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Activity Ideas

5 Summer Learning Activities for Children

I don’t know about you, but my brain has turned to mush over lockdown. With Covid19 not looking to go anywhere and any international travel plans having to be postponed, I’m looking at a staycation and simple activities to keep the children busy. These 5 summer learning activities do just that and as each focuses on a different area of learning, you don’t need to fill any mum guilt for neglecting to attend the last few weeks of Zoom school before the holidays!

1. Start a Nature Journal

A few years ago, I bought the Exploring Nature with Children Curriculum and I never used it! I figured we spent enough time out and about in nature throughout the year, that it was sufficient. However after 3 months of lockdown life – I’m ready to inject some semi-structured nature experiences into our lives with nature journals. If you’re not sure where or how to start, howwemontessori have some great tips!

Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva from Pexels

2. Summer Reading Challenge

If you’re in the UK, you can sign up to the Summer Reading Challenge. If not you’ll have to look locally to see what’s on, or make up your own! I try to pick one main book for the week that we focus on and build activities around it, that will address areas the boys need help with or they have shown an interest in.

For example, W is really starting to enjoy reading for pleasure and is reading a chapter of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe each night before bed. Activities I can do around that would be designing a new book cover, writing a book review, drawing a map of Narnia etc. what you do is completely up to you! If you want to use this opportunity to diversify your child’s bookshelf, you can check out my 10 book recommendations over at The Motherload.

3. Maths Scavenger Hunt

We use maths on a daily basis, from counting how many cups of coffee we need to wake up, to counting down the hours until bedtime. Enter your email below to receive a FREE everyday maths scavenger hunt printable!

4. Homemade Ice-Cream

This is a tasty treat for the whole family, and it involves some pretty cool scientific concepts! We try to do this every summer, you can add toppings or try to make other flavours if you want. You can find the recipe and the scientific concept behind it here.

Photo by Cleyder Duque from Pexels

5. Foreign Language Film Night

If you have Netflix, this one is easy. Pick a film that you’ve watched before, then switch the audio to any available foreign language. Stick English subtitles on and they’re reading! This is one of the ways my children keep up with their French and Arabic over the holidays.

Don’t forget to take photos of your child doing one or more of the 5 summer learning activities listed above. Share them with us on Instagram either by tagging @littlelondoners or using #littlelondonerscommunity.

You can also check out my Pinterest board for more ideas!

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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

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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.

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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!

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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).

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Activity Ideas Marrakech

Activity Idea: Moroccan Tiles

There’s nothing we love more, when walking through the medina, than popping our heads through unassuming doorways to peek at the beautiful riads hidden behind them.

The highlight has to be the detailed Moroccan mosaic tilework, known as zellige. The boys love seeing the different coloured patterns of the zellige and asked me to create an inspired activity for them to do.

Now I’m not artist and I still need to build up our art supplies here but I have two simple activity suggestions below:

Activity 1

You will need:

  • Plain paper/printout
  • Colouring pencils/felt tips
  • Small mirror (optional)

You can printout a Moroccan tile pattern (easily found via a quick Google search) to colour in, or have a go at drawing one yourself. If you have a small mirror, it would be a great activity to introduce symmetry. Maybe draw half a pattern and get your child to draw the other half.

Activity 2

You will need:

  • Coloured paper (cut into shapes)
  • Glue
  • Sheet of paper (white/coloured)

Use the glue to stick the coloured pieces of paper to create your own Moroccan mosaic on the plain paper. Look up different patterns on Google for inspiration.

Being the person I am, I will probably take this current interest and use it as a new learning topic for us all to do together, looking at the history, the craftsmanship (videos) and more.

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Activity Ideas Parenthood Travel

Bucket List: Into the Wild Summer Festival

So, this was an item I had added to the bucket list and then immediately regretted! I didn’t know how on earth I was going to manage two under 5s by myself for a whole weekend of camping. I didn’t even have any camping gear, so it was a quick stop at Decathlon for the basics (honestly, BASICs). I got a 3 person pop-up tent, an inflatable mattress, 3 sleeping bags, a lamp to hang inside the tent, some (not) glow in the dark tent pegs and a couple of blankets.


The day arrived and I was really having some doubts about the feasibility of it all, I wasn’t bringing any food and just hoping there would be enough food options to cater to our tastes, I barely packed enough clothes and was wondering if it would be too late to change my mind, but we got there and in no time at all set up camp. Everybody was so friendly and helpful, the boys enjoyed taking turns to hammer the pegs into the ground and put out their sleeping bags before we explored what the festival had to offer.


There was a programme of workshops and various activities, I didn’t get the chance to do any of them as busy shepherding the boys, but they enjoyed a few fairground type rides that were free for the first day (swings and trampolines), there was a circus tent with dressing up, face painters (the face paint looked awesome with their coloured hair) and an arts and crafts tent where they made some wings. Plenty of music to enjoy throughout the day and communal fires to sit around. Most of the food was vegan, which again wasn’t an issue for us but the boys do snack a lot and it ended up being quite expensive by the end of the day feeding their grazing habits.


