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THE BEST HOME LEARNING HELP

The City Kids guide to the best resources on and offline to help us all through lockdown

 

Is it Groundhog Day? April Fool’s Day? Friday 13th? Nope, just another Lockdown. We’ve been here before but will it be harder trying to work, run a house, educate, feed and entertain the kids in Lockdown 3.0?  We’ll let you know, but in the meantime, we’ll do our best to share what we think are the best resources to help with home learning. Good luck!

 

Online help

Depending on where you live, the age of your children or the type of school they’re at will make a big difference to how much time they’re expected to be online each day. But online doesn’t necessarily mean bad. There is plenty of great online help and tips for kids (and their parents) which you can take advantage of pronto.

The Little Gym

 

 

Move over Joe Wicks there’s a new PE teacher in town! With over 40 years experience coaching children in their purpose-built gyms, The Little Gym’s expert teachers are sharing some excellent, age-appropriate classes on their YouTube channel. Whether you have a baby or a bored 12-year-old, you’ll find sensory play, fundamental gymnastics skills, boot camps and more.  They’re big on child development and their classes are backed by teachers, doctors and occupational therapists. It’s all free and their latest How to…Guides might even persuade you to cartwheel through lockdown! 4 months+

Joe Wicks

Ok, he’s a living legend and some of you have bonded. Tune in Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 0900 for PE with Joe on his YouTube channel. KS1+

The Study Bunny: Focus Timer

There’s no point flogging a dead horse, and there’s no point trying to make little ones study when they over it.  The Study Bunny app helps time studying. You can hit pause when focus has flown out of the window, earn coins and aim to be more productive. KS1+

Role Models

If you’re worrying about their emotional development minus play-dates, a social life and general life skills, it could be worth looking up these guys. They’ve got bags of experience and focus on promoting social & emotional wellbeing and dynamic thinking. Check out their online courses here. KS1+

Mathswatch

This one was new to us but it’s a revelation, no wonder schools and teachers are using it. Plenty of free video explanations for Primary, KS3 and up. Explanations were so good that we can now solve questions on probability using Venn diagrams. And for a small payment you can sign up to get feedback and even more quality teaching. KS1+

Brain Pop

Animated videos across the arts and sciences. KS1+

Dr Chips

Got a coder or engineer at home, or indeed someone who needs some inspiration, then guide them towards Dr Chips’ Daily Doses. Easy to follow and required tools are always outlined in advance. Lava lamps, slime and chocolate rocks are just a taster. KS1+

Memrise

Need to swat up on languages, this one has clips of real native speakers as well as fun and effective games to practice skills. KS2+

CBeebies

If Hey Duggee can’t focus minds then we should all give up! Starting on 11 January, pre-schoolers up to those studying for GCSEs will be catered for daily across their channels. Every morning, CBBC will host a three hour block for primary aged children, with two hours of daily content for secondary aged kids on BBC Two. Early Years+

Offline help

 

Got it Games

Got it games support and reinforce teaching in the classroom, while boosting their reading and spelling. In each pack of Got it cards, there are five, quick to learn 10-minute games: Word Race, Word Pairs, Word Switch, Word Sets and Word Match. In line with the National Curriculum and suitable for children aged five and over, the games cover important, frequently used words. Developed by an experienced teacher, the games are multi-sensory and dyslexia friendly.

Collins

Best known for their dictionaries, Collins have a tonne of experience in workbooks for several key stages of learning. They’ve set aside free resources and have some helpful tips to help when home learning becomes overwhelming for the untrained teacher in all of us. KS1+

30 Day Lego Challenge

Great for problem solving and improving fine motor skills, That Brick Life has created a 30 day calendar with a different task to complete each day. Kids will need to channel their inner Emmet for this one and you’ll have to do your best not to become President Business. Early Years+

Mrs Wordsmith

We’ve always loved the illustrations that these guys provide and they’ve got some free downloadables on their site now. They’re US focussed but we’re told there’s a 100% UK English version coming very soon! KS1+

Story Starter

You’ll need a screen to get started, but you can write to your heart’s content after spinning the wheel which decides your task. Topics include adventure, fantasy and sci-fi. Early Years+

Story Cubes

If you’re dead set on time away from the screen, Rory’s Story Cubes give you prompts for all manner of exciting fables. Early Years+

Cook School

Subscribe to these boxes and you’ll not only have a lovely meal, but your child will have prepared it for you. This nationwide, not-for-profit organisation wants to help children to understand food by teaching them to cook it. Their new recipe boxes are suitable for children and young adults, making it the way to encourage kids into the kitchen, and start them on their cooking journey. KS2+

BBC Bitesize

They’re good. And they have lots of support for stressed out parents. KS1+

TTS

Supporting the national curriculum, TTS have provided free downloadables to help with Early Years, KS1 and KS2. They’re created by teachers so cover everything from grammar tools to guided reading and can also help with English as a second language. Early Years+

Fun Phonics

Janna White set up Fun Phonics in 2015 and teaches over 300 children per week. Her website has plenty of materials to help parents and pupils of pre-school and primary school. Early Years+

Twinkl

Last, but my no means least is Twinkl. They came into their own in March and they’ve got all topics covered. Download, print and off you go! Early Years+.

