Review: A visit to the SEA LIFE Virtual Santa’s Grotto

We were invited to experience the SEA LIFE Virtual Santa’s Grotto in exchange for this review. All images and opinions are our own.

What a year it’s been. I think many of us hoped for something like a normal Christmas; but as the days passed, more and more events and fun things have been cancelled. Living in a Tier 3 area, I’ve been pretty much resigned to having a smaller than usual Christmas with my family, and I’m not sure that’s necessarily a bad thing; although somewhat disappointing for a small boy who loves all the colour and fun of Christmas.

Review: A visit to the SEA LIFE Virtual Santa’s Grotto

With most of the grotto experiences closed for Christmas, I was looking around for a virtual grotto to bridge that gap. Thankfully SEA LIFE knew that this year the festive season was going to be very different; so they have launched an exciting new virtual Santa experience, with Santa being zoomed straight into your own home.

The Zoom experience lasts around 10 minutes in total. It begins with Santa’s favourite elf, Binky Tinselsmith, and a flock of cheeky penguins guiding you through a magical winter wonderland before you are zoomed into Santa’s grotto to speak the man himself. You can chat with Santa in his cosy lodge and tell him all of your festive wishes, and if you’re anything like my boy, you’ll bond over a shared love of Lego.

Review: A visit to the SEA LIFE Virtual Santa’s Grotto

Hats off to Santa, who managed to persuade my son to at least try some sprouts on Christmas Day and confirmed that he had made it onto the nice list this year. We were also able to find out what he might like us to leave out for him and the reindeer on Christmas Eve.

We loved it, it was ten minutes of Christmas magic beamed straight into our home. There are a lot of nice touches; including a sing-a-long session with Santa, as well as some nice graphics which made it feel extra special.

There’s always a bit of anxiety about the technology failing with these kinds of things; but there were no problems at all. I set up the laptop ready for the Zoom call and we were sat waiting when the Zoom began. It worked perfectly and we were even sent a video of our call to help us remember the experience. This is available to purchase separately.

Review: A visit to the SEA LIFE Virtual Santa’s Grotto

This experience costs £30 per family (as many people can join the call as you like); and each booking receives a free child’s ticket to visit the attraction on a date and time to suit you.

You can book a visit to Santa’s virtual SEA LIFE Grotto from 5th – 24th December. For more information and to book, please visit the website.

24 Acts of Kindness for Advent

Advent is traditionally a time where we wait patiently and count down to the birth of the baby Jesus. These days, many children and families know Advent best for counting the days until Christmas and that big pile of presents under the tree. Usually there are chocolate Advent calendars, in some homes they still light Advent candles and mark the days and weeks of Advent in a more religious way.

Whether you’re religious or not, Advent is a period which many people mark time with in their own way. I’m trying to live a kinder life (not that it’s been full of mean things so far, but there’s always room for more kindness) so I’ve come up with 24 acts of kindness you could consider doing in the run up to Christmas.

24 Acts of Kindness for Advent

24 Acts of Kindness for Advent

  1. Send charity Christmas cards
  2. Leave a nice online review for a small local business
  3. Write some notes telling people what you appreciate about them
  4. Make a donation to a small charity
  5. Put some loose change in a tip jar
  6. Bake treats for your neighbours or co-workers
  7. Have a clear out and donate your unwanted clothes to charity
  8. Make someone you live with breakfast in bed
  9. Phone a friend or family member each day
  10. Do a beach clean, or street clean, or a litter pick in a park
  11. Organise a charity bake sale
  12. Donate to your local food bank
  13. Compliment other people
  14. Make a point of doing self-care every day, whatever that looks like
  15. Leave candy canes on the door handles of your neighbours with a nice note
  16. Make a log pile in your garden so the wildlife has somewhere to cosy up over winter
  17. Make and send Christmas cards to the residents of your local nursing home
  18. Paint some happy rocks and leave them in your local park for people to find
  19. Leave a little present for your post person as a thank you
  20. Sellotape a bus fare to a bus stop
  21. Write a letter to your teacher saying what you appreciate about them
  22. Make and deliver a meal to someone who might appreciate that
  23. Pass on some books you’ve enjoyed to others
  24. Donate a winter coat to charity

24 Acts of Kindness for Advent

Homemade Gifts: Peppermint Bark Buttons

Homemade treats make for really lovely gifts at Christmas. These Peppermint Bark Buttons are really fun to make and they’re delicious too.

