Friday, 12 August 2011

Tried & Tested Back to School Products

Angelcat Sugar Rucksack 

Price:  Approx £9
Available from: and various retailers

Initial Reaction: Hello Kitty's newest family member.  Angelcat Sugar has the same cuteness appeal as Hello Kitty and is being spotted on the celebrity circuit!

  • Large rucksack - plenty of room for back to school essentials or PE kit etc
  • Reinforced eyelets
  • Cute and easily recognisable character

  • Material is plasticky nylon and you can see contents of bag through the fabric
  • As per the warnings on the label, bag is not suitable for very young children due to the cord handles and danger of suffocation.

Value for money? Average

Overall Reaction:  As with Hello Kitty products, I can see this becoming a 'must-have' accessory for young girls.  It's a sweet design and a practical product for school.   

 By Liz

Crocodile Creek Food Jar

Price : £16
Available from : Amazon
Suitable from : all ages

Initial reaction : A lovely looking food jar , really handy for my sons school packed lunches when he starts in September

  • can take hot food in packed lunch
  • Appealing design making my son more likely to enjoy eating from it
Con's :
  • a little pricey
Value for money: it's a little more expensive than some other similar products but I think you do get what you pay for and it is good quality

Overall reaction: I sent my son to preschool with pasta and pesto in it. He said "it keeps it just the right hotness for a little boy". You can't argue with that!

By Ella

Marmite sandwich box

Price: £4.99
Available from: Find Me a Gift

Initial Reaction: Sandwich box in the familiar Marmite brand.

  • Excellent quality
  • Fun “Marmite” brand for your favourite sandwiches
  • Kept sandwiches fresh, tasty and neat.
  • Compact size to fit in your bag when heading out for picnic or work lunch.
  • Fun idea especially if you love Marmite (which we do in our house!)
  • Only holds enough for a square sandwich realistically so not great if you prefer rolls or need to carry fruit etc separately.
  • On the expensive side.
Value for money? Average, quite pricey for a lunch box but this one is excellent quality and very unique!

Overall Reaction: Good, a real winner for a Marmite lover.

By Louise

Campervan Desk Tidy

Price: £2.99
Available from: Find Me a Gift

Initial Reaction: Cardboard cut-outs and stickers to make your own desk tidy! Fun and creative.

  • Fab idea!
  • Would be an interesting gift to brighten a work area after summer holidays have become a distant memory.
  • Can customise to your own design with stickers
  • Surprisingly sturdy and held pens, pencils and other office essentials.
  • Good fun and a great price
  • Would not withstand too much stationery or excessive use.
Value for money? Great value for money for a fun, innovative gift or to cheer up your work space.

Overall Reaction: Good, definitely more for the adults than children though.

By Louise

Set of 4 Silvertone Illumiwrite Pens with Case Flipo Illumiwrite - set of 4 pens

Price: £15.25
Available From: QVC

Suitable From: Any age although better for older kids or adults as sharp tipped.

Initital Reaction: Cute and Funky design

Pros: Lovely writers. Great gimmick for kids and adults alike. Comes with replacement batteries and refill. Great gift.

Cons: None so far

Value for Money: Great

Overall reaction: We loved these pens. It was a scramble to see who got one in this house when they arrived. Hubby and Daughter loved theirs and used them straight away. They write beautifully which I thought was unusual for a pen with added gimmick but really they are great. They come in a lovely case with replacement batteries and a refill too. I think they'd make a great gift for a teenager or someone who uses nice pens for work. My husband is a policeman and it certainly made an interesting talking point when he was taking statements

By Julie

Martha Stewart Crafts- glitter glues

Price: £24.75
Available from: QVC

Suitable from: Any age as non toxic

Initial Reaction: Lovely packaging and nice sized pens for little hands and adults too.

Pros: Easy to use. Stand upright so no need to worry about spillage. Fine tipped for nice even designs and less splodging mess. Great for arts and crafts with your little ones or for making cards or scrapbooking for adults.

Cons: A little hard to squeeze the tubes for little hands and the caps got a little bit messy after use.

Value for money: Good

Overall Reaction: The kids and I tested these glue pens out by making cards for grandpas birthday. They loved using them and found them very easy. It was nice to know they were non toxic too so the 2 year old could use them in confidence too. They loved sticking with them and generally making a mess. They were easy to use although very little hands may struggle a bit to squeeze the tubes as quite firm. They stand upright so no lying around leaking everywhere either. The packaging was lovely so I reckon these would make a lovely gift for someone who's a keen card maker or scrapbooker too. Very lovely product.

By Julie

14 Sakura Gelly Roll Glitter Pens

Set of 14 Sakura metallic Gelly Roll pens. In a variety of great colours, this collection of roller-ball style pens are easy and comfortable to write with and are ideal for light and dark papers and also glossy and matte surfaces. Add shining colour to your craft projects with this set of metallic colours.

