Clever Tykes Storybooks: Inspiring Stories For Children 

Clever Tykes are wonderfully inspirational storybooks for children ages 6-9. They are the creation of husband and wife team Ben and Jodie Cook, who were recently listed in Forbes 30 under 30, for social entrepreneurs across Europe. The initiative is sponsored by Lloyds Banking Group, which has allowed these education storybooks and teaching resources to be available to UK primary schools completely free. There is a portal available where schools can sign up and access everything they need to teach enterprise education for key stage 2.

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The Clever Tykes stories are centred around entrepreneurship. The characters are fantastic positive role-models and the storylines also promote other important traits such as problem-solving, resiliance, positivity, persistence, innovation and playing to strengths or following a passion. The founders aim is to “help you inspire and empower your children to be the most creative and proactive young people they can be.”
 

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Clever Tykes, books, educational resources, PSHE, positive role-model, schools, Home Education, entrepreneur, inspirational, review, Living Life Our Way

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As an ex-teacher and now home educator, I think these books are absolutely brilliant! Everything about them resonates strongly with me, and I wholeheartedly agree with the founders’ values and thoughts behind these stories. As I read their website, I found myself constantly nodding along and thinking to myself ‘yes, this is so my thinking too!’ 

They want to “adopt a grass roots approach to inspiring innovative behaviour.” They go on to state: “As a society, we must demonstrate to young people that a challenging and rewarding career can be as an entrepreneur in a private venture, social enterprise or charity. We need to promote the right role models for our children to emulate.” Yes! This. 100% agree.

The books are very well written and provide awesome role-models who children can relate to, and encourage thinking outside the box and creativity. They genuinely empower children! They also cover a range of subjects; an excellent teaching resource in so many ways. 

My favourite story is Change-it Cho. I have fallen in love with this story to be honest! I love her demonstration of persistence, even in the face of adversity. It reminded me so much of the phrase ‘Nevertheless, she persisted’. It shows children how to stand up for what is right and not give up, or take no for an answer – in a good way, of course! It teaches children the traits that are necessary to thrive in today’s world. 

I can see these books have the potential to really help create a young generation of go-getters and change-makers! I seriously cannot recommend these stories enough. Parents and educators – check them out! 

*Disclosure: I was sent these books free in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Fun Family Activities To Celebrate Earth Day

​Today is Earth Day. So here are some lovely ways you can celebrate, either today  or any other (because really, everyday should be Earth Day anyway!) 

  • Nature art. There are lots of fun nature art activities that you can do as a family. One that is particularly great for Earth Day is to collect some large pebbles, arrange them in a solid circle, then paint them with a map of the world (I decided to add a peace sign too!)

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  • Make an Earth Pom Pom. Check out this super cute creative activity over on Monkey and Mouse!
  • Sign up to Global Guardian Project to get their monthly digital multi-media resource (learning capsule) full of stunning pictures, useful information, inspirational ideas and activities, and wonderful facts about the amazing world that we live in, and how we can care for it. This month the focus is on Israel. Use my affiliate code LIVINGLIFEOURWAY to get 10% discount off subscriptions. (Usual price $14.99 per month). This discount code can also be used for their new special edition National Parks capsule too.

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  • Go on a nature walk. Use all your senses to explore the natural environment around you. Stop for a few moments, be still and listen. What do you hear? What do you see? What can you smell? Touch the bark of a tree, go barefoot on the grass. Take it all in and connect with our earth.

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    • Make a paper mache globe. This project takes several days but is lots of messy creative fun! Head on over to The Crafty Classroom to for a detailed tutorial.
    • Give the earth a helping hand. Do something that helps protect our environment. Small changes can have a BIG impact. Maybe a 5 minute litter pick in your local park? Find ways to reduce energy consumption in your home? Pledge to say ‘no thanks’ to plastic straws with your drink? Or perhaps buy yourself a reusable cup rather than using disposable coffee shops ones? You could even try to give up single-use plastics completely! The possibilities are endless and remember, every small change helps. Other ideas can be found on my previous Make A Splash blog post.  

