Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Competition & Twinkl review

Twinkl approached me for a review of their website. I read reviews online but in each case they talked about twinkl as if it was brand new.  Its not new, in fact to many of us its become quite ingrained in our practise (print, cut, laminate, repeat!) that we may take it for grated. There are actually some interesting parts to twinkl which you may not have discovered before.

1)  Display lettering:

Rule 1 of displays is lettering. Find your lettering to match your mood/topic/colour scheme, whatever. But in the long run it doesn't often make much difference what lettering design you use because what the children need to gain from it is letter recognition as well as early reading.  Displays are there to be seen and to be used.

Twinkl offers a variety of different lettering styles to match whatever writing style your school is cranking out this year (yes I mean cursive!) 

2) Discovery sacks

Discovery sacks are actually packs of different resources which have been clumped together to download in one file. They are all related to a topic, so for example in the EY section there is a farmyard pack, a growing pack and a pirate pack amongst others. Now these are good for some basic resources but I was a little shocked that they didn't come with more in them.

E.g. the farmyard pack has only 3 resources in it - photographs, a matching/sorting game and a fact sheet. Whereas when we look at farms we think about the Old MacDonald song, animal masks, and animal sounds as part of phase 1 phonics. These things are missing from the sacks but are available elsewhere on the site.

Their other packs are in much the same state and whilst are good starting points they do not include as much as I would expect e.g. their pirate pack doesn't even contain this.  However I do recognise that creating overly large packs would make it difficult to download.  
Those resources are there but you just need to go searching for them to get hold.

3. Visual aids

Visual aids are a big part of my setting and making timetables and pictures to go alongside is very time consuming.  In fact it goes beyond what I can feasibly do in the short period of time between finding out/deciding to use them and implementing. So twinkl has really helped me out of a sticky wicket here.  Ideally I would be using photographs to help children to move between activities however twinkl have designed some interesting clipart versions which generally depict the activity well.
I particularly like the timetables in the picture above. Now and then timetables are very useful with children who struggle knowing what is about to happen.

In addition to timetables twinkl offers visual aids that help children to communicate better with adults they are working with.

Their pastel colours, offensive to the colour enthusiast, is actually perfect for children who may become agitated or over stimulated in an Early Years setting.

For those of you like myself who likes to edit resources to suit individual classes twinkl also offers editable resources in .doc word format.

4. Phonics 

No matter how long you have been teaching, phonics can seem like an impossible subject at times. Twinkl could have simply made some posters about farmyard animals or wild animals, added a few sheets about /ee/ and /or/ and called it a day. Many other websites have similar activities but twinkl has actually done one better by making activity plans for teachers to use. Lazy? Maybe but phonics can be a very difficult subject to teach if you're new to it or have been struggling with a particular group for a long time. Twinkl provides plenty of inspiration with over 1000 resources devoted to phonics, you're bound to find something that will help.

My top five timesavers are:

Phase 1 matching game -

Very good basic game once children have understanding of what the pictures are. Mat and Rat aren't the best but if children are taught what they are then eventually children can play independently.  Its simpler and quicker than making your own. I think the only way to improve is to use a photo but then thats just me.

CVC word phoneme frames -

Again basic but a massive time saver. The pictures are simple though obviously be careful of a lack of understanding e.g. ham.

Editable buried treasure game -

You can buy this in the shops but this way you can add your own words. Children will need to be shown how to play the game.

High frequency flash cards -

Again straight forward but is a massive time saver.

Phase 2 phonic assessment sheets -

Well not for the children but for you. Quickly print and use as part of your assessment paper work (Because we spend so much time assessing we don't need to spend time creating the assessments!)

5. Mathematics

Of course if you've won the platinum membership you can download the full pack here.

Mathematics is my favourite part of Early Years. I'm quite particular about how I teach it. To some extent Twinkl resources are useful in mathematics however it does have its draw backs.  I believe that in maths you should be counting tangible objects such as pine cones, apples, flowers etc rather than pieces of paper or pictures on paper.

