Tag Archives: amazon

SM reviews… The Kindle Fire for Kids

Amazon’s Kindle Fire for Kids is a 7″ tablet which comes with a year’s worth of Fire for Kids Unlimited (access to thousands of books, TV shows, educational apps, and games), a kid-friendly browser, an anti-bash case and – best of all- a two year no quibble warranty for breakage or screen cracks – however your little blighters did it…

We checked it out…

SM tester writes: OK, if you’re one of those ‘no TV except on special occasions’ parents then don’t read on… If, however, like me, you want a solution for travel, airport delays, 15 minutes longer in bed at the weekend or just generally trying to get your kids to have a bit of ‘quiet time’ (rather than chasing each other up and down the stairs or demanding you play ‘horsey’…) then this might be the best 99 quid you’ll spend this year. 

If you’re a Kindle person you’ll be familiar with the Amazon interface – and the Fire for Kids has a ‘grown up’ section which allows all that (ie shopping, getting books, web browsing etc)- but it is cleverly hidden behind a passcode login and even if your children bash every number they know in there is no danger of either a) accidentally one-click purchasing something really expensive or b) resetting the device. 

The thing is, they actually won’t even be remotely interesting in trying to hack your account when their own profile is so much more appealing. You can actually set up multiple accounts – each with its own icon – and preload them with age appropriate, more or less guilt free TV shows, films, books and apps such as ‘Ben and Holly’, ‘Team Umizoomi’, ‘Room on the Broom’ etc. 

My kids navigated the interface so intuitively I didn’t even open the instructions – they just swiped to find programmes they liked and recently viewed items are saved to a ‘carousel’. A tech-savvy pal told me (about a week later) that adding an SD card to the equation means you can back up content, meaning that long car journeys without wifi can be full of the oinks of Peppa or (more to the point) the silence of complaints. 

Real little gems we discovered include all the Sago Mini games – really lovely, imaginative apps designed for teenies, with lovable characters and very clever programming meaning that the games respond to the sorts of things that only a two year old would make them do (ie drive a car underwater or put a fish in a juicer…)

There are obviously loads of studies out there linking screen exposure to lack of REM sleep, anti social behaviour, blah blah – and you can actually limit the time your kids watch/play for on this tablet- but personally I find it is more a case of ‘what’ they are watching than for how long. My middle child, for example, will zonk out at the very strains of the animated version of ‘The Gruffalo’ or be rendered comatose as a result of watching ‘In the Night Garden’, whereas my eldest (slightly eccentric) son adores Christmas movies (at any time of year) and will happily settle down in his PJs with a blankie and something festive. WP_20160830_07_40_06_Pro

Honestly, we can’t really fault this product; the battery life will easily last the length of the M1 or a flight to Greece and (unlike my iPad) the touch screen works fine even when sticky fingers have been at it. The durable case means the tablet can be carried in a child’s rucksack (along with all their other junk) and – unlike slightly more frustrating children’s tablets out there – the load up speed for content is quick enough that (out of boredom) they don’t start pressing every function button or using it as a weapon.

The Kindle Fire for Kids is available from Amazon.

 

SM reads… ‘Mum Hacks’ by Tanith Carey

When this one arrived we did wonder if Tanith would be able to teach us old dogs any new tricks… So often with parenting self-help books, the suggestions are either too complicated to integrate into family life or just not the kind of things that resonate with boisterous children.

SM tester writes: this book is so easy to read that I did it in one evening; very straight-talking, very ‘to the point’. The premise is that as a Mum you could save a lot of time and effort with a few tips, a bit of streamlining, some systems, a dash of decluttering and a rigid set of rules. The book is divided into sections discussing areas of family turbulence such as mealtimes, the school run, holidays, bedtimes etc plus some advice on getting on top of toybox explosions, toddler strops and how to sneak in a 200 calorie workout in the playground.

Some of the tips, for a seasoned parent, are fairly obvious (like get a high chair with a washable plastic tray; let’s face it, who *doesn’t* opt for the cheapy Ikea one at least by their second child?) or store hairbands on the handle of the hairbrush – but actually it makes a lot of sense to have all the tips in one place and if you have a slightly child-frazzled brain, some of them serve as a reminder (I found myself saying to my other half ‘remember when we used to do that, that worked for a bit, didn’t it?)

There are also some tips that are total genius. Making a week’s worth of school sandwiches and freezing them, for example. Great idea! Slicing pizza with scissors; OK so you won’t win Masterchef but it’s better than battling with a knife or pizza cutter. Keeping a bin in the car; again, it’s a curveball one but it makes sense… 

‘Mum Hacks’ is available on Amazon or in good book retailers.

