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.

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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. 

Easter Bunny’s Garden Adventures by Squiggle

Ever wondered what goes on whilst you are still asleep in bed? This, apparently…

Easter Bunny really should jump to it getting those easter eggs delivered…

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But there is always time for a quick game of tennis with a friend…

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And badminton too…

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Oh look! Bunny height basketball…

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Shhh! He won’t spot me up here…

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Now for a spot of tag rugby. Doh! So close…

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Volleyball anyone?

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And always time for a quick sack race too…

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Now, must dash! Someone is coming and I got things to do…

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HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!!!! 

Credits: 

Concept, photography, set design and director ~ Squiggle

Assistant ~ Andy (daddy)

Captions ~ Katie (mummy)

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

The Great Daffodil Appeal – Marie Curie 

It’s that time of year when people all over the country are getting involved in The Great Daffodil Appeal for Marie Curie. Marie Curie is a wonderful charity that supports people with terminal illness, and their families. The funds raised from the appeal help to pay for nurses to provide care to families during this most difficult time.

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If you want to take part but haven’t already registered, it’s not too late! Here are some of my favourite fundraising ideas to get you started. And if these don’t inspire you, make up your own instead!

Get creative:

  • Make and sell handmade cards, crochet daffodils or origami daffodils.
  • Hold a creative workshop and charge an entry fee to raise money.

Get baking:

  • Make some delicious cakes to sell.
  • Have a bake-off challenge.

Find some yummy celebrity recipes here.

Get active:

  • Hold a charity sports match.
  • Have a sports day (charge for people part in the races).
  • Do a sponsored run or swim.
  • Set yourself a walking, cycling, running or swimming goal to achieve by x date.


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Find out more information and sign up for fundraising here: 

The Great Daffodil Appeal Fundraising Page.

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100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 35 (List of Art Activities by Squiggle)

​Today for #100daysofhomeed Squiggle has made a list of recent art activities…

Drawing ✏😄

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Spin art 🎨

Scratch art 🐶🌈

Clay 

phone app / dwawing  on the phone 📱✏

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Taking photos 📷

Painting 🎨

Colarge 💗💚 (collage)

Nature art 🍃 🌹

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Marbleing 

Bubble art 🎨

Modle making 😉 💖💚💗 (model making)

Paper modles (paper models)

100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 25 (Our Round-Up So Far)

So we are now 1/4 of the way through the #100daysofhomeed challenge! I thought this might be a good time to do a brief round-up of some of the activities we have done since the challenge started. No doubt there is a tonne of stuff I have forgotten but here are a few of the things we have been doing…

Literacy

  • Punctuation and grammar – Squiggle was reading the side of a cereal packet whilst having a snack. She asked about the use of apostrophies, which she has now been using correctly since. It also led onto further discussions about punctuation and grammar, and covered alot of ground! I love how such amazing valuable learning opportunities can arise naturally from even the simplest of everyday tasks.
  • Writing – Squiggle wrote some tips on green living/ protecting the environment.
  • Scrabble – We played this for the first time recently, great for spelling!
  • Squiggle has written lots of letters to her friends and characters, and wrote cards for Valentines Day.
  • She also frequently writes shopping lists etc…
  • Squiggle regularly writes her own stories.

Maths

  • Squiggle has written a list of some of our maths resources and we have played most of these games/ activities since the challenge started.
  • Valentines Day – Squiggle did lots of themed maths activities from the Twinkl website.
  • Squiggle has been playing shops;  involving real money, working out cost/ change etc…

  • Science Experiments/ STEM

    • Squiggle has been doing some of our Dyson STEM challenge cards, including ‘invisible writing’ with lemon juice and using coke to make coppers shiny.
    • We have also experimented with growing crystals.
    • Squiggle figured out how to make herself a basic microphone using household objects using her knowledge and understanding of sound, vibrations, amplification etc…

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    Geography

    • Squiggle has been learning more about different countries and continents.

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    Technology

    • Squiggle has been creating some digital art on my phone using PicsArt app.
    • She has written alot of emails to myself and her dad.
    • She has typed lists etc…
    • We use the internet together for research.

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    Creative activities 

    Sports

    •  Squiggle has played lots of sports in the garden and we have also been to the athletics track too.

    Music

    • Squiggle has been to her regular music class.
    • She has been putting on performances at home, including singing with her new mic!

    Days out etc…

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    • Nature Walks – We have enjoyed countryside walks observing the earliest signs of Spring.
    • We have been to parks and playgrounds.
    • Garden Centres – We loved seeing the wildlife and the wood carving sculptures outside this garden centre.
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    Garden Centre

    Life Skills

    • Squiggle has earned money by doing tasks. She has a Go Henry account and has been using that to learn about having an account/ dealing with money.
    • We have also discussed the basics of running a business. She then practised some elements of this by ‘hiring’ me to do things (such as drawing her a picture for example) which I then invoiced her for, and she paid me – and vice versa. 
    • We talked about other aspects of running a business too, such as making ethical and eco-friendly choices, and we even discussed giving back to the community / helping others by giving x % profit to charity. 

    There are loads more things I’m sure but that’s all I can think of right now!

    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.