Rock Hunting: Nature’s Answer To Pokemon Go! #30DaysWild 

Have you heard of the new craze? Painted rocks have been hidden all over our local area to encourage people to get outside and explore to find them. And to spread some love and positivity around; like a little act of kindness for the person who finds it. What an amazing way to put a smile on peoples’ faces! Of course, we could not wait to go out on a rock hunt to see what we could find!

painted rocks, rock hunt, St Albans Rocks UK, Hertfordshire, get outside, kids need nature, outdoors, 30 days wild, #30dayswild, #staywild, #livinglifewild

It turned out to be much harder than we thought! We knew very rough locations, and had vague picture clues, but looking for small rocks in a very large area is… well… abit like looking for a needle in a haystack! But that just encouraged us to look more closely, stay out longer, walk further and explore different areas – which is great!

Just a little note to anyone considering doing this as a set activity (e.g. home educators or organised groups for example): it would be easier, and an awesome educational activity, if they were mapped out in advance. Great for developing old school map reading skills too! (I guess this would make it more of a geocaching style activity). Of course this would rely on people not removing, or relocating, any of them. (Hopefully no one will remove them anyway though obviously, as it is meant to be an activity for everyone to enjoy!)

Also, if you were doing this, a handy suggestion might be to map them out with a small circle radius rather than a precise location, so that it still gives abit of freedom to rehide them elsewhere – as long as it is within close proximity to the original spot. I say this because Squiggle was really keen to move one to a new hiding place so we compromised and she hid it right by the next tree instead, less than a metre away!

painted rocks, rock hunt, St Albans Rocks UK, Hertfordshire, get outside, kids need nature, outdoors, 30 days wild, #30dayswild, #staywild, #livinglifewild

Anyway, they are just little tips if anyone is thinking about doing it as a home ed activity or setting it up as an ‘organised’ event. But back to our fun of rock hunting…

We were incredibly lucky to find not just one, but two painted rocks! Squiggle was delighted that she spotted them!!! The first was a beautiful heart rock…

painted rocks, rock hunt, St Albans Rocks UK, Hertfordshire, get outside, kids need nature, outdoors, 30 days wild, #30dayswild, #staywild, #livinglifewild

The second was a pretty colourful rainbow…

painted rocks, rock hunt, St Albans Rocks UK, Hertfordshire, get outside, kids need nature, outdoors, 30 days wild, #30dayswild, #staywild, #livinglifewild

We had so much fun! It is such a lovely activity and a brilliant, creative, inspired idea – love it!!! Thank you so much to the wonderful people who came up with this initiative and organised it in our area. We are so grateful! For more information, check out St Albans Rocks UK.

We then also painted our own rocks when we returned home, so we will be hiding those in our local park soon too! Thanks again!!!

painted rocks, rock hunt, St Albans Rocks UK, Hertfordshire, get outside, kids need nature, outdoors, 30 days wild, #30dayswild, #staywild, #livinglifewild

Happy rock hunting! 

Exploring Nature Through All Of Our Senses #30DaysWild

Yesterday for 30 Days Wild, I used all of my senses to explore the natural environment around me. Even in a small urban garden, this is a very simple activity that really connects us to the world around us, and helps us to feel balanced and calm at the same time.

Sight

Looking around for natural items, I could see an array of colours. All around there are a variety of flowers, different types of grasses, a few weeks, a tree in our garden with many more in the distance, our growing area, a mass of tiny wildlife hiding in every corner. Such a wealth of things to see.

#30dayswild, #livinglifewild, 30 Days Wild, nature, activities at home, garden, sensory activities

Smell

Not just the flowers, but the air in general. Does it smell clean and fresh? Or maybe something is polluting it? Some of the common smells from an urban garden might be things such as freshly cut grass, food, rain, flowers and herbs, smoke, earthy smells etc… Focus on the natural ones. My favourite is when it has just rained!

#30dayswild, #livinglifewild, 30 Days Wild, nature, activities at home, garden, sensory activities

Sound

Listen to the sounds around. I could hear alot of other noise; an ice cream van, people talking, lawnmower, some kind of DIY, the bouncing noise of a trampoline… I tried to filter all of these out and tune into natural sounds. If I listened carefully, I could hear four different bird calls.

#30dayswild, #livinglifewild, 30 Days Wild, nature, activities at home, garden, sensory activities

Touch

I touched the grass, then took off my shoes and walked barefoot through it. We did this same activity, called Grounding, last year and I wrote about it briefly here.

#30dayswild, grounding, #livinglifewild, 30 Days Wild, nature, activities at home, garden, sensory activities

Taste

I didn’t taste anything. However, I could have made nettle crisps so that is perhaps inspiration for some other time! I would also love to learn more about foraging in general, since at the moment I don’t feel confident doing it (except for berries)!