Editor’s tip: Tanith applauds the benefits of ditching the Bunnykins bowls and cups in favour of plastic or melamine. Can’t resist cute plates at teatime? Check out the range of colourful kids’ unbreakables at Vibrant Home...

More places to buy #MMHA winning Becky Mantin Nappy Grab Bags

As you know, we adore these clever little disposable changing bags from Becky Mantin – ideal for taking to the park, chucking in the car – they’ll even fit in your pocket – for a quick change.

And now the list of stockists has been extended to include Amazon, WholeFoods, Tree of Life and more – for the full list go here.

PS they are on offer via Amazon Prime (and you’ll get free delivery too).

SM chats to … Clare Grogan

We were thrilled to get the chance to chat to Clare Grogan. From 80s pop starlet to ‘Gregory’s Girl’ to poster lust icon for Sci Fi Geeks, it seemed like Clare had done it all. Except fulfil her dream to be a mother. After heartbreaking failed IVF, Clare and her former-bandmate-now-husband Stephen decided to adopt; and life has seemingly never looked rosier. In fact, Clare is now a patron for the BAAF (British Association of Adoption and Fostering) and Clare describes her latest children’s novel  as ‘a love letter’ to her gorgeous daughter.

The latest novel – titled ‘Tallulah on Tour’ and released on 6th April – follows on from ‘Tallulah and the Teen Stars‘ and tells the story of fifteen year old Teresa as she takes her band on the road. Peppered with words of wisdom, but written in pure teen-speak, this one will definitely resonate with your little lady (and the illustrations are beautiful too).

SM: Is the adoption process somewhat harder when your occupation is ‘The Pixie of Pop’?

Clare: Actually, in some ways I found it easier than my husband because I  am quite used to being scrutinised,  having spent all my working life in a public arena. So answering very personal questions is something I’ve done quite a lot of over the years in interviews and having my work reviewed and critiqued…I think it’s important that they take the time to get to know you and it’s only right they ask you some probing questions which although its tricky it seemed to both Stephen and I appropriate. After all it’s precious little lives that we are dealing with here…

SM: Is it still very rock and roll ’round your house?

Clare: Well we do have a studio in the top floor of our house where we recorded the songs for Tallulah. 
We created a sound cloud and you can hear some of the songs mentioned in the books…which was good fun as we got my daughter and her cousins to sing on the choruses. It got quiet raucous at one point – that’s 10-year-old girls on cola and cupcakes for you!  And we have a disco ball in our lounge because we do all love a dance in our house…
SM: the character ‘Patti’ seems to have a lot of parallels with your own life (her job at Spaghetti Factory, your middle name is Patricia etc), do you see yourself as more of a big sister than a mum?

Clare: No – I am such a little sister in fact. I am the youngest in my family and I LOVE having big sisters.

I have borrowed various little character traits from my sisters, myself, in fact all the woman and girls in my life and used them to define all the girls in the book. As for the Mum thing my Mum use to call me little Mother – I was obsessed with my dollies when I was wee and loved bathing them and taking them walks and feeding them…all of it!
SM:  Is your daughter showing signs of following in yours or Stephen’s footsteps?

Clare: Elle loves to sing and loves coming to work with me…she has come on filming trips, helped with props at Theatres I have been working in and stood at the side of the stage refusing to wear her ear guards at gigs. I just hope Elle finds something she is passionate about and works hard at which is what the whole Tallulah thing is about. Chase your dreams is what I love to tell all kids! t’s not about being famous it’s about being fabulous at whatever you do.

SM:  ‘Tallulah’ is very much a gigging, touring, hard-working would-be popstar… Do you think that teens these days think the key to their musical aspirations lies with impressing Simon Cowell?

Clare: I think  X Factor is a great entertainment show but I do worry about how harsh the experience is for some people.  But, I just love the idea of kids being in garages or bedrooms or community halls playing instruments and having fun and seeing where it takes them…it’s not all about having that big belter of a voice.

SM:  As someone who struggled with IVF, do you have an opinion on the recent D&G/Elton spat?

Clare: I felt completely bewildered by the comments that Domenico Dolce made…in fact I was horrified at the word ‘synthetic’ and the whole attitude he expressed. apart from anything it was horribly unkind.  Not buying Dolce and Gabbana won’t be a big problem for me!

SM: And finally, we had to ask (sorry!) Do you get random people shouting ‘Happy Birthday’ to you in the supermarket?
Clare: Yes, I do…in fact everywhere I go it happens and I love it! I often sing at friends and families birthdays and everyone joins in which is really funny and very very silly!
‘Tallulah & The Teen Stars’ and ‘Tallulah On Tour’ are available as e books through the Amazon Kindle store. Get the titles on Amazon.
Contact the BAAF: http://www.baaf.org.uk/