Alice

I went to an exhibition in the V and A!

It was amazing to be back in a museum, mask and sanitiser at the ready!

I was excited to fall down a rabbit hole of my own in to the wonderful world Lewis Carroll created.

Something I didn’t know is that Lewis Carroll isn’t his real name. I don’t know how this little nugget of information passed by me but he actually translated his first and middle names into Latin and then switched them over. It made me wonder what my pen name might be, Kathryn is just Catherine so I am now Lord Elizabeth aka Dominus Suspendisse!

The exhibition did have questions for children and it was magical, but I’d say it’s not for really little children. There is a paper trail and rabbits for them to look out for.
Visually, the exhibition is stunning.
And there are moving art installations throughout.
My favourite part was the VR. I fell down the rabbit hole, drank potions, played croquet with hedgehogs and grew so tall I could see over the gardens and roof tops.
It was social distanced and they made sure everything was very clean but it did mean there was a bit of a queue. But worth it for your older children!

The most amazing thing I got from the exhibition is that Lewis Carroll or rather Charles Lutwidge Dobson was that his stories he told inspired art, music, theatre, fashion, film decade after decade!

Fashion from Vogue
Japanese fashion
This is actually a sculpture and not intended to be worn.

More to books…

For the little ones, why not learn how to count with the White Rabbit?
Enjoy the story with Helen Oxenbury’s gorgeous drawings.
Or the crazy drawings by Chris Riddell!
This is a shorter version adapted by Lewis himself, for our younger readers.
This book is quotes from Alice and the other characters. I find it fascinating when authors manage to write sentences that become known and loved!
Bring the story to life with this story box!
There is definitely more to books when you can solve puzzles.

Who is your favourite character in Alice in Wonderland?

Love Kat x

Cruella

At the end of Portobello Road, the street was shut off for filming. At the time I was working not far from there and my Dad came to visit. (Before lockdown obviously)

Being bold and brave, my Dad asked the security men what they were filming, to be told it was a baked bean commercial, to which I think he was pretty happy with.

When the filming wrapped up, I had to nip into the laundrettes that had been shut for the filming. The lovely gentlemen that worked in there then told me it was, you guessed it, CRUELLA.

So I had to take my Dad back to the scene of the baked bean commercial!

The film is a 12a which means you can take younger children to it. While it’s not scary as such, there is violence and death themes running through but then those themes run in Lion King too? It’s a very clever movie with twists so I suppose it’s down to the child. I think upper key stage 2 would love it.

Hello, Cruel heart by Maureen Johnson (photo credit- Amazon.com)

Wow! That’s all I can say. Wow! Well, I’m going to say more than that but I think Cruella has moved into the spot of my new favourite movie. But the thing is, I always believe that books are better than movies so here we are.

There really is #moretobooks than Reading and clearly, there is #moretocruella!

What also was magnificent was I paid £18 for VIP tickets and my old haunt, Burnley Reel Cinema, where both my Dad and I got orange juice, water, pop, Kit Kat’s, popcorn AND ICE CREAM. I’m pretty sure it would have cost more than £18 for all that, never mind the cinema tickets. So I suppose, get it while it’s hot!?

The stuff we didn’t eat in the cinema!
VIP seats!

It’s so good to be getting out and doing things, abiding by Covid rules. I am inspired by doing things, and I can’t wait for next weeks blog on Alice and Wonderland, just you wait!

Love Kat x

Captain Tom

30th of April was Captain Tom’s birthday. He inspired lots of people when he walked 100 lengths of his garden before his hundredth birthday last year for NHS. He aimed to raise £1000 but surpassed it by millions.

In honour of Captain Tom, there is a challenge this year to do one hundred of anything to raise money.

https://captaintom100.justgiving.com/?utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=google&utm_term=%2Bcaptain%20%2Btom&utm_device=m&utm_campaign=**UK-BL-Fundraising-100-Challenge-Broad&gclid=Cj0KCQjwppSEBhCGARIsANIs4p5JVrVRtHby1190O2jYi7Cwp11IsOVhmbBUpGMtXYfvs8pdZ5ylqVcaAlUnEALw_wcB

So what will you do?