#30DaysWild #LivingLifeWild

Nature Printing Pebble Art #30DaysWild

Inspired by The Pinterested Parent, I sat in the garden yesterday afternoon and tried to create some beautiful nature printed pebbles. I say tried, because it turned out to be harder than it looked – or at least for me! 

However, this didn’t bother me in the slightest. Just as I teach Squiggle, it wasn’t about the finished result, it was for the sheer enjoyment of doing it. Plus it is relaxing. I love to be artistic simply for pleasure not gain. Sure, creating something that looks pretty at the end is very satisfying, but if it doesn’t work out, it is no loss. 

I found the painted leaves and grass quite interesting, and photography is my favourite creative outlet, so I decided to compose a couple of photos. However, regardless of how the original idea turned out, this was a really fun creative activity!

Remember this week’s linky is open to share your ‘wild’ adventures too! 

AniMalcolm: Book Review

AniMalcolm is the latest children’s novel by comedian and author David Baddiel, who already has two previously published bestsellers; The Parent Agency and The Person Controller. It is aimed at ages 8 – 11 years old and is the perfect book for any child, especially animal lovers!

The story of AniMalcolm centres around a young boy called – you guessed it! – Malcolm. He comes from a family of animal lovers and has a house full of pets… but the problem is, he doesn’t like them. However, when he attends his Year Six school trip to a farm, Malcolm changes. In many ways. As the blurb says:

He learns what it’s really like to be an animal. A whole series of animals, in fact…

It does make him think differently. And speak differently. And eat differently. And, um, smell differently. But will he end up the same as before?

Because sometimes the hardest thing to become is… yourself!

AniMalcolm, book, childrens story, book review, kids stories, david baddiel, literacy, reading, animal lovers, young readers

Behind the light-hearted humour and imaginative storyline that had us giggling out loud at times, there are hidden depths. The story teaches empathy and demonstrates beautifully how putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes can really change our perspective towards them. The down to earth writing style is wonderfully descriptive with quirky footnotes that really draws the reader fully into the story and keeps them right there throughout.

The story touches upon some insightful points like how one ‘traumatic’ incident in childhood can actually deeply affect how we feel about something and can cause a disconnect. It also highlights how understanding and empathy is essential in creating an emotional connection, which then fosters positive feelings and actions towards them. These underlying messages may not be explicit or obvious to children whilst reading the book necessarily but nonetheless it will help build the right foundations for them.

In conclusion: I adore this book!

AniMalcolm is available to purchase now in paperbook for £6.99 RRP. You can buy it via Amazon here (affiliate link).

*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post and I was sent the book for purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

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.

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

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.”
 

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

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

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

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!)

Earth day, world peace, creative, art, artivism, family fun, educational activities, home education, green living, global citizen, our world, environment

  • 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.

Global Guardian Project, learning capsule, discount code, LIVINGLIFEOURWAY, subscription, green living, global citizen, education, educational resources

  • 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.

Earth Day, Living Life Our Way, nature, global citizen, green living, our world, natural environment, family fun

    • 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.  

    Earth Day, Living Life Our Way, litter picking, park clean up, activism, global citizen, green living, our world, natural environment, family fun

    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! 

    Wicked Uncle, childrens gifts, toys and games, gift website, educational resources, gift ideas, review, engineering, science, STEM

    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!

    Wicked Uncle, childrens gifts, toys and games, gift website, educational resources, gift ideas, review, engineering, science, STEM

    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.

    Wicked Uncle, childrens gifts, toys and games, gift website, educational resources, gift ideas, review, engineering, science, STEM

    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.

    Wicked Uncle, childrens gifts, toys and games, gift website, educational resources, gift ideas, review, engineering, science, STEM

    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. 

    Wicked Uncle, childrens gifts, toys and games, gift website, educational resources, gift ideas, review, engineering, science, STEM

    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!

    Wicked Uncle, childrens gifts, toys and games, gift website, educational resources, gift ideas, review, engineering, science, STEM

    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!

    Wicked Uncle, childrens gifts, toys and games, gift website, educational resources, gift ideas, review, engineering, science, STEM

    *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!)

    The Learning Success blog, The Learning Success System, SEND, learning skills, educational resources, home education, homeschool, online education programme, learning difficulties, discount

    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!) 



    The Learning Success blog, The Learning Success System, SEND, learning skills, educational resources, home education, homeschool, online education programme, learning difficulties, discount

    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…

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

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

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

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

    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. 

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

    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!

    World Poetry Day, Acrostic poem, nature poem, activities at home, events, Home Education, poetry, writing

    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. 

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

    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.

    World Poetry Day, poems, acrostic poetry, seals, International Day of the Seal, activities at home, events, Home Education, poetry, writing

    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!

    World Poetry Day, poems, acrostic poetry, seals, International Day of the Seal, calligraphy, events, Home Education, poetry, writing, activities at home

    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!

    World Poetry Day, poems, acrostic poetry, seals, International Day of the Seal, poetry, calligraphy, writing, Home Education, activities at home, events

    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