 

For more lockdown things to keep them busy head here

 

SWEET PEA SPOONS BABY FOOD DELIVERY

Fresh Baby Food Delivered to your door

Mother and daughter duo, Judy and Melissa Blake have not only created a business together, they’ve also seen it grow at one of the most difficult times. Sweet Pea Spoons delivers fresh baby food – with no nasties – nationwide, giving time-poor parents a break from the parenting treadmill. The subscription service allows you to select a variety of nutritionally balanced meals which are delivered weekly or fortnightly. We spoke to Judy and Melissa about their enterprise and what makes them tick.

 

 

Three words to describe yourselves.

Judy: Caring, cautious and I’m afraid to say a bit of a worrier sometimes!

Melissa: Driven, passionate and loyal

Tell us about how Sweet Pea Spoons came about.

The idea for Sweet Pea Spoons was born 23 years ago, when my mum had me. Being an advocate for high quality food with ‘no nasties’, she found it frustrating that there were no fresh, pre-prepared baby food options on the market for busy parents.

So, she was forced to take matters into her own hands by making all of my baby food from scratch. She soon realised how time consuming and tiring this was, and that parents would benefit from having fresh, nutritious and tasty baby meals delivered to their door. The only problem was, she just wasn’t sure how to turn her idea into a business.

 

Fast forward 23 years, I achieved a First-Class Honours in my Business degree and also developed a firm interest in nutrition. After finishing my degree, I started to think about life after university and what career I would choose, so I started looking at the baby food industry. Like Mum all those years ago, I began to realise that many parents want to feed their babies fresh, healthy meals, but the realities of a busy family life mean this can often be a struggle.

To my surprise, parents still only have two options when it comes to baby food; make it from scratch yourself which is time consuming or buy commercially produced jars/pouches which compromise on quality. So, using my new business knowledge and my passion for nutrition, I decided to join forces with my Mum and turn her 23-year-old dream in to a reality. Our aim? To create a fresh baby meal delivery service and ensure that busy parents no longer have to sacrifice tasty, homemade food for the ease of mass produced, shop bought pouches.

How do you divide roles in the business?

With my business knowledge, I take more of the ‘leader’ role in terms of running the day to day tasks of the business-like organising deliveries, ordering ingredients, managing social media accounts, conversing with customers etc, while Judy’s roles are more focused in the kitchen. She’s head of quality control and chief taster!

Mum is always the one who provides suggestions of potential new flavours to try after taking inspiration from magazines etc. I then go away to develop and test the recipes. Judy then gives feedback on the tests and suggests any improvements to the tests.

While I would say that I’m the driving force behind the business and bringing it to life, I certainly couldn’t do it without Judy.

What’s it like working with a relative?

Working with your Mum really is the best thing! I see her so much more often than I would have otherwise which is really lovely. I think you can be a lot more honest working with a family member and say exactly what you’re thinking without causing tension. Most of the time we always agree!

No one wants you to succeed more than your own mum, so I always know she will do everything she can to help make Sweet Pea Spoons work.

What’s been the biggest challenge so far?

The biggest challenge we’ve faced is getting our products to customers whilst keeping them frozen. It’s taken nearly a year of testing to figure out how to get our products to customers all across the UK whilst maintaining frozen temperatures. When we first launched in March we were only delivering to customers in Twickenham and Richmond. But now we can deliver to almost all corners of the UK!

Last book you read?

Is it awful that I can’t remember? Life is pretty hectic balancing a business, a part time job, family life and a sort of social life.  So if I’m being totally honest, I never really have time for books. I listen to a LOT of podcasts, always business ones as I enjoy listening to other successful founders’ stories and taking onboard their advice.

Tell us something that people don’t know about you.

I once jumped out of a plane. I have no idea how I did it, but when I was travelling in New Zealand I decided it would be a good idea to do a skydive. My mum stayed up until 2am UK time to check it went all ok. When I watch videos back all I can think is how the H*** did I do that! I get butterflies watching it!

What would you take to a desert island?

A photograph of my puppy Cavapoochon Blue, he’s my pride and joy.

Signature dish (not baby food!)

Judy: My either my Tomato and Pancetta Risotto, super simple but delicious, or my Thai roast chicken for something a bit different. Both are always crowd pleasers.

Melissa: My Chocolate and Orange Panettone pudding! A seasonal take on the classic bread and butter pudding. I used to make this for my girls at uni and it really is the most indulgent delicious pudding (I’m a dessert person always). In summer it’s my Strawberry and Rhubarb crumble, don’t get me started I could go on…

Your proudest moment?

Receiving a first class in my degree and the Deans Award for the most outstanding student. This really was a special moment after working so hard for three years.

In terms of the business, it was being contacted by a certain big brand who I’ve always looked up to. When I look back at where we first started when we were planning the idea, it makes me realise how far we’ve come and I’m incredibly proud (and a bit shocked) of that.

What’s next on the list of things to do?

