Community projects, competitions and reward schemes for children to join in with from home

Hands up if you’re a parent looking for ways to entertain your children at home right now?

Fortunately there are lots of groups that have been quickly set up on Facebook sharing ideas and lots of people offering activities through online channels such as YouTube – we’ve been one of the thousands of families who’ve been joining in Joe Wicks’s The Body Coach 9am workouts for example.

Whilst learning for learning’s sake is never a bad thing and there are lots of sites that have been incredibly helpful in opening up their resources to all for free for at least a limited time, if your children would like to do something that might give them a much needed sense of community, a specific purpose or tangible achievement then here are a few ideas…

Rainbows and teddy bears
One of my favourite schemes has been people decorating their windows to cheer up their neighbours or families on their one period of exercise a day to spot.  In our area its mainly rainbows with a few teddy bears added too (so children can go on a bear hunt) but there are also a variety of lists circulating that see the theme change every few days (animals, funny faces and so on) ensuring regular new craft projects for your little ones.  We used crayons, stickers, paint, balloons and stones for ours and then had a walk around our area to sample the creativity of other households and there are some fabulous creations people have shared via social media too if you want to be particularly inspired.

“Our local community are putting Teddy bears in the window for a ‘we’re going on a bear hunt’ trail for those who are walking dogs, still heading out to work etc” says blogger Sarah Anguish who writes at www.boorooandtiggertoo.com.

OperationGratitudeOperation Gratitude – Write to a Veteran
The International Bomber Command Centre has launched Operation Gratitude, a fight against loneliness.  “Can you write a letter or make a card for a veteran to let them know they are not alone in these challenging times?”  Click here for suggestions of what you could write or draw as well as address details of where to post or email your letters to – don’t forget to include your first name and age in the card.

ele#Hometasking
When it comes to uncovering the nation’s creativity you surely can’t beat joining in with Taskmaster’s #Hometasking challenges?  Alex Horne is setting about three challenges a week and then it’s over to Greg Davies (via a horde of helpful viewing minions I’m sure) to choose his favourite attempts to complete it.  So far the challenges have been to throw an A4 piece of paper into a bin, to host a “night out” in your bathroom and to make a dancing elephant.  All tasks are obviously meant to be completed in your own home or garden with materials you already have – take a look at #hometasking on Twitter for more information and prepare for all the weird and wonderful a nation left twiddling their thumbs can provide.

Lincoln Castle and Lindum Books Short Story Competition
Lincoln Castle, in partnership with Lindum Books, are inviting people to unlock their imaginations and get creative in their short story writing competition.  Lucy the dragon has been a visitor to Lincoln Castle every 100 years and has witnessed and experienced so much over the last thousand years – can you help them to tell some of her stories?

LucyDragon

There are three age categories – age 5-12, age 13-18 and age 18+ – and each winner will receive a £20 gift voucher to spend at Lindum Bookshop in Lincoln.  “Your story can be as magical, as fantastical and as imaginative as you like… there are no limits… just start your story with the title ‘Meet Lucy!’ and let your imagination do the rest!”  No longer than 500 words and to be submitted on the official form, the competition is free to enter, restricted to one entry per person and must be received by 5pm on Friday, July 31st.

Newark Book Festival Competition
With three age categories – under 10s, 11 to 15 and 16+ – this is something all the family can take part in too.

For 2020’s competition, Newark Book Festival is taking its inspiration from the little manuscript made and written by Charlotte Bronte when she was only 14 years old that sold at auction in Paris for £666,970 in November 2019.  Dated August 19th, 1830, it is no bigger than a matchbox and is packed with stories, pictures and advertisements.

MiniManuscript

Using materials they have in their own home, the festival wants its entrants to make their own little book too.  Imaginations are encouraged to “run wild” but it must be handwritten/sewed, measure no more than the size of a playing card (3.5inch x 2.5inch) and have a maximum of 10 pages including the front and back cover.

