Days Out: LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham

Over the summer, with much fanfare, LEGOLAND opened the new LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham. We had a weekend away in Birmingham in September and a visit to LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham was very high on our list of things to do.

Days Out: LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham is quite similar to the one in Manchester. We visit the Manchester centre quite often, so it all felt quite similar there. We loved the Birmingham Miniland – which includes models of some of the more iconic buildings and places to visit in and around Birmingham. We’d been to Warwick Castle the previous day, so their model of the castle was an absolute treat!

Days Out: LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham

The new LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham has all of the things we’ve come to expect from a Discovery Centre. The Kingdom Quest ride is something we enjoy doing; but there’s often a queue and if you just want to get straight into the LEGO action it’s easy to skip.

The 4D Cinema (which we didn’t go in, because the boy just wanted to play with the LEGO) looked good. The queues were pretty minimal for that and I always think it’s a good excuse to sit down for 15 minutes and enjoy a mini-LEGO movie.

Days Out: LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham

Also at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham there’s the Duplo Farm, LEGO City Builder and LEGO Racers Build and Test. These are all areas where you can just dive in and build whatever you want with the millions of bricks which are there. These are obviously very popular and my son loves (really loves) the chance to sit and build with unlimited bricks for as long as he wants. It is a LEGO fans dream really.

If you’re looking for a more formal building experience, the Creative Workshop was brilliant. They run regular sessions throughout the day. Everyone is given a kit and instructions to build something (on the day we visited it was a LEGO BBQ). It’s well worth setting aside a bit of time to do one of the workshops, for me the workshop was probably my highlight.

Days Out: LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham

My son is not a fan of rides; so we gave the Merlin’s Apprentice Ride a miss in favour of half an hour of LEGO City Soft Play. The soft play is always popular. It’s well thought out, with lots of fun LEGO details and it’s soft play; so all kids like it and ultimately refuse to leave until you promise to buy them a biscuit/LEGO from the shop/a puppy.

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham is well worth visiting if you’re in the area. It’s not massive, but there’s enough to entertain you for a few hours. We loved Miniland, the Creative Workshop, all the LEGO building areas and the soft play.

Tickets are from £15 per person, but deals and discounts are available online. For more information about Legoland Discovery Centre Birmingham and Merlin Annual Passes, visit their website. Our Merlin Annual Pass gives us entry to all Merlin Attractions and it worth getting if you’re a regular visitor.

Disclosure: We are Merlin Annual Pass Ambassadors this year. All images and opinions are our own.

Recipe: Armenian Style Ikra – Aubergine Dip

My husband is half Armenian and we love eating Armenian food at home. It’s fairly tricky to find Armenian restaurants, but there is an amazing Armenian deli in Gatley called Armenique, which isn’t far from where we live. We go fairly regularly and I usually order the salad plate. One of my favourite things, and something I always order is their igra, which after years of searching for, I realise it is more commonly known as ikra.

Ikra is an aubergine dip, you can make it as chunky or as smooth as you like. At Armenique it’s quite chunky, so that’s my preference. It tastes far richer than it actually is. It’s so healthy, it’s virtually a guilt free dip. I make it quite often these days, it’s a lovely quick lunch with some warmed pita, or as a dip to share with friends and a bottle of wine. And it’s a great way of using some of the cheap aubergines which are in the shops at this time of year and it freezes really well too!

Recipe: Armenian Style Ikra - Aubergine Dip

My recipe makes quite a lot of dip, but it disappears quite quickly in my house. If it’s too much for you to tackle, you can always freeze some for a later date.

Armenian Style Ikra – Aubergine Dip

Ingredients:
2 aubergines
Olive oil
1 large red onion
1 large green pepper
2 fat cloves of garlic, or more if you move garlic
4 salad tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Half a lemon
Half a teaspoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley
Optional: A tablespoon of tomato puree, if your tomatoes are a bit insipid

How to make your Armenian Style Ikra:
Take your aubergines and cut them into quarters. Put them on a baking sheet and drizzle olive oil over them. Put them in the oven for 45-60 minutes at 200°. Turn them every 15 minutes or so. You want them to be soft and squishy rather than brown and crispy.