I’ve been making variations of these chocolate buttons since I found a silicone mould in a charity shop for £1 a couple of years ago. They couldn’t be more simple; melt some chocolate, pour it in the mould and decorate however you want.

Homemade Gifts: Peppermint Bark Buttons

These are a slightly tidier looking version of the classic Peppermint Bark we all know and love. Peppermint Bark is just layers of melted chocolate mixed with some peppermint extract, which is then sprinkled with crushed candy canes. It’s simple, but these Peppermint Bark Buttons look a bit more sophisticated and are ideal for bagging up and giving as Christmas gifts.

Homemade Gifts: Peppermint Bark Buttons

Peppermint Bark Buttons

Ingredients:

200g of milk chocolate
A few drops of peppermint extract
200g of white chocolate
3 candy canes

How to make your buttons…

Boil some water and pour the water into your pan so it’s about 3cm deep. Carefully place a glass bowl in the pan making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. This is called a bain marie.

Break or chop your chocolate up into small pieces and put it in the glass bowl. The water in the pan needs to be at a gentle simmer, not bubbling and boiling. Stir the chocolate until it is melted.

OR… you can melt your chocolate in the microwave, I do it in 30 second bursts and I stir in between to help melt the chocolate. If you microwave it for too long the chocolate will go all grainy and will be ruined, so be careful.

At this point you need to put a few drops of the peppermint extract in the melted milk chocolate and give it a good stir. I put in 5 drops and that was enough, so go carefully, you can always add more but you can’t take it away once it’s in there.

Using a spoon, scoop out about a teaspoon of the melted milk chocolate into each of the moulds. Try and put an equal amount in each. Gently shake the silicone tray so the chocolate settles. Pop the tray into the fridge while you crack in with the next steps.

Homemade Gifts: Peppermint Bark Buttons

Now melt your white chocolate either in the microwave or on the hob in a bain marie. Once it’s melted, grab your mould from the fridge and scoop another teaspoon of white chocolate over the top. Once you’ve finished, give the tray a shake and all the melted chocolate should level off.

Now you need to crush your candy canes. You can do this by putting them in a zip lock bag and smashing them up with a rolling pin. If like me for some reason your candy canes were soft and bendy, then you can just cut them into small chunks with a pair of scissors. Sprinkle your little candy cane pieces over the top and then put your buttons in the fridge to chill for at least two hours. I left mine overnight.

Homemade Gifts: Peppermint Bark Buttons

If you don’t have anything like my lovely button mould, then you could make little circles of melted milk chocolate on some baking parchment, then top with a similar amount of while chocolate and then sprinkle your crushed candy canes over that. I am sure they will look just as pretty.

Once they’re set you can put them in little cellophane bags and decorate with ribbons ready to give as sweet little gifts for loved ones.

If you liked this recipe, you might also like to try these fruit and nutty buttons.

Peppermint Bark Buttons

Review: The EasiYo Yoghurt Maker

We were sent an EasiYo Yoghurt Maker for the purposes of this post. All images and opinions are our own. 

Making your own yoghurt at home is nothing new. In the 1980’s my Grandma used to make her own using powdered milk and a weird machine she’d got from somewhere. Yes it was as unappetising as it sounds. Thankfully, around 25 years ago EasiYo was invented and it’s popularity is growing; people are finding out how easy, economical and delicious EasiYo is.

Review: The EasiYo Yoghurt Maker

I was sent one of the shiny black EasiYo yoghurt makers to try out. The maker is a stylish black pod which makes 1kg of yoghurt each time. But what did my yoghurt loving boy think of it and just how easy is it to use?

The black maker is quite lovely to look at, it’s all sleek and shiny and doesn’t look out of place in a modern kitchen. I unpacked it and my box contained the black pod, the 1kg yoghurt jar and some instructions. We were given a few different yoghurt flavours to try.

Review: The EasiYo Yoghurt Maker

I thought I’d try the boy with the Greek style low fat yoghurt, which I thought would be lovely with a little drizzle of honey.

Making EasiYo yoghurt is incredibly easy and much quicker than I thought it would be. The instructions are on the back of each packet anyway, but you simply mix the sachet with water, give it a good shake and then put it in the pod which is half filled with boiling water. Leave it overnight and you’ve got 1kg of yoghurt to enjoy the next day. The yoghurt is ok for up to a fortnight in the fridge, so don’t feel you have to polish off a huge amount in one sitting.

