VistaPrint Photo Book – Review

Thomas has been a very lucky boy this month as he recently had the time of his life all thanks to the lovely people at Vistaprint.

We were given the opportunity to review one of their photobooks, which in itself would have been great.

However not only that, we were also able to choose an attraction we would like to visit, so we could make some wonderful memories with which to fill said photobook!

Thomas has been literally begging me for months to take him to the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff Bay. So this was the perfect place to visit and get some amazing photographs.

I have to admit to being very lax in the photo department. I love taking photos when we are out and about, but very rarely get around to printing them.

I have all 400 photos from our recent Florida holiday still sitting on the computer. Plus the last holiday 2 years ago. I was even scolded by the health visitor once for not having enough pictures hanging on the walls.

It’s not that I don’t like photographs, I just love looking back at my gorgeous boys. I suppose I’m just plain lazy and never seem to get around to printing them.

I was interested to find out whether having a photobook of our day out would prompt me to change my ways, and get some physical copies of all those treasured memories.

 

We had an incredible time at the Doctor Who Experience. Thomas had the time of his life running around and snapping absolutely everything.

I’m not a fan of Doctor Who at all, but I was brimming with joy watching my little boy with such a big grin on his face.

Knowing that we were going to be reviewing the photobook I asked Thomas to take along his iPod so we could both get snap happy and share the results in the book. It was a going to be a real joint effort.

When we got home Thomas was still buzzing with excitement and wanted to immediately start on the Photobook. Tallying up the photos taken, in the two hours we were there I’d snapped 83, and Thomas somehow had 243!

To create our Photobook we used the free Vistaprint Photo Book Desktop app. You can also use the online editor is you wish, but we went for the downloadable one.

It was incredibly easy to use, and extremely intuitive. Thomas sat with me during the whole process and had just as much fun creating the book, as going to the actual exhibit I think. It was a great mum and son project.

The desktop application automatically finds all the photos on your computer, and shows them on the left-hand side. You simply drag and place your photos in the spaces, It’s that simple.

Everything is customisable, and you can have the layout exactly as you’d like. There are templates to help you if you know how many photos you want to fit on a page, or you can just drag and drop them down and use the guide lines to straighten it all up. We used a mixture of both methods and our turned out great.

You can add text if you’d like on your photos or underneath them. Thomas decided we didn’t need the text as he just wanted to look at the pictures. We decided to forgo any text on the cover as well. He’d taken an amazing picture of the front doors of the exhibition which we spread across the front and back page. Text would have spoiled the effect we felt.

As you can see from the picture above we found a really cool feature where you can place a photo behind the others as a background image. We only used it twice to make those pages stand out, but it looks so good in the book.

I was a bit concerned that some of the photos might not look so great blown up. With Thomas only having a basic Ipod touch camera, plus the haste with which he was snapping. The photobook editor did flag up a few of his photos as not being the best quality. However we went ahead anyway as we wanted it to be a collaborative effort.

I was so pleased when the finished article arrived in the post that his pictures came out wonderfully. You can definately see the difference in quality between my photos and his, but he was just so pleased to see his work printed.

We completed our work on the photobook over 2 nights, taking around 2 hours in total to perfect our masterpiece. Once we submitted our order it said that the standard delivery option was 14 days, however ours came exactly 1 week later :)

The Vistaprint photobooks start from £11.99 and go up from there depending on the size you choose, how many pages you have etc. We went for the XL Square photo book, with Glossy paper printing, and Lay flat binding as extras.

Both the Glossy paper printing and Lay flat binding are well worth the extra money. You obviously want your pictures to look their best, and the glossy finish really makes them pop.

Knowing my son would be using this photobook the most, we went for the lay flat binding aswell, and it was a great choice. He always gets frustrated having to keep a big book open whilst he’s looking at it, so this was perfect for him.

 

Having the photos produced into a photobook has really opened up me eyes, and made me feel very differently about my pictures. Not only that, me and Thomas spending quality time working together on the book makes the memories all the  more special.

Our next project is to put all our holiday photos into another book. Thomas also had the idea to make a photobook of the school summer holidays this year, ready to take with him to Year 3 in September.