We’re looking at developing a finger foods option as many parents are now going down the BLW route so we want to cover both basis. We’re also hoping to start getting our products into some local farm shops and other retailors in 2021 which will be super exciting!

www.sweetpeaspoons.com

>>>>>For more food inspiration, check out our Recipe pages>>>>>

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STAYING HYDRATED IN THE NEW YEAR

Staying Hydrated this winter

We’ve rounded up some of our favourite water bottles for kids (and grown ups too) that are bound to help keep on top of staying hydrated and healthy this winter. Funny how by changing up your bottle motivates you to drink more water. From neon reds to frozen blues, antibacterial and to suit all budgets, we have got your family’s hydration goals covered! 

A splash of redWater Bottles

  1. Done by Deer First Meal Set – Sea Friends in Powder, £16.95
  2. Neon Red, Chillies bottle in Original, £15
  3. Tinc Mallo Pink Drinks Bottle, 500ml, £10
  4. Garage Station Print Kids Drinking Bottle, £5.50

A pop of yellow

  1. Liewood Neo Water Bottle – Mustard / Sandy Mix , £26.95
  2. Monbento, Positive 330ml Bottle, £12
  3. Wigiwama Water Bottle, £22
  4. VIIDA, Soufflé Antibacterial Stainless Steel Cup, £20

Four green bottles

  1. Frugi Splish Splash Steel Bottle – Whale
  2. Budz Slimline Stainless Steel Drink Bottle
  3. Hip Jade Green Water Bottle
  4. One green bottle curvy stainless steel bottle

A drop of blue

  1. S’ip by S’well Disney Frozen Elsa Vacuum Insulated Drinks Bottle in blue, £14.99
  2. Dopper Original Drinks Bottle in pacific blue, £12.50
  3. Sports Stainless Steel Drink Bottle, £10.50
  4. Transparent drinking bottle with a LEGO knob lid and removable silicone strap, £10

Follow our INSTAGRAM for more ideas and inspiration.

Looking for more New Year’s Resolution inspo, how about volunteering this Christmas break?

 

Please note, prices correct as of time of publishing. Prices may go up or down.

STRAWBERRIES & CREAM LAUNCH

Injecting some much-needed positivity, we celebrate the launch of new baby and girls wear brand, Strawberries & Cream

 

 

With the rug being pulled at every turn in 2020, it’s time to find some joy and something to look forward to. New British children’s fashion brand Strawberries & Cream launch their capsule collection ahead of  Spring/Summer 21. It’s available online at strawberriesandcream.com and will be showcased in pop-ups throughout 2021, with some styles made to order.

The SS21 collection is about recreating the magic from the past, inspired by antique lace, trimmings and finishes which were commonplace in the sewing kits of our mothers and grandmothers.

These traditional techniques have been adapted and incorporated into a timeless collection in the Strawberries & Cream studio in North London. Expect vintage patterns, colours and antique shapes, combined with traditional fabrics including cotton organza, floral prints and cottons.

Strawberries & Cream’s honeycomb hand embroideries, exclusive lace and trimmings are featured throughout the collection. Combined within the fabrics they ensure that every design feels special. This includes the use of golden trimmings, which will become a signature feature for Strawberries & Cream.

Girls collection

 

 

The SS21 collection for girls comprises a selection of stunning dresses. The Popcorn dress makes a welcome return and will continue to be a signature style for Strawberries & Cream with the Queen Check Popcorn dress (above). This exquisite and special dress is handmade and embroidered in London, as are all designs.

Baby Collection

 

 

The SS21 collection for babies comprises a selection of pinafores, rompers, blouses and bloomers in a range of fabrics and finishes.

In addition to garments, Strawberries & Cream has added to its baby essentials range which now includes a maternity bag, bib, cushion and changing mat. The handmade maternity bag has been designed to be as soft and lightweight as possible.

 

It features Strawberries & Cream’s essential fabric with golden dots woven on the outside, with a luxurious jacquard cotton lining. The inner compartments make organisation easy and ensure that the contents are easily accessible, making it the perfect gift for a new mother.

The maternity bag is complemented by a bib, cushion and changing mat which are made using Strawberries & Cream’s signature white and gold fabric, with cotton jacquard at the back and an exquisite golden lace trim and embroidery.

strawberriesandcream.com

THE GOWER SCHOOL POETRY COMPETITION

 

The Gower School celebrates poetry with a competition

Children from The Gower School choose their entry for the ISA Poetry Competition with their own internal contest.

 

 

Children from Forms One to Six were invited to take part in the school’s competition using the title ‘Everything All at Once’. Each Form declared a deserved winner and the judging panel were seriously impressed by the children’s writing skills. The overall winner was Oscar Mellows-Facer, age 7, who will now represent the school in the national Independent Schools Association’s Poetry Competition 2020.

The Gower School judging panel chose Oscar’s poem as “It was the most memorable poem! We loved the clever repetition within each verse and the short, punchy verses which reflected the hectic, stirring and action-packed nature of the events leading up to the American election. It was also laced with humour!”

