With Summer holidays looming I thought it may be an idea to share a few of our favourite iPad apps. Finding new apps can be a bit of a minefield. I’ve lost count of the number of iPad apps we have downloaded and it turns out they were rubbish.
You can’t always trust online reviews but I can assure you that my 7 year old daughter has played with these extensively and goes back to them over and over again. I don’t suggest you dash out and buy them all but do have a look and arm yourself for the holidays.
I’ve always been a fan of their apps. I came across this one under my guise as a Computing Consultant in Education. It has a lot of educational potential but bottom line it’s hilariously good fun. You can make just about any object, including a piece of toast, talk simply by drawing a straight line and recording your voice.
I love apps that are fun and educational at the same time. Thinkrolls2 is a series of logic problems that get progressively harder, you have to get the characters through a maze, whilst learning about force, aerodynamics, buoyancy, electricity and even get a taste of quantum physics.
Children have the opportunity to explore levers, pulleys, wheels, screws and wedges and learn about physics without even realising it. This app is a great way to foster a love of Science from a young age.
This app was created for 9-11 year olds but I think it’s brilliant for slightly younger children as well. You have a 3D Globe that you can spin around with a swipe of a finger, then zoom in to explore different landmarks and places. Listen to BBC TV presenter Nick Crane and learn some fascinating facts about different countries.
I have no idea why they call it Shadow Puppet as it’s a bit misleading. This is an incredibly powerful app and very easy to use, again I came across it in a school. I downloaded it and within minutes, without any input from me, my daughter was creating animated books, by taking photos of her favourite book and then narrating them herself. She then moved onto creating a visual presentation on Egypt using the images that come with the app and narrating them herself. This could make homework projects much more exciting.
I absolutely love these Fairy Doors, put them inside our outside and invite a fairy to come and live with you. I’m all up for anything that stimulates imagination, encourages creative play and promotes writing.
I’ve just survived the school holidays and was nearly broken by the repeated pleas asking ‘what are we doing today? Who are we going to visit?’ My 7 year old daughter, an only child, has never been brilliant at playing on her own and a simple ‘go and play’ doesn’t work.
However, the morning after our ‘Own Fairy Door’ arrived she set upon opening and became totally immersed in creating a home for her Fairy. She spent a good two to three hours playing independently with very little input from us.
She made her a house
Decorated her room
And named her
Landscaped her garden
(excuse the cat hair in the photo, you know what it’s like if you leave a box unattended with cats around.)
Now we just need to wait for her to move in. Apparently, once the key is gone and there’s fairy dust on the doorstep we will know she’s arrived.
We will then need to go online and print off her a naming certificate for her.
These would make excellent gifts for some of her school friends and reasonable priced at £19.99.
As a family we really should play games more often. We have a sideboard full of games from Kerplunk to Kerfuffle plus a few traditional ones like The Game of Life. We do play cards on occasion and daughter a dab hand at Snap, Go Fish and War.
However, I had never played Dobble and had no idea how brilliant it is. I would describe it as super-charged snap. It’s both simplistic and challenging at the same time. The first time we took it out we played 8 games back to back. There are 55 card with 8 symbols on each card and there is one identical symbol in common with each card. I have no idea how they did this. There 5 mini games to choose from; Towering Inferno. The Well, The Hot Potato, Gotta Catch ‘Em All and The Poisoned Gift. We’ve only played two so far and are hooked.
It comes in its own storage tin and is very portable so we will definitely be taking it on car journeys, plane trips and camping.
Win Dobble for your Family
To enter simply use the Rafflecopter form below. In short it’s open to UK residents 18+ years of age. Full Terms and Conditions can be found at the bottom of the form.
I’m a huge fan of the Middle East, but if I’m honest Dubai; where everything is done to excess and they boast pretty much ‘The World’s Largest’ everything from buildings to shopping centres to water fountains, was never on my list of places to visit as a family.
Dubai’s unofficial motto is: the bigger and brasher, the better.
