Introducing Morphle Merch

Once upon a time I was a parent who was passionate about having zero screen free time – then lockdown happened and I discovered the untold positives of children’s technology. Of course I am still an advocate for learning through play and the benefits of natural resources but I have managed to find some wonderful kids shows which I feel really help kids learn important lessons for themselves.

Morphle caught my attention because he has a naughty counterpart or twin called Orphle (pronounced awful) the notion of which cracked me up and made me pay attention to the YouTube channel of Dutch animator Arthur Van Merwijk – I often find myself with kids shows still on long after bedtime and forget that Arlo isn’t even awake, I made a mental note as I thought he would enjoy this fab little show. Morphle is a funny little magical pet which belongs to Mila and they have all sorts of adventures together.

Morphle is magical and can transform in to all sorts of different shapes and animals which means he can often be called upon to help friends in a time of need. Mila (just like Arlo) has a strong imagination and so there’s no limit to the creativity – Morphle can become a dinosaur a giant truck, or even a fire engine with a large ladder to help rescue a cat stuck up a tree. It’s no surprises that the animation now has its own dedicated TV show and a huge range of merchandise and toys.

The idea is that whatever situation they find themselves in, a little creativity from Mila can help solve the problems and of course friendship tends to help overcome all the barriers too. These are powerful messages for little ones which we like to reinforce at home. Arlo likes to play pretend and “transform mummy in to” all sorts of creatures – I love to play along which is okay at home but I do get some funny looks when he tells me I’m a kangaroo in the middle of a supermarket and I play along by jumping around like a loon!

That’s beside the point – one of our favourite things about Morphle is his twin Orphle – we use this analogy to help communicate emotions and feelings in a positive way. The little plushie we were sent recently is ideal for this – we have conversations about how we feel on a daily basis and Arlo will show me the green or red side based on how he feels – a little like the inside out octopus (octopi?) toys work – Morphle is always happy and Orphle is how he tells me he’s been up to mischief – and trust me a four year old can create havoc at home in a matter of moments.

Arlo will re-enact episodes from the show and then continue the story with an ensemble cast of his toys here at home creating all sorts of escapades. His little Mila vehicles are ideal for this and he gets very involved with his role play and it keeps him busy for hours. These chunky little vehicles are ideal for small hands and he likes to take them out and about too. Other parents have spotted these and mentioned that they too have kids fascinated with magical Morphle and didn’t realise that there was a range of toys in existence.

These vehicles, the plushie and more Morphle items are available to order online now from retailers such as Amazon and would make ideal stocking fillers for little ones.

Products provided for the purpose of review but as always all thoughts and opinions expressed are our own

ProjeX – toy review

Arlo getting some practice in.

From the moment we unboxed this game we have all been fiercely competing against each other for household champion bragging rights. ProjeX is like one of the retro arcade games and the best thing is you don’t need any screens – just the base, blasters and a blank wall.

ProjeX – inside the box

The box comes with a base, two blasters and three interchangeable cards for different targets plus full instructions on a sheet. The three different card options are targets, aliens and my personal favourite – ducks! The base has a slot to install the cards and two buttons which programme the game play – a simple LED screen flashes in to action when you press power and the base also lights up – and for the best game play the room lights need to be off.

The base whirrs in to action – rotating and moving up and down projecting the chosen targets on to the walls around the home and then it’s simply a case of directing your blaster at your intended target and firing. Each different target has its own unique sounds which have had us in stitches. Everyone in the family has been involved in the game play in one way or another. You can play solo, head to head – blue vs red to see who gets the highest score or you can choose to team up and work together to defeat the ducks and get the highest score possible!

Team work

There’s five different game play options and three different levels to choose from – I’ve been finding the kids (and adults) practicing their skills with a bit of solo practice at every opportunity as we’re planning a family tournament on our next rainy day. I’m really pleased with this toy because it reminds me of nostalgic childhood games and really does involve everyone as it’s so simple to get to grips with. The blasters have target pointers which help – the little red and blue dots track across the wall so you can get an accurate aim.

The pesky ducks!

We have been using this in the front room where we have a nice clear light wall to project on to and can draw the curtains for darkness. We find ProjeX works well lower down, so positioned on the floor or on a coffee table rather than a dining table and so far with hours of game play we’re still on the one set of batteries. (4xAA – not included). Overall I’m very impressed – ProjeX is available in Smyths with a RRP of £49.99 and provides hours of family fun.