The Gower School Librarian, Scarlet Pykett, age 10, was on the judging panel and chose Oscar’s poem saying: “Oscar’s poem was an amusing way of discussing current events. My favourite line was ‘says the guy with crazy hair’, as I liked the rhyming.”

School Principal Emma Gowers said: “It’s great to see children getting so enthused about poetry. They especially loved hearing the poems recited at assembly. Huge congratulations to all our winners for their incredible poems and best of luck to Oscar at the national finals!”

For more information about The Gower School in Islington:

thegowerschool.co.uk

VEGAN CINNAMON ROLLS RECIPE

Whether you’ve already embraced Veganism, or you’re flirting with the idea, this Vegan cinnamon rolls recipe may help you make your decision this World Vegan month.

 

Made with just seven ingredients, this tasty vegan recipe is the ideal bake for impressing your family whilst embracing the second lockdown. With only 20 minutes of proving time and 5 pieces of common kitchen equipment needed, you’ll be enjoying your very own cinnamon rolls with the rest of the nation, in no time at all!

 

 

Vegan Cinnamon Tear & Share Loaf  

Serves 6

Ingredients

  1. 200ml water
  2. 60g vegan spread (I used Vitalite) + extra for greasing
  3. 1 tsp dried yeast
  4. 300g strong white bread flour
  5. 90g light brown sugar
  6. 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  7. 200g icing sugar

Baker’s Equipment

  1. Measuring jug
  2. Dessert spoon
  3. Large mixing bowl
  4. Rolling pin
  5. Loaf tin

Method

  1. Put 30g of the vegan spread in the jug and melt in the microwave. Top up with 165ml of warm water from the tap and stir in the yeast with the spoon.
  2. Combine the flour and 30g of light brown sugar in the large mixing bowl and pour in the yeast/water/butter mixture. Bring together to form a dough with your hands.
  3. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, return to the mixing bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to prove for 20 minutes. After 10 minutes, preheat the oven to 185°C (fan) and grease the loaf tin with vegan spread.
  4. After the dough has proved for 20 minutes, tip it onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out into a 30cm x 30cm square. Spread the remaining 30g of vegan spread evenly over the dough with the back of the spoon, then sprinkle with the cinnamon and remaining 60g light brown sugar. Roll the dough into a sausage shape.
  5. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces (5cm each) and place into the greased loaf tin, spirals facing up. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning the tin in the oven after 10 minutes.
  6. Rinse the jug, measure 35ml cold tap water and mix in the icing sugar to make a glaze. Once the loaf has finished baking, allow it to cool slightly before removing from the tin and drizzling with the glaze. Tear apart and enjoy!

Recipe from the FAB Flour Easy Peasy Baking campaign, launched by nabim. You can find more Easy Peasy Baking recipes and information on the campaign over on the FAB Flour website: https://fabflour.co.uk/easy-peasy-bakes/ or on social: @fab_flour on Instagram or @fabflour on Facebook and Twitter.

Find more fabulous recipes over on our Food page including Chicken Tinga Tacos from Jo Pratt, and Caribbean Curry from Joe Wicks.

HOW TO DISCUSS DIVERSITY WITH KIDS

Toys and books to use to discuss diversity with kids

Vese, the brains behind Philly & Friends took over our instagram to discuss her challenges with finding toys and books that represented her daughter and how it inspired her to build her own brand. She recommends four fab toys and books to use to discuss diversity with kids at home.

Super Sapiens – 3 in 1 card game

Vese, the brains behind Philly & Friends took over our instagram to discuss her challenges with finding toys and books that represented her daughter and how it inspired her to build her own brand. Here's four fab toys and books to use to discuss diversity with kids at home.

The Super Sapiens 3 in one is the perfect pocket-sized empowerment game. It can be played 3 ways: Snap, Memory, and Super Guess? It’s a fun way to encourage conversations on real-world issues.

Etsy.com

Rosa and Bo – Nesting Babies 

Vese, the brains behind Philly & Friends took over our instagram to discuss her challenges with finding toys and books that represented her daughter and how it inspired her to build her own brand. Here's four fab toys and books to use to discuss diversity with kids at home.

These Rosa & Bo Nesting Babies offer interactive play but also make a gorgeous decorative piece in any nursery. Babies and toddlers will be drawn to the bright colours as well as the friendly and diverse faces.

Rosaandbo.com

Eeboo – I Never Forget a Face Board Game

Vese, the brains behind Philly & Friends took over our instagram to discuss her challenges with finding toys and books that represented her daughter and how it inspired her to build her own brand. Here's four fab toys and books to use to discuss diversity with kids at home.This memory game is a smart way to teach kids about diversity, culture and traditions from around the globe. We also rather love that it’s made from 90% recycled cardboard!

johnlewis.com

Philly and Friends – Who do I see in the mirror?

Vese, the brains behind Philly & Friends took over our instagram to discuss her challenges with finding toys and books that represented her daughter and how it inspired her to build her own brand. Here's four fab toys and books to use to discuss diversity with kids at home.