Walk 100 steps?

Bake 100 cakes?

Say hello to hundred people?

100 star jumps?

Draw 100 stick men?

Read 100 books?

Little People, Big Dreams Captain Tom Moore by Maria Isabel Sànchez Vegara illustrated by Christopher Jacques

Beano at Kew Gardens

If you go down to the gardens today, you’re in for a big surprise. There are no bears, but Beano is having a birthday party.

I do feel like there’s more to books than reading, but there is also more to reading than books. The National Curriculum states that children should read a wide variety of reading material, so recipe books, newspapers, leaflets, websites and COMICS!

Beano

I also find that comic magazines and annuals support our children who are reluctant readers.

I even like books with no words as the child can use their own vocabulary to tell you what is happening. These types of books/magazines can help your child develop an imagination which helps in small world play.

Onomatopoeia! Don’t forget your exclamation marks!

Encourage word play and design by drawing the “sound” words as how they might look, like the word ‘pop’ in a balloon (with a pin nearby) or ‘crash’ with a dust cloud around. Here is where clip art comes in handy if they are on the computer.

Joke books are also a wonderful form of reading, not only does it give us a giggle, it reinforces when to use question marks and the child can learn the “question” words: did, when, where, what, how, why, do etc
I love playing with words.
Science- mirrors

If you do get to go to Kew Gardens, there is a trail of lots of fun things to see and do.

This is not Beano, but might get your little ones excited to do some purposeful screen time with their own toys, a Malaysian photographer has used forced perspective to make it look like he is interacting with his superhero miniature figures.

https://mymodernmet.com/wire-hon-forced-perspective-photography/

Alternatively, let them set up their toys, take a picture and print them for your children to add their speech bubbles to to make their own personalised comic book.

It’s also easier for some children to write in speech bubbles than in long paragraphs so use it as a writing opportunity. They still need capital letters, sentence structure and punctuation.

Head to the Beano website for lots of fun and games.https://www.beano.com/

Beano magazines are available on subscription to land on your doorstep or you can get digital copies.

What comics or magazines did you read when you were little?

Show us your little one’s with their favourite magazine!

Love Kat x

Guinness World Records

A little email dropped today.

Funnily enough, my nanny child, G8 was reading her Guinness World Record book the other week.

Why not hold your own World Records?

Use the book or the website, to see what crazy things people have been up to and do your own?

Can you make the biggest pizza you’ve ever made?

Count who has the most teddies? Which kind of teddy do you have the most of?

Who can eat the most <insert food of your choice> in 30 seconds?

Walk further than you ever have before!

Guinness World Records 2021

Show me your World Record attempts!

Why not make your own certificates for the whole family? Everyone is great at something!

Love Kat x

The Wombles

Wimbledon Common Windmill

I always get inspiration from activities that I do with the children in my Nanny job. As you know, we haven’t really been going anywhere due to lockdown. So as I live in Wimbledon and I frequent the common often, I had thought about doing a quick blog on the loveable Wombles.

Then it snowed!

The snow was magical in Wimbledon Park.
A photograph of a Snow Womble made this weekend, photo taken by Corinna Osmann-Deane from Nextdoor app

More to books…

The Snow Womble by Elisabeth Beresford, illustrated by Nick Price

(Photo taken from: books.google.co.uk)

The Wombles by Elisabeth Beresford, illustrated Nick Price (photo taken from worldofbooks.com)

I am missing libraries and book shops, so my go to website is world of books.com. It’s a second hand website with good quality books.

There is a mural of the Wombles in Wimbledon centre, across from the station.

Why not share the Wombles with your little ones during lockdown?

A sad part of lockdown is the litter being left behind, especially overflowing bins and coffee cups discarded. Perhaps litter picking isn’t advisable in these times, but we can encourage our little ones to take their litter home and be good examples, as children really are our future!

