Thursday, 22 June 2017

3D Unicorn Puzzles; Pretty and Practical!

With the beauty of the summer flowers around me, I am trying to simplify and organise many areas of my life.  In the midst of this, Ravensburger’s 3D unicorn puzzles have come to the rescue.  How? You may asking.  Read on to find out!
3D Unicorn Puzzles; Pretty and Practical! Castle View Academy homeschool puts them to the test
Kallista was very interested in Tristan’s 3D Graffiti Shoe Pencil Pot from Ravensburger, so when they contacted me to see if Kallista would like to try out two of their 3D unicorn puzzles, I just couldn’t resist.  These are the 3D Unicorn Vanity Box and Vase puzzles.
Putting together a 3D Unicorn puzzle vase at Castle View Academy homeschool

Unicorn Storage Box

Kallista started off working on the Unicorn Vanity Box first for two reasons.  First; this was Kallista’s first time working on a 3D puzzle and it looked a little more straight-forward for a novice.  Both of these puzzles are recommended for children aged 9 and up, but Kallista did very well on her own and only needed a little help to get started and with fitting the end frame pieces onto the puzzle.
The corner pieces have built in ‘hinges’ that snap together when you fold the corners into shape.
For the Unicorn vanity case, Kallista followed the numbers on the back of the pieces, working her way from 1 to 216, and following the arrows as to where to place the next piece.
Having fun with Ravensburger 3D puzzles at Castle View Academy homeschool
She worked hard and had fun working on it while some of the elder family members worked on Flying Home.
To make things easier for her, I helped put the pieces into piles of 1-20, 20-40, 160-180, etc.  Younger children could help with this puzzle by lining up the pieces into number order.
Before too long, the puzzle was done, the inner cardboard pieces were slipped into place, and the nifty sliding top container was dropped in, and Kallista had her very own storage box!
3D Unicorn tidy box at Castle View Academy homeschool
Rather than use it to keep her headbands tidy (coincidentally, she keeps them on her riding unicorn), she has chosen to use this box to keep the books she reads at night tidy, along with her flashlight, as well as other things she thinks are important.  She’s so happy to have such a storage box to call her own!  And I’m happy things are better contained.

3D Unicorn Vase

Next, Kallista worked on the 3D Unicorn Vase.  She was feeling more confident now that she knew how things worked.
Instead of strictly following by number, for this project she also worked according to the picture, more like a ‘regular’ puzzle.  For the vase, the pieces are moulded into slightly curved shapes that will give the vase its pretty shape.  Keeping things going with the curves didn’t seem to be a problem for her at all, which was great!
 The 3D puzzle pieces are quite a sturdy plastic, although the ‘tab’ of one piece has broken.  However, the puzzle was still able to be completed without the little tab (we’ll glue the bit into place now that the puzzle is completed).
Putting together a 3D Unicorn puzzle vase at Castle View Academy homeschool
 Once the structure of the vase is completed, the plastic cup slides up through the bottom of the vase.  You can fill it with water and use the 3D puzzle as a real vase!
Of course, Kallista had to hop outside and pick some flowers to give her new vase a purpose and make it feel at home.  She wanted just the perfect flowers for her new vase.  A neighbour saw her struggling to reach a chosen bloom and came to her rescue.  She came in with the cup filled with flowers….
A puzzle that's a vase - cool! Castle View Academy homeschool
and then realised that the vase itself would have to go over the top and she would need flowers with longer stems to work!  So back outside she went, along with Daddy so she could point to the blooms she wanted and Phil could cut them for her.
Now her vase and flowers make a great match!  The wildflowers we planted two years ago have come back again and are perfect for unicorns!

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Father's Day Gift Ideas - The Man Cave

It’s Father’s Day very soon and time for the aftershave, socks, jumpers and deodorant sets to be purchased in their hundreds. It seems to be the same old Dad gifts year after year. Add a “dad” mug or pint glass too and you see where I’m coming from. 

Ravensburger have a slightly more unique gift for Dads this time round in the form of a thousand piece “adult” puzzle called The Man Cave.

