Junior Explorers Review {Giveaway + Promo code)

So it’s been slightly more than six months since we subscribed to Junior Explorers. In our initial review of the subscription box, here’s what I said we liked about it and what can be improved:

What I really like about the subscription box:

The online mission is excellent in terms of the crafting of the content. Everything flows logically, information is provided systematically and the games are engaging and tap on the interests of the target age group. You can go back and play any of the games at the end of the mission without having to go through the entire process.

The kids are exposed to the biomes of the world and explore these one at a time. In each biome, they learn not only about the animals, the habitats that categorise the biome, they also learn more about the world – the continents, the oceans, geographical knowledge.

Subscription covers everything that you need so there’s actually no need to look for extra information if you don’t want to. Extras to keep the kid engaged include tattoos, stickers, the collectible wristband and badge are also helpful to keep the hype up so interest is sustained through the month (till the next package arrives).

What I think can be improved:

It’d be good if the online missions could take a shorter time to load.

Some of the games had a time limit which I find rather short for younger kids in the target age group. I had to help my girl with the controls as she isn’t so tech-savvy to operate the laptop that fast.

The volume of the characters speaking during the online mission swings to extremes. Some characters are really loud, while some are soft. I had to constantly adjust the volume.

So how have we liked the subscription box so far?

I still stand by what I said I like about the subscription box. In fact, I think I’m quite impressed with the fact that they constantly try to make changes to their content and the kit.

I’ll just give a brief overview of what we’ve received thus far to give you an idea of what to expect if you subscribe.

In the first two months, you’d receive a welcome kit and your first mission. Technically you’d receive them separately but for purposes of the initial review, I received both in the same month.

My girl with the welcome kit. For details about what’s included in the welcome kit, please click to read my initial post about Junior Explorers.

Our first mission kit. Again, exact details and how we dealt with the entire kit can be found in our initial post.

Subsequently, we received a mission kit each month, though the arrival period of the kit sometimes varied. But that’s not a big issue for us. With my girl in Primary school, we don’t always get to work on the kit immediately when it arrives anyway.

Here are what we have received so far:

Package #3: Serengeti

Package #4: The Great Barrier Reef

Package #5: The Amazon

Package #6: Everglades

I must make a mention that the format changed slightly with the Everglades package. Unlike the previous kits that we’d received, when we opened up the padded envelope, we found an A4 sized booklet, with the information sheet, mission details, postcards, animal cards and activity sheet inside instead of the loose sheets that they used to come in. The tattoos, collectible badges and wristbands and the two collectible small animals were found in the padded envelope.

Detailed look of the new A4 sized booklet

I was initially happy with the new layout because it looked so neat but I quickly realised that the drawback was that I couldn’t fit the padded envelope with the small loose items into the ‘luggage bag’ (i.e. the cardboard box provided in the welcome kit). Previously there was a separate white envelope (with the mission title printed on it) containing all the items for the mission within the padded envelope and that fit perfectly in the box.

Comparison of the size of the white envelope which used to be included vs. the padded envelope

With the new format, I had to store the loose items from that mission kit separately in a ziploc bag. That certainly didn’t feel as neat anymore, though I really liked the look of the new almost-all-in-one booklet.

The next month, we received something different again!

This time the package came in a cardboard box for the first time instead of the usual padded envelope

Package #7: Gulf Coast

This time, the A4 booklet was still there with the animal cards etc. but this time round, there were new never-seen-before items included! What was new include – a huge shark chart, finger tattoos instead of the usual tattoos, shark stencils, a ‘shark tooth’ necklace and some stickers which were much smaller than the usual ones. Just when we thought it was getting predictable, we were really ecstatic to see that some changes to the mission kit really spiced things up and upped the interest in the subscription box again!

Over the moon with her new shark tooth necklace

Some of the finger tattoos!

Not only were the physical items different, the online mission was also different for this mission kit as the kids got to track sharks they learnt about in real time. It was only after the kids had stuck most of the small shark stickers on the box that I realised that the stickers were meant to be markers for where the sharks could be found. Oh well. A month later when I checked back on the website, the Junior Explorer team had included better instructions instead of just saying that we were being redirected to another site to track the sharks. The kids were kinda disappointed though that there weren’t online games that month. Haha.

Our latest package came in the usual padded envelope this time with some changes again. Did I say how absolutely impressed I am with the things they are doing to jazz things up?

Package #8: Dinosaurs Dig

In place of the A4 booklet was a set of coloured printed papers stapled together with details about the mission as well as the information sheet and some fun activities. This time there were only three tattoos, individually cut up instead of a sheet of tattoos which we usually receive. The super awesome thing about this mission kit is that it comes with a dinosaur activity book and a sticker activity book! The dinosaurs were much larger than the usual small figurines in the previous mission kits and there were three build-a-dinosaur pieces included too.

One of the three dinosaurs we built. Pretty much? Doesn’t come with instructions though so we had to figure it out ourselves.

Surprisingly there were no animal cards, postcards, wristband and badge. No biggie though. The activity books kinda already made up for that. We still can’t access the online mission though which is quite a bummer since last month they didn’t get any online games either.

Overall, I’d still recommend this subscription box. Regarding the things I thought could be improved in my previous post, I still have some issues taking a long time to load missions sometimes but this is quite sporadic. I’m not a tech geek so I’ve no idea why sometimes it loads very quickly and why sometimes it seems to take forever. There’s still volume discrepancy within the online mission but it’s certainly not as bad as when I first reviewed it. I like that they have tried in these few months to change things around a bit as it did get a bit repetitive after awhile. A surprise is good every once in a while! I would really like the pretty white envelope to be back though so I can organise the items neatly again!

