Top 10 BBC Children’s Classics audio books

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We are a family who absolutely loves listening to audio books, whether it’s in the car while going to our activities and workshops , colouring on our dining table or just simply to unwind after a long day in the evening. There are many ways to listen to audio books. One way is by borrowing audio books from your local library. Most audio books can be borrowed for 3 weeks. You can also  buy a lot of audio books second hand on Amazon and Ebay too.  Alternatively you can download the Audible app, which is a subscription service. It has the world’s largest selection of audio books . They offer a free 30 day trial and you can cancel any time. We have been using the app for two years and have absolutely loved it. More information on Audible how to sign up for their trial, can be found here-Audible

Last year, I stumbled upon the BBC children’s classics , which have been a big hit with my children. These audio editions are fully dramatised and have special sound effects too, which makes them very captivating for both young and old. In no particular order, here are our top 10 favourites :

1 Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild – this is a classic of 20th century children’s literature. “Pauline, Petrova and Possy Fossil are sisters with a difference. All three were adopted as babies by Great Uncle Matthew, an eccentric and rich explorer, who then disappeared , leaving them in the care of his niece Sylvia. The girls grow up in comfort until their money begins to run out and nobody can find their Uncle. Things look bleak, until they hit an inspired idea:Pauline, Petrova and Posy will take to the stage..”  I really loved the book as a child and I was pretty sure my children would enjoy listening to the audio book. It is a charming children’s story , full of positive messages about responsibility and commitment to others. We really wished there was a sequel  so we could see what happens to the three girls when they are older. The running time is 2 hours and 20 min, suitable for children aged 7 and above.

2-The Railway Children  is a BBC Radio full cast dramatisation of E Nesbit’s enchanting and unforgettable classic . We all really enjoyed listening to this version of the beloved classic. It was full of excitement, enchantment and charm. Running time is 1 hour and 45 min, suitable for children aged 5-7 years old. Please note that the CDs do not include everything in the book , but it does include the main incidents.

3- Anne of Green Gables -this was another favourite of ours, thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. It is a BBC Radio 4 full cast  dramatisation of the enchanting children’s classic about a little red-headed girl with a heart of gold. Its running time is 2 hours and 25 minutes and is suitable for children aged 6 and above.

4-Heidi ( BBC Children’s Classics) is a a BBC Radio 4 full cast dramatisation of Johanna Spyri’s  endearing Swiss classic. “The touching story of the adventures of a young Swiss girl is one of the most popular children’s stories ever written. Heidi’s pleasure in the beauty of the Swiss mountains and her rich relationships with her friends and family are perfectly evoked in this warm and lively full cast dramatisation. ” We read the book last year as a read loud and this audio version is really brilliant and wonderful to listen to. Running time is 1 hour and 50 minutes and its for children aged 6 plus.

5-Tom’s Midnight garden by Phillipa Pearce– this has been one of our favourites for sure . It is unique, gripping,charming, sensitive and fun from the start to finish” When his brother catches measles , Tom is sent away to stay with his aunt and uncle and is thoroughly fed up with it. But tedium turns to adventure when lying in bed one night, he watches the seasons change from spring to autumn, and children come and go. But no one seeems to see him -until he meets Hatty, and the two become firm friends. With his new playmate, Tom embarks on an adventure of a lifetime……” Running time is 2 hours and even though they have given an age range between 5-7, I would definitely say that it is geared more for children aged 8/9 and above.

6-The wind in the willows- Alan Bennett does a brilliant job at reading the original story of Ratty, Mole , Badger and of course Toad.  He is truly excellent and has perfect voices for each animal.We were all captivated and needless to say thoroughly enjoyed this classic. It is for children aged 5 and above.