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    What are you doing for Earth Day? Tell me in comments, I look forward to reading about it!

    Wicked Uncle Review – Fun Gift Ideas For Kids (STEM Toys)

    Wicked Uncle is a cool website that specialises in awesome gifts for kids. More than that, it is set up to make it easy for anyone to be able to choose a brilliant suitable present – even if they don’t know the child very well. It is also great if you are simply stuck for good ideas and need some inspiration. 

    I was given the opportunity to review their website; they gave me a voucher code and my brief was to choose products with a focus on science and engineering. (Ideal as Squiggle loves STEM toys!) This is the first time I have shopped on their website and I found it super easy to use. I also tried to consider how simple it would be if I was buying for someone I don’t know at all, and I can totally imagine it would be straightforward and take the stress out of it! 

    The website allows you to select gender, specific age and categories (such as outdoors, sensory, engineering, creative and various others). Or you can browse all options within any of these sections. I admit I am not a fan of organising toys by gender but I do understand that some customers might want to ‘play it safe’ and find this function useful. Plus there is a good selection in both the boys and girls sections; the range is not divided up in a way that is too stereotypical thankfully. And of course you can just choose ‘all’ for this instead if you prefer to be gender neutral, like us! 

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    Given I was looking for engineering toys specifically, I selected that category and looked up the appropriate age range (in this case, 8 – 11 years old). I could then search the products by price or popularity. I have to say, there is an excellent selection of items; including some really unique ideas!

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    I spent ages browsing the website and was really impressed. There were lots of items that I wouldn’t have thought of myself and have never spotted them anywhere else before. I also came across lots of great gift ideas for other people while I was browsing, lots of inspiration for future occasions! I eventually decided on the Salt Water Engine Car (£15.95) and Tin Can Cable Car (£14.95) plus I couldn’t resist throwing in the funky Mood Cube (£5.50) too.

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    Ordering is easy, and there are options such as gift wrap and choosing a card (at a small extra cost) should you require it. Once ordered, delivery is quite quick; my parcel arrived within a few days. It also comes with a cute (and funny!) thank you card for the gift, which is a nice little touch.

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    I chose these particular two items because from the descriptions I could tell that they would be fun, educational toys that Squiggle would really enjoy. I also like the eco- friendly nature of them too; I value toys and activities that emphasise the importance of being environmentally conscious.

    I knew Squiggle would find it interesting that the car runs from salt water and this can also lead onto further discussion about clean energy (which is something we have already talked about alot before, but it is still a good reminder!) There were more pieces than I expected, but that’s great as it means the activity actually lasts more than five minutes! It is lovely that we can properly get into it together. 

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    I like the tin can cable car activity because it reinforces the concept of reusing and upcycling. I also knew that Squiggle would let her creative side take over and use this as a zip wire for her smaller toys – as this is something she was already trying to design by herself in the garden anyway! Her previous attempts at improvising were fantastic, but this kit is ideal!

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    In summary, I am very impressed with the website and will definitely be using it to buy gifts again in the future! It is absolutely brilliant for coming up with unique gift ideas. It also comes highly recommended by others too – it is an award winning service infact; rated 99 out of 100, based on many reviews. Well done, Wicked Uncle!

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    *Disclosure: I was given a voucher code so I could shop on Wicked Uncle website for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

    Learning Success System: Review and Giveaway

    The Learning Success System uses various approaches to overcoming learning difficulties, using new findings in neuroscience, as well as tried and tested techniques developed by experts in the field. New exercises are delivered daily via email, and there is also a support forum too.

    The first principle of the Learning Success System is small steps. In Japanese culture, it’s called Kaizen. It comes from the idea that crash learning doesn’t work, at least not long-term; continuous improvement over time is more effective. Therefore the tasks are only brief but to work well, the programme should be carried out regularly, although the exact amount in terms of length of time and frequency are flexible. Tasks can be approached in the way that works best for your child/ family.