 

Thanks so much to Vistaprint for giving us the opportunity to review their photobook, and for family entry to the Doctor Who Experience

Velcro® 101 Uses – 4 Keeping Board Games organised Part Two

So I know your all dying to know what Part Two is, so here goes

With Christmas coming up, and a birthday on Tuesday. Theres going to be some new toys moving in, and that means a clear out of the toy boxes.

I noticed a lot of our old faithful board games which we play regularly have rather battered boxes, and was worried about the contents spilling out and getting lost in the abyss never to be seen again.

Board game boxes which have lids are usually fine, as the insides will rarely fall out if the lid is on correctly. The problem ones are the games just in one box with a flap for opening. If you get a hole in one of these, the contains can easily escape. Plus after extended uses the cardboard will become floppy and the inevitable gaps will start to appear.

So I set to work on repairing the boxes. Big brown parcel tape around all the edges to cover the rips, but what to do about the opening flap. You obviously still need access to the game, but don’t want a gap for anything to slip out.

Luckily I then had a Velcro® brainwave and attached some Stick On Tape to the inside, and flap of the box. Making a perfectly sealed board game box, with easy access but no chance of losing any pieces. Really handy stuff.

You can keep up with the Velcro® tips by keeping a check on #101uses on Twitter, where all the Velcro® bloggers will be posting their tips.

Velcro® 101 Uses – 3 Keeping your Board Games organised Part One

Part 3 of my Velcro® 101 Uses Blogger challenge for National Velcro® Month.

You may have noticed that Toybuzz seems to have gone a bit board game mad at the moment. I’ve seriously been inundated with board game reviews, and to be honest I’m loving it. We’ve had a different family board game every night for the last 2 weeks.

The only problem with some board games is keeping all the cards,money, pieces organised and tidy in their boxes for next time. No matter how well you tidy up and pile everything separately afterwards, you always have to go through and pick out the rogue cards and notes when you next set it up to play.

One game that we’ve been enjoying a lot of recently is Destination Hogwarts. The only trouble being there are positively mounds of different cards and notes which have been a nightmare to keep tidy in the box in-between plays.

Enter the trusty Velcro® Resusable Ties. With these colourful bands I’ve managed to group together all the different notes and cards, and safely tie them together so nothing goes astray in the box. It also makes everything look very lovely and organised. It’s going to make the next games set up so much quicker than usual. I can’t wait!

I also attached the game instructions to the lid so they don’t get mislaid with Velcro® Super Slim Stick On’s

 You can keep up with the Velcro® tips by keeping a check on #101uses on Twitter, where all the Velcro® bloggers will be posting their tips.

Velcro® 101 Uses – 2 Sticking up stuff on awkward surfaces

As you may already know from my last post, I’m taking part in the 101 uses blogger challenge for National Velcro® Month.

Todays tip is for sticking up things onto awkward surfaces.

Since my boys arrived our conservatory has been commandeered and used as a toyroom. Not that I really mind, as it keeps their piles and piles of action figures and jigsaw puzzles out-of-the-way.

The only one thing that they’ve always wanted out there that I’ve never been able to do is posters. The walls are bare brick and I’ve never found anything able to stick to the walls. That is until now.

Luckily the Heavy Duty Stick on from my Velcro® Hamper came to the rescue and saved the day. They have honestly been asking for years for me to put up some posters out there, and finally we have found something that works!

Thanks Velcro®


You can keep up with the Velcro® tips by keeping a check on #101uses on Twitter, where all the Velcro® bloggers will be posting their tips.

Halloween Fun With Frankenweenie and Tinker Bell

If you’re looking to fill today with a bit of Halloween fun, Disney have sent me some great Halloween activity sheets to get you and the whole family in the spooky spirit.

Firstly we have some brilliant Halloween party ideas from Tinker Bell and The Secret of The Wings.

How about some yummy carrot cakes for your party? or a pair of sparkly wings? or even a carved Tinker Bell Pumpkin?

The instructions for all of these fun ideas can be found on this Tinkerbell Activity Pack.

Tinkerbell Activity Pack

Pumpkin carving may look unachievable impressive, but with a good template it’s actually deceivingly easy. These templates are all simply cut out the copied imaged, none of the shaving involved in shading images, which can be a bit tricky.