Vese’s book ‘Who Do I See in the Mirror?’ is a simple yet powerful book about Philly, who goes through a journey of discovering what makes her truly special. This gorgeous, colour-illustrated book concludes with a strong message that it’s what is on the inside that counts. As well as this empowering message, the book ends with a lovely finishing touch – a certificate that each child can hang up on their wall.

Phillyandfriends.com

We’re big on amplifying voices as well as educating our kids about the struggles of the past and how much further we need to go. See our Anti-Racist Books edit here.

Watch Vese’s takeover over on our IGTV here.  Follow us on Instagram.

VITAMINS AND SUPPLEMENTS FOR KIDS

The vitamins and supplements for kids that could help boost immunity this winter.

It’s autumn, feels like winter, and if you’ve escaped a sniffle, a cough or the annual colds you’ve done well. But, winter is coming and with the cloud of Covid hanging over us, popping some vitamins or supplements feels like the right thing to do. We’ve found some suitable for kids at different stages.

 

Lizzie Loves

The brainchild of Lizzie King, aka @lizzieloveshealthy, Lizzie Loves remedies reflect her passion for natural goodness and draw on her experiences as a nutritional health coach. As well as powders to aid sleep and unsettled tummies, Be Well is the one we’re after here. The key ingredient of elderberry, which is rich in antioxidants to help protect our bodies. Targeted vitamins C and D also give the immune system a boost.  Be Well comes in powdered form with a berry flavour which can be added to water, milk and smoothies. It gets an added thumbs up from us for being supplied in eco packaging. Suitable for children 1-12 years.

lizzie-loves.com

 

Kenda Kids

Kendakids is a new kid on the block, made by Kendamil, the natural baby formula used by the Royal Family. It’s suitable for 3-10 year olds and available in chocolate, strawberry and banana and promises 100% natural fats from full cream whole milk.

kendamil.com

 

Immune Defence Gummies

 

Another blend of elderberry and vitamins here. It’s the elderberry which neutralises the harmful effects of free radicals and increases the production of cytokines – proteins that help regulate your child’s immune system and fight infections. As well as the powerhouse benefits of elderberry, the gummies also include other key health ingredients Vitamin C and Zinc. Suitable from 4 years.

immunedefence.com

 

Probio7 Kidskalm

Probio7 Kidskalm is a dietary supplement especially formulated for children 12 months and onwards. With 70% of immune cells in the stomach, maintaining a healthy and balanced gut flora can be considered vital for digestive and immune health. Each sachet of Probio7 Kidskalm contains 6 billion of the live bacteria strain L. rhamnosus GG*, a clinically proven strain.

probio7.com

To go with the supplements and vitamins, why not try some of our healthy recipes here. 

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FREE SCHOOL MEALS: HOW YOU CAN HELP

Petition to extend free school meals over the holidays until Easter 2021 rejected by a 322 – 261 vote majority.Child Poverty

According to the Child Poverty Action Group, “In every school class of 30 children, on average, nine will be living in poverty”. Beyond the numbers and figures, the decision not to extend free school meals beyond easter will impact thousands of vulnerable children in the UK. To you and I, that could be our children’s classmates, a neighbour, a relative or friend. 

So, here’s how we can work together to take action NOW and stand in solidarity with the families that rely on free school meals for their kids. In Rashford’s own words, “This is not politics, this is humanity” and we couldn’t agree more. 

  1. Write to your MP asking for free school meals and child poverty to be a priority in his or her plans. Regardless of how your MP voted, they represent you, so you are entitled to have your say.
  2. Contact your local council. Some London councils have promised to provide free school meals during the Christmas holidays. Check in with yours and see if it can do the same.
  3. Sign a petition like this one by 16 year old Christina.
  4. Volunteer at the Food bank nearest to you
  5. Check on those that you know who may be struggling at this time. 
  6. Make a financial donation to any of the organisations listed on this page. No matter how big or small, it will make a difference. Seek out those close to home like The Childhood Trust in London or Alice Charity which serves the Newcastle and Stoke area.  
  7. Educate yourself. Educate your kids too. Did you know that 67% of children in poverty have at least one parent who works. There’s so many stories, facts and figures that you can find via the following sources: 
  8.  Don’t Judge

Here at City Kids HQ, we’re always on the lookout for new initiatives to shout out and support. Do get in touch if there are any useful resources that you think we should highlight.

FURRY PURRY BEANCAT GIVEAWAY

 

We’re celebrating the publication of Furry Purry Beancat’s adventures with a Furry Purry Beancat giveaway of five signed copies.

 

Just like every other cat, Furry Purry Beancat loves a catnap but unlike other cats, she wakes to find herself in a different one of her nine lives! Each book follows our hairy heroine as she embarks on a new adventure. Whether saving a train from disaster as a railway cat or creating purrfect potions as a witch’s cat, Furry Purry Beancat saves the day. And we have five signed sets of this double publication of Furry Purry Beancat to giveaway.

In her first adventure, The Pirate Captain’s Cat, join the furry (and purry!) heroine as she sets sail aboard a pirate ship, helping her captain and his shipmates fight a rival crew in an epic battle at sea! Can Furry Purry Beancat help save the day?