ProjeX provided for the purposes of review but as always all views expressed are our own

I do 3D – two pen activity set – things that go – review

I’ve been looking at 3D pens for a while (for myself ) and the opportunity came up to review these kids sets from I do 3D which we were delighted with. Logan and I stepped up to the challenge and I have to admit the airplane project is very intricate and so we worked together on this project very carefully as fusing some of the parts together did require two pairs of hands. One to hold the pieces together and one to hold the light.

The box contents included two coloured pens alongside a worksheet with templates, a transparent sheet to work on and also a little mould to work on some extra projects. We completed our plane in about 45 minutes and made a few little mistakes along the way but we got there in the end and we’re delighted with the end result. The pens are squeezed and then a gel like substance comes out instead of ink.

For this project we traced carefully over the 2D design template on the worksheet – placing a transparent sheet over the top of the paper and you use the blue light to cure them (a bit like they use in a nail salon) and then all of your components can be gently peeled off before finally constructing the plane by using the gel from the pens as a glue. It takes a couple of seconds for the gel to cure, depending on the thickness of your design so we took our light off the pens to give us more time to be accurate.

There was more than enough gel in the pens to be able to complete the project, fill the moulds to make some shapes and then get creative with drawing some freehand items – we went for our names and some simple shapes and are delighted to have a second project to try on another rainy day. Logan said he might give the plane another go all on his own using the opposite colours as a challenge.

We worked on a laminated table top and it wasn’t a challenge to clean up as the cured gel simply peeled off but you could work on a plastic tray if you have wooden surfaces. Overall I’m impressed – these retail at about £11-£15 from toy shops and online retailers. I think they’re a great gateway product for creative and construction minded kids to get the hang of working with 3D design concepts and have a little play before considering some of the more expensive products on the market. Pitched at 8yrs+ and I’d say this is just right with adult supervision.

The curing / setting process

Laser Pegs toy review

We are such huge fans of construction toys in this house so we jumped at the chance to review a new range and as soon as we received a box containing pieces which light upthe kids wanted to dive right in. We were sent two Laser Pegs construction kits – both of which are “multi models” which means that you can create 4 different build projects with each kit using the same bricks in different combinations. Inside each box is the usual booklet with step by step instructions for one model and then the images on the box show you different forms the kit can take and you can find info on the website to try these out.

I wasn’t sure that a light up brick would be anything other than a gimmick, the packaging has a “try me” button to test the light out but I wondered how this would work within a build and then I quickly realised once we opened the boxes that most of the pieces in the kit are transparent which made complete sense. the instructions themselves were intuitive for Logan to follow immediately with the diagrams being close to scale.

The pieces are split in to different bags inside the box and we like to use party platter type trays (that’s a mum hack for you all to try out) – we pour out the pieces and attempt to keep them in some sort of order – especially for longer building projects if we have to leave them over night but as it happens we became so engrossed with these kits that we managed them in one go. The yellow one was built almost entirely independently by Logan aged 9. He had a little issue with the orientation of some pieces at a difficult stage but for the most part this kept him amused for over an hour and Arlo waited patiently the entire time taking on the role of supervising project manager as he wanted the finished digger to play with.

Arlo’s loves building too but based on the level of difficulty of the instructions I would say that the age rating is spot on at 8+ – there’s hundreds of fiddly pieces in each kit which make for really interesting final builds. We (Logan and I) feel that not only do they make functional vehicles for play but with the lights they make awesome display models for older children too. This is the kind of gift I love for Christmas as it’s one the kids can pull out and enjoy over the holidays to stave off boredom or to use as a bonding experience with other adults.

We did find a couple of pieces to be fiddly during the build, including putting the tyres on to the wheels but it didn’t take anything away from the build experience. We love toys like this which deliver excellent play value, the red racer took us slightly longer to build collaboratively as it had more pieces and steps.

Overall I’m impressed, I did a quick check and found these models and others in the Laser Pegs range available at a variety of retailers from £15 to £30. Logan has gone away to research the other build steps but he didn’t want to dismantle these so I guess they’ll be residing on the mantle piece amongst the Christmas decorations for a while.

Morphun – Total Stem – review

I feel as though I am obsessed with construction, I always have been and so it’s little surprise that this is rubbing off on Arlo. We have all sorts of sets, from the ever popular childrens classics such as Lego, to some newer toy kits featuring magnets and we love sitting down and playing with them – from following instructions to build something “properly” to just coming up with something completely new. It was such a great day for me to bring out some of my childhood Lego bricks to play with Arlo.