While your aubergines are cooking, finely dice your onion and pepper and with a splash of olive oil, cook them very gently until soft but not brown. Once they’re soft add your crushed garlic cloves and stir.

Take your tomatoes and skin them. To do this easily make a large X on the bottom of each one, put them in a large bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave them to soak until the skin starts curling on the X’s. Once they are at that stage, take the out of the water and pull the skin off. Some people remove the seeds too, but I don’t mind them, I will leave that up to you. Remove the core, chop the tomatoes and add them to the pan.

Recipe: Armenian Style Ikra - Aubergine Dip

Continue cooking your onion, pepper and tomato mixture on a very low light with the lid on. When your aubergines are cooked remove them from the oven and let them cool enough so you can handle them. With a teaspoon and a sharp knife scrape the insides out of the aubergine. Chop the flesh very finely and add it to the pan. Discard the aubergine skin. Again this is a matter of preference, I actually really like the taste and texture of the skin, so I always finely chop a little bit of it and add it to the mix.

If your tomatoes were a bit pale and lacked flavour, you can add some tomato puree at this stage, this beefs up the tomato flavour and is worth doing.

Season the mixture with a little salt and pepper, you can always add more later. Cook the mixture for 30-60 minutes on a low light with the lid on the pan. Stir every so often. How long you cook it for depends on the texture you want. I cook it for around 30 minutes because I like a chunky texture. If you cook it for longer it breaks down more and becomes smoother.

Towards the end of cooking, squeeze in the juice of half a lemon, add your sugar and taste the ikra for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper if you think it needs it. Finely chop your fresh parsley and add it. Give it all a big stir and leave it to cool.

Recipe: Armenian Style Ikra - Aubergine Dip

Ikra is usually served cold or at room temperature and is great with all kinds of things. We’ve been trying some new vegan crispbreads and vegetable chips from The Beginnings who are based in Latvia. They go so well with the ikra and together make a pretty much guilt free lunch. I absolutely loved the beetroot chips and my husband went mad for the kale chips, but the tomato chips worked brilliantly with the ikra.

Recipe: Armenian Style Ikra - Aubergine Dip

If you enjoyed this recipe, here are some more of our Armenian recipes:

Recipe: Armenian Style Ikra - Aubergine Dip

Guillaume Cornet shows us how to draw Elephants on Tour

This week I’m taking part in a a Blog Tour Week. If you’ve never heard of a blog tour, it’s where a group of book bloggers are sent a book to read and review and each day one of them shares their review. Yesterday I posted my review which you can find here, today I have a real treat to share with you.

The author of the brilliant book, Elephants on Tour: A Search and Find Journey Around the World; Guillaume Cornet has kindly offered to show me, and you how to draw three of the elephants characters from Elephants on Tour, so I’ll hand you over to Guillaume…

Hi, I’m Guillaume – author and illustrator of Elephants on Tour. For my new book I spent hours meticulously drawing 16 incredible cities around the world – adding in my favourite elephant friends for you to search and find in each scene! Today, I’ll be showing you how you can draw three wacky elephant characters of your own. Let’s get doodling!

How to draw Elephants on Tour Guillaume Cornet

Here’s how to draw the elephant with the dog…How to draw Elephants on Tour Guillaume CornetAnd the elephant with the snake…

How to draw Elephants on Tour Guillaume Cornet

And finally, the elephant driving the car…

How to draw Elephants on Tour Guillaume Cornet

Elephants on Tour: A Search and Find Journey Around the World is absolutely beautifully drawn. It’s not word heavy, but it’s exactly the kind of book which will keep the kids engrossed for ages; searching out all the little details and learning a little about what other countries are like.

Elephants on Tour: A Search and Find Journey Around the World

My son loves maps and atlases, so Elephants on Tour is a really fun way to add some extra interest to his reading. Following the five elephants around the world on their adventures is great fun and it’s just a brilliant book, especially if you like searching out little details, and elephants of course!