This puzzle forms part of the Ravensburger “My Haven” collection of jigsaws which feature images of homes, sanctuaries and retreats. The Man Cave puzzle is number 2 in this collection. 

Having a thousand pieces means it’s not going to be easy and not the sort of puzzle I could sit and do in an hour or so. These type of puzzles take a lot of time and patience and also a fair bit of room. The pieces are tiny so I find it best to keep them in the box and look for the bits I need. I try to complete one section at a time, starting with the straight edge pieces. 

The finished picture resembles a cluttered shed building which has been converted into an office and store room for a man. All sorts of manly things are scattered about including a pint of beer, juke box, toys, sports equipments and mans best friend – the dog.

This makes a nice alternative to the usual gifts that men get for Father’s Day and would probably be more suited to the slightly older gentlemen who enjoy big puzzles. 

It costs around £10/£12 and should be available in many good toy and gift stores. 

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Ravensburger Graffiti Sneaker 3D Puzzle

The Ravensburger 3D Graffiti Sneaker Puzzle is a really cool puzzle that doubles up as a pencil holder once you’ve finished making it. This double use for the puzzle really appealed to my boys, and they had fun making it as well as using to store and display their colouring pens afterwards.
This puzzle is a 3D puzzle made up of 108 puzzle pieces, and a shoe base that you build the puzzle upon. Then there is a container section that goes inside to hold the pens and pencils easily.
The instructions included are very simple and easy to follow
Like the other Ravensburger 3D puzzles, the pieces have numbers and arrows on the back of each one to help you put the puzzle together in the correct order, so it’s very manageable.
This puzzle is recommended for age 8+, but we found that the younger boys were able to manage well with it too (age 7, and almost 6) and the design of the puzzle appealed to all three of the boys (5-8 years). These 3D puzzles are great for quiet time, for one child to focus and make by themselves, or for teamwork to do it together. Although it has a functional use once built, it can also be dismantled and kept back in the box to make and re-make again like a traditional puzzle – so you have your options open.
To start making the puzzle, you start off the first line from the base of the shoe (which has a couple of pieces to assemble together) and then you’re off and it’s really self explanatory, but gives a great sense of satisfaction to the kids when they see the finished result.
As the kids get building the puzzle, you can soon see that it starts to get shaping up really well.
And here’s the finished sneaker! We really liked the details on it, and the kids enjoyed making this a lot.
The 3D Graffiti Sneaker Puzzle is available for around 14.99 from toy shops online or in store

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Ravensburger Flying Home 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle

When I recently had the opportunity to try the Ravensburger Flying Home 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle featuring one of his designs, I snapped it up quickly.
Ravensburger Flying Home 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle
Colin Thompson’s illustrations are often a little bit wacky, but so full of detail.  There are all many of creatures and machines showcased in this Ravensburger Flying Home 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.  It was a joy to complete and piece each little detail together.
Ravensburger Flying Home 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle
Everywhere you look in the Ravensburger Flying Home 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle there are people and animals trying to get home.
Ravensburger Flying Home 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle
From various types of hot air balloons, including one very brave solo flying dog.
Ravensburger Flying Home 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle
To old pilgrims heading up a step mountain pass. This is such a lovely puzzle with so much detail to enjoy, it really is another Colin Thompson classic.
It’s a puzzle full of colour and intrigue. There’s even a couple of space ships and a walking book. Expect the unexpected with this sort of puzzle.  Where is home? It would appear to be a rather stunning, many towered castle on top of a zig zagging mountain pass.
As with all Ravensburger puzzles, the quality of the pieces and their fit is second to none.  The vibrancy of the colours in this puzzle really stand out and I can thoroughly recommend it if you’re looking for a new challenge.
It’s one of those jigsaw puzzles that even when you’ve completed it, there’s so much to take in an enjoy. But imagine my horror when I thought I’d completed the Ravensburger Flying Home 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle, only to find one piece was missing.
Ravensburger Flying Home 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle
Now I’ve never had a Ravensburger puzzle with a missing piece, so I knew it had to be in the living room somewhere.  Clearly it didn’t want to be flying home with the rest of the puzzle pieces!  Eventually I tracked the wayward piece down, it was hiding in the sofa cushions, cheeky.
Ravensburger Flying Home 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle
Naughty puzzle piece!  The Ravensburger Flying Home 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle is available for £11.99.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Mischievous Meerkats Jigsaw Puzzle 500pc – Review

