Everyday creative projects for the whole family – Sprout by HP

We’ve been getting to know the new Sprout by HP for the last few weeks. It’s a desktop PC which comes with a mat that acts as a second touch screen and, using the scanner above the conventional screen, allows you to capture objects in 3D.

Sprout by HP’s main focus is capturing, creating and editing photos and video, allowing you to simply move objects around, cut around them and generally bring the physical and digital together.

HP Sprout

As a blogger, I have to try my hand at a lot of design that doesn’t necessarily come naturally to me. Sprout has the potential to simplify so much of that. I’d love to see what professional designers like the one I’m married to make of it once Photoshop launches a Spout version, which apparently is in the works.

HP Sprout-3

Even if design doesn’t come into your work, though, creativity is a part of all of our lives. From Christmas cards to promotional posters, stop motion animations to 3D printing, I’m sure most families could find a lot of use for Sprout by HP. In my introductory tutorial, I was shown a tiny 3D printed shoe which had been taken from a 3D scan of a baby’s first shoe. It was a touching demonstration of what Sprout by HP could offer.

As a home educator, my main interest in testing this computer was to see what my kids and I might be able to do with it together. From this perspective, there are so many possibilities.

christmas fun

Something which intrigued me from the outset was that though I struggled a little bit to get to grips with how it all worked (I haven’t used a PC in a long time), 4.5-year-old Talitha found it no trouble at all. She’d sat with me in the tutorial and clearly absorbed it all but I think her uncluttered mind finds it pretty intuitive to operate too.

On their own, both girls have been having fun playing Crayola Draw and Sing which plays music as they colour, allowing them to choose different images, tools, tunes and musical instruments. Crayola DJ has been another favourite. They’ve had fun using it to mix sound effects with backing tracks.

Together, we’ve been bringing together images and objects and they’ve had a lot of fun manipulating them and moving them around. We’ve talked a lot about how animation works and she even had a go with drawing a cartoon we’ve titled: “Four-year-old doom and destruction”. It would have worked more smoothly if she’d scanned it a stroke at a time but I don’t think she has the patience for that just yet.

Talitha especially loved making a stop motion animation with our nesting dolls, which I’ll blog about in a separate post.

For more on what Sprout by HP offers, check out Sprout by HP presents “Jane”:

Post in association with Hewlett Packard

The new DC Super Hero Girls show – Win a £100 Visa Gift Card

Earlier this year, Talitha had a super hero party to go to. As we talked about who she could go as, we realised that she wasn’t familiar with many female super heroes. I mean, the super hero thing isn’t hugely on her radar even now but she at least had some awareness of characters like Batman.

More recently, she’s started donning a cape, flying about and saving people. I don’t think that she’s particularly thinking of herself in gender when she’s playing these games but I’ve felt that if she wasn’t exposed to female heroes, she might begin to absorb the message that the business of power, rescue and adventure is better left to the boys.

So, we enjoyed watching the new DC Super Hero Girls playlist on the DC Super Hero Girls YouTube channel together.

In this new show, DC reimagines its female (and some male) characters, like Wonder Woman and Supergirl, as teenagers attending Super Hero High.

I have to admit that I found it a bit goofy and maybe even cringey in parts but I think that’s possibly because it’s not the mostly serious, tense, action-packed stuff I grew up with. I’d love to introduce her to those comics and videos at some point but for now this is probably more age-appropriate for her as I doubt she’d be able to deal with the suspense they’re laced with just yet. I was also pretty surprised to find Poison Ivy and Harley reimagined as heroes!

Talitha loved watching these clips and has gone on for ages about how strong they are and that they can save people, asking about their different powers. I like that there’s also an emphasis on friendship between them and that they’re all so unique, there’s a favourite for any child to latch onto.

For kids who want to take the experience further, the DC Super Hero Girls website offers play games, free printable activities, and more.

DC Super Hero Girls is also currently giving away a £100 VISA Gift Card giveaway to one lucky entrant of the giveaway below:

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Post in association with DC Super Hero Girls

New Be Cool Scooby-Doo! cartoons – win a £100 Amazon gift card

There’s lots of spooky fun about this week in the lead-up to Halloween so it may just be the perfect time to introduce your kids to a classic from our own childhoods, Scooby-Doo! It’s as silly and amusing now as ever but kids aren’t just watching it on TV anymore. Now you can watch videos, play games and download printable activities on ScoobyDoo.com and The Warner Bros Youtube Channel makes it even easier for kids to watch the mystery squad, on-demand, and from any device.

Scooby-Doo! is now giving away a £100 gift card for Amazon, so this is a great time to check it all out. Watch the video then enter for your chance to win.

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In association with Scooby-Doo!

LEGO® Scooby-Doo stop motion PLUS Win a £150 Smyths Toys voucher

How cute are these amazing Scooby-Doo stop motion videos created using the brand new LEGO® Scooby-Doo sets? They’re admittedly a bit spooky for my sensitive four-year-old but they’re a great throwback for me and neither of us can resist anything LEGO®.

If your kids love Scooby-Doo be sure to visit ScoobyDoo.com and subscribe to the WB Kids YouTube channel. New videos are being added all the time.

WB Kids are giving away a £150 voucher for one lucky winner to spend at Smyths Toys. Enter the rafflecopter widget below to win!

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In association with WB Kids

Create a superhero and win a Warner Bros toy gift set

Talitha was invited to a superhero party earlier this month. After looking around for some superhero costume inspiration, she decided to make up her own superhero, Purple Girl. Apparently Purple Girl wears a crown and cape and turns things into purple ice. Sound like anyone to you?!

