Categories
Birthdays

Plastic Free Party – perfect for the young eco-warrior

A plastic free party is not exactly a new or revolutionary concept. Thanks to young activists such as Greta Thunberg and Isra Hirsi. As well as government initiatives, like Italy’s new law regarding climate change education. We are living in a world that is becoming increasingly aware of how human consumption impacts our environment. More of us are making conscious choices on a daily basis. So when my youngest son told me that he didn’t want any balloons at his upcoming birthday party, I panicked.

I envisioned the geology party scene from The Big Bang Theory

A Party without Balloons

A birthday party without balloons did not seem like a birthday party at all to me. In fact, the Pintrest Parent in me cringed at the idea of a balloon free party, boring came to mind. However, I enjoy a challenge and his balloon free party idea soon became a plastic free party idea

I took the standard birthday party supply list and raided the cupboards to see what we had already. Hello colourful Ikea plastic cups, plates, cutlery & bowls for children. Anything that needed to be bought specifically, was bought with the avoidance of single use plastics in mind.

DIY

B decided that he wanted to make his own decorations. Armed with string, a star hole puncher and various bits of coloured card. He and W made rainbow bunting to adorn the stairs (pictured below). I made a photo area with a photo booth sheet I got from Postbox Party nearly 6 years ago for W’s first birthday! I also hung up a felt ‘Happy Birthday’ banner from Flying Tiger and decorated the table with newspaper, flowers and dinosaur/animal toys.

B helped organise the activities (nature crowns, paper airplane making & air drying clay fossils). He decided the party menu, including very specific drinks requests (strawberry or carrot juice options anybody?). He also chose most of the playlist and I will definitely be hiring him for my 30th!

The Result

The party was a success. Everybody had a great time, the children were very unsure about the drink choices but all ended up asking for more and exclaiming his delicious they were! I very much promote independence, free play etc which worked well. When it was time to eat the kids helped themselves to as much pizza and salad as they wanted. I tried to take as many photos as possible and used the photo area as an opportunity for the kids to be photographed with any of their ‘creations’.

If you want to throw a plastic free party as well, I highly recommend checking out the Party Kit Network UK, go see if you can hire a party kit locally. You’re also probably wondering about party bags, but that’s a blog post for another day…

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Categories
Gift Ideas

Gift Ideas for 5 – 7 year olds

With Christmas just around the corner and B’s 5th birthday only at the weekend just gone. I thought I would share my favourite gift ideas for 5 – 7 year olds. I will also be sharing gift ideas for 0 – 2 year olds and 3 – 5 year olds this month.

You may be familiar with the four gift rule for Christmas presents: want, need, wear, read. This year I decided to extend the rule to birthday presents as well. They will receive something they want, something they need, something for play and something to read.

Here are my top 4 recommendations for 2019:

Want: Board Games

We love playing board games in our family, B in particular loves playing bingo. Combining his love of dogs (future dog trainer apparently) and his love of bingo, he was gifted the Dog Bingo game for his birthday. It’s actually a great game for dog enthusiasts and comes with a little booklet about the different dog breeds. The boys enjoyed laughing at me stumbling over the pronunciation for about 70% of them!

Photograph of DOG BINGO game.
You can buy the game here from Amazon.

Need: Education

You’re probably wondering why I’m saying something educational comes under need. If you’re new to the blog and don’t already know. We are essentially a flexischooling, unschooling, worldschooling family. Welcome. Nearly everything we do here is educational. But just because it’s educational, doesn’t mean it’s boring. Now this gift comes under NEED, because I NEED my Little Londoners to stop experimenting with my bubble bath and makeup to create their ‘potions’. But I don’t want them to stop altogether. This is where a science kit like Frightful First Experiments from Horrible Science comes in. If you have a budding scientist on your hands then you can follow the link here to buy the kit from Amazon, but be aware of the age and adult supervision requriments.