However, a very good friend recently moved there and having had enough of the dreary winter in the UK, we decided to seek out some sunshine. Direct flights (7 hours) were very reasonable considering it was half-term (£400 each with Emirates/Qantas).
There is a lot of things to do in Dubai for kids but a lot of it comes with a hefty price tag and adrenalin fuelled (e.g Wild Wadi Water Park, the Aquarium /Zoo or Ski Dubai). But we quickly learned that there is a lot to do in Dubai on a modest budget, plus a few free things.
The most economical way to get around is by public transport. You can buy a travel card at the stations and top up whenever you need. We purchased Silver Cards which cost AED 20 (includes AED 14 worth of credit). On average we spent around 15 Dirham (£3) a day on transport. The Tram and Metro are fairly new, efficient, air conditioned, have female/family only carriages and you can get to most places in the city with a map and a little planning. The buses are incredibly punctual and the bus stops are air conditioned. Taking public transport really helped us get our bearings.
Head to the Beach
There are quite a few beaches in Dubai. Most tourist can be found at ‘The Beach’ near Jumeirah Beach Residence. For the most part dress is conservative in Dubai but at ‘The Beach’, these rules are a bit more relaxed, you will see everything from women in traditional Abayas to tourists in G-strings, which I personally think is rather culturally insensitive.
Children can pretty much wear what they like, however, I wouldn’t suggest letting them run around in their birthday suit. I’ve never been a fan of bikinis or suggestive swim wear for children. If you’re looking for sensible reasonably priced swimsuits for kids do check out House of Fraser, as this is where I got my daughters.
There are also more local beaches which may not have as many facilities but are quieter, you can take a trip to Kite Beach, which has a children’s playground or in our case the closest one to where we were staying is called Jumeriah Beach.
Go on a Desert Safari (Half Day)
This was probably one of the highlights of the trip for my daughter and was very reasonable (150 AED/£30 for adults 110 AED for children). We booked direct with ABC Tours, if you book through a hotel you may pay more. They collect you in one of their powerful 4x4s, you go for an exhilarating drive over the sand dunes, arriving in camp where you can ride on camels, see a Falcon, get a Henna Tattoo, sample the local fayre and watch the Belly Dancers.
Visit the Dancing Water Fountains at Dubai Mall (FREE)
Pop down to the Dubai Mall, where the ‘World’s Largest’ dancing water fountains performs daily at 1.00 pm and 1.30 except for Fridays when the shows are at 1.30 and 2.00 pm, spraying water up to 500 feet in the air in sync to the music. Apparently, the shows at night are more impressive with 1.5 million lumens of projected light.
Go and see the Flamingos at the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary (FREE)
Jump in a taxi and head to the outskirts of Dubai to see the Flamingos, last recorded count had the numbers at over 3000, there are two daily feedings at 9am and 4pm. My only suggestion would be to book mark this page on your phone and have this map at hand for the driver.
I didn’t and resulted in us getting lost as I thought Ras Al Khor was the name of the park and not the surrounding area, in the end the driver deposited us at the wrong hide, with very little chance of getting another taxi. Luckily, a lovely local couple took pity on us and took us to the correct hide, waited for us to snap a few photos of the flamingos and deposited us back in Dubai so we could get a taxi.
Visit the Turtle Rehabilitation Centre (FREE)
Is the only Turtle Rehabilitation Project in Dubai and is a collaboration between Jumeirah and The Wildlife Protection Office. The outdoor enclosures are at the Mina A’Salam Hotel and are open to the public every day and no need to book. However, there are feedings on Wednesdays at 11 am and on Fridays at 1pm. However, I’d suggest you ring or contact them ahead of time as we went down to watch the feeding but it was closed due to a private function.
The closest bus stop is Burj Al Arab Hotel 1
Take a River Boat Taxi Across Dubai Creek
Probably one of the most authentic experiences you will have in Dubai, there are organised boat trips up and down the Creek, but I suggest just hopping on one of the local Abra (River Taxis) which are used by locals, enjoy the 5 minute journey across the Creek, explore the Old Souks and grab a bit of lunch and then head back. It’s only 1 Dirham each way.
