The ‘Educational equivalent to Michelin’ launches latest edition of The Good Schools Guides for London
The Good Schools Guide, long favoured by parents to help them see the wood for the trees when choosing schools, launches its latest publications today. The Good Schools Guide: London North and London South cover the best state and independent schools north and south of the river. The Good Schools Guides: London offer in-depth and straight-talking reviews to give parents an invaluable insight into the competitive world of London schooling. The new editions include the latest exam results and articles on many aspects of the London education scene. The aim is to help parents choose the best school for their child.
At this point it’s worth noting that The Good Schools Guide is the only impartial guide to London schools. Each school included in a guide has been visited by a writer who has interviewed the head, spoken to pupils and parents and analysed results and marketing hype. Schools can’t can’t buy their way in, there are no mates rates, advertisers don’t get a free pass. A school is only included in the pages if the writers think it worthy. It’s why schools are desperate to be included, and why The Good Schools Guide has been established and respected by parents for over 30 years. Apart from asking around, posting in Facebook groups, where else can parents get unbiased information about a school, its values, ethos and contribution to a community?
London North is a hefty tome of 220 schools, with London South feeling slimmer but still offering hundreds of reviews. Expect to see comment on junior and senior, independent and state settings as well as information and advice on fees, entry requirements, school atmosphere, academics, SEN and more.
In addition to the London guides, The Good Schools Guide also offers a consultation service, and The Good Schools Guide 22nd edition is available with a free month’s subscription to the website. The guide includes 1200 in-depth reviews of leading state and private schools for children aged 3 to 18 in the UK.
Please note that this edit consists of eight super products and brands that we’ve picked out from Scandiborn. Contains affiliates links. Prices correct as of the date of purchase and may be subject to change.
From audio guided walks, virtual theatre performances and doing our bit to share and support a worthy cause. We’ve a Friday Five roundup for the coolest families in town. One last request from us, remember to pause for a moment and enjoy the little things this weekend. Have a super weekend from all at City Kids HQ.
1. WE COVER THE UNIVERSE ONLINE AT THE SOUTHBANK CENTRE
Take your tots on a journey to a world full of wonder with the interactive sensory show We Cover the Universe, online at the Southbank Centre.
Take an audio Family StoryWalk around the East End and experience an alternative London full of giants, dragons and wizards.
The two self-guided walks from Rich Mix arts centre will take place on Saturday April 10th and Sunday April 11th. On Saturday, the walk is based on The Ring of Joy by Vanessa Woolf, which leads you around Shoreditch and transports you to China to find a magic ring.
Get ready for Rapunzel as you’ve never seen her before, with Chickenshed’s dramatic retelling of the classic story.
Rapunzel doesn’t remember much about her life before she was locked in the tower. All she knows is that she longs to be free. As she meets the fantastical creatures in the woods that surround her prison, she learns that her true strength comes from within, not from her long hair.
4. HUNDREDS AND THOUSANDS BY LIZ WEST IN GREENWICH PENINSULA
Take a walk along a technicolour walkway with the Hundreds and Thousands art installation in Greenwich.
Experience a kaleidoscope of colour at the Tide, the elevated riverside trail on Greenwich Peninsula. The walkway has been transformed by British artist Liz West. She used a series of coloured panels to wrap 700m of glass balustrades along the trail.
5. TAKE A FEW MINS OUT TO APPRECIATE THE LITTLE THINGS.
We’d like to take this opportunity to use our platform to support the gofundme set up for Richard Okorogheye. If you’d like to help his family, whether it’s sharing among your circles or sparing a donation of any size, follow our link here.
Mental health resources for children, teens and parents in a pandemic
The tragic death of Richard Okorogheye has sent shockwaves here at HQ. We cannot begin to imagine the immense pain and suffering that Richard’s mother, family and friends must be experiencing. The pandemic has brought about its challenges and had a knock on effect on all aspects of our lives. Whilst no one knows the details surrounding Richard’s death, one thing is for sure, the uncertainty, lack of face-to-face socialisation and stimulation during this pandemic has left many kids feeling lost, sad, low…We’ve pulled together some mental health resources for children, teens and parents to access. While our freedoms may be returning, this pandemic isn’t going anywhere and we’ll be reliant on support for many months ahead.
Here we have a list of resources for anyone that’s concerned about their child’s wellbeing. We hope that this small variety of resources, available in a number of formats, can give you the starting point you and your child may need:
Please remember… there is no need to suffer in silence. If you notice any signs that a child may be struggling as a result of the pandemic, or in general, please do take the courage to get help in a way that is best suited to their needs and requirements. As always, we are here and available to talk, also, if you’ve come across any resources that you’d like to share with fellow parents, do get in touch via our Instagram: @citykidsmagazine.
You may also be moved to contribute to the gofundme page for Richard. You can do that by clicking here.
The City Kids Mini Guide to Education in Berkshire
Image: St John’s Beaumont
Country residence to the queen, George Clooney and the Middletons, the Royal County of Berkshire has much more to offer than castles, celebs, Royal Ascot and the Reading Festival. In 2019, 12,610 Londoners relocated to Berkshire, according to the Office for National Statistics. Commutable from London, even quicker with Crossrail arriving in 2022, Berkshire provides space, rural communities, market towns, Michelin stars, racecourses and much history. There are also excellent schools in the state and independent sector. Here’s our City Kids Mini Guide to Education and living in Berkshire.
Where to Live
You will be spoilt for choice in Berkshire. The latest UK Quality of Life Index ranked the county number six in the UK’s best places to live.
Windsor is often popular, being only half an hour by train to the capital. Its abundant history, the river Thames and schools are also a huge draw. Don’t forget Windsor Castle, with changing of the guard when the Queen’s at home, The Savill Garden and Virginia Water on the periphery. Plus across Windsor Bridge you’ll find Eton, home to Eton College.
Horse racing fans know ascot for the Royal flavour in June, but it’s also close to great golf at Sunningdale.
The largest town in Berkshire lies on the River Kennet, with plenty of riverside restaurants and attractions. Not only does it have great shopping (John Lewis, The Oracle shopping centre, a Vue cinema, it’s also a huge commercial centre, with many international businesses putting down roots in its business parks. Reading also has an ancient abbey which, although now in ruins, has a museum displaying Norman carvings.
According to a Yopa’s Happy Family Home Guide, Bracknell is the 34th most attractive place to raise a family (out of 200). It has good schools, 25 parks and low crime rates.
At the far west of the county is Newbury, home to the famous racecourse and a short hop from Downton Abbey or as it’s otherwise known, Highclere Castle. The countryside around this bustling market town is part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A day’s walking will see you experience woodlands, streams and heritage sites.
On the edge of the county is historic market town, Hungerford with its antique shops and fairs as well as independent shops and boutiques. There’s an annual Food Festival as well as Tutti Day which takes place on every second Tuesday after Easter.
Riverside towns and villages
As the Thames meanders it’s way through the county, historic market towns and villages are hubs for those seeking a rural way of life. Wargrave, Bray with its Michelin stars and great pub grub and Sonning, Pangbourne and Maidenhead all offer something slightly different. They’re all connected via some beautiful walks, bike rides and rural views.
The River Thames bisects the county so inevitably there are plenty of water-based activities to get involved with. There’s also the Kennet and Avon canal if you prefer. Legoland Windsor, Windsor Castle, Cliveden and the site where the Magna Carta was signed are just a small number of places to visit within Berkshire’s borders. Here’s a few activities to whet your appetite on a house-hunting trip.
Top 10 rated State Schools by The Real Schools Guide in 2020.
Whiteknights Primary School, Reading Khalsa Primary School, Slough Willow Primary School, Slough St Dominic Savio Catholic Primary School, Woodley Castleview Primary School, Slough Holy Trinity C of E Primary School, Cookham Lowbrook Academy, Cox Green The Godolphin Junior Academy, Slough Woolhampton CE Primary School, Woolhampton Iqra Slough Islamic Primary School, Slough
Kendrick School, Reading Reading School, Reading Upton Court Grammar School, Slough Herschel Grammar School, Slough St Bernard’s Catholic Grammar School, Slough The Holt School, Wokingham Langley Grammar School, Slough The Piggott School, Wokingham Maiden Erlegh School, Wokingham Newlands Girls’ School, Windsor & Maidenhead
Within Berkshire there are a number of grammar schools. The Slough consortium of schools work together with one paper for entry to four schools: Herschel, Upton Court, Langley and St Bernard’s Catholic Grammar School. Registration for these schools is normally open for a six-week period between May and June the year ahead of entrance. In 2021 the 11+ registration for entry in September 2022 will open on 1stMay and close on 13th June. Testing will take place in September with results expected mid-October 2021. For links to each school and their admissions criteria: sloughconsortium.org.uk There are also three grammar schools in Reading: Kendrick, Reading and Reading Girls (a bi-lateral school which means it is only partially selective with approximately 25% of places offered following exams).
Berkshire is blessed with some of the most famous, and most established independent schools in the land.
St John’s Beaumont lies within a 70-acre country estate, a stone’s throw from historic Windsor. With space for play and learning, St John’s has extensive facilities to keep the boys busy. For London parents, it’s also a world away from the big smoke, without being a mission to get there.
It’s never too early to help children to understand the world around them and the impact they can have on its future. Sharon Jones reviews three super books that make a great starting point. Her full edit can be found in our Spring issue here.
1. WHEN WE WENT WILD by Isabella Tree, illustrated by Allira Tee
Printed in the UK and made with 100% recycled paper this wonderful story tells the tale of Nancy and Jake, two farmers who use harsh chemicals to raise their cows and pigs. Upon noticing the animal’s sadness, they decide to make a drastic change, much to the disapproval of the neighbouring community. Loosely based on the experiences of the author who is also a farmer and has real-life rewilding experience, this book will definitely get young minds thinking about their surroundings.
2. FORESTS by Jess French, illustrated by Alexander Mostov (Ivy Kids)
Why do forests matter? Because without them the world would struggle to function. This coffee table book explores the power of trees, their importance to two-thirds of the world’s animals who need them and how their destruction is having a devastating impact on the planet. Including great tips on what you can do to change your habits in order to help the forest, this book is simple for young children to understand and empowers them to take action.
3. CLIMATE CHANGE by Tom Jackson and Cristina Guitian (QED)
For teenagers with an interest in the environment, this book aims to answer the broad questions around the topic of climate change. Not only that, it helps with critical thinking using history, science and social considerations to explore the subject from a range of angles. Engaging graphics by Cristina Guitian bring arguments to life like: Who is responsible? How do we move to a circular economy and discussions to help young people form their own opinions. Informative, engaging and tackling big theories in a way that makes you want to find out more.
Get back to nature and connect with loved ones with a self-led Easter trail in Chelsea Physic Garden. The trail, which celebrates gardens and nature, will lead you around the 4-acre grounds. And you will discover all about the amazing world of plants at London’s oldest botanic garden.
EASTER LINDT GOLD BUNNY HUNT AT HAMPTON COURT PALACE
Celebrate the arrival of spring with the Easter Lindt Gold Bunny Hunt at Hampton Court Palace.
Discover famous historical characters when you join in the hunt around the palace gardens. Using a trail map, solve the clues to find the Lindt gold bunny statues. Explorers who find all the bunnies will win a chocolate reward and bunny ears.
5 fun activities to teach your kids about equality
When I look back at lockdown I think I will remember a time where more of us became activists and minority voices, which had previously gone unheard, were loud and proud and gaining traction. At City Kids we’re advocates of equality and we promote equality from every corner of the brand. Diversity and inclusion expert, Esther Marshall, has compiled five fun activities to teach your kids about equality.
Equality as a concept is one that you wouldn’t necessarily think a child would understand. However, in today’s society it is critical children grow up understanding what equality means and how it can affect them and others around them. Behavioural studies show us that by the time children are as young as 1 they can understand the world around them and by 3 they know the difference between genders. Small actions such as showing children non-stereotypical and non-limiting characters found in books, films and any other media, or ensuring that the cooking and cleaning of the house is divided up equally and calling out discrimination when you see it can redefine behaviour patterns for this and the next generation creating a more equal society and economy.
So how can we make this concept of equality something fun to learn for children? Here are 5 ways which will make the conversation about equality fun, authentic and exciting to talk about with your children.
You will need a globe, either one you have at home or a world map on a screen or you can print it off. Ask children to close their eyes and spin them round and then point to a country. Each time they pick a country you can talk about topics such as access to school, access to food and water, access to toys like them and access to opportunities like them. It’s a great way to show children that not everything is equal in the world and also a great way to teach children about other cultures. Each time they point at a country it’s good to look up the culture of the country and learn something about the children in that country. It can therefore be a game where both parents and children are learning about the world, in turn making them more worldly and culturally aware which will in turn seriously help them in understanding equality.
Get two sheets of paper. Label one Girls and one Boys. Then proceed to ask them to put the following words listed below into either the girls or boys side or both. Of course, add in any others you can think of.
Different jobs e.g Police, firefighter, hairdresser, lawyer, doctor, nurse, pilot, zoo keeper, teacher, scientist, Dentist, Cleaner, Builder, Bus Driver etc
Different house work jobs e.g washing up, laundry, cooking, baking, cleaning, food shopping
Ask them why they put certain words on each list and let it lead naturally into a conversation as to why both genders can do the same things.
Go outside and get children to pick up as many different colour objects as they can find e.g. leaves, flower petals, sticks etc. Then get them to stick them down on a piece of paper creating their own garden. Explain that everything they picked came from the same soil and garden but grew in different ways and needed different elements e.g. sun/water to grow but if we didn’t have all of that in the garden or park then nature wouldn’t be as amazing as it is. It’s the same in society. Many people may come from different places and grow up with different cultures and customs but we all need to live together to make up the best society we can be – an equal one.
Get white card/paper and makes stripes of the rainbow. Then colour it in and stick it together. Take away one colour and then two colours. Explain that without all the colours we don’t have a lovely rainbow and that that is the same in society. We need all races, ethnicities and genders to be part of society in an equal way in order to get the desired outcome of a beautiful rainbow.
Diversify your book shelf. Only 7% of the children’s books published in the last 3 years have featured characters from Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic Groups. Ensure that you take time out in your day to read to your children which show non stereotypical characters and characters that don’t look the same as your child. It will help to bring up the conversation and start to build up positive stereotypes to ensure your child grows up wanting to be part of an equal society. Some examples of books to get are Sophie Says I Can I Will, The Proudest Blue, Look Up, The Mega Magic Hair Swap, Ruby’s Worry, Ravi’s Roar, Pink is for Boys and All are welcome.
Esther Marshall is a Diversity and Inclusion expert, mental health activist and the author of the The Sophie Says children’s books series – which make life’s most important lessons fun to learn. For more educational content follow Sophie Says on Instagram @sophiesaysofficial
Boarding ‘Hogwarts style’ at St John’s Beaumont in Old Windsor
Sprawling grounds, extensive facilities and a period building all lend themselves to a bit of Harry Potter boarding magic at St John’s Beaumont.
Nestled in the historic countryside near Windsor and Eton, just off junction 13 on the M25, you will find St John’s Beaumont Preparatory Day & Boarding School for boys aged 3 to 13 years set on a 70-acre country estate.
The vast grounds provide endless space for exploration, sports and play; a place where boys can be boys. Since 1888, the school has developed the environment, pastoral support and learning tools that enable young men to flourish.
St John’s is a very special place for boys to learn and live. They are offered every possible opportunity to excel in a wide variety of areas, both academically, but importantly also in the wider curriculum as well.
Whether in art, sport, music or drama, the school’s aim is to open a boy’s mind to his innate potential. The results are prevalent in the large amount of scholarships St John’s boys achieve at some of the most prestigious schools in the country, including Eton, Harrow, Winchester, and Charterhouse, just to name a few.
St John’s Beaumont provides the perfect home away from home for those who chose to board through either a tailored, weekly, or full-boarding programme from Year 4 onwards. Boarding at St John’s has a little bit of Hogwarts magic; with nooks and crannies, secret stairways and woods to explore, the school is the perfect place for imaginative adventures.
Boarders enjoy the full use of the school’s extensive facilities as they go for an early morning swim, a jog with the Headmaster or beat their dormitory master at a game of tennis. In their spare time, the boys love activities like; den-building in the woods, cooking on the campfire, stargazing and glow-in-the-dark hide-and-seek.