    There is a huge wealth of information over on The Learning Success Blog but as a very brief summary, the programme works on the following strategies for better learning: 

    Build up micro-skills

    Trigger neuroplasticity

    Build confidence

    Brain integration

    Build grit

    The exercises focus on developing different skills such as working memory, auditory discrimination, cross- lateral coordination and other skills that help across many areas of learning. The exercises are quick and simple, but also fun and engaging. They are all very much active learning techniques, not passive teaching. (This is a good thing!)

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    The Learning Success System is available at the discounted reader price of $197 for a 12 month subscription, with a 90 day guarantee. You can purchase it here. (This is an affiliate link. This means I get a fee for each person that signs up, this does not cost the buyer anything extra. Thank you for supporting me in this way!) 



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    One lucky reader can win a 12 month subscription to The Learning Success System. Enter via rafflecopter below.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Competition closes 1st May 2017. Open worldwide. Other T&Cs apply.

    *Disclosure: Post contains affiliate links. I was given a free subscription for the purpose of this review and giveaway. 

    Global Guardian Project

    Global Guardian Project is an inspirational digital multimedia resource – called a learning capsule- designed to educate children (and adults!) about caring for our planet, and to empower children of any age to take action and be change-makers. 

    “Our mission is to create learning tools that support the entire family in making simple, daily changes that will become positive habits.”

    Each learning capsule is delivered monthly to your inbox. Subscription costs $14.99 per month and can be cancelled anytime. You will only ever pay for what you receive. You can also buy one-off capsules for $16.99. 

    The capsules are beautifully presented, and contain a wealth of information and activities. They include things such as endangered species, interviews and spotlights, DIY and art projects, recipes, and guided meditations.  Each one focuses on a different country. The current one is about Sweden and coming next, on 15th April, it will be Israel. Here are some page samples from this month’s Sweden learning capsule…

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    Global Guardian Project, learning subscription, home education, activist, global citizen, green living, sustainability, our world, freedom to learn, childhood unplugged, affiliate

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    I cannot express how much I love the aim and approach of this fabulous initiative. As home educators, we are always excited to find awesome new resources. But this one is an absolute dream because it matches our own values so perfectly. So I am genuinely SO delighted to have teamed up with them to offer 10% discount on subscriptions using my code LIVINGLIFEOURWAY To subscribe, click here and enter the code at checkout. Remember you can cancel anytime. 

    If you are not sure if you want to commit and would like to try it out first, you can get a free India capsule, worth $14.99, simply by signing up to the newsletter here. They send out useful emails once or twice per month. No junk. Promise.

    You can also download the free Oceans capsule here. This is a mini capsule, about 50% of the content of the full size subscription version. But it gives you a great idea of what the capsules are all about. And I am so happy that this one is dedicated to the ocean!

    Remember, if you decide to subscribe, my code is LIVINGLIFEOURWAY for your 10% off discount! I hope you love it as much as I do!!!

    *Disclosure: I am an affiliate. This means I get paid a referral fee for each person who subscribes using my discount code. You save money, I receive a fee, Global Guardian Project gets subscribers and our planet gains a tribe of protectors. Everyone wins! 

    World Poetry Day

    In celebration of World Poetry Day today, Viking Direct kindly sent us a box of goodies to help inspire us to write some beautiful poems. 

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    Squiggle has previously written several poems and we have discussed different types of poetry before too. For example, we talked about what a cinquain poem is and wrote one together. We have also made a shape poem, and Squiggle once wrote a descriptive rainbow colours poem using a poetry template from Twinkl to help her. But Squiggle’s personal favourite type are acrostic poems; she wrote one about nature as part of our 30 Days Wild challenge last June, and has written plenty more since!

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    To celebrate World Poetry Day this year, firstly we revisited different types of poems that we had already learnt about previously. Then we moved our discussion onto poetry form and structure, so focused on rhyming couplets in particular. We picked a favourite topic to write about (Squiggle chose Sylvanian Families!) then started jotting down ideas and rhyming words that fitted the subject, before turning them into simple rhyming couplets. 

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    Here is one of her rhyming couplets:

    Sylvanians are such fun,

    I love to play with them out in the sun!

    Next she made up an acrostic poem about seals, which are one of her very favourite animals, to celebrate both World Poetry Day today and International Day of the Seal tomorrow.