Elephants on Tour: A Search and Find Journey Around the World

Elephants on Tour: A Search and Find Journey Around the World by Guillaume Cornet costs £14.99. It’s published by Laurence King and it is available from a wide range of bookshops.

For more information about the Blog Tour or to download some colouring sheets and other resources, click here.

Elephants on Tour: A Search and Find Journey Around the World

This week we are looking at a new book – Elephants on Tour: A Search and Find Journey Around the World and taking part in a Blog Tour Week. If you’ve never heard of a blog tour, it’s where a group of book bloggers are sent a book to read and review and each day one of them shares their review. Today is my day, so here goes!

Elephants on Tour: A Search and Find Journey Around the World

Elephants on Tour: A Search and Find Journey Around the World is a beautiful hardback book. If you’re not sure what a search and find journey is, think Where’s Wally but with elephants. It’s an illustrated tour of great cities and buildings around the world.

From the skyscrapers of New York and Tokyo to the jungles of Peru and Madagascar, the elephants are off to see some of the most amazing places in the world – discovering famous buildings, food, transport and activities in each destination along the way.

Elephants on Tour: A Search and Find Journey Around the World

Each page is a riot of detail. The hand drawn scenes are packed with things to discover. How many London buses can you find on the London page? Why is there a cat climbing up the Houses of Parliament? Where are the five elephants on tour and what are they doing? Each page comes complete with a list of essential facts so you can learn a little more about each city.

There are also travel pages. For example, when you journey from St Petersburg to Tokyo you ride the Mongolian Railway. There are facts about that too, and some suggestions for funny things to look out for on the pages before and after.

We’ve been looking at a page each night before bed and if I’m honest, it’s a little bit addictive. It’s also a great starting point if you’re introducing a new topic. My son is currently studying the Amazon Rainforest at school, so the page on the Amazon was a good place to start talking about life there.

Elephants on Tour: A Search and Find Journey Around the World

Author and illustrator, Guillaume Cornet has created a brilliant book. Elephants on Tour: A Search and Find Journey Around the World is absolutely beautifully drawn. It’s not word heavy, but it’s exactly the kind of book which will keep the kids (and you) engrossed for ages; searching out all the little details and learning a little about what other countries are like.

Visit my blog tomorrow if you’d like to learn how to draw the Elephants on Tour with Guillaume Cornet!

Elephants on Tour: A Search and Find Journey Around the World by Guillaume Cornet costs £14.99. It’s published by Laurence King and it is available from a wide range of bookshops.

For more information about the Blog Tour or to download some colouring sheets and other resources, click here.

For details of more children’s books published by Laurence King, visit their website.

We were sent a copy of Elephants on Tour: A Search and Find Journey Around the World for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Toy Review: HEXBUG Robot Wars Clusterbots Stadium

As a teenager I used to love watching Robot Wars. I liked checking out the robots and trying to guess which one would win and which one would just be smoldering bits of metal at the end of the battle. I’m keen to pass on my love of Robot Wars to the next generation. We’ve watched a few episodes of the more recent series of Robot Wars and we’ve been playing with our new HEXBUG Robot Wars Clusterbots Stadium; which I reckon is just about as much fun as the real thing.

The HEXBUG Robot Wars Clusterbots Stadium is part of a wider collection of HEXBUG Robot Wars toys. It costs £19.99 as it a great starter sized set. It comes with two robots, two sets of armour and a plastic stadium (shaped a bit like a giant fidget spinner). For the money, you get quite a lot of Robot Wars kit to play with.

The HEXBUG Robot Wars Clusterbots Stadium is pretty simple to put together. You clip the pieces of the plastic stadium together and slot the legs into place. Likewise the HEXBUGS are good to go, you can put armour and weapons onto them to make them more battle ready.