The Wombles are rare but sometimes you can get a sneaky peak of them!
When lockdown is over, hopefully, the annual half marathon will be back on, it’s such a fun day. You can cheer on all the runners and maybe spot a Womble.

Show me your snow creations or Womble fun.

Love Kat x

Zoo

I know we can’t go to the zoo. I had members tickets for the Monday that Lockdown 3.0 was announced. It was a lot of fun! It was socially distanced and we wore masks. I’m so grateful we got a tiny bit of normality before everything was shut again.

I am a meer KAT, do you get it?

If we can’t go to the zoo, why not bring the zoo to you? Go through the teddies and organise them into zoo animals and non- zoo animals with your child. Hide them around your house and visit the “zoo”

With every animal you “see”, make a fact card. Depending on your child’s age, maybe they can research using books or the internet. I know I’m all about books, but any form of reading counts. If you don’t have a book on that animal, using different forms of literature is still reading. If they can, use it as a writing opportunity too.

Penguin

Why not do some artwork from the animals in your zoo?

This is my attempt. I’m practising as I would like to illustrate my own children’s book, I am thinking.
I think he is sick of lockdown too!
Did you know Winnie the Pooh was based on a bear that was in the zoo in 1914?

More to books…

Usborne’s Peep inside the zoo illustrated by Simons Dimitri
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
For older readers, there’s a whole series of Zoe’s recuse zoo by Amelia Covb and illustrated by Sophy Williams
For younger learners, Usborne’s That’s not my sloth…

Nb I took these photos of the books on my birthday in December…the shops and cafes were shut on Monday.

Don’t forget books can be fiction and non- fiction, use magazines and the internet!

Also, you could watch Andy’s animal adventure, set in a zoo! Or even Our Planet by David Attenborough, I find even little ones are mesmerised by these.

Show me your pictures with your little one’s favourite soft toy or drawing or a zoo animal!

Love Kat x

Apple Pie

I can’t say enough how amazing cooking with children is. Home schooling is better when it’s an experience. Not only does this combat all the senses but it targets several subjects in one.

Give them a writing opportunity with a shopping list.
Peeling is a technique they’ll need when they are older.

Speaking of things they need to know how to do, my 14 year old nanny child had never used a tin opener until I taught her! I know some have ring pulls these days…I always think of apocalyptic movies when the people need to open cans!!

Melting butter safely…

I once nannied three children after school while I was a teacher and the 11 year old and I were making pancakes. The father came home and was in shock that she was at the hob…I really believe it’s our job to show them how to do all this safely at any age…

A little bit of maths

Using a scales to measure the sugar helps them put their maths into practice.

We cheated with the pastry but it’s no less fun.
She used her fingers to make the indents.
She cut out diamonds safely and I put markings on them to look like leaves.

This is where creativity may take over. I believe baking is as much an art as it is a science. The end product is their bit of creation which tastes so much more satisfying.

I love eggs! I let even really young children have a go at cracking eggs. Don’t worry about them getting shell in there. Top tip, use the bit part of the shell to fish a little bit out, it cuts through the white of the egg easily.

Glaze with egg! It’s like painting. Your really littlies can get involved!

I love when it looks like a child has made it! It’s their beautiful creation.

Also, it’s a moment to reflect on the good and bad things. What went well? What could you improve on? Make it again a few months down the line.

And enjoy!

More to books…

We used the Humming Bird Bakery book for our pie. We looked through many recipe books before settling on this one.

Books don’t have to be just for children. In baking, you’ll be supporting them. Any book is a reading opportunity.

Junior Bake off is also a great way to inspire your children to try and bake more. I love their resilience when something goes wrong. They can bake better than me!

What are your favourite recipes to do with your little ones?

Love Kat x

The Spanglish Girl by Natalia Simons

Natalia Simons

Today’s blog is shining the star on a bilingual author who is seeking to support those children growing up in two cultures. I have been lucky enough to interview her about her book and her journey.