Create your own superhero

You can create your own ultimate super hero with a fun name, look, powers and more to enter to win a Warner Bros toy gift set. Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Warner Bros has put out lots of new videos, including favorites such as Scooby Doo and Batman Unlimited on the DCKids Channel and the WBKids Channel . There’ll be lots of updates over the coming year, so don’t forget to subscribe.

We’ve been spending a rainy afternoon checking out Batman at chatting about superheroes. It’s definitely a growing interest here! Don’t forget to enter the rafflecopter widget below to win.

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Brought to you by Warner Bros

Brilliantly weird fun at Hoo Haa! Festival

We’ve spent the past few days doing two pretty random things: finding non-musical objects to make music with and singing “Do a little poo in the forest” to each other. We’ll have to blame the gigs we’ve taken in at Hoo Haa! Festival at Colston Hall in Bristol last week.

The first I’ll explain in a minute but the second definitely requires music video explanation. Do show your kiddies this. They’ll love it – and so will you if you’re into toilet humour.

On Friday we had Laurence’s brother with us (he normally lives in Thailand) so we all headed down to Hoo Haa! to check out Kid Carpet and The Noisy Animals. It was a show described as “a punk rock musical following the adventures of gorilla, bear, hedgehog and badger as they make friends, cause mischief, contemplate the world and rock out at the grand dance contest.”

Hoo Haa Festival at Colston Hall-6

It was, in fact, one of the most gloriously weird things I’ve ever seen. I knew I was going to be blogging about it because Hoo Haa! had given us tickets but at one point I leaned in and whispered to Laurence, “This is insane! How the heck am I going to write about this?!” He shrugged and said it sort of reminded him of The Mighty Boosh.

Essentially it’s a man playing with some toy animals, singing some crazy songs and messing around with some audio visual tech. It’s brilliant and you could see that the kids (adults too but kids, especially) loved it. The fact that I’m merrily humming the song in the video above as I type this probably says it all.

Afterwards, the kids had some fun putting together a building for a cardboard city. There were some pretty inspiring builds. We’ll definitely give this another go at home.

Hoo Haa Festival at Colston Hall-4

The day before, we made it down with my parents and saw Paka Piki Music. British experimental folk artist Rachael Dadd played “instruments” that ranged from a banjo to a carrot to a toothbrush. Her bandmate Japanese artist ICHI wore what I think was probably an ant-head mask and played an equally eclectic range of objects. I loved that they included the steelpan in their lineup. Any opportunity for my kids to hear that instrument is exciting for me as a Caribbean migrant.

Both girls were absolutely spell bound during the performance. Talitha had lots of questions spilling out afterwards and she jumped at the chance to get play long, knocking chopsticks together. I would go see them again and again and again.

Hoo Haa Festival at Colston Hall

Talitha also got to play with some fruit and vegetables wired up to a computer, experimenting with them to make music.

There was so much more on, including a classical concert for babies and toddlers, a beatboxing workshop for all ages, a poetry battle for over 10s and a disco. I wish we’d been able to make it along to more but even the little we saw gave us all a taste of something different this summer.

This was Hoo Haa! Festival’s first year at Colston Hall and I hope it returns next year but even if not, we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for other events there. In fact, my parents have bought tickets to take the girls to see The Tiger Who Came to Tea there later this week.

What we’ve been watching on Netflix – June

So, thankfully Laurence has been working in Bath for the past couple of weeks, which means he’s been home in the evenings rather than just on the weekends. Unfortunately, we seem to have got into bad habits and now don’t want to watch things together. We made a film attempt with 22 Jump Street but I don’t think either of us were really in the mood for it. Actually, I don’t think I’ll ever be in the mood for it. Sorry if it’s your thing. As soon as it was over, I went back to what I’ve been binge watching…

What I’m watching

For me, it’s all about Orange is the New Black (still from Series 3 above). Everyone kept telling me I’d like it but I’ve only just got around to giving it a go. I think I thought it was a comedy for some reason and I’ve been busy watching crying over indie movies instead. I turns out everyone was right. I’ve been sucked straight in.

We follow affluent “good girl” Piper Chapman into prison, sent there by her secret past as the girlfriend of an international cartel drug dealer, Alex Vause. Every episode asks questions about what leads us to the choices we make, whether we’re really that different from anyone else and what our judgment of others is based on.

I love getting to know the characters and their back stories. It’s often funny, at times heartbreaking and usually makes me think. And I’ve almost forgiven Laurence for calling it soapy, mainly because he’s probably right and I’ve decided I’m cool with that.

I’m into Season 3 and not finding Chapman and Vause’s relationship that convincing at the moment but I like Laura Prepon (Vause) enough not to mind (too much).


What Laurence is watching
Laurence is watching Daredevil. I know I’d probably get into this if I weren’t busy with OITNB. I have watched a bit and hope to pick it up another time. It’s very cinematic and not at all budget.

He’s a superhero that neither of us know much about. My brother used to talk about it and there endeth my knowledge. All Laurence has seen is the rubbish movie version but he tells me this is much better.

The series demonstrates how TV is able to dig more deeply into character as it attempts to uncover what motivates Daredevil and how he comes by the name. He’s a more “realistic” hero as is the baddie, Fisk. You kind of feel for him. He has a bit of tenderness to him while being quite brutal and unhinged.


What Talitha is watching
Talitha spent the month of June walking around with one eye raised, pretending to be Pato the duck from Pocoyo. We struck gold with this one as it’s not at all scary. She loves it because it’s laugh out loud silly. I like listening to Stephen Fry’s narration.

Other favourites have been Pingu (not on Netflix anymore, sadly) and The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Stories by Eric Carle. We have the latter on DVD but she hadn’t watched it in a while so it was a pleasant rediscovery. It’s such a gentle, soothing, pretty animation.

What are you watching at the moment?

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