I’m currently in the midst of my teacher training and constantly looking at ways to encourage children to engage with Design and Technology as a subject and I’m absolutely fascinated with problem solving and “design through making.” It seems obvious when playing to take some building blocks and try to figure out how to make something – if it doesn’t work then you fiddle around until it does. That’s the fun part.

This trial and error process is essential to design and something which designers in industry participate in regularly but already I have seen children in schools take designs and sketches which they don’t think are good enough and try to scrunch them up to put them in the bin. It’s my mission to encourage children to realise that making mistakes is part of the design process and whatever the project is, you can take an initial sketch or model and annotate it – talk about the bits which don’t work and then figure out how to improve it – it’s very rare to get something right the first time and it’s why we produce models. Some of the worlds most inventive designs have been modelled during the preliminary stages using children’s toys.

This brings me on to the Morphun Total Stem kit I was kindly given to share with you. After spotting a brand new kit on display at the Blog on conference I went to last month I was super excited to see a huge box which includes pulleys and gears and all sorts of other bits and bobs to build with. This is a completely new style of construction kit and the huge box I came home with has been so much fun to explore. Inside are numerous different pieces and a full set of instructions including teaching resources and worksheets for building projects for kids aged 5-10.

I of course started to play with Arlo at home. I pulled out some of the simplest worksheets and we began to make a simple vehicle by slotting pieces together. It’s quite tricky to get the hang of at first because the way these pieces fit together is truly unique – but once you figure it out then it’s intuitive and you can build really solid projects. I was really excited to put together a pulley system to help him rotate the pieces of a “digger” to raise the arm. He was engaged with this throughout the build and then played with the toy we made for quite a while. Often when we use build kits the final piece isn’t robust enough for play and so this was a very pleasant surprise. In fact it took us quite a while to deconstruct it when wanted to make something new.

With quite complex parts involved Arlo isn’t quite there when it comes to building his own mechanical designs independently. He’s happy to slide random pieces together and also work with me on projects and ask for advice on which moving parts will work best but I’m hoping that using these from such a young age will give him insight in to the types of systems required for developing skills in robotics and engineering – it sounds almost far fetched but finding fun in problem solving through play with STEM toys at this age really is useful.

To get a different perspective I invited my nephew Logan to play with this set a she’s at the top end of the age range. He pulled out one of the most challenging projects – a helicopter build with pulleys and gears. We sat together initially and I demonstrated how the pieces work before he was able to independently follow the instructions on the worksheet. Being new to the process he made some mistakes with the orientation of pieces and figured out through the build that he had to go back and make adjustments. Instead of getting frustrated with this he was excited when he figured out these issues and I got a sense of achievement through him explaining exactly why something wouldn’t work and how he was correcting himself.

We spent two hours playing – when he finished the project and he finished with a huge helicopter – this used quite a lot of different pieces and we talked about what would happen if we changed gear sizes or if we began rotating the pulley systems a different way. Instead of just explaining the theory behind the process we were able to build and experiment further and I feel that he got a really good understanding of how systems work. The box also had a healthy supply of pieces left for us to continue to build and play.

Seeing how this new resource engages both a four year old and a ten year old (and myself as an adult) for so much time is really refreshing. I see these as a great investment for a home or indeed in a classroom setting. I’ve spotted Morphun kits available to order in the U.K. on Amazon and I feel that the price ranges for the starter kits are comparable with other brands of construction toys and offer great play value considering the longevity potential for use and the educational play value. There are add on kits and I’m also intrigued by the math and literary sets too.

Stickle Bricks review

Focusing on his construction

Arlo is a huge fan of construction, ever since he has been able to place stacking bricks on top of one another he’s been happy – able to flex his creativity and experiment with materials and resources. This had also been noticed at nursery and we constantly got feedback about how well he did with problem solving. I used to look at the nursery app and see pictures of him playing and try and continue the activities at home, but now he’s started school I’ve got no idea what he gets up to most of the time. He tells me in his own way, but I end up having to put things together to figure out what he’s explaining – I’d been scratching my head for weeks when he started telling me about his teachers building bricks.

Adding smaller pieces and using those fine motor skills

We visited every toy shop I could think of and nothing I pointed out was right, in fact I was beginning to think he was taking me on a wild goose chase but then out of the blue the opportunity came to review Stickle Bricks from Hasbro, and memories of playing with these at school myself came flooding back. I had a quick search online and found that they were available in Costco so we took a trip together one rainy weekend and sure enough as soon as he spotted them he was delighted.