Play: LEGO

LEGO is a classic gift for any child. We can never get enough of LEGO in our family – I think B received a total of 5 LEGO sets for his birthday from family and friends. I’d highly recommend any of the 3-in-1 Creator Sets aimed at children aged 7+. The instructions are fairly easy to follow and children can feel a great sense of pride with their finished creation. Our favourite LEGO set this year has to be the 3-in-1 Deep Sea Creatures Creator Set, we turned the creations into fact-finding inspiration for mini presentations on each deep sea creature.

Photograp of LEGO CREATOR - Deep Sea Creatures set.
You can buy the set here from Amazon.

Read: Books

Saving the best for last: books. You can never go wrong with a good book. After the blast we had being back in London for the summer holidays and seeing The Lion King on stage. I’ve decided to encourage a love for musical theatre by gifting the book When I Grow Up by Tim Minchin. This song is featured in Matilda: The Musical, one that I hope to take the boys to see one day (when they’re old enough to appreciate it). For now, this book will have to do, and it’s a great conversation starter about what is the difference between adults and children?

Photograph of Tim Minchin's When I Grow Up book
You can buy the book here from Amazon.

Or…

If you’re unsure about these gift ideas. You can gift money instead.

This blog post contains affiliate links. The blog post is entirely my own opinion. I have not been asked to promote any of the products mentioned.

Categories
Birthdays

Birthday Party Ideas for Under 5’s

We love Birthday Parties in our family! The boys have had birthday parties for their 1st, 3rd & 5th birthdays. We will be taking a break with a focus on birthday experiences until W’s 10th birthday (which is just over 3 years away)! So this week is our last big ‘birthday week’ for a while. In this blog, I am sharing some my favourite birthday party themes that we have done so far.

Book Themed Party

A book themed party is pretty simple, pick your child’s favourite book and plan a party around it.

Gruffalo themed birthday party

The Gruffalo/The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Both these books feature a lot of food references, which is great. A buffet for a Very Hungry Caterpillar themed party can easily be created from every food item mentioned in the book. A Gruffalo themed party does require a little more creativity eg. scrambled snake = a popcorn & jelly snakes mix.

Don’t forget to plan some fun party games, get a themed cake and maybe include a circle time style reading of the book. These book themed parties are for a 1st or 2nd birthday celebration.

Soft Play Party

Generic soft play photo, courtesy of Google

Now who doesn’t love a soft play party? Hand over a load of cash to your local leisure centre. The kids are entertained for a bit before the lunchboxes filled with pizza/hot dogs, chocolate and a lonely tangerine arrive to fuel them for some more energetic bouncing. Somebody is always sick, someone might pee themselves in the ball pit and if you’re really lucky, somebody ends up crying.

Top Tips:

  • Don’t forget to bring your own decorations, folding picnic tables tend to look a bit bare without a party appropriate tablecloth or two.
  • It costs money, so set up a Whatsapp group. Don’t forget to send threatening text messages like ‘if you don’t RSVP by this date, your child will not have food or a party bag!’
  • Practice candle blowing with your child beforehand, or you’ll end with their Nursery friends ‘helping’ aka spitting, all over a cake you spent £200 on.

Joint Birthday Party

This is probably the best idea – find a child (or relative) who has a birthday close to your child’s. Suggest a joint birthday party. Benefits include: shared costs, shared stress, shared joy.

W’s 5th Birthday Party was a joint celebration with a classmate of his, let’s call him G. We hired the outdoor classroom of our local city farm, G’s mum was amazing and was able to get some silent disco gear. A close friend lent us her artistic skills for some festival style face painting and I provided colourful, fizzy science activities.

The result was literally: a silent disco festival on a farm. It was pretty ‘cool’ and by far my favourite party to have ever hosted.

B rocking his ‘festival look’
Categories
Activity Ideas Education

Black History Month: Week 5 – The Future

Black History Month for us, is not just about celebrating and learning about Black History. It is also about how the lessons learned from Black History can help shape the future of the black community.