Easter holidays are here (already!) But so are London’s Easter camps and courses
We may not have been let loose by Boris completely, but Easter camps and courses are ready to take your nearest and dearest. Whether you need a break or they need to get out, socialise, and learn some new skills, London’s activity sector has been chomping at the bit to share their expertise once again. Here’s our 2021 guide.
Like many businesses, Role Models pivoted to online last year, and what a success they’ve made of their superb life skills classes! While in-person camps are returning, there is an Easter offer which should grab your attention, but you’ll have to move fast! Get your hands on an Easter bundle of online Life Skills sessions for children aged 5-7 & 8-11. When booking 3 x 60 minute sessions for £49, children will also be able to bring a friend for FREE (Usual price for 6 ‘Plus’ online sessions is £143.75). Life Skills sessions focus on confidence, collaboration, creativity, resilience and leadership which Role Models firmly believes are fundamental for good mental health, future job prospects and academic attainment. There are 80 sessions to choose from, each one fun and interactive and designed to fit around family life during both the holidays and term-time. Use coupon code rm3for49 to purchase 3 x ‘Plus’ online Sessions for £49. Once you have purchased your 3 sessions you will be provided with a coupon code to share with a friend so their little bunny can also join 3 x ‘Plus’ online sessions for Free. Coupon expires on 10th April 2021
For more information on Role Models: call +44 (0)20 3637 7107 | email email@example.com | rolemodels.me
Tennis is back! Whether you’re in Chiswick, Ealing (Lammas Park, Pitshanger Park), Hyde Park and Greenwich, children from 4 years can take part. JUNIOR age 7 – 16; 4 or 5 days; Camp 1: 10am – 12pm Camp 2: 1pm – 3pm Taught in age and ability groups. Camp continues in all-weather with creative indoor learning as necessary. Each Friday is a tournament day, where players will play matches against players in their age group.
MINI age 4 – 7; 4 or 5 days; 12pm – 1pm All abilities are taught using varied teaching styles to retain interest and enjoyment of sports. Bring a drink and snack.
One of the few camps to offer courses for older kids, Fire Tech run STEM based camps which include coding, VR, digital design and video game design. Students learn from the ground up, and there’s even a girls only camp for teens. City, Dulwich, Notting Hill, Camden, South Kensington | 9 yrs+ firetechcamp.com
Another activity provider that went online last year, The Little Gym, is opening its doors once more. Bringing their expertise in movement, child development and gymnastics, children will have the chance to run wild, socialise, learn and have a tonne of fun within their purpose-built gyms. There are now five The Little Gyms in London: Chiswick, Hampstead, Hampton, Wandsworth and Westfield London, each running camps for various ages up to 12 years. Mornings, afternoons or full days available with Covid-19 measures in place.
Coding and tech-inspired camps which touch on themes such as music, robotics, nature, oceanography and art. Various locations are now open for in-person camps but there are also virtual offerings. 5yrs+
Every day is different with musical The Strings Club! Ofsted registered and available in Islington, Hackney, Greenwich, Tooting, Hampstead and Brockley. Mornings begin with ‘Learn Together, Play Together’ sessions. Afternoons are interactive and creative workshop. Each Holiday Camp ends with a grand concert – so children and their new friends can proudly show what they’ve learnt! By the end of their time, children will have experienced musical adventures, made new friends, and developed skills for life.
Active kids have lots of fun in store at this year’s Easter Activity Camp from London Academy of Gymnastics and Dance. As well as gymnastics, there’s also juggling, circus skills, obstacle course, aerial skills, dance, vault, hoops and games. The camp is running from 12th to 16th April 2021 for children from Reception to Year 6. It is supervised by qualified coaches, following the latest Covid safety guidelines. It is taking place in Chelsea SW3 and in Muswell Hill N10.
Fun movie making camps which aim to inspire young imaginations and build creative skills. Camps take place in school holidays and during the summer. Each camp offers children and teenagers the chance to unlock their creativity, gain new skills and discover the fun of filmmaking.
Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire (Ages 5-7)
Codename Confidential (Ages 7-11)
Web of Lies (Ages 11-14)
We will be running our workshops in Balham, Dulwich, Highgate and Kensington.
Immerse your kids in French between 6-16th April with Et Patati Patata’s award-winning classes. The online classes are small – restricted to six- meaning your child will get the attention they need. Split into three age groups 4 -6 years, 7-10 years and 11-15 years.
In our regular magazine interview, we ask “Who is…Gemma Whates?”
Gemma Whates is founder of ALL BY MAMA, an online marketplace selling gifts made by mums (and dads!)
Three words to describe yourself.
Adventurous, caring and determined
What is happening in the world of Gemma Whates right now?
I’m counting down days until I no longer have to home school and wondering if I should have appreciated it more. I’m gradually decorating our new house and trying to understand Minecraft. I’m feeling hopeful for some hugs from my family and friends soon and some adventures later in the year. I’m feeling grateful for my health and the health of my family and I’m trying to find a way to run my businesses with the kids at home 24/7. I’m laser focused on what I want to achieve for ALL by MAMA in 2021.
How did you start All By Mama?
I went in to starting ALL by MAMA quite naively in 2014. I’ve learnt a lot. It wasn’t my first business idea, that was something I thought about doing during some volunteering that I took part in, in the townships of Cape Town, in 2010. I also previously ran an online review website. I started ALL by MAMA by working evenings and weekends alongside a marketing job. It took me about nine months from registering the company to launching. ALL by MAMA launched as a marketplace selling gifts made by mums and it’s grown from that original idea. One of the first things we did was to take a stall at The Handmade Fair and spend three days speaking to people about the idea and gathering email addresses for our launch. It was a lot of baby steps that led to the start of a business. I did write a business plan, it wasn’t detailed but it kept me on track with the launch.
Explain how ABM works.
It works as a supportive community for mothers in business. We help mothers in business grow in confidence and visibility, upskill and make connections. Members are generally in the first few years of business. It’s a membership community and a marketplace. It’s something I wish I had found in 2014. Mothers are underrepresented economically, and they need a place to connect, grow and share their experiences of running a business as a mother. Membership is £20 a month and members receive a route to market via our marketplace, expert trainings, networking, social media clinics, features and connections to others doing the same.
What are your top tips for running a business?
1) Spend time on the things that make money – sounds obvious but sometimes you can get so caught in the admin that you forget to tell everyone what they can buy from you and how to buy it
2) Have a vision – what are you trying to achieve, what does success look like to you
3) Make connections via networks – genuinely it will make all the difference to the opportunities that come your way
4) Be prepared for the highs and the lows – you’ll feel amazing during the high times and want to quit during the lows
5) Really understand your ideal customer – get fully immersed in exactly who that person is and the problem you are solving for them
Can women have it all?
I think that really depends on your definition of ‘having it all’ but assuming it refers to having a great career around family life then my belief is that in work and family life, sacrifices have to be made on both sides for the other one to flourish. We are making progress towards supporting working women (especially those that are mothers and are impacted by ‘the motherhood penalty’) but we are far from there yet, and the pandemic has set us back. If statistics show that 54,000 women a year lose their jobs to pregnancy or maternity leave in the UK, we can’t claim to be able to have it all yet. The term can also have a really negative impact on women who are struggling to ‘do it all’ when they see others claim that it’s easy to ‘have it all’. Let’s all talk realistically and authentically about what it’s like to seemingly ‘have it all’. Of course, not everyone wants it all!
Tell us one thing that people don’t know about you.
Well, I could choose something a bit more shocking here(!) but I’ll go with… being able to palm read. I did a course before I had kids, I’ve forgotten most of it to be honest but I’m going to pick it back up when I have some head space!
Where’s your favourite date night?
I can’t remember! Something that involves going somewhere new.
What’s your signature dish?
I have not prioritised cooking over the last few years! It would probably be a roast dinner!
What would you take to a desert island?
Someone who could help me survive
Where’s your favourite child-friendly place in London?
The Science Museum – I love it and the kids do too
Last book you read?
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
What’s your proudest moment?
The birth of my kids
What’s next for Gemma Whates?
Hopefully, a better work life balance! My focus is on having some fun with my family in the summer, growing the ALL by MAMA membership, raising another round of investment, mentoring incredible women that are starting businesses, making the most of my Blinksit subscription, getting better at exercise again and a holiday to the Algarve as soon as it’s safe! I’ve also joined Ada Ventures as a scout recently so I’m looking forward to getting more involved in that world.
Kuling and Garbo&Friends come together to create a new kids collection
Think florals and Swedish function and you have a match made in heaven for April showers and summer sun. Swedish-founded brands, Kuling and Garbo&Friends have joined forces to present a kids’ collection of outerwear and swimwear for the SS21 season. Both brands are known to be experts in their niches; Kuling for creating durable, wearable, and above all functional clothes for kids to wear and tear in all kinds of weathers, and Garbo&Friends for presenting the most poetic and detailed floral patterns for their carefully produced range of products – whether it’s interior or clothes.
”We deeply admire the passion and dedication that the Garbo&Friends team put into everything they do – from the hand-drawn original patterns to the small but carefully thought after details in the end products.” says Erika Lindahl, brand responsible at Kuling. ”To be able to combine their artistic work with our experience and knowledge of functionality in kidswear has been very rewarding, and we’re thrilled about the result.”
”Working together with Kuling has been an inspiring learning process, I’d say for both teams.” says Susann Karlsson Nemirovsky, founder of Garbo&Friends. ”Using each other’s strengths and expertise, we’ve created a collection of highly wearable garments that we hope will stand the test of time both in terms of design and quality.”
The collection consists of 22 pieces split up in two drops, all created around two original patterns; Buttercup and Pear, drawn by Susann Karlsson Nemirovsky. Elements of the collection are made from recycled material, such as the lining fabric in all shell wear and polyester in all rainwear and swimwear. Key styles are the rainwear jacket and pants, baby shell coverall and teddy jacket.
Instilling a lifelong love of books is on the parenting tick list. St Benedict’s Librarian, Emma Wallace tells us how to get our children reading
What were your favourite books as a child?
The first series that I remember really loving was the Secret Seven by Enid Blyton. This was about seven friends who formed a detective club and went on various adventures trying to solve mysteries. I loved the sense that they could roam free in woods, hills and manor houses and investigate mysteries together, from train robbers, car thieves and mail heists. And then when I got a bit older it was Judy Blume’s novels, when I read every one of her books, from Deenie to Tiger Eyes. These books were about real-life problems that we face growing up, at school, home and in relationships. I was such a massive fan that I wrote to Judy in America and she posted me a signed poster!
Your favourite children’s author?
My favourite children’s author is Neil Gaiman. He has a wonderful imagination, writing both novels and graphic novels that evoke fantastical and intriguing scenarios, coupled with often terrifying and obscure characters, much like Roald Dahl. I particularly love his book Coraline, which has been turned into a comic and film as well.
A new book that will stand the test of time? The 2019 Kate Greenaway picture book award winner The Lost Words: A Spell Book by Jackie Morris. This book of enchanting illustrations celebrates the natural world we share the planet with and can be enjoyed by any age. It focuses on the loss of words on nature from children’s language (such as bramble, dandelion and acorn), and also their imaginations, while helping to remind us of the magic and importance of these wild things still today.
What is your all-time favourite book? It’s got to be Madam Bovary by Gustave Flaubert! I read this over ten years ago and nothing has taken its place as my number one favourite novel since then. While reading it, I couldn’t get over how modern, realistic and even contemporary it seemed, even though written in 1857!
If you could invite any author to St Benedict’s – living or dead – to meet you and your students, who would you choose, and why? I think Mary Shelley, who died in 1851, would be a fascinating person for our pupils to meet! Her book Frankenstein, named the first ever science-fiction story, still captures the imagination of children today over two hundred years later and is such a brilliant read. The Frankenstein monster has had a massive impact on popular culture, but there is so much more to this tragic character and I would love to know more about Mary’s thoughts behind this. I also think she would have provided many insights into what it was like to be female in the nineteenth century, going against many social conventions to publish a book.
Tell us why you think reading is a valuable thing for children to do: Aside from the many academic benefits to reading, there are the huge social and emotional benefits, from better sleep, improved memory to lowered levels of stress. It is through reading fiction books that the unique, wonderful and transformative experiences can occur, helping children to feel happier and more connected in their lives. A novel can transport us to an exotic island or magical land, allowing us to escape into our imagination, away from the day to day worries and stresses of our lives. We may discover a character who is going through a similar experience to us, something that is life affirming and makes us feel a little less alone and isolated.
In recent online library lessons during lockdown, we have been talking about how reading is a brilliant way to help develop empathy skills, as we put ourselves in a character’s shoes and imagine what they’re thinking and feeling. This immersion into a book character helps pupils’ build understanding and compassion towards others, something that is more important than ever in these difficult times.
What are your top tips for encouraging young teens to read?
Choose a book that you want to read. Reading for pleasure is all about making our own choices and reading books that you think you will enjoy, by authors, genres and in formats that you love or want to try.
If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book” as JK Rowling says. It’s absolutely fine to stop reading a book you’re not enjoying and try something else. Reading a book is an investment and it’s important to keep trying different authors and genres until you find something that you really enjoy.
Make it a regular habit to read, setting aside a certain time each day or weekend to read – ensuring it becomes part of your weekly routine.
Put your phone down (or use a setting on your phone to turn off the Apps for a certain period every day!). It’s important to have time away from the screen, without any distractions, so you can just relax and focus on the story.
Find a quiet space to read, away from other sounds or music, such as the TV or people having a conversation. It is really important your imagination is fully engaged whilst reading (see phone point above)
What makes a really good school library? So many things! But I think the most important thing is the school librarian. Without a librarian, the school library is really just a room with books in. It is the librarian who brings the space to life, creating inspiring displays, collating contemporary print and online resource collections, recommending and discussing novels with pupils, running inspiring book events, competitions and craft activities, along with teaching library skills to ensure pupils are effective independent learners, both now and in the future.
Do you have a favourite library event in the school year? At St Benedict’s, we have a rolling programme of library events throughout the year to mirror the school curriculum and to support the annual book celebrations and national awareness days. I try to make sure that we’ve got an exciting programme scheduled for different year groups and interests, to ensure everyone finds something to enjoy and get involved with. But I must admit that my favourite event is World Book Day in March! As a school librarian, this is always a big focus of the year and really allows me to experiment and be creative with the authors we invite in to talk to pupils and the events we run on the day. Past events include a murder mystery in the library, read dating, Drop Everything and Read, a ‘Short Story in a Day’ and redesign your favourite book cover.
Describe a typical day in the life of the St Benedict’s librarian:
No day is the same for a school librarian. Whilst we follow the school day timetable we can perhaps be more flexible than teachers, ensuring that the whole school community is supported and engaged in the library. My day might start with brainstorming ideas and activities for the year 8 library lesson programme, checking the library catalogue for a certain topic area a teacher may have requested, locating these books on the shelves or perhaps placing an order for more books on this topic. I may look at the most recent pupil book suggestion forms and bestseller lists to update and buy for our own collection. At break and lunchtime, it is usually direct involvement with the students, checking out and returning books, discussing and helping pupils find books, answering information enquiries about research or homework topics, or sorting problems with a computer or printing. In the afternoon I might research the latest digital collection of resources to see if it is something that would support our pupils and curriculum and teach a lesson to a class to help with their understanding of how to use the library. There is also the need to create new displays, update book promotions and generally tidy up the library ready for the next day!
With the school gates opening up once more, we couldn’t be MORE excited at CKHQ. So we’ve put together a top of the class back to school edit so that you and the kids can get back to schooling from school again!
Bigjigs Puzzles from Scandiborn
Covering everything from regional and world maps to fractions and times tables, their wooden puzzles may just be the missing piece in your child’s study set up…
A new pair of school shoes that won’t cost the earth. These stylist vegan school shoes not only look good, but are soft, lightweight and breathable – perfect whether you’re a vegan or simply want an alternative choice to leather. See the vegan collection here.
The City Kids Family Meal Planner PDF
Family mealtimes sorted. Because we’re all really rather bored of our own cooking. And taxi-ing the kids to and from school and all the extra curriculars means we’ve little to no time to plan meals on the spot. We worked with CK friends Lizzie King and Jo Pratt to throw together a bunch of flexible, balanced and family friendly meals to enjoy from breakfast through to supper. For the mother of all mealtime planners, click here.