Toy Review: HEXBUG Robot Wars Clusterbots Stadium

The robots – Alter Ego (the blue one) and Warp (the red one) come with a selection of armour and weapons which you just clip on. If you’re not using the armour or weapons in the battle, they have a special holder to keep everything safe. It’s worth using the holder, the small bits of plastic could very easily get mislaid or roll under the sofa or something.

To play Robot Wars, each player switches on their robot (there’s an on/off button underneath each one) and puts it down in one of the corners of the arena. When both players are ready; everyone releases their robot and the first bot to get knocked out of the stadium loses. The winner is the last one in the stadium.

Toy Review: HEXBUG Robot Wars Clusterbots Stadium

The HEXBUGS operate by vibration. They don’t have wheels or anything to move them, just little rubber legs which propel them when they are switched on.

As well as Alter Ego and Warp, there are two other HEXBUG robots to collect – Sparkplug and Cold Front. They’re all pretty cool.

HEXBUG Robot Wars Clusterbots Stadium is suitable for ages 3+ though their little fingers might struggle with putting the fiddly armour and weapons on. My nearly 8 year old absolutely loved it and has asked for more of the range for his birthday. It’s all good clean fun. It’s simple to set up and use, he can play by himself or get us involved in the action.

The HEXBUG Robot Wars Clusterbots Stadium would make a great little Christmas present for someone who wants to play robot wars but you’re not sure if its worth investing in the larger £80 stadium.

Toy Review: HEXBUG Robot Wars Clusterbots Stadium

The HEXBUG Robot Wars Clusterbots Stadium is widely available from a range of retailers and online. It costs just £19.99 and comes with everything you need to head into battle, Robot Wars style.

We were sent a HEXBUG Robot Wars Clusterbots Stadium for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Days Out: 5 Things to do in Keswick

Last month we spent a weekend glamping in Keswick. It was utterly beautiful and we had a very lovely and very busy weekend. The weather was fine and I think we spent our time well, seeing some of the sights and appreciating the beautiful Lake District landscape. If you’re planning a visit to Keswick or the Lake District, here’s our round-up of five things to do in Keswick.

Keswick Launch Boat Trip around Derwentwater

A trip to the Lake District isn’t complete without a boat trip. Be it hiring a rowing boat and doing it yourself, or climbing aboard one of the beautiful steamers, it’s a great way to explore the lakes. We went on a trip around Derwentwater in one of the beautiful Keswick Launch boats. You can hop on and off the boat at various points around the lake, which makes it great for exploring the area.

Days Out: 5 Things to do in Keswick

Derwentwater is excessively beautiful. On the day we took our boat trip, the sun was shining but the sky was full of dramatic clouds. It’s well worth taking some time out for a boat trip.

An adult round trip day pass £10.75; Children (5-15 years) £5.65; Children under 5 go free; special group rates for over 10 persons.

Days Out: 5 Things to do in Keswick

The Derwent Pencil Museum, Keswick

The Derwent Pencil Museum is located in Keswick town centre and is much more interesting than you might think. There’s the World’s Largest Pencil, a large collection of novelty pencil sharpeners; The Queen’s diamond Jubilee pencil and some amazing miniature pencil sculptures.

Days Out: The Derwent Pencil Museum, Keswick

There are also some audio-visual exhibits and the fascinating story of how the Derwent Pencil Factory developed the technology to hide tiny maps and a compass inside a pencil for our agents to use in WW2. Plus a lovely area where you can sit and draw for as long as you want.

The Derwent Pencil Museum has a good shop, a great cafe and it’s a cracking way to spend an afternoon in Keswick. You can read our full review here.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

High above the town sits Castlerigg Stone Circle, which overlooks the Thirlmere Valley with the mountains of High Seat and Helvellyn as a backdrop. The stone circle is thought to have been constructed around 3000 BC, and is potentially one of the earliest stone circles in the country.

Days Out: 5 Things to do in Keswick

It’s worth the short drive up to Castlerigg for the panoramic views alone, but I loved the atmosphere up there. It felt like a very special place, which it is. It’s free to visit, there are a couple of information boards and usually an ice cream van. What more do you need?

