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.
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).
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.
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.?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
The concept of a family-friendly rave has intrigued me for quite a while, the Little Londoners were ecstatic at the idea of ‘going out’ with me rather than the usual, yet rare, babysitter (read: abandonment) scenario.
That’s where Big Fish Little Fish come in, their events promise top DJs and licensed bars for the ‘Big Fish’, as well as craft areas, play areas and face-painting and more for the ‘Little Fish’. I was excited, the boys were excited and there was an ‘optional’ fancy dress theme of togas, which of course I made them wear!
Upon arrival the Little Londoners were given a free glow stick each, to add to the assorted collection already adorning their wrists. We navigated past the buggy park to the front door, they had warned of a security check but as I no longer need to carry a changing bag we had a friendly face ushering us through to the rave room.
Our first mission was to wake up a little as they had both fallen asleep on our way to the event, so we headed over to the craft area run by Captain Cookie Crafts. There was a mural and a container of felt tips that W (4) happily took advantage of. There was also a craft table with some sort of headdress craft for children to make with a few examples dotted around. It was pretty busy so we steered clear, the play dough table was even more packed and the play area itself seem to trigger a few soft play flashbacks for B (3) as he clung to my leg whimpering. We avoided that area for the rest of our time until the end when W saw the opportunity to make his own ‘pirate’ headdress (I think they were meant to be Egyptian but didn’t have the heart to dampen his spirit).
Face painting was next on the agenda, this was provided by PHACEbyPhilly. W opted for a dragon and B opted for a crocodile. She was super fast and effective, I thought the face painting the boys had done at Into the Wild was brilliant, but this was on a whole other level!
After a few marshmallow pops and a couple bags of popcorn, washed down with apple juice we were ready to hit the dance floor. W happily showed off his best moves, and even tried out some questionable break dancing, that I had to put an end to due to the number of little walkers on the dance floor. DJ SS was headlining and played some pretty decent tunes that even I (not really a drum n bass fan) could get into. They managed to top the event off with some pretty cool light effects, bubble machines and glitter cannon!
The only tears we had were from me trying to get self-conscious/Velcro ‘baby’ B to detach from my leg and join W in dancing. We also had tears and screaming when it was time to go home, but that’s always a sign of a good time and we can’t wait for the NYE event, which has already sold out!
I’d definitely recommend going to BFLF event near you if you have the chance, but make sure you bring your partner, or if you’re a single parent like me, a friend, it would have been nice to have let W happily space out on the dance floor while also allowing B some ‘quiet’ time in the play area.
We were invited along for the purpose of this review.
A Schultüte is a wonderful German tradition for the first day of school. My grandmother is German and so it’s a tradition that we are passing down and I intend to keep within our family. I remember receiving mine when I first started, so of course I had to make one for W (4) on his first day!
For those of you that don’t know, a Schultüte is essentially a cone packed with goodies, to celebrate the year ahead. Some parents are more creative and able to make fantastic cones but I just stuck with card, wrapping paper, tissue paper and ribbons for W’s.
You can put anything inside of these, I tried to think of things that I thought W would need as well as enjoy. I got him a couple of new books to read and Star Wars themed workbooks to support his learning (I can’t help but giggle over P is for Padme, or the saying on the back ‘Learn well. You will.’). The notebook, pencils and skipping rope are from Cath Kidston and I found a CD of alphabet songs to add to the boys collection. W loves taking photos on my phone so I popped in a disposable camera for him to have a go at taking his own (the old fashioned way), also picked up a boys fragrance bottle from Next because he always wants to borrow my perfume! The Lego set and the Go Fish! game are just for fun and great activywe can do together. Not pictured are some triangular colouring pencils as they are easier for him to hold that I also picked up for him.
How to make it?
I cut out a square of wrapping paper, stuck it onto some thing card, put glue along one side of the square and made a cone shape, sticking it down together. I glued tissue paper along the inside at the top, stuffed a ball of tissue into the base (a little like a cornetto) and then filled it up with presents, before tying the top with some ribbon.
