Have you seen the latest K’NEX advert? If you haven’t, you should look out for it as it is a good one and every time the boys see it, they say how much they would love to build something like the K’NEX suit the boy at the end is wearing.
I have very fond memories of K’NEX. Being fans of all construction toys, we had some of the K’NEX sets that are made for younger creators and we spent many happy hours building different monsters and creations with the sets. The pieces were easy to work with and with fun colours and designs, they certainly appealed to both boys when they were younger and now A likes to use them to build monster flowers and other strange creations.
Last year, R fancied some of the K’NEX Thrill Ride sets and we bought him the Ferris wheel for his birthday. He loved it and with some help from his big brother, the set was quickly transformed into a fully functioning Ferris wheel that was the perfect size to take LEGO figures for a ride. It is fantastic and still has pride of place now.
The wonderful thing about K’NEX is that not only is it fairly easy to put together to create models and take apart again, it brings out the young engineers in some as if you spend some time thinking and looking at all of the different pieces and how they fit together, you can work out how to put together a model that moves and does different things. It is very clever. We were sent the Ultimate Building Set to have a play with and being a creature of habit R made a mini Ferris Wheel. It is really cool and when you turn the handle, the wheel move around.
K’NEX have launched an amazing competition to find the most creative K’NEX builders and there are some awesome prizes. Split into different age groups, they are looking for builders to let their imaginations run wild and once their construction is complete, take a photo, write up to 200 words about how the construction came about and how many pieces were used and you can also submit a one minute video showcasing your creation if you want to. Four entry categories are available:
6 – 8 years Winning an iPad® mini and K’NEX
Building Sets to the value of £150
9 – 10 years Winning an iPad® mini and K’NEX
Building Sets to the value of £150
11 – 14 years Winning an iPad® mini and K’NEX
Building Sets to the value of £150
Inc. school classes, clubs,
Winning £1000 cash prize and K’NEX
Building Sets to the value of £500
As I said, the prizes are fantastic and you have until 31st October to submit your entry which will be judged by a panel of experts. For more details and inspiration, visit the K’NEX website. So if you think you have a K’NEXpert in the house, what are you waiting for?
We were sent a box of K’NEX for the purpose of this post.
I say we, but I really only had a supporting role in the teens A Levels. A bit of gentle nagging along the way and making sure that he was keeping on track and getting the work done.
He nailed it.
Last Thursday, I was literally feeling sick with nerves, in fact I felt worse than when I was waiting for my own. By 11am I was pacing around the house checking my phone and wondering why he hadn’t rung. In the end I rang him, he sounded really glum and said he would come and tell me in person. My heart sank. What if he hadn’t done as well as expected? What if he hadn’t got enough points to get into the university he had set his heart on?
The teen has been very lucky as he really didn’t have to work hard at GCSEs and even with Glandular Fever, he achieved mostly A’s. The first year of sixth form was hard as I had warned him it would be. There may be less subjects at AS level but there is a lot of work and it is easy for teens to be distracted by mates, girlfriends, cars and jobs. The teen came out with good grades at the end of Year 12 but we all knew he could do so much better.
Then in Year 13 things seemed to change. Seeing universities really helped him to focus and see the bigger picture. He set his heart on doing Creative Writing at Falmouth and needed high grades to get on the course. He worked really hard in English and earned 100% in his coursework along with glowing recommendations from his teacher that his writing skills were something to behold. Graphics was also a priority but he admitted himself that he wasn’t prioritising Spanish as the other two subjects took up all of his time.
Exams came and went and he had mixed feelings about them. We were both very nervous about the results.
Finally on Thursday, he arrived, still looking glum. My heart sank a little further. He told me that he had got a C in Spanish. That was okay, he could afford to get one C. Quietly he passed me the piece of paper with his results on. Graphics A. English A*.
The relief was huge. My boy had done so well. He got a very big hug from me and I may have shed a few tears. Very, very happy tears. I am still smiling about it now. I am so very proud of him, he worked so hard this year and now he can sit back and enjoy his year off knowing that he has a place at Falmouth next September. He deserves it.
Where oh where are the summer holidays going? I can’t believe that there are only two weeks left. This week has been a week of painting and reshuffling but we still managed a few photos for the 365 project along the way;
Painting and more painting
Nearly 9 – how did that happen?
Just hanging around
Lollibop is all about children. Called the ‘big bash for little people’ it is an annual festival aimed at children aged ten and under and there is so much to do and see, it is difficult to fit everything into one day. Held this year in the wonderful grounds of Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, A and I had a ‘girls day out’ and loved every minute of it. Here are our reasons why you should go to Lollibop.
You might learn something new
From cookery to crafts, dancing to animals, there are lots of demonstrations, interactive talks and loads of lovely people to teach you how to do something new. A was really keen to do the cookery classes with Kiddy Cook in the Lolli kitchen; a huge kitchen set up in a large tent so that lots of children could all make something following simple instructions. Along with a group of other children, A learnt all about taste buds and is keen to tell everyone she meets that there are 10 000 taste buds in their mouths. After a few little experiments to learn more about taste, the children made a Chinese noodle salad and had a great time too. A was very keen that it would be my lunch and it was actually really scrumptious.