Scoot to school and back while helping to keep the oceans clean- the deck of the Micro Scooters’ Eco Mini Micro Deluxe, is made from recycled fish nets! Plus eco accessories to match, of course! Scoot on over to their website for more info.
Looking for something extra special for Mum, Grandma or another Mother figure in yours and your kids’ life? Struggling to decide what to get them? Perhaps they’re the type that utters the usual “oh, I don’t need a gift”.
Problem solved, we’ve crafted a lovely Mother’s Day craft template that you and the kids can easily work on ahead of Mother’s Day. All you need is love, a pair of scissors, pens, pencils and an empty jam jar! We’d be extra grateful if you shared your finished product over on our Instagram here. Happy crafting.
Need to leave the kids/ your partner with a not so subtle hint? We’ve also put together a rather nifty list of things to get for Mum, based on her ‘type’ – from green, small biz loving to ‘boujee’, we’ve got the gifts covered here.
From bog roll subscriptions, green gifts that won’t cost the earth and Vintage Chanel and all the greatness in between, here’s the only Mother’s Day gift guide you need. PLUS, for Mums that prefer something handmade, we’ve put together a sweet printable for you…
The ‘Boujee’ Mum
Vintage Chanel Handbag. Do act fast, Luxury Promise’s selection of goodness gets snapped up by designer magpies in no time. Note to partners + children, act fast and all chip in for extra brownie points!
The Duchess Necklace, we love that this piece can be personalised. Available in three tones. Mum won’t want to take it off. Merci Maman
Find the perfect bunch of flowers to suit Mum’s personality. Letterbox Flowers, Bloom and Wild
Raw Instinct Rock Diffuser Set – for Mums that need to incorporate a bit of chill into their daily routines (don’t we all), Crabtree and Evelyn
The Mothership Gift Set, filled with three hero products for your all time hero of a Mum, Bloom & Blossom. Exclusive limited time offer – £10 with code: MOTHER10, now £19.
Bubbles with benefits! The Wild Life Botanicals® Gift Box: Treat Mum to an Ultra Low Sparkling Wine Infused with an Uplifting Elixir, Wild Life Botanicals.
Say “Cheers, Mum” with these Art Deco inspired cocktail and champagne coupe glasses, John Lewis & Partners.
The Dad that doubles up as a Mum, Mum
Louis Vuitton X NBA Cloakroom Dopp Kit Bag, speaks for itself, this piece oozes all sorts of cool! Luxury Promise Man
Gin Lovers Bundle – there’s no better combo than Paulsmith x Sipsmith + Prestat, Selfridges
Dad Strong Arm Print, Eleanor Bowmer does it again with her collection of empowering graphics.
Ooni Pizza Provisions for the budding Pizzaiolo. Check out the Spring Edition, Ooni.
The ‘don’t give me anything’ Mum
Me Time Scarf, task Mum with a project. PLUS they’ve handy tutorials on their website should you encounter any knitting blunders! Wool and the Gang
Gintastic Giftbox – packed with mixers and snacks too. GIN for the WIN! Didsbury Gin
A jar filled with love, see our FREE template here. Little-to-no wild creative skills required. All you need: scissors, printer, pens and pencils and a whole load of love.
The Small Biz Lover
Adults hoodie blush with navy leopard and neon coral lightning bolt, *WARNING* It’s so cool, she’ll want to live in it. For Mums that like to twin with their mini’s, kids versions are also available. Scamp and Dude
A firm fave here at CKHQ! Daisy Emerson Prints, we’ll take them all! Daisy Emerson
We’re lucky to be sent a lot of beautiful picture books each week. A few have caught our eye recently, so we thought we’d share them with you.
We’re suckers for good, old-fashioned stories and beautiful illustrations. Our picture book edit includes debut books, experience story-tellers and some timely messaging.
This debut book kicks off a series created to tackle words that children find difficult. Parliament tells the story of Eddie, a cheeky, young owlet who is helped on his journey by a wise parliament of owls.
Illustrator Dorien Brouwers’ picture book explores the notion of finding lessons in challenging situations, touching on subjects like helping children with their mental health, building resilience and adopting a growth mentality. Available from April 15th.
If he wasn’t already, Rob Biddulph has become a household name during this pandemic (one of the positives!), and his 10th picture book will be another favourite. Teddy loses his human and worries about him being on his own.
The mental health of our children is top of our priorities right now, and this series from Oxford aims to give kids tools to navigate their emotions. Calmness explores words for children to use to describe how they are feeling as well as offering activities to invoke calm.
One for the heart strings and a social consicience, The Invisible is the story of a young girl called Isabel and her family who don’t have much, but they have what they need to get by. The key message is to care about everyone in society, especially those who are overlooked and made to feel invisible. We all belong.
Sometimes a collaboration comes along that makes your heart sing and MORI X The Very Hungry Caterpillar is just that! A limited collection of pieces featuring the iconic illustrations by Eric Carle as well as some unseen designs has launched in the UK this week. The range includes daywear, sleepwear and a very cute hooded towel.
The range features eight designs, printed on sustainable, organic cotton and bamboo blend fabrics.
MORI X The Very Hungry Caterpillar arrives after a very successful partnership between MORI and The Gruffalo in 2019. Brand founder Akin Onal said:
“MORI is overjoyed to help bring the enchanting and timeless appeal of The Very Hungry Caterpillar to life for today’s generation of little fans, as well as continue the tradition for their parents and siblings. Joining the world of Eric Carle with the MORI and The Very Hungry Caterpillar Collection is one of our proudest milestones.”
Prices range from £20 for The Very Hungry Caterpillar T-shirt to £35 for the bodysuit two-pack.
We were also super interested to read that Eric Carle has written and illustrated over 70 books! Time for us to read some of the others.
As parents we spend much of our time weathering the storm, diffusing arguments between siblings and juggling homeschool with work. From morning til evening, it’s all go. So, it’s only fair that we take a little moment to reset. We’ve picked out a few of our favourite things that help us to remain zen, anytime of day.
We have a bunch of Access all Areas passes for The Baby Show Live at Home this weekend
Expecting your first, second, third baby, or having twins; or need some nutrition advice, sleep training tips or some belly laughs with some special guests, The Baby Show Live at Home has it all. Starting on Friday, you hear from everyone’s favourite girl-next-door, Dani Dyer as well as mums-to-be Made in Chelsea star, Binky Felstead and Dr Zoe Williams.
The Baby Show Live at Home, is the UK’s leading show for pregnant and new parents. The event will run from the 26-28 Feb, and is a fully immersive virtual show with everything new and expectant parents could need, from product demonstrations to expert talks on key pregnancy and birth topics, and great brands such as BabyBjörn, Bugaboo and Stokke and more, making it the shopping destination for new and expectant parents.
The Baby Show’s first 3-day event of 2021 will be a fully immersive virtual shopping experience, eliminating the need for lockdown parents to trawl the internet by curating the perfect blend of must-have baby products under one convenient digital roof from the comfort and safety of their own home.
Visitors will be able to shop the latest products and watch expert speakers discuss all things parenting using The Baby Show’s purpose-built Swapcard website and app. Visitors can plan their schedule, enter competitions and access everything the show has to offer using the intuitive and easy-to-use digital platform.
Dr Zoe Williams – Pregnancy & Birth During the Pandemic Annabel Karmel – Weaning Guru Sandra Igwe – The Motherhood Group Rachel Fitz-Desorgher – Sleep Myths Busted Dr Pavan Minhas – Obstetric Doctor Jenni Dunman from Daisy First Aid – Baby First Aid for Parents Siobhan Miller – WTF is Hypnobirthing? Lindsay Hookway – Supporting Stress Free Sleep for Families Susie Boone – MadeForMums Buggy Buying Guide Xaviera Plas-Plooij – The Wonder Weeks – The True Reason Every Baby Gets Fussy at Set Times
City Kids has teamed up with The Baby Show Live at Home to giveaway 20 Access All Areas passes to the show.
Your complimentary Access All Areas pass is FREE and unlocks a world of baby shopping heaven, amazing show deals, competitions, informative buying guides, product demos and top product picks for those must-haves PLUS topical and supportive on-demand videos.
It also gives youentry to Baby Show TV and unlocks all of the LIVE exclusive expert talks, panel discussions, Q&A and celebrity interviews with Dani Dyer and Binky Felstead too!
PLUS, you can also log in and watch all the on-demand videos and talks for up to one week after the event.
Grab your eggs, flour, milk and whisks to make the perfect pancakes this week.
Whether you call it Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday, we’ve got some recipe ideas at the ready. We also have more pancake recipes in our Family Meal Planner which is FREE TO DOWNLOAD HERE!
Jo Pratt’s Foolproof Pancakes
Makes: 12-14 American style pancakes, or 8-10 crepes
Preparation Time:5 minutes
Cooking Time:4 minutes
125g/4½oz/1 cup self-raising flour (either plain or self-raising can be used for crêpes) 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup milk (just under for American-style, just over for crêpes) 1 egg a pinch of salt butter or sunflower oil, for frying
Suggestions to serve
try some of these options: • clear honey, golden syrup, maple syrup or jam • chocolate spread or caramel sauce • fresh fruit, such as berries or bananas • grated lemon or orange zest and sugar • yogurt • ice cream … for breakfast? Some of you will!
1. Put the flour, milk, egg and salt in a blender or food processor and mix together well. Alternatively, use a bowl and whisk until smooth. The consistency should be that of double cream for crêpes, so add a little extra milk if you need to. (Cook straight away or chill for up to 24 hours until needed – loosen with extra milk if necessary.) 2. Heat a pancake or frying pan over a medium-high heat and add a small piece of butter or a trickle of oil until it melts all over the base of the pan. Add a spoonful of the batter, rolling the pan to spread it over the base of the pan, and cook for a couple of minutes on each side until golden. Keep the pancakes warm while you cook the remaining pancakes. 3. Serve with your chosen topping and enjoy.
1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, sugar, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt in a bowl using a balloon whisk until mixed. Slowly pour in the milk until you get a smooth, thick batter. 2. Heat a little of the oil in a over a medium-low heat, and add 2 tbsp batter into the pan at a time to make small, round pancakes. You will need to do this in batches of two-three at a time. 3. Cook for 3-4 mins until the edges are set, and bubbles are appearing on the surface. Flip the pancakes over and cook for another 2-3 mins until golden on both sides and cooked through. Keep warm in a low oven while you cook the remaining pancakes. 4. Serve stacked with lots of toppings of your choice, or serve with bowls of toppings for everyone to help themselves. bbcgoodfood.com
No cook options
There are obviously a world of lazy easy options if you’re up against it. As well as pancake mix in a bottle, Marks & Spencer have created pink Percy Pig flavoured pancakes. Yes, they have. And as if that wasn’t enough, you can also make Percy Pig panapés…
Waitrose have stocked these packets of vegan joy from Squeaky Bean at £2.50 a packet.
When it seems like 2021 has already lasted 2556 days, and you feel like you’ve prepared 907975 meals, Jo Pratt and Lizzie King have responded to our SOS by working together on a free family meal planner to save our sanity. All you have to do is sign up below to receive it!
Jo regularly provides recipes and ideas for City Kids readers and she’s drawn on her fantastic wealth of knowledge and numerous cookbooks to help create our planner. Her most recent publications are all about flexibility (The Flexible Vegetarian, The Flexible Pescatarian, The Flexible Family Cookbook), as we try to cater for different dietary needs and tastes, never more apparent than in the family home.
Lizzie is another friend of City Kids whose most recent venture, Lizzie Loves, has brought all her nutritional expertise to the fore. She’s shared recipes from her recent Wellness Week campaign and from Healthy Family Food. There’s nothing like a pandemic to focus our minds on eating well and boosting immunity.
Lizzie and Jo’s recipes work together for daily, stress-free goodness.
Our family meal plan includes all meals and snacks plus the added benefit of some of Lizzie’s Be Well and Be Sleepy remedies sprinkled amongst the goodness. We’ve made it as nutritionally balanced as possible and easy, as we know time is like gold dust at the moment. Some can be made in advance so that all you have to do is reheat ahead of lunch or dinner.
Finally, don’t stress if your food delivery missed an item and it’s not available for the recipe. You’ll see these meals can be flexible!
Roses are red, violets are blue, no messing around… we know you’re strapped for time so we’ve done our research. From babies to grown ups and fur babies too. DO HURRY and get ordering, Valentine’s Time Day is CLOSER than we thought!
Konges Slojd – Cloud Lamp in Off White, Scandiborn
While we’re armed with toolkits to survive term time, we thought it’d be equally (if not more) useful to share 12 useful resources for families this feb half term. Consider it an early Valentine’s Day gift! As if that wasn’t enough, we’ve even thrown in a couple of freebies and exclusive discounts to the mix.
Firetech Camp. All the greatest courses PLUS we’ve an exclusive 25% discount for you. Simply use code: CK25
The Little Gym has created a brilliant YouTube channel dedicated to providing kids with positive, fun and engaging classes on demand to keep them healthy and happy during this unprecedented period. Learn new skills, perfect handstands and even learn how gymnastics helps with classroom learning.
Role Models is hidden away in our little black book but everyone should have them on speed dial. Life skills courses and hourly sessions for kids aged 5-7 and 8-11 which are engaging and fun and will help them with confidence and resilience.
Banjo Robinson’s letter subscription is great screen-free lockdown activity which encourages reading, writing and creative play, all delivered straight to your door. If your little one loves Banjo’s backstory, you can sign up to receive any of his letter subscriptions with a 50% discount, applying the code: MAGIC50 at checkout on their website. Limited time offer. You can also purchase the hardback picture book here.
Combat that endless snacking conundrum with our roundup of fave snacks here
Little Cooks Co. Feed the kids and make them cook! Doubles up as a home economics class. We call it… genius! Find out more.
Order your Pancake Day Ultimate Kit now for a flipping great Shrove Tuesday thanks to Joe and Sephs! Lockdown might be here for a while but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate pancake day in gourmet style! Order a kit here, quick!
TOP secret TASTY PROJECT ALERT. We’ve been cooking up something really rather spesh! THE CITY KIDS FAMILY MEAL PLANNER! If you’re not already signed up to our newsletter, then you’ll have to wait around another day. Otherwise, sign up to our newsletter here.
Build a den and enjoy an exciting night at the museum with the Dino Nights at Home sleepover at the National Museum of Wales. Find out more here.
With the guidance of a professional illustrator, create your own superhero at this online drawing workshop from Imperial College London. Find out more here.
Get on board the world’s first bus powered by song with online play Rolling Down the Road, live-recorded at the Half Moon Theatre. Find out more here
Mama G is back on tour (virtually this time) with live online show Telling Tales on Telly, sure to get the whole family laughing and singing along this February half term. Find out more here.
Find more Feb half-term events and things to take part in here. As ever, follow us over on our Instagram for the latest City Kids scoop.
As temperatures continue to dip we strongly believe that a we should be allowed to at least one duvet day a week, who agrees? We’ve rustled up a cosy edit for kids. If only these were available in adult sizes. Bear with us as we squeeze into the largest possible sizes available.
It’s been a long month already, and keeping the kids entertained and finding five minutes to yourself requires some very creative parenting. We consider this free audiobook from Banjo Robinson to be answering all the SOS calls, as well as putting smiles on your little ones faces.
It’s a lockdown January… What better time to start an enchanting round-the-world trip with a globetrotting CAT? Banjo Robinson sends personalised letters and creative activities to children ages 5+ twice monthly from a range of exciting destinations. Kids all over the world are already receiving his activity-filled letters – and writing back to him too!
Little explorers can start their adventure with a picture book that introduces Banjo and explains why he travels the world writing letters to his friends. Now Pandora Sykes, journalist and podcaster reads this story which explains explains where Banjo Robinson came from and why he’s the most fantastic explorer of all time. The accompanying video also shows the illustrations created by Ruki Chuki.
Banjo Robinson’s letter subscription is another screen-free lockdown activity which encourages reading, writing and creative play, all delivered straight to your door.
If your little one loves Banjo’s backstory, you can sign up to receive any of his letter subscriptions with a 50% discount, applying the code: MAGIC50 at checkout on their website. Limited time offer. You can also purchase the hardback picture book here.
Friday Five: things to do with the kids this weekend
The shows must go on! We’re all at the end of our tethers, and there’d be nothing better than visiting the West End to experience a theatre show. TRUTH! So with aims of helping to keep the creative world going while we’re in lockdown, we’re sharing the magic of theatre to you.