Keswick Market

If you’re visiting Keswick on a weekend, it would be almost rude not to visit the market. Keswick Market takes place every Saturday and has everything you could want; from fruit and veg, meat, scotch eggs, pasties, toys, crafts, pet beds, jam and chutney,  and brilliant bakers. We filled our boots (well, our car boot) with lovely things, made a start on our Christmas shopping and just spent a couple of hours browsing, buying and generally enjoying the lovely market.

Days Out: 5 Things to do in Keswick

The Lakes Distillery

The Lakes Distillery is located a short drive out of Keswick. I really wanted to do the tour, but we arrived too late, so we had a meal in their fabulous on-site bistro instead. It’s worth going for the food alone, but the distillery tour looked really interesting.

They have a few different tours as well as tastings, plus a meet the alpacas tour, which my 7 year old would have really enjoyed. We will just have to go back again and do all the cool things we missed out on. We did manage a quick look at the public areas and bought some nice things to take home from the shop.

To find out more about the Lakes Distillery, visit their website.

Days Out: 5 Things to do in Keswick

Have you visited Keswick recently? Have I missed anything? Where would you visit if you were in the area?

Days Out: 5 Things to do in Keswick

Fakeaway Recipe: McDonald’s Style Apple Pies

At this time of the year friends and neighbours are very generously sharing their grow your own results with us. My sister-in-law has a beautiful apple tree and she gave us a big basket of cooking apples. They’re huge and juicy and almost sweet enough to eat raw, but I had plans for my basket of apples. Apple pie plans.

A trip to McDonald’s is a rare treat for us, and one thing we always order is their apple pies. There’s something a bit special about a McDonald’s Apple Pie; they’re crispy and sweet, filled with cinnamon spiced apple and almost always lava hot. Over the years I’ve come to prefer them to most normal apple pies. I’ve always wanted to try to make my own, I’ve tried on and off to recreate them at home but never really got near. But this week I managed it.

Fakeaway Recipe: McDonald's Style Apple Pies

I always cook up a huge pan of apples with sugar and cinnamon, then I divide it into portions and freeze them for when I need them. I started off this recipe with over a kilogram of apples and only used a fairly small amount in the apple pies, so if you have any stewed apple left over then do freeze it, or just serve it on another day with yoghurt, ice cream or custard.

McDonald’s style apple pies

Ingredients:
200g Cooking apple, sliced
30g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon of apple pie seasoning, or cinnamon if prefer
1 packet of ready rolled shortcrust pastry
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
1 tablespoon of water
Cinnamon sugar

How to make McDonald’s Style Apple Pies:
Put your apple, caster sugar and apple pie seasoning in a saucepan and cook gently until most of the apple is soft. In a separate saucepan mix 2 tablespoons of caster sugar and 1 tablespoon of water and cook gently until it makes a sugar syrup, you will need this towards the end of the process.

Pre-heat your oven to 200°. Unroll your pastry sheet and using a ruler and a sharp knife divide it up into 8 equal sized rectangles.

Take one pastry rectangle and dollop two teaspoons of stewed apple in the middle. Take another rectangle and place it on top. With the back of a fork press around the edges of the apple pie then put on a baking sheet. Repeat until you have four sealed pies.

Fakeaway Recipe: McDonald's Style Apple Pies

Slit a small hole in the top of each pie to allow the steam to come out and then brush each one liberally with your sugar syrup. The thicker the syrup is the better. Sprinkle each one over with cinnamon sugar and put in the oven and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

You may be tempted to gobble them down straight away, but like the McDonald’s originals, they will be lava hot. If you can, do let them sit for ten minutes or so before tucking in.

The boys went a bit bananas for these apple pies. I’ve made them a couple of times since and the difference between a good pie and a really good pie is the thickness of the sugar syrup. The thicker it is, the more is gives that crunchy sweet glaze a McDonald’s pie has.

All you need now is a super-thick vanilla milkshake to go with it!