7-Polyanna-  this is a BBC Radio 4 full cast dramatisation of the classic American tale starring Gayle Hunnicat. “When Pollyanna’s father dies, she is sent to live with her only surviving relative, the rich but stern Aunt Polly. Pollyanna’s joy soon turns to disappointment when her spinster aunt gives her a cold greeting and tells her she is to stay in the attic. It’s not the welcome Pollyanna expected, but she soon regains her spirits, playing the ‘glad game’ her father taught her. Nancy the maid is charmed by Pollyanna and soon the girl’s infectious optimism wins the hearts of everyone in town from the reclusive Mr Pendleton to the shy Dr Chilton.Everyone, that is, except Aunt Polly, who refuses to succumb to her young niece’s charm. It is not until a tragic accident occurs, which leaves even Pollyanna struggling to find a way to feel glad, that her maiden aunt finally unwraps her heart from years of bitterness.  “This BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation retains the spirit of childlike innocence and optimism that has made Pollyanna a favourite amongst generations of children and adults. I realluy wasnt sure if my children would like this one, but was really pleasantly surprised. We loved listening to this captivating story.

8-The hundred and one dalmatians- I loved the book as a child and I really wanted to introduce my children to it. “This is the story of Pongo and Missus Pongo, two dalmatians who live in London with their human pets. When their 15 puppies are kidnapped, they set out to find them. With the help of the network of dogs around England (as well as the help of a couple of cats and a horse) they find their puppies, as well as 82 others, escape from the clutches of the wicked Cruella de Vil, and head back for London. They encounter many adventures along the way before finally making it back to their humans.” This is a full cast dramatisation  and I would definitely it is for older children aged 9 and above. My five year old found it really difficult to understand and it may have been because of the fact that there were different voices for the various characters. Nevertheless my older two did enjoy this version.

9- The Jungle book-   Is there anyone who doesn’t really love this classic by Rudyard Kipling ? I loved the book as a a child and even named my Burmese  cat Bagira after one of the characters. “A full-cast dramatisation of Kipling’s classic animal adventure starring Eartha Kitt. Rudyard Kipling’s famous tale tells the story of Mowgli, the ‘man-cub’ rescued from the tiger Shere Khan and adopted by a wolf pack. As he grows up, Mowgli learns the ways of the jungle from Baloo the bear, Bagheera the black panther and Kaa the rock python. His life is full of adventure with the jungle creatures, but soon the time comes when he is forced to leave and take his place among his own people. A kind woman looks after Mowgli but she can’t protect him from the superstitious villagers who believe his friendship with wolves is the result of sorcery. Mowgli’s only escape is to return to the jungle. But even the jungle has become a dangerous place. This rich and entertaining dramatisation skilfully blends words with jungle sounds and music and stars Eartha Kitt as Kaa, Freddie Jones as Baloo, Jonathan Hyde as Bagheera and Nisha K. Mayer as Mowgli. ” It is suitable for children aged 7 and above , but  younger children may be able to understand and follow the story too. My 5 year old really enjoyed it.

 

10 -Water babies- Timothy West, Julia McKenzie and Oliver Peace star in this BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of Charles Kingsley’s classic tale of a chimney sweep who becomes a water baby. It is fully cast dramatised and its is recommended for children aged 5 and above. Having listened to it, I do feel however that it is more suitable for children aged 8/9 and above . My 5 year old wasn’t able to follow the story and even my 7 year old son had to ask me a few questions as he did not understand the whole story. Nevertheless , me and my 9 year old really enjoyed listening to this version of this beautiful classic.

Overall, I  highly recommend any of these dramatized Children’s Classics by the BBC. They  are all wonderful — high-quality entertainment using top-notch voice actors, sound effects and music, dramatizing stories suitable for any age group. Hope you all give some of these a go! Happy listening!

Peace and blessings

Eva

 

 

Lush workshop for home educators

 

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If there is one shop that my children absolutely love to go to , it is  definitely Lush. As soon as I heard that a local home schooling mama is organising a workshop there, we were all over the moon.

The workshop started at 10 am and lasted an hour. The children were able to see the ingredients that were needed to make a bath bomb . They made two different bombs in total. Mine especially were surprised to find that sea salt and sea weed were being used. They had lots of fun  mixing everything, seeing what goes in the process and making them. They also learned more about the Lush’s values and ethics -their stance on animal testing, recycling and packaging. Here are some photos of from our truly  Lush morning.

