1 Sep 2014

Twinkl Primary Resources - A Review

As a mother to a pre-schooler about to embark on the greatest learning adventure of his little life, I was delighted to come across Twinkl Primary Resources.

For not only is Twinkl the trusted home and one stop shop for thousands of lovely, unique, printable teaching resources for teachers and home educators, it also offers a lot for parents who are on the look-out for ideas and inspiration to help their child's learning journey.

Twinkl Resources have a range of materials to cater to the needs of Early Years, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 educators. There is a section on SEN as well. There are three subscription levels to choose from: Platimum, Gold and Free.

The best part I found about Twinkl is the dynamic nature of the website. You have the option to leave feedback for every resource you try. You can also offer suggestions to improve existing resources. Even better, you can use the new Twinkl tool to create your own resources! Whatever you choose, all it takes is a quick, easy download and a printer to get you the materials you need.

If that wasn't enough, you can voice your opinion or get advice from other users on the Twinkl Forum. Whether you are looking for some inspiration or information, the Forum is the place for it. 

We have put Twinkl through its paces this summer. Learning, reward charts and timetables are all very well. But it was the ‘Activities’ section for parents which proved a huge help when I was stuck for ideas. From fun recipe cards to paper craft  to colouring-in pages, we found lots to keep us happy. 

J was particularly taken by the dot to dot work-sheets. Between pirates and dinosaurs, he had fun learning his numbers without even realising it.

Here are a few other things we found and enjoyed on the Twinkl website.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Story Sack

Turtle Paper Craft

2-D Shapes to Cut-out

I am sure we will have a lot more to do with Twinkl as J starts nursery in a few days. I am looking forward to my new journey through literacy and numeracy as J takes his first steps in the world of formal education.

Disclaimer: I have been given an annual platinum membership to Twinkl in return for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.
All images are copyright of http://www.twinkl.co.uk/

27 Aug 2014

Summer Dreams

Our Summer Scrapbook of Dreams

The sun shone this summer, or so it seems
On laughter, excitement and holiday dreams.

Lounging on the sand on a sun-kissed shore
Dips in the pool, ice-creams and much more.

Visits to the park, play on slides and swings
Picnics packed with berries, cakes and things.

Off to London on the big electric train
To explore the big city even in the rain.

Tubes, buses, taxis, excitement all around
Museums, palaces, bridges, adventures abound.

At home and in the garden, lots more to do
Bubbles, paints, crafts and finding spiders too.

We now draw to the end of warm summer days
Just wish we had had some more fun and play.

Our Summer Scrapbook has been inspired by this tip by Steph Tilley, Center Parcs Community Manager: "Create a scrapbook by sticking in different mementos of your summer – train tickets, photos and handwritten diary entries always work well, or why not try something a little more unusual? Ask your little ones to decorate your scrap book with hand prints and finger painting, cut out words from old newspapers and magazines or even have a go at creating a digital scrapbook, complete with video clips."

This is my entry to the Center Parcs and Tots 100 August challenge. If I’m chosen, I would like to visit Sherwood Forest.

25 Aug 2014

Spiced Tomato and Coconut Soup: A Guest Post

I have been invited by the lovely Michelle to post as a guest over on The Purple Pumpkin blog. I chose to write a recipe for a spiced tomato and coconut soup, something I ate a lot of growing up.

Spiced Tomato and Coconut Soup
This is essentially my Aai's (Mother's) recipe, but I have cut corners and made it easy by using chopped tinned tomatoes and a tin of coconut milk instead of blanching, peeling, pureeing at home. But there is no compromise on the taste. 

To read more about my recipe, please visit Michelle's blog here. I do hope you enjoy visiting, reading and trying out this lovely spiced up soup recipe.

14 Aug 2014

Robinsons Fruit Shoot #GetYourSkillsOn Challenge

The Twelve Labours of the Family C

Once upon a time, there was a 3 year old little boy called J. He lived in a little cottage at the edge of the woods with his Mum V and his Dad M. The family C loved to spend time together doing fun things and were always seeking out adventure.

One fine summer afternoon, they were out walking in the woods when out popped a tall man wearing a purple cloak studded with silver stars and a green pointy hat. "Good morning!" said the man. "I am the Robinsons Fruit Shoot wizard. And I am here to challenge you to get your skills on. Your quest is to complete a series of at least 10 tasks and have lots of fun along the way. Get creative, get adventurous and do your very best. Your efforts shall be rewarded."

The family were always up for new challenges. They accepted the Robinsons wizard's dare. Just to make things a little bit more interesting, they decided to take on a dozen instead of just the stipulated 10 Get Your Skills On challenges.

Little J decided he would be the one to take on the first challenge. So while the family was holidaying by the sea-side, he took to building castles in the sand. Not happy with just one, he built a series of them complete with moat et al. And then when they returned home, he carried on practising his newly acquired sandcastle building skills in the sandpit in the back garden.

Robinsons Fruit Shoot #GetYourSkillsOn Challenge
The back garden of the C-household was to be the setting for quite a few of little J's triumphs. One sunny day, he said, "Mum, I want my basketball hoop to go high up." Mum was sceptical; the hoop was at 6 feet already. But she did not want to discourage her brave little boy. So up went the hoop, hoisted another foot in the air. And within no time, J had proved that his confidence was not misplaced. He netted a neat basket. And Mum was lucky to capture the moment on camera for posterity.

J is very fond of mini-beasts. He and Mum often spend time in the garden looking for spiders, ladybirds and snails. Little wonder then that J chose to walk around the garden like a spider for the next challenge. Not easy work at all, scampering around on your hands and feet and making it look so adorable at the same time!