Each ticket you buy, show that you watch and share keeps the spirit of the creative arts alive in these trying times.
1. The Unicorn Theatre’s Anansi the spider re-spun online.
The high-energy show about the antihero Anansi is inspired by classic West African and Caribbean tales and was filmed at the cast member’s homes. There are 3 episodes, each 10-15 minutes long and perfect for children aged 3-8.
Solve puzzles by watching online videos and, at the same time, opening up the parcels inside the box. Along the way, there are lots of fun activities, games and puzzles to keep children entertained during the week’s game. The box is designed for children aged 7 to 12.
3. Balthazar Snapdragon in a world full of mystery and magic
With a box delivered right to your door, each day for a week you will open a package full of treats and access hidden online content. Join Balthazar Snapdragon in a world full of mystery and magic as he tries to avert disaster before it is too late.
There are activities with video tutorials, props, games and puzzles and, over the course of the week, you will uncover all the clues you will need to help Balthazar on his whirlwind adventure. And along the way, you will learn some cool magic tricks to impress your friends.
The box is designed for children aged 7 to 12 and can be enjoyed by the whole family.
The weekly play session uses music and dance to encourage imagination and creativity and is perfect for babies and children under 5. Traditional and modern songs are covered and a range of instruments are used to keep little ones engaged.
Reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar must be a rite of passage for all young children and their parents. Now you can stream the show online and enjoy the caterpillar’s foodie adventures all over again.
The hit show was filmed at the Hertford Theatre last December and that recording is now available to stream online until February 28th. The 50 minute show is recommended for ages 1 to 6. Tickets start from £14.50 for a 3 day pass.
Downsend School joins national campaign to get teachers vaccinated and children back in school
Downsend School in Leatherhead, has joined forces with other schools to offer their facilities for vaccinations. In a letter to the Prime Minister, the school’s parent company has outlined plans to bring forward the vaccination of school and nursery staff across the country and in turn, allow children to return to a normal and full education.
As increasing pressure mounts on the UK government to prioritise school staff in order to get children back in school, Downsend’s senior leadership team has been working with parent company Cognita to come up with a feasible implementation plan to get schools fully operational and physically open to students as quickly as possible.
In an open letter to Boris Johnson, together with other leading independent school bodies, Cognita CEO Chris Jansen wrote, “Our plan is to establish local “hub” schools dedicated to administering the vaccine to teachers, childcare workers and school support staff, starting with workers in nurseries and special schools so that these establishments can remain open over the coming weeks.”
Headmaster at Downsend, Ian Thorpe commented, ““Her Majesty’s Government has reiterated the importance of keeping schools open throughout this period of national crisis. The current scenario represents a race against time to ensure that schools are safe places, where the viral transmission rates are reduced, not increased. Vaccinating teachers is an obvious solution to help with this aim. Our larger schools represent perfect vaccination hubs – they have extensive parking, refrigeration facilities in which to store vaccines and close links with healthcare professionals. Downsend is happy to play its part in this national effort and it is inspiring to see Cognita, HMC and MATs collaborating to take the lead in support of this concept.”
By now, it’s likely that you’ve packed up all the Christmas decor and things may be looking a little bare. Fear not, we’ve a great way for you to fill your space thanks to the lovely lot at Urban Tropicana. And right now, we couldn’t need houseplants more. Did you know that they have psychological benefits that could all go some way to helping us all through a grey and locked down January? Amongst them are improved mood, increased worker productivity, improved attention span, reduced stress levels and increased speed of reaction in a computer task. We asked the team to give us a rundown of houseplants for kids that can be looked after by your budding gardeners. PLUS read on for our exclusive discount code.
Succulents are one of the easiest houseplants to look after – and they’re a pretty cool too.
Succulents do best in a sunny spot in very well-drained soil. Their chunky leaves are designed to store water, so they’re able to cope with periods of drought.
It is best to allow the soil to dry out between watering.
When you do decide to water, it is best to soak them, this will replicate a torrential down pour.
They need a lot less water over winter.
Urban Tropicana have put together a supercool box containing three baby succulents. Succulents will be selected at random – but we’ll make sure the trio is as varied as possible.
These cacti will bloom just in time for Christmas (hence their name), and they’re pretty stunning too. The hanging branches, which are made up of flat, glossy green segments, can grow to up to 3 feet long.
Flowers in red, white, yellow, pink, or purple appear at the tips of these branches and measure up to 3 inches long with several tiers of petals. This variety has white flowers.
In order to keep these plants looking beautiful, you need to follow all the steps involved with proper Christmas cactus care.
The Moonshine is an absolute stunner and one of our personal favourite snake plants. The foliage is the most delicious shade of silvery green. Easy to care for and looks amazing. What else could you ask for?
If you’re one of those people with a history of killing houseplants (we see you at the back) then the ‘Snake Plant aka Mother-in-laws tongue is for you. It doesn’t need much attention at all so if you forget you own it for a week or two – it will forgive you. They’re pretty indestructible – so totally safe for the ‘plant assassins’ amongst you.
They are also one of the best plants for removing harmful toxins from the air. Winner winner.
While it tolerates low light, snake plants will grow fastest in bright conditions.
Take care not to overwater. We water ours every 2 weeks or when the soil is totally dry.
This is one for those of you looking for a plant with maximun impact for not much effort. Spanish moss doesn’t need soil to survive, just keep it in a bright spot and mist or soak once a week. That’s it.
It’s native to Mexico, Central America, South America, the U.S., and the Caribbean. In the U.S. it grows from Texas to Virginia, staying in the moister areas of the South. Its preferred habitat is a healthy tree in tropical swampland.
Spanish moss grows on trees but it doesn’t put down roots in the tree it grows on, nor does it take nutrients from it. The plant thrives on rain and fog, sunlight, and airborne or waterborne dust and debris.
Urban Tropicana launched in the midst of lockdown and their mission is to fill homes with plants, whatever your budget, do show them some love by following them on Instagram and by picking out a plant or three. They’ve kindly offered us an exclusive 15% discount. Simply use the code: CityKids15 at the checkout. You’re welcome!
Friday Five: things to do with the kids this weekend
Hurrah fellow parents, we’ve made it through the first week back to business; school, work, piles on piles of laundry plus everything else we’d put on hold over the Christmas break. Here’s your usual mix of things to do over the weekend. With temperatures plummeting and tightened lockdown restrictions, we’re keeping it cosy. Think virtual panto and kids’ food subscription boxes.
1. Kipper’s Snowy Day, Watermans Online. On demand through to 31st Jan.
2. Call it science, home economics, nutrition or life class, get the kids cooking with a fab Cook School Subscription. Boxes from £20.
3. GirlGuiding x Join the Dots’ Sisterhood in the wood. Virtual panto.
4. Cinderella online brought to you digitally by the Fairy Godmother that is Nottingham Playhouse. Final call, available until 16th Jan.
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!
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+
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+
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+
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+
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+
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+
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+
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.
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+
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+
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+
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+
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+
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+
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+.
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!
So it’s official, schools won’t be open for the foreseeable here the UK. Which means that us busy parents must keep on top of the snack cupboard stock take. PLUS with very little time to even sip a warm cuppa between Teams calls, we know that busy parents like us will need a steady supply of healthy snacks to produce in front of the little snackers quicker than you can say “lockdown three”.
TOP TIP for those on a New Year health kick, we suggest substituting the usual snacks for something healthier. So we’ve picked out a bunch of organic, gluten-free, vegan friendly alternatives. All tried and tested – your resident snack monsters are in for a treat (or 8).
Regardless of which tier you find yourself in, the show must really go on. We’ve found five fab theatre productions that’ll help bring the magic of a storytelling and the creative arts to your own home.
It’s official. Most school kids won’t be going back to school just yet. But this doesn’t halt our ability to keep up with their studies. While we all brace ourselves for another bout of homeschool/remote learning/stress, we’ve an edit that may help to get you top parent points. And most importantly, make this round of homeschool that little bit better, easier, exciting and rewarding.
Set timed tasks to test their learning. Use your handy home automation buddy, it’ll save you from having to yell for their attention later. Try out the small but mighty Apple HomePod Mini, £99
Pocket money. Older kids may appreciate this one more. We’d rather not call it bribery, but instead, incentivising them for their hard work. Try out one of the cool Pocket Money apps such as Go Henry. They’ve recently launched an eco card too!
How about getting the whole family kitted out in matching shirts? No? We’ll you’ll have to create a rota so you don’t all clash wearing the Home S’Cool T Shirt, Annual Store, £18
We’ve gone in search for all things bright and beautiful for those hoping to give their kids’ room a new lease of life for 2021. With varying budgets in mind, read on for a showcase of wonderful products PLUS a TOP TIP on how you can share positive vibes outside of your own home.
When we came across this gorgeous image on Coral Atkinson’s Instagram feed, it ignited all the rainbow interior feels. The rainbow symbol has always been a fave here at City Kids HQ. The year 2020 has renewed our love for all things rainbow vibes. The rainbow symbolises hope, resilience and the togetherness we’ve displayed throughout the pandemic.
TOP TIP: Give back. While throwing together a rainbow edit inspired room for your kids, how about mixing and matching between the spend and splurge items and using some of your budget towards giving a small donation to a charity such as NHS Charities Together, Rainbow Trust or The Trussell Trust.
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!
Things took an unexpected turn this weekend, so for many – the closure of non-essential stores will have thrown a great big spanner in the works. Lucky for you, we’ve a roundup of super last minute things to get for all the family. You’re welcome.
Last minute gifts for kids
Don’t worry if you missed the Noodoll delivery deadline. Hand them a Noodoll voucher and a whole load of choice. Anyone else got their eyes on the sprouts?!
London education provider Kings Tutors has launched Kings Tutors Club
Kings Tutors Club provides focused, flexible and fully interactive educational courses; all uniquely designed to enhance both academic education and twenty-first century skills for children and young adults. This new educational platform has been launched in response to identifying four modern-day realities:
1) The unprecedented success of online learning.
2) The need for consistent, reliable and entirely flexible education.
3) The ever-growing demand for vital life skills (from confidence to communication, resilience to critical thinking) in the modern workplace.
4) The unavoidable knowledge gaps generated by the pandemic.
By identifying and embracing all of these, Kings Tutors Club is aiming to enrich a child’s immediate academic requirements with wider life skills. Courses span from targeted workshops (including ‘Coding’ and ‘Creative Writing’) to broader programmes such as ‘Calm Clear & Confident’ and ‘GCSE Christmas Preparation’. A range of one-to-one and group formats are available, enabling parents to choose the teaching style best suited to their child. Each course is hosted by one of Kings Tutors’ expert mentors or tutors selected from a team of specialists recognised by the Good Schools Guide for always going “the extra mile” to ensure “children reach their full potential.”
All courses are held on Kings Tutors’ popular interactive learning platform. This is a free service, easy to use and named one of “the best online tutoring resources 2020″ by Mumsnet. It is likewise compatible with all devices (phone, tablet, laptop and desktop), enabling access wherever you are, whenever you need.
“True education is not – and never has been – confined to exam knowledge. Now more than ever, it is critical to recognise this from early years,” says Emily Jack, Founder of Kings Tutors, a qualified teacher and director of The Tutors’ Association.
This belief is enforced by robust global research, with reports from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and World Economic Forum identifying transferable skills such as creativity, communication, digital literacy and critical thinking as imperative for the future workplace.
The Top 3 Courses for Christmas 2020:
• CALM. CLEAR. CONFIDENT – The ultimate 2021 exam preparation for both child & parent. Includes dedicated educational consultant, mentor and tutors. Available from 11+ to A-Level.
• GCSE CHRISTMAS COURSE – Set of 5 online group lessons in key subjects with specialist tutors. Available for Maths, Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Geography.
• CODING – Fun, focused workshops to instil the basics of this career-enhancing skill. Put into the context of building a text-adventure game, the course also boosts aptitude for critical thinking and problem-solving.
Ways for families to pay it back and volunteer this Christmas
Let’s face it. This year has been ugly and as we reach the end of it many people are struggling emotionally and financially. But there’s lots we can do to help. Got a couple of hours to spare thanks to last-minute changes to your Christmas plans? Wanting to do something a little different this year and give back to our community? Don’t we all?! Family volunteering at Christmas is possible, and we’ve researched some ways we can all help.
Keep Britain Tidy
Help to Keep Britain Tidy. We’ve all seen it. Disposable masks not quite making it to the bins and flying free across the pavements. Not acceptable. Bundle up with the kids, get equipped and host a local clean up. How about giving them an incentive to work towards. The family member to fill up their bin bag the quickest can earn rights to selecting the Christmas movie for the evening. Join Keep Britain Tidy’s #litterheroes
Search for missing pets
We’re pet lovers here at City Kids HQ. So hearing of the number of cats and dogs going missing just breaks our hearts. Help to search for a local family pet that may have gone missing with tools such as petsreunited.com Does what it says on the tin.
Feeding Families – while they may not be accepting hampers anymore, there’s certainly ways that you can help out. Simply donating some money, finding out if they need a helping hand at their warehouses or spreading the word about the fantastic work that they do. Find out more about them here. There’s many more initiatives as we found out earlier this year with the Rashford campaign, see them here.
Using your skills
Do.it.org to find more general local volunteering vacancies also includes work that you can do from home such as voluntary admin, finance, marketing, or even picking up the phone to the vulnerable.
A friendly face and helping hand
Knock on an elderly or vulnerable neighbours’ door. Offer to do their weekly groceries, help tidy their garden or even just to bring over a tin of biscuits. It’s bound to make their day.
Donations and things for the less fortunate
Gather some old toys, books and various other things that you may not need and donate to a local charity.
You could do these as a family, alone, or both if you so wish. Volunteering is a fantastic reminder of what Christmas is really about and to ground ourselves at this time of year.
We’ve a Start-Rite review PLUS an opportunity for you to WIN a pair of of shoes of your choice in our giveaway. Read on to enter.
As experts in little feet, Start-Rite is forever our first port of call when it comes to selecting shoes for the kid. Whether it’s a new pair for school shoes or muddy-puddle proof boots, they’ve certainly got it all. We jumped at the chance of testing out their newest collection and in true Christmas spirit, we’re giving away 1 pair of shoes to a very lucky winner. Read on for a review and a chance to win our giveaway.
We went for their dazzling Multi Metallic Patent Girls Zip-up Ankle Chelsea Boots. They’re daring but are the boot of dreams for most 6 year olds. Their Chelsea boots are available in 5 other fab colours. We love that the patent material can be wiped clean should they come into contact with any dirt (very likely).
Here’s a number of seasonal looks to go with Start-Rite’s Chelsea Boots.
TOP TIP: We used Start-Rite’s free printable measuring gauge which is a lifesaver when ordering online. It’s fairly straight forward and it’s great that you can beat the queues this time of year. In a nutshell, once you’ve got the width and length, you tap the measurements into their shoe size calculator and ta-da, you can start picking out your fave style.
We all know that a handmade card is better than a shop-bought one. So it follows that some Christmas crafting will earn plenty of brownie points and nothing says Christmas more than food and goodies. Our festive round-up has some ideas for DIY Christmas food gifts which are possible to create with the kids without too much bother!
It’s fairly easy to find pretty bags or boxes to use to present your gifts, finishing off with ribbons and pretty stickers will work wonders.
We kick off with three recipes from our very own Jo Pratt who has some fantastic Christmas food gift ideas.
Gingerbread Snowflake Biscuits by Jo Pratt
375g (13oz) plain flour, plus extra for rolling 2tbsp ground ginger 1tsp ground cinnamon 1tsp baking powder 1tbsp cocoa powder 125g (4 1/2oz) butter, softened 125g (4 1/2oz) light muscovado sugar 1tbsp black treacle 1tbsp golden syrup 1 large egg, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric hand whisk until it is slightly creamy. Add the treacle, golden syrup and egg. Beat until smooth.
Using a wooden spoon, gradually add the flour mixture, a little at a time, and then finish off with your hands, to form a smooth dough, kneading lightly on the worktop. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to around the thickness of a £1 coin. Using a pastry cutter, cut out as many small or large biscuit shapes as you like, and place on greased baking sheets. There is no need to space them well apart as the dough won’t spread while cooking.
Place in the preheated oven and cook for 10-12 minutes, until they are starting to firm up. If you want to hang them on your Christmas tree, make a hole with a skewer while they are still hot. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Once cold, the biscuits can be decorated like snowflakes (or with whatever pattern you like). Use coloured writing icing tubes – mine were done with Barbie glitter ones.