Heres another simple pumpkin carving template from Disney’s Frankenweenie. This Spooky Sparky Pumpkin will make an awesome focal point for your Halloween party table display.

They would go great with the Frankenweenie Halloween Masks I posted a few weeks ago, here’s another link to those just so you don’t have to hunt them down:

Frankenweenie Character Masks Instructions

Frankenweenie Sparky Mask

Frankenweenie Victor Mask

Frankenweenie Elsa Mask

Frankenweenie Weird Girl Mask

As a special Halloween treat, here’s a video of Sparky from Frankenweenie enjoying some freaky Halloween hijinks. Enjoy!

Frankenweenie Activity Sheets

As you probably know Disney’s new very aptly timed Halloween-esque movie Frankenweenie is out in Cinemas 17th October.

Me and Thomas are big big fans of Disney’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, so we are both really excited to see what director Tim Burton’s latest Disney Movie has to offer.

It’s the heart warming story of Victor, a boy who suddenly and unexpectedly loses his beloved pet dog Sparky. Still overcome with grief Victor decides to try and bring Sparky back to life, and unexpectedly succeeds. Obviously this isn’t the most usual of occurrences and despite trying to keep Sparky secret, once his parents, teachers and friends find out things start to get interesting.

Frankenweenie looks from the trailer to be a beautiful black and white stop motion movie. The familiar sound of the Danny Elfman score, plus the wonderful voice talents of some of my favourite actors like Catherine o’Hara and Martin Short , mean that I really can’t wait to go this movie. It’s in 3D too, which I think works so well with animated movies.

To get us all in the mood those kind folks at Disney have released a series of free printable Frankenweenie Activity Sheets for you and your youngsters to enjoy. Simply print out all the sheets and you’ll have a nice little Frankenweenie Activity book to help keep your kids amused whilst waiting for the movie release.

Frankenweenie Activity Pack Cover

Frankenweenie – Find the Hidden Objects

Frankenweenie Maze

Frankenweenie Maze 2

Frankenweenie Spot the Difference

 

Frankenweenie is in Cinemas from October 17th in 3D and Imax 3D

 

Toys R Us Massive 3 for 2 Offer

Hurry and grab yourself a great bargain this weekend at Toys R Us, either online or in store.

Running until midnight Sunday 16th September, Toys R US have 3 for 2 bargains running on Moshi Monsters, Skylanders, Lego and Crayola.

There is also free delivery across the whole site, again until Midnight Sunday.

Seems like a great time to stock up on some Christmas goodies. Hot toys for this year like the Moshi Monster App Monsters, Skylanders and Lego Lord of the Rings sets are all included.

But hurry, stock is limited and when it’s gone, it’s gone!

Top Ten Girls Toys for Christmas 2012

Well it’s that time of year again. Time for me to get rubbing at my crystal ball and start predicting what your little darlings would love to see Santa to leave for them underneath the Christmas Tree.

So this year I’m starting off with the boys list, and will be adding the other lists over the next few days.

Check out the other lists here:

Top Ten Boys Toys for Christmas 2012

Top Ten Toddler Toys for Christmas 2012

Top Ten Baby Toys for Christmas 2012

As always the lists aren’t in any sort of order of importance, it’s just the top 10 things that I think most of the Girls will be after this year.

Monster High High School     

First off and already into the Monster High, I just really love Monster High as a theme and want to be eight all over again!

I’m actually so enamoured with those gals and ghouls that they have actually made my list twice this year, but more about that later.

The Monster High High School is much more than just a mouthful to say. It’s a multi storey playhouse version of Monster High, and it’s gorgeous.

Mattel have thought of absolutely everything with this set. It’s amazing that not only does it do what it needs to, it totally blows the roof off and turns it up to 11. Every room, every corner, every speck of wall space is just covered with trinkets, things to do, and those little touches that you’ll only appreciate as a true fan of Monster High. It’s honestly been so well done.

What I like about it is that the back of the set is not neglected at all, turn it around and it’s a stunning representation of the front of the school. So you get 360 degree fun, and a totally different setting for the girls to hang around in.