Here are my top three for the week:

Then, Now, Next

The Black Lives Matter Global Network is a chapter-based, member-led organization whose mission is to build local power and to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.

About, Black Lives Matter

It is widely known that Black History has been blighted by the systemic mistreatment of the black community. Black Lives Matter are working towards a future, free from the systemic targeting of black lives. While I wouldn’t discuss the movement with younger children as it could lead to a difficult conversation about the violence towards black lives, I would recommend discussing the movement with teens and young adults.

Fighting for a Future

If your climate change activist is looking for somebody to look up to, who also looks like them. Isra Hirsi is the ideal candidate. The 16yo co-founder of the U.S. Youth Climate Strike and daughter of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. Isra Hirsi’s focus is building an environmental justice movement for young people of colour, advocating for communities disproportionately hurt by climate change.

The Future is…

Robotic?! We are all to familiar with the talking, moving, blinking robots that were once science-fiction and now a scientific reality. However, what makes BINA48 unique (other than her AI capabilities), is her appearance as an African-American woman. You can read more about her here.

Black History Month 2019

You can find all previous Black History Month 2019 blogs here:
Week 1 – Activities
Week 2 – The Slave Trade
Weeks 3 & 4 – Africa & PoADS

Categories
Activity Ideas Education

Black History Month: Weeks 3 & 4 – Africa & PoADs

When somebody tells you they spent their holidays in Europe, you usually ask them which country. If somebody tells you they spent their holidays in Africa, it usually ends there. Our focus for Weeks 3 & 4 was on Africa, the continent as well as our family’s personal history as People of African Descent (PoADs).

Africa

Did you know that Africa is a continent made up of 54 countries? Of course you did, but not everybody realises that the countries in Africa have their own language, culture and history. A lot like Europe.

The focus for Week 3 was learning all about the continents of the world, focusing on various facts about Africa herself. As we are currently in a North African country at the moment, our environment lends itself as a handy resource on our doorstep. We have friends from other countries in Africa and while I have dreams of visiting Ethiopia one day, the children would like to visit Egypt and Ghana. Drawing on our existing knowledge, we are able to appreciate and understand that each country in Africa is unique. Coupled with online resources, we were able to touch on Black History within the continent before The Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Lesson Ideas

English: Read the poem Civil Lies by Benjamin Zephaniah. What is Mr. Africa trying to say?
Maths: Imagine you Mansa Musa I of Mali. What will you buy with your gold? What were the types of currency used during those times? Can you create your own currency?
Science: Pretend you’re an Ancient Egyptian embalmer, mummify some fruit.
Humanities/ICT: Learn how to use Google to answer questions about the history and geography of Africa. Pick one country to focus on – what is the capital city, what language(s) do the people speak, what does the flag look like etc.?

PoADs

During Black History Month we also take the opportunity to look at our own personal history as People of African Descent (PoADs). In particular the journey my grandmother (pictured below) took from Jamaica to England in the 1950s. We still have the suitcase that she used for her journey, and while she passed away many years ago. I try to share as many memories as I can of her and what she did to allow us all to be here today.

Categories
Activity Ideas Education

Black History Month: Week 2 – The Slave Trade

Our focus for Week 2 of Black History Month was The Slave Trade. If you missed our activity blog from Week 1, you can find it here.

You will not find any activity suggestions in this blog. This is just my personal opinion.

Depiction of the transportation of slaves in ships.

Learning About The Slave Trade

We all learned about The Slave Trade at some point, it’s often the only part of Black History that’s covered in schools (minus the odd mention of Rosa Parks). Even then, it’s taught from a European perspective, the focus being that slavery wasn’t a new concept to the 15th century and it was the Europeans who banned it (eventually, in the 19th century).

The Slave Trade was the systemic displacement of a large group of people from a particular community. Hardly comparable to the slavery that was common at the time: people captured in raids and battles, as punishment or to pay off debts. It is believed between 12 million to 13 million people were enslaved and transported like cargo to the Americas. This was our focus during Week 2 of Black History Month.