Visual number lines are great resources. Twinkl offers this example however it would be worth supplementing this by using tangible resources e.g. sticking a 1p piece on the wall next to 1 etc.

Twinkl (like many other websites) have numbers on pictures such as the examples below:

These resources place a numeral against a picture. The numeral bears no relation to the object (i.e. 2 is against 1 sock etc.)

However the problem with these resources is that they develop recognition of numbers before counting. It would be much better to have resources such as these on display first before you display numerals against a single item:

1 brick against numeral 1, 2 bricks against numeral 2 etc.

Beyond the resources twinkl actually offers a great deal more:

* Design your own avatar (mine is featured a the bottom of this post.)
* Resources specifically designed for ParentsSEN and IPC (International Primary Curriculum - these are split into topics many of you may do).
* A semi active forum (this could be a little more social mind..)
* An active blog keeping you up to date with events in education, not just twinkl.
* A store (I buy stickers from twinkl, they're lovely!)
* Photographs of displays in classrooms (something I didn't know they did until very recently and is something sparklebox was winning points for.)
* And perhaps most impressively, the twinkl create app which lets you create resources if you can't find exactly what you're looking for.

* Competition time: *

As part of this review twinkl are giving away a year long Platinum membership for one reader.  Twinkl platinum gives you access to all 164,000 resources and allows you to download full packs of resources all in one.   Click here to see full membership options and benefits.

If you fancy trying to win a platinum membership all you need to do is post a comment below explaining what your favourite twinkl resource is and why

Make sure you include your @twitter or @facebook username so I can contact you should you win.
I will add some these comments to facebook and twitter as the competition continues.

Competition closes on 16th of November 2014 at 23:59. The lucky winner will be picked at random and informed shortly after. You need to have a basic twinkl membership in order to be upgraded.
Good luck!

My avatar, minus by eyeballs for some reason..
Twinkl asked me to conduct this review. I was upgraded to platinum in order to review the site in full. I was also provided with the chance to reward one lucky reader. I was not asked specifically to give a favourable review and hope this has come across as balanced.


  1. Just wanted to say what an inspired review this is! :D

    I am constantly on the prowl for the best of the best; amalgamating things together from a few different sites to get what I ultimately want. On occasion I use Twinkl and this review has given me cause to have another, deeper look at the vast resources Twinkl actually has on offer.


  2. An addendum --

    My favourite Twinkl resource *has* to be their visual timetable cards. I use them every day as a whole class and on now/next boards.

    Lifesaver! :)

  3. Fab review James :)

    My favourite resource is also these visual timetable cards -

    They have recently helped me to settle a child who has struggled with the Nursery routine for months. The 'choosing time' card was great to help him learn when is the time to play, he is able to engage in activities as long as he knows what is expected and what is happening next.

    Twitter: @EllieParkinson

  4. Mt favourite resource is the visual timetable as well as it is very versatile
    It features in all of my rooms at nursery and is used in so many ways. For example I use it in a minimised size for lanyards for staff to wear, as a choosing board for the younger children during free play or for settling children, visual cards for children with English as an additional language, stock lists for staff as well as as a visual timetable. Stacy x

  5. I found Twinkl when I was teaching now at home with 2 kids I use it with them too. We love the playdough mats, great for inspiring creativity.

    1. ohh and I'm @chickywiggle on twitter :)

  6. My favourite resource is any of the Welsh language resources. It's great not having to translate from English and it saves time! More Welsh resources please Twinkl @YGLlangynfelyn

  7. Fabulous review. I use Twinkl already as a basic user but if I didn't, you would have really sold it to me! My favourite resource is the word mats. No matter what the children's interests are, there's always an appropriate word mat to extend their writing skills. The website is also very easy to navigate - big bonus! Emma (@emmadee77 or @BusyBeesatLPS)

  8. Great review!!
    I currently have a basic substription. My favourite resources are the writing frames I can print off and add to my mark making area. There's so many to chose from to entice my early writers.