If you would like to organise one , all you need to do is email your local store. The informal workshop for schools and groups usually takes place  during a weekday and  lasts an hour, so they are not as long as a Lush party, which is usually between 1.5 and 2 hours.The maximum number of children allowed in the workshop are 10, minimum 8 attendees.

Lush also tailors for various sorts of events, whether it’s a child’s birthday or even a team building event. They offer packages such as Beauty School, Fun and Games, Happy Hour and Product making. For more information in regards to prices and what’s involved, please visit their website- Lush.

Happy Bath Bomb making!

 

 

I love my Baba by Razaida Bahram: Book review

I was recently sent a copy of ” I love My Baba” by Razaida Bahram to review.However, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Razaida Bahram lives in London with her husband and two children and  Noor Nursery is inspired by her love of Islam and the importance of implementing this in her home. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Language Teaching and Literature and is currently a stay at home mum studying hifdh of the Holy Qur’an.

I love My Baba

Author- Razaida Bahram

Illustrator-Asbah Alaena

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The book depicts a beautiful relationship between a little girl and her father.  It has a nice balance in portraying the different sides of fatherhood- loving , caring, helpful around the house , playful as well as emphasising our core aspect of our beautiful Deen-  Salah and praying together as a family.  The book uses rhymes throughout  , which definitely makes it more engaging for young  children and therefore is perfect for the target audience- toddlers and  preschoolers. My 2 year old son and 5 year old daughter really enjoyed listening to the book and at the end we had a little discussion of what they loved about their daddy. I absolutely loved  the illustrations  done by the super talented  Asbah Alaena – they are  beautiful , vibrant and colourful.This is a brilliant book to have in your children’s Islamic library at home and also makes a perfect gift too.

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I love my Baba is available to purchase from Amazon : I love my Baba

(affiliate link)

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Ways for Parents to encourage their boys to read

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Sadly, we live in times, when children are more likely to spend their time playing a computer game, rather than read a book, even more so for boys.  Research consistently shows that boys’ reading lags behind girls.One of the recent studies, undertaken by the University of Dundee , which looked at the reading habits of more than two million children, found that “boys of all ages read less thoroughly than girls, skipping parts of the book and choosing material that is too easy for them.”

A few years ago, I read the book,  “Calmer, Easier and Happier boys” by Noel Janis-Norton , who gives simple strategies for the unique challenges of raising motivated, co operative and confident boys. She gives advice on how to bring the best in boys at home and at school. Her chapters on improving literacy and thinking skills as well as how to make home learning more productive and enjoyable have been very beneficial  for me. So here is a summary of some of her tips along with my own experience of how to motivate  boys to read more.

