Having your child part of reading time is always great and it is even more special when your child is the main character in the story. Bang on Books is a web store for personalized children’s books. The books are adventure stories where children’s photographs are magically transformed into illustrated characters that go on exciting adventures. The stories are all; hand illustrated, written and printed in house at their offices based in the UK.
We had the opportunity to review one of their personalized book options called, Unicorn Oo. It was simple to customize online and the only thing left was to receive it to read.
Unicorn Oo is an adorable adventure about a unicorn and all his friends. The main character of the story is your child; therefore, Nikki was the star of our book. Nikki was transported into this magical world to help Unicorn Oo and his friends stop a sorcerer from casting spells to make the weather bad. During their journey they help their friends and they teach the sorcerer the power of friendship.
Unicorn Oo has been a reading favorite ever since it arrived in our home. Nikki was thrilled to see her picture in the book and was excited to hear that she was the brave lead in the story. We loved the storyline and the message about kindness and friendship. Such important messages for our children to learn and Nikki loved that she was the one saving the day. One of Nikki’s favorite parts was singing Unicorn Oo’s special song.
“Clip – clop – Oo! Clippety – clop – Oo!”
The illustrations are beautifully hand drawned which to us makes it extra special. Unicorn Oo by Bang on Books encompasses all that we love in a book: personalization, great adventure, positive messaging and captivating illustrations. This is why we give Unicorn Oo, 5 clippety – clops out of 5!
This is why Unicorn Oo is on our recommended list. So we are thrilled to announce that we have a special offer for all our amazing readers! If you purchase Unicorn Oo or The Golden Key you can get 15% off the price of the books. Just use promo code: mommab15%.
There are new books coming out so make sure to follow Bang on Books on Facebook.
We love Halloween in our home especially when it comes to trick-or-treating! Nikki loves to dress up and of course get all the chocolates that she can get.
This is why we were so excited to receive, Skelly’s Halloween, written by David Martin and illustrated by Lori Richmond. It is a fitting book for us to read this season.
“Head and shoulders, knees and toes. Trick-or-treating, here we goes!”
Skelly is a skeleton who loves Halloween since its the one day in the year that he is awake. His favorite part of Halloween is trick-or-treating of course! However, he takes a tumble leaving him in pieces, Skelly just might miss out on his favorite holiday. How will he ever get put back together again?
Skelly’s Halloween is a Spooktacular book. It provides young children a playful read aloud with a Humpty Dumpty-like hook. It is so catchy and became an instant favorite of ours as we countdown for Halloween. The book flowed nicely and the illustrations were adorable! We love how Skelly’s Halloween was on the fun-loving part of Halloween and it wasn’t a scary read which is great for young children. If you are looking for a book to ease a child into the concept of Halloween then this is a great book! Or if you have a child (like mine) who loves Halloween then this is the perfect book for them as well.
“Snap my fingers and rattle my bones – it’s Halloween!”
For this #MelAndNikkiReview, we give Skelly’s Halloween, 5+++ Bones out of 5! We loved the story and the catchy phrases within the book which we have pointed out in quotes within this review. 😉 The illustrations compliment the book beautifully and overall it was a great book for young children. I know that we will be reading this book nightly until Halloween arrives as it is getting Nikki excited for the big day. We know this book will become a Halloween staple and you don’t want to miss it!
To purchase your own copy, please click here. It truly is a Boooo-tiful read!
Aqua-Tots Swim Schools have been delivering crafted swimming programs for children in over 90 swim schools worldwide. The swimming lessons teach children of all ages and abilities how to be safe in and around the water to become water-smart from the start.
We have been with Aqua-Tots Swim School for a year now and it has been such an amazing experience for our family.
This is why we are excited to announce that a new Aqua-Tots location is opening up in Burlington, Ontario in late Fall!
The new location will be in the new Activity Plex facility which is a best in class center for children filled with activity studios for kids of all ages. This facility is located on 3410 Mainway, Unit #3 in Burlington. This location will be serving families in Burlington, Milton, Oakville, Hamilton and beyond.
You can expect the same amazing swimming lessons that are designed for babies, toddlers, and kids of all ages.
With a heated indoor swimming pool they are able to offer swimming lessons all year round and offer a variety of flexible swim schedules which is fantastic for families.
