Oct 152020
 

When we booked our European adventure last year, we could not ever have imagined how the world would be turned upside down just a few months later. No amazing new memories with our Dutch family, no exploring new countries and cities, no tasting new foods or trying new languages… it was a such a disappointment when our tickets were cancelled indefinitely. However through a stroke of luck the kids have still been able to go on a (virtual) trip around the globe, thanks to this amazing invention from Oregon Scientific:

At first sight you may think this is just another ordinary world globe, but I can assure you there is nothing ordinary about the SmartGlobe Explorer AR (RRP $399, Ages 5+). Using clever interactive technology the award-winning design allows children to learn all about the world they live in, the earth they live on and the solar system they are surrounded by. Come and explore with us!

The large SmartGlobe is absolutely packed with features and even after months of investigating there is still so much more left to discover. With a simple touch of the special SmartPen children can explore over 220 countries, learn 20,000+ interesting facts, play 42 educational games and so much more. From countries to capitals, from continents to currencies, from languages to landmarks, from anthems to animals, from the weather to world time, the SmartGlobe is an endless well of information for young and old.

But there is more to the SmartGlobe Explorer AR than meets the eye. As the world’s first and only ‘open’ globe in the market the SmartGlobe opens up to reveal a unique view of the earth’s interior, as well as the solar system. Grab your SmartPen and learn all about the planets, find their place in the milky way and delve deeper into the layers of the earth. The SmartPen is wireless, rechargeable and is stored safely at the back of the unit when not in use.

By downloading the SmartGlobe App onto your smart phone you can actually bring your SmartGlobe to life, simply move your phone around the globe and be treated to a fabulous augmented reality experience. Watch exotic animals walk into your screen, visit famous landmarks and even check out delicacies from around the world. You can also use the app on its own, which is great fun on-the-go when you’re not near your SmartGlobe, and test your world knowledge with a cool quiz or two.

As a mum of six children I particularly love that this design caters for different ages and interests, making it a valuable investment for growing families. By selecting the right age group (Ages 5-8, Ages 9-14 and Ages 15+) you can automatically customise the SmartGlobe content to match your child’s development stage. This keeps things interesting, age appropriate and fun, no matter how old your child is. Siblings and friends can also enjoy learning together because the SmartGlobe allows for up to 4 multi-players, now that’s what I call family friendly!

Of course the world’s facts and figures are forever changing, so to ensure your SmartGlobe teaches your children the latest and most accurate information Oregon Scientific offers unlimited updates to your SmartGlobe for the first 12 months (from date of registration). After this you can access updates for a small fee of $14.99 per year.

Hip Tip: Sign up for the Oregon Scientific newsletter to receive a 10% discount code for you to use on your first purchase, bonus!

To find out more about Oregon Scientific, to take a closer look at the SmartGlobe Explorer AR and to order online visit www.oregonshop.com.au.

‘There’s a Zoo in my Poo’ giveaway

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Sep 052020
 

Pan Macmillan Australia

Gut health, good bacteria, microbiome, digestive system… every day we hear about these things on TV, in catalogues and on product packaging and we are constantly reminded of how important our gut it is for our general wellbeing. Of course the same goes for our children’s health, but those are pretty big words for kids to understand! Before you throw this one in the ‘too hard basket’, check out this fantastic book by Pan Macmillan Australia:

As an international expert in Nutritional Psychiatry and gut health, professor Felice Jacka is your go-to girl for all your tricky gut questions. Felice has teamed up with clever teacher, musician and illustrator Rob Craw to create There’s a Zoo in my Poo (RRP $24.99): a funny, easy to understand book that teaches children all about gut health.

If you thought gut health was boring, think again! Felice Jacka has managed to make it both educational and very entertaining by inviting kids to become zookeepers of their very own internal zoo. Learn about good bugs and bad bugs, where they live and what they do, follow the poo-train down its track, discover the secret messages hidden in your poo, see why dirt is awesome, find out what to feed your zoo creatures to make them strong (and what to avoid), try out zoo-friendly recipes and become an expert zookeeper!

Of course the word ‘poo’ is bound to make kids smile and there’s plenty of poo-fun in this book! We love the jokes, the rhymes and let’s not forget the gorgeous illustrations by Rob Craw which put a cool face to all these zoo bugs. All jokes aside, There’s a Zoo in my Poo is a wonderful combination of laughing and learning and it is sure to leave them with some valuable knowledge for a healthy future.

To find out more about Pan Macmillan, to take a closer look at ‘There’s a Zoo in my Poo’ by Felice Jacka and to order your favourite titles online visit www.panmacmillan.com.au.

For your chance to win a copy of ‘There’s a Zoo in my Poo’ (RRP $24.99) hop on over to the Hip Little One Facebook page to enter. Good luck!

