Once the school holidays roll around, you may panic at the thought of having to keep your little ones entertained. To help you make sure that each day is filled with fun, here are five foolproof ways to ensure your kids are happy and amused during the school break.

1 //  Go to the cinema

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Heading to your local cinema with your brood in tow is a no-brainer when it comes to keeping your children entertained during the school holidays. To ensure you don’t splash too much cash on your trips to the flicks, it pays to look out for great deals. For example, the Odeon cinema at Liverpool ONE has a kids’ club that runs on Saturday and Sunday mornings, offering discounted tickets for your little ones. To learn more about this, you can visit the website www.liverpool-one.com or contact your local Odeon.

2 // Visit a theme park

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For the ultimate day out, you could take your clan to a theme park. Between hanging upside down on rollercoasters and chowing down on candyfloss and ice cream, your kids are guaranteed to have the time of their lives. What’s more, it’s the perfect opportunity for you to kick back, relax and make memories with your family that will last a lifetime. We took Jack to Alton Towers last week and he had an absolute blast.

3 // Organise a picnic

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Image credit

If the weather is warm and sunny, why not pack a picnic and take your brood to the local park for some al fresco dining? Simply fill your cooler bag with your kids’ most loved treats and snacks, grab a blanket and head out to your favourite spot. You could even pack some fun activities to keep your youngsters occupied after they’ve finished eating, such as as a football or a frisbee disc.

4 // Attend a swimming class
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Taking your little ones along to a swimming class is a great way to keep them occupied during the school break. Not only will they have miles of fun splashing around in the water, but your youngsters will be getting some exercise too. So whether you decide to sit and watch or you choose to join in on the action, heading down to your local swimming pool is a sure fire way to keep your kids entertained.

5 // Get baking

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If the weather forces you and your brood to stay indoors, you could make the most of it and get baking. Getting your kids involved while you rustle up some tasty treats in the kitchen can keep them occupied for hours. From heading to the supermarket for supplies, to mixing the ingredients together, to finally doing a taste test, baking is fun, productive and keeps your little ones’ hands busy.

Disclosure: PR collaboration

Whilst the weather has taken a glorious turn for the better (please stay a little longer sunshine, we’ve missed you!), I thought I’d share an outfit post dedicated to pretty dresses that are ideal for your summer wardrobe.

When I’m not donning my usual ripped jeans/T combo, I do love wearing a good maxi dress for summer as not only are they airy, versatile and most importantly flattering, nothing else screams ‘summer’ quite as much as a pretty maxi does. I’ve also started to bare my legs a bit more this year (my least favourite feature of mine!) and have bought a number of above-the-knee dresses to throw into the mix too.

Before we ventured to France at the beginning of June, I searched high and low for the best dresses to add to my summer wardrobe, so I thought I’d share some of my favourites finds with you…

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1 // Cutwork Bardot Dress, Topshop, £32

Bare shoulders remain a firm favourite for Summer and this cutwork bardot dress is just the ticket. With a relaxed silhouette, it’s easy to wear and is the ideal dress for day-to-night styling.

2 // Trapeze Maxi Dress, JD Williams, £35

Not only is this a super flattering shape, this brightly coloured trapeze maxi dress is ideal for portraying that chic nonchalant vibe.

3 // Jungle Print Slip Dress, Topshop, £32 (currently £10 in the sale, bargain!)

With its dainty double cross-strap detailing to the back and a plunging v-neckline, this dress would look amazing with some killer heels for a chic finish.

4 // Khaki Print Layer Top Maxi Dress, JD Williams, £29

As I mentioned earlier, I think maxi dresses are perfect for summer, especially if you want to cover yourself up a bit. This Layer Top maxi is ideal as it’s lightweight, flattering and most importantly gorgeous to look at.

5 // Oversized dress, Zara, £12.99

This v-neck dress is an absolute steal. I adore the casual, oversized look and with it’s short drop sleeves, this dress would be ideal for those that aren’t that keen on the tops of their arms.

6 // Palm Print Shirt Dress, Topshop, £39

I love this pretty palm print shift dress and I wore it to death on holiday. It’s loose fitting, yet shapely and has a pretty delicate twist detail to the sleeve.

Do you prefer maxi dresses for the summer? Are any of these dresses on your hitlist too?

Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

smartrike

Following on from the highly successful ‘swapyourstroller’ campaign last year, SmarTrike recently launched their latest campaign ‘#smartDiscoveries’ designed to inspire families to discover the fun of the great outdoors.

