Reviewed by Louise Totton
Christmas really is very nearly here – and I’m actually pretty well organised this year. Except there is always a last-minute panic when I realise that I have totally forgotten to buy for someone, or when I look at my list of what my two girls will be opening on Christmas morning and realise that their lists are not quite equal, and I need a last minute pressie to level it up again. With this in mind, I was over the moon to be sent a small selection of Christmas gift ideas to review that would make a great gift, and one that a child may not have actually put on their Christmas list yet.
The first item we tried out was the Wannabees I Want to be a Teacher pack. This item was a lovely surprise as I genuinely had no idea what it would be or what to expect from it. My daughters are 5 and 8, and one of their favourite pass times is playing schools. They will line up their teddies and dolls whilst one of them plays the part of the class teacher and the other provides voices and answers for their ‘pupils’. I love watching my kids engaging in imaginative play like this, and it actually helps them practice their maths and spellings too. They normally play with a few sheets of A4 paper, a set of pencils and some reading books from the bookshelf, but this little pack allows them to take their game to the next level. The product is essentially an A4 spiral bound book containing lots of teacher resources for the kid to use in their ‘classroom’. The book cover folds out into a little stand, which basically gives the kids a little board to use in their game, and the pages are made from lovely heavy paper with perforations, so they can be removed easily. The pack contains a register (the child fills in with names), a timetable, lesson planner, classroom jobs list, lunch list, weather chart, counting sheet, letter and number cards, medical notes, reading logs, reports and certificates as well as stickers. There really is everything that a budding teacher would need, and more. The book suggests age 5+ for the age suitability – I think it would take a pretty able 5-year-old to get full usage out of this, as there is lots of reading and writing to do. Having said that, many of the sheets do have visual prompts too, so younger kids would be able to use it, if not to its full potential.
My girls loved playing with this, and I found that it really pushed their imagination further. They had never considered giving ‘bump slips’ out to their teddies before, or filling a reading log in for them. At £14.99, this isn’t cheap but it’s a lovely and unusual idea for a gift and we really liked it. Wannabees also produce a Doctor and Café Owner set, which also sound great fun. For more information or to buy, visit wannabees.co.uk.
The second item we were sent were from History Heroes. History Heroes are card games aimed at ages 8 to adult, which promise to both educate and entertain. Each themed set of History Heroes is purchased separately, and we were sent the Inventors and Children versions, although there are multiple sets to choose from, and I would imagine at least one to suit every interest.
The idea of the game is simple – the deck contains 40 unique cards, each containing the name of a famous person linked to the theme of the set. As well as the name, there is a cartoon image of the person, with visual clues so you could guess from the picture who they are and 6 facts about the person. The aim of the game is quite simply for the players to be able to guess the identity of the famous person using the clues given. If they are able to guess, they win that card and the winner is the person with the most cards at the end. I have to be honest and say that some of the characters were rather obscure, and even as an adult with a reasonable interest in history, I struggled. My 8-year-old was able to guess a limited number, but I am aware that she is right at the bottom of the suggested age range, and as time goes on, and her knowledge increases, she’d get more from it. I do think it is a fantastic game, and is challenging for adults and older children alike. Even my youngest daughter (aged 5) was able to join in to an extent, as she helped to read out the facts and particularly enjoyed identifying the flags (for the person’s nationality) at the bottom of the card.
Because there is a reasonably limited number of cards to a set, we found it helped the kids to retain the information better, and my eldest now knows facts about a few famous people that she didn’t know before. She was also over the moon to have guessed the identity of Archimedes from the ‘Eureka’ clue, and to have remembered about Alexander Graham Bell from a lesson at school.
These are really attractive and good quality cards, and the facts are interesting, accurate and levelled really well for children and adults. At £8.99 a set, I think they’re great value and would make a lovely gift for an adult or a child. For more information or to buy, visit www.historyheroes.co.uk.
The final item that I was sent was the Interactive Baby Born Boy Doll. My 5-year-old already has the girl version of this doll, so was over the moon to be able to have a little brother for her baby. The Baby Born doll is a large doll, slightly smaller than a new born baby. He arrived beautifully presented in a cardboard and plastic box, complete with a hat, vest, potty, drinking bottle, sachet of food and a feeding set as well as a nappy, dummy and matching child and baby identity bracelets.
We loved his happy face and big brown eyes that open and close depending on whether he is sitting up or lying down. He can easily be manoeuvred into sitting or lying positions, and he maintains his position too.
Baby Born is a multifunction doll, and he is able to drink, eat porridge, wet a nappy, wee in his potty and cry real tears. I was really surprised that despite having all of these features, Baby Born does not require batteries. He is a mechanically operated doll, rather than battery operated, which is a real bonus for the Christmas morning battery hunt, and (I hoped) it would mean that he was less likely to develop a fault.
We really loved our Baby Born Boy. The instructions provided are really clear and we had him eating, drinking, weeing and crying in no time. He is simple enough for my five-year-old to work with only limited support and she really enjoyed having a twin brother for her girl Baby Born doll. One of the things that she particularly loves about the Baby Born dolls is that they can go in the bath with her, which she thinks is great. It would also be fantastic to encourage a child who is a reluctant bather into the bath.
The accessories that come with him mean that a child really can roleplay looking after their baby properly, and I think this would make a wonderful gift for a little girl or boy. At £49.99, it isn’t a cheap doll, but it seems to be about standard for a decent doll these days, so I don’t think its overly expensive.