Swim lessons will run both weekday morning, afternoons and evenings. There are classes also available on Saturdays and Sundays to give families flexibility with scheduling. They are open six days a week with the exception of Fridays.
Membership at the Burlington location will include all the great perks that the Mississauga location has such as FREE Guardian Swim for caregivers with babies in Level 1 and Level 2; FREE bi-weekly Family Swim on Sundays; and a Swim Club for kids in Level 6 and up (this will be offered starting in November).
The pool is heated to 90 degrees and the space will be a family-first environment with change tables, a play area, hair dryers and lots of change rooms. Also note that the facilities are always kept clean.
They will be offering small group classes along with semi-private and private lessons.
They will offer perpetual swim lessons; therefore, enrolment will be open year-round.
In December they will be hosting a Swim with Santa for families with activities for all ages.
Aqua Tots Swim School is just Aqua-Mazing so you don’t want to miss out!
Even though the Burlington location will open later on this Fall, you can pre-register for swim lessons now by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to start an important life skill.
We are so grateful and thankful to Aqua Tots Swim School for helping our daughter learn this important life skill of swimming. This has been one of the best investments that we have done for our daughter and she enjoys it so much!
Aqua Tots Swim Schools has made a promise which is:
“We promise world class swim lessons to all students, regardless of age or ability. We promise to work with our community to help prevent childhood drowning and make Burlington children water-smart from start.”
It is a promise that they have been fulfilling throughout their over 90 swim schools worldwide and now they can fulfill it in the new community of Burlington and surrounding areas.
It’s a life changing experience and I can’t wait to see the new location in Burlington! Don’t forget to pre-register by email at email@example.com and if you want to get more information, click here.
The Aqua-Tots Team is also currently looking to hire Swim Instructors! If you or someone you know is interested in applying for this rewarding position, please send resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time…Happy Parenting!
*Please note that this article was not a paid or sponsored post. No compensation or commission will be given to Momma Braga in exchange for this post.
Magical unicorns, learning and bright colors. All this can be heard when my daughter plays pretend. It truly sounds like a wonderful world that she has created. Nikki loves to play with toys that encompass her favorite things and she got just that from Vtech!
The Starshine the Bright Lights Unicorn is an enchanting unicorn that features three play modes of play, colourful charms and a light-up horn. This fun toy also has English and French options to extend the learning to a second language (love that!).
When we have more than option to play with a toy, it makes it worth it for us parents as it gives children endless possibilities to what they can do. The Starshine the Bright Lights Unicorn has three activity options.
There is the Charms and Colours. The first option with this activity is by placing a charm on any of the three Magic Heart Recognition Points to hear about colours, beginning letters and fun pharses. The second option is to press the Blue Heart Button to hear questions about the charms, then place the charms on one of the Magic Heart Recognition Points to answer the question.
The next activity is Charms and Colours in French. The first option is to place a charm on any of the three Magic Heart Recognition Points to hear colours and phrases in French. The second option is to press the Blue Heart Button or squeeze the Magical Tail to hear fun responses about the unicorn in French.
The last activity is Music Time. Who doesn’t like a little music?! We know we love music in our home. There are two options with this activity. The first option is to place a Charm on any of the three Magic Heart Recognition Points to hear fun sounds. The second option is to press the Blue Heart Button to play melodies, or squeeze the Magical Tail to play songs, then press the Necklace Button or place any of the Seven Charms on a Magic Heart Recognition Point to add sounds to the melodies and songs. *The Parent’s Guide that comes with the toy provides the song lyrics to help you sing-a-long with your child.
The toy includes the following:
One Starshine the Bright Lights Unicorn
One Charm storage dish
Seven Charms (Blue Butterfly, Green Diamond, Yellow Star, Red Cherries, Rainbow, Purple Heart, and Orange Flower)
One parent’s guide
Toy requires two AA batteries
To say that we love Starshine the Bright Lights Unicorn might be an understatement! Nikki adores playing with it especially the Charms and Colour mode. I love the education piece to it. We love how it uses shapes and colours to help the child learn. As parents we have the option of adjusting the volume which is always a great bonus. We also love the feature of the automatic shut off. To preserve the battery life, Starshine the Bright Lights Unicorn will automatically power down after several minutes of no input. To me this is magical!