Activity Ideas

I know I said no activity ideas, but here are a few I couldn’t resist sharing:

What’s the solution?

You can still teach children about what happened. Share all the facts with them in an age-appropriate manner. You can discuss facts vs. opinions at the time compared to what we know now. Think about lessons learned and the impact of displacing a large group of people. Just don’t engage in questionable activities that could land you on the front page!

Categories
Activity Ideas Education

Black History Month: Week 1 Activities

It’s October, which means it’s Black History Month in the UK. Because we are a multiracial family with Jamaican roots, located in North Africa, black history influences our daily lives and conversations. However, we also believe that Black History Month is a great opportunity to provide an education that stretches beyond the current narrative: black history began with The Slave Trade and ended with The Civil Rights Movement.

Our first week of Black History Month focuses on prominent figures and segregation. These people were prominent in Black History from both the UK and the US.

Mary Seacole: Homemade Playdough

Mary Seacole, born in Jamaica in 1805. She helped care for and comfort wounded soldiers in the Crimean War. But she wasn’t recognised for many years, until her statue was built in London in 2016.

Inspired by Mary Seacole’s use of natural remedies, you can make your own herbal playdough! Research the different remedies she used and how they were prepared, as well as what illnesses they were used to treat. We use this homemade playdough recipe for our natural herbal playdough sensory activity.

our lemon and mint homemade playdough: a sensory activity for all ages

John Edmonstone: Lego Taxidermy

John Edmonstone, a former slave born in Guyana, South America. After he was freed, he moved to Scotland. He worked for the National Museum and taught taxidermy to students at the University of Edinburgh, his most famous student being Charles Darwin. There is plaque dedicated to him in Lothian Street, but nobody knows when he was born, when he died or where he is buried. His existence is only known because Darwin wrote about him in his diaries.

invitation to play: Lego Taxidermy

Actual taxidermy is a bit too gruesome for my liking, so we opted for Lego Taxidermy. Choose an animal you love and try to recreate it using Lego. While this may not be an exact science, it does give you a newfound appreciation for taxidermists having to preserve a lifelike quality in their subjects.

Rosa Parks: Literacy Activities

Rosa Parks is famous for refusing to give her seat to a white passenger as per the segregation laws at the time. Her arrest prompted the Montegomry bus boycott and eventually lead to the desegregation of the bus system. She was nicknamed the First Lady of Civil Rights.

We read all about Rosa Parks’ life and then they both had a literacy exercise depending on their age/ability. I made my own resources, but you can find PDFs available for purchase on educational resource sites.
B (4): Story sequencing – B was given picture cards with an accompany sentence of Rosa Parks’ story. He was tasked to place each card in the correct order. This activity helps children realise there is a logical sequence of events in stories (and life). You can read more about it here.
W (6): Anchor chart – W tasked with placing statements and phrases cards about Rosa Parks under three headings (was, had, wanted). W also had blank cards to write his own ideas. I use this activity to encourage the development of comprehension skills. You can read more about it here.

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams: Heart Science

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams born in Pennsylvania, USA in 1856. He performed the first successful open heart surgery in 1893. He also opened the first medical facility to have an interracial staff, and a training school for black nurses.

We took this opportunity for some health heart science (and maths). We measured our pulse rate while at rest and after various exercises. The children decided to extend the activity because they wanted to find out what other activities could affect their heart rate. They made their own charts and W wrote a few observational sentences about the changes to their heart rates.

our anatomical model of the human heart

Film of the Week: Hairspray

Our film for this week is Hairspray. This film helps children visualise the concept of segregation. It allows for discussion, without being too serious or scary for young children. As always, I recommend watching for yourself and judging if it is suitable for your child(ren).

Categories
Education

Education 2019/20

It’s that time of year again. School education 2019/20 started back in August and September for most children. We took a trip instead. Most children have already become accustomed to the routine of the school day. Nothing about our days are routine. Why? We are worldschoolers.