There are 6 distinct areas of play

  • Entrance way with the famous Monster High Gargoyles
  • Mad Science Classroom
  • Locker hallway which houses 6 coffin-shaped lockers all with little skull padlocks that actually work
  • Creepateria
  • Casketball Court
  • Dj Booth upstairs

This set may be pricey, but if it’s a Monster High fan, you have you can be sure that it will not disappoint come Christmas Morning


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Tatty Teddy Secret Wardrobe

All girls love pouring their hearts out to their diary. It’s a rite of passage isn’t it.

Well with this Tatty Teddy Secret Wardrobe they can get in on the journaling action early.

Use the invisible ink pen to write down your thoughts on the 30 page journal pre-printed with themes and questions to help you get going.

Then use the torch to read back what you’ve written

Customise the doors of the wardrobe with the provided charms, or use them to decorate the included bracelet and ring.

Once your finished writing lock up your diary in the wardrobe safe, and then lock it with your secret key.


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KidiMagic Alarm Clock

Make mornings less of a mad panic with this Vtech KidiMagic Alarm Clock.

Your little girl will feel so grown up with this funky Alarm clock which whilst having the ability to wake you up in the morning, does a whole lot more besides.

If your daughter loves music she will love the KidiMagic alarm clock. It has a built-in FM radio, 3 inbuilt songs to send you off to sleep, or she will probably prefer to plug-in her MP3 player and listen to her own tunes.

The glowing mood light with 7 different colours, animations and personal messages mean the look is always changing and never dull.

There are 3 built-in games to help you train your reactions and build memory skills. Plus cool quirky features like a fun daily fortune-teller.


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Harumika Style Studio

I think in our heart of hearts all little girls want to be fashion designers.

I can still remember drawing pictures of our future wedding dresses with my best friend.

I put that dream to bed a long time ago, but if I ever feel a little creative (usually after an episode of Project Runway) I’ll run and get my Harumika set and knock out a few outfits.

Harumika is brilliant because there is no sewing or cutting required. Just choose your fabric and then style it around your mannequin with the special stylus.

It’s incredibly easy to get started with, you just push the fabric in and suddenly you have a dress.

The Harumika Style Studio is a great gift, as this brilliant box will keep your Harumika organised neat and tidy, and the carry handle means its ready to go wherever you are.

A brilliant no mess gift that is guaranteed to give you hours of peace to sleep off that christmas dinner.


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My Moshi Home / Super Moshi HQ

As you’ll know by now, were all huge Moshi Monsters fans here at Toybuzz.

So top of the christmas lists this year has to be both the Super Moshi Hq and My Moshi Home.

The My Moshi Home comes with over 20 different accessories to help you decorate your Moshi home to your particular tastes.

Changeable doors, floors, window frames, furniture, decorations and stickers mean that you can interior design to your heart’s content, and then when your finished change everything up and start all over again. Well you don’t think that Diavlo wants the same look as Poppet do you?

Some of the included accessories you can play around with are the Telegroan, pop up bin, friends tree and wheel of fortune.

My Moshi Home also comes with an exclusive poppet figure.


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The Super Moshi HQ is the Super Moshi’s secret hideout deep inside a volcano.

This is where the Super Moshi’s assemble to be sent by Elder Furi on special missions to defeat Dr Strangeglove.

The HQ is powered by mysterious glowing green Rox, and the set has a Rox reveal tower which shows where the Rox is hidden when you twist it.

There is also a rotating change chamber where your Moshi can do a quick change into their Super Moshi outfit.

On the top-level of the HQ is the spinning tv screen, which shows a mission lists on one side, and a map on the other.

Comes with an Exclusive Elder Furi figure, which I think is the main reason Jacob wants one. Elder Furi has always been his favourite.


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Furby

Furby is back, and this time if your armed with an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, He’s better than ever.

I say that because so many of the Furby’s coolest new tricks are reliant on an ios device, if you don’t have one there’s really no point.

Available in a range of 6 different colours, Purple, Teal, Yellow, Orange, Black and White.

One of the first things you’ll notice about the new Furby is that his eyes are now animated LED’s. Which means lots of cool things happening when you interact with him, rather than the weird blank staring looks he used to give you.