Nikki wanted to do a video to show us how it works and what she thought of it. Check it out in the video below and enjoy! These videos are special as Nikki doesn’t do them often but maybe she will since she has a natural act to do them. 😉
As you heard in the video, Nikki gives Starshine the Bright Lights Unicorn a rating of 5 out of 5! It surely lives up to its enchanting reputation and makes playtime extra fun. To purchase your very own Starshine the Bright Lights Unicorn, click here.
Until next time…Happy Parenting!
*This product was provided in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this piece belong to Momma Braga and no other compensation or commission was offered in exchange for this review.
Have you ever wonder if the letters like where they stand in the alphabet? I know that I have wondered that a few times in my childhood. Luckily for me there is an author who has answered my childhood question.
Z Goes First, written by Sean Lamb and illustrated by Mike Perry. This new children’s book has us giggling all the way through the alphabet!
“The letter Z is tired of being in last place—she wants to go first! So she and her best friend, Y, decide to move to the front of the alphabet.
There are a lot of letters in the way! D blocks the path with his belly (too many doughnuts). I is too full of himself (“I am incredible”). And L, M, N, O, and P stick together like a brick wall. They all teach Z and Y that the full alphabet is lot more complicated than just ABC.”
We simply adored this book and have been reading it often (even not at bedtime). The journey through the alphabet that Z and Y take is a lot of fun to read. Z’s determination to be first can be truly appreciated and I loved the play on words with the letters describing a word that begins with themselves. It is a great opportunity to teach while we read a really fun book. The illustrations are captivating, bright and compliment the story beautifully. A feature in the book that we need to mention is at the beginning the alphabet is listed from A to Z and at the end of the book, we see it listed from Z to A. I personally loved that feature as it was a great way to test my daughter to see if she recognizes the letters without signing the traditional ABCs.
Therefore, for this #MelAndNikkiReview we give, Z Goes First, 5 ZZZs out of 5! We recommend to give this book a read to have some alphabet fun! To purchase a copy for your reading line-up, click here.
We are delighted to be part of the Z Goes First Blog Tour! Make sure to check them out on their publishing dates:
A new school year is just about to start and it has parents excited (some kids not so much). With the new school year, comes some new reading and we are excited to introduce our readers to The Little School Bus. This book is written by Margery Cuyler and illustrated by Bob Kolar.
Since this will be our daughter’s first year in school as she enters Kindergarten, she was really excited to see this book with a big yellow school bus in front. To her it is a clear sign of school and it was the only book she wanted me to read for storytime. It was also a great way for me to get comfortable with the fact that my little one was going off to school soon.
The Little School Bus is about a school bus driver by the name of Bob and his trusty little school bus. It takes us on their journey as they wake up early to pick up children and drop them off at school. Not to forget that sometimes a trip to the garage is in order to make sure it is in working order. 😉 It shows how busy their day can be as we travel with them throughout the book.
We loved this book and we recommend it for children between the ages of three to six. It was an easy read (loved the rhyming), flowed nicely and we loved the diversity in the book. The illustrations are cute and complimented the book beautifully. We believe that any child would enjoy this book and it is a great way to get to know what school bus drivers do. It is a hard but important job that is done. For all these reasons we give, The Little School Bus, 5 beep beeps out of 5 on the #MelAndNikkiReview!
If you would like to purchase this book and add it to your storytime lineup, click here. You won’t regret it and your child will love it!
We love doing arts and crafts in our home especially lately as our daughter prepares herself for Kindergarten. This is why we were very excited to try the DIY Glitter Jar in honor of the new children’s show, Esme & Roy that will be premiering on Treehouse this month.
Esme & Roy use calm-down glitter jars to help the littlest residents in Monsterdale work through their emotions and avoid monster meltdowns (we as parents are very familiar with these types of meltdowns). Now watching the glitter swirl to the bottom of the jar gives kids time to calm down and regain control of their emotions.
So we got to create our very own with our daughter, Nikki.
You will need the following material for this craft:
Pour clear glue into the jar until it fills up to about 1/4.
Slowly pour hot water until the liquid reaches 3/4 of the jar.
Add as much glitter as you would like and stir using the stir stick.
Add more hot water to bring the water level to just below the top of the jar.
Add 1-2 drops of food colouring and stir using the stir stick.