  1. Have a daily reading time –  it is extremely important to establish a time when all your family members read. It does not have to be long, it can be 15/20 min to start and you can set a timer too. In my house, we usually do  this straight after lunch time- it is what I call our quiet time too and at the moment it works really well for us, as usually around this time my youngest two (12 months old and the 2.5 year old will have their lunch nap). My children are allowed to either go to their bedrooms or they can be in the playroom/study room and  read a book. I usually use that time to read  to my 5 year old, who is not a fluent reader yet.
  2. Be an example -No matter what reading programme or  curriculum we choose for our children to read, ultimately if we do not read and show them that reading is not a chore or something to be ticked off our never ending lists of things which our children have accomplished, then sadly our children will not see the gift of reading and the magic that it brings. So it is extremely important for your son to see you that you are reading a book, not just newspapers and magazines.I often tell my children what I am reading at the moment and what I am finding interesting.
  3. Read alouds- Even when your son knows how to read, do not stop reading to him, still continue with your read aloud. As Janis-Norton mentions in her book ” When they are being read to, children can understand far more complex concepts, sentence construction and vocabulary because all of their brain is free to focus  on comprehension, whereas when they are doing the reading , a large part of the brain is taken up with the task of decoding. And when parents , read aloud with expression, that  helps the child to understand even better what is happening and why.”  It is also normal for boys to be distracted and to be restless and of course to moan and complain that the book is too long or too boring . You, however, should not give up and decide to wait until he is ready to listen  or when he is more mature. You can still have a read aloud to him even if it is just 1/2 minutes. Consistency is extremely important
  4. Choice of books- Boys , unlike girls, are usually more interested in fiction books rather than non fiction and narratives. Fiction books are usually more attractive to them because of all the facts and  that they tend to do have more colourful pictures. My eldest son, when he was young used to love looking at Encyclopedias and Dinosaur/Train fact books etc. My other 2 year old son is exactly the same and going through an obsession at the moment of looking at dino books and asking for their names. According to Janes-Norton , it is important to choose books with pictures, bright colours and illustrations, books that are also  funny and of course the grosser the better. My son absolutely loved Dirtie Bertie when he was younger .Choose also books that have action and excitement-exploring, creating, chasing, discovering, training animals and of course sport. Last but not least, choose a book with a hero, that your son can identify with.
  5. Listen to your son read aloud- even though my 8 year old is a fluent reader, I often listen to him reading his book. He quiet enjoys it too , as it is also a nice way of spending one on one time with mummy . My husband also often listens to him too, so make sure to involve your partners as well.
  6. Audio books-  I know there are various opinions on them , and some argue that audio books can make children lazy to read. I have found it the opposite with my son- we often listen to an audio book together and more often than not it has actually led to him wanting to read the book too. We have subscription to audible , which we absolutely love and it certainly is a bit hit here in my household , but we also borrow audio books from the library . If there is  Cd to the book, you can listen to it , with the book open and have your son follow along with his finger. This is really good for short books and it does not have to be long, max 5/10 min.
  7. Whatever approach you choose to follow , it is extremely important to be consistent , so that a routine can be established.

 

I hope you found these tips useful. I would love to know if you have any boys who are reluctant readers, what approach did you take and what has worked for you.

Peace and blessings

Eva Zaynab

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Parenting Books on how to raise confident, strong and happy girls and boys

img_0218Being a mother of three girls and two boys, it was obvious for me to see throughout the years  the cliche that women are from Venus and men are from Mars.So from an early stage , I realised that my approach and parenting to these two different sexes must also be tailored to their needs.

With World Book Day tomorrow , I wanted to share my Top 5 parenting books on raising strong , confident and happy girls and boys , how to adapt your parenting and the different challenges that they face in the 21st century. Please note that this is only a very brief summary of the books. They deserve a blog post on its own.

img_0213-1 Raising girls ( Helping your daughter to grow up wise, warm and strong) by Steve Biddulph – Steve Biddulph is a world renowned family therapist and parenting author. I love his style of writing  and have found  his books extremely easy to read .  His books  always give you food for thought  and most importantly they really uplift you and give you practical advice. This one did not disappoint one bit. I really enjoyed the fact that he looks in detail at the five stages of childhood – stage 1 Security( birth -2 years), Stage 2 Exploring (2-5 years), Stage 3 People skills ( 5-10 years), Stage 4 Finding her soul (10-14 years), Stage 5 Stepping into adulthood (14-18 years).  He goes into a lot of details for each stage and at the end gives a little summary , which I found extremely useful.  Biddulph also tackles a wide range of issues including bullying, eating disorders, body image, depression, managing social media , friendships and much more. The book lays out very clearly what to expect from each age and how to connect and help your daughters, both for mothers and fathers. Full of helpful tips and advice.As the Express says ” Biddulph… has a built in feel good factor. Parenting books too often make one feel inadequate, but Biddulph’s left me refreshed and optimistic.”  This book is definitely one, which I see myself coming back to as my girls grow and reach adolescence.