The Creek is only a short walk from both the Al Ghubaiba Bus and Metro Stations
Go for a walk around the Dubai Marina (FREE)
The Dubai Marina Walk is a 7 km long pedestrian walkway lined with shops, cafes and restaurants and characterized by a dramatic skyline, you will feel dwarfed by the impressive residential blocks and skyscrapers. Children can run through the fountains (bring a change of clothes), you will find play areas for younger children under some of the bridges and if you’re feeling a bit flush you can spring for a bike hire (20 AED or 30 minutes).
Now that you’ve saved a bit of money you can splurge on a trip up the ‘World’s Tallest Building’ which is a whopping 828 metres tall with 160 floors, or in our case our friends kindly treated us. The viewing platform is on the 124th floor which was more than high enough for me. When you are standing on the viewing platform you are actually 100 meters higher than the Eiffel Tower! On a clear day you can see for miles.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but I can confidently say that we had a fabulous time and would definitely go back. A huge thank you to our hosts Suzanne, Peter, Bob and Pushkins for making us so welcome and taking such great care of us.
Copyright Notice: Many of my photos are Courtesy of Suzanne Scott, our host. You can follow her ex-pat adventures at chickenruby.com.
This will come as no surprise to anyone as we have seen the features on the news. Genetics, unhealthy diets and lack of exercise are always at the heart of this discussion.
I was in a school awhile back to deliver a training session, which had nothing to do with nutrition or exercise, however, prior to my session the PE teacher was updating the teachers on a recent course he had been on and he said
‘20% of Year 6 Pupils are classes as obese’
That’s a whopping statistic which means that one in 5 kids will be overweight by the time they finish Primary School and statistics show that this is only going to get worse.
My thoughts on what’s causing childhood obesity
1) We all worry about the amount of time our children spend in front of the screen, whether it’s a TV, Playstation or Tablet according to one study I read, children spend on average 4 hours a day in front of a screen.
2) There has also been a definite trend of kids playing out less and less, personally I blame the internet for making parents feel it is unsafe for their kids to play out like we did as kids. However, the roads are a lot busier now than when I was a kid, but I strongly don’t believe there is a bogey man around every corner and it’s no more dangerous than when I was a kid, we just hear about more incidences now.
3) When I used to teach many moons ago, I found the demands of the curriculum would often mean there was not enough time in the day to cover everything and PE would be pushed aside. This is worrying as the new national curriculum that came in in September is even more demanding than before.
4) There is also a link between family income and obesity. Children from low and medium-income families are more likely to eat less healthy. I can totally understand this. Readymade meals cost a fraction of the price of buying all of the ingredients. For example, I can buy a readymade lasagne from the grocery store which is probably laden with hidden sugars and fats for around £4. However, if I buy the ingredients to make it fresh it would cost me about 3 times as much as this.
5) Even though technology is supposed to be making us more efficient, I find we are busier than ever and don’t often have the time to cook homemade meals, and I’ve been known to opt for convenience foods including takeaways.
6) And one of my personal pet peeves is the ridiculous entry procedures for Primary Schools, which often means that children do not go to the closest school, resulting in their parents having to drive.
Sainsbury’s Active Kids 2015
This is why I like the Sainsbury’s Active Kids Campaign, which encourages kids to live an active lifestyle. To date they have provided over £150 million worth of equipment and experiences. You can collect vouchers until the 5th of May 2015 and donate to your local school which they can then exchange on a range of active and cooking equipment.
Win £200 Worth of Sainsbury’s Vouchers and Signed Merchandise
To kick of this campaign they are offering one of my readers a chance to win £200 worth of Sainsbury’s Vouchers. Simply enter using the Rafflecopter Form below.
To increase your chances of winning the giveaway, you can gain additional entries by:
Tweeting about the giveaway
Submitting a Tweet or Facebook link showing a picture of their vouchers.
The giveaway will run until 12am on Saturday 11th April 2015.