All aboard the Playtime Bus

 Toys, Books & Movies  Comments Off on All aboard the Playtime Bus
Jun 282020
 

VTech

As a mum of 2 boys and 4 girls I love seeing how our two sons are alike in many ways. Our oldest son Tommie (now nearly 12) was extremely interested in learning his letters when he was just a toddler and he still an avid reader now. He loved ABC puzzles, wipe off letter boards and any toy that would sound out the alphabet and the individual letter sounds. Five siblings and ten years later our boy Ted (2) is obsessed with the alphabet too so I had no doubt this cool VTech ride would get his (brain) wheels turning:

If your little learner is crazy about everything that moves the Playtime Bus with Phonics (RRP $34.95, ages 2-5), with its bright colours, realistic traffic sounds and push along handle, is guaranteed to be a huge hit. Initially there may just be lots of laps around the house, but there is plenty more to discover along the way…

Ted’s eyes instantly lit up when he spotted all the buttons on his new Playtime Bus. With more than 40 buttons to press, four different modes of play (Phonics, Numbers, Music Station and Challenge Time) and a door that opens and closes there is certainly no time for sitting still. All together this fabulous vehicle offers more than 100 interactive curriculum questions and 30+ melodies, songs and sounds so it really is jam-packed with learning fun.

On the top of the bus you find 4 chunky buttons to control the engine sound, horn, brakes and the intercom telling you where the bus is heading next (The next stop is the zoo) accompanied by a catchy song. By opening the door you can learn to count by counting the number of children get off the bus. Three happy passengers have a window seat and share easy-to-understand sentences about their trip when you press their picture, eg ‘A green light means go’, ‘Always wear your seatbelt in the car’ and ‘I sit with my best friend on the bus’.

The main reason the Playtime Bus caught our eye was because it teaches children all 26 letters of the alphabet, as well as the number 1-10. Simply press one of the coloured letters to hear the letter, the letter sound and an easy everyday word that starts with that particular letter. It even distinguishes between vowels (blue) and consonants (yellow), which you don’t see that often in pre-schooler toys!

Of course Ted is only just starting to practice his ABCs, but once he’s a bit more confident he can test his knowledge with a fun question and answer game in Challenge Time mode, eg. Which letter sound does elephant start with? Can you find the letter C? Let’s count how many children get on the bus!

As a mother one of the things I love is that VTech understands that praise and encouragement is a great motivator, therefor this clever bus is full of positive affirmations eg. Great job! Terrific! If kids get it wrong there is no harm done either (Nice try, let’s try again) and they’ll be keen to give things another go. Are you ready to hop on the VTech Playtime Bus?

You can find the Playtime Bus with Phonics right now at your local Big W store and soon at select online stores and independent toy retailers across Australia.

To find out more about VTech, to browse the range and to locate a stockist near you visit www.vtech.com.au.

LeapFrog LeapStart 3D giveaway

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Jun 242020
 

Learning to read is a huge achievement, some of my children instantly ‘got it’ and others took their time to work it out and that is totally OK. I have definitely learnt that keeping it fun, exciting and entertaining helps take away some of the pressure and allows young readers to playfully make the jump from looking at pictures to proper reading. Proving you’re never too young to become a bookworm, LeapFrog has released this amazing new invention called LeapStart:

The LeapStart 3D Learning System (RRP $89.95, ages 2-7) brings books to life while cleverly combining a whole range of important learning areas like reading, spelling, puzzling, languages, tracing, maths, comprehension and much more. This makes it exciting for curious kids with different interests and levels of development and perfect for our two youngest learners.

It all starts with the LeapStart 3D base station that flips open to hold any LeapStart book of your choosing. Once you click your book into the base and switch the device on you can begin your discovery journey with the chunky toddler-friendly stylus. Each page is filled with interactive fun: Pictures, words, sounds, games, tunes, letters, numbers… just touch anything you see with the Touch & Talk stylus and watch the magic happen!

The education experts at LeapFrog understand exactly how little minds work and have designed the LeapStart technology to help develop a love for reading through play. Letters, letter sounds, words and sentences become a lot more interesting when you can touch them to hear them being read out loud, and you’re in charge. LeapStart allows young readers to feel independent and once they start ‘getting it right’ it offers a wonderful sense of pride and achievement.

The futuristic pop-up holographic screen that is built into the LeapStart 3D base station makes LeapStart 3D an experience like no other. As children explore each page by touching images, playing games or answering questions they will be treated to special holographic animations on the full colour screen, it’s like your favourite characters have jumped from the page to take you on an out-of-this-world adventure!

