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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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. 

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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!) 

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  • 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).

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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. 

Sylvanian Families Photo Captions

Squiggle has been taking it easy today because her energy levels are very low at the moment. But that didn’t stop her from getting the inspiration to create some simple Sylvanian Families scenes, then take photos of them and write captions. I love how Sylvanian Families continue to inspire her in such a variety of ways! Oh and she has just discovered emojis and hashtags, as you can see from the captions lol… 😬;)😂💗

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Sylvanians love playing rounders with chacklat labrordoors #sylvaniansport #rounders!.🐶

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Snowy day 
In sylvania i can see santa in his slay ! #christmas eve! #sylvanians 🎅😻💟🐰🍭⛄❄🎄

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Christmas eve night in sylvania #santashere #christmas night #sylvanians. 🎅🎄🎁🎅🐰💗💚💟💘💟⛄❄👍💗⛄❄👍🍪👍💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💗💟💟💚💚💚💗💗👍👍🎅👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍

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Christmas day in sylvania hire is one of meney of my presents #ChristmasDay #merrychristmas #sylvanianfamiles .         🌹🎁🎄🐰🐱🍭💟🎅🎄🎁❄⛄💟💟💘💗💚💚👍

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Look at the snow bunny i made, ive put my hat on it #sylvanians #snow.🐰🐇⛄❄💗💚👍🎅👍

Isn’t she just adorable?! I wonder what she will come up with next! 

Shut The Box (Game Review)

Squiggle was given Shut The Box game for Christmas as a stocking filler. We hadn’t heard of this particular game before, until very recently when I spotted it on a gift guide and thought it looked fun. I was right!

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Shut The Box is a lovely wooden dice game that also has good educational value. The aim of the game is to successfully get all the numbers down from 1-9 so you can ‘shut the box’. The simple version is to roll both of the dice and then flip down one or two numbers to match the total on the dice. If you are unable to put down one or two numbers then it moves to the next player’s turn. There are different versions too, I found other instructions by searching online. 

The game can be single player or played with any number of people and is suitable for all ages from approx 6+ years. This means it is great for some family fun together, but it is also handy that it can be played alone, as it is great for those moments when someone needs to occupy themselves for a few moments! The version we have is pocket size, which also makes it useful to take when travelling too. 

I like that it is a simple game, nothing fancy about it, but yet is still both fun and educational. It is fab for practising maths skills, such as calculating and number bonds. I also love wooden toys and games, so that’s a bonus too! 

Our verdict: big thumbs up!

You can be in with a chance of winning your own Shut The Box game by entering my prize giveaway via rafflecopter below. 

Competition ends at midnight on 31st January 2017. T&Cs apply.

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*This post contains an affiliate link.