Price: £24.50
Available From: QVC

Suitable From: all ages

Pros: Great and easy to use. Lovely colours. Lovely writers. Great for handwriting cards or scrapbooks. Fine tipped for easy glide. Very attractive

Cons: None so far

Value for money: Good

Overall Reaction: We loved writing with these and filling in handmade cards with them. The colours were lovely and vibrant. Easy to write with and left my handwriting looking lovely  glittery and funky. Great pens and a must for crafters or scrapbookers in my opinion. The kids loved them especially my teenage girl who loved signing her name in pink glitter.

By Julie

Letraset  Aqua Marker

Set of 12 Twin Tip Aqua Promarkers with blender pen. The markers feature an innovative brush-shaped nib at one end enabling a soft-edged application, plus has a wider tip to fill in large areas of colour. Comes with a special blender pen for merging or dragging colour.

Price: £14.12
Available From: QVC

Suitable From: Any age.  No guidelines given

Initital Reaction: Great idea and very excited to try these markers.

Pros: Great colours. Not like other markers that run dry if you use over a large area. Two sizes of tips very handy for crafting or drawing. Vibrant.

Cons: The blender drags each colour used into each other. If you apply too much pressure with them they can  soak the paper or card and go straight through. Not as easy to blend into water colour effect as you would think.

Value for money: Fair.

Overall reaction: These pens give the impression they are almost a replacement for water colours and we were very excited to try them out. It's not quite that simple. They drag a bit and if you attempt to blend them you can still see the mark of the pens. If used on large areas too they almost soaked the paper through. All that said the colours were wonderful and the kids enjoyed using them as plain old marker pens for colouring in. We had good fun with them.


By Julie

Going to School CD Cover

Going to School CD by Hometrain

Price: £8.82
Available from:

Suitable from:  Preschool

Initial Reaction: Professional looking CD in box. CD is essentially an ebook with menu for different options.

  • Story covers classroom routines, teachers, wearing uniform, making friends and emotions.
  • Can print off the story to read on paper (all documents are pdf versions).
  • Can print off pages of the story to colour in.
  • Would be great for a very young child who is anxious about school and what to expect.
  • Contains Reward charts which you would use jointly with the teacher as to how the child is behaving at school.
  • Has other things like “I’m going to school” communication book which you can print and fill in with child and also illustrated print outs of the school day.
  • Great for introducing child to inclusion into mainstream education as main character Tom has a special needs assistant.
  • CD has a very basic feel to it with childlike drawings as illustrations. This may be comforting for some children however.
Value for money? Great value preparation for young children starting school.

Overall Reaction: Great product for starting school, particularly if child is apprehensive. Personally we only really got value from the print outs such as the communication book and colouring sheets. We may also use the reward charts if necessary. My child will be one of the older ones in the year (his birthday is December) so  he is very used to the school routine from the excellent preschool he has been going to for quite a while.

By Louise

Penwizard Personalised ‘Your Child and Peppa go to Playgroup’ book 

Price: £14.99

Available from:
Suitable from: 2+

Initial Reaction: My son will be starting nursery in September. I want him to be well prepared, so I was really keen on the idea of a book with a nice story about nursery to give him an idea of the sort of things he’ll be doing.

Although we don’t watch Peppa Pig on TV, my son does see it occasionally elsewhere. He also has a Peppa Pig jigsaw, and I was delighted to see that the nursery scene from the jigsaw is the same as in the book, which he recognised straight away.

Pros: The website is very easy to use: choose from a selection of hairstyles, skin and eye colour to create a character that looks most like your child. Enter the name and your personalised message and that’s it. You can also change the setting of the book to suit your child; we chose ‘nursery’ as that’s what we call my son’s pre-school.

The book itself is amazing. The customised picture appears throughout the story, in different sizes and with different expressions – I was surprised by how much the personalised image was integrated into the story – I’d kind of expected it to look the same on every page, but this is really sophisticated. Your chosen first name is used throughout, with the full name on the first page. My favourite part was the opening page, where we’d written a little personal message – that really makes the book something our son could treasure for years to come.

The story is lovely too: your child is a bit overwhelmed at first, but gets on great, impresses everyone and makes lots of friends. If you want to build your child’s confidence about starting nursery then this is perfect.

Cons: I can’t really think of any cons. The books are more expensive than a normal paperback and the delivery takes a few days, but given that they’re so personalised, I think this is very reasonable.

Value for money? Definitely. The quality of this book is just brilliant. The paper is thicker than your average kids’ paperback so I think the book will really last. Plus it’s a lovely reminder of a special time in your child’s life. I think £14.99 for such a clever idea is great value.