Cocoa Granola by Jo Pratt
Time taken: 1 hour 15 minutes including cooking Makes: 8-10 portions (vegan/gluten-free/dairy-free)
4 tbsp coconut oil, melted
4 tbsp maple syrup
2 ripe bananas, peeled
50g/1 ¾ oz dates, stoned (ideally the plump sticky Medjool dates)
4 tbsp cocoa powder, sieved
2 tsp cinnamon
250g/9oz porridge oats (gluten-free if required)
100g/3 ½ oz pecan nuts, roughly chopped
75g/2 ½ oz dried cherries, raisins, sultanas or cranberries
50g/1 ¾ oz coconut flakes
50g/1 ¾ oz sunflower seeds
2 tbsp linseed/flaxseed
Pre-heat the oven to 140C/120C fan/275F/gas 1. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment.
Put the melted coconut oil, maple syrup, bananas and dates, into a food processor and blend to a smooth puree. Transfer to a large bowl.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix well, making everything is coated in the banana puree mixture.
Tip onto the baking tray and loosely spread into a single layer. Place into the oven and cook for 1 hour, mixing the granola around every 15 minutes, breaking up any particularly large chunks.
After 1 hour the granola will still remain soft but will have a delicious toasted aroma and appear more golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. As it cools, it will become crisp and crunchy.
Once cool, store in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks – though it’s highly unlikely you won’t have any left by then anyway!
Flexible… Nut-Free: simply omit the pecan nuts and replace with some additional dried fruit such as banana chips, chopped figs, apricots or mango. Extra chocolatey: stir 100g/3 ½ oz dark chocolate chips or chunks into the granola when it comes out of the oven.
1. Line a baking sheet with baking powder 2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the corn and swirl the pan around to coat the corn in the oil. Cover with a tight-fitting lid. Reduce the heat to low and leave the pan for a few minutes until the popping has stopped, then remove it from the heat. 3. Meanwhile, put the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a separate pan over a low heat until the butter has melted. Increase the heat to medium and let the mixture bubble for 2 minutes. Pour over the popcorn and stir well to coat. 4. Spread the popcorn over the prepared baking sheet and leave to cool for about 15 minutes in a cool place (not the fridge).
Pop the popcorn in a bag, seal well and then put the bag inside a popcorn box for the best gift for movie fans.
These White Chocolate Truffles seen in Country Living were far too good to miss.
1/2 cup plus 9 tablespoons heavy cream, divided 310g plus 3 cups white chocolate chips, divided 50g cream cheese, at room temperature 32 Biscoff biscuits finely crushed. Aim for 2 1/2 cups crumbs Holly sprinkles, for decorating.
Heat 1/2 cup cream in a medium saucepan over low heat until bubbles form around edges, 1 to 2 minutes; remove from heat. Add 310g of chocolate chips and let sit 2 minutes; whisk until smooth. Whisk in cream cheese then fold in cookie crumbs until combined. Transfer to a bowl and chill until firm, 2 hours or up to overnight.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll mixture into tablespoon-sized balls; transfer to baking sheet. Freeze until firm, 35 to 40 minutes.
Microwave remaining 9 tablespoons cream and 3 cups chips in a microwave-safe bowl on high 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Dip truffles in melted chocolate, tapping off excess, and place on a prepared baking sheet. Immediately place a holly sprinkle on top; let set.
Stained Glass Window Cookies from Jamie Oliver
1 clementine 100 g unsalted butter , (cold) 180 g plain flour 50 g caster sugar ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 tablespoon milk 12 coloured fruity boiled sweets
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4, and line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
Finely grate the clementine zest. Cube up the butter and place in a mixing bowl with the flour, sugar, clementine zest and cinnamon. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the mix till it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add the milk and bring together to make a soft dough. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and place it in the fridge to firm up for about 30 minutes.
Separate the sweets into colours and place in separate sandwich bags. Press the air out and seal the bags, then carefully crush into small pieces with a rolling pin.
Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface, and roll out to 1cm thick. Use a selection of large cutters to cut out shapes and place on the lined baking sheets, then use the smaller cutters to cut a ‘window’ in the centre of each biscuit.
Sprinkle enough crushed sweets to fill the centre hole (don’t overfill or the sweets will melt over the biscuit), then use a cocktail stick to make a hole in the top of each biscuit, so you can thread a ribbon through them later. (You can re-roll any dough trimmings to make more biscuits, but you’ll need more sweets. You could also bake the cut-out centres and eat as a treat when decorating the tree.)
Bake for 12 minutes, or till the biscuits are golden and the sweets melted. Leave to firm up, then transfer to a wire rack. Thread with ribbon and hang them on the tree or package up for gifting.
We’re challenging super cool City Kids families to take some time out from the usual daily routine to explore outdoors and hunt down these rather festive things.
Don’t worry, there’s no need to venture off into the deep, dark woods, although you’re so welcome to do so if you wish. Most of these things can be spotted walking around the block or on the school run. Woolly hats, gloves and scarves are a must – it’s getting cold out!
On your street
Count the number of chimneys on your street
Spot a house with an extravagant Christmas display
Discover the coolest Christmas wreath
Find a good parking space for Santa’s sleigh
Out and about
Find a reindeer
Dig around for a really large acorn
Can you see some holly and ivy?
Collect some cool twigs perfect for snowman arms. Keep them handy
Gather ingredients for Santa’s favourite snack and drink
Vote on your favourite Christmas advert
Ask all members of your family to share the funniest Christmas joke
Tell your family which is your favourite Christmas tree decoration
Do draw, snap or document your findings, we’d love to see them. Send us pictures over on our Instagram.
9 great Christmas Books for little kids and big kids
If you haven’t already, now’s the time to swap the usual bedtime stories for something a little bit more Christmassy.
As with the rest of our usual Christmas traditions, all things 2020 and COVID have crept their way into some of the storybooks. Here are some of our favourite Christmas Books which we think will suit a range of ages.
2020 has been pretty dull. Agreed. So we’ve sent our team on a trail across the capital in search of some of the brightest lights and Christmas displays in London. Here’s what we found. This makes a fantastic early-evening Christmas activity for families needing a spot of fresh air and a welcome change of scenery too.
Not only the beautiful peacock-inspired lighting but a 5m tall Christmas tree will greet you at Bond Street. The towering tree offers shoppers a unique, virtual experience upon scanning a QR code, transporting visitors to a magical, fairy filled land. Offering a very special festive gift, shoppers can enjoy some seasonal sparkle, snow and fairy dust in the mesmerising, never-seen-before filter.
First stop is the Tate Britain which is a delight on a normal day, but this year it’s a must. It can’t really be missed as it sure does stand out. We spotted it all the way across the river from Vauxhall.
As expected, Harrods and Harvey Nichols are shimmering like never before. Knightsbridge is very much a crowd pleaser. The kids will soak the magic of the lights during which grown ups may well drool over the luxury boutiques and the out-of-this-world car dealership windows. [Photo credit: Harvey Nichols]
Inspiring store fronts from our favourites in fashion, food and interiors over at Walton St. Of course, Blue Almonds have aced it with their beautifully illustrated window display. Additionally, it’s an absolute joy to see small businesses finally up and running again after lockdown!
High Street Kensington
From the storefront at The Ivy Brasserie to the terrific arch that welcomes you back into an absolute children’s wear classic, Trotters. The entire street is completely lined with lights. Sure to lift your spirits. [Photo credit: Trotters]
Always quirky and of course home to Liberty. But the main event has got to be Carnaby St lights, they’ve partnered with charity Choose Lovein support of refugees. Spreading hope, love and positivity. Meaningful and much needed.
This year Fortnum & Mason have turned their front windows into an advent calendar. Following a peruse do take a stroll through Burlington Arcade and onto New Bond St where you can see the likes of Cartier et al really pull out all the stops! [Photo credit: Fortnum & Mason]
Spot Tiffany’s signature blue and silver Christmas trees. They’re sterling! For a blast of pink, Peggy Porschen’s display is as sweet as a slice of cake (or three).
A tribute to our key workers. This one truly speaks for itself. Do also head town towards Selfridges, word has it they’ll be running Christmas on the Mews, a market where you can grab everything from refreshments, gifts and even your Christmas tree! Find out more here. [Photo credit: Oxford St W1]
Have you recently come across a Christmas display in London worth shouting about? Give us a nudge on our Instagram.
Some of the best Christmas Craft activities to welcome the festive season
City Kids HQ is divided. Between those that do, and those that don’t do craft. Fear not! We’ve put together some basic Christmas ideas from Instagram’s finest which will be fun, even for those who normally do craft through gritted teeth. And for the pros, we’ve got some extended project briefs for you!
Dried Orange Slices
This project offers up multiple purposes. Use them to craft delightfully natural looking Christmas decorations, to fill the house with a wonderful aroma or parents you’ll like this one… you can pop them into your Christmas drinkies. PLUS if you’re anything like us, you may have a couple of neglected citruses lying around in the fruit bowl, grab them quick before they get waste!
How to dry your own orange slices at home:
Cut 1cm from top to bottom of an orange or clementine
Lay out a baking tray with greaseproof paper
Set the oven to a really low temperature. We had our fan oven on at around 60 degrees for around 3 hours.
While the tray heats up, use a muslin or tea towel to pat each slice dry, then place them evenly onto the baking tray.
Keep an eye on them, rotating them every so often.
The slower the better. Once the edges start to harden, your dried oranges are ready to cool.
Optional: Turn your orange slices into Christmas tree decorations by threading through the centre of the slices with ribbon/ string or thread. Also optional – add a blob of glue around the edges and dab them in a plate of glitter for extra shine!
Gone are the days of filling stockings with lots of plastic tat: we’re going quality over quantity this year
This is the part of Christmas where we probably end up spending more than on the ‘main’ present. Does that resonate? With that in mind we’ve hunted a selection of stocking fillers and smaller gifts for all ages.
We’re celebrating the launch of My Little Piccolo’s Just-for-you subscription box by offering 1 lucky City Kids reader a chance to WIN THREE boxes
My Little Piccolo’s Just-For-You box is a personalised meal plan, tailored to each baby’s needs. It factors in their age and dietary requirements, as well as parents’ eating goals for them. Piccolo bases the plan around their lifestyle, which then evolves as the baby grows.
As lockdown restrictions continue to have an impact across the country, Piccolo wants to make it easier for parents to take care of their babies. The Just-For-You Box supports mums and dads by giving them one less thing to worry about, offering a full range of products tailored to their needs.
Balanced, healthy meals and recipes for their children will be delivered to their doors, avoiding any stress or worries about meal planning and grocery shopping.
So to WIN three months of balanced, healthy meals and recipes for your little one, please follow the instructions below:
Ts & Cs The decision of City Kids is final. No cash alternative. If the winner does not claim the prize within 24 hours of notification, City Kids reserves the right to draw a new winner. One entry per person. Entries close Wednesday 24th November at midnight. UK entries only.
11 of the best subscription boxes which make great gifts this Christmas
The joy of receiving a package in post is a real novelty for our digitally-minded kids. With subscription boxes relating to food, reading, STEM and art there’s something for everyone.
Little Box of Books
Representative, diverse and inclusive children’s books, Little Box of Books exists so more kids see themselves in stories and learn about the world. £19.99 littleboxofbooks.co.uk
Tech Will Save Us
Every hero starts somewhere. Squishing sculptures. Sewing circuits. Playing with power. Crafting and coding. Explore our creative tech kits. Future is now. £39.99 techwillsaveus.com
Themed monthly adventures, delivered to your door, for ages 3-8. £8.95 toucanbox.com
Not just Nibbles
Healthy cooking kits for kids. Delivered through your door for hours of healthy cooking fun notjustnibbles.com
Mud + Bloom
The boxes are for 3-8 year olds and will be delivered through your letter box at the beginning of each month. Each box includes everything you need for four seasonal activities: gardening and nature crafts – along with instructions, nature news and a quiz aimed at teaching children about the seasons, plants, insects, birds, soil and rainfall. £9.95 mudandbloom.com
Little Cooks Co
The 100% recyclable box (and compostable packaging) is filled with all the natural and healthy dry ingredients of that month’s delicious recipe for kids to bake in the home. Every box bought pays for a vulnerable school child in the UK to receive a healthy breakfast through its partnership with the charity Magic Breakfast. £8.99 www.littlecooksco.co.uk
Toy Box Club
Differing from other subscriptions, Toy Box Club is a monthly toy rental service. We provide a box of the best toys and books in the country straight to your door. At the end of each month we will simply pick up the old ones and deliver a different set. Less waste, more space. £35 toyboxclub.co.uk
Mysteries in Time
Each month, a time machine package is delivered to your door bursting with fun activities. Follow Max and Katie as they travel back in history to solve a mystery in the illustrated adventure story and learn fun facts in the colourful history magazine. Bring the history to life with the hands-on activity and have fun solving the puzzles. From £6.95 a month. mysteriesintime.co.uk
Teen Calm subscription box is like a virtual hug…Founded by 14 yr old Freya and her mum, Teen Calm aims to help anxious teens by sending them a box of goodies every month to soothe them and bring them confidence, a sense of belonging and something fun. £25. teencalm.com
Parrot Street Book Club
A monthly book subscription helping families discover brilliant chapter books. Curated activity packs add to the fun. Perfect for kids aged 5-11. From £39.95 parrotstreet.com
Lots of Lovely Art
LoLA creates art projects for children inspired by real artists sent monthly. And we’ve just found this neat code…Use coupon code CHRISTMAS20 at checkout to receive 20% off ANY subscription! lotsoflovelyart.org
Whether Monopoly makes its annual appearance or if you make a point of getting a new game each year, we round up the best Christmas board games, starting with an intro from board game designer, Ellie Dix.
Board games have the power to bring families closer together, strengthen relationships and forge shared memories. Good board games evoke all sorts of emotions; happiness, delight, tension, intrigue, awe, trust, anticipation, surprise. Our emotional reactions connect us to the game, the experience and the people we’re playing with. Carving out moments for doing things together, like playing board games, gives families a natural focus for conversation. Tabletop chatter spills over into post-game analysis. Great experiences act as bookmarks in our mind, giving us memories to chat about time and time again.
Socialising with family
Many interactions parents have with their children are functional or transactional. It is all too easy for parents to get caught up with what needs to be done (homework, tidying, chores) and forget about stealing moments to have fun together. It’s so important for children to see their parents play. Board games develop many social and learning skills. They give children an opportunity to learn how to take turns, practise patience, work as part of a team, negotiate with others, compromise, communicate ideas, take risks, follow rules and directions and manage restrictions. Playing games improves memory formation and cognitive skills, increases processing speed, develops logic and reasoning skills, improves critical thinking, boosts spatial reasoning, improves verbal and communication skills, increases attention and concentration, teaches problem-solving, develops confidence and improves decision-making.
Game playing has proven health and mental health benefits as it induces laughter and reduces stress, boosting the immune system and lowering blood pressure. Importantly, board games give us a screen-free escape from our daily worries and allow us to focus on something else for a while.