#smartDiscoveries explores the unique child’s-eye-view little ones have of the world around them from the seat of their trike, whether this is in the city, the countryside or the seaside. This engaging campaign encourages parents to share photos and videos of their little ones’ fun adventures and what they can see while riding around on their smarTrike. Whether it be the birds in the trees, the pretty flowers around them or a doggie walking past, this campaign emphasises how the smarTrike offers little ones a truly fantastic view of the world around them.

Over the next few months I’ll share our #smartDiscoveries with you both here on the blog and on my social media channels (facebook / twitter / instagram) so don’t forget to follow to keep up to date.

Additionally, if your little one is fond of their smarTrike join in the fun and share your little one’s #smartDiscoveries on facebook to be in with the chance of winning an annual family membership to the National Trust.

(Alternatively if you are in the market for a fab new trike, read the review of our brilliant smarTrike Dream 4-in-1 trike click here.)

Since I started this blog a couple of years ago, I’ve been really fortunate to work with a whole host of lovely brands and this year really is no exception. At the beginning of the year I received a very exciting email from Leapfrog asking me to be one of their ambassadors for 2016 and I am over the moon.

For those of you not familiar with Leapfrog, they are a brand that are renowned for their award-winning educational toys and games and are right up my street. I’m a huge fan of toys that are not only fun but those, that through the power of play, will also educate our little ones.

As part of our Leapfrog ambassadorship this year, we’ll be bringing you news of Leapfrog’s brilliant products and we are very excited that we get the opportunity to put a number of Leapfrog’s educational toys and games to the test and share our reviews with you.

LeapPad Platinum

Jack was recently send the LeapPad Platinum to put through its paces and after reading rave reviews about it from fellow bloggers, I was very intrigued to see the Platinum in action first-hand.

Children’s tablets have evolved enormously in the past few years and although the LeapPad Platinum is no competition to the likes of the iPad Mini in the style stakes, it offers a robust design with a shatter-safe screen and wraparound rubber bumper, which is invaluable when in the hands of a heavy-handed little person!

LeapPad Platinum

Available in green or purple, the LeapPad Platinum is aimed at children aged between 3 and 9. It’s the first children’s tablet that Jack has played with and he loves it, as do I! I could waffle on and on about how brilliant I think the LeapPad Platinum is, but to keep it more concise I have highlighted the main features below:

Build:

In terms of specifications, the LeapPad Platinum boasts a powerful punch. It has a respectable 1 GHz processor and a 7-inch capacitive screen with the best resolution to date (1024 x 600) on a LeapPad tablet that delivers big, crisp, sharp graphics. The screen is a touch screen so can be controlled with a finger or the nifty soft-ended stylus and there is a directional pad and home button on the front which makes it super easy for little ones to navigate.

LeapPad Platinum

Battery life:

The built-in rechargeable battery last around five hours. This is slightly less than its predecessor, the LeapPad 3, but is long enough to get you through most car journeys and short haul flights.

Robust Parent Controls

The LeapPad Platinum allows parents to create user profiles for their children enabling parents to take control over how your little one utilises the LeapPad.

LeapPad Platinum

LeapPad Platinum

You can limit access to certain apps, disable the wi-fi and even set time restrictions. Ingeniously time limits can also be set each time the tablet is turned on if you only want your little one to play with it for an hour, for example. A countdown timer lets them know how much longer they have left.

These robust parental controls offer peace of mind that your little ones can play safely and only access what you want them to access.

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Apps and Games

The LeapPad Platinum comes pre-loaded with a plethora of apps and games to entertain your children including a PhotoFun app that lets them add funny filters to the photos they have taken themselves on the LeapPad’s 2-megapixel camera, a music app where they can listen to pre-loaded songs and a pet chat app that lets your child send pre-approved messages to their friends who also own a LeapPad.

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In addition to the pre-loaded apps and games, there are over 800 available as paid downloads in the LeapFrog App Centre. You can also go ‘old-school’ and purchase cartridge games for your LeapPad Platinum, and these have been a huge hit with Jack.

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Jack’s firm favourite cartridge at the moment is Disney-Pixars Monsters University (problem solving based), but he also really loves his Jake and the Never Land Pirates game (mathematics based) and his Octonauts game (Science based).

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Children can also browse the App Centre and add apps and games to a ‘wishlist’ for their parent’s to (hopefully!) buy them. This feature isn’t much use to Jack, as at 4 years old he likes the look of everything, but is a handy feature for older children who understand exactly what they are adding to the list.