And in the second story, The Railway Cat, join Beancat and her friends as they uncover secrets and spies on the tracks. Who is the ticket-swapping, train-hopping stranger? Is Beancat’s beloved railway in danger? It’s up to our furry (and purry!) hero to solve the puzzle, before it’s too late.

This new series is written by Philip Ardagh, bestselling author of The Grunts series and Eddie Dickens adventures, and illustrated by Rob Biddulph, award-winning creator of Draw With Rob. Puuurfect for fans of Alex T. Smith, Pamela Butchart and Laura James. Suitable for children aged five and above.

We have five bundles of these first two books in the series to giveaway.

To enter:

Fill out our online form.

 

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Ts & Cs
The decision of City Kids is final.
No cash alternative.
If the winner does not claim the prize pithing 24 hours of notification, City Kids reserves the right to draw a new winner.
One entry per person.
Entries close Wednesday 14th October at midnight.
UK entries only.

 

TACKLING RACISM IN THE CURRICULUM

The Black Curriculum aims to shake up history taught in schools. Based on personal experience, Lavinya Stennett explains where the syllabus fails and how change will help us tackle racism in the curriculum.

 

The world seemed to finally notice the Black Lives Matter movement, following the murder of George Floyd. Global demonstrations gave rise to long-overdue conversations about racial history. This was the case of many parts of the world, including the UK, where cities have prospered on the foundations of the slave trade. It is a history rarely told in detail at school. The Black Curriculum is a social enterprise. It aims to revolutionise the history syllabus in this country for eight to 16 year olds. Its CEO, Lavinya Stennett, explains how she’s tackling racism in the curriculum.

System failure

Students are not being taught Black British History consistently. That is despite numerous findings which demonstrate its importance. Latest Home Office figures show that in 2017/18, there were 94,098 hate crime offences recorded by the police in England and Wales, 76% of which were racially aggravated.

The reality of racism operates in many ways, particularly through the lack of education and understanding of Black British history. The Macpherson Report showed that a culturally diverse curriculum is a way to prevent racism. Similarly, The Windrush Review recommended that colonial and migration history should be taught. So why are we still here today?

How racism in the curriculum impacts young people

When young people are not taught their history within Britain, their sense of identity is impacted. Social relations are hindered. A 2007 report on the over-representation of young Black people in the criminal justice system showed the link between these shortcomings as causing underachievement.

A proposed remedy suggests the ‘government should ensure history lessons are relevant to all young people in Britain’. The Black Curriculum recognises that Black history is British history.

The current curriculum and exam board specifications are limited in providing Black British history. Black history is not mandatory in schools that have their own curriculum. Without the resource, time and understanding, we are still going to face the same problems. We can not simply rely on parents and carers to provide this material.

Black British history is not merely a theme for October. It started hundreds of years before Windrush. It pre-dates European colonial enslavement. Our work aims to overcome these limitations. It provides a contextual and globalised history. Rooting the Black British experience in histories of movement and migration – 365 days a year.

We want to prepare students to become fully rounded citizens. Ready for an increasingly globalised world. Our curriculum is grounded in the arts, this allows them to engage with history imaginatively. It encourages satisfaction and critical thinking. Through our holistic approach we aim to remedy a wider issue.

About Lavinya

Lavinya is a historian, writer and First-Class graduate from SOAS.

The vision to create The Black Curriculum came from her firsthand experience in British education. She saw the impact of exclusion. Learning ‘Black history’ in the lone month of October was not enough. Studying abroad, she found the Indigenous and colonial history in Aotearoa was part of their everyday. It was accessible to everyone. She is determined to challenge the Eurocentricity of the school curriculum at a nationwide level in the UK. She believes in the power of education, and the arts to ultimately transform the lives of people.

www.theblackcurriculum.com

 

Many, many thanks go to Misan Harriman for use of his amazing image of Lavinya for Vogue’s September issue.

 

For more content around the subject of anti-racism, see our suggested books for children here.

 

 

CONVERSATIONS ABOUT RACE

The death of George Floyd has sparked many questions from children and all of us. City Kids spoke to children’s author, Mark Lemon, who says conversations about race must continue.

 

My name is Mark Lemon. I live in Bristol with my wife Simone (personal stylist) and our two children, Otis (9yrs) & Thea (5yrs). I’ve been thinking about how I can contribute to the tragic and senseless murder of, George Floyd – it stopped me in my tracks, and has made me re-evaluate how I view my children’s future in this world.

In 2015, I made the important decision to write stories for my mixed-race children, Otis & Thea. Disillusioned with the lack of diversity in children’s books, I decided to create a series of storybooks with non-white characters.

I wanted to create children’s books with characters that looked like my own children. My first book Otis Lemon & The Spectacular Submarine was awarded the Platinum Junior Design Award 2016 in the Children’s Book of the Year category. I wanted BAME children to feel represented in the mainstream bookstores.

