LeapStart 3D: Simba’s Surprise

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Dec 242020
 

When you have a big family like ours, storage space is always hard to find especially when it comes to toys. Ahead of the festive season I always give our playroom a thorough clean-out, sorting all the toys in the right boxes, donating older toys they’ve grown out of to our local op-shop or church and throwing away any broken bits and pieces. The kids love rediscovering everything they already own and I like the fresh start before new gifts arrive.

Another space-saving trick is to build on collections/brands you already have, it is often cheaper to buy new additions than to start a whole new collection and it is much easier for kids to put away their toys when there are less boxes/tubs. With this theory in mind we recently expanded our LeapStart 3D library with a fun new title for Ted and Hattie to explore, being compatible with the LeapStart 3D Learning System we already own there is no expensive outlay so it’s a super affordable gift AND takes up next to no space. Everyone’s happy!

If you are a longtime reader you will probably remember all about LeapStart 3D, but just in case you missed it you can check this clever learning system out here. The LeapStart 3D Library consists of many different titles that focus on specific learning skills and interests and new books are always in the making. One of the latest releases is Simba’s Surprise (RRP $19.95, ages 2-5), a cute storybook for preschoolers filled with interactive fun. Let’s go on a journey in the jungle with Simba the Lion King, Timon and of course the oh-so-funny Pumbaa.

To transform your LeapStart 3D book from an ordinary book into an interactive 3D adventure, simply open the LeapStart unit, click your book into place and turn the device on. The device will automatically recognise your book when you touch it with the smart stylus and guide you through downloading the audio for you new book (PC with internet connection required). While the main part of Simba’s Surprise is (of course) the story of Simba who wants to treat his friends to special gift, there is actually a lot more hiding on each page than ‘just’ words…

The stylus can be used to hear the story read out loud (allowing learning readers to read along with the words) but also to activate games, puzzles. challenges, hints and eye-catching animations that show up on the unique LeapStart 3D flip screen. Just touch anywhere on the page and see what happens! What do Ted and Hattie love most about Simba’s Surprise? They enjoyed playing the Animal Matching game (spotting body parts and connecting them them to the right animal owner), they liked watching Timon tickle Pumbaa with a feather and they thought Timon and Pumbaa stuffing their faces with scrumptious bugs and creepy crawlies was very funny. As a bonus the book also includes a page of free The Lion King stickers, nice treat!

Hip Tip: If you happen to own the original LeapStart System instead you can still enjoy all the fun the new titles have to offer (except for the 3D experience). Just another way LeapFrog cares for families and their budgets.

You can find the LeapStart 3D Library at your local Big W and other good toy stores across Australia 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.

Ted’s Birthday Catch

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Oct 142020
 

VTech

It only feels like yesterday that I held my beautiful chubby newborn in my arms, admiring his big rosy cheeks and full head of dark hair. Suddenly the next day Ted is a cheeky 3-year old who keeps us on our toes 24/7 with his busy chatter and silly antics. Birthdays are a strange thing, they are both a joy and a heartbreak in one.

Of course Ted himself absolutely loved being in the birthday spotlight and he has been thoroughly spoilt by friends and family last month. Among his gifts were a big stack of Campbell Busy Books (I highly recommend these!), some cool new Imagicard games for his LeapPad (Blaze and the Monster Machines, perfect for our car-crazy boy) and this fun interactive play set by VTech.

Remember that old school fishing game with a small plastic rod and tiny magnetic fish? Well, the toy specialists at VTech have given it a trendy and educational makeover making it the perfect catch for curious preschoolers of today. Get out your fishing gear and hook a winner in Wiggle & Jiggle Fishing Fun (Ages 2-5, RRP $44.95).

The bright blue ocean is home to 7 colourful sea creatures: A crab, a clam, a lobster, an octopus, a puffer fish, a marlin and a seahorse. Using the magnetic fishing rod, fitted with a pretend reel and ‘smart sensor’ hook, you can catch the creatures one by one, watch them wiggle and jiggle on the line and learn about each animal as you go. The chunky shapes are are easy to hold for small hands, but at the same dangling the rod above a specific animal is a great exercise for those important fine motor skills and requires a bit of concentration.

The clever fishing rod automatically recognises and teaches little fishermen and women the names of the different animals, their colours and their numbers and the buoy light even changes colour to match your catch! In ‘game mode’ children are encouraged to search the sea for a certain animal or colour, giving them a little hint by lighting up the buoy in the right colour. Add to that some fun songs and happy tunes and you’re in for a fabulous fishing adventure.