If you’re interested in this subscription box, you can get 10% off your subscription when you key in the promotional code SM10 when checking out your cart.

Also, I’ve got a giveaway specially for my readers! Simply tell me what you like best of this subscription box in the blog comments and remember to click the options in the Rafflecopter widget below to qualify! 😀

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a Junior Explorers subscription for purposes of review. 

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Disney on Ice Magical Ice Festival review

We were looking forward to Disney on Ice since we confirmed our attendance at the event because we still had such good memories of Disney on Ice 2014 (click to read my review). We arrived more than half an hour early on Saturday afternoon, but after queuing to buy popcorn, there was about another 10minutes or so left and we tried soooo hard to get a picture before the show started and this was how it turned out eventually:

People just didn’t bother that we were trying to get a photo and kept walking right in front of the camera so little boy became uncooperative. Just so you know he wasn’t bleah about watching the show, but he was tired of trying to smile for the camera. 😀 #gettingagoodphotowithkidsissohard

Before I tell you more about the show, I must say that this is THE BEST Disney on Ice show I’ve ever watched in my entire life! And you must know that I have caught Disney on Ice since I was a child and even when I was an adult and this – THIS – was just the best.one.ever. I think I went a bit mad with the photo-taking, but everything was so beautiful, from their costumes to the setup, and I have to add, I didn’t manage to do justice to their brilliant skating performance with my still photographs.

Anyway, so the show started with Mickey and friends as usual:

This year, I felt that the show’s focus was on the stories, and the playing out of the entire story – well, the important parts of course. I LOVED IT. Everything flowed so well and the fact that it wasn’t just random excerpts or songs from the movies to showcase the skating skills, there was a lot of continuity and the audience could really immerse themselves in the performance.

The first story was The Little Mermaid.

To be honest, I have never watched the cartoon The Little Mermaid in my life. I’ve watched bits and pieces of it, but never the whole movie. I read the story when I was a kid and I read the sad version where Ariel never got together with the prince so I didn’t feel inclined to watch the show. I’m sure Disney gave it a happy ending, as with this performance.

Here’s a close look at the gorgeous mermaid’s ‘tail’ before she trades it in for over-rated legs.

My kids got excited when they saw Flounder, not so much when they saw Sebastian or even Ariel!

The colours on stage were stunning, almost psychedelic:

Ursula created quite a stir amongst the audience with her entrance:

But the highlight of The Little Mermaid’s performance was the acrobatic, seamless, perfect moves by Ariel as she dangled high above the stage, spinning gracefully:

It was the most dazzling performance, technically speaking, and we all held our breath as we watched her with just a rope in the air.

The happy ending!

It was beyond difficult trying to capture great shots of the skaters in their most glorious skating moves and many turned out blurry:

The next story was Tangled (Rapunzel) and it’s one of my favourites because it has such beautiful songs!

Lucky children from the audience who got to be part of the show

Instead of simply focusing on Flynn Rider and Rapunzel, they started the performance with the pub thugs, singing one of my favourite songs from the movie, I Have a Dream.

This time, they included Mother Gothel, singing Mother knows best.

For this story, my favourite part was when the lanterns were released:

Such a beautiful sight it was!

The stage was also filled with colour and an elaborate display of grandeur:

After the intermission, the next story was the classic, Beauty and the Beast.

This time, they started with Gaston:

And the usually overlooked song Little Town was performed in part.

The one thing that was not mentioned in the performance was how she got to Beast’s castle though. But I think that might have made the show too long for its duration of two hours.

The characters of the story were decked out in magnificent costumes:

Beautiful set

Just as The Little Mermaid’s transformation, the Beast’s transformation was awesome, and even more spectacular because it literally happened in like a split second!

The most awaited performance was that of Frozen. I swear if you lined up all the little girls dressed as Elsa that day (mine included), you would easily fill up the stage. The story started with Sven and Kristoff first before Kristoff meets Anna.

The performance included all of the songs from Frozen except for the one where the trolls sing Fixer Upper. It was just marvelous how they wove the performance together with parts of the various songs (Do you want to build a snowman wasn’t sung in its entirety), all contributing to the flow of the performance.

For the first time in forever was particular awesome!

Singing Love is an Open Door

The audience screamed when snow started falling:

And here’s something I haven’t mentioned yet, there are many times in the show where characters just go to the two front corners of the stage where you can see them upclose, like in this scene where Olaf and Kristoff are blowing bubbles in the song Summer Time.

The crowd broke out in a mass rendition of Let It Go, as expected, and it was definitely the climax of the show for the audience. Or maybe it was just my family. Elsa’s costume change was quick too as she had to do it during the song itself, as per the movie.

I think the cast captured the hearts of the audience completely.

The finale of the show was less elaborate than previous times that I have watched, but I think I’d choose a better overall performance compared to a grand finale anytime.

If you don’t manage to get your popcorn Disney on Ice bucket and other trinkets like princess-themed slushie cups and Olaf cap before the show, you can get them during intermission or after the show.

My little princess showing off her Elsa costume which I bought for her seventh birthday after the show (thankfully she can still wear it!). Did I mention it was just so impossible to get a good shot of her in the indoor stadium where the lights were dim? :D

Anyway, if you have not grabbed your tickets for Disney on Ice Magical Ice Festival, please do so. I’m telling ya, it will definitely be worth your time and money, even with the minor slips made by a couple of the skaters, due to the slippery ‘snow’.

Disney on Ice Magical Ice Festival 2016 runs from 11-20 March 2016 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Click here to buy your tickets.

To learn more about the Magical Ice Festival, click here.

 

Disclosure: We were invited to Disney on Ice Magical Ice Festival. No monetary compensation was received.

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