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    It says:

    S ea and sand

    E (a) ny seal is my favourite, I don’t have a favourite out of my cuddly toy seals but if I had to pick; Pierre, Seal Seal and Dots

    A seal of mine jumps for cuddles

    Love them

    S ays uf, also mum! 

    (I didn’t think it was the time to remind her that any starts with a, bless her!) 

    Squiggle is very creative and comes up with wonderful ideas. Once she has inspiration, she tends to write fast in order to get her ideas down quickly before she forgets them! As Viking Direct explain in their article about The Importance of Writing, writing is an art form, and it helps us to make connections and process our ideas. I feel it is far more important to allow Squiggle the freedom to let her creative ideas flow, rather than interrupt her thoughts to remind her about presentation, or correct mistakes. So her writing tends to be huge and messy but it’s the content that matters!

    However, once she had finished writing the poems, we got out the calligraphy set we were sent to have a try at some fancy writing!

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    She found it quite a challenge to use the calligraphy pen but she had fun having a go at writing with it and enjoyed decorating it too!

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    Happy World Poetry Day everyone!

    Do you have a favourite poem or your own poetry to share? Leave them in comments. 

    World Poetry Day, poems, activities at home, events, Home Education, poetry, writing

    Join in with the poetry celebrations on social media using the hashtag #VikingWorldPoetryDay

    Chalkola Chalk Markers: Review, Discount and Giveaway

    Chalkola kindly offered us some of their brilliant chalk markers to review. We were sent their newly launched pack of 21 markers,  which includes 15 colour chalk pens and 6 metallic markers in the set, and also a pack of their chunky 15mm platinum series markers too. 

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    These funky chalk pens can be used on any non-porous surface; such as glass, mirrors, whiteboards, chalkboards or plastic. You simply wipe them off again when you are done. They are non-toxic and child-friendly so are therefore great for a range of purposes. Lots of fun! 

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    Squiggle and I decided to get creative doodling on our patio doors! When you use the pens for the first time it takes a bit of shaking and pressing down to get the flow started. However, once they get going, they then work very well.

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    The colours come out nice and bright, and there is good variety within the set. We really enjoyed using these chalk markers, and even our cat got involved in the fun! Squiggle loves any opportunity to get creative and is a big fan of these. (Oh and using the patio door is great for doing lovely big gross motor movements too by the way!) 

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    The Chalkola chalk markers then rub off with a damp cloth, although I am sure my landlord will be very pleased to know that I did test this out before letting Squiggle loose on our patio doors just to be sure! I made a little video clip to show how easily it wipes off… 

    One lucky reader can win a set of these 21 markers by Chalkola. To be in with a chance of winning this awesome prize, enter the competition via rafflecopter below. T&Cs apply. Competition ends on 20th March 2017.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

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    And if you don’t win, or simply cannot wait that long, don’t worry! My readers get 15% off any Chalkola products using the voucher code 15OFFSTR at checkout. Enjoy!!!

    *Chalkola sent me free markers for the purpose of this review, thoughts and opinions are my own. 

    *Post contains Amazon affiliate links.

    100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 20 (Squiggle’s List of Maths Resources/ Activities) 

    Today for #100daysofhomeed  Squiggle has written a list of 10 maths activities/ resources we use at home. Of course this is not an exhaustive list but it does give some good examples…

    • Pop to the shops 🏦

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    • 3d shapes 🔺
    • Valontines day math 💗💚💐🌹💌 (Note: She is referring to themed subject resources from Twinkl website) 
    • Fraction fourmula game (sp: formula) 

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    • Shape snap 🌟🌟🌟🌟⬜🔶🔴🔺
    • Make  3d shapes ⬜⬛⬜
    • Sports bar graph 🎾⚽🏀🏉(or) Eny tipe of talliey chart or graph⚽🎾🐈🐶🐰🐯🐆🐧😹😻😽 (sp: any type of tally chart)
    • Four fraction snap (Note: Function not fraction!) 