Ravensburger Mischievous Meerkats Jigsaw Puzzle 500pc - Review

I find it so relaxing doing a big jigsaw. You can waste hours away just in a world of your own. I find them so therapeutic. When asked would we like to try Ravensburger Mischievous Meerkats Jigsaw Puzzle I jumped at the chance. Unfortunately I didn’t get chance to relax and watch the hours go by in my own little word because I just couldn’t find the time. My mother in law loved it though and completed it in just 6 hours. She didn’t do it all at once it took a few sittings. 

The jigsaw is made by Ravensburger and is called Mischievous Meerkats. It has 500pc to the puzzle. The jigsaw is made from strong premium grade cardboard, with linen finish print to minimise glare on puzzle image. The finished puzzle measures 49 x 36 cm when complete. Suitable for ages 10 years and up.

How do you complete a jigsaw? I giggled to myself when I saw how Marie had split the outside edges first as this is exactly how I do big jigsaw. I have taught my children to do it this was as well.
Ravensburger Mischievous Meerkats Jigsaw Puzzle 500pc - Review
I am then a bit of a gambler and place the pieces when I work out were they go. Marie was meticulous and worked her way up from the bottom which I suppose makes more sense and would have probably made my life easier all these years.
Ravensburger Mischievous Meerkats Jigsaw Puzzle 500pc - Review
The completed jigsaw is so cute and certainly one you could varnish and frame for your wall. My auntie used to do this with jigsaws she liked. They make great unique wall pieces.
Ravensburger Mischievous Meerkats Jigsaw Puzzle 500pc - Review

You can see that Marie has used a puzzle matt for doing this jigsaw. I must admit I am a little envious and need to invest in one myself. Unless you have a dining table that is always empty then these matts are great to pull in and out as when you have time to work on the puzzle. 

Wednesday, 10 May 2017


We are a big puzzle loving family. I was an only child for the first ten years of my life and there was nothing I loved more than either reading or doing a puzzle. Luckily, my children have developed that same love.

My four year old son C is becoming a lot more inquisitive since he started preschool. He is constantly asking questions about literally everything and he's really great at remembering everything that he is being taught. When Ravensburger offered us the chance to review their Endangered Animals Giant Floor Puzzle, I jumped at it as I thought it would be great educational resource.

There are 60 puzzle pieces and each piece is quite large, about the size of my hand, meaning that the finished puzzle really does live up to its name of "floor puzzle" by measuring 70x50cm. The puzzle shows 100 endangered animals against a world map so you can see exactly where each animal comes from and can be found. Where animals come from is not something that C has learned much about yet so he was really interested to find out. A lot of the actual animals shown were new to him too. As well as this, it also taught him about different continents and what the names of the oceans are. In typical C fashion, he had a million questions about each animal so I could tell that he was really interested in it.

Although the puzzle is recommended for children aged 4+, he did need a bit of help and proved to be a bit challenging for him. Luckily we had no meltdowns and he let mummy help him out! I love that the animals weren't just confined to one piece as I felt finding the other half or part of the animal helped him put it together.

The puzzle comes with a numbered data sheet where you could learn the real names of the animals. C knew quite a few such as chimpanzee and polar bear but the more obsure ones like humphead wrasse and Russian desman were completely new to him. One of my favourite things about this puzzle is that the Equator, Arctic and Antarctic circles and tropics of cancer and capricorn are included. These were of much interest to C at the moment but as he learns more about the world, he'll understand them better. 

I think this puzzle is absolutely fantastic in terms of educational value plus it makes learning fun! The finished puzzle is wonderfully bright, colourful and inviting and the illustrations are perfect for young children. In typical Ravensburger fashion, the pieces are cut and smoothed which make them great for little hands.

The Ravensburger Endangered Animals Giant Floor Puzzle retails at £9.99. You can find out more at the Ravensburger website or you can keep up to date on Twitter