We have started our collection with the two included Level 1 titles (Shapes & Colours and 22 Words in English & French) as well as the LeapStart 3D Sampler Book but there are plenty of other LeapStart 3D books across three different levels to collect. Featuring popular characters like PAW Patrol, Mickey Mouse and Peppa Pig and covering topics from maths to writing, reading to science and everything in between there really is a LeapStart adventure waiting for every child.

With several birthdays coming up in a September we have already added Pre-School STEM, Disney Princess Shine and of course First Day of School to our wish list. Our four-year old Hattie is gearing up for the start of school so this will be a wonderful help as we prepare for the big day. Bonus: If you already own one or more books from the earlier LeapStart version, you’ll be pleased to know those titles are compatible with LeapStart 3D too (obviously without the 3D effect).

A little heads up for parents: LeapStart 3D takes a bit of preparation to get started, you will need to insert 3 AA batteries and connect the device to your computer to set it up and download the audio content for your books. Once that’s done LeapStart 3D is good to go! A built-in carry handle makes LeapStart easy to transport for small hands.

You can find the LeapFrog LeapStart 3D range at your local Big W or Target store and other good toy stores or online at selected retailers.

To find out more about LeapFrog, to browse the range and to locate stockist near you visit www.leapfrog.com.au.

For your chance to win a LeapStart 3D prize pack (RRP $89.95, LeapStart 3D + 2 bonus books) hop on over to the LeapFrog Australia Facebook page to enter, good luck! Be quick, competition ends June 25, 2020.

‘When the World Went Inside’ giveaway

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Jun 222020
 

From home isolation to hoarding, from shopping limits to social distancing, from hand sanitiser to home schooling… it has been a crazy few months! There are days I myself can hardly wrap my head around everything that has happened and the impact it has on all of us, so I am not surprised that children’s heads are full of questions too. If you are looking for a gentle conversation starter to tackle COVID19 with your little ones I’ve got the perfect find for you:

Written by a lovely Australian mama-of-three When the World Went Inside (RRP $15-$20) tells the story of a young boy called Theo and how his life changes when COVID19 enters his little world. People are worried, playgrounds are shut and schools are closed, he can no longer visit Granny or see his friends, yet he still has to brush his teeth and eat his veggies? This gorgeous book translates the impact, worries and changes brought on by the Coronavirus in a language children will recognise and understand.

Author Charlie Golding has managed to create a book that will hit home with children of all ages, discussing the ways the pandemic has affected their everyday life and making it easier to understand. Often children are unable to express their concerns or word their questions, in which case this beautifully illustrated book might just be the reassurance they need to put their mind at ease.

You can buy When the World Went Inside as a printed book ($20, soft-cover) to read at home or share in your classroom, or you can buy the e-book ($15, PDF) so you can enjoy it anytime and anywhere on your iPad on tablet.

To find out more about When the World Went Inside, to download a digital copy or to order the book online visit www.whentheworldwentinsidebook.com.

For your chance to win a copy of When the World Went Inside (RRP $20) by Charlie Golding hop on over to the Hip Little One Facebook page to enter. Good luck!

The Big LeapFrog Bake Off

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Jun 202020
 

During our weeks of home isolation hip daddy finally finished off our outdoor cubby house and it has been a source of joy, giggles and adventures for all the kids (and even the pets). Tea parties, mums and dads, schools, deserted islands, picnics… there is no limit to their imagination and I love hearing their chatter as they play. Unfortunately the weather for outside play has now ended so we’re snuggling up inside instead. Bye bye cubby house snacks and hello toasty winter treats, welcome to the big LeapFrog Bake Off!

The adorable Number Loving Oven (RRP $39.95, ages 2+) is sure to appeal to budding bakers and curious chefs, our two pre-schoolers have been cooking up a storm. Yummy pizza, pretty cupcakes, a fried egg or even a freshly baked loaf of bread, this cute little oven does it all!

The Number Loving Oven is cleverly designed to suit a range of ages, development stages and learning interests, making it a great toy for siblings to share. For early learners the oven brings different types of food and colours, a shape sorting oven tray, the puzzle of building a pizza and a baguette, a sizzling stove top, a door that opens and closes and of course lights, sounds and songs.

As your master chef gets older he/she will start recognising the numbers on the pizza and the oven timer, you can learn about temperature and time, practise sharing and dividing food between guests and serving food on a plate with a spatula.  Seeing how our 2-year old, 4-year old and even 7-year old ‘play kitchen’ together with the Number Loving Oven, yet notice, learn and enjoy different things about it, proves it is a toy that will last the distance in a growing family.

By moving the timer, opening and closing the door and pressing the green chef’s hat button children will hear a wide range of learning questions (Let’s see, how long will that take to bake? Set the oven to four. That’s it! Let’s cook and count), encouraging sentences (That turned out beautifully! Mmmm, delicious. Let’s share), cooking information (1. Pre-heat, this little oven must pre-heat before you start to bake a treat. 4. Hot hot hot, to cook the pizza that’s you’ve got) and catchy songs about hand washing, cooking, waiting and counting. Plenty of kitchen chat to make cooking fun!

