to identify their location.

Make your child aware of ‘Cyberbullying’ and ‘Trolling’ and what this can involve. Help them to understand that sending upsetting messages on social networks is a form of bullying and they should always talk to you if this is happening to them.

It is also really important that you keep an eye on what social networks, chat rooms or games your child is using and ensure that you have the right parental controls in place. Some online games have the option to switch off the ‘chat’ function so that your children can not make contact with others.

If you want complete safety you can always invest in the best vpn or to set up parental controls, adjust privacy settings you can contact your network provider for support. You can also contact the NSPCC or your child’s school for online safety advice.


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Moving On From Fortnite

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*This post contains affiliate links, they work at no cost to you however can help towards the running of my blog.* 

fortnite figures
It's been well over a year now since Fortnite started to dominate the boys Xbox time. Big J started first and at the time John and I knew very little about the game. Big J would play it in his room and we had no need to know about the game or anything else until little J started to talk about it. He hadn't learnt about it from his big brother, it was his friends in school. He would come home and talk about characters and dances and was desperate to play it. John and I limited his Fortnite time but it has been his 'go to' game ever since when he has Xbox time until recently, he's starting to drift towards other games and is desperately searching for another game as popular as Fortnite.
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