Finding the bricks in Costco

We couldn’t get to the checkout fast enough (I insisted on a detour to the bakery section first) and then had to delve in to the box as soon as we got home. This 200+ piece mega set has everything you need to create all sorts of fun. Suitable for 18m plus too which is great, in fact I can’t believe we haven’t got these in our playroom already.

Pigs can fly (apparently)

If you aren’t sure of what I’m talking about these building blocks have their own unique sticky bits which help you build. Unlike other construction toys accuracy isn’t the most important as as long as you have the motor skills to push two pieces together then you can build and they’re pretty stable in terms of construction.

A close up of the bricks and the sticky bits

This set contains many basic pieces for imaginary play and lots of unique bits and bobs such as wheels, farm yard animals and figure heads. The cardboard box with a carry handle for storage has lots of images which help with ideas and there’s a little leaflet inside – Arlo spotted a tractor and an airplane which he wanted to create and then began approaching the parts with his own ideas, eventually deciding on a robot.

Farm yard animals

At age four this kind of toy is perfect for us to play together and also encourages independent play too. Being made from plastic they can be used in sensory and tuff tray activities and have educational value too. We’re currently working on our phonics and counting so I’ve been using the bricks to form letter shapes and also demonstrate addition and subtraction – because Arlo always is so engaged with the construction element of the play it helps to use this to work on other things and he doesn’t the realise he is learning even more.

Our tractor and trailer – and so many bricks left to keep building

Paw Patrol are on a roll – toy review and giveaway

Paw patrol count with Marshall

Arlo has been obsessed with Ryder and the paw patrollers for such a long time that it feels like we have every single toy car and puppy that has ever existed. They’re our most reached for toys yet somehow on every birthday and Christmas wish list they’re always right there at the top. I was so excited to receive a little bundle of educational Paw Patrol toys and of course Arlo recognised the logo and branding immediately so was keen to tear in to the packaging.

This is an excited face – I promise!

You will know from our Instagram that we create all manner of fun activities from car wash tuff trays to sand pit construction sites and beyond, all with an educational purpose and now Arlo has turned four and started school we have begun with the phonics and numbers in earnest. He wants to count and point out letters on everything from car number plates to cereal box packaging and beyond so this Paw Patrol count with Marshall toy set is ideal. Available from Amazon at £20.99 this set includes ten numbered coins each featuring a character – including Chickoletta!

Count with Marshall coins

This toy has two modes – you can choose colours or numbers and Marshall asks you to feed him a coin of his choosing and showers you with praise when you choose the right coin. This toy is battery powered and hurrah…. The batteries are included so this is a toy which can be played with as soon as it is unwrapped.

The reverse of Count with Marshall with storage and mode switches

The modes are easily selected using a switch and my favourite feature is the little storage space in the back of this toy which has just enough space to store each of the ten coins away safely. I have noticed Arlo has reached for this toy independently and not only does he enjoy the counting activities, but he’s invented his own play and pretends that Marshall is a shop keeper and that he is paying with coins as he is very interested in cash transactions at the moment. One good thing about Paw Patrol is that all the episodes seem to include positive tales which involve communities and team work which is great for inspiring imaginary play at home.

The Paw Patrol Smart Phone

PAW Patrol Smart Phone (SRP £11.49) Available from Amazon

You can use this Paw Patrol Smart Phone to call Ryder and the Pups – and to learn about colours, numbers and much more. There are four activities to explore, call up 10 different characters and say “Hi” by pressing each of the buttons.

There’s lots of interactive fun developing memory, concentration and communication, Arlo knows exactly which buttons to press to hear the voices of his favourite characters and corrects me when I tease him and get them all mixed up.

Like the Count with Marshall toy, this also supports colour and number recognition and focuses his attention. This is the kind of toy you can give a toddler to hold and play with in a supermarket trolley or whilst waiting for food in a restaurant. It encourages little ones to follow instructions and Helps hand-eye coordination with simple instructive tasks and again inspires imaginative play – Arlo pretends that he’s getting a call from Ryder and then rushes off around the house to find the characters and gather them to solve a typical Adventure Bay problem.

PAW Patrol Ryder’s Alphabet Tablet – available from Amazon £18.99

I am delighted to be able to also share with you the opportunity to win Paw Patrol Ryders Alphabet Tablet as part of my festive giveaway – tap the image below to win.

Tap this picture to enter the free giveaway. T&C’s apply click here for more info. Giveaway closes on 5th December

Ryder lights up and asks the child to find a letter, or an object, or to identify the first letter of a particular word. This develops skills like letter and early word recognition, listening and understanding, plus responding to questions.