img_021221st Century Girls : How the modern world is damaging our daughters and what we can do about it by Sue Palmer–   If you have not read anything from this amazing author , where have you been ? Sue Palmer is a writer, broadcaster and consultant on the education of young children. She used to be a former headteacher and literacy expert.  Her best seller “Toxic Childhood” was one of the first parenting books that I read when my eldest was a baby,  so that is  nearly 9 years ago and since then I have read every single book of hers.   What I absolutely love about her books is that they are all based on years of research and needless to say the bibliography section at the end of the book is huge. In this brilliant book, Sue shows parents how ” female minds develop and how screen based culture exploits their weaknesses; what parents need to know about diet, sleep , play and education in today’s world; how to deal with the “pink princess and perfect girl;how to develop a balanced, age appropriate approach to techno play and internet safety  and much more. I found her various timelines for the different ages of development (0-3;3-6;6-11 and 11 plus) which she uses for education, media , friendship, fashion, play, sleep, food  at the end of each section extremely useful . You definitely need to take your time with this book , as it can feel heavy at times. However, by the end  you will feel so much more aware of the challenges faced by our girls  and how to deal with them. Thoroughly recommend this book for any parents, grandparents , carers and educators.

img_0211By Steve Biddulph Raising Boys: Why Boys are Different – and How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balanced Men– As a mum of two boys and having read Biddulph’s book on “Raising Girls”, I really wanted to read this one too.  Biddulph looks at the three stages of boyhood – 0-6;6-14 and 14-adult. The book is full of practical help – how fathers can be involved in their boys’ lives, how hormones such as testosterone influences boys’ behaviour and what to do about it.  I found this section extremely helpful. He briefly touches as well on the differences between girls’ and boys’s brains and dedicates an entire chapter on the five essentials that fathers provide and what to do if you are a single mother .  I really enjoyed reading his view on  boys starting school  at least one year later than girls when their fine motor skills  are ready for pencil and paper work. For anyone who has children with ADHD, Biddulph has an entire chapter on this and how it may be caused by stress in the first years of life. Overall, this book is very informative and easy to read . It is not too heavy on theory and academics, but full of insightful stories and anecdotes. It is an excellent  guide  for how boys think ,why they may behave the way they do , how to understand them better and ultimately how to have a better relationship with them.

img_0210-121st Century Boys: How Modern life is driving them off the rails and how we can get them back on track –  This is an excellent book  that looks at the boys’ development from birth to adolescence “considering how we can help the next generation of young men to grow up balanced, happy and able to contribute to society.  Needless to say, in typical Palmer’s style, this book is extremely well researched with tonnes of evidence and very informative. It is jam packed with tips and advice on how to help boys live less toxic lives, so that they do not fall victim to depression, violence, apathy and solitude. Sue Palmer also gives an incredible insight into how big businesses undermine parents’ authority and confidence and the effect on boys’ health and well being along with an insight into the dangers of television and computer addiction  and the devastating effects they can have on boys. Her book truly is an eye opener  about the toxic effects of our modern society and the devastating impact on our children, boys in particular. It is a must read book not just for parents, but all teachers , educators and politicians.

 

img_0214Calmer, Easier, Happier Boys: The revolutionary programme that transforms family life–  Noel Janis-Norton is a learning and behaviour specialist with more than 40 years of experience, helping parents and teachers learn effective  techniques  that result in more confident and motivated children both at home and in the classroom. This book is full of practical advice and various techniques which can be, in my opinion , used both for boys and girls.  Norton looks at the main concerns usually associated with boys , such as too much energy, including restlessness, short attention span, immature impulse control/social skills/fine motor skills etc and gives strategies ( one of which is the Descriptive praise) on how to improve co operation, politeness, self reliance, ways to reduce physical aggression, complaining and arguing. I have myself been using her Descriptive Praise and I can honestly say that it has improved the way I parent my children, not just only my boys , but also my girls. Norton gives as well an incredible insight  into the importance of special time, ideas as well on what to do during that time and how to use special time to teach and train important values, habits and skills.  The book also looks at how to make homework and home learning more enjoyable and productive and ways to improve literacy and thinking skills.  It is a must read for any parent, both mums and dads.