Twist on the lid and give your jar a shake! Be sure to sing the Glitter Jar Song (below) as you watch the glitter swirl and fall!
“When the glitter starts to fall like snow –
take a deep breath, nice and slow –
watch as it settles all around –
and feel your body calming down.”
Those are the easy steps to follow to create your very own Glitter Jar! We had a blast doing this together and of course Nikki’s favourite part was stirring it all together. It was a really fun craft to do and really got us excited to watch Esme & Roy when they premiere on Treehouse on August 18th!
Esme & Roy Synopsis
This new children’s show follows a young girl named Esme and her best monster friend, Roy, on their adventures as the best monster babysitters in Monsterdale. The series invites children into a colourful world where even the littlest monsters can overcome big challenges together.
Esme & Roy offers easy-to-adopt strategies that can help even very young children regulate their emotions. Tactics include: taking slow belly breaths, which provide a pause for children to be reflective; self-talk that uses positive statements to remind kids of their strength and capability; giving oneself a soothing hug; and using a “glitter jar” to calm the body and mind, shaking a sparkly snow globe-like jar and taking deep breaths while watching the glitter swirl and slowly fall.
This sounds like a great children’s show with positive messaging and we just love that! We can’t wait to watch it and have our daughter learn from it too. We hope you will tune in on August 18th and if you would like to try this craft, make sure to tag us @mommabraga and use #EsmeandRoy when you share. We can’t wait to see your Glitter Jars!
Storytime is always an exciting time especially when new books arrive to be featured on the #MelAndNikkiReview! We love sweet and unique books as they make storytime that much special. This is why when we were introduced to the sweet and charming world of Juniper Hollow, we were in enchanted.
Juniper Hollow is where fuzzy friends abound and that is where Fox and Raccoon live. They are the best of friends and live next door to each other. They also spend every day together with the exception of today. It appears that Fox is so busy that she doesn’t have time to play.
But never fear as Raccoon is here to help! He helps her with all the tasks that she needs to do but it seems that Fox is STILL busy. Will she ever have time to stop and play with him? As it turns out, she has a surprise up her sleeve…
After reading this book a few times (almost every night) since it arrived at our doorstep, we can’t help but feel enchanted by Fox and Raccoon. Firstly, the textile art is captivating and it allows us to feel that we have been transported to Juniper Hollow. Secondly, the friendship between Fox and Raccoon is beautiful and sincere. It was heartwarming to see how much they cared for one another as the story progressed.
For this #MelAndNikkiReview, we give Fox and Raccoon 5 juniper berries out of 5! The story of friendship and love is an important message for children and it is portrayed beautifully in Fox and Raccoon. We also loved the textile art as we personally have not read books with this type of art so it was neat for us. We would recommend this book for children ages three to seven and this would make a perfect addition to storytime.
This children’s picture book is a debut for Lesley-Anne Green who is the author and she is a textile artist who creates her adorable critters using wool, thread, fabric and love. She lives in Toronto with her family and an incorrigible pug named Lola. We hope she will continue to create more beautiful books for children.
If you would like to purchase this lovely book, click here.
The first word that is spoken is always an exciting time with your little one and the anticipation of what it would be, might have parents on the edge of their seats. I know this is how we were as we anticipated those first words from our daughter, Nikki.
I had a few friends and family who would tell me that the first word is usually momma or dada but a majority of them said it would be “Dada.” Of course, they were right as her first word was “Dada.”
So when I saw, Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada, by Jimmy Fallon I knew this was the perfect gift for my husband for Father’s Day as it will take him back to that glorious day that he reminds me of every single day. 😉
“Your baby’s first word will be…Dada! Right? Everyone knows that fathers wage a secret campaign to ensure that their babies’ first word is “Dada”! But does it work?”
According to this children’s book it can definitely work with hard work and determination. The book is beautifully illustrated with different animals throughout and each animal has something in common – teaching their children to say “Dada.” Unfortunately, their attempts just have their child make their sound instead. However, fathers never give up and by the end, all the children say “Dada.” Hooray!
We just loved this book as it is so sweet. The story is simple for a young child to understand and flows nicely. Your child can learn as the story is read to them as you can teach your child the sounds that different animals make.
Nikki and I had a blast reading it. The best part is that Nikki was able to read the words as we went along and that made my heart skip a beat. She can now read the story to her Dada who will be so proud to hear her first words in a story form.