A enjoyed it so much that we were back in the Lolli kitchen later on in the day to decorate gingerbread men.
There are lots of craft activities to do and there are a team of lovely people from the Southbank Centre on hand to show you how to make some really cool things. A and I spent a lovely half hour sat on a picnic blanket making pom poms with our hands and then creating a web with sticks and wool. It was very therapeutic and I picked up a couple of great ideas to do with the children at home.
You will see some familiar faces
One of the really lovely things about Lollibop is the range familiar faces that you will see from children’s television. Whether they are appearing on the Main Stage situated right in the middle of the festival, in the covered seated arena; the Lollipaladium or in the Meet and Greet area, there is always someone to see. The programme is really easy to follow, so you know where to be at what time to see the shows or meet the stars. A was pleased to see Alex Winters on stage from Cbeebies (he is Welsh like her dad, as she always tells me) and we also watched the Horrible Histories and Sam and Mark from CBBC.
One couple that I was keen to meet were Chris and Pui as all of my children have grown up watching them and I knew that A would love to meet them too. This was the highlight of my day; especially when A asked me afterwards if they were real or people dressed up as Chris and Pui. That made me laugh.
Apart from the presenters, there are also lots of characters walking around the festival; we bumped into Fireman Sam, a very realistic polar bear and a Skylander on our travels.
You can eat lots of lovely food and sweets
Apart from the delicious food that came from the Lolli kitchen, there were a huge array of food and drink on offer to buy for lunch and food from all over the world too. A being a typical Brit, insisted on Chunky Chips and Dips and we both sat munching on delicious chips whilst watching Lazy Town on the main stage.
Of course there are lots of places to buy ice creams and sweets and A was very good at nabbing free packets of Haribo when I wasn’t looking too.
Everyone can get their face painted
When you are four years old, this is a very important one. A loves having her face painted and wherever we go, she always asks if there will be face paint. There are a whole army of face painters at Lollibop and they do a marvellous job. Practically every child you see has a great design and quite a large number of the adults too.
A is going through her ‘tiger phase’ at the moment and was a little disappointed that they would only do half a face this year, but it still looked great.
You can be a designer
One of the things that we weren’t able to do last year was design a T-shirt with River Island Kids, so this time we queued up and waited (quite) patiently. This was A’s favorite thing of the whole day. You are given a white T-shirt with River Island Kids written on the back and then you can sit and decorate the t-shirt to your hearts content with fabric pens, stamps and stencils. She loved this. Although I have to say that this is totally wasted on kids as I could have done a great job on an adult-sized one. Once finished, you get to wear your design with pride and have a professional photo done to take home with you.
There are lots of fun things to do
Wherever you go, there is something to see or do. We watched people learning how to hula hoop and training to be pirates, we saw a snake in the National Geographic kids area, listened to stories, jumped on a bouncy castle and explored the dens that other children had cleverly made. In the Nintendo area there was a great challenge where you had to find a number of characters hidden around the sight and complete four different challenges. For all of these, you would receive a sticker and when you had collected all of the stickers, you received a prize. A was doggedly determined to complete this challenge and loved every minute of it; especially trying to find the Pokeball in the ball pit.
There is something for everyone
Lollibop really is all about the kids and it is easy to see that a lot of thought has been put into making this as child friendly as possible. Everywhere you go there is colourful bunting and music, there are places to run, jump, and climb and there are lots of places to chill out with bean bags and spaces to sit down. The range of activities are so diverse that there is something for every child. The boys opted not to come this year but if they had, there would have been lots to keep them entertained such as football coaching, Nintendo, Skylanders and the Bear Grylls Survival Academy.
You don’t have to spend all of your time in a queue
There are lots of queues and we did spend a fair bit of time in them. We went on the Friday which I know is a lot quieter than the weekend days, so I’m sure that the queues are longer on those days. However, unless it is something that you really want to do or see, my advice is don’t queue, go and find something else to do. There really is enough to do without queueing. We found that the Lollipaladium was too busy and the queues were very long. A would have liked to have seen one of the shows, but she was happy to go back to the Main Stage which even when busy, you could still watch on the big screen.
Everything is included in the ticket price
Once you have paid for your ticket and the car parking, all of the activities are free. I paid for lunch and to buy A an ice cream and a bubble gun. There are stalls with things to buy and balloon sellers with lost of gorgeous looking balloons, but if you are sticking to a budget, you could take a picnic and drinks and snacks and not spend another penny. There are lots of picnic tables around the site and a large picnic area too.
They won’t want to go home
A was gutted when I announced that it was time to go home. She climbed to the top of the Mario tower in the Nintendo area and refused to come down. It was lovely that she had had such an amazing experience and when I did finally get her down, she chatted happily about the adventures of the day and said that when she goes next year, she is going to do them all again.
We were given free passes for Lollibop 2014 but all opinions and images are our own.