Even though there is only one fishing rod this play set is definitely good fun for siblings or friends to enjoy together, Ted and Hattie happily take turns reeling in an ocean creature. They encourage each other by telling the other which colour to aim for next or they catch the pieces in numerical order. When you are done fishing and it’s time to head home you can store your catch in the handy green basket.

Hip Tip: Because we would like the ‘paper sea’ to last a little longer we intend to laminate the sheet, making it stronger and easy to clean.

You can find Wiggle & Jiggle Fishing Fun right now at your local Target store and 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.

‘Fanatical about Frogs’ giveaway

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Sep 262019
 

In many ways our little miss 9 is a lot like her mama, but when it comes to her favourite animals Juliet is most definitely not mine! Where I love the furry, soft, cuddly kind she goes crazy for scaly and scary, slimy and slippery ones that give me the shivers just thinking about them. She loves learning all about these creepy creatures so this gorgeous Flying Eye Books title has her name all over it:

Fanatical about Frogs (RRP $27.99) is a delightful combination of art and amphibians. Across 40 beautifully decorated pages well-known British illustrator Owen Davey introduces young readers to all kinds of interesting facts about frogs, before you know it your budding biologist will be quite the frog expert!

From a desert rain frog to the American bullfrog, from the Vietnamese mossy frog to a starry night reed frog and many more, you have never seen a bigger collection of frogs before. How small/big are different types of frogs and what makes them special? Where do they live and how do they grow? What sounds do frogs make and which frogs should you stay far away from? If you have a froggy question this book is bound to have the answer! Even the frog that turns into a handsome prince gets a little mention.

To find out more about Walker Books and to take a closer look at ‘Fanatical about Frogs’ visit www.walkerbooks.com.au.

For your chance to win 1 of 3 copies of Fanatical about Frogs (RRP $27.99) hop on over to the Hip Little One Facebook page to enter, good luck!

‘Letters from Australia’ giveaway

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Sep 102019
 

Sometimes it is hard to picture just how big Australia is. There is still so much our family would like to see of, do in and learn about our beautiful country and (until then) my children thoroughly enjoy exploring our nation on paper. Award-winning artist Maree Coote has expertly combined her love of Australia, art and the alphabet into this sweet picture book:

Letters from Australia (RRP $29.99) is a fabulous celebration of all the things that make Australia special and unique using the magic of the alphabet. The gorgeous illustrations depict our native animals and nature, our  famous sights, well known characters and more with each picture built entirely out of letters.

What a unique way to look at Australia in a whole new way and at the same time practising the alphabet too. ‘Letters from Australia’ is a great tool for parents and educators to build letter recognition, after all every child loves a game of seek and find. It would also make a delightful Aussie souvenir for young readers living overseas so we’ll definitely pack a copy or two for our next European adventure.

To find out more about Walker Books and to take a look at Letters from Australia visit www.walkerbooks.com.au.

For your chance to win 1 of 3 copies of Letters from Australia (RRP $29.99) hop on over to the Hip Little One Facebook page to enter, good luck!

Bop to the Beat with Mixmaster Scout

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Aug 312019
 

As you can probably imagine a busy home like ours is never quiet. As if six children don’t make enough sound, chatter and noise just yet we also have a piano (the four older kids get lessons at home) and three of them are learning the violin too! He may be the smallest of the family but Ted sure enjoys adding his fair share of volume so this musical LeapFrog toy comes in real handy:

The Learn & Groove Mixmaster Scout (RRP $34.95, ages 12-36 months) is the cutest toddler turntable you have ever seen. Future DJs can bop to the beat as they join puppy pal Scout to create their own unique tunes using a range of instruments, rhythms, sounds and background tracks. With colourful buttons to press, switches to flick, wheels to spin and lights to flash the Mixmaster instantly takes your little musician from cot to club.

I’ll admit, at this stage it looks like Ted is mainly out to make as much noise as possible but there is more to Mixmaster Scout than meets the eye. Not only is mixing your own music secretly a fabulous fine-motor skills exercise for chubby toddler hands, kids are also getting a fun and funky introduction to numbers, colours and instruments and learn to sing along to the catchy ABC song and other melodies.

As kids get older they come to understand the cause and effect principle and learn what the different buttons, switches and play modes (alphabet, numbers and colours) do and the sounds they make, giving them more control over their personal toddler tracks. You’re never too young to become a musician, so get those hands clapping and toes tapping with Mixmaster Scout.