Only a very small percentage of British children’s books feature a main character who is black or minority ethnic. In a research project that was the first of its kind, and funded by Arts Council England, the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) asked UK publishers to submit books featuring BAME characters in 2017. Of the 9,115 children’s books published that year, researchers found that only 391 – 4% – featured BAME characters. Just 1% had a BAME main character, and a quarter of the books submitted only featured diversity in their background casts. This compares to the 32.1% of schoolchildren of minority ethnic origins in England identified by the Department of Education in 2016.

 

Racism comes in many forms, and to still see such a lack of representation in the publishing industry is wrong on so many levels. I was speaking with Otis yesterday about George Floyd and why he died – it’s incredible how children think and their viewpoint of the world – and he was asking me why the police knelt on George Floyd for 9 minutes, and why they didn’t just talk to him about it. As we talked the news came on, and we continued the conversation over breakfast. And this is what we must do to continue the conversation as parents or guardians. Continuing to have these conversations at home is where education starts for all of us. Schools must get better, but as parents, we are obligated to teach our children, and ourselves, at the same time.

I understand that I must do better to educate myself, my children, and my friends & family. I want my children to grow up in a world where they feel equal to their peers. But, the Black Lives Matter movement has taught me that there is still a long way to go before this happens. Businesses and organisations must change at the root and introduce an equal playing field, and we must ensure that diversity is represented across all elements of our lives.

This conversation isn’t just for one day, a week, or more, but it should be a continuous conversation to educate ourselves behind the squares of our social media. I understand that I will never understand. However, I stand. I stand for my children, my wife and my friends of colour across the world.

To buy Mark’s books:
lemondropbooks.co.uk
Follow him @marklemonofficial

For more books on race and equality head to our books page

 

FAMILY PROTESTING: BLACK LIVES MATTER

Protests supporting the Black Lives Matter campaign have taken place worldwide and families have been getting involved too. We asked one parent to give an account of her experience of organising a family friendly protest.

 

Words: Carey Johnstone

NW London Children’s Protest

Sitting in our flat, in a terrace on the edge of Kilburn, with our baby and our three year old, we were trying to figure out what to do. Like many people, we’d been staring at our phones, watching the Black Lives Matter protests in America, watching events escalate and spill over into the rest of the world, and our own lives. We were trying to work out how we could get to the protests that were happening in the middle of the city.

Protests and marches are a type of activism that I truly believe in and we have taken our toddler to various big protests since she was a baby. But in lockdown it was different. We didn’t feel like we could get to the protests safely, and once we were there we weren’t sure we would be able to keep ourselves and our children at a safe distance – small children and babies can’t wear masks. It felt wrong to go; it felt wrong to stay at home. Our friends Taio and Phoebe were in the same boat, with two kids the same age (one of whom is our eldest daughter’s best friend).

A throwaway WhatsApp suggestion by Phoebe on Wednesday night, to go to our local park together with our placards and hold our own family protest, grew by Thursday morning into the idea of organising a protest for children, families and whoever else wanted to come. We decided on the coming Saturday – three days away – and agreed that as long as we could get four families to attend then it would be a success.

Spreading the news

Taio volunteered to speak at the start of the protest, and my partner made us a flyer which gave the event a sudden sense of legitimacy. By that evening we were ready to send it out to friends and to post it on social media. We didn’t set up a specific page for the event, and had no names or contact details on the flyer – so once we’d posted it, we had no idea who or how many people would attend. We sent it to our nursery WhatsApp group; a couple of Instagram accounts (including @Citykidsmagazine!) with large followings; and we got some attention (mainly positive) on local mums Facebook groups. On Friday my two biggest fears were these: What if no-one comes? What if everyone comes?

On Saturday morning the weather was fairly grim. My fear of the protest turning into Woodstock and social distancing being impossible was allayed. It looked far more likely that our protest would be a small gaggle of friends meeting and marching through a rainy, empty park. Phoebe and Taio came round to ours, and we all walked to the park together – as always with toddlers, running a little late.

But as we walked through the park gates, 5 minutes before the protest was planned to begin, we could already see a crowd gathering. Some familiar faces, but mostly people we’d never seen before. More and more people arrived. Small and large families, old and young people, a group of teachers from the school where I work, black, white, mixed heritage. By the time Taio stood on a rock and called everyone to attention, there were around 250 people gathered (at a distance) holding placards and signs, wrapped up in raincoats or with umbrellas.

Communicating a message

Taio read from James Baldwin, and spoke about the specific fears black parents have for their children. He listed the statistics of the inequalities black people suffer in the UK’s justice system. He spoke about his experience of being black and a father, and his own fears. And then we marched. As we marched, social distancing meant that we formed a ring around the whole park, marching and chanting together. (Our daughter Joni announced she didn’t like all this shouting, and was worried we’d wake people who were sleeping!). Some teenagers walking through the park to buy Lucozade stopped and joined us, as did some people doing exercise. After the march, we knelt together for a minute’s silence.

What did the protest do? How did it feel? It felt powerful. It felt joyful. It felt good.

Two things really stood out. One, that very few people in that park knew who had organised it, or who was speaking, and it didn’t really matter at all. People came because they felt the same, because they really wanted to do something and, even though we’re in the middle of this awful, scary pandemic, they wanted to be together.