• Encourages learning about letters, phonetic sounds and words

• Touch-sensitive screen makes exploration fun and easy to follow

• Helps with early recognition of the alphabet and spelling out simple words based on everyday objects and characters from PAW Patrol adventures

• Builds communication skills and encourages hand-eye co-ordination

Paw Patrol is on a roll

Toys provided by Trends U.K. for the purposes of review and the giveaway

Living nature – Highland Cow – review

Arlo is a fan of all creatures great and small so when I met the team from Living World and had a chance to see their product range I knew he would be a fan and was so pleased when they invited us to review one of their animals.

Our highland cow arrived via special delivery in its own cardboard box which is cleverly designed to look just like an animal transportation crate which also conveniently doubles up as a carry case. Arlo could see his new little friend through the window and couldn’t wait to burst open the perforated edges on the door to greet him.

Inside the box the cow was packaged with a little straw (not too much so easily tidied away) and a booklet which is described as an owners manual full of bright picture and illustrations which are great to explore. Our booklet was specific to farmyard related animals and showcased some other animals available from Living Nature.

One thing I’m delighted to be made aware of is this family -owned businesses commitment to sustainability. The Scotland based company fills its plush toys with 100% post consumer recycled plastic stuffing – and each toy comes with a little tag which tells you exactly how many plastic bottles were recycled in its manufacturing process.

It’s no surprises that the highland cow is a best seller – the attention to detail from Living Nature is again evident with the styling of each plush – they are finished with an air brushing technique to achieve this effect, and also use two tone fur which is most unusual. ’ve also noticed that the range showcases different animals beautifully with small details such as different eye shapes and colours to resemble each animal more closely. The fir on each animal feels different too, trimmed to make sure they really are as close as possible to real creatures and this detailing is something that animal lovers like Arlo pick up on.

Arlo enjoyed placing the cow carefully back in and out of the box and carrying it around to show his grandparents and then after a little while we realised amongst the fur was a little touch sensor in the left hoof which made a delightful moo. The Living Nature range is Available to order online now. If you’re purchasing an animal as a gift then you can upgrade your order to include things such as a subscription to National Geographic magazine.

Kooky Critters Playful Bailey Review

As some of you may know we have all sorts of pets in our household including Parrots and Arlo’s best friend, a fancy mouse named Bingo. Arlo has been asking for a puppy for almost six months but unfortunately we do not have the time for a new pet right now and so this is the very next best thing. I’ve seen all sorts of interactive animal toys but never one with quite so many functions and admittedly we are still trying to work some of Baileys out. He’s a clever little fellow.

Playful Bailey is a Kooky Critter and available to order online now from Smyths Toys Superstores and retails at £24.99. He arrives in a little box and is just the right size to hold in little ones hands – that’s if you can keep him still. As soon as we unboxed him he was rearing to go. The box contents include three small dog treats, a bone, a little tug toy and a special bowl. There’s a little card template which helps you learn how to place everything within his reach whilst you learn his tricks and a handy guide for adults too. He has sticky paw pads so that you can pose him too.

The first thing we noticed was his cartoon like appearance with those big googly eyes and floppy ears – and we quickly realised that he is very sensitive to touch and seemed to be responding to our voices. Arlo held him on his back, tickled his tummy and to our delight he calmed down and started snoring which gave me enough time to read the instructions and figure out some more of his tricks. I watched as Arlo praised him “good boy Bailey” and then laughed as he figured out new tricks and then showcased them to me.

Our favourite feature is his “singing” – if you touch his nose in just the right way he barks and then treats you to a delightful little tune. It took us a little while for Arlo to get the knack of it but once he did he was extremely proud of himself. I imagine Bailey is going to be on the top of lots of Christmas wish lists this year.

Playful Baileys key features:

– Interactive features and reactions and 30+ sounds – he behaves and sounds just like a real dog!

-Check out his cute cartoon-like appearance, with his floppy ears, googly eyes and flapping tongue o Watch him bark, beg, sniff, sleep, drink, blow a kiss, and more!

-He even reacts to touch – give him belly rubs and pet him like a good boy!

-Play tug-of-war with him using his pull toy!o Feed him with his food bowl and watch as the food really disappears as he eats!

-Peppy Puppy comes with 7 accessories: his disappearing food bow, 3 food accessories, a magnetic bone, a magnetic pull toy and a drinking bowl