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like these Homemade Spiced Apple Pie Cookies.

Fakeaway Recipe: McDonald's Style Apple Pies

Recycled Crafts: Robot Junk Modelling

My son is always coming home from school or from Beavers with things he’s created out of junk. They have a big box of little boxes, cardboard tubes, bottles, egg boxes and other junk which they can use to create all kinds of things. I fancied getting in on the action. So I gathered a some junk and a selection of crafty bits and bobs and we had an afternoon of robot junk modelling.

I had the idea of taking one of those small cereal boxes and covering it in tin foil, then letting our imaginations go wild. It was pretty simple to cover them in tin foil. I just cut a piece to size, covered it in glue and wrapped it up like a present.

Recycled Crafts: Robot Junk Modelling

Robot Junk Modelling

You will need:
A small cereal box
Tin foil
Bostik White Glu
Empty toilet roll
Sticky tape
Various crafty bits like pipe-cleaners, sticky foam pieces, googly eyes

Recycled Crafts: Robot Junk Modelling

How to get started with Robot Junk Modelling:
Take your cereal box and with some sticky tape, seal up the box. Take a piece of tin foil and cover it in a thin layer of the Bostik White Glu. Carefully wrap the foil around the box, folding the ends in like you would when you wrapped a present.

Grab whatever crafty bits you have. I found some pipe-cleaners, some self adhesive foam shapes, some googly eyes, little pom poms and some beads. Have a think about how you might use your craft pieces to create a robot face, just use your imagination. Use the glue to stick anything which isn’t self adhesive on.

Recycled Crafts: Robot Junk Modelling

I cut down some toilet rolls, covered them in foil and attached them to the sides of the robot head. I also twirled some pipe-cleaners for antennae and embellished them with some beads.

As you can see, both me and the boy had the same pile of crafty bits in front of us, but our robots are completely different. I think his is pretty cool, mine is pretty conventional. What will your robot look like?

Recycled Crafts: Robot Junk Modelling

Check out my other craft tutorials here!

I am a Bostik Craft Blogger and I was sent the materials to create this craft from Craft Merrily. I have not been compensated for this post. 

Recycled Crafts: Robot Junk Modelling

Giveaway & Review: I Am Not A… Craft Activity Books

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but each Wednesday I try to publish some kind of book review or round-up and each Thursday I do some kind of craft. Imagine my delight when I opened up a package containing all four of the I Am Not A… craft activity books. Crafts and books… two of my favourite things!

The series of I Am Not A… craft activity books is written by Sara Stanford and contains the following titles –

  • I Am Not A Cereal Box
  • I Am Not A Toilet Roll
  • I Am Not An Old Sock
  • I Am Not An Eggbox

Review: I Am Not A... Craft Activity Books

They are ideal books for those of us who look in our recycling bins and wish we could turn some of our trash into treasure. This series encourages you to recycle your cereal boxes, old socks, toilet rolls or eggboxes.

Each book shows you how to create ten craft projects in an easy to follow, step-by-step way. The books are just the thing for children to follow by themselves, or with a little extra help from a grown-up. I’m sure teachers and playgroups will also find a lot of craft inspiration in these books.

I Am Not A Cereal Box shows you how to make a robot, an aquarium, a car, a dinosaur, a castle, an elephant, a rock star guitar, a building, a marble run and a puppet theatre. In I Am Not A Toilet Roll you can make a shark, a bat, an elephant, a rocket, a pirate, a unicorn, a ninja, a gingerbread man, a castle and a mermaid. The other books in the series have a similarly dazzling selection of craft ideas to make. 

The books are well illustrated and simply written, so children will find the instructions easy to follow. Each page also includes some fun facts and other ideas for similar crafts to make. At the start of each book is a handy list of the craft materials you might need throughout the book.

Review: I Am Not A... Craft Activity Books

If you have crafty children, or you want to encourage them to craft a little more, these easy to follow books are a great place to start. I know my son always loves junk modelling and creating things out of things that might otherwise have been thrown in the bin. I know my son is already drawing up a things to make list and I’m collecting all the toilet rolls I can get my hands on. Always a good sign!

