Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Schools in Lancashire could win £1,500 for their Breakfast Club

Does your school have a Breakfast Club? Then you might want to remind them to enter the Kellogg's Breakfast Club Awards by Monday 12th October, 2015!

Kellogg's recognises the importance of Breakfast Clubs, which supports working parents, feed hungry children and offer opportunities to extend informal learning with activities and socialisation, and supports 2,500 breakfast clubs across the UK with training, cereal donations and funding so that schools can run a sustainable pre-school club.

This year they are holding The Kellogg's Breakfast Club Awards again that gives schools across the country, including those in Lancashire, the opportunity to win up to £1,500 and other great prizes for their pre-school club!

Each winning school will receive £1,500 for its Breakfast Club, with runners up winning £500 and the 2015 Breakfast Club Awards Grand Winner receiving £2,000. Winners will also be invited to attend an awards ceremony in The Houses of Parliament.

Tonnes of other prizes will be given away too including George ASDA school uniforms and Hasbro Gaming Bundles for winners and runners up.

Awards Categories:
- Promoting a healthy lifestyle (1x winner, 1x runner up)
- Community involvement (1x winner, 1x runner up)
- Extra Learning (1x winner, 1x runner up)
- Long life and sustainability (1x winner, 1x runner up)
- Breakfast Club Hero (1x winner)
- Best Breakfast Club in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland (1 winner per region plus ONE Grand Winner)

How to enter:Schools are to nominate Breakfast Clubs for each category through www.kelloggs.co.uk/breakfastclubawards

Entries Deadline:
Monday 12th October 2015

Judging and announcement:
A specialist panel of experts has been hand-picked to judge the awards and winner and runners up will be announced via a web broadcast on 9 November, by the star of Educating Yorkshire, Matt Burton.

Good luck to all the school's Breakfast Clubs that are entering!

Hotel Tycoon - Brilliant Family Game

Hotel Tycoon, board games, Christmas games

Last year Abby and her cousins discovered the board game Catan and really liked it, although the game play and strategy was a bit complicated for her to grasp. We then bought a Junior Monopoly game so that Clay can play as well, but Abby said that she needed something more challenging.

When we were offered to try out Hotel Tycoon, I was hoping that this would be the board game that Abby can understand (the strategy and how all that "evil" hotel business works), and that it will be challenging enough for her. I think it did not disappoint!

Hotel Tycoon, board games, Christmas games

Hotel Tycoon (RRP £24.99, suitable for 8 years+) is a 2 to 4 players board game. It comes with:

- Game Board
- 28 Hotel Buildings (requires construction)
- 1 Control Tower (requires construction)
- 1 hangar (require construction)
- 8 Recreational Facilities
- 8 Hotel Title Deeds
- 30 Hotel Entrances
- 1 Pack of Game Bank Notes ($50s, $100s, $500s, $1000s and $5000s)
- 4 Airplanes (playing pieces)
- 2 Dice (1 normal, 1 special)
- 1 Set of Rules
- 1 Set-Up Sheet

The aim is to be the last player standing (and everyone else have gone bankrupt!).

Tip: Before you get everyone excited about the game and want to dive straight into it - the first part of the game requires constructing building pieces, and we'd recommend a trial run of the game as well to fully understand how it works. Both parts are fun as long as the players know what to expect at the beginning.

The construction:

Hotel Tycoon, board games, Christmas games
Top right: You can remove the protective film from the plastic building pieces
Bottom right: Slightly more fragile pieces where a bit more care is required when constructing
Hotel Tycoon, board games, Christmas games
Right: All buildings will fit back into the box in a few different ways, and the box lid will close properly
This took me about 30 minutes on my own. I decided to do this part myself because I wanted to make sure that the thick card and plastic pieces are folded properly so that the buildings will last (and since the kids have taken over all the LEGO constructions, I'm claiming this fun for myself).

The construction part includes folding the building bodies together (no sticky tapes required but you can if you want to) using the pictured instruction, and attach them to the roofs and base made form hard plastic.