And two, that despite our surprise at the number of people who came, we were only 250 people, in a park, in a corner of northwest London. The government and the media wouldn’t even know that we’d been there. But we all knew. All the people in that park – and their children – could see that others living around them, felt the same way, supported each other, and are fed up with the way that black people are treated. Black Lives Matter.


All images courtesy of Amanda Oba

ANTI-RACIST BOOKS FOR KIDS

Black squares and hashtags are all well and good. Promising to educate yourself, also. Actioning those promises is what’s needed, and knowledge is going to help you and your kids take action.

City Kids has put together a collection of books for children and their parents who are committed to making a positive change. Our anti-racist book list for kids features stories with black characters in central roles as well as highlighting leaders of colour and those who have stood up against prejudice through the years.

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength”. Maya Angelou

This small list of what’s available is just the beginning…

 

AN ABC OF EQUALITY
By Chana Ginelle Ewing
0-5yrs (Board book)

THE MEGA HAIR SWAP
By Rochelle Humes
3-5yrs

LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET
By Matt de la Peña
3-5yrs

THE NEW SMALL PERSON
By Lauren Child
3-6yrs

LOOK UP!
By Nathan Byron & Dapo Adeola
3-7yrs

LITTLE PEOPLE BIG DREAMS
Featuring Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, Josephine Baker, Ella Fitzgerald, Harriet Tubman, Jesse Owens, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Evonne Goolagong
4-7yrs

ELLA QUEEN OF JAZZ
By Helen Hancocks
4-8 yrs

THEA LEMON AND HER SUPER SPORTY FAIRY GODMOTHER
By Mark Lemon
4yrs+

LEON AND BOB
By Simon James
5yrs+

ADA TWIST’S BIG PROJECT BOOK FOR STELLAR SCIENTISTS
By Andrea Beaty
5-7yrs

THE SILENCE SEEKER
By Ben Morley
5-7yrs

SOMEDAY IS NOW: CLARA LUPER AND THE 1958 OKLAHOMA CITY SIT-INS
By Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
6-9yrs

DEALING WITH RACISM
By Jane Lacey
6-8yrs

40 INSPIRING ICONS: PEOPLE OF PEACE: MEET 40 AMAZING ACTIVISTS
By Sandrine Mirza
7-10yrs

LITTLE GUIDES TO GREAT LIVES
Featuring Nelson Mandela and Maya Angelou
7-11yrs

YOUNG, GIFTED AND BLACK: MEET 52 BLACK HEROES FROM PAST AND PRESENT
By Jamia Wilson
7-10yrs

40 INSPIRING ICONS: BLACK MUSIC GREATS
By Olivier Cachin
7-10yrs

THE POWER BOOK: WHAT IS IT, WHO HAS IT, AND WHY?
By Claire Saunders, Georgia Amson-Bradshaw, Minna Salami, Mik Scarlet, and Hazel Songhurst
7-11yrs

LESSONS FROM HISTORY, ELEMENTARY EDITION: A CELEBRATION IN BLACKNESS
By Jawanza Kunjufu
7yrs+

LITTLE LEADERS: EXCEPTIONAL MEN IN BLACK HISTORY
By Vashti Harrison
8-12yrs

LITTLE LEADERS: BOLD WOMEN IN BLACK HISTORY
By Vashti Harrison
8-12yrs

BLACKBERRY BLUE
By Jamila Gavin
9-11yrs

THE YOUNG MAGICIANS AND THE THIEVES’ ALMANAC
By Nick Mohammed
9-11yrs

WHO ARE REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS? WHAT MAKES PEOPLE LEAVE THEIR HOMES? AND OTHER BIG QUESTIONS
By Michael Rosen & Annemarie Young
9-17yrs

IGGIE’S HOUSE
By Judie Blume
9-12yrs

SPEAK UP!: SPEECHES BY YOUNG PEOPLE TO EMPOWER AND INSPIRE
By Adora Svitak
10yrs+

THIS BOOK IS ANTI-RACIST: 20 LESSONS ON HOW TO WAKE UP, TAKE ACTION, AND DO THE WORK
By Tiffany Jewell
11-15yrs

THE HYPNOTIST
By Laurence Anholt
12yrs+

WATCH US RISE
By Renee Watson & Ellen Hagan
12yrs+

NOUGHTS AND CROSSES
By Malorie Blackman
12yrs+

THE LIFE OF STEPHEN LAWRENCE
By Verna Allette Wilkins
13yrs+

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
By Harper Lee
13yrs+

THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR
By Nicola Yoon
14yrs+

THE HATE YOU GIVE
By Angie Thomas
14yrs+

DEAR MARTIN
By Nic Stone
14yrs+

BookTrust Recommendations

Our friends at BookTrust have shared a link to more books collated as part of their BookTrust Represents campaign created to promote children’s authors and illustrators of colour.

For teens

For Primary

Picture books

Book shops:

We Need Diverse Books

Blackwells.co.uk

Whsmith.co.uk

Amazon.co.uk

hive.co.uk

pagesofhackney.co.uk