Family video games – Christmas 2014 buyer’s guide

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2014 has seen the video game business continue to go from strength to strength.  With consoles such as Sony’s Playstation 4 having sold over 15 million units more and more family homes are making use of these to provide family entertainment.

video game buying guide

Video games provide a great activity for children and their families to enjoy sharing at home but many are not suitable for younger gamers.  Despite various aged certification on game boxes children are frequently being exposed to games that are not suitable for them to play.  What games are children allowed to play and which ones are they likely to want to play?

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BUPA have created a dementia simulation game to raise awareness

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Last year my Grandma sadly passed away, she ended her days living in a care home having been diagnosed with dementia.  At the end she was constantly confused and frequently disturbed.

It was emotionally hard to visit her as she had no idea who anyone was anymore and it was hard to understand how her world had changed so dramatically.

This afternoon I have been contacted by BUPA who would like a “game” they have made publicised that allows users to experience a tiny fraction of the feeling of confusion that dementia can bring.

“The aim of our game is to match cards to their pairs in the allotted time, however as time goes on, the cards start to move and become gradually more blurred making it increasingly difficult to complete. The idea is that users will feel frustrated and confused, reflecting how people with dementia often feel. You can play the game here http://www.thememorychallenge.co.uk.”

dementia game

Read with your children: Wonder

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This next book in my series of posts to encourage parents to read with children is for older children, I’d suggest 8 years and upwards to really get the most out of Wonder.

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Wonder is an incredible book that was written by R J Palacio.  The story shares the lives of a number of characters who all spend time with a young boy called August during a tough time of his life, his first year at school!  But August is starting school later than most other children having been homeschooled for years.

August has been homeschooled for years because he was born with a disfigured face.  He has had to have frequent surgeries to help him and has largely been hidden from society.

The book is written in the first person perspective and different chapters move the story along from different characters’ point of view. This in itself makes Wonder stand out from most other books and is provides lots of opportunities to talk to children about the “voices” of the characters and how they differ. Some of the characters are nice, some are nasty and some even misspell words often. It makes it all very personal. Continue reading

First full day at playgroup

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This morning I had the exciting yet scary task of taking O to playgroup for her first full day. The car journey was full of merriment as we chatted about playing, fun and hard hats (her favourite toy from her first visit there).

To my joy and amazement when we arrived she walked confidently in front of me, straight to a table heavily laden with musical instruments and set to creating a beautiful racket.  I dropped off her bag, gave her a kiss and brief cuddle, narrowly dodging a maraca.  As I left her that maraca quickly became the most pleasant sound I’ve heard all day, she was happy to be left.

As the day at work wore on I struggled to stop trying to firing nervous glances at my phone, looking for any news of sadness from her.  But as 3:15 (school hometime) approached it looked more and more likely that she had managed it.

Once the children had left school, following an awesome day to finish off our first week together, I headed to playgroup to collect O.

As I walked into the room O threw her hands over her mouth in her trademark shocked face pose.  I leapt towards her, crouched to the ground and received a stunning cuddle and kiss.  The first day was at an end and O had had an amazing day.

She had played with some sand, painted a beautiful picture, eaten rather a lot of mash potato for lunch and stolen the African land snail’s cucumber whilst “helping” to feed it.

Victory!  And best of all, she’s looking forward to going again next week.

App review: Clumsy Ninja

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I’ve never reviewed an app before but feel compelled to due to the huge amounts of joy Clumsy Ninja has given my daughter.

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Clumsy Ninja is a free app avaliable from the iStore and the Android Play store. The app relies upon in-app purchases to make it’s money but as of yet we’ve been able to getting lots of fun from it without spending a penny.

The app is pretty much a physics playground with a cute Ninja who is beautifully animated that you can interact with. Tapping on him pokes him (resulting in belly laughs), holding a finger down grabs that part off him and dragging pulls him around by that body  part (resulting in belly laughs), flicking your finger throws him around (resulting in huge belly laughs).

In his environment there is a bed that you can tap on to tell him to take a nap, poking him on that wakes him up. This is probably O’s favourite activity on Clumsy Ninja, continually telling him to sleep and instantly waking him up.

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The game does offer activities to do that unlock various objects to play with such as a trampoline, balloons, balls and basketball hoops (the hoops are not to throw balls through, but the Ninja himself).

It seems that paying small amounts of money allows you to access more of these extra activities and to dress the Ninja up in various comedic outfits.

Most importantly Clumsy Ninja is fun. O laughs like an absolute lunatic whilst playing. We all love him.

Clumsy Ninja is awesome.

Dad’s in the delivery room

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This morning on Twitter I saw that @Netmums had posted the following

Should dads be at the birth? Catch our @SiobhanFreegard on @reallorraine with @kategarraway 0845 this morning! #lorraine

Now I don’t watch Lorraine so I don’t know how to television coverage went but I was really shocked that this question was worthy of a discussion on television.

I was at the birth of both of my daughters and I’ll be there for any more that we are lucky enough to have. All of my Daddy friends were also there for the birth of their children.

My problem with the discussion is the hint that dads should not be allowed to be at the birth. If dads don’t wish to be there for the birth then that is up to them, though personally I don’t understand this viewpoint.

Dad’s should however always have the option to be there. It is an incredible time and very important moment for a family, new or growing.

I’d like to think that the mother would want the father to be there to support her through labour. It should be a great opportunity to strengthen a relationship during a great trial that leads on to many, many more. I know that labour and the challenges of looking after a baby brought my wife and I much closer together as we had to support one another, working as a solid team of two. This period of time really starts with labour itself and though I know it is hard for Dads to know what to do to help during labour this should not put them off being there. A dad’s responsibilities to the mother and baby don’t start once the baby has been born, they should be there for them as much as they can

I know that many circumstances prevent Dads from being there for the birth of their children. I just hope that discussions like the one I saw on Twitter aren’t because people are keen to remove Dads from the birth of their children.