I would love to know some of your top parenting books on raising confident and happy children and how the books have helped you to improve your relationship with your them.

My blog post is part of the ‘Top Books’ blog hop. So make sure you check out the other amazing bloggers who are participating :

Multicultural Motherhood

Jeddah Mom

Alizeh my soul

Our Amanahs Our Futures

 

 

 

 

 

5 Fun ways to learn how to tell the time

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One thing ,that I have learnt when it comes to teaching children how to tell the time , is that they are more likely to understand the concept  when it becomes important to them , when they genuinely need to know when certain activities /tasks take place throughout the day . It all starts with the simple questions like- ” When are we going to the park?; what time is dinner?; when are we going swimming ?” etc…

Once the interest is there, teaching them the concept becomes much easier. It is always good to remember that every child is different and some will learn it quicker than others . The most important thing is to follow the child’s lead and to make it as practical and fun as you can. Here are some resources  ,which I have found beneficial in teaching children how to tell the time.

  1. Analogue watch rather than a digital one. We live in times when everything now is in digital format- timings on iPhones, iPads, etc.. so it can be very easy to presume that the best watch to get will be a digital one. The reality is that , a child which is taught how to tell the time in digital format will not be able to tell the time in analogue format at all. Analogue watches also have great learning advantages  – they are extremely useful when it comes to introducing fractions , phases of the moon even for science and great for those visual and kinetic learners.  You do not  have to buy an expensive watch for your child. There are lots of great ones on Amazon and you can easily pick one for less than £15.

    2. Clocks around your house -apart from having the usual wall clocks , I really thoroughly recommend investing in an “Easyread time teacher” wall clock, which is around £ 25.  You can buy similar versions for less , that can be also found on Amazon . We bought ours a few years ago and I have found it extremely beneficial in teaching my children how to tell the time in analogue format.Children find it really easy to read the time  in terms of “minutes past” and minutes to” the hour . The hands and unique face design also tell your child exactly which number to read.  You can also buy matching wrist watches too from the same company.

3.Student clock from Learning Resources –I really recommend this one as it is  small, easy to use and great for when your child is doing any time related worksheets/homework.

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4.Workbooks– There are all sorts of  time related workbooks, but I personally really like the Collins ” Telling the time” workbooks. They are for children aged 7-9 and they both support the national curriculum.  For younger children (5-7) , the wipe clean “Telling the time” workbook by Usborne is really good and have fun and colourful illustrations .

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5. Time learning Games- there are various types of time related games available nowadays. The Orchard ones  are really good ,in particular the “What’s the time, Mr Wolf” and “Tell the time” game, aimed at children aged 5-9. They are really fun to play with and a great way for children to understand the concept of timing through hands on learning. Role play is another great way to introduce the concept of time. Twinkl , in particular , have great time related resources on their website. I have printed and laminated their Flight timetable sections and we often play/pretend “What time our flight is”.

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Hope you found this useful. As with any new concept, always remember to make it fun and hands on, be patient and always give plenty of encouragement. Your child will eventually learn how to tell the time. Let me know what type of resources you have found beneficial and useful.

Peace and blessings

Eva

 

 

Wagamama workshop for home educators

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One of the highlights of 2018 ,in regards to foodie workshops , was our home schooling trip to our local Wagamama.  It is aimed for primary school aged children between the ages of 5-10.  It lasts 2 hours and it is a brilliant way for children to learn about food, its nutritional value and of course the history of Wagamama too.

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The workshop started at 9.30 am and there  were around 15 children , who were split into three groups. The  whole experience was extremely hands on .  First , they made their own juices , using a selection of ingredients -apples, strawberries, lemons , celery and mint.   My 5 year old, who can be quite picky when it comes to fruits and vegetables , really enjoyed making her own juice and drank it in no time to my astonishment.