He had already been given a new school bag and a Swatch watch at breakfast, so the look on his face to be surprised again when I picked him up was totally worth it! I couldn’t be more proud of him and so excited to see what the year ahead has in store.
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!
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!
You may have recently read the Daily Mail (I know, I know!) article about the families that bring their nanny on holiday with them so that they can have a stress-free holiday, the children have fun and everybody is happy. Not according to the readers, some of the comments that I saw were in the region of “family holidays are just that, if you don’t want to spend time with your children you don’t deserve to have them.” Well I’m sorry DM readers, but I’m about to tell you one better. I have just been on holiday, WITHOUT my children and it was brilliant!
Firstly, I don’t agree with this whole concept of a ‘bad mother’ it takes very little for a mum to be brandished as a bad/inadequate parent, take my London Underground post for example. Whereas it takes very little for a dad to be a ‘good/hands on dad’. Thankfully I don’t really on internet strangers to affirm my parenting, I know that I’m a good parent, I’m exactly who they need me to be and part of that is being myself. Parenting is a full time, full on job, once you become a parent you understand what it is to truly love somebody and to give up your life for them, but that doesn’t mean you literally have to give up your life for them. I know some parents that have never had a night away from their children, even if it’s just to pop down to their local with a friend for a round or two, I’m talking parents of children in the 5yo region by the way. I can understand parents of very young children feeling anxious, but I must confess I had my first ‘night out’ to an Ann Summers party when W was 7 weeks old, B was 8 months old and still BFing when I went away for my first child free weekend, that was nearly 2 years ago now and I haven’t looked back.
This year I’ve been soaking up the sun in Ibiza, going out for amazing meals, meeting new people, have champagne at breakfast without it being frowned upon and drink sangria on the beach at midday, without having to run after two children who don’t understand the concept of lying on a beach or being unable to go out until 5am in the morning because I have to be back to relieve the babysitter. Now, in case you’re wondering child-free doesn’t mean that they are stuck at home twiddling their thumbs. They usually stay with a trusted relative that can manage W’s additional needs without feeling overwhelmed, I leave clear (strict) instructions which are usually ignored in favour of swimming every day, playing in the sun and getting spoilt rotten. We video call at every possible opportunity and I get sent updates with little photos and videos as requested, so that I can feel comfortable in the knowledge that they are happy, safe and secure.
For me as a single parent it’s a win win situation for all, the boys get a break from me and I get a break for them. We are in each other’s pockets 24/7, without another parent for them to bounce off or a partner to take the reins when I’m run down, this is our compromise. We all end up refreshed and happier for it, and I can’t see the harm in that.
Chocolate lovers rejoice! Rabot 1745 has been on my radar for a number of years now, but I have never had the chance to sample the delights they have on offer. If you’re not familiar with Rabot 1745, it’s Hotel Chocolat’s restaurant that serves cacao-inspired cuisine in the midst of London’s Borough Market. In other words, a chocolate lovers’ dream.
They do not have a children’s menu so I chose a few dishes for us to share amongst ourselves. We started off with the sourdough with cacao three ways. I then opted for the Seared Sea Bass for myself, sharing a small portion of it with the boys and chose the Mac + cheese for them to share, as well as a small avocado salad between us all. They demolished everything put in front of them and seemed to enjoy the meal as a whole, which brings me to…
What did the Little Londoners think and would they go back again?
W (4) said: “It was yum, can I have dessert?”
B (2) said: “CHOCOLATE-Y”
What do I think?
Even though they don’t have a children’s menu, they were very good at accommodating us. The boys enjoyed being able to look out over Borough Market and were luckily well behaved enough for a place that doesn’t really cater to young families. I would definitely take them back to try some of the other dishes on offer, if you don’t feel your children would be suited to the restaurant upstairs there is a bustling cafe/shop at ground level.