The Story of the LEGO Brick

This is guest post by Alex Johnson

LEGO Company is on the mission of ‘inspiring the builders of tomorrow’, while many dream to work for their offices full of slides and wonder.

The LEGO Company are no strangers to allowing people to see what goes on inside their organisation. With the hit LEGO movie released in February 2014 and their new ‘Brickumentry’, the LEGO group are bigger than ever. While their gender neutral playsets has been developing since 1974, LEGO has reached a peak of their gender neutrality with their new playsets of female scientists.

Most recently they allowed Channel 4 into their head offices and factories in Denmark in a documentary called ‘The Secret World of Lego’, a programme that showed millions of viewers how the LEGO brick has changed the lives of many children and adults.

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Are Video Games Good for Children?

This is a guest post by Edward Gould

There has been much made of violent video games aimed at the adult market which have found their way into the hands of teenagers, but what about games aimed at younger children? Well, it obviously depends on the other media that the children in question are exposed to, but the latest studies tend to point out the positive effects of screen-based gaming rather than negative ones. A 2014 study conducted by the University of Oxford among some 5,000 ten to fifteen year olds found that those who played video games faced fewer problems with emotional issues and possessed lower levels of things like hyperactivity. According to the study’s author, “being engaged in video games gave children a common language” which helped them to socialise. Of those questioned, three quarters played video games on a daily basis and they were found to be more likely to help people in difficulty, get on better with peers and enjoy greater satisfaction with their lives.

According to no less an authority then the British Council, which promotes the UK in overseas territories, video games can be of great educational benefit, too. Video games consoles played by preschoolers which require physical movement, such as Nintendo’s Wii system, can help to improve coordination and motor skills. Likewise, fast-moving games can lead to improved decision making processing and speed up children’s ability to think on their feet. Another study cited by the British Council focussed on the classic video game Tetris which was found to relieve stress in youngsters after they had been exposed to something upsetting.

Of course, most parents would rightly want to monitor what sort of internet activity their children are up to and this is no less the case when it comes to online gaming. Playing the role of a Marvel superhero is something that most kids like to when dressing up, but they can also get a similar experience online at Marvel Kids. Websites which are set up for children, like Marvel’s or Mattel’s allow parents that bit of reassurance they need to leave their kids unsupervised while they play.

However, younger children, in particular, ought to be monitored if they are on a general gaming website where some of the content for kids is mixed up with inappropriate material for younger minds. Child-friendly games at such sites can often be found in the puzzle section and these can be great fun for parents and children to enjoy together, so monitoring should not be thought of as a burden, rather an opportunity to have some fun interacting with the screen activity together. Word-based puzzles are good for improving spelling and reading. Indeed, many types of online puzzles can promote logical processing in children as well as other cognitive abilities.


Who Needs Hallmark?!

Jake wasn’t feeling well on Friday; nothing serious, and he was fine the next day.

Ellie however was concerned; concerned enough to make him a get-well card

That’s Jake in his own pirate ship, by the way!

In case you’re not fluent in ‘Ellie’ it says “Dear Jake, love you, I hope you get better soon, love, ‘bye”

Definitely a magic moment!

For more Magic Moments just click the pic:


Great Scott, Jallie! My Sunday Photo 2/8/15


click to enlarge

It was ‘back to the future’ yesterday, when there was a vintage car show and fair here. Of course the car I was most interested in was the only one there that wasn’t actually a real car. Isn’t it great? You can’t see it here but it had all the flashing lights working as well! Jake and Ellie haven’t seen the films so I had to explain it all to them, which prompted a discussion (from Jake) about the possibility of time-travel.

There were also many other amazing cars here: Mustang, Jaguar, Rolls Royce and my other favourite a 100-year-old mint condition Model T Ford.

There were also bouncy castles and other fun things for kids – including free lollipops! – and in truth I didn’t actually manage to spend all that much time with the cars. But we all had a great time.

Now, all we need is 1.21 Gigawatts of power. Anyone got any going spare?



LIke Father, Like…

Recently I’ve been writing fan fiction on a gaming site dedicated to my f’avourite ‘video game’, although it’s recently expanded: ‘The Tamriel Vault‘ (formerly ‘The Skyrim Blog’) if you’re interested.

I told Jake and Ellie that I’d been “writing on the Internet, about a game I like to play” and Jake insisted on doing it too.

Here is his story, almost verbatim as he dictated it to me, and with almost no prompting. The italics are my additions.

Personally I think it’s adorable!

I am Jake and I made this story.

I don’t play Minecraft very often. So I play all different games on the Xbox.

I play the ice game (Polar Panic), Mickey Mouse games, Fable 3, Sonic Boom, racing games.

I don’t often play this one but I do play it and it’s called Faery batman.

We do lots of fighting in Fable.

And in the ice one we do lots of pushing ice at bad guys.

In the Mickey Mouse games there’s lots of magic and puzzles and they confuse you.

He’s always insisted that it’s not finished so we may add to it later!

For more Magic Moments just click the pic:

Shedding some light on the darkness?

I’ve been having camera trouble lately.

First my beloved Nikon compact bit the dust, again, so I had to rely on my – not very good – camera-phone.

Soon afterwards the flash  – among other things – on said camera-phone stopped working. although it still takes reasonable daylight photos.

Then salvation: I found my newly acquired Hudl 2 took pretty decent flash photos!

Until it was lost, in circumstances that are still somewhat mysterious.

It was when I went to use my camera-phone, my sole remaining workable camera, and saw nothing in the viewfinder that I could feel the first wave of despair crashing onto my photographic shore.

Strange though: it still seemed to work in selfie mode! Normal mode: nothing! Hmmm…

Then a penny dropped.

My little Ellie is very creative, and is fond of stickers. She’d found some colourful,metallic,  smiley-face ones and had used them to decorate – yes, you guessed it – my ‘phone.

M’lud, I present Exhibit A:



An offending sticker has been removed; one that covered the camera’s back lens! It’s a shame as I disturbed the colourful symmetry of Ellie’s decorations – or ‘bling’ as she calls it.

So I stumble on with a more-or-less functioning camera, but at least one that’s ‘blinged up’!

In the meantime any contributions to my Camera Fund or my Tablet Fund are most welcome…