The deadline has currently been extended until mid June, entries are to be kept at home for now and the festival will announce when drop off points/postal entries are open.  Find out more here.

grasscaterpillarNational Children’s Gardening Week Competion
If your children are particularly green fingered then they might want to join in with the National Children’s Gardening Week Competition if you have some grass seed to hand.  The promotional week normally runs at the end of May but it’s website has a page of ideas for Things to do that you might want to have a look at now.  One of those ideas is to grow your own grass caterpillar and these windowsill friends are the basis for the competition that opened on March 26th and ends on April 30th, 2020.

PawprintFamilyPawprint Badges
If your little Beaver is missing his or her regular achievement badge fix then they (and their fellow scouting/guiding group members) can still work towards them at home and our group leader has even sent us a couple of suggestions and ways to record their efforts already.  However there are also online alternatives such as Pawprint Badges that are open to all.  I’ve come across these before and always meant to look into them and, guess what, now I have the time.  There are lots of different badges and challenges, I think we might start by looking at the St George’s Day badge ahead of the patron saint’s day next month.

bluepeterBlue Peter Badge
Beth Law, who writes at www.twinderelmo.co.uk, suggests trying for a badge that might provide adults with a bit of nostalgia too.  “They can try to earn a Blue Peter Badge by doing different tasks such as drawing or crafting.  Us parents can take a walk down memory lane as a Blue Peter Badge was the ultimate prize when we were kids.  A great way to get your kids motivated as they will hopefully receive the coveted badge for their efforts.” 

Children’s University
ChildrensUniversityAnother scheme I’ve been meaning to look into for a while is the Children’s University, a national charity that is administrated through lots of local hubs.  Children’s University “believe in limitless learning beyond the classroom” and many of your children’s normal extracurricular activities could count towards their graduation but, of course, like most other providers in current times they have launched a special Covid-19 page with lots of suggestions for home and online activities.  I’ve already been in touch with our local corodinator and, whilst for obvious reasons she can’t send us out our passports yet, she’s happy for the minis to start completing activities and us to record their completion codes and colours so we’ll “be well on the way to collecting 30 stamps to graduate” when everyone can return to their offices.

Blogger Challenges
As well as giving lots of helpful suggestions, bloggers themselves are stepping into the breach and coming up with their own challenges too.

Blissful Domestication‘s Kerry Dawson says “I’m running an online craft challenge for kids.  Mainly in a Facebook group but you can also sign up on my blog for emails and a checklist. Originally it was an open ended challenge but I’m running a mini version of it over the next 12 weeks as I complete it with my own kids.”  Click on her blog post 50 Crafts to try before you’re 10! and find the original post with its Coronavirus update where you can sign up to her emails or join the Facebook group.

Louise Jemma, who writes at Thimble and Twig, is running an outdoor Doorstep Nature challenge in a Facebook group with a friend.  Every day in April in their Wildling Explorers Facebook group they’ll be sharing how each of their nature-inspired ideas work.  Click here to find out more.

Do you know of any other schemes or competitions little ones on their extended Coronavirus breaks could take part in?  Let us know in the comments below or email me at hello@theminimalpi.co.uk and I’ll add them to this list and you can be safe in the knowledge that lots of parents will be saying a big thank you to you for sharing!  

Author school tours will launch Newark Book Festival 2019

NBF1Children’s authors are set to visit Newark’s schools as Newark Book Festival returns for 2019 with an even bigger programme of events for children.

This year’s theme, Home and Away, will be brought to life with tales from Newark and beyond, circus and carnival themed entertainment at Newark Castle, seaside fun, Paddington Bear crafts, stories from the moon and back, plus The Greatest Show in the centre of Newark to launch the festival which will take place from July 12th to 14th.

In 2018, the more than 30 authors, poets and illustrators that hosted talks and workshops attracted 3,500 avid readers and aspiring writers to visit the town.  This year, the festival will take over 12 venues across three packed days, including the Church of Mary Magdalene and the Buttermarket for the very first time, and includes an expanded children’s programme.