The LeapFrog Learn & Groove Mixmaster Scout is now available from Big W, good toy stores across Australia and online.

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

Jan 032019
 

Penguin

As you can probably imagine with six curious kids my days are filled with questions, some easy and some far from it! Especially now that everyone is home on school holidays there are tricky questions galore, they are long days of thinking, discussing and arguing… If you have one of these questioning minds at home too this awesome book by Dr Matt Beard and Kyla Slaven is bound to be a hit. Our 10-year old twins really enjoyed it (and it kept them out of my hair for while!) and are sharing their thoughts on it below in their own words:

The Short & Curly Guide to Life (RRP $24.99, 192 pages) helps you through ethical problems you may encounter in life. These questions will really get your gears turning. Famous quotes from well-known philosophers will get you pondering about everything that happens to you and the people around you, and whether you made the right choice or how you can improve. These scenarios will help you understand the world and put yourself in other people’s shoes. There aren’t many ethical problems that you can’t find your way through with the Short & Curly Guide to Life! Learn about famous stories throughout history and about the choices that impacted them. Find out how famous people from around the world have handled their ethical problems and how their choices worked out, for example Lance Armstrong, Jane Goodall, Diego Maradona and Trevor Chappell.

Some of the facts are extremely interesting, such as how the teddybear is named after former US president, Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt, that there is an immortal jellyfish and other surprising examples. From the young to the old, these stories will definitely help you through life. Some of the main topics for these stories include happiness, lying, life choices, fairness, trends, integrity, promises, friendship, learning and more.

Brains Trust – the team of young, imaginative and curious researchers behind The Short & Curly Guide to Life – travel around to find any ethical problems and then observe how they end up getting solved. Some of the members include Agent Arjun, Agent Sophia, Agent Koa, Agent Mae and Agent Rabia. This book is a mixture of silliness, seriousness, interestingness, and awesomeness. You would definitely read this book if you have a love for amazing adventures through ethics and tricky questions. This book will keep you entertained throughout the summer holidays, or maybe after the holidays have flown by you would like a little after-school cool-down with this fun book. For more curly questions you can also listen to the ABC Short & Curly Podcast.

Little ‘Thought Experiments’ will get you thinking about what you would do. For example, philosopher John Rawls thought of one like this: Imagine you weren’t born yet, but you could think and make decisions. You don’t know what you’ll be like when you’re born. You might be super tall, average-sized or short. Now, imagine you could write the rules for society but you had to do it not knowing which height you would be. This experiment was in a story about Juan Rodriguez who was super tall so couldn’t fit in or do the things his friends could do. The Short & Curly Guide to Life is one of the most interesting and useful books I’ve ever read.

Reviewed by Tommie (10)

To find out more about Penguin Books Australia, to browse the range and to order your favourite books online visit www.penguin.com.au.

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Dec 012018
 

In our family a good book is an absolute December must-have. I love searching for the right book to match each child’s interests and reading level, although sometimes it takes quite the hunt to find that perfect read! I am super excited to have stumbled upon this fabulous new book by Richard Platt and can’t wait to hear what the kids think of it:

As much as they enjoy a nice fiction story our 8 and 10-year olds are even more intrigued by facts and figures, miss 8 regularly borrows a Guinness Book or Records from the library (to the great delight of the library staff) and they pick up so many cool facts and general knowledge through reading. With that in mind I am confident A World of Discovery (RRP $29.99, ages 7+) will be a huge hit.

A World of Discovery is filled from cover to cover with fascinating discoveries and inventions about space travel, science, technology, the human body, time, computers and much more. When and where was it invented and by whom, how does it work, how do we use this today? Inoculation, the compass, explosives, the internet, DNA… kids will love reading about these and many other discoveries that changed the world forever.

With more than 30 different topics there is something interesting to discover for every young reader, in fact even mums and dads can learn a thing or thirty! The gorgeous modern illustrations by James Brown are very eye catching and will help children visualise how each discovery works. A World of Discovery is a large hardcover book with a beautiful embossed cover, making it a wonderful luxurious gift for Christmas.

Hip Tip: If you enjoy ‘A World of Discovery’ make sure to also check out ‘A World of Information’ and ‘A World of Cities’ for many more wonderful finds.

To find out more about Walker Books and to take a closer look at the Judy Moody series visit www.walkerbooks.com.au.

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