Worldschooling can look different for everybody. Although we have experienced a variety of education systems, we have always returned to home education. The children would be entering Reception and Year 2 (UK system) this academic year. Which, significant for some, has made me reassess the type of education I want them to receive.

W (6) would be entering Key Stage 2 next year. A time when prepared parents begin looking at secondary schools. I don’t know if we will return to the British education system and I’m not keen on the French education system. An affordable democratic school, in a good area with access to plenty of extracurricular activities, seems like an impossible dream. So until then, ‘Education 2019/20’ is all about making sure the children are prepared for their educational future.

Literacy

B is learning to read, while W is working on becoming a more confident and fluent reader. We use a combination of phonics/early reader books and online applications, like Teach Your Monster To Read.

Writing is a little more tricky. W has ASD, DCD and an unhealthy need to achieve perfection at all times, making writing a huge challenge for us. This year, the focus is on gentle encouragement and developing writing skills. Planning work and using our dictionary to check spellings, is already giving him the confidence to expand his writing beyond two or three sentences at a time. B however, is confidently using his phonics knowledge to attempt writing any toilet related word he can.

As they are both French speakers, we are using the online phonics & comprehension program Lalilo in French.

Numeracy

Maths at this stage is all about object handling and real world application (eg. shopping). However, it doesn’t hurt to make use of the age-appropriate courses available on Khan Academy. I use the program to introduce new concepts and identify areas of understanding that may need more work.

Science

My background is Biochemistry & Biology. I worked as a Lab Technician, dabbled in Analytical Bioscience and had my own STEAM education business. Science education at this age, is a walk in the park. Most of it, can be done using the world around you and the contents of your kitchen.

Categories
Marrakech

LL Guide: Les Terres D’Anamar

We have teamed up with The Sensible Nutritionist for our new LL Guide blog series. The series will provide you with a handy guide for family fun in Morocco!

What: Low ropes obstacle course (green route) / ACRO-PARK (Vert)

Where: Les Terres D’Anamar

Children: Z (7), D (5), W (5), B (4)

Cost: 100MAD (€10) per child (price varies depending on activity*)

Website: http://www.terresdamanar.com/

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Les Terres D’Anamar is a scenic drive from the city of Marrakech, near the town of Tahnaout. Nestled in a woodland area within the luscious valleys that are spoiled with breathtaking views of the Atlas Mountains, the scenery alone is worth the visit.

Anamar, offers something for everybody in the family (there’s a zip line that skims the trees and a wobbly bridge spanning the valley for brave adults!). The children did the low ropes obstacle course, green route which allowed for some adult assurance when required.

After paying for our tickets, we walked along a path that meandered through the trees, crossing over a bridge until we got to a wooden log cabin type hut. The children were fitted with helmets and ropes, after a quick safety demo they were set loose on the obstacle course.

They all loved it, the older ones racing ahead with screams of joy echoing through the woods. B used his trademark ‘slow and steady’ method to get around the course, until we happened upon our first rope swing.

Although it was completely safe, he was overcome with fear and naughty mummy got impatient and pushed him (oops!). It was only later on I realised that there were plenty of small ramps dotted around the course which allowed children to opt out of the ‘scary’ parts!

The children all enjoyed themselves (excuse B’s face below – he was still traumatised from me pushing him) and I’d definitely recommend it for anybody looking for something a little more active to do with the kids one afternoon.

* Activities offered at Les Terres D’Anamar

  • ACCRO-PARK from 100MAD-300MAD (€10-€30), there are courses and packages available for 3-7 year olds, under 12s, over 12s and over 16s.
  • PARK AÉRIEN from 165MAD (€16.50) for over 12s, there are packages available and a nighttime option.
  • HORSE RIDING from 180MAD (€18) for one hour with options up to 600MAD (€60) for a full day plus breakfast available.
  • Hiking, rock climbing and canyoning are available activities.
  • Birthday party packages are also provided.
  • Some activities are free for hotel guests.