Last week was our half-term break here in East Ayrshire. I was faced with the problem that all parents encounter during school holidays. What was I going to do to entertain my very bored seven-year-old son? Well, for the first half of the holidays he was ill so it wasn’t an issue but by the end of the week cabin fever was setting in for both of us. Hasbro had invited me to visit the Sea Life Centre at Loch Lomond Shores because they’re running an event called Jawsome Sharks. It came at just the right time! I received a complimentary visit for me and my family to enable me to write this blog but it did not affect my opinion.
We’re regular visitors to the Sea Life Centre and to Loch Lomond Shores because it’s only half an hour away from Glasgow and forty-five minutes away from where we live in Ayrshire. We made a couple of trips to the loch last summer during the holidays but only one trip to the Sea Life Centre, which I didn’t write about but I did share on Instagram. It’s one of those attractions that offers a free ticket for a carer if a disabled person visits, which always earns a gold star in my book. I’ve listed the prices close to the bottom of this post so you can budget for any visits. For this post, I’m going to focus on the Jawsome Sharks event. I’ll write about the Sea Life Centre more generally in another post.
Kids Become Jawsome Rangers
When we entered the Sea Life Centre, we were given a worksheet for Luke so he could become a, “Jawsome Ranger.” The guy from the Jawsome Sharks ads is Professor Finn (ah, see what they did there?!) and you have to help him find the Play-Doh shark teeth placed in the tanks throughout the aquarium. There are five Play-Doh shark teeth to find. You have to identify which species of shark they belong to and write it on your worksheet. We were also given a large Q & A scratchcard. It features questions about sharks that you have to answer correctly.
The shark tooth game was really fun and engaging and I saw kids from toddler stage up to double figure ages participating. I also saw lots of parents debating which tooth was which while the kids were sailing through the identification. We’re overthinking this, aren’t we?
It’s hard to get a clear picture of the sharks in the aquarium because they swim so fast, plus you’re not allowed to use flash photography. There are plenty of sharks to see and there’s even a tunnel through the middle of their tank so you can feel like you’re in there with them. They swim along with rays and standing underneath them, watching them swim above us was a surreal experience that everyone in our family enjoyed.
The Activity Zone
On the third floor, next to the cafe, there’s a room called the Activity Zone where kids can really let loose and get their fingers into some Play-Doh. There are a couple of little tables with stools for the kids to sit at while they craft sea creatures out of Play-Doh and there’s a variety of colours there for them to work with.
Provided are step-by-step guides offering instructions on how to make a shark, octopus or other sea creature out of Play-Doh.
A staff member is on hand to guide the kids through moulding their creations and offer information on how they can snap a picture of the finished product and enter a Facebook competition for free passes to the Sea Life Centre. We have entered although given that I received a complimentary visit already for this blog, I don’t think we would be eligible to win. You just post your picture with the hashtag #JawsomeSharks to enter.
Not that it’s a huge deal, but I’m pleased to say all the Play-Doh was in the right tubs with colour-corresponding lids, none of it had been mixed and it was fresh, not dried out. I’m just a bit of a control freak when it comes to keeping it fresh. Please tell me I’m not alone in that? Ok, I might be taking my organisational skills to extremes there.
The staff were super friendly and while I was helping Luke with his Play-Doh creation I had a chat with the guy who was on duty in the Activity Zone that day. He told me it’s been really busy during the half-term holidays and I could see it was getting busier while we were there. The room only has two little tables, which means two families at a time could participate. During busy times, like weekends or school holidays (because this promotion runs up until 6th May which is the bank holiday weekend), I would recommend getting there early, especially if your kids are younger or if they have additional support needs like autism. They might need extra time and a less busy environment to get the benefit out of the experience.
If the Activity Zone does get a little busy and you have to queue for a table to play with the Play-Doh, there’s a snakes and ladders style floor game that they can play. Luke loved it! There was also a Jawsome Sharks promotional cardboard shark head that you can pose with. That kept the wee man amused for ages. If you stick your head in, it looks like your head is coming out of the shark’s mouth. And yes, being a seven-year-old boy, Luke found that hilarious!
We didn’t get to meet Professor Finn. I don’t know if there is a character called Professor Finn at the Loch Lomond Shores branch of Sea Life Centre for the purpose of this event or if that’s just a random dude dressed up in the promotional pictures. It might have been cool to have someone there dressed as a scientist. I noticed that the Sea Life websites for other branches do state that Professor Finn is at the end of the trail to provide more information about sharks but Loch Lomond’s page on the website didn’t have that. That’s probably the one area where the event could be improved.
If your Jawsome Ranger completes the shark tooth hunt they win a prize at the end, which is of course Play-Doh! There’s plenty of shark and sea life themed Play-Doh to buy in the gift shop.
Overall, I think Jawsome Sharks is a really cool and interactive way of getting kids to learn about sharks. The interaction was especially important for us because of Luke’s autism. He needs to get stuck in and become part of any educational activities as listening alone won’t cut it. There were plenty of ways he could do that at this event. There were also lots of different approaches to learning, like the shark tooth hunting game, the scratch card questionnaire and the Play-Doh in the Activity Zone.
Dates and Prices
The Jawsome Sharks event is happening at the Sea Life Centre at Loch Lomond Shores from 9th February 2019 until 6th May 2019. It’s also going to be happening at the following venues on the dates shown.
Loch Lomond – 09.02.19 until 06.05.19
Manchester – 08.02.19 until 06.05.19
Birmingham – 09.02.19 until 10.03.19
Bray – 16.02.19 until 06.05.19
London – 16.02.19 until 24.02.19
Weymouth – 16.02.19 until 06.05.19
Blackpool – 16.02.19 until 06.05.19
Brighton – 23.03.19 until 06.05.19
Great Yarmouth -23.03.19 until 06.05.19
Scarborough – 23.03.19 until 06.05.19
Hunstanton – 23.03.19 until 06.05.19
You can save 30% by booking your tickets online. Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult over the age of 18 during their visit. Carers are entitled to one free admission for each disabled visitor, who must bring proof of disability such as a letter confirming their benefit entitlement.
Children under 3 – Free
Children aged 3-14 years – £9.95 for general admission, £6.97 online price
Adults (15 years and older) – £13.95 for general admission, £9.77 online price
Enter The Giveaway
I’ve been given a complimentary family ticket (valid for 2 adults and 2 children per ticket) to give away. It will need to be redeemed before the end of the promotion on 6th May 2019. To enter the giveaway, just comment SHARK in the comment box below, or follow me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and reply to the giveaway tweet, Facebook post or Instagram post with the word SHARK. The giveaway will end on 28th February 2019 and a winner will be chosen at random and announced on 1st March 2019 on Rock Paper Spirit and my social channels.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary visit to the Sea Life Centre at Loch Lomond Shores for myself and my family from Hasbro to enable me to write this review. This did not affect my opinion of the Hasbro and Play-Doh event or the Sea Life Centre and all views are based on the experience I had on 17th February 2019.