I was a bit worried that the buildings (building bodies are made from thick card papers) and recreation facilities pieces (made from thin card papers) might break, but they are fairly sturdy. Unless young children purposely pull/ tear the pieces apart, they should last. For us, majority of the buildings stayed together apart from our Dragon Gate hotels (it could be just a random misfit), which are a bit loose and the top and bottom will fall off the body. But it isn't really an issue when they stand on the game board.

I have to say that my favourite hotel buildings are from the Artika hotel. The building bodies are made from bendable plastic pieces and they gave a really nice icy effect! Another great thing is that all cards are pre-cut, so you don't have to spend ages popping them out from a big piece of card.

Note: This is not the game startup setting.
The big 3D hotels look amazing on the game board, making a usually 2D board game much more enticing and fun to play! The buildings will shake if someone shook the table, but they would normally hold their position. Playing on a higher and sturdier table (e.g dining table) would definitely be more ideal.

The Game:

Hotel Tycoon, board games, Christmas games

Start Up:

I recommend doing a trial run for this game instead of just reading through the rules to learn the game play together as there are quite a lot of details involved (it makes the game more fun though!).

After our trial and error run, we found out that you should set up the game as in the above picture (not with all the buildings already in place, but with just the control tower and hangar). The guide did tell us of course, it's just easier to understand once it is set up in front of our eyes (especially when we have a tendency to glance through words!).

How to Play:

Each player (up to 4) takes an Airplane as their game piece, and move around the board using the normal dice. The first step is to buy a Hotel Title Deed, then apply planning permission to build a hotel entrance, and then, following the title deed's instruction, continue buying hotel buildings for each hotel (each require a planning permission) to increase the hotel's star rating.

The fun bits:
- You can buy as many entrances as you like to your hotel (one entrance per landing square)
- As soon as an opponent lands in front of your entrance, they have to pay you (so the more entrances the merrier). How much depends on the number of nights he/ she is staying (determined by rolling the normal dice) and what star hotel it is (between 1 to 5 stars)
- You can get free entrances or even buildings if you land on the specific square (see below picture)
- You can get $2000 when passing by the hangar
- You can buy hotel entrances for each Hotel that already has at least a building when passing by the Control Tower
- You have to apply for planning permission to build hotel entrances and buildings, using the special dice. There is a chance that you can build something for free!
- You can buy out someone else's hotel through auction

The pull-your-hair-out bits:
- You cannot buy a hotel entrance on a landing square that already has a hotel entrance (to an opponent's hotel, for example)
- There is a chance that your planning permission is rejected (by the special dice *insert evil laughter from opponents*)
- There is a chance that you have to pay double the price to build something after applying for planning permission (because the special dice says so *insert louder evil laughter from opponents*)
- You have to pay for staying in an opponent's hotel when you land in front of their hotel entrance. How much depends on the number of nights you are staying (determined by rolling the normal dice) and what star hotel it is (between 1 to 5 stars)
- There is a chance that you'll have to auction away your hotel(s) to pay off a debt (see example below)

As I said, there is quite a bit of details involved in the game, but it should take no more than one game trial to understand everything. After learning how to play, the rest is down to strategy and luck!


Hotel Tycoon, board games, Christmas games
Left: Free Building square
Right: Abby's Hotel built completely free through luck
Hotel Tycoon, board games, Christmas games
Left: Abby's stack of Title Deeds
When we played our trial game, Luck was on Abby's side. She kept on rolling H (Planning permission accepted and free to build) and landing on the free hotel building square (top left picture), so she basically built everything for her 3 star Dragon Gate Hotel (Abby called it Wing Yip hahaha) for free while I had to work for mine with no strategy involved (still learning!). Abby managed to bankrupt Clay (luckily he left the game early so he didn't feel the pain!) and I declared out as well after having to sell my hotel to HER so that I can pay HER for accidentally staying at HER hotel!

Strategy vs Luck:

Hotel Tycoon, board games, Christmas games
Building as many entrances as possible to prevent the opponent to build theirs, especially in front of expensive hotels!
After the trial session where we've both learned how to play, it was time for me to bring my brain into the game. I bought as many cheap hotels and entrances as possible, bringing them to 1 star (one building hotels), then focus the rest of my money on the one expensive hotel. Abby picked expensive hotel title deeds to collect, while comparing prices to see what she should built next that is cheapest.