The main attraction for me was that it was a drink and drug free event, which meant there was something quite pleasant and relaxing about drinking chai, listening to Nick Mulvey and dancing/singing along with a sleeping B in the sling. There was no real need to feel cautious about walking back to our tent in the dark which made for a very safe and enjoyable environment for me and the children. Children were very much welcome to be children and W made hordes of friends that ran around in little feral packs, whooping and hollering with items of clothing missing and face paint streaked faces.


A typical day for us involved waking up rather early, mad dash to the toilets before getting ready for the day (minus shower as these were out of order!). We filled up our water bottles and then walked through the ‘village’ through to the main site for a bowl of porridge in the Into the Wild cafe tent. A short kids yoga session or dance meditation to start the day right followed be a short walk to see what activity the boys wanted to do, ranging from chalk carving at the tinker station to making mandalas or upcycling. A quick snack and they were free to roam the play equipment; there was a pirate ship, sand pit, parachute and climbing frame, building up an appetite for lunch.


The temperature really rose in the afternoon so we would out the blankets out and have a little nap or go to the cafe tent for the storytelling sessions. Another chance to play or draw before dinner and then a chance to chill out in the main tent listening to an aural delights that were on offer for that evening. Overall it was a very relaxed affair, the children had a blast and I would definitely consider going back again, perhaps a little more prepared!


I paid £80 for my adult ticket which included parking, camping pitch and all workshops, the boys were free as under 5 so I’m not entirely sure how much a child ticket would have cost but that information wouldn’t be hard to find. There were a few issues with water and the sawdust toilets were fine for me but took a bit of getting use to for the boys as their favourite part of going to the toilet is flushing it!


I found out afterwards that Tom Hardy had also been at the festival and I’d missed my chance for a photo!

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Activity Ideas Parenthood Travel

The Bucket List: Seaside Trip

We’ve had a couple of days wrapped up inside thanks to blocked noses and sore throats, so yesterday when we all woke up feeling marginally better a little spontaneity was in order. I decided to take the opportunity to surprise the boys with a trip to the seaside (also an item on the bucket list).

I did a quick Google search over breakfast for the best beaches near London and Margate was the first one to pop up, so I searched for day trip suggestions.

After a less than 2hour drive, we parked in the recommended car park for Turner Contemporary (parking at £2.70 for 12 hours = a bargain). Unfortunately the art gallery closes on Mondays so that idea went straight out the window. Instead we went for a wander in the various antique shops and stumbled across The Curious Cupcake Cafe for a spot of lunch, and of course cupcakes. I really loved the old school milk bottles they served the boys’ milk in!


We then went to the highly recommended Shell Grotto, via the Tudor House. The boys were fascinated with the house but less than enamoured with the Shell Grotto. Made using 4.6million shells and no way of knowing how old it is, or why it was made in the first place. This underground Grotto was little more on the creepy side, too much for the boys, especially B who ‘escaped’ screaming his head off in fear. There is something to be admired about the intricate details and artistry that must have gone into it.


We couldn’t leave without a trip to the beach! (Dreamland was recommended to e by many friends when they knew where we were but I thought the boys could be too young to appreciate it) I hadn’t brought any swimsuits with me as I thought the sea would be too cold and the day too miserable for them to enjoy paddling in the sea. But we were graced with some glorious sun, they paddled and W promptly fell into the sea, face first much to everybody’s amusement!


We picked up a fish and chips, with mushy peas, dinner before heading home in another journey lasting less than 2 hours. It was such an easy drive and has definitely made me want to explore more of what our British coastal towns may have to offer!

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Activity Ideas Parenthood

The Bucket List: Spa Day 

Continuing with our bucket list before W starts school, we decided this was an activity B could take part in as well. He’s been begging to get his nails done just like me so I thought a spa day at home would cover this request nicely.

You will need:

  • Bubble bath
  • As many towels as possible
  • Cucumbers
  • Foot scrub
  • Lotion
  • Older/more capable children

I had planned the day to be as relaxing as possible. It was intended to be an opportunity for me to have a little at home R&R. Unfortunately I didn’t factor in the fact that they are too young/incapable to follow simple directions to apply the ‘treatments’ by themselves. It ended up being a day of me waiting on them hand and foot, but that’s par for the course when you have children!

We started off with a bubble ‘bath’, have you ever told your children not to splash in the bath, and successfully had them listen to you? No really, have you? Because I need some tips! After trailing half of the bath water into the living room to watch the film I had set up for them, they finally sat still to get their nails ‘painted’ with a cuticle and nail oil. I managed to convince them to not move a muscle, while I had my own less than relaxing bubble bath, using my classic FOMO parenting technique!

It was a pamper, pizza and film day I had planned, so of course all my efforts went out the window as soon as the pizza arrived. Covered in tomato sauce, they screamed for (yup, you’ve guessed it) another bubble bath. They also demanded snacks for the duration of the film and were generally ungrateful for the whole experience.

Next time I’m booking a spa session for myself and a babysitter for them!