How did the book come about?
Rewind to over 2 years ago I was in a coffee shop in Spain doing some writing for a non fiction book I’d been working on for a while. Writing has always been a passion of mine but for a good while I hit writer’s block. While I was daydreaming, I spotted some children running around, they were speaking in Spanish then one of the mothers spoke to her daughter in English. That’s when it hit me, why don’t I write a children’s book about growing up with different cultures where children from different backgrounds can relate and base it on my own experience? I always wanted to write about it and show people the advantages of growing up bilingual and spending my summer holidays in a magical village in Spain. So that’s what I did, I made a plan and got writing. I didn’t realise how much I would enjoy it!


What do you think children learn from your book?

Children that speak 2 different languages or come from different backgrounds can learn to be proud of their heritage and know at times it can be difficult switching from the two. In this book it’s aimed at children who speak Spanish and English. Children who speak one language can learn that being different is ok. It’s better to be kind and help others feel good about themselves. Afterall, kindness always wins. I’m in the process of publishing the English version only.

Illustrated by Alessia Fraschetta

And a little about your journey?
So I finished the book and had doubts. I knew being a children’s author was very competitive but it didn’t stop me from sending over my manuscript to literary agents. One by one I received replies saying it wasn’t the sort of thing they were looking for. This set me back and made me think maybe my writing wasn’t good enough. So I forgot about it. 2 years later the pandemic hit and I was on furlough from work then later made redundant. This gave me a lot of time to think and rekindle with my writing. My friend’s sister is an illustrator so I hired her to do the drawings. I was overjoyed with her illustrations so I really believed my story could work. I began the process of publishing it on amazon and so happy I did. So far I’ve had really good feedback especially from Spanish parents who live in the UK who are teaching their children Spanish. It really has blown up! I’m already thinking about the next children’s book to write, watch this space.

If you’d like to follow Natalia, here is her link for Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nats_spanglish_diaries/?hl=en

More to books…

I love that it combines two languages. Even for children who are not bilingual, I know when I worked in Italy with English children, they loved to devour the books that we got for them in Italian.

Having books children already love in other languages can help children learn effortlessly.

I love the message of Natalia’s book that it is ok to be different.

Gingerbread

Merry Christmas my lovelies. If you’re lucky enough to be with loved ones this Christmas, give them an extra squeeze and a little hug from me too. (Only if they are in your bubble, obviously)

I’m stuck in tier four on my own and genuinely have started talking to the spiders in my house, they are both called Bob.

So here is a gingerbread blog about Christmas, and how to make it educational, if you want to.

Ginger bread house

So, because food shops are allowed to be open, if you can get yourself down to IKEA, they have sets to fill a little time. They also sell a decor-kit and baking glue making the process a lot easier. Morrison’s usually do snowmen/Christmas tree sets complete with coloured icing and sweets.

Decor-kit from IKEA

Or of course, you could make your own gingerbread. Encourage your child to look at the recipe book. Reading different forms of writing is in the National Curriculum and no matter the age they can enjoy Recipe Books. For our youngest learners, they can look at the pictures, maybe identify some letters and sounds and as they get older, maybe they can identify some words or short phrases. For our oldest learners can follow the instructions for themselves.

For the baking, you can also differentiate it accordingly. I would measure out the ingredients for our littlest learners in bowls and put them in the order they need to go in, or tell them which is next, up to supporting them to measure for themselves. All children can be part of the baking process, even if it’s practising cracking an egg or talking about the changes that happen when you mix two or more ingredients. It’s a great time to explore describing words/adjectives with them.

And it also helps to add sounds/spellings to make learning memorable, perhaps use words relating to Christmas

When decorating the gingerbread, you can also relate it to learning patterns and colours or just let them run wild with creativity!

More to books…

I was always told when teacher training not to re-invent the wheel. So when researching for books about gingerbread house books I came across a lovely little website https://thekindergartenconnection.com/17-fun-gingerbread-books-for-kids/#

So please enjoy!

Show me your gingerbread creations

Love Kat x

Laiq (aged 4) Rochdale, making ginger bread from scratch at a cooking class