While Abby wasn't paying attention, I bought all the entrance plots in front of her high class hotel she was building. By the time she noticed it ("how come no one ever visited my ho... whaaaa?!"), it was a tad too late (although I missed a back entrance apparently)!

And then, when I needed to raise money, I set a trap for the poor thing to fall into. I told her that I'd sell her a hotel plot (that only has 2 entrances to it with no buildings built yet). I asked her how much she was willing to pay for it and she said $5000. Instead of reminding her that she could bargain for it, I took her offer like any business man would! I was pretty impressed though that it didn't take her too long to realise that she's made a mistake.

She wanted to buy the first building for the hotel she bought from me, which cost $3500 to build, but she would have to pay $7000 if she rolled double the price on the special dice (that's why I never get to build it). Her reaction again was really funny (I was so proud of her that she didn't end up crying and gave up on the game!) Of course, I did help her in the end (after some "moral of the story" ramble). After all, it's the fun and her learning something worldly counts.

I'm pleased to say that, through playing Hotel Tycoon, Abby has learned several important lessons:
- People will be dishonest or trick you to "win"
- Number Bond is very useful
- The Bank always wins!
- It's not nice to be a sore loser or sore winner

I'd say that this game is pretty educational and well worth the money!

The actual game (not the trial game) took me and Abby approximately 1.5 hours (had a break here and some teasing there), which I really like and she didn't mind. The estimated game time is 40 minutes, so it depends on how you play the game really. If it takes a bit too long, you can always take breaks ("no one touches the game board!").

We really like the game, and even Clay wants to play it again, even though he'll get fed up half way! I bet it'll be even more fun when we get to play it with my niece and nephew! Looking forward to it!

If you like the game too, you can buy it now from Argos, Smyths, Tesco, Toys R Us, The Entertainer, Harrods, Amazon. Perfect for Christmas!

Friday, 2 October 2015

LEGO Friends - Pop Star Dressing Room

LEGO Friends, Pop Star toys, girl construction set

I have to admit that I was the first in this family to become LEGO Friends' fan. Abby likes building them but she was really into LEGO City like her daddy. However, ever since LEGO Friends launched the Disney Princesses and Pop Star range, she is now really into them too! Clay likes any LEGO so he loves them as well. It's really funny watching him role playing as a girl, which made me realise that he actually noticed that girls' voices are different!

This time we've received a really awesome (I really mean it!) LEGO Friends Pop Star set, and both Abby and Clay couldn't wait to play with it because it's just so cool! It's basically a dressing room but it can be folded out in many ways, so it's like a movie set or doll room!

LEGO Friends, Pop Star toys, girl construction set

LEGO Friends Pop Star Dressing Room (RRP £24.99; aimed for 7 to 12 years olds; contains 279 LEGO pieces) comes with pop star Livi, Emma (as her assistant) and Cookie the Dalmatian. The dressing room features vanity desk with mirror and swivel chair, clothing rail with hangers and full length mirror, sofa, mini fridge, functioning mailbox and a doggy bed.

This set will go perfectly well with the LEGO Friends Pop Star Show Stage (I should get the kids to fix the stage!)!

LEGO Friends, Pop Star toys, girl construction set
LEGO Friends, Pop Star toys, girl construction set

LEGO Friends, Pop Star toys, girl construction set

We really like it that you can fold the room into many different ways, it's almost like watching a scene where the camera shows you different part of the setting! Maybe because a dressing room is really easy to relate to, it feels really playable and you can jump straight into roleplay and change Livi's dress and style her hair.

Clay is really amused by the functionable mailbox, and showed me how mail goes in from the outside, and collected from the inside. Abby loves the whole room in general and I think it's the first time I actually see her really playing with a LEGO set after it's been built (she mostly enjoys the building part)! I love the little accessories in the room, especially the perfume bottle and wig stand!

We are already counting down to Christmas, and I'm really tempted to get the LEGO Friends Pop Star Tour Bus to go with our sets!

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