Review: The EasiYo Yoghurt Maker

I made the yoghurt the day before we needed it, put it to one side and let the yoghurt maker work its magic. A little over 24 hours later (it works in 12 hours, but you can leave it for 24 hours and you get a better set) I opened up the yoghurt maker, tipped out the water and opened up the jar. The yoghurt had set firmly and looked really thick and creamy. I dolloped some into a bowl with some honey drizzled over the top and gave it to the boy as an after school treat.

Review: The EasiYo Yoghurt Maker

But what did he think? He polished the lot off and then began demanding seconds and even thirds of it. It’s thick, creamy and delicious and contains no artificial ingredients, is gluten-free, vegetarian and full of nutrients. I’m sold on EasiYo, and I think he is too!

Yoghurt

It’s incredibly easy to make, and it makes 1kg of yoghurt at a time, which makes it really economical. Plus it’s pretty fun to make with the kids, especially ones who like mixing things up in the kitchen. There are a huge range of flavours and styles of yoghurt to choose from; from very low fat yoghurt to indulgent creamy yoghurts. We’re looking forward to trying them all out!

You can find more information about EasiYo yoghurt on their website.

Giveaway & Book Review: Be A Super Awesome Artist

We were sent the Be A Super Awesome Artist book for the purposes of this post. All images and opinions are our own. 

This week we are looking at a new book – Be A Super Awesome Artist which is being featured in a special 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!

Be A Super Awesome Artist

Be A Super Awesome Artist is a fantastic new book for creative kids. It uses real examples of art for inspiration for art projects you can do at home with the family. It features 20 exciting art challenges to help you create your own masterpieces and if you take up the challenge, you’ll be painting like Pollock, doodling like Duchamp and creating like Kahlo in no time!

There are a number of famous artists featured in Be A Super Awesome Artist and it features lots of different art styles and techniques. There’s a great section on pencils and pencil drawing, which tells you all about the different grades of pencil as well as a beginners guide to shading, which is extremely helpful if you’re starting to get into drawing, as well as sections on colour and paint.

Be A Super Awesome Artist is a really fantastic guide on how to create some art of your own, based on some of the styles of famous artists. It’s not just a case of replicating the old masters, but you can learn more about the pop art of Lichtenstein, the creative combinations John Stezaker uses; as well as the beautiful artworks Chris Ofili creates out of elephant dung (yes, you read that correctly). Each page is a new adventure in art.

Be A Super Awesome Artist

We picked a challenge from the book and one chilly afternoon, we stepped outside to create our artworks. Together we flicked through the book, I’m a big fan of Jackson Pollock and went to view his exhibition in Tate Liverpool a few years ago. I’m also a big fan of The Stone Roses and their Pollock inspired album art, so we decided to get messy.

We read more about how Pollock created his artworks – he would dip his brushes in pots of paint and then drip the paint all over his canvas. Although we didn’t have a canvas, we did have some pieces of cardboard which we could use instead. We decided to roughly paint over the cardboard and then pick some other colours to drip and flick over our cardboard canvases.

Be A Super Awesome Artist

This was tremendous fun. We did it outside to minimise the indoor mess; using poster paints meant that any splashes on my plastic table could be easily washed off. But the main aim of it was to have a bit of fun with it; learn a little bit more about art and that art isn’t always about doing perfect drawings, sometimes art can be a bit wild and a lot of fun.

Be A Super Awesome Artist costs £9.99 and is currently available in hardback. It’s written by Henry Carroll who studied photography at the Royal College of Art. His writing about art is simple, straightforward and encourages and inspires children to get creative. The book is illustrated by Rose Blake, an award winning illustrator and artist from London.

Be A Super Awesome Artist

Be A Super Awesome Artist is available from all good book sellers and directly from Laurence King Publishing.

WIN A copy of Be A Super Awesome Artist

To be in with a chance to win a copy of Be A Super Awesome Artist, 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 copy of Be A Super Awesome Artist.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 13th December 2020.
7. The winner will be contacted 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 address, contact details and email address only be shared with the PR to enable to prize to be sent to the winner.
10. The winners name will be available on request.
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.

50 festive things for your Christmas Bucket List

Christmas is a season which is full of tradition. There are things you did as a child which you carry on doing every Christmas with your own family. We have tonnes of Christmas traditions and each year we somehow find new things to add to our festive to do list. If you’re looking for some new things to do this season, here are 50 festive things for your Christmas Bucket List.