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Then, it was time for them to do their own meal. They were given various vegetables ( sweetcorn, peppers, bamboo shoots etc ) and noodles and they had to measure all ingredients , in order to make their own meal. They learnt about the food Wagamama serve, its nutritional value and the environment in which it is prepared. They were also allowed to go behind the scenes and have a look at the the kitchen and how their food  was  being prepared by the chefs.

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At the end, the children all sat to enjoy their delicious noodles and to our surprise, the staff even gave a free meal to all the mothers who attended too. It was a really lovely gesture , as adults are not usually included to receive a free meal. The children also received their own Wagamama goody bag and a lovely certificate too.

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It was  for sure a fun- filled morning of education, food and culture. The staff  at Wagamama were very friendly, patient and welcoming . They were also very accommodating to our dietary requirements and making sure that no sauces containing alcohol , were being used.  I can honestly say, without exaggeration, that this by far, has been one of the best food related workshops, we have ever attended. It is extremely easy to organise one- just email or phone your local branch , get a group of friends  and book your date. Enjoy !

Peace and blessings

Eva

Pizza Express Workshop for home educators

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A few weeks ago we attended a free pizza making workshop for home educators at Pizza Express . It was organised by a fellow home schooling mama. We have been to the same workshop 4 times throughout the years which simply goes to show how much we enjoy it.

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The workshop started really early at 9.30 am and honestly at times like this , I am grateful that I home educate my children and that we do not have to wake up that early every day lol. There were about 20 home schooled children . We were greeted by a lovely member of staff , who told the children a bit more about the workshop and the history of Pizza Express. He then gave each child an apron and a chef paper hat. I love touches like this because it makes the experience much more real and fun. Each child was given a dough that they had to roll  onto their individual trays.  As they were doing a Margarita pizza , the toppings were only tomato sauce, mozarella and basil. However , in previous workshops , the children were given vegetables too such as mushrooms, peppers and sweetcorn.  So , the toppings really vary depending on what type of pizza you are making.They also take care of allergies and any other dietary requirements.

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While the pizzas were being cooked, a member of staff gave the children a talk on the origins of pizza,  the various types and the italian words for some of the most common ingredients used in making a pizza. Something interesting that I learnt was that basil originates from India. I find that really surprising because I have never seen basil being used in Indian food.

At the end the children received their delicious pizzas and a lovely certificate too as a nice memento.

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The Pizza Express workshops are free and are suitable for children aged 4 and above. However, I have seen younger children participate too but it is up to the discretion of the staff.  If you want to organise one for your home schooling friends/community, the easier way is to either email or phone your local branch. It is extremely easy to organise one and it is guaranteed that your children will have lots of fun. Bon Appetite!

Peace and blessings

Yours Eva

Visit to Lacock Abbey and Fox Talbot Museum

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As we renewed our Heritage  New Zealand Membership, we decided to visit  a National Trust Property , which we have never been too, even though it was only 30 min away from where I live. I really thoroughly recommend downloading the National Trust app for your phone as that way you can see what properties are around your area and how far away they are from where you live.

Lacock Abbey is near Chippenham, Wiltshire and it is very easy to access as it is just off the M4. I honestly have to say that from all the National Properties we have visited so far, this has been for sure one of the most picturesque ones with absolutely stunning views  and various trails to explore.

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The Abbey is a country house with monastic roots ( it used to be a nunnery) and it is also the birthplace of photography. If you are a Harry Potter fan , you will be delighted to know that it stood in as Hogwarts for two of their films. I am personally not a Harry Potter fan ( I guess one of the odd ones) , but my husband  who has watched all of them , was able to recognise where certain scenes were filmed .

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My children really enjoyed having a walk in the beautiful grounds . They were given the Lacock Spy Mission Treasure Trail  and that kept them busy for a long while  and they were also more keen to explore the whole grounds.  There is also a lovely children’s play area right opposite the entrance of the grounds . It has play equipment for all ages  and my children really enjoyed playing there too. My experience , in general with NT properties is that they always have something to offer for children and ways to make exploring with little ones much easier and more enjoyable.

