Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The YouTube Kids app has launched in the UK and it's well worth a look

YouTube Kids logo


These days it's inevitable that children are going to be spending some of their time watching videos on tablets or smartphones. I'm of the opinion that, like most things, screen time is fine for toddlers and young children as long as it is in moderation and balanced with plenty of other activities and interaction.

Many young children enjoy watching videos on YouTube and mine are no different, but it's always been a bit of a worry to me that although you might set them off watching a suitable child-friendly video there's no knowing where they might end up if they keep clicking through to recommended videos. It can also be difficult for children that aren't yet able to read very well to find the content that appeals to them the most.

So the new YouTube Kids app is a brilliant way of solving these problems. The front screen curates content which is suitable for young children. The homescreen is divided into four categories - Shows, Music, Learning and Explore - including content from many children's favourites like Postman Pat, Thomas and Friends and Wallace and Gromit. The app will also select new, suitable content, and it's designed in a way that makes it easy for little ones to find what they are after. There's even a Nostalgia section featuring classics like Paddington and the Care Bears as well as classic cartoons which you can enjoy along with your child!

YouTube Kids homescreen

The search function can be used by you or the child to find other family friendly videos, or you can disable the search function entirely if you want to restrict what your toddler sees to a more limited set. There are also plenty of other parental controls in place, for example you can set a timer which displays a countdown bar at the top of the screen. When the time is up the little face on the app goes to sleep! The app is a signed-out experience with no ties to any account, and it isn't possible to upload, share or like videos.

The app is completely free to download to your tablet and is currently available in Google Play and the App Store. You can use the YouTube Kids app on a smartphone or tablet with iOS 7 or above or Android 4.1 or above. You can also watch YouTube Kids on your television using Chromecast, Apple TV, games consoles or a smartTV.

You can find out more information about YouTube Kids in this blog post from the YouTube UK Blog. If you have young children that enjoy spending time using a smartphone or tablet I'd definitely recommend giving it a go. As well as the peace of mind that you'll having knowing that the content they are watching is suitable for them, it's so easy for them to use to find videos that they will enjoy watching, as well as introducing them to some new favourites!

Monday, 23 November 2015

Two gorgeous new board books for small children

Today I'm sharing two lovely, recently published board books for young toddlers.

New simple board books for young children

The Snowball, written and illustrated by Giuliano Ferri, is a lovely picture book to share with small children this winter. There are very few words, and instead the illustrations and cut out shapes tell the story as a little mouse begins to roll a snowball. With the help of his friends they push it up and up the hill, and it gets bigger and bigger, but of course a hill can only keep going up for a certain amount of time, and in the end it is all going to come rolling back down! It's a charming story, with a funny ending!

The Snowman by Giuliano Ferri

Triangles, written and illustrated by Yusuke Yonezu, is perfect even for the very youngest toddlers and babies. It explores triangles through the use of cut out shapes which are perfect for little fingers to trace and to guess what the shape might turn into on the next page. The illustrations are simple and brightly coloured and will definitely keep the attention of even tiny babies.

Triangles by Yusuke Yonezu

I received copies of these books to review, Amazon links are affiliate.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

New picture books from Simon and Schuster

Today I'm sharing three new picture books from Simon and Schuster, perfect stocking fillers this Christmas!

Princess Evie's Ponies - Tiptoe the Magic Ballet Pony by Sarah Kilbride, illustrated by Sophie Tilley.

Princess Evies pony book

The latest book in the Princess Evie's Ponies series, all about Princess Evie and her magic ponies. Princess Evie's ponies whisk her away on a magical adventure whenever she rides them, and Tiptoe takes her to a beautiful theatre just in time for a magical ballet performance.

Princess Evies pony book inside

It's a very girly book, full of pink and sparkles. The lovely thing about the books in this series is that each one comes with a pop up cardboard pony that matches the one in the story, so children can play along while you read it aloud.

There's a Monster in My Fridge by Caryl Hart, illustrated by Deborah Allwright.

There's a Monster in my Fridge cover

There's a Monster in my Fridge is a hilarious story about monsters that are hiding everywhere, with pointy teeth and dangly hair!

There's a Monster in my Fridge inside

It's a really fun book to read with children as you search for the funny monsters together, doing silly things among everyday scenes with large flaps to peer behind and plenty to talk about.