LincolnPeter & the Wolf will be performed at the popular Music for Market concert in the Church, while an 8ft tall living fruit and vegetable man named Froojamaflip and his friend, Fred the gardener, will be sharing stories of the spring-time garden.  Adambara and Zhim, an elephant and mouse duo, will tell the enchanting Indian Panchtantra tale in a puppet show for all ages. Both imaginative acts are the work of Lincoln-based theatre production company, Curious Creations.

The stories of people who have passed through Newark throughout history will be unpacked in a suitcase-themed show from Can Do Theatre at Newark Castle. “Roll up, roll up” tells the tales of the Ringling Bros. Circus, once billed as the greatest show on Earth, which came to the town from America during its travels. Visitors of all ages can also take part in a circus skills workshop with NSDC arts team.

Newark Book Festival Paddington SuitcaseCraft workshops dedicated to Darkest Peru’s most famous bear will be available for children who want to make and create, while a children’s 9-12 year-old panel highlighting the golden age of children’s literature will also give visitors a chance to hear more about the rise in popular fiction for younger audiences.

CWpic3NEWARK FESTIVALFor the first time, Newark Book Festival will hit the road ahead of the event.  Authors including Gareth Baker, Chris White, Ian Douglas, James Nicol and Thomas Taylor will be visiting local schools to work with the children through writing and art workshops, readings and inspiring a love of books and reading to all.

Sara Bullimore, organiser for Newark Book Festival, said: “We had an incredible turn out and response last year from local people and visitors from across the country.  This year, we’re building on that momentum to create a rich tapestry of events woven across the lovely town of Newark.  We’re partnering with more authors, local businesses and artists than ever before to make sure that happens.

9781406386288“From lively performances and spectacular children’s authors to calming craft workshops and storytelling, the festival is set to be an incredible celebration of the concept of home and away – no matter what that means to each individual person. We’d love for more local people to support the hard work of everyone involved by becoming a Friend of the Festival, visiting us or by sponsoring an event.”

For more information visit www.newarkbookfestival.org.uk or follow on Facebook www.facebook.com/newarkbookfest/ and on Twitter www.twitter.com/NewarkBookFest.

Toddle, wiggle and waddle your way to a fundraising finish line

We all want to make the world a better place for our children to grow up in but why not let them have a go at making it better themselves too?  Here are just some of the charitable initiatives that are encouraging their younger supporters to put the fun in fundraising too…

RedNoseDayRed Nose Day 2019
March 15th, 2019
“Schools and nurseries helped raise over £5 million last Red Nose Day.  Join in the fun in 2019 and help us bake, dance splay and sing our way to an even bigger total…  Comic Relief spends the money raised by Red Nose Day to help people living tough lives across the UK and internationally.”

Skellingthorpe May Day 3K
May 5th, 2019
“Run, jog, toddle, crawl or even be pushed in a pram!”  An opportunity to raise money for a charity that’s close to your heart.

Peppa15Peppa Pig’s Muddy Puddle Walk for Save the Children
May 13th-19th, 2019
Peppa Pig is celebrating her 15th anniversary this year which is quite a huge milestone for a 4-year-old porcine pre-schooler but doesn’t quite match the centenary that 2019 marks for young people’s rights campaigner Save the Children.  They’ll both happy to celebrate together in May however when there will be much jumping in muddy puddles in aid of the international charity’s aim to “protect wiggle2children, give them a healthy start and the chance to learn”.

The Giant Wiggle for Action for Children
May 2019
Despite the seemingly endless source of energy the owners of little legs have, they can often tire quickly when walking.  Dancing, twirling and jumping, however, are different things entirely.  If your mini mover can always be persuaded to get a wiggle on then Action for Children’s charitable collaboration with the Very Hungry Caterpillar is the event for them.  And this year, in honour of the many-legged literary insect’s  50th birthday, the first 50 fundraisers to raise more than £200 will win a special gold copy of the Eric Carle classic.

PyjamaramaPyjamarama for Book Trust
Friday, June 7
Book Trust is teaming up with well-loved characters Matilda, Ben and Holly, Horrid Henry and Tracy Beaker to ask children to wear pyjamas for a day and help make sure that no child misses out on a bedtime story.