    #100daysofhomeed, #LoveHomeEd, 100 days of home ed, freedom to learn, Home Education, maths, activities at home, educational resources, four fraction snap

    • Shut the box 📦📦📦📦📦
    • Scails (sp: scales. ie to teach weights, comparison, measurements etc…)


    Here are links to purchase some of the activities Squiggle has mentioned:(Please note these are Amazon affiliate links. This means I get a small amount of money if you make a purchase via my site. This does not cost you anything. Thank you for the support!)

    Pop To The Shops (Orchard Toys) £8 approx. Aimed at ages 5- 9. Teaches about handling money, coins etc…

    Geometric Solids (Learning Resources) £13 approx. 3D shapes. Aimed at ages 8+

    Fraction Formula (Learning Resources) £26 approx. Aimed at ages 8+

    Shape Snap (Orchard Toys) £6 approx. Aimed at ages 3-6 but we still enjoy it!

    Four Function Snap £5 approx. Teaches addition, subtraction, division and multiplication. Including practising mental arithmetic. Aimed at ages 7+ 

    Shut the Box £4.50 approx. See my previous review here for more details.

    We often use Twinkl for our printed resources. This is where we sourced several of the activities mentioned, including our themed maths printed-off worksheets/ activities (such as the Valentines Day ones Squiggle listed), nets to make our own 3D shapes and various tally charts/ graphs etc…


    Children’s Art Galleries

    Squiggle has been busy getting creative this week with an art box kindly sent to us by Children’s Art Galleries.​

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    Children’s Art Galleries is an online space where parents (or carers, educators etc…) can upload photos of their children’s art work to share publicly. This is a brilliant solution if you are looking to save space by recycling the original version, yet still want to ‘keep’ the art available to look at somewhere. And better still, it is a place that is easily accessible. 

    It is also great if, like Squiggle, your child wants to exhibit their artwork for all to see! It is a useful alternative to facebook or other social media for this because it is specifically designed for this purpose so is more child-friendly. It is also a good source of inspiration too, by browsing other mini artists!

    Children’s Art Galleries costs £3 per child per year. However, it works out cheaper than this per child if you purchase a bulk package for siblings/ groups. (Note this is the cost for an annual subscription to the online art gallery, art box not included).

    activities at home, art and craft, creative, Home Education

    Squiggle was excited to receive her art box and was keen to get started right away! She is still very much feeling the love of Valentines Day last week so she went for this theme when creating her art. She is all about the hearts and flowers at the moment! 

    First she made a simple heart collage, which I uploaded onto her personal (public) gallery. It is quick and easy to use, although there is a delay before it appears because all photos have to be approved first – which is, of course, a good thing!

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    She then designed her own funky pair of heart glasses – so cute!

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    You can find out more about Children’s Art Galleries here:

    Website: www.childrensartgalleries.com

    Facebook: childrensartgalleries

    Instagram: childrensartgalleries

    Twitter: @childrensAG


    *I received the art box and one year subscription to Children’s Art Galleries in exchange for this blog post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

    Emmy and the Whale by Julian Burrett and Chris Clor: Book Review

    They say to never judge a book by its cover, but as soon as I saw the title of this story I was very keen to get my hands on it! We adore whales – in fact we adore anything to do with nature, wildlife and our natural environment – so I figured this would be perfect for us to review.

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    Emmy and the Whale is written by Julian Burrett with imagery by Chris Clor. The story follows the adventure of Emmy and a lost whale as they discover wonderfully mysterious places on their journey to find his way back home.

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    The wording and the storyline itself is quite simple. However, in contrast, the pictures in this book are very detailed and advanced. This means that the book would suit a variety of ages and children can get even more out of the story by using the pictures as talking point for discussion. And of course it is also great for even non-readers to look through independently too.

    The imagery is somewhat unique; it is a result of days of photography in two different countries and hundreds of hours of CGI and photoshop. It is both surreal and captivating. With each turn of the page, it is almost impossible not to get drawn in by the style and quirkiness of the pictures, and become absorbed in the world that has been created.

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    This beautiful book is available to buy via their website at www.emmyandthewhale.com
    I was sent this book for free to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.