Robinsons Fruit Shoot #GetYourSkillsOn Challenge
Little J was doing his bit for the family's skill-building challenges. It was now time for Mum and Dad to take on the mantle and hone their skills. Mum decided to do two of the time-trials. After a few wobbly attempts, she dribbled a shiny lit-up ball for 15 seconds. And then she walked a full 15 seconds wearing a zebra mask and balancing a box of crayons on her head. Looking quite amusing in the process.

Dad opted to brush up his frisbee skills, and managed a lovely throw straight into the hands of a waiting friend. There were others that went slightly amiss, but we shall not dwell on those.

It was back to little J for the remaining tasks. Always with lots of support and encouragement from his doting parents. The Robinsons Fruit Shoot wizard did want them to work as a team. And they loved doing things together as a family anyway. 

So off to the park they all traipsed where J sat on the 'big boy' swing instead of his usual 'baby' one. Up and up he went, high up in the air. Mum was anxious, but Dad was cool as a cucumber. J was brilliant as he held on tight and did not try to jump off in mid-air. Phew! Mum breathed a sigh of relief. 

As if that wasn't enough excitement for one day, J had a go at climbing a tree for the very first time that day. A bit of a leg up from Dad, and he had clambered up into the branches. This can only be the first of what are sure to be many more escapades from J.

J managed another remarkable first with these tasks. After a bit of coaxing from Mum, he rolled down a grassy hill. And then again and again till he was out of breath and could roll no more. On the day the family C had taken a picnic to a lovely deer park. 

There was a little play area in the park with built-up dens. J had a pretend-play session in one of them. And then wanted to make one of his own when he got home. Now the garden at home did not have  lots of sticks and branches to build a den. So Mum improvised. Out came the dining room chairs and out came a lovely blue bed-sheet. One draped over the other, and J had a delightful den. 

Robinsons Fruit Shoot #GetYourSkillsOn Challenge
Then it was time to do what J does best. Make some music. The boy is a natural when it comes to picking up a beat. Even something as simple as a saucepan and whisk can sound musical in the child's hands. 

For the last Get Your Skills On challenge, the family C decided to do what they all love. A good old session of rough and tumble. So J had a go at climbing all over Dad, while Mum clicked away furiously with her camera. J did hop onto Dad's back for a little piggy-back ride at some point during all the rough-housing.

And that was that. The family C had completed their series of the Robinsons Fruit Shoot tasks.

But this is not the end of their story. All stipulated challenges successfully completed, the family C has decided not to rest on their laurels but carry on working their way through the entire list of 40. So there will always be something interesting to do, some new skill to learn and some fun to be had along the way.

Disclaimer: This is my entry to the Robinsons Fruit Shoot #GetYourSkillsOn challenge. The bit about the Robinsons Wizard is fiction. Everything else is absolute fact and it is indeed the members of the C-household that were involved in participating in and competing the Get Your Skills On challenge.

12 Aug 2014

Spicy Stir-Fry Chicken Wrap with Mr Singh's Sauces

I am a huge fan of fusion cooking. There can be nothing better than combining flavours from across the world in one superbly delectable dish. I love using flavours from my childhood with more recent gustatory influences and plating up appetizing food.

Mr Singh's Sauces were born out of a similar philosophy of combining tastes from the east and the west. 

When I was asked to try out Mr Singh's Sauces in my cooking, I decided to stay true to my passion of fusion food.

Mr Singh's Sauces

I used Mr Singh's Hot Punjabi Chilli Sauce to create my spicy stir-fry chicken wrap. A bit of India meets Mexico on a plate.

To cook my spicy stir-fry chicken wrap you will need:

400 gram chicken breast diced into chunks
Half a 275gram bottle of Mr Singh's Hot Punjabi Chilli Sauce as marinade
2 tbspn sunflower oil
3 multi-coloured peppers, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
A packet of tortilla wraps

Dice the chicken breasts into chunks. Pour half a bottle of Mr Singh's Hot Punjabi Chilli Sauce onto the chicken and mix to ensure all the pieces are uniformly coated with the marinade. Marinate the chicken for 2-3 hours in the fridge.

Heat the cooking oil in a large wok. Once the oil is hot, add the marinated chicken and stir fry on high heat with frequent stirring for 5 minutes. Now add the the thinly sliced peppers to the chicken and carry on stir-frying for another 5 minutes (a total of 10 minutes) till the sauces go dry. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Spicy Stir-fry Chicken and Peppers in Mr Singh's Hot Punjabi Chilli Sauce

Cook the tortillas as per the instructions on the packet. 

To prepare the wraps, spoon out the stir-fried chicken into the middle of the tortilla. Add a few slices of onion and fold over the tortilla. Your spicy stir-fried chicken wrap is ready to eat. Serve with a side-salad or a mint and yogurt raita. If you fancy some more spice, try serving with a splash of Mr Singh's Hot Punjabi Chilli Sauce. Delicious every way!

Spicy Stir-Fry Chicken Wrap with Mr Singh's Sauces
There is a trio of Mr Singh's Sauces available in the market at the moment. There is a Mr Singh's Hot Punjabi Chilli Sauce, Mr Singh's Punjabi Pesto and Mr Singh's Bbq Chilli Sauce. You can use them to create delicious food of your own.

So to buy a bottle of Mr Singh's Sauces or to find out more about them, just pop over to their website

Disclaimer: I was sent samples of Mr Singh's Sauces to try out for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

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