50 festive things for your Christmas Bucket List

50 festive things for your Christmas Bucket List

  1. Bake treats for friends and family
  2. Decorate a gingerbread house
  3. Make an ornament for the tree
  4. Visit a Christmas tree farm
  5. Write a letter to Father Christmas
  6. Wear a terrible Christmas jumper
  7. Watch your favourite Christmas movie 
  8. Make hot chocolate
  9. Go ice skating
  10. Decorate the Christmas tree
  11. Visit Father Christmas
  12. Go and watch a pantomime
  13. Do a random act of kindness
  14. Read Christmas stories together
  15. Wear matching Christmas pyjamas
  16. Make and send Christmas cards
  17. Go and watch a nativity play
  18. Make a donation to your local food bank
  19. Build a snowman
  20. Go to a Christingle service at church
  21. Make magic reindeer food
  22. Bake cookies for all of your neighbours
  23. Sing Christmas carols together
  24. Hang up your Christmas stockings
  25. Kiss under the mistletoe
  26. Go sledging
  27. Go for a walk at night to see everyone’s Christmas lights
  28. Make mulled wine or mulled cider, or even mulled Vimto
  29. Toast marshmallows on the fire
  30. Have a snowball fight
  31. Cut out paper snowflakes
  32. Make your own snow globe
  33. Go to a carol concert
  34. Make paper chains
  35. Read the nativity story
  36. Visit your local Christmas market
  37. Make a festive wreath for your front door
  38. Tell someone that you love them
  39. Donate toys to your local children’s appeal
  40. Leave out some treats for Father Christmas and his reindeer
  41. Make a Christmas pomander
  42. Take a family portrait
  43. Read The Night Before Christmas
  44. Make a list of all the people and things you are thankful for
  45. Make snow angels
  46. Go on a Christmas steam train ride
  47. Play a family board game
  48. Make salt dough decorations
  49. Make a popcorn garland to feed the birds
  50. Give a secret gift to someone special

Those are some of the things which are on our Christmas Bucket List. There’s nothing to say we have to do them all in one year, but it would be nice to try and do them all over the years. I like to remind my son that Christmas isn’t just about getting a pile of presents, it’s about giving and sharing and being kind to one another. How will you be sharing the love this Christmas?

50 festive things for your Christmas Bucket List

Make your own Wildlife Friendly Magic Reindeer Food with FREE Printable Envelope

Every Christmas Eve we leave a plate out for Father Christmas. There’s a mince pie and a little tot or brandy and a carrot for Rudolph. But what about the other reindeer? Well, we sprinkle some magic reindeer food outside for them too.

Make your own Wildlife Friendly Magic Reindeer Food with FREE Printable Envelope

In previous years we’ve sprinkled a mixture of oats and glitter, or bought packets of ready-made magic reindeer food in a plastic wrapper. But these days we are a bit more aware of single use plastics and that glitter gets everywhere and isn’t that great for the environment either. With that in mind, this year we’ve made our own wildlife friendly mix of magic reindeer food and we’ve got a cute recyclable envelope you can print out and share with friends and neighbours.

To make the envelopes, just download the free printable. Cut along the lines on the outside, fold the two side flaps into the centre and glue them together. Fold the bottom flap up and glue that into place. Put your envelope under a book or something which will keep it flat while the glue dries.

Download your free envelope template here.

Make your own Wildlife Friendly Magic Reindeer Food with FREE Printable EnvelopeOnce the glue has dried, you can start filling each one with the wildlife friendly magic reindeer food mix. For each envelope you will need…

Wildlife friendly magic reindeer food mix

2 teaspoons of oats
2 teaspoons of wild bird seed
1 teaspoon of dried cranberries

We had a little bowl filled with each of the ingredients and using a teaspoon, we put the right amount of reindeer food in each one. To close the envelope, we used a dab of the glue, if you want to stick it down quickly, you could use a small sticker. We chose to use dried cranberries, partly because they are pretty and jewel like, and partly because we have a dog. Grapes, raisins, sultanas and currants can be poisonous for dogs.

Make your own Wildlife Friendly Magic Reindeer Food with FREE Printable Envelope

The really great thing about these envelopes is, once you’ve used them, they can just be put in the recycling. There’s no waste, the reindeer food will be gratefully snaffled up by the local wildlife; and there’s no pesky single use plastic to worry about either. It’s an all-round winner!

If you enjoyed this, you might also like this Free Nice List Printable.

