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. 

Competition: Win a GeoSafari MicroPro Microscope Set

Do you have a budding scientist in the house? Would they love to get their hands on a GeoSafari MicroPro Microscope Set? Be in with a chance to win by entering my rafflecopter prize draw.

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GeoSafari MicroPro Microscope Set comes complete with everything you need to study professional specimen slides, or you can create your own! With 50x to 600x magnification, this microscope set is a great educational resource, ideal for learning at home. Please note that the microscope requires 2 AA batteries that are not included in the prize. The manufacturer suggests that this set is suitable for ages 8 years old and over.

Edited 28th November Congratulations to Ray who won this brilliant prize! Thank you for all the lovely comments, I wish I had one for everyone!!!

If you want to purchase your own GeoSafari MicroPro Microscope Set, you can do so using my Amazon UK affiliate link below.

Remember you can also subscribe to my blog via email to make sure you don’t miss any future giveaways!

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Enter your email to receive notification of new posts. Please note this is optional and NOT part of the competition. Actual entry into the giveaway is ONLY via rafflecopter above.

Terms & Conditions of Prize Giveaway:

• All information detailing how to enter the giveaway forms part of these terms and conditions.

• This prize sweepstake begins at midnight on 20th November 2016 and closes at 11.59pm on 27th November 2016.

• Enter via Rafflecopter widget embedded in this blog post. This is the only way to enter into the sweepstake.

• One prize winner will be drawn at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries received when competition ends.

• The winner will be contacted using details provided within 48hrs of the competition closing. If the winner does not respond within 5 days the prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be drawn.

• The winner will receive one GeoSafari MicroPro Microscope Set. The prize will be posted within 10 days of receiving the address. Please bare in mind delivery times may vary, especially over the Christmas period.

• Prize is strictly non-transferable and cash alternative will be offered.

• Open to UK residents only.

• This promotion, and the prize offered, is organised by Living Life Our Way and is not affiliated with Amazon UK, GeoSafari, Facebook or twitter. They are in no way responsible or accountable for this giveaway.

• Living Life Our Way may vary or amend the promotion if absolutely needed, for reasons beyond their control. The entrant agrees to absolve any liability to the Promoter in such circumstances.

• Whilst the Promoter will take every due care to ensure the prize is delivered as expected and do their upmost to resolve any issue in the unlikely event it should occur, the Promoter will not be held responsibility for anything beyond reasonable control.

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GOOD LUCK!

Review: Snap Circuits (STEM Educational Toy)

Squiggle received a Snap Circuits set for her 8th Birthday back in May from a kind family member. There are lots of different kits available, but the particular one she has is this one…

Snap circuits are designed for children aged 8 plus and are a great educational resource to help to teach STEM science. The lights set comes with 55 parts to do over 175 different projects. There is also a detailed instruction booklet that has clear diagrams and useful explanations.

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Squiggle and I really like this set. Some of the projects are quite similar but there is enough variation to keep her interested. We have used it together quite a few times since she got it and there are still plenty more projects left to do. Depending on how much discussion there is over it, how long it takes to read and follow the instructions, and how many times it is used, each project could last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours!

Whilst we have always chosen to do this activity together, it is probably suitable for most children to do independently. Some children may find the instructions difficult for some of the more complex projects, depending on age and ability, but the instructions are very child friendly with clear visual diagrams. The parts have codes on that match the pictures so this is also very helpful. Occasionally some parts can be a tiny bit tricky to snap into place at first, mainly if a child has any fine motor difficulties. But the design makes it as easy for children to do by themselves as possible, and the parts are very sturdy and well made.

Overall, it is a really good quality product with great educational value. It feels to us like a good investment and it certainly made a lovely present! We would recommend.

I also noticed that there is an eco set now available too. I have not used this one so am not able to comment but I would certainly love to add it to Squiggle’s collection! Green living is a keen interest in our family so this would be a great way to teach about alternative, clean energy sources.

If you are looking for an alternative to Snap Circuits for any reason, Cambridge Brainbox Electronics is another similar kit that I have heard other home educators recommend, but we have not tried it personally. There is a car and boat themed set for transport enthusiasts aged 8 plus…

There is also a set for older children too, Cambridge Brainbox Explorer 2. This kit is aimed for children aged 11 plus.

What other educational STEM resources have you found? We would love to hear from you!

This post contains affiliate links.