Bonus: As a mum I am super chuffed that all the food items fit neatly inside the oven, just close the door and everything is properly tidied away. No missing pieces and easy to store, winning! It is also a perfect compact size to keep in the cupboard at Grandma’s for when the grandies come visit.

You can find the LeapFrog Number Loving Oven at a Big W or other good toy store near you and online at selected retailers.

To find out more about LeapFrog, to browse the range and to locate stockist near you visit www.leapfrog.com.au.

National Reconciliation Week giveaway

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May 272020
 

Whether the kids are back at school or still learning along from home, starting today many students across Australia will be learning about National Reconciliation Week (May 27 – June 3). What is reconciliation, why is it important and why is it important to all of us? Reconciliation Australia captures the message like this:

At its heart, reconciliation is about strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples, for the benefit of all Australians’

We thought Reconciliation Week was a perfect opportunity to share a bunch of beautiful Magabala Books for children created by some of Australia’s most talented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. Cuddle up with your kids on the couch or share a story (or a few) in your class room to celebrate, honour and recognise the traditional heart of Australia:

Respect (RRP $24.99) is probably my favourite pick for Reconciliation Week as it truly echos the beauty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture in a simple yet heartfelt way that children will enjoy and understand. From their songs and their stories, the respect for their elders, ancestors, family, the country and the nature around them, it is all part of their rich culture and it is something people of all ages can learn from and share in.

If you are looking for inspiration for an Aboriginal art project to do at home or school look no further, Cunning Crow (RRP $24.99) is an absolute treat! Filled with the most amazing Aboriginal art by Gregg Dreise this colourful book takes us back to the Dreamtime, a time long ago when all the birds were white. One day a strike of lightning ignites a magical fire of rainbow colours, painting lorikeets in stunning bright colours, adding a bright yellow crest to the cockatoo and dressing Waan the crow in orange and red shades.

But Waan is not happy with his colouring and wants to look better and brighter than the other birds. In an attempt to improve his looks the cunning crow decides to recreate the magical fire, but instead of bright colours he ends up burning his feathers to a deep, dark black. Next time you see a black crow, remember to celebrate what makes you different and never to change yourself to be like someone else. We are all special and unique and together we make up a dazzling rainbow.

Goannas, mirritji, bull sharks, bakarra… Practise counting to ten, discover ten beautiful animals and learn their English and Ritharrŋu names in Counting Our Country (RRP $12.99). Don’t worry, Ritharrŋu artist and author Jill Daniels has even included a handy pronunciation guide to help you on your way with confidence. With its simple, bright illustrations and sturdy cardboard pages this sweet board book is perfect for our youngest Aussies.

Willy-Willy Wagtail (RRP $24.99) is the first book in Helen Milroy’s new ‘Tales from the Bush Mob’ series, throughout the series we will get to know all the members of the mob. But let’s start at the beginning, when everyone still spoke different languages and no one could understand each other. It all began when curious Willy Wagtail, helped by Gusto the Wind, set off to learn about all the different bush animals, their countries, their languages and their stories.

All Willy’s newfound knowledge comes in handy when a bushfire breaks out and slowly the animals are brought together. With 64 pages and quite a lot of text (and of course lovely pictures) Willy-Willy Wagtail is a great Australian lesson for older children about (animal) diversity, communicating and working together. Keep your eye out for the next two exciting titles in the Bush Mob series: The emu who ran through the sky and The sweetest egg of all.

Living alone in the Australian desert Bubbay wants nothing more than a family of his own. One summer night he makes a wish on a shimmering falling star and that is the beginning of Bubbay’s Desert Adventure (RRP $17.95). Guided by the spirit of his old grandma Gubarlee he sets off on a mission to find five special things for the star: A stone, an egg, a seed, a feather and a shell. Will he find them all before sunrise and what is the special surprise that awaits him?

We know all about puppies, kittens and lambs, but what about the offspring of an echidna, dugong, eagle or bilby? In What do you call a baby…? (RRP $12.99) Kimberley artist Kamsani Bin Salleh will show you a gorgeous puggle, eaglet, chick, pup, calf, tadpole, hatchling and joey and their proud mamas. This delightful board book is made for curious little hands and young readers will love the eye-cathing pastel coloured art.

To find out more about Magabala Books, to browse the range and to order your favourite Magabala titles online visit www.magabala.com.

For your chance to win a Magabala Books prize pack (RRP $118.90) containing the six titles featured above head over to the Hip Little One Facebook page, good luck!