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Lacock is also the birthplace of photography  , so you definitely need to check out the Fox Talbot Museum , which is situated right near the entrance . My children were excited to see how the first photos were made and the various cameras and equipment that were used in the past. The museum shows the history of photography up to the present day and on their upper floor , they have a dedicated photography gallery. They have various exhibitions throughout the year.

The only part which we were not able to do  was to explore the village. We were able to see from the car some stunning traditional stone cottages and medieval barns  and honestly it looked as if we had stepped back in time. As we have a membership, we certainly intend to go back there again so we can explore this place even more. We spent there 3 hours and that was not enough. I can honestly say that if you are around those ends, you really need to visit this stunning National Trust Property. You can easily spend a whole day there exploring the beautiful grounds and village.

Peace and blessings

Yours Eva

 

 

 

 

National Trust Membership

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If there is one membership that I often recommend to home schooling families is the National Trust membership. It is a great way for burning that excessive energy which your children have , while being around nature. Also , I don’t know about you , but I honestly parent better when I have had my doze of fresh air. And a bit of play in your local park is not the same as having the freedom of being in wide open green spaces. It is a great incentive to get out for the day to see some really nice countryside. Most National trust properties have really huge grounds and walks , great for children as there are beautiful gardens and features such as statues , ponds , mill streams and brilliant wooden playgrounds too. Many of the properties have a main House too , which is most of the time open to the public . It is a great way for children to see how rich people , aristocrats used to live back in the days- their bedrooms, the clothes they used to wear, how they used to cook, eat , the various toys which children used to play with and much more. So it’s guaranteed that you can squeeze some learning too. A further bonus is that most National trust properties are very close to the motorway network, so it gives you a bit of a break if you are on a long car journey and we all know how important that is for children, who let’s face it, will find it difficult to survive being stuck in the car for 3/4 hours. So here are some of the various memberships you can have.

The English National Trust Membership
– a family annual membership ( two adults and up to 10 children or grandchildren. Under 5s go free) is £120 or you can pay £10 a month.
– access to more than 500 beautiful places .
https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/join-us
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National Trust membership for Home educators
-this is part of the education group membership
– it is the cheapest out of all the NT Memberships- only £45.65 for a home educating family
-only allowed to be used during weekdays and term time. Unfortunately, you will not be able to use this membership during weekends, school holidays or bank holidays
https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/education-group-membership

Heritage New Zealand Membership

– you can visit all NT Properties in England, Wales, Scotland, Jersey, Northern Ireland, Australia and many more
– Free entry to English Heritage sites too, so you do not have to purchase seperate membership.
-depending on currency rate its usually around £54/£55 for a family membership.
– can be used during school holidays, weekends and bank holidays too
– it takes a week for your card to arrive, which is really not bad at all ,considering the fact that it comes all the way from New Zealand.
Here is the link – http://www.heritage.org.nz/~/link.aspx?_id=DAB8F95B221F4856A50B4F01ACB6E7A0&_z=z

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Throughout the years, we have always purchased the New Zealand Membership, as we found that it offered much more than the English NT Membership and it was better value for money.It is a legal loophole and you will not have to say “G’Day) or be questioned by a member of staff. Please note that by purchasing the NZ Membership , the money goes to supporting the NZ sites and not the English ones. Whenever we go to our local NT sites , we often visit the cafe, though ,and easily can spend £15 on teas, cakes and coffees and of course that money goes to them. Another important thing to remember is that some NT sites may charge for car parking if you don’t have the English NT Membership. Most of the ones where I live have free car parking and the one which charges , we just give the car registration number to the their office and we do not have to pay. There are equally a lot of NT properties which have free car parking, so just make sure you check your local ones to see what policy they have.

Throughout the years , we have also been to a few workshops organised for home educators in my local NT Properties . Most of them have school programmes which are available for home educators too . Make sure to email them and see what they offer . Workshops usually cost around £4/£5 per primary child .

Regardless of what membership you choose to have , it is guaranteed that you will have lots of fun while being in nature and beautiful surroundings. So get your wellies and join today!

Peace and blessings
Eva

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