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Showing posts from 2018

Gardening Therapy for Toddlers

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I'm struggling to believe that Spring is actually here.  It's felt like the longest, harshest winter.  We've had three rounds of snow, school closures and cancelled trains.  Every virus, cough and pox has swept through the town, taking us down as their victims.  Currently overcoming chicken pox, our children have felt pretty miserable, but have shown us moments of how to have fun in the midst of discomfort, "I'm doing the itch-dance", says our three year old while the younger dives off the sofa.  Now into our second week of quarantine, we've exhausted every jigsaw and colouring book; we've finished watching every Paw Patrol episode and strayed into the dark land of afternoon repeats of CBeebies; we've baked cakes, biscuits and bread.  But better than all of this, as the days gradually lengthen? We planted some seeds.
In an emotionally-intense chicken pox fog, my two tots and I gardened our way to recovery.  In a pre-pox bustle of activity, we'…

Attempting World Book Day like a pro (without effort nor money), 2018

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I love books.  I love the world.  I love special themed days: Birthday, Mother’s Day, Christmas Day, Pancake Day. What in the Dickens is this World Book Day about?
I love any excitement over books.  There’s nothing better than a story storm: thousands of kids camping out to get a Harry Potter book, the banning of D.H. Lawrence’s ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’, 100 million+ copies sold of the Fifty Shades trilogy.  Or better still, a group of little kids enthralled by a story; genuine joy that today is library day; pin-drop silence in a room of thirty teenagers as they are all glued to a book.  Pure magic.
I’ve taught English in secondary schools since 2005.  Never before have I asked students to find fancy dress costumes.  Traditionally, we’d hand out £1 book tokens and have an extra twenty minutes of private reading.  There’d be a book-themed assembly and the school library would put a nice display up.  As the Literacy Coordinator, I spiced things up a bit one year by getting all the te…

8 of the Best Story Books To Read By Moonlight

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We were lucky enough to begin the new year with a glorious full moon, just high enough to shine above the clouds and to illuminate little one's room in time for bedtime stories.  Unusually, we pulled up the blind that night and relied solely on the bright moon beams to read our favourite books: a hopeful start to 2018.  Here's our list of the best story books to read by moonlight.  The next full moon, a blue moon, is on 31st January, 2018.
Papa, Please Get The Moon For Me, by Eric Carle (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1999).  If there was a prize for the most doting father, it would go to this earnest chap, who manages to climb the tallest ladder on top of the tallest mountain and bring down the mighty moon for his daughter to play with.  Beautiful, charming and heroic.  Final thought: how wonderful to dance with the moon.Giraffes Can't Dance, by Giles Andreae (Orchard, 1999). To be honest, we read this most nights, but it took on a new meaning whilst reading under the lunar…

New Year's Day: More Fuzz Than Fizz

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The first day of 2018- a happily fuzzy sociable sort of a day for us- has concluded with a bright full moon in clear cloudless skies.  Our littlest one and I read books by the light of the moon before settling for a dreamy sleep.  His big brown eyes finally closed as I stroked his head and whispered an echo of our final read: "I love you to the moon, and back" (Guess How Much I Love You, S. McBratney)*.  I then settled our older boy who just needed one more cuddle after the exhilaration of a busy few days.  We then collapsed in an exhausted pile on the sofa.

 I used to feel a particular blurry excitement on New Year's Day: a fresh start with new goals and dreams, after the fizz of the night before.  In 2011/12, my friend Jody and I partied on Mombasa Beach and watched the mighty African sun rise above the Eastern shoreline.  Somewhere amongst that five-thousand strong crowd was another traveller-teacher, on his own Kenyan adventure.  We didn't meet that night.  Inste…