30 Days Wild – Day 2: Nature Walk

For day two of our #30DaysWild challenge, Squiggle and I went on a nature walk. We spent lots of time studying things and taking photos. In fact, Squiggle took so many lovely pictures that we decided sorting through them and sharing them could be one of her future challenges for another day! We were also intrigued to find out more information about some of the more unusual things we spotted, so an indentification and research challenge is also on the cards for another day too!

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Squiggle collected some natural items she found on the ground during our nature walk.

When we got back home, Squiggle drew a nature walk picture and wrote a poem.

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A drawing of wild flowers in very tall grass.

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‘Nature’ ~ A poem inspired by our nature walk.

Then she typed a quick message to The Wildlife Trusts to let them know what we did today.

“To day we went on a nature woork  tok lots of photos wen we got back we did a nature powim and drorin xxx”

As for me, we saw lots of beautiful and interesting things, and I took plenty of photos too, but this captured my attention the most! So fascinating, and incredibly vibrant colours- the photo does not really do it justice.

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August Highlights

We have spent time at home doing a variety of different activities. Squiggle has been particularly keen to do writing and has been very interested in shapes this month.

Writing letters to penpals…

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Thank you letters to friends for her birthday presents…

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Feeding the ducks at Verulamium…

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Properties of 3D shapes…

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Making 3D shapes…

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Making a chart of how many shapes she finds…

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Making a model of the solar system…

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Caterpillars in our garden…

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Going for a walk to post letters…

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Making a 3D puzzle of tower bridge…

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May 2015

Memories from May…

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Seaside fun
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Physical development
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Creative movement/ interpretive dance- a plant growing
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Planting more fruit and veg in our growing area
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Sensory fun and physical games in the garden
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General fun in the garden
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Playing various sylvanian games, including measuring the height in hula hoops.
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Maths- 'going shopping' for bunny food
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Music class
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Local playgrounds for sensory input and physical exercise
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Designing her own playground for her toys in the garden
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Reading- letters from penpals, my list of things that I found in the garden (a reading and writing observation game she made up herself) and 'shop' price list
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Writing- letters to penpals, birthday cards and letters to mummy from her toys
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Drawings (we also went to art group but no pictures of that)
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Making a playmat for her toys based on a map she drew
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Squiggle invented this rainbow game
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Designed own mini skittles game
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Van Hague- peacock spreading its feathers
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Living Crafts at Hatfield House
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Butterfly World
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Park walks- spotting nature and exploring
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Who lives in a house like this? Discussion about habitats
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More park walks- Squiggle decided her toy cat Rain was interested in flowers so we took her on a flower walk
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Mini topic on flowers- Venn diagram, parts of a plant, following written instructions, making own book and designing own activity
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Willows Farm
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Fun at the fair

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Cassiobury park

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Squiggle's party

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Happy 7th birthday to my wonderful little girl. Mini tea party at home with buffet, cake, pass the parcel, musical chairs, pressies and playing! Plus a bike ride too.

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A friend's birthday party

April 2015

Ok, since I have gotten lazy about blogging lately here is April all rolled into one…

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Spring walks
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Highfield Park, including some of the tree trail with friends
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Growing our own food
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Science experiment- celery in food colouring
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Sand and water play
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Problem solving- how to patch up a leak with resources available
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Art group- foam marbling
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General garden fun
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Squiggle designed a carrier bag kite and parachute
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Quality time with our cats
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Observing and discussing the sky above- including clouds, rainbows, sunrise and sunset
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Playdate at home
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Writing
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Princess Diana Playground, Kensington
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Aldenham SEN playground
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Designing own games and activities
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Art and crafts
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Fun at a park
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Physical games- cone activities
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More playground fun- with grandad
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Butterfly World
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New 'Music Meadow' at Butterfly World
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Seaside- yes, she did steal daddys cardigan for a short while!
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Art group
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Art group- butterfly symmetry painting
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Art and Science! Put a few drops of food colouring into milk. Then put some washing liquid on a cotton bud, dip it in and let the colours disperse. Makes an interesting 'painting'
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Exploring instruments- lots of singing and dancing too!
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Park with a friend

We also did lots of Easter activities, which I blogged about separately, and have been to music class but haven’t got any photos of that! Last but not least, we did various circus themed activities, but that needs it’s own post!

Eco- Energy City

Today Squiggle and I spent the majority of the day building an ‘Eco- Energy City’. It was such an interesting project and sparked lots of educational discussion, such as renewable energy sources, transfer of energy and different ways energy is used. She was really focused throughout and loved the finished product too- a big thumbs up from us!