Six games in a giant cracker. One cracker on the table, no waste. Replayable, zero-waste and entirely plastic-free. The games are designed for multi-generational play. Each game has a complexity rating, so you can pick a game that suits your level of post-Christmas lunch food coma level. The beautiful twist-end box is packed with high-quality cards and wooden components. 2-6 players | 5-15 minutes | ages 8+ | £19.99 + vat thedarkimp.com
Pop to the Shops
Orchard Toys have a huge variety of games for little ones which are simple to understand and easy to play. There’s always an educational element too. £10.99 orchardtoys.com
Five Second Rule
One for all the family (there is also a junior version), Try to name three types of cat. Easy. Then do it with the added five-second time limit. £11.99 amazon.co.uk
Move from the Awful Ancients to the Measly Middle Ages, through the Terrible Tudors and the Vile Victorians to the modern times by answering “Horrible” multiple-choice questions, acting out charades and trying to avoid Rattus and his tricky “Chance” cards! £16 johnlewis.com
Backgammon, chess, dominoes, cribbage and even snap. Start them young with this mahogany compendium. £99 jaqueslondon.co.uk
The aim of the game Pass the Pug is to be the first to get to 100 points and become top dog. The positions the pugs land in, determine how many points you get, but become a greedy dog and you could find yourself back to zero. £13.99 365games.co.uk
Trivial Pursuit Family Edition
A chance for parents to show off or for kids to beat the know-it-alls. £30 Wilko.co.uk
Can’t face a three-day game of Monopoly? Don’t blame you. Try this 15-minute version instead. £4.99 ryman.co.uk
The Pictionary Air app follows players’ movements as their draw in the air, allowing their team to see sketches on their device. Customise the game with the app – it can save sketches, interact with drawings and allow teams to add more guessing time or rounds. You can even cast your game to your TV. £16 marksandspencer.com
Ellie Dix is a game designer and author of The Board Game Family: Reclaim your children from the screen(Crown House Publishing: 2019). She runs The Dark Imp, a board game publisher specialising in games for families. TheDarkImp.com
A New series on Apple TV+ shows how parenting and child development across different global cultures is more similar than we may imagine
Becoming You takes a cross-cultural view of child development between birth and five-years of age. Each of the six episodes focuses on one aspect of development such as movement, thinking, communication and emotion. The series looks into the lives of 100 children from 10 different countries from Nepal to Japan and Borneo. This cross-cultural perspective shines a light on our shared developmental journey. Along the way, we also get to see how childhood and parenting differs from place to place. Advisor to the series, Dr. Nathalia Gjersoe, who is a Developmental Psychologist at the University of Bath, has put together some tips where parents will all find common ground.
5 tips for raising young kids
A quick look at the wide range of cultural differences in parenting styles shows there is no one “right” way of parenting and no quick and easy hacks. Parenting is a complex and involved process that changes from day to day. Culture influences who cares for children, how they are cared for and which behaviours are encouraged and rewarded or discouraged and punished. As parents, we are often blind to the influence of our culture on our parenting decisions. What seems obviously right to us may seem wrong to others. Looking at different parenting practices across the world can help identify some of the assumptions we make about what good parenting “should” look like and shows that there are lots of different ways to get it right.
1. Parenting is trendy: The history of parenting manuals in the West shows that ideas of ‘good parenting’ flips from one generation to the next. For instance, it was previously believed that responding to a crying baby would reward the behaviour and lead to more crying. However, research showed that responding to a crying baby actually reduces the amount and intensity of subsequent crying.
Tip: Many parenting books these days are better embedded in research but it’s worth remembering that this also changes. Parenting manuals are great to get ideas but if it doesn’t resonate with you or what you understand of your child, try a different one.
2. Motor development: This refers to when children meet specific physical milestones such as sitting, running and climbing. Research shows that toddlers in a nomadic society in a jungle environment were rarely allowed to roam more than a meter from their caregiver and were delayed in meeting their motor milestones. However, once they were a little older and had greater freedom they quickly outstripped their North American counterparts in physical dexterity.
Tip: There is a huge amount of natural variation in the time at which babies and children meet specific developmental milestones. Giving young children safe space to explore can help speed up their physical development, but milestones are normally reached one way or another.
3. Social development: Researchers distinguish between those cultures that prioritise independence as compared to those that prioritise interdependence. Independence is a focus on autonomy and self-reliance, interdependence is a focus on collaboration and social harmony. Of course there is a great deal of variety within cultures but these two groups do reflect some measurable differences in parenting style. Parents in more independence-focused societies, such as the USA, engage in more competitive games. Those in inter-dependent cultures focus more on collaborative games. Children in interdependent cultures score higher on tests of empathy, on average, than those in independent cultures.
Tip: Consider the games you play with your child and whether they are encouraging the characteristics you would most like to develop
4. Thinking development: Across the world we see children engaging in extraordinary feats of imagination. What is considered normal in some cultures has historically been a cause for concern in others. One example is imaginary friends. While some cultures consider it normal to talk and engage with invisible entities, in the UK and USA this behaviour in children was considered a sign of mental disorder and social dysfunction until well into the 1960s. Subsequently, it has been shown that children who have imaginary friends, or treat their toys as living entities, do not differ psychologically and actually perform better on some social tasks than those who don’t. Rather than being a sign of social inability, imaginary friends are often a sign of a socially precocious child.
Tip: Consider your child’s unusual or inconvenient behaviour carefully. Is it their behaviour that is the problem or the expectations of the culture they are in? Helping your child thrive in the culture they are in is an important task of parenthood, but reflecting on why certain behaviours are acceptable and others aren’t can help us deal with the situation more sensitively.
5. Independence versus protection: In Becoming You we see a 3-year-old in Tokyo traversing the city to buy breakfast and a 3-year-old in Borneo cracking open a coconut with a machete. The Western parent in me would quake at sending even my 6-year-old to do similar yet in different cultures we see very different expectations about what children can achieve at a young age.
Tip: Autonomy has been shown to be very valuable for children’s self-esteem and later physical and mental development. Where possible, let young children observe and participate in the day to day activities in your house and their care settings. I’m not suggesting you just give your child a machete! But try to give them opportunities to help and feel they have contributed in a valuable way, and support them to practise complex skills.
It’s a busy time of year for us magazine editors as we curate our Christmas guides. But there’s enough time to meet the founder of Turtle & Badger, champion of sustainable toys.
Lucy Cuthbert, 28, lives in London with her fiancé Tom. At the beginning of February, she left behind her job as an Events Director to pursue her passion in sustainable and eco-conscious toys. Having launched Turtle & Badger earlier this month, Lucy talks about the benefits of investing in sustainably made toys.
If you, like many, are beginning to take a look at how small changes in your lifestyle could help the environment, it might be time to look at the toybox. As more businesses are pledging to become carbon neutral, a number of design-led toys brands are emerging who are putting sustainability first. It’s all a step in the right direction, says Lucy Cuthbert, Director of Turtle & Badger, an online store championing sustainable and eco-friendly toy brands.
With four nieces to buy birthday and Christmas gifts for, Lucy was struggling to find somewhere that stocked eco-friendly toys. “Even when I found a sustainably made toy, they would arrive in wasteful packaging and wrapped in single-use plastic,” she explains. That’s where the idea for Turtle & Badger was born. “I wanted to build a site that people can visit and feel confident that every part of their gift is considered and sustainable. But I also wanted the toys to be beautiful and most importantly, good fun for the kids.”
Passionate about reforming our use of toys, Lucy is keen to spread the word about the advantage of investing in timeless toys that will last for generations. “Nearly 1 in 3 parents say they have thrown away toys that are in perfect working order, and so many of these – especially the plastic ones – will end up in landfill. Wooden and organic toys are an investment that are more likely to be kept as keepsakes or be passed down to younger siblings or friends.”
The materials bring benefits too. “The natural textures of wooden and organic toys are much nicer for kids to touch and feel. They don’t contain the chemicals or sharp edges that
some plastic toys do. And the simple designs encourage kids to use their imagination, helping them build problem solving and fine motor skills.”
Making it happen
“I was at a point in my life where I was becoming very aware of my own impact on the environment,” says Lucy. “Working in events, I was travelling all over the world and saw first-hand, the amount of waste this industry produces and wanted to move away from that lifestyle.” The nationwide lockdown earlier this year posed a challenge for Lucy who was hoping to conduct a little more market research in person before launching. “Lockdown did mean I could dedicate myself to launching the business without distractions, though,” she says.
“It’s been lovely getting positive feedback from customers who are enjoying the toys – especially when they send pictures of their kids playing with them.” So what’s next for Turtle & Badger? “I’d love to begin developing some of my own toys.” But for now – with her spare-room-turned-stockroom and the kitchen table a (sustainable) wrapping station – Lucy is busy packing up orders ahead of the Christmas rush.
Enjoy 10% off eco-friendly children’s toys and gifts at Turtle & Badger using the discount code CITYKIDS.
Our guide to 12 of the most stylish Christmas jumpers you’ll find this year
Wearing for charity, piling on the cheese or looking for stylish winter wear, our Christmas Jumpers Guide brings you some stylish knits. As with much of City Kids, we’ve tried to seek out some of the coolest togs to see you through the festive season.
We’ve edited a gift guide from brands with sustainable, ethical and eco-friendly credentials for a green Christmas gift guide of dreams. Say goodbye to single-use tatt.
Almost 71,000,000 milk jugs have been recycled to make Green Toys so far. Which means we can still enjoy some plastic toys in the house without the guilt. greentoys.co.uk
Pebble Octopus Crochet Rattle
Fair Trade and made with 100% organic cotton, we defy anyone who doesn’t smile with an octopus in their life. £10. kidly.co.uk
Cotton Twist has been a company on a mission to be 100% green with its craft and activity boxes. It’s nearly there. Quality, ethically sourced and almost zero plastic anywhere in the production. We love these brilliant water soluble pencils. £11.95 cottontwist.co.uk
The Den Kit Company
This collaboration with the National Trust supplies you with a hide, camouflage netting and waterproof tarpaulin to spot animal trails, learn bird calls and watch how the seasons alter the outdoor world around you. £60 thedenkitco.com
Handmade at Bex’s kitchen table in North Yorkshire, there is a great variety of creative crayons to choose from. £12. notonthehighstreet.com
A colourful set of 11 farm friends, along with a pen, zipped up in a fold-out field with pond. Made from beautiful handmade, eco-friendly, fair trade cotton. goodthingsgifts.co.uk
Little Feminist Book Set by Mudpuppy
The Little Feminist Board Book set of Artists, Pioneers, Leaders and Activists features colourful illustrated portraits of real women who have made a historical impact on the world. The board contains 90% recycled materials and it is printed with non-toxic inks. £12.99 ethicalsuperstore.com
Oli & Carol Brucy the Broccoli Teether & Bath Toy
We love Oli & Carol’s ecological toys made from natural rubber. And we love the names they give them! £14 kidly.co.uk
Someday Bambi Chair
Designed by Japanese artist Takeshi Sawada, the Bambi chair is handcrafted in Denmark and produced from fine solid European Oak and American Walnut An iconic piece to pass through the generations! £230 somedaydesigns.co.uk
Kids Concept Guitar
Got to be easier than drums, right? And it looks good! £28 kidly.co.uk
Tender Leaf Toys 10 Sea Creature Animals & Shelf
This collection of gorgeous sea creature animals made from sustainable rubberwood comes with a wooden shelf perfect for tidying away fast! £49.95 turtleandbadger.co.uk
Enjoy 10% off eco-friendly children’s toys and gifts at Turtle & Badger using the discount code CITYKIDS.
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
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.
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.
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.
In light of the US election result, we’ve curated some of our favourite products that celebrate girls in power. May Kamala Harris’ election inspire our kids to go for the dreams, regardless of their gender.
We’ve been following Dream On’s collection for some time now. Their latest drop this weekend is very apt and we want one in all sizes. Available in pink or white, kid and adult tees and baby grows available.
They launched this collection to proudly celebrate powerful, strong women and profits go to Girls Out Loud, a social enterprise on a mission to raise the aspirations of teenage girls.
From pop sockets to sweatshirts and patches to sew onto the inside book bags, coats or cardigans, Muthahood has cornered the market for empowering march. We love the Chuck it all in bags and the Strong Girls Club branding. Owner Gemma also champions other small businesses which we also love. A lot.
Self-proclaimed feminist in progress, Suzanne Hemming has created series of books to inspire the next generation. Her latest, How Frank Helped Hank, tackles the outdated views that toxic masculinity place on society.
From Rosa Parks, Coco Chanel, Greta Thunberg and everyone in between – we enjoy sharing the inspirational stories with our kids and these Little People, Big Dreams books published by Quarto Knows are must on all kids’ shelves.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Petition to extend free school meals over the holidays until Easter 2021 rejected by a 322 – 261 vote majority.
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.
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.
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.
Check on those that you know who may be struggling at this time.
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.
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:
October’s half term may not look quite the same as normal, but we’ve found some plenty of things on offer in London to keep them all amused.
Whether you’re looking for all day camps, online or in person, or simply some days out, here’s the City Kids guide to things to do this half term.
Firetech firetechcamp.com The UK’s leading provider of tech education for 8-17 year olds, is running week long tech courses online this October half term. Courses include: Python & Java Coding, Minecraft Maker, Artificial Intelligence, Creative Digital Design and MORE! Live teaching by expert tutors from the UK’s leading universities. In a safe and secure learning environment with class sizes of 8 students per tutor. Get £25 OFF now using code: CK25
Will to Win Junior camps operate in Greenwich, Chiswick, Lammas Park, Pitshanger Park, Regents Park and Hyde Park. 19th – 23rd & 26th – 30th October 4-7yrs and 7-16yrs willtowin.co.uk
The Little Gym thelittlegym.eu/uk Gymnastics based camps for all abilities in Chiswick, Hampton and Hampstead. From 19th – check schedules with individual gyms.
Cypher cyphercoders.com Creative coding courses in Ealing, Dulwich, Wandsworth, Fulham and Notting Hill. Also courses online. 5-14 yrs
Dukes Meadows dukesmeadows.com In person camps operating across tennis, golf, ski and multi-sport. Half-day or full day with lunch included. 26-28 October To book: 020 8994 3314
Mother Nature Science mnature.co.uk Kingston, Richmond, Sutton, Harrow, Southgate, St John’s Wood, Hampstead, Kensington, Herne Hill Book a day or a full week at these camps designed to have fun with science. Themed days include Rocket Launch, Powerful Air, Starry Light and Outer Space. 5-12yrs
Rocks Lane rockslane.co.uk Venues in Chiswick, Barnes, Bishop’s Park and Hurlingham Park, Rocks Lane offers football, multi-sport, tennis and netball camps for kids from the age of three (shorter hours). rockslane.co.uk
Chelsea Young Writers chelseayoungwriters.co.uk Online only creative writing courses delivered by authors and tutors. Also exam booster course. 6-12yrs
Role Models rolemodels.me Having conquered online teaching in lockdown, Role Models return with in-person Brilliant Me and My Mind courses. Online courses also available. 5-7yrs
THINGS TO DO
With fewer tourists in the capital, now is as good a time as any to get out and about and support the capital’s economy while doing so. Here’s some things to do which are worth the cycle or tube ride in.
Design Your Own T-shirt foundlingmuseum.org.uk In-person workshops from Bootleg T-shirts to Scary Skeleton Face Masks as well as online activities for all the family. From 27th October.
Horniman Museum horniman.ac.uk Listen to the wonderful adventures of Mary Seacole, the 1800s British-Jamaican war nurse, who will tell you her amazing story. 26-30 October.
Science Museum sciencemuseum.org.uk As well as Wonderlab, a new exhibition, Brass, Steel and Fire opens on 22nd October. This is free but all visits must be booked in advance.
Go Ape goape.co.uk Alexandra Palace, Battersea Park, Black Park, Chessington and Cockfosters are all open for tree top adventures All ages, min 1m height.
Where’s Wally Spooky Search phm.org.uk Can you find Wally in the People’s History Museum? All ages. Drop-in (closed on Mondays).
Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre roalddahl.com Pre-book a tour in bubbles of six and enjoy a VIP experience tailored to your favourite books and characters. All ages. 26-30 October.
London Transport Museum ltmuseum.co.uk Track down Billy Brown of London Town at both the Museum in Covent Garden and the Museum Depot in Acton Town. Along the way they will discover who Billy was, a popular character from the 1940s, and how he used his playful rhymes to encourage passengers to be on their best behaviour on public transport. 17th October – 1 November.
Lee Valley Regional Park An array of activities available this half term break to keep the kids active and entertained. From Ice Skating and White Water Rafting to BMX riding and Tennis lessons, there is something for all ages and interests.
Rafting Unleashed (£50pp) Gowhitewater.co.uk 28 October – 1 November14:00 and 16:00 Ages 12+
Gruffalo Adventures at Kew Gardens kew.org Families can play the ‘little brown mouse’ and follow a trail to track down the Gruffalo as well as take in the Autumnal scenes.
IWM Duxford & Captain Tom Foundation iwm.org.uk A brand new Captain Sir Tom at 100 display and a host of other activities, kicking off with the chance to join Duxford’s very own spy school, with codes to crack and missions to complete in Spies & Disguise. 24 October – 1 November.
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.
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.
Chicken and Black Bean Tinga Tacos with Watermelon Salsa
With the recent publication of The Flexible Family Cookbook, we’re celebrating by reproducing the recipe for Chicken Tinga Tacos from Jo Pratt.