Norman the Slug Who Saved Christmas by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet.

Norman the Slug who saved Christmas cover

Norman the Slug is back, and he has found a sack full of presents. But after a frenzy of unwrapping he spots a label, and realises that the sack has fallen off Father Christmas's sleigh and none of the presents are actually for him.

Norman the Slug who saved Christmas inside

He has to work hard to make sure that the presents are delivered to the family in time for Christmas, even if the wrapping is a bit slimy! It's a great festive story and would be a lovely read in the run up to Christmas.

I received these books to review, Amazon links are affiliate.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Book review - Have you Seen Elephant?

Have You Seen Elephant? by David Barrow is a sweet story about an elephant that wants to play hide and seek, although as he warns, he is very good at it.

Have you Seen Elephant book review

As the elephant hides himself around the house in a variety of unlikely places, I was reminded of how fun it is to play hide and seek with a toddler that has no sense of how to really hide. The illustrations are very funny for both adults and children, with plenty to talk about in the pictures. It's great fun for children to spot the elephant as you read the book and giggle together about his funny attempts.

Have you Seen Elephant illustration

This is the debut picture book from David Barrow, who was snapped up by Gecko Press before he had even graduated, and with good reason - his subdued illustrations are beautiful and fit his story perfectly.

Have you Seen Elephant inside

At the end we are introduced to a tortoise that is really good at playing tag - a great way to continue chatting about the book with your toddler once you've finished reading it - will the tortoise be as good at tag as the elephant is at hide and seek!

I received a copy of this book to review, Amazon link is affiliate.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Book review - Aliens Love Dinopants

Aliens Love Dinopants cover

Aliens Love Dinopants, released on 8th October 2015, is the latest book in the best selling Underpants series. We've already read about the pant loving antics of Aliens, Pirates and even Santa Claus, and now it's time for aliens and dinosaurs to come together into one interstellar, pantstastic adventure!

Aliens Love Dinopants inside

Dinosaurs have been hidden away on Earth from humans for millions of years, but it doesn't take long for a band of pants-mad aliens to find them and their pants stash tucked away in a deep jungle. At first they fight over the pants, but then realise that their love of pants means they have a lot in common, and so the aliens help the dinosaurs to escape back to their planet. 

It's a great addition to the series, a fun read with lots of cheerful illustrations.

I received a copy of this book to review, Amazon link is affiliate.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Book review - The Burp that Saved the World

The Burp That Saved the World is a new book from Simon and Schuster, written by Mark Griffths and illustrated by Maxine Lee-Mackie.

The Burp that Saved the World cover

The book tells the story of the Mustard twins, who are ordered to leave their home town because the other residents are fed up with them burping all the time in inappropriate places and at inappropriate times. But when a swarm of spaceships arrived, filled with aliens that are on a mission to steal all the children's toys, the people of the town forgive them when they discover the amazing power of their burps!

The Burp that Saved the World inside

The story is written in rhyme and is very funny to read. I must admit that I'm not always a huge fan of books or jokes about bodily functions, but I'm clearly not the target audience for this book. It wasn't long before Harry (6) saw it, picked it up, and has been absolutely loving it. He's read it over and over, and still finds it absolutely hilarious, so I'd definitely recommend this book!

I received a copy of this book to review. Amazon link is affiliate.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Book review - Walter's Wonderful Web by Tim Hopgood

Walter's Wonderful Web cover

Walter's Wonderful Web by Tim Hopgood is a story about a little spider called Walter who is trying to spin the perfect web, and cleverly written in a way that introduces basic shapes to small children. Walter tries out webs in all sorts of shapes - a triangle, a circle, a square - but none of them are strong enough, and they fall apart as soon as the wind blows.

Walter's Wonderful Web inside

But Walter is a determined spider, and he keeps trying. He thinks of a way to create a wonderful web by combining all the previous shapes that he has tried, and in the end he is able to create the most spectacular web of all.

This book is a perfect introduction to shapes for all babies and toddlers. Each differently shaped web is drawn out on the page so that young children can trace its shape with their fingers while talking about it, and on the last page there is a little summary of all the shapes that have been covered, along with some questions for the adult to ask about the shape. It's a lovely book to share with little ones.

I received a copy of this book to review, Amazon link is affiliate.
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