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Getting started
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Circuits
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Wiring the water wheel
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Finishing touches
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And it works! The 'city' gets energy via the solar panel and hand generator, which can be stored and then used to power the windmill, turn the water wheel and light up the street light and house light.
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Experimenting with the switches
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Sylvanians came to visit the city and learn about it too!

November: Part Two

Experimenting with play dough and water- exploring properties
Experimenting with play dough and water- exploring properties

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Drawings of a seal doing an Easter hunt! 27.11.14
Drawings of a seal doing an Easter hunt! 27.11.14

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Writing a list 27.11.14
Writing a list 27.11.14

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Sorting mixed nuts 29.11.14
Sorting mixed nuts 29.11.14

November: Part One

These are some of the things we have been doing so far this month…

character drawings 01.11.14
Drawing various characters she has created in a variety of outfits 01.11.14
fishing 01-11-14
Fishing for coins in the bath- a game she designed herself 01.11.14
water scales 01-11-14
Squiggle started off using her balance scales to compare volumes of water. This then led to a discussion about measurements of solids and liquids, and the units they are measured in. She then decided to experiment with comparing the ducks and water combined. She observed that when the water was the same volume each side and therefore balanced, that the two ducks did not weigh the same. This was not what she predicted because they look the same and are the same size, but she the concluded one of them must have water inside adding to the weight. She then tried to push the duck down into the water and was amused that it popped back up again so we discussed why this happens. She also noticed the water level rises as she did so, which also led to a discussion on water displacement. 01.11.14
white water rafting 01.11.14
We went to watch white water rafting at Lee Valley. 01.11.14
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Caldecotte lake 02.11.14
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Watching watersports on the lake 02.11.14
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Photos at the lake 02.11.14
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One of my favourite photographs of Caldecotte lake 02.11.14
cuddly toy cat game 3-11-14
Cuddly toy cat game 03.11.14
paradise park play area 4-11-14
Paradise park 04.11.14 physical exercise and a spot of map reading too
paradise park animals 4-11-14
A few of the animals at Paradise park 04.11.14
paradise park monkey 4-11-14
We were lucky enough to spot a two day old newborn baby gibbon clinging to mum 04.11.14
sylvanian school game 5-11-14
Squiggle used her Sylvanian families to act out a day at school. This led to some very interesting questions, such as why do the children need to wear a school uniform, who decides what it should be etc… We then had a very balanced discussion about the differences between school and home education. She was able to articulate very well why she personally feels home ed is much better suited to her needs. 05.11.14
southend 6-11-14
Southend beach 06.11.14
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We found this great resource at the beach playground, it is simple explanation of the weather cycle. Squiggle enjoyed learning how clouds form and how it rains. This led to further discussion about weather, the sun and also how stars form too 06.11.14
southend boats 6-11-14
Boats at Southend 06.11.14
southend more photography 6-11-14
Some of my favourite photos from our trip to Southend 06.11.14
southend photography 6-11-14
Scenic photos of Southend 06.11.14
fireworks fleetville 7.11.14
Local fireworks display 07.11.14
fireworks crabtree 8.11.14
Watching fireworks with a friend 08.11.14
fashion garden 9.11.14
Playing in the garden 09.11.14
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Picnic in the garden 09.11.14
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Fun at Bopping Babes disco 09.11.14
sylvanian imagination 10.11.14
Small world imaginary play 10.11.14
sylvanian ayletts christmas display 11.11.14
Acting out Ayletts Christmas display from last year 11.11.14
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We then visited Ayletts garden centre to see this year’s display 11.11.14
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Notcutts garden centre 11.11.14
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Squiggle made her own Christmas sticker book 12.11.14
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Sylvanian family decorating for Christmas (wearing clothes she made for them for winter) 12.11.14
duplo treehouse 13.11.14
Duplo construction (tree house playground) 13.11.14
clarence park 13.11.14
Clarence park 13.11.14
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Squiggle designed a multi pack of cat treats 14.11.14
cats 14.11.14
Squiggle then asked the next day to go to the pet shop to buy the cats a treat 15.11.14
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Chilling together
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Van Hage garden centre 16.11.14
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We popped to Stanborough lake briefly on the way home 16.11.14

 

In addition to these activities, we also practised estimating (time mainly) and discussed the difference between a guess and an estimate. We have also played a game several times that she invented whereby we try to recall what we were doing x number of days ago. This proved to be a fun memory game and we enjoyed talking about past events, as well as doing the maths to work out how many weeks, months and sometimes years ago the day was. I also discovered she didn’t know what a typewriter was when she found a miniature toy one (then again, why would she know!) So we discussed technology and how it has progressed, which she found very interesting.