Internet browser

The LeapPad Platinum has a safe, protected web browser that gives children access to pre-approved content that has been curated just for kids, such as child-appropriate viral videos and information about dinosaurs for example. It’s no google, but it’s great for your children to have a delve around the internet without worrying about what they might come across.

Imagicards

Each LeapPad Platinum comes with 6 bonus LeapFrog Imagicards that are ultimately used to interact with games on the screen. This augmented reality feature is great fun, especially for younger children, and really does enhance the learning experience through spelling, puzzles and problem solving.

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Using the LeapPad’s camera to simply take a photo of the card, it suddenly (and magically in children’s eyes) brings the card to life. Jack loves playing with the Paw Patrol Imagicards, as not only do the characters pop up on the screen when he photographs them, he also has to find the right card to be scanned into the game, as the cards are used to unlock the gameplay. Your little one can even take ‘selfies’ with their favourite characters!

In Summary

As a parent, I’m always trying to discourage my two from too much ‘screen time’, as I’d rather they play outside / be active / get crafty etc. However there are (many) times when Andy and I rely on electronic devices to entertain Jack and Phoebs and much to my delight, the LeapPad Platinum is always Jack’s first request.

At £79.99 (you can buy it on Amazon here), I think the LeapPad Platinum is excellent value for money and the ‘free’ apps and games pre-loaded will entertain your little ones for a good while. However, if you would like to buy additional apps and games, they can feel quite pricey compared to iOS offerings for example, but knowing that they are educational, quality and advert free most definitely makes up for it.

The LeapPad Platinum is educational, safe, secure, robust and most importantly fun, and in my opinion, you can’t ask for anything more in your child’s first tablet.

Disclosure: We were very kindly sent the LeapPad Platinum free of charge for the purpose of this review, however all opinions are my own and I’d still rave about it even if i’d paid for it!

  • TanitaJuly 15, 2016 - 8:10 pm

    The leapPad platinum looks amazing and very educational. sophia is going into year one in September and I can see her definitely loving the leapPad. Fantastic review XReplyCancel

  • LoriJuly 15, 2016 - 8:26 pm

    I feel like a mean mummy as i still haven’t really let F use any sort of gaming, app, tech learning tool and he’s 5….this does look good though and has reminded me to get the leapfrog pen out and try and hook it up to our world map xReplyCancel

  • Rebecca | AAUBlogJuly 19, 2016 - 2:11 pm

    this sounds perfect, really nice size too. We need to get something like this to get my son away from the iPad!ReplyCancel

  • Fozia SJuly 19, 2016 - 3:51 pm

    Oh this looks great. I got a couple of Leapfrog products for my eldest when she was younger, but haven’t yet for my youngest. May consider getting this.ReplyCancel

  • JodieJuly 20, 2016 - 6:56 am

    I love this! The leapfrog items are always really durable too which is brilliant for kids.ReplyCancel

  • Janine DolanJuly 20, 2016 - 11:56 am

    I am in the middle of purchasing a new tablet for my sons birthday but I’m still not quite sure which one. I want one where you can download movies too. The extra things you can get with the leap pad might be expensive but it’s very educational and probably something my son would love.ReplyCancel

  • This Mama LifeJuly 20, 2016 - 1:08 pm

    LeapFrog are such a great brand! We only have the reading bits at the moment but will definitely look into a LeapPad as well! This one looks fab :) xReplyCancel

  • StephanieJuly 20, 2016 - 8:54 pm

    My kids do love their tablets, these look a great tablet too. Robust and safe.ReplyCancel

  • Mrs HJuly 20, 2016 - 10:49 pm

    It looks like Leapfrog have thought of everything with the Leapfrog Platinum. I really like the sound of all the parental controls. As controlling what Little Miss H has access to is always a concern of mine. I also think that it is great that you can add time restrictions. I am sure Little Miss H would adore this. Great review. Hugs Lucy xxxxReplyCancel

  • Sarah HPJuly 21, 2016 - 8:40 am

    This product looks excellent! I think all of my kids would enjoy playing with this and it looks very well designed for parental peace of mind. The cards look very cool too.ReplyCancel

  • CharlotteJuly 21, 2016 - 8:11 pm

    This looks great! My daughter smashed my iPad screen so I am all for children’s tablets! xxReplyCancel

The Lion King is considered a firm favourite in our household, so when I heard the ‘The Lion Guard’, an American animated television series based on Disney’s 1994 film, was being aired in the UK on Disney Junior, I was excited that the little ones could follow the antics of some of their favourite characters on a more regular basis.