Using the new app you can interact with Furby more than ever before. You can feed him almost anything imaginable, the App has things like sardines, mushrooms, pop tarts, underpants, smelly cheese, cookies, smelly socks – Basically weird, wacky, yummy, it’s all there.

If that’s not enough there’s also a sandwich maker where you add 6 ingredients to make one mega sized Furby special.

To feed Furby you simply swipe the food off your iPhone and Furby will wirelessly catch it and eat it up. Vocally letting you know whether he’s happy with your selection or not.

Using the app you can also translate your Furby’s chosen language Furbish into English. Theres also a dictionary so you can learn how to speak Furbish too, and then have a conversation with your Furby in Furbish.

For me my favourite part about Furby is its voice. It sounds very much like Lady Rainicorn from Adventure Time, and that pleases me a lot.


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Lego Friends Olivia’s House

I know it’s not without its controversy. However for me Lego Friends is a great range, and the perfect way to get young girls into the delights of Lego building.

I’ve had so many mums tell me over the last few years that they were longing for Lego to bring out a lovely girly range of sets, and now it’s hear it’s exactly what we’ve all been waiting for.

Lego Friends Olivia’s House is the premier set of the collection. It’s the biggest, comes with the most Mini-figs or Mini-dolls, plus it looks especially gorgeous.

The set is a hefty 695 pieces, and comes with 3 mini-dolls. Peter the Dad, Anna the Mum, Olivia and Kitty the Cat.

A vast array of furniture is also included, such as the shower, toilet, sink, bed, vanity, couch, sofa chair, coffee table, flat screen TV, refrigerator with opening door, cabinets, oven, sink, kitchen table and kitchen chairs

There are five distinct rooms in the house to play in. Theres a Kitchen, Bedroom, Bathroom, Living Room and Rooftop Patio.

If your daughter or granddaughter has asked for one Lego Friends set this Christmas, then Olivia’s House is the one to get.


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Monster High Create-A-Monster Design Lab

It’s time for the second Monster High toy on the list, The Create a Monster Design Lab

I would probably put this one down as the hottest toy on my list. I absolutely love this product, and predict it will be so sought after this year.

Most girls love dolls, fashion and makeup, and the Monster High Create-A-Monster Design Lab manages to capitalise on all of those things.

By putting the blank limbs, head and torso of your create-a-monster doll into the design lab, you can use some of the over 100 included tattoos to create your very own unique Monster High doll.

The design lab is basically a very intricate and well designed sponge, which you use to apply the tattoos to your blank doll. Add water, then pump it into the sponge, then place down upon the piece your designing. The top of the applicator will then flash as you press the tattoo on, when the flashing stops your done. So simple, but oh so much fun.

The tattoos can easily be removed with a bit of soap and water, ready for you to start designing all over again.

The Create-a-monster lab comes with one full doll ready to be customised with the over 100 tattoos, complete with wig, clothes and shoes.

Monster High Create-a-monster add on packs are also available, so you can add more and more totally unique dolls to your collection.


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Twister Dance

Twister Dance is the brand new version of the classic game, and the coolest way so far to play.

Theres no mat this time around, instead you get the four coloured dots to put where you want them (actually you get 8 in a box, so you can play with a friend)

No spinner either with Twister Dance, that would be much too retro. No now the spinner has turned into a high-tech speaker/MP3 player with LCD lights.

The front of the speaker will light up with one of the four colours, showing you where to move your feet next.

It comes with 4 inbuilt song, an exclusive Twister Remix of Britney Spears ‘Till the world ends’, Whip My Hair by Willow Smith, We R Who We R by Kesha, Cupid Shuffle by Cupid, and ‘caught up in a Twister’

You can also plug-in your MP3 player and play along to any song of your choice, which is pretty cool.

You can also use the machine as just an MP3 player speaker, which is a nice feature.

I think Twister Dance is a great update to a classic toy.


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Barbie Princess and The Popstar Toys

I was a bit torn with this selection. I knew I wanted to add something Barbie, but was undecided over the Princess and The Popstar dolls or Barbie’s Ultimate Closet. In the end I think the Princess and The Popstar dolls are going to get more use out of them than the closet, so on the list they go.