“This is super-easy to make and for that reason I serve it frequently at home. Tinga is a Mexican dish where chicken is cooked with onion, tomatoes and chipotle sauce and shredded when cooked. I like to do a half-halfnchicken and black bean combo, to vary things up and reduce our meat intake. This juicy watermelon salsa is well worth making. Put everything on the table to make a sharing supper for everyone to dig into.” Jo Pratt.
Time taken 50 minutes / Serves 4
Ingredients 1 tbsp olive oil 1 onion, finely chopped 4 cloves garlic, grated or crushed 1 tsp dark brown sugar 1 tsp chipotle paste (or more for a spicier finish) 1 tsp red or white wine vinegar 400g/14 oz can chopped tomatoes 400g/14 oz can black beans or kidney beans, drained 2 chicken breasts, skinless or 350g/12 oz boneless chicken thighs flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the salsa
300g/10½ oz watermelon, diced into small pieces 4 spring onions (scallions), chopped ½ green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped ½ small bunch coriander (cilantro), chopped juice of ½ lime 2 tbsp olive oil
1 large ripe avocado, sliced or mashed sour cream 1 small red onion, finely sliced and mixed with juice of ½ lime grated Cheddar cheese coriander (cilantro) leaves, roughly chopped soft corn or flour tortillas, warmed
Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan or casserole dish.
Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes or until softened and starting to turn golden.
Add the garlic and cook for a further minute before stirring in the sugar, chipotle paste, vinegar, tomatoes, 200ml/7 fl oz/scant 1 cup water and the black beans. Mix everything together and bring to a simmer.
Add the chicken to the pan, spooning over the sauce to cover. Cover with a lid and simmer gently for 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the sauce thickened.
Meanwhile, make the salsa by mixing everything together in a serving bowl and seasoning with salt and pepper.
Once cooked, remove the chicken from the pan and sit on a plate or board. Using two forks, shred into strips and then return the shredded meat back to the sauce.
Serve the Chicken and Black Bean Tinga with the watermelon salsa, avocado, sour cream, red onion, cheese and coriander. Pile everything into warm tortillas, wrap and prepare to get messy.
Pescatarian: a delicious alternative to using chicken is to swap it for some chunky white fish such as cod, pollock or haddock. Let the tomato and black bean sauce cook alone for 20 minutes then add 400g/14 oz fish fillets to the pan. Spoon over the sauce, cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes. Break the fish into flakes in the pan and serve as above.
Get ahead: once made, the chicken can sit in the fridge for 3–4 days and heated through when needed. It can also easily be doubled up so you can freeze half for another time.
Butterflies at the start of the new school year are normal, but after the year we’ve had, Dr Kathy Weston offers some advice for back to school anxiety.
By Dr Kathy Weston
It can be normal for parents, even in ‘normal’ times to worry about the new school year. Whether your child is heading off to nursery, primary or transitions to senior or secondary school, parents will worry. Often those worries centre on the administrative burden that comes with a school start and on the ‘unknowns’ that come with a child joining a new class or school setting. What follows outlines some ideas on how to handle back to school anxiety.
What is striking is that children very often possess a different set of worries to their parents. Parental worry typically centres around children or young people’s ability to socialise, connect with others, make friends and the extent to which their child’s physical and mental health needs might be met over the next academic year. Children tend to be very practical when it comes to worrying. How will I get to school? What will the bus be like? Will I get lost? Who will pick me up? Who will be at home when I get back? It is not uncommon for children to be concerned about how they might navigate around the school building, where they sit for their lunch and how they will remember all the things they have to remember.
Coupled with these ‘normal worries’ that manifest in ‘normal times’, some children may experience anticipatory anxiety related to COVID-19. Is the classroom different? Can I play with my friends? Will I be able to play the same games? Some, but not all children, will worry on a larger scale about virus transmission and carry some anxiety left over from the experience of lockdown.
The good news is that parents play a powerful role when it comes to both alleviating anxiety in children and modelling a positive and resilient approach that can help children get school-ready. As a family, it is a useful exercise to reflect back on the experience of lockdown and to extract positives associated with the experience. Where were the silver linings? What did we learn about ourselves and others? Celebrate your resilience as a family over that period, so that your child begins to see themselves as already resilient. This kind of reflection breeds resilience.
A second part of being school-ready is about airing all and any worries in a nice open chat with your child. Together, seek out solutions, ideas and thoughts that can alleviate or cancel a particular worry. Perhaps your child is worried about walking alone to school. What can we do about that? Coach them rather than provide solutions yourself. Model a proactive and positive approach and importantly, convey a sense of excitement and joy that your child is moving up a year in school, growing and developing. What are they excited about and looking forward to?
Controlling Covid anxiety
In terms of the dreaded virus, try and focus your child’s attention on life’s ‘controllables’; what your child can do or influence in relation to it. Underline the practical steps that they can take to stay healthy, emphasise the proactive work schools are doing in anticipation of school return and celebrate the innovation that is taking place across the scientific world, that will enable us, at some point to return to life, unmasked.
In the current climate, it can easy to forget the central role of school; as places of learning. It is important that parents continue to reiterate to their offspring, that we go to school to work hard and to learn and that is it important to try our best. Let’s stay aspirational, whilst making sure they stay calm, focused and positive.
Dr Kathy Weston is an academic, motivational speaker, wife and mother of two boys. She delivers talks to parents and teachers and also offers 1:1 coaching.
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.
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.
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.
It’s the holy grail that all parents seek: SLEEP! Expert, Rosey Davidson offers advice on how to get back to normal bedtimes after an extraordinary year.
As the kids go back to school, we’re all hoping they’ll go back to sleep! 2020 has certainly been a year of challenges for most families. COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the sleep of our nation. Children are no exception. Increased screen time, later bedtimes, increased anxiety, time away from friends and normal support networks… the list goes on.
During the pandemic research tells us that there has been a significant shift in bedtimes and morning wake times – 70% of children under 16 are going to bed later (Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, ref: Sleep Council). The result of this is that it is harder than ever to transition to a ‘normal’ routine at the start of the school year.
Screen time has played such a big role in home schooling, but this heavy reliance on technology can have a devastating effect on sleep. Lots of exposure to blue and white light from devices can affect our drive to sleep and our production of melatonin (our sleep hormone). Essentially this means, the more screen time we have, the less sleepy we feel!
While it is quite normal for children to go to bed a little later during summer holidays, for many parents that bedtime/wake time has shifted far further than usual. Fear not though, there are positive steps that we can take to make the transition back to school a little easier…
My top tips to improving sleep habits.
Make sure that you and your child get exposure to morning light – this is really valuable for our internal body clocks. Get outside for some fresh air early in the day.
Cut screen time before bed – 1-2 hours of screen free time will really help you and your little ones to switch off.
If your child uses a reading light in bed opt for an amber light – this is far less disruptive that blue/white lights.
Ideally try to keep homework and other activities out of the bedroom – reserve it for sleeping only if possible. If not then perhaps put a screen across the room to cover the desk/workspace at night. This is important for your child to learn to switch off.
Stick to a calm, consistent bedtime routine. Bath, story/or chat, cuddle and lights out. Children thrive on having clear boundaries. If your child is resisting bedtime I really like to create a bedtime poster together – detailing all of the steps towards bedtime and teaching them about the positive benefits of sleep to their bodies.
If your child is anxious about returning to school and struggling to sleep, some simple mindfulness techniques can be helpful. Deep breath in and out, focusing on the breath and movement of the tummy can really help.
Prioritising your sleep and that of your child’s is not decadent. It will improve concentration, mood, support immune system, help maintain a healthy weight and more. Most of all, a well-rested child is a child ready to learn and embrace the new normal.
The annual RBC Race for the Kids, which will help to raise vital funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), is going virtual this Autumn.
Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the hospital needs more support than ever so the charity is urging people to sign up for the first ever virtual RBC Race for the Kids. Over 10,000 people took part in last year’s event to run, jog, walk and scoot around the 5km iconic course in London’s Hyde Park. The hope is that more people will be able to take part virtually, wherever they are in the world.
The virtual event is open to supporters of all ages and abilities. Participants are encouraged to choose somewhere in their local neighbourhood, park or even a garden and ‘race’ your distance, your way. Race weekend is 17 and 18 October and helps to raise vital funds directly for GOSH Charity.
Who will the funds help?
The money raised will go towards funding the hospital’s most urgent needs. This includes research into pioneering new treatments, cutting-edge medical equipment, support services for children and their families, such as parent accommodation and the hospital’s Play team, and the essential rebuilding and refurbishment of the hospital.
Six-year-old Daniel will be racing for the first time with his mum Rosemary, dad Michael and older brother Joshua. He was treated at GOSH for a rare form of arthritis. A few days after bumping his knee whilst playing at home, Daniel began struggling to walk, had swelling and severe pain in his knee, ankle and elbow. Following multiple tests at his local hospital, Daniel was then referred to GOSH specialists.
Rosemary explains: “Daniel underwent many tests as doctors tried to rule out a number of conditions, he had MRI scans, blood tests, an echocardiogram, liver tests and bones looked at. Eventually the amazing team who had taken him under their wing were able to come up with a working diagnosis of Systemic onset Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, an extremely rare disease.”
Rosemary said: “We are all looking forward to taking part in the virtual RBC Race for the Kids this October. We loved the event last year and feel so lucky that Daniel is able to run and take part in something like this, as there have been times over the past couple of years when we didn’t think that would be possible. Doing the race is a reminder of the freedom we have with Daniel since his health has returned and is maintained by ongoing support from GOSH. It will be really fun doing our own race in the countryside close to where we live and hopefully we’ll raise some money for GOSH Charity!”
Be part of something bigger
Created by Royal Bank of Canada, the RBC Global Virtual Race for the Kids will bring together for the first time tens of thousands of participants to support 36 children and youth charities in 16 countries – and by being virtual anyone can take part wherever they are in the world. GOSH Charity is thrilled to be the UK charity beneficiary and is urging supporters to sign up and help raise vital funds for seriously ill children from across the UK who are treated at GOSH.
Participants can now sign up for free at rbcraceforthekids.com, select their city and associated charity and choose their preferred race distance to complete during the weekend of the 17 and 18 October. The virtual race will have support and integration with most running apps and all participants will receive digital medals and rewards.
Over the last 10 years RBC Race for the Kids has raised over £6million for GOSH Charity, helping to make a difference to the lives of seriously ill children from across the UK.
About Great Ormond Street Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity:
Great Ormond Street Hospital is one of the world’s leading children’s hospitals with the broadest range of dedicated, children’s healthcare specialists under one roof in the UK. The hospital’s pioneering research and treatment gives hope to children from across the UK with the rarest, most complex and often life-threatening conditions. Our patients and families are central to everything we do – from the moment they come through the door and for as long as they need us.
Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity needs to raise money to support the hospital to give seriously ill children, the best chance for life. The charity funds research into pioneering new treatments for children, provides the most up to date medical equipment, funds support services for children and their families and supports the essential rebuilding and refurbishment of the hospital. You can help us to provide world class care for our patients and families. For more information visit www.gosh.org
The last six months has been the cause of much family stress for many. Zoe Blaskey tells City Kids that it’s time to reset
Six months ago, we were collectively thrown into the challenge of our lifetimes – a global pandemic and lockdown. Families braced themselves for a ‘perfect storm’ of challenges – school closures, loss of childcare, closure of all playgrounds, playgroups, camps and in fact, anything we could use to entertain our children. At the same time many parents were trying to juggle working from home (I’ve heard parents starting work at 2am to get half a day done before the children wake up) and homeschool at the same time. Family stress was at an all-time high, no wonder it’s time to reset.
It was unbelievably intense for many. In fact, 87%* of parents told me they are stressed with family life – still.
We had very little warning, and had to adapt our lives literally overnight. It was a time of survival. Getting through each day, collapsing at the end of it in front of the TV (or a laptop) ready to do it all again the next day. We had no idea how long this groundhog day would go on or what our future might look like.
And now it’s September and that ‘back to school’ feeling is turbo charged as we think about returning to some degree of normality for the first time since March. It’s time to reset.
Here’s how to use September to press the Reset button – to process what’s happened, build resilience for whatever else this year might throw at us and get back into some sort of routine.
5 steps to reset:
1. Stress is a natural response to uncertainty – but when we’re stressed for a long time without addressing it, it can become chronic and often shows in physical signs – exhaustion, headaches, digestive issues, aches and pains. Learn about stress – how it shows up for you (we all feel it differently) and what you can do about it.
2. Supporting ourselves: during lockdown many parents’ own needs went further down the pile than ever before. Of course it did. But in times of intense pressure, it’s even more important to look after ourselves. When things get pushed down and down, the result tends to be an explosion. Think of a beachball being pushed under water and then released. Your needs don’t go anywhere just because you’re not tending to them. ‘Self-care’ as a parent isn’t about expensive spa days or candlelit baths. It’s taking just 5 minutes every day to fill your cup back up. The trick is knowing what to do – my favourites are meditation, free writing and mindful breathing.
3. How to support your children: I’ve heard consistently that across all ages, children’s behaviour has changed through this experience – they too have been on an emotional corona-coaster. It’s really important we learn the tools to help our children process their challenging feelings. There’s neuroscience behind how to do this – it’s just a matter of learning the skills.
4. How to handle disappointments and change. One thing is for sure, whatever the future may bring, it will bring change. Despite the rhetoric, of children handling change well, studies actually show children need more help with change than we may realise. Learn the ways to help your child handle change and disappointments that will make them feel heard, loved and connected to you – not pacified.
5. Reshape your future. In a recent study* 83% of parents shared they want to make changes to family life going forwards but change only happens when we are deliberate about it. So this is a perfect time to reflect on where we’ve been and how you want to handle wherever we might be going.
Deep breath. And reset.
Zoe Blaskey is the creator of The Family Reset Plan which, together with Dr Emma Svanberg a clinical psychologist and Dr Nnkea Ikeogu a child psychologist, dives into each of these five areas with practical, yet really effective ways to future proof your family.
You can read more about it here and if you work for the NHS – it’s absolutely free in recognition of our gratitude.
The countdown has started and back to school chat is on the agenda. As we get ready to go back to school, we’ve a review of Start-Rite shoes from Ivy-May and her mum.
Words: Jenny Estacio, Digital Marketing Guru at CK HQ
The lovely lot at Start Rite were kind enough to send us a brand new pair of school shoes to get the ball rolling on our back to school journey here at City Kids HQ. This was a perfect opportunity for 6 year old Ivy-May to give them a whirl and get started on back to school prep. She’s excited to go back to school where she’ll be reunited with her class. We hope you find this first Back to school review of Start-Rite shoes really helpful!
We used Start Rite’s free printable measuring gauge to scope out just how much Ivy-May’s feet have grown over lockdown. Turns out she’s a whole half size bigger! Their measuring gauge is a lifesaver. It’s fairly straight forward and it’s great that you can beat the queues, especially with social distancing and if you’re in a hurry. In a nutshell, once you’ve got the width and length, you tap the measurements into their shoe size calculator and ta-da, you can start picking out your fave style.
TOP TIP 1: We had to do this step twice. Please be warned, don’t assign this task to grandparents, as they’ll suggest a S13 for someone that’s actually an S11.5! That’s our lesson learned. I certainly did get flashbacks of having to wear my high school uniform 5 sizes too big at year 7.
TOP TIP 2: If using Start Rite’s handy measuring gauge, double check your printer settings and be sure you print the measuring gauge to scale. A lot of printers will be set to “fit to page” which will make it pretty much useless.
Picking styles on site
For 6 year old Ivy-May this was one of the most exciting parts of the process. They had the loveliest styles for both girls and boys. From their classic Mary Janes to slightly more fun and playtime suitable looks. We filtered it down to the Patent Spirit, a modern twist on the Start Rite classic that I used to wear as a child.
TOP TIP 3: Get the kids involved when it comes to picking the styles! Back to school prep, especially following lockdown can help to spark some excitement.
The Start Rite Patent Spirit Girls School Shoes
They arrived nice and quickly – we’re giving Start Rite a gold star for packing them in an eco friendly recycled box too. Having things delivered certainly beats heading to the shops and being met by the queues of other last minute shoppers. Of course, the shoes fit perfectly. The measuring gauge factors in room for growth too, so there really is no need to go a size (or two and a half) up! The Start Rite Patent Spirit is super smart, comfortable PLUS we love the patent shiny finish as this means it’ll look new for longer.
Do check out Start-Rite’s wide range of school shoes here.