Make your own Wildlife Friendly Magic Reindeer Food with FREE Printable Envelope

Easy Recipe: Sticky Ginger Sponge Cake with Cinnamon Frosting

I love a bit of ginger cake and at this time of year it’s a lovely warming bake to make for the family. It’s sticky and spicy and you can dress it up for Christmas, or dress it down for every day cake eating if you prefer. This sticky ginger sponge cake with cinnamon frosting is special enough to serve for an occasion, or you could glitz it up a bit more and serve it as an alternative Christmas cake, and it’s about as easy as can be.

Easy Recipe: Sticky Ginger Sponge Cake with Cinnamon Frosting

It is a really simple bake, do not be alarmed by how much water you need to use, or how wet the batter is when you put it in the oven. It comes out beautifully. It’s also worth noting that if you can bake the layers and leave them wrapped up for a few days, the ginger flavour improves. So it’s a good make ahead bake if you need that.

If you like ginger but don’t want it to be too strong, you can always reduce the amount you use in the recipe. I like it to be quite feisty, so I’ve used quite a lot here.

Sticky Ginger Sponge Cake with Cinnamon Frosting

Ingredients
400g self raising flour
400g soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
110g baking margarine, plus extra for greasing
2 medium eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons of golden syrup
480mls hot but not boiling water
To make the frosting you will need…
250g unsalted butter
350g icing sugar
1-2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
Milk, a couple of tablespoons
To decorate, 3 ginger nut biscuits and some gold glimmer sugar

Easy Recipe: Sticky Ginger Sponge Cake with Cinnamon Frosting

How to make your Sticky Ginger Sponge Cake

Preheat the oven to 180C/350FGas 4. Grease and line 4 8inch cake tins with baking parchment.

Put all of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl, with an electric whisk (or a big spoon if you prefer) combine all the ingredients Into a smooth batter. It will look a bit runny, but it’ll be ok once baked, I promise.

Pour the mixture into your prepared tins, make sure there’s an equal (ish) amount in each tin. I weigh them to make sure they are more or less the same. Bake in your pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and the top is springy to the touch.

Leave them to cool in the tin. Once cool, you’re ready to build you cake.

To make your buttercream frosting beat the butter and icing sugar, ground cinnamon and 1-2 tablespoons of milk together until smooth. Taste the buttercream, you can add more cinnamon if you prefer and more milk if you feel it needs to be softer.

To put you cake together, cut the domed tops off 3 out of your 4 cake layers, saving the best looking one for the top. Put your first later on your cake stand or plate, carefully spread some of the buttercream on top. Top with the second layer and cover that in more buttercream. Do the same with the third layer and then top with your prettiest layer.

You can decorate it however you want, there was enough buttercream for me to smooth some around the sides of my four layer cake tower, and I think it made the cake look a bit prettier. I piled the rest of the buttercream on the top of the cake and then crushed some ginger nut biscuits and mixed in a couple of teaspoons of some glittery sugar I had left over from another bake, then spooned them over the top.

This ginger sponge cake looked very pretty and tasted absolutely fantastic. This is such a good cake for a ginger lover. Lovely stuff.

For the people asking how do you make ginger cake sticky, I think it’s the golden syrup. I think it sort of seeps out of the sponge over time and makes it all sticky and lovely. I might be wrong, feel free to correct me in the comments!

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like to try these Grasmere ginger biscuits.

Easy Recipe: Sticky Ginger Sponge Cake with Cinnamon Frosting

Win a Plasticine Softeez Jungle Set

Plasticine was invented way back in 1897 and is a non-toxic, sterile, soft and malleable clay that does not dry when exposed to air. Ideal not just for kids, but for makers of stop-motion animation, like creators of Wallace and Gromit, Aardman Animations. It’s also excellent for sensory play; my son tells me they use it at school to help them calm down and relax. I’m all for that, and having spent a happy few hours messing about with the stuff, I can confirm it can calm adults too.

Retro Toy Review: Plasticine fun for creative kids

These Plasticine Softeez come in three different themes, ocean, jungle and circus. They’re easy to make, and spending a quiet hour carefully peeling off each “noodle” of Plasticine and decorating the card templates with it is great fun. We had lots of fun with this, deciding how best to fill in the blanks and what colours to use. They are great little sets and make ideal little gifts. They are suitable for ages 3+ and cost around £4.99 each.

You can read our review here.