The Lion Guard series is based around Kion, the son of Simba and Nala, who, as second-born to the Lion King, becomes the leader of the Lion Guard, a team of animals who protect the Pride Lands and defend the Circle of Life. Kion, along with his friends Bunga the honey badger, Beshte the hippopotamus, Fuli the cheetah and Ono the egret, fights off threats mostly by a hyena named Janja and his clan.

As the show has been such a hit, to compliment this new series, Flair has released an exciting new range of collectible figures and Lion Guard playsets to create your own Lion Guard adventure at home. The range includes:

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1 // Lion Guard Figure with Accessory Assortment – These figures and accessories feature action and reaction play for hours of Lion Guard fun. RRP £9.99

2 // Defend the Pride Lands Play Set – Bring the iconic Pride Lands right into your living room with this amazing play set! Including an exclusive Kion figure and six interactive features, the Pride Lands Play Set will make an exciting gift for young fans. RRP £39.99

3 // Lion Guard Training Lair Play Set and 2 Figures – Complete with lights and sounds, you can re-live Kion’s Savannah adventures! £69.99

4 // Lion Guard Leap n Roar Animated Plush -This 36cm Leap N’ Roar Kion showcases the power of Kion, the leader of the Lion Guard. Wave your hand in front of Kion’s nose to trigger his raging roar or push down on his rear legs to see him leap into action! RRP £39.99

5 // Lion Guard Collectible Figure Set – The Lion Guard Collectible Figure Set is a great start to any Lion Guard collection. Littles ones can have hours of fun recreating their favourite scenes with Kion, Bunga, Beshte, Fuli and Ono. RRP £12.99

6 // Lion Guard Figure Single Packs – Kid-powered

7 // Lion Guard Plush with Sound Assortment – These adorable Lion Guard plush toys are the perfect size to bring with you on all of your Pride Land adventures! RRP £19.99

8 // Mini Figure Blind Packs – Collectible mini figures are also available and kids will love buying these with their own pocket money. There is even a limited edition rare figurine for children to hunt down! RRP £2.49.

Last week, Phoebe and Jack were very kindly sent the Collectible Figure Set, a Kion figure with a toppling wall and two mini figure blind packs from the new range to review and they’ve gone down a storm.

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The figures are good quality, detailed, bright and colourful and have definitely captured the attention of Jack and Phoebs. They have fun, letting their imaginations run wild and Phoebs is particularly fond of building and toppling the wall! I would however really like to purchase the Defend The Lions Play Set to enhance their collection.

Starting from £2.49 for the blind packs (perfect pocket money toys!), I think the toys are good value as they provide not only hours of fun, but also facilitate learning through imaginative play.

For more information and to view the full range of Lion Guard figures and accessories visit the Flair website and follow them on twitter.

Disclosure: We were kindly sent these Lion Guard toys for the purpose of this review, but all opinions and images are my own.

  • Erik BrennerJuly 11, 2016 - 6:12 am

    Lion King collectible figures.. Yay!ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca | AAUBlogJuly 12, 2016 - 4:30 pm

    these are so cute. Well priced too, like you say, perfect for pocket money. I’ve not hear of the Lion Guard before, though. Where have I been?! ha xReplyCancel

  • JasmineJuly 12, 2016 - 4:52 pm

    Cute Steph! Bets isn’t really into the lion king mainly because I haven’t really let her watch it because I think it’s sad and scary! HaReplyCancel

  • Ickle PickleJuly 12, 2016 - 7:11 pm

    Oh Pickle would love these. Especially the little collectible figures – he has a slight obsession with them! Kaz xReplyCancel

  • Abby CaoJuly 13, 2016 - 9:00 am

    It’s so cute ! It makes me remember Lion King movie with beautiful melody of it’s song: can you feel the love tonight. I will definitely buy it for my sons. Good review !ReplyCancel

  • Kellie KearneyJuly 13, 2016 - 10:23 am

    Lion King fanatics over here. Love these. Perfect treat/pocket money toys for my lot (and me). Never heard of Lion Guard before though, have I been living under a rock?ReplyCancel

  • Christina BennettJuly 13, 2016 - 8:22 pm

    My little one is so excited about Lion Guard. She totally loved The Lion King and is thrilled that they have brought out the tv show. I might have to look into getting her these figuresReplyCancel

  • JodieJuly 17, 2016 - 8:38 am

    I watched the first episode of this and loved it. But now we don’t have sky. I am so thrilled they’ve brought a new series though.ReplyCancel

  • Emma @sophieellaandmeJuly 17, 2016 - 8:52 pm

    Ah they look fab and well priced too! My 3 year old would love everything! xReplyCancel