Tori is the Barbie character from the film, the princess Meribella. Keira is the Pop Star who visit’s and swaps places with Meribella.

I will admit to loving all the Barbie movies, they are actually really good if you sit down and actually watch them. Last Years Princess Charm School was one of my favourites, along with A Perfect Christmas, even the boys enjoy watching them with me.

Anyway The Princess and The Popstar is another great Barbie movie, more of the same that we’ve all come to know and love. Sing some songs, love interest, life lesson learnt – it ticks all the boxes.

Both the Tori and Keira sing two songs from the movie. They both sing Here I am, then Tori will also sing Princesses wanna have fun and Keira sings Perfect Day. The really cool thing is that if you have both Tori and Keira and you press the buttons together, it sounds like they are both singing the duet of Here I am.

As well as the two girls you can also get a Prince Liam doll. He seems to be in quite short supply already, so if your after the full set I would pick him up sooner rather than later.

Tori
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Keira
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Back to School Crayola and Pink Lining – Competition

WIN A SET OF ACTIVITY CARDS FROM CRAYOLA’S DRY ERASE RANGE AND EITHER A RED BUSES OR
YELLOW STARS MINI BACKPACK.

As the back to school period approaches and the kids are preparing to be back in the classroom,
we’ve got some great prizes from Crayola and Pink Lining to offer to one lucky winner!

Pink Lining’s mini backpacks are perfect for any outing, with adjustable shoulder straps and a handy
external front zip pocket with an appliqued patch. They’re small enough so that they won’t weigh
your little one down and enables them to carry their school essentials themselves, such as exercise
books, pens and pencils and perhaps a favourite toy, even whilst they are scooting along!

The new Activity Cards from Crayola’s Dry Erase range are perfect as back to school starter sets and
ideal for introducing infants to shapes, simple puzzles and developing early writing skills. Each set
includes 32 themed cards and a wipe clean marker and they fit perfectly into the mini backpacks!

For more information on the Pink Lining range, visit www.pinklining.co.uk and to find out more
information on the Crayola range go to www.vividtoysandgames.co.uk

To enter all you need to do is leave a comment below saying which of the two backpacks you would like to win. Competition closes 05 September 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back To School: Stabilo – Review

In the latest of my back to school reviews we recently tested out some of the new Back to School range of pens from Stabilo.

The EasyOriginal ergonomic pen is a brilliant addition to any school pencil-case. Available in right and left-handed versions. The EasyOriginal ergonomic grip shows your child exactly where to hold their fingers in order for them to write carefully and free from pain.

Available in lots of different colours and designs, there is bound to be one which catches your youngsters eye. Plus there is a handy space where you can fill in your child’s name on the supplied stickers and put in on the pen, just to make sure everyone knows who it belongs to.

It’s an ink cartridge pen, but we’ve not found it to be at all messy or smudgy. You get three refill cartridges with the Pen. There is even an eraser pen available separately which means you can rewrite over any mistakes and keep your work always looking neat and tidy.

Another product which my boys took a shine to was the Cappi Pen set. Available as a pack of 12 for £6.50, all the Cappi pen lids are handily strung together on this cool keyring idea. With so many pens getting dried out in our house I think this idea is great.

Another clever and innovative product is the Woody 3 in 1. As the name suggests these pencils have 3 uses. Use as a regular coluring pencil, wax crayon, or even a watercolour when you paint over with a bit of water. The chunkiness of the pencils means they are easily used by even the smallest of children, and the watercolour painting aspect is wonderful to use. All the fun of painting but with none of the mess.

The Trio Scribbi range is also ergonomically comfortable and great for smaller hands, but these pens have a hidden talent. A pressure sensitive retracting tip. Meaning that your child can learn about applying pressure and how to be pressure sensitive without ever breaking the nib.

If you’re looking for a good old pencil for regular school work, the Stabilo Easygraph is a good option to go for. Like the EasyOriginal Pen it comes in a left-handed version, and has that handy space for you to add your name.

Thomas says the pens are all really comfortable to use and now can’t wait to get back to school with his newly filled up pencil-case.

STABILO pens are available at Amazon and Cult Pens and good stationers nationwide.

For more information please visit www.stabilo.co.uk or follow them on Twitter @stabiloUK