Therefore, it is no surprise that for this #MelAndNikkiReview we give it 5+++ Dads out of 5! We do have a message for Mr. Jimmy Fallon, keep writing beautiful books and showing us how much love our children have for us as parents. Whether it is Mama or Dada, they are both loving parents who at the end of the day love their children with all their hearts. Thank you!
If you would like to purchase this book for the Dada in the life of your little one, then please click here.
Before we whisk you away into “Once Upon A Time,” let us remind everyone what Ever After Entertainment does.
They provide an experience like no other as they bring magic to a celebration. Whether it is a princess, a fairytale character, superhero, or star wars character, they bring it to your front door to make the believers believe that dreams come true.
“We believe in making dreams come true by inspiring the imagination of children, both young and young at heart.” – Ever After Entertainment
Now it is time for our exclusive scoop with Stefanie who encompasses all qualities that one would admire in a princess. She is kind, intelligent, and a strong woman and you will see that from our interview.
Once Upon A Time…
When and what inspired you to start Ever After Entertainment?
I started Ever After Entertainment right after I finished an intensive two year musical theatre conservatory in New York City, called Circle in the Square Theatre School. I adored musical theatre and performing, so when I heard that some of my classmates worked for similar companies in the states, I was immediately inspired to start something of my own. I have always loved anything to do with Disney Princesses! I grew up on all the movies, so performing as a classic princess seemed like the perfect fit!
What was the first year like?
The first years was super tough – for the first six months, the phones were quiet. I didn’t really know where to start and I was relying on “old school methods” of marketing to get my name out in the community, and that just was not working for me. As soon as I started to figure out what type of advertising worked, business began to pick up, and it picked up fast! It was definitely an exciting time when the phones started ringing, but I quickly realized that no one was going to knock on my door and ask me to come to their party. When we were just starting out, I had to go out and do free events to market Ever After Entertainment. Anything from school events, city fairs and free birthday parties – if there was someone who wanted a princess, I was there!
Who has been your most popular character request?
Elsa…Elsa and Elsa! As soon as Frozen came out, “Elsa” or the “Ice Queen” was the most requested character. We had to hire 5 performers in 1 month just to keep up! Now as the Frozen craze has died down a little, some of the more classically loved princesses are becoming more popular. My personal favourites are Beauty and The Little Mermaid – both are requested regularly.
Why is providing a magical experience important to you?
I’ve been a huge Disney Princess fan since I was three years old and I discovered The Little Mermaid. I would eat, sleep and breath everything Ariel! I know that if I had the opportunity to have Ariel attend my birthday party as a child, that would have made my year! Knowing that we can make a child’s dreams come true by bringing their hero to life, means so much to me. These princess characters teach children lessons about family, friends, passion and love, and we are so lucky that we get to bring those lessons and magic to people’s families and homes.
How do you find the perfect person to play the part?
All of Ever After Entertainment’s princess performers are professionally trained actors and singers. We want our performers to not only look like the princesses they are portraying, but they also must embody their personality and be able to sing all their signature songs. Our cast is filled with a diverse group of wonderfully talented ladies from all over the GTA – but they all must have a love for children, and of course, a love for princesses!
Where would you like to see Ever After Entertainment in the next five years?
I would love to see Ever After Entertainment grow across Ontario. Ideally we would love to have performers in all different regions across Southern Ontario, so that we can provide a magical birthday experience to children and their families all over the GTA.
Who is your favourite Princess to play?
It’s so hard to choose! I think if I had to pick one, it would be Ariel. I mean, what girl doesn’t want to be a mermaid?! I just love Ariel’s songs, and story – and it’s so much fun to be a red head. Like I said earlier, The Little Mermaid was my most beloved movie growing up, so she is of course my favourite princess to portray!
This is how Ever After Entertainment got it’s “Once Upon A Time” and some more inside scoops of this impeccable company. Special thank you to Stefanie for giving us the opportunity to interview her as it was a true honor.
We at Momma Braga can’t say it enough that Ever After Entertainment is truly the very best! Once you book with them you can rest assure that your celebration will be that much better! They truly pride themselves of staying authentic and professional from beginning to end. It is a magical experience for all and you won’t regret having them there.