For more of our back to school bits, we’ve got a great round up of hand sanitisers etchere, and check out our roundup of lovely lunchboxes here. And in case you missed it, our back to school checklist here. Bring on the new school year, we are so ready!
It’s hot, sticky and we all want to cool down. What better way than to have one of the best ice creams in London. Here’s our guide.
Whether you’re a Mr Whippy fan or only the best Italian gelato will do, London serves up some of the best ice cream. Vegan, goats milk, cow’s milk, milkshakes, sorbets, sandwiches and toppings, you name it….
Customise your own Milk Train ice creams and milkshakes by swirling a creamy base with different mix-ins. Or choose sundae options. Go choo-choo and add a choo-choo candy floss cloud to your ice cream or milkshake to fully board the Milk Train!
Soft Serve Society
Box Park Shoreditch & Market Hall Victoria (temporarily closed)
We’re not going to complain, god knows we like to see the sun in this country. But some of us are overheating. We’ve put together a useful list of heatwave hacks to get you through those sweaty days.
In all seriousness, heatwaves can also be dangerous. If you have a newborn you’ll be stressing about the temperature of the room, what to dress them in and how to keep them hydrated. Older kids will likely want to sit in the paddling pool all day, while you would like an ice bath. Our heatwave hacks are here to help you stay safe and sane this summer.
Never mind the kids, get a paddling pool just for you.
Seek out a fountain and splash like a child (with or without your kids).
Keep a stash of bottled water in the freezer.
Stay home and plant yourself in front of a fan. Do not move.
Run a flannel or small hand towel under the cold tap and place on your neck. Better still, put the wet flannel in the freezer and use when required. Have a supply.
Hang a cold, wet bedsheet at the window.
Eat less meat. Yes really. Digesting it causes our bodies to use energy and consequently heat us up.
Athleisure gear always.
Put your moisturiser in the fridge.
Always wondered whether Birkenstock and sock man knows more than you? Well, socks can help keep you cool by absorbing sweat.
Keep blinds and curtains closed during the day to keep out the hot air and light. A bit Miss Haversham but desperate times call for desperate measures. Open at night to enjoy the (slightly) cooler temperatures.
Showering before bed is a great way to cool down.
Another freezer trick: put your pillowcase in a plastic bag inside the freezer and use on the pillow at bedtime.
Drink plenty of fluids! Rose doesn’t really count for rehydration but a spritz covers both camps in our view.
With sleepless nights on the increase, City Kids takes a look at the best products to aid sleep
2020 has seen anxiety hit new levels in kids and adults as we all try to navigate our new working and home lives. Sleep is commonly interrupted which adds to the problem. But sometimes restless nights or lack of sleep can just turn up out for no apparent reason at all. Insomnia is can turn into a vicious circle where we’re desperate to try ANYTHING to get some zeds. We’ve tried some of these natural remedies and put together our list of the best products to aid sleep.
New Family Club, GetSetGo! will open in Putney early next year
Work has officially started on a brand new club GetSetGo! which launches for families in South West London early next year. Expect a pool, studios, interactive play area, co-working space and a cafe. Opening in January 2021, GetSetGo! promises to be a safe, enriching and multifunctional space with a fresh take on activities for all the family.
GetSetGo! Putney is the brainchild of Claire and Alina who have secured nearly £2m of investment to get the works underway. Speaking about the brand’s vision, Founder and CEO Claire Harrison said:
“As both a parent but also a seasoned leisure professional, I saw a huge gap in the market when it came to children’s activities. I have experienced too many times the distinct lack of suitable space to provide children’s activities across the capital. I started asking myself the questions every mum, dad and grandparent asks: Why am I paying so much money for my children’s activities, yet sat on dirty church, village halls and pub floors? Why am I having to juggle schedules, dashing from one place to another waiting for my children’s classes to finish? Trying to grab twenty minutes to do some work in between classes and never ever having any time for myself. The potential for a setting like GetSetGo! became glaringly obvious and so I decided to do something about it!”
Claire’s no stranger to the family activity market having set up hugely successful Swimming Rocks. Probably why it was essential to build a pool into GetSetGo!’s plans. And those among you with your ear to the ground will know that GetSetGo! is being created on the old Purple Dragon site in Putney.
GetSetGo! Putney will offer a full programme of activities, combining a mix of in-house signature sessions and classes offered from established activity brands. From baby groups to teen fit, ‘mummy and me’ exercise, to post-natal sessions Dance, martial arts, swimming lessons and so, so much more for children; not forgetting the adult group sessions that will be offered before and after work.
After the action, mum and dad can hit the café lounge for a light bite, healthy smoothie or much-deserved glass of wine, while little ones explore the hidden nooks and crannies that have been cleverly incorporated to encourage and promote independent play and learning.
GetSetGo! have also created a unique hybrid workspace that will allow parents to pursue their career without comprising parenthood – or facing the overwhelming guilt of trying to do it all! The co-working space offers the ideal solution, while also having the option of a lunch and coffee break, as well as an activity during the day.
Families will be able to join classes on a pay-as-you-go system or as part of a monthly or annual subscription, ensuring that the inspired setting is accessible to all without the hefty membership fees just to get through the door.
Clubs in Chelsea, Golders Green and Marylebone are due to follow.
We’ve learned a lot about ourselves and the coronavirus during the past few months and hand hygiene has been a constant. Here’s our roundup of handwash, sanitisers and handcare.
*Virtual* hi-fives to families for keeping on top of hand hygiene, especially since the start of the pandemic.
We’ve searched high and low for the best handwash, sanitisers and handcare products on the market. They’re hands-down going to make hand-washing fun again (that’s aside from the happy birthday hack, of course).
As an added BONUS a handful of our great finds go the extra mile, either giving back to the community, charities or are #plasticfreejuly compliant.
For every product sold, Nursem donates a month’s worth of free Nursem products to a nurse or midwife. Space NK will double the Nursem promise – so for every Nursem product sold at Space NK, two nurses or midwives will receive a month’s worth of free Nursem products.
The Mucky Pups Hand Sanitiser is the first hand sanitiser for children which has been proven 99.9% effective against bacteria, spores, viruses and moulds. Easy to use, fragrance-free and gentle enough for repeated use.
For every pack of 3 bought, Neom gives a pack of 3 Clean & Happy Hand Sanitiser Gel to the true superheroes – the NHS. This gel has 65% alcohol to kill 99% of germs but with added glycerine, it won’t dry your hands.
Activity providers have just been given the green light to reopen so holiday clubs and camps are go!
The prayers of parents up and down the land have been answered as holiday clubs and camps have been given permission to go ahead this summer. If you’re still not 100% confident about attending a holiday camp or club in person, there are still plenty of online options available, whether you’re in London or not. Booking for in-person camps will be essential as all will be running with bubbles. Here’s our guide to holiday clubs and camps to help you out.
THE LITTLE GYM
After the enforced break, themed activity camps that not only teach gymnastics but also work on confidence, self-esteem and creativity are back. The doors are being flung open for pirates, princesses, magic wizardry and superheroes for children aged 3-12yrs in Chiswick, Westfield, Wandsworth, Hampton Hill.
A Hampstead favourite is now launching in Hammersmith too. Creative Wiz Kids is the brainchild of a professional artist who has run camps for 30 years. Creative Wiz Kids holiday clubs are packed with exciting art projects, both themed and free Art. Activities include painting, crafts, dance, drama games, music, face painting, free play and storytime. The wider age range enables children to create individually at their own level and also to collaborate across ages should they choose. We offer clubs that are both structured and free-form. 3-9 year olds
Multi-sports camp aiming to develop sporting talent as well as ‘Life Skills Through Sport’ such as resilience, teamwork, empowerment and responsibility. 5-13 yrs East Molesey, Teddington, Hampton, Esher, Kingston
Coding and tech-inspired camps which touch on themes such as music, robotics, nature, oceanography and art. Various locations are now open for in-person camps but there are also virtual offerings. 5yrs+
A first UK Scott Dunn Explorers Kids club has arrived at Gleneagles, home to an 850-acre playground set in teh rolling Ochil Hills. Launching on 1st August, the action-packed programme will offer wee ones from 4 months up to those in their mid-teens a brilliant range of activities and country pursuits in the great outdoors – the ultimate active summer staycation for all the family.
Deep in the Hampshire countryside, you’ll find a green oasis of luxuriously appointed safari tents. It’s a safe wonderland for kids to explore, with eggs to collect daily and farm tours by the owners. Plus you can feast on homegrown produce cooked on your BBQ each day.
Not far from Cornwall Airport Newquay, the culinary delights of Padstow and and the botanic wonders of the Eden Project, these timelessly stylish boutique-barns have a contemporary and globally luxurious sophistication, blending architectural design and new interiors styling. Perfect for a mini-break or extended holiday.
You’ll have to get in quick to bag some nights away at one of The Pig’s gorgeous hotels. An eighth luxuriously appointed residence opens at the end of July with The Pig at Harlyn Bay near Padstow. July is almost fully booked and August is getting busy!
If space and tranquillity are what you’re after, Coworth Park’s reopening will be music to your ears. Stunning interiors, delicious food and even polo lessons on the menu. And for kids, there’s a whole house with seven rooms dedicated to younger family members plus a den for teens.
The planet is in crisis. If you want to make a difference, getting involved in Plastic Free July could kick start your eco-credentials.
Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities. The Plastic Free July campaign also provides resources and ideas to help you (and millions of others around the world) reduce single-use plastic waste every day at home, work, school, and even at your local café.
The easiest place to start is to make swaps for more environmentally friendly products.
Take a reusable cup to your local coffee house.
Buy plastic-free toothbrushes. Bamboo brushes are widely available now, but be wary if they still have plastic bristles. You’ll have to cut these off before recycling them. Also, look for a toothpaste that doesn’t have plastic balls in the paste and many health food shops will have plastic-free packaging options.
Sanitary items can now be plastic-free too. Amongst them Thinx makes washable underwear, Moon Cup is an alternative to sanitary towels and tampons and Eco Femme provides fabric towels.
Swap liquid soap in plastic bottles for bars of soap.
Try making your own beauty products to reduce the number of plastic containers you end up with in the bathroom. There are numerous online recipes and tutorials for soap, shampoo, shower gel, toothpaste, scrubs and lotions. Using simple, inexpensive ingredients, these products are better for the planet and reduce your use of plastic too.
Celebrate birthdays without plastic tat. Popular decorations that can be reused time and time again, include bunting, tassels, tissue pom poms, lanterns, fresh flowers, and more. And party bags no longer have to be filled with rubbish.
Stop using plastic wrap for food. Beeswax cloths from companies like The Beeswax Wrap Co are a great reusable alternative.
Teabags. Did you know that some contain plastic?! Ditch them and buy leaf tea and a teapot instead.
For more ideas on how to make a change head to our article about Going Green.
Small changes made to our lifestyles make a big difference to climate change and going green. Sophie Clowes investigates how we can all become more Greta.
Kids are so wise these days. Going green and climate change has been a ‘thing’ for decades but it took a teenager to call it a crisis and get the world to listen. When 15-year-old Greta Thunberg staged a school strike over climate change, she taught the world many things, not least that the accumulation of small acts can make a big difference. “Everything needs to change. And it has to start today.”
(c) Instagram: Greta Thunberg
This was Greta’s closing line of her impassioned TED talk on climate change in 2018. And at the World Economic Forum in Davos last year, in her famous “our house is on fire” speech, she opined, ‘The main solution is so simple that even a small child can understand it. We have to stop the emissions of greenhouse gases.”
There is much to be done if we are to put planet before profit. While the outlook is depressing, our efforts to redress the balance don’t need to be. According to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), we are under 10 years away from not being able to undo our mistakes. We must act now!
Where and how do we start going green? By taking our children’s lead and implementing small changes in everything from food to fashion, toiletries to transport. As Greta said, “The science is clear and all we children are doing is acting on that united science.”
Every company should use the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) as their basis for greater sustainability and equality. The 17 SDGs address global challenges relating to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. If everyone works together, we can begin to make a real and positive difference. Here are some ideas.
Going green: general
Choose to walk, run or cycle. Or use public transport. Or, if you must, car share
Reduce air travel
Use reusable bags, water bottles and coffee cups
Take plastic bags to supermarket recycling points – used responsibly, plastic bags can be recycled and reused many times over
Turn off unnecessary lights
Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs
Change to a green energy supplier
Collect rainwater for the garden
Use your local library
Set washing machines to the lowest temperature
Buy washing powder in boxes
Line dry laundry
Buy bamboo loo roll. Try Don’t Give A Crap
Buy your soap, shampoo and conditioner in bar form
Use a glass bottle for washing-up liquid bought in bulk
Grow your own herbs
Return take-away plastic containers or take your own dishes
Repurpose old cans and candles as vases, tealight holders or pen pots
Fill your house with plants to purify the air and increase happiness
If threads are your thing, you are in luck: sustainability and going green is the height of fashion and it’s a trend that is here to stay. The obvious suggestion is to refrain from buying new but, if you must, there is choice, from Gabriella Hearst’s ‘honest luxury’, to the admirable efforts being made by the likes of H&M and & Other Stories.
We have to consider all the links in the chain, from eco materials to ethical factory practices, from compostable components to sustainable packaging and transport.
Miranda Dunn, whose eponymous label makes vegan fur coats and sustainable dresses, suggests you should wear any item at least 30 times. Stylist Kat Farmer, @doesmybumlook40, reckons you should be able to think of at least three occasions and three different outfits to go with it to justify a purchase. While author Daisy Buchanan, @thedaisybee, celebrates, “rented splendour, vintage treasures, charity shop rummaging and finding new ways to shop the old”.
Head to The Frugality site for stylist Alexandra Stedman’s words of wisdom. Or, Emma Watson, who has partnered with @thredUP to launch their new Fashion Footprint Calculator, which will tell you the carbon impact of your wardrobe. Check out eco-age.com, from the woman who threw down the challenge of turning the red carpet green, Livia Firth. If you are interested in renting clothes, try mywardrobehq, and for secondhand purchases head online to the likes of ebay or on foot to a charity shop.
Eco eating means consuming more plant-based foods, eschewing all plastic packaging, eating locally and seasonally and preventing waste. There are lots of box schemes, such as OddBox or Abel & Cole, that support farmers and small producers, as well as food-sharing apps such as Olio, Karma and Farmdrop, which ensure no food goes to waste.
Other tips include:
Milk delivered in glass bottles by Milk&More
Taking your own receptacles and shopping in bulk stores
Repurposing water purifying charcoal tablets by keeping them in the fridge to stop it going mouldy
Ensuring your online grocery orders are delivered in paper bags. Try Ocado Zoom
We have finally woken up to the horror of tides of plastic washing through our homes. Happily, many sustainable children’s initiatives are welcome money-savers. Here’s what we have learnt:
Washable nappies are initially expensive, but many councils run schemes that help with the outlay
If you swap just one disposable for a washable every day, that’s 365 nappies not going to landfill in a year
The most eco solution is to potty-train your baby. Sit them over the loo or on a potty after every feed. If a child is out of nappies day and night by two, that’s thousands of nappies saved from landfill and a saving of, at least, £800 per child
Use bamboo plates and bowls
Trade toys and clothes with friends
Research suggests we should be talking to our children about periods from the age of eight. Period pants are an expensive initial outlay, but each pair lasts about two years and produces zero waste. Try Wuka or Flux.
Let’s fill our houses with more love, more laughter and less stuff by going green. And quickly. “Adults keep saying we owe it to young people to give them hope. But I don’t want your hope. I want you to act as if you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house was on fire, because it is.” Thank you, Greta, for raising the alarm.
We’ve all learned a lot about teaching children this year so now’s the time to give thanks with our teacher gift ideas.
Lockdown has strengthened our respect for our kids’ teachers. FACT. One key learning for us all over lockdown was that they really are super. From quickly adapting to digital classrooms, hours of marking all those assignments and remaining flexible at a time of uncertainty and helping to put their students (and parents) at ease. We owe a lot to our teachers for doing all they can to give our kids the best possible experience of learning from home. So here’s the City Kids roundup of teacher gift ideas which you could also access to give yourself a pat on the back!
A gift that’ll brighten up any teacher’s desk. We love that these Papier notebooks can be personalised PLUS Papier is donating 50% of profits to AKT, the brilliant charity dedicated to providing safe homes and better futures for LGBTQ+ young people.