Overall Reaction: I love it. Really impressed with the quality and I’m looking at other versions for Christmas for family.

 By Kirsty

Sistema Slimline Quaddie Lunch Box

Price: £5.99
Sistema Slimline Quaddie Lunch Box, Aqua
Available from:  Amazon and other online retailers

Initial Reaction:  An impressive looking lunch box with 4 sections and water bottle.

  • 4 Compartments – One large, 2 small snacks and one with a drinks bottle
  • Sturdy
  • Cleans well
  • No staining
  • No smells
  • Durable
  • Seals well
  • No leakages
  • Top section does eat into bottom section so you can’t get as much in there as you would like.
Value for money? Great value

Overall Reaction:  Really great lunch box, love all the compartments. I take this out quite often with BG and it holds all her snacks and lunch plus the added bonus of the drinks bottle as well.


Sistema Twister Bottle, 460ml
Sistema Twister Bottle, 460ml, Aqua

Price: £2.79

Available from:  Amazon and other online retailers

Initial Reaction: Looks good, I hope it works. BG can demolish a drinks bottle in minutes.

  • Twist cap
  • No leakages
  • Holds a good amount of drink
  • Sturdy
  • Easy to clean
  • Lightweight
  • None
Value for money? Great value

Overall Reaction:  Great drinks bottle. BG goes through bottles so quickly but this has resisted her best efforts. Even though she’s chewed the top it still doesn’t leak, I feel secure with it in my handbag.  Great for both adults and children.

HIT Spring Water

Price: 49p per individual bottle or £2.49 for a pack of 6

Available from:  Supermarkets

Initial Reaction: Good to see bottled water aimed at children.

  • Sports top
  • Easy to drink from
  • Comes in three characters
  • Good size
  • None
Value for money? Average

Overall Reaction:  It’s good to see water that will appeal to children. We tend to take a drink out for BG but sometimes get caught short and need to buy her one. Some bottled water is high in sodium and not suitable for children. BG liked all three characters on the bottles.

Ideal for lunch boxes

By Carol

Product: Sigg water bottle (0.3 l)

Price: £14

Available from: Sigg website or various stockists

Suitable from: 3+

Initial Reaction: We use drinks bottles and lidded cups a lot in our house. I’ve tried a few brands and generally I come back to Tommy Tippee, so I was interested to see how this one would compare. Sigg bottles are quite different from ‘kiddy’ cups: they’re made from durable metal, which keeps drinks cool for a long time. The design of this one is really nice – interesting and appealing for little ones without relating to a brand/TV; it went down great with my almost-three year old. We’ve used it around the house and taken it out and about. It hasn’t leaked (as long as a certain toddler didn’t leave it open!) and is lightweight to carry around.

Pros: The metal bottle is great for keeping drinks cold and fresh. We usually use plastic cups and this one kept water noticeably cooler - especially useful for a packed lunch or if it gets left in the car.

The bottle is very sturdy and durable. I can see this lasting a long time.

For a solid metal bottle it's surprisingly lightweight.

Cons: You can't see how much liquid is left in the bottle.

The turning mechanism on the lid was too tricky for my son to use himself – although he's not yet three, and I expect he'll get the hang of it soon.

When the bottle isn't turned to closed, it can spill, which was a bit of a pain as my son is used to a cup with a valve that doesn’t need closing. After a couple of spills I think he’s learned to close the cap and not leave the bottle lying around, although the twisty mechanism is a bit beyond him.

Value for money? I'd say yes, this is value for money in that you're paying for a great quality product that, if looked after properly, will last for many years. However, if your child (like mine) is prone to being little 'absent minded' and losing things, you might not want to invest in an expensive bottle for school when a much cheaper version can do a similar job.

Overall Reaction: I really like this bottle and think it's great quality. I wouldn't have spent that much money on a drinks bottle myself, but since it arrived we've used it a lot. I'd definitely recommend these for older children or adults.

By Kirsty

Navigate Pic n Mix Jelly Bean Insulated Snack Pack

Price: £5.99

Available from: Alfresco By Design 

Suitable from: Any age

Initial Reaction: Bright and funky looking

Pros: Stands out and looks good, holds alot for its size, keeps food cool

Cons:  Can be difficult getting it to close correctly.

Value for money? Yes

Overall Reaction:  This was a product I did not know I needed. It arrived just in time for summer and we were going out on lots of family picnics. I was able to keep all the sandwiches in it (enough for 7 people) and normally a bag of melon and punnet of strawberries. The food would always be lovely and fresh come lunch time. Even just going out and about i would put snacks/juice in it to keep them together and cool.  Would make a perfect lunch bag for school - holds good amounts but also look a little different from what the other kids have.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Let me know if this was useful


Blog Widget by LinkWithin