Plasticine is great for young hands to make fun shapes with. It’s a perfect modelling material as it never dries out. You just need to use your imagination to create shapes, animals, vehicles and all the things you can dream of, plus it’s a great way to teach children how colours are made and mixed, with basic sets from just £1.50, it’s a great budget buy for creative kids!

WIN A PLASTICINE SOFTEEZ Jungle SET FOR KIDS

To be in with a chance to win a Plasticine Softeez Jungle Set, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

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 Plasticine Softeez Jungle Set.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 13th December 2020.
7. The winner will be contacted 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 address, contact details and email address only be shared with the PR to enable to prize to be sent to the winner.
10. The winners name will be available on request.
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.

STEM Toy Review: K’Nex creative construction sets

We were sent these K’Nex sets for the purposes of this post. All images and opinions are our own.

My lad has been a big fan of all kinds of construction toys since he was a small boy. Now aged 10 he still spends his spare time building giant LEGO sets and constructing all kinds of things using the various K’Nex sets he’s got. We were sent three more K’Nex set to play with and review, so here’s what he thought about them.

STEM Toy Review: K’Nex creative construction sets

K’Nex is suitable for ages 4+, with smaller sets aimed at younger kids and their little hands; as well as more complicated, more fiddly sets for older children available.

Kid K’Nex Safari Mates

We began by taking a look at the Kid K’Nex Safari Mates. This set costs £10 and contains 21 colourful pieces. It comes with an instruction booklet with instructions on how to build five different safari animals.

STEM Toy Review: K’Nex creative construction sets

Kid K’Nex can help teach little ones the basic concepts of building and the art of constructing with these durable K’Nex pieces. With this set, your kids can create simple safari characters on their own. This set includes special parts and pieces that are only available in Kid K’Nex sets, such as a swishing tail and foam mane, which really help to bring the characters to life.

We thought this was a great starter set for younger children and at £10, it would make a great gift for an aspiring builder. The set is available from Argos and other retailers.

STEM Toy Review: K’Nex creative construction sets

K’NEX Imagine 50 Model Building Set

The K’Nex 50 Model Tub is the most brilliant box of pieces, and just what my son needed to complete his collection. It contains 417 brightly coloured classic pieces and a booklet of 50 easy step-by-step creations to build; from a dragon, a swing ride, a robot and more. You just connect the pieces together using the plastic rods and connectors to see your ideas become a reality.

STEM Toy Review: K’Nex creative construction sets

He chose to make the dragon, and as the set is aimed at older children, some of the pieces were harder to put together, so we did help him a bit. It was tremendous fun and it took him a good hour to make the dragon. With 50 different makes to choose from, there’s a lot of focused STEM fun to be had in this box.

STEM Toy Review: K’Nex creative construction sets

The K’Nex Imagine 50 Model Building Set comes in it’s own blue plastic storage box; which is great for taking away on family trips or for storing at home. The box makes it easy to pack away without any hassle.

The set is for ages 5-10 years, but I’m sure my new 10 year old will play with this for another few years at least. This brilliant box is available from Smyths Toys Superstores and other online stores.

STEM Toy Review: K’Nex creative construction sets

K’Nex K-Force Battle Bow Building Set

The last set we put to the test was this K’Nex K-Force Battle Bow Building Set. This is ideal for older children and aimed at those aged 8+. It contains 165 pieces and a set of instructions to show you step-by-step how to build one of four different blasters. Included in this building toy are five soft foam darts that can be fired up to 75 feet; a blaster chamber, a quick-fit grip, a preload ring and two dart holders.

STEM Toy Review: K’Nex creative construction sets

The K’Nex K-Force Battle Bow Building Set costs £25 and looks like the most grown up kit of the three we put to the test. My boy had serious fun putting this together. The instructions were easy to follow and he only need a tiny bit of help with the fiddlier pieces.

STEM Toy Review: K’Nex creative construction sets

It is a great set and well worth the money. Fans of Nerf will enjoy this, my son said it felt like he was building his own Nerf, which was praise indeed. We did have to have a small health and safety chat about not shooting the dog or me; but it was a huge hit and this is definitely a winner! The K’Nex K-Force Battle Bow Building Set is available from The Entertainer and other retailers.

STEM Toy Review: K’Nex creative construction sets

We’ve been fans of K’Nex for a good few years now. He loves building and creating with them and I really like that it’s such a great educational toy, one which helps his dexterity as well as stretched his mind. I’m pleased to see that the range has expanded and that there’s lot of budding builders to choose from.