Each book in the series costs £6.99 and they are available to pre-order now online or in good bookshops.

Win the I Am Not A… Craft Activity Books Collection

To be in with a chance to win the I Am Not A… Craft Activity Books Collection worth £27.96, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. The winner will be sent a the I Am Not A… Craft Activity Books Collection consisting of four books worth a total of £27.96.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 31st October 2018.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winners name will be available on request
10. Address details will be passed on to Carlton Books in order for them to send the prize out.
11. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
12. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

We were sent these books for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Toy Review: Clementoni Mind Designer Robot

My almost 8 year old absolutely adores science and we are very keen to encourage this at home. We are firm believers in learning through play, if you have fun learning then whatever you’re learning usually sticks. This week we’ve been putting the Clementoni Mind Designer Robot through its paces. This clever little robot can help with all kinds of things, from spacial awareness, maths, reasoning and geometry. It’s a clever piece of kit and no mistake.

Toy Review: Clementoni Mind Designer Robot

The Clementoni Mind Designer Robot costs £49.99 and in the box you will find:

  • MIND – Educational Digital Robot
  • A double-sided “board”
  • Transparent disc (to position the pens)
  • Three felt tip pens
  • 10 sheets of A3 paper
  • List of voice commands
  • Instruction manual

MIND is pretty simple to set up. You will need 4 AA batteries and one of those little screwdrivers to open the battery compartment. You will also need a tablet, we have an iPad which worked well. There’s a free app to download which you can use to operate MIND.

MIND has a control keypad in his back, a mode selector and microphone. You can programme him to move and draw shapes and he can memorise a sequence of up to 40 commands.

When we were first getting to grips with MIND we were mostly using the app mode and the voice commands to get it to draw geometric shapes. This is a good way to get used to how it works (and as a parent I can’t tell you how good it is to tell someone to do something and it actually gets done).

Toy Review: Clementoni Mind Designer Robot

We moved on to the educational mode. For this you need the double-sided board, which isn’t actually a board, but a huge A1 glossy piece of paper. The yellow board features the Number Challenge. You choose your level; easy, medium or difficult. We chose the easy level. In this game, MIND needs to be programmed with the directions it needs to move in to get to the correct square on the board. There will be simple sums to complete along the way.

On the blue board you need to find you way around a maze, collecting objects MIND says you need along the way. This is a great exercise in logic, reasoning, strategy and spacial awareness.

Toy Review: Clementoni Mind Designer Robot

It’s a remarkably simple piece of kit. Once you have read the instructions and got the hang of it, it’s great fun and really, really educational. I know for my son playing with MIND will really cement some maths and give it a practical application. For me it’s the thinking ahead and in steps which I think will make a big difference to him. He tends to rush at things and this may help him to take a step back and approach things in a slower, more methodical way.

When I told my husband that the Clementoni Mind Designer Robot cost £49.99 he was impressed; he thought it would cost nearly double that. We really, really liked it and I hope that my son will play with it a lot.

Toy Review: Clementoni Mind Designer Robot

Things to remember about the Clementoni Mind Designer Robot:
  • You DO need a tablet to use alongside this
  • You DO need 4 AA batteries
  • If you are giving this as a gift, it’s probably worth carefully taking it out of the box and playing with it, downloading the app and figuring out how it works before you wrap it up. If you know what you’re doing beforehand, you can save an hour of setting up and instruction manual reading on Christmas morning. Trust me on this one.

It’s a big present to buy for someone, but it does have a lot of different functions. It’s enjoyable to play with, even on the basic drawing geometrical shapes mode and I really like that there’s lots of learning to be had with this. The best thing is that it doesn’t feel like learning and gives a child a practical application for their maths etc.

The Clementoni Mind Designer Robot costs £49.99, is suitable for ages 7+ and is available from a wide range of retailers including Smyths Toys.

We were sent the Clementoni Mind Designer Robot for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.