We had a great day out last Saturday at the Digital Kids Show in Manchester Event City!
We arrived just after 10am when the door opened, and there was a really long queue already with cars parking in the overflow car parks. When we got in, there was a lot of activities going on already. It was a bit confusing at first, because we didn't look at our map (always look at the map!), so we took our time to explore.
The kids spotted the inflatables (they initially thought that they were bouncy castles, but were in fact obstacle courses), which we decided to save for last as we knew that it will be difficult to regather the kids for other things! We first visited the middle of the hall where all the STEM toys and games were.
We spent a lot of time at the Magformers stand, because Abby and Clay were really fascinated by it! Clay kept going back to the stand to construct!
The staff were really nice as well and showed Abby how to make a 3D object, which had a very long name that I couldn't remember. Clay also impressed us by building a rocket, but with its docking station too (he always surprised us with his attention to details).
We will be reviewing Magformers on our Christmas Gifts recommendation Guide, so keep your eyes peeled if you'd like to know more!
The Anki OVERDRIVE is what really impressed us adults though! The A.I. cars works with a free downloadable app (and can cross iOS and Android play through wifi!) and are programmed to shoot (think laser tag) the other cars while driving on the track. The thing is, one of the 3 cars was controlling itself, and all of them are doing something on their own at certain degrees. How scary yet super exciting is that? It was like watching the future right in front of us!
This Primo Toy help preparing younger children for the future without all the boring stuff! It basically allow young children to line up instructions to tell Cubetto where to go, ie teaching young children coding. That's definitely forward thinking, seeing that the future is all about STEM!
We are so impressed with these toys we saw at the Digital Kids Show. It's exactly what we expect from the show, if not better, and it shows a glimpse of the next generation's future to us, which will most likely be very different.
|Right: Hubby helped Clay to break!|
The kids also got to play various games from the past, present and the future! There was the retro games that still uses joystick (classic!), new games using current systems (went on the kids' Christmas list!), and the latest Virtual Reality games, which has improved so much since VR was first released.
There was a massive Minecraft Hub at the show, which was one of the most popular attraction and had a queue that lasted all day. I know many parents didn't understand why their children were so eager to queue for a game that they have at home, but as gamers ourselves, we know all too well that playing your favourite game at home alone with other players on the other side of the screen is nothing compared to playing it with so many other players at the same time in the same place (the reason why Internet Cafes are popular).
We have planned to let the kids give driving a go since we knew about it. It's an amazing opportunity to let young people know what driving is like. For 11 to 17 year olds, they even get to drive real cars, and drive out of the Event City hall too!
Our kids were too young but they were both eager to try driving the small electric cars. The driving instructors were really patient. Abby drove confidently and zoomed passed us (I might need to worry about this when she's 17), while Clay had the instructor's help to steer (he is 5 after all). They both enjoyed the experience very much though, and the queue was well worth it.
Anyway, it's not like they really queued for a long time or suffered from being stuck in the queue. It was us adults doing the queuing while they went to have fun elsewhere. Clay even had popcorn (one of the best popcorn I had from stalls by the way, and I don't even like salted popcorn)!
The BBC stand is Clay's second favourite stand. He once ran off without telling us, and Abby found him there checking out the latest CBeebies Playtime Island app, which takes up much less storage space to install. He has been bugging hubby to install the game since!
Meeting YouTubers was one of the biggest thing that happened at the Digital Kids Show. Long queues were expected, so people started queuing much earlier. I have to say that they looked much more comfortable than we did when we were queuing for DanTDM's book signing, where we were stuck in a really warm room for 2 hours, with no food and other things to do (it was suffocating) to distract the kids.
I was told that the digikids queued for live signing too, instead of something that was pre-signed, which felt more personal. It was probably dreadful for the parents, but the kids looked satisfied, and that's what counts at a show for kids.
The show was initially created to spread the knowledge about Internet safety and online bullying. But because we weren't looking at our map, and the kids were distracted by the fun stuff, we kind of missed them, but we are with Kaspersky anyway, and we have some sort of knowledge about Internet safety, so hopefully we didn't miss too much.
I did wanted to meet the people from Diana Award though, as bullying has always been a worrying topic for parents. It was unfortunate that we have completely missed them (I should lead the way next time instead of following the kids), hopefully we can meet them one day.
We enjoyed watching Britain's Got Talent finalists Boogie Storm and Mystical PSM's performances at Digital Kids Show's main stage. We also saw YouTubers taking on the Gang Beasts Girls v Boys challenge!
People from Evolve were at the show performing parkour and trapeze, but I think because the area is very open, and their props doesn't have a solid background, they were missed by some visitors. I think a backdrop to block the wall will make them stand out more.
The kids tried to have a go at gymnastics, but because there was no one there telling them what to do, they ended up getting hurt. Nothing major of course, but preventable if someone was at the queue telling them what to do, and another one on the other end to help them in case of accidents. I think the safety mat wasn't close enough as well as both kids managed to miss it and both landed on the hard floor instead. They are tough kids and laughed it off, but they also quickly moved on to something else.
The obstacle courses on the other hand, had plenty of friendly staff to guide the kids, telling them what to do at the beginning, and helped them out during some of the more difficult courses too, especially for younger kids.
The kids knew what they were expecting, what they have to be aware of, and had lots of fun going through one challenge after another, then went back and did them again.
It was a good idea that we saved this for last as they came back all sweaty and short of breath!
Near the Obstacle Course was the Scooter Disco, and the kids had lots of fun there too. My nephew was a bit too tall for the scooters though!
There were things that we wanted to try but didn't do, such as the Explorer Dome, but when we got there, a session has just started, and we would have to wait for about 45 minutes for the next session (something about being told how long made us less willing to wait in the queue).
There was also an Art &Crafts area where children can pay for the materials and make some Halloween crafts, which I would have loved to do! But the kids had too much fun and didn't want to sit there crafting.
YouTube Kids also looked really interesting, where you can use their provided goggles to look at Virtual Reality things, but they were all taken at the time we were there, so again we moved to do other things.
I think because our kids had other priorities, they weren't too bothered about missing these activities, otherwise we wouldn't have minded queuing or come back for them.
Although there were hot food and snacks inside the hall, Event City is located in a very convenient area, with Trafford Centre and ASDA Super Store within walking distance, and we had a choice of M&S cafe, Krisy Creme, MacDonalds and plenty of other food for lunch, so we decided to have it outside while I uploaded some photos on social media (something inside the Event City hall was blocking my signal).
Overall, our kids had a blast. It's amazing how much energy were stored in their little bodies! They did sleep really well that night though.
The kids had discovered plenty of new toys and games, where a few were already added to their Christmas wish list. They tried driving a car, challenged themselves on the obstacle courses, and were well entertained by Boogie Storm and Mythical PSM.
Seeing that this is the Digital Kids' Shows first event ever, they have done quite well. There were things that was out of their control, and other things that they can only pick up when the show went live, but I know that they are eager to improve, and we love the idea of the show, which is like a Play Expo but for family and younger kids (Play Expo isn't very suitable for us at the moment), so we'll be looking forward to a better show next year!