WearItWildWear it Wild for WWF
Friday, June 7
The world’s leading independent conservation organisation is asking people in workplaces, schools and homes across the country to wear an item of animal-inspired clothing in order to raise money to help protect our incredible world.  “Get fierce for your world.”

BigToddleThe Big Toddle for Barnardo’s
June 24th-30th, 2019
A sponsored walk for little people raising money to transform the lives of vulnerable children.  Warm-up with the Teletubbies and maybe even have a Teletubby picnic after your toddle to replenish your energy.

CiNChildren in Need
November
BBC’s Children in Need has raised more than £950 million to change the lives of disadvantaged children and mascot Pudsey Bear fronts the annual telethon which features the stories of both those who benefit from the fundraiser as well as the young people who help to raise the funds.
SantaRun
Lincoln Santa Fun Run and Walk
December 15th, 2019
2,500 Santas will set out on a 3.5km two lap fun run or walk around the historic Bailgate area of Lincoln raising money for local charities.  Organised by the Rotary Club of Lincoln Colonia.

BlissLittleHeroesBliss Little Heroes
Any date, any time
The superhero walk raising money for the 100,000 babies born needing hospital care each year is calling for families, schools and clubs across the country to don their masks and capes and walk in celebration of a little hero.

Toddle Waddle againsttoddlewaddle Meningitis 
Anywhere, anytime
“Small steps make a big difference!  All children can take part, whether they are in a pushchair, a wheelchair, crawling, waddling or walking!  There’s no minimum distance, so go as long or as short as you like.”

dendayDen Day for Save the Children
A date that suits you
“It’s easy – build dens together at school or take part at home, on a date that suits you, and raise money to change children’s lives.  The money your den-builders raise will help make sure more children around the world have a safe place to sleep and play.

Do you know of any other fundraising challenge specifically designed for little ones to take part in?  Let us know in the comments below.

Charity begins at nursery

SR1bDid you feel the world wobble last month?

We assured Willow that her and her fellow nursery-goers’ efforts to jellify the planet reached at least as far as where we were in the city.

The pre-schoolers were jumping, twirling, wobbling, bouncing and more all in aid of Sport Relief which gave both Willow and her brother at his school the chance to don their athletic attire and have sporty fun in aid of charity.

With many fundraisers such as 5Ks and 10Ks beyond the stride of little ones it’s lovely that new initiatives are being designed specifically for younger children too as their enthusiasm will more than match any daddy long legs.

Missed Sports Relief?  Don’t worry, there’s still lots more fun to get involved with.

muddypuddlewalk2

Peppa Pig’s Muddy Puddle Walk for Save the Children
April 23-29, 2018
The money raised by muddy puddle splashers will help save children’s lives all over the world.  Save the Children believes “that every last child should get the chance to learn, play and grow up happy and healthy – no matter where they’re born”.

giantwiggleThe Giant Wiggle for Action for Children
May 7-13, 2018
Wriggly wigglers can be inspired by the Very Hungry Caterpillar and raise money to help Action for Children support vulnerable children all across the UK.

BlissLittleHeroesBliss Little Heroes
Heroes month in June 2018 or your choice of date
The superhero walk raising money for premature and sick babies is calling for families, schools and clubs across the country to dress up and walk in celebration of a little hero as well as supporting the 95,000 babies born needing hospital care this year.

ToddleWaddleToddle Waddle Week for Meningitis Now
June 4-10, 2018
Help fight meningitis by taking a wonderful waddle with your little ones.  All children can take part whether they are in a pushchair, wheelchair, crawling, waddling or walking.  There’s no minimum distance and, if the Toddle Waddle Week isn’t well timed for you, then you can also choose your own date.

BigToddleThe Big Toddle for Barnardo’s
June 18-24, 2018
The Teletubbies are the celebrity faces for this “little sponsored walk for little people”.  As well as the toddle you could also hold a Teletubbies picnic or bake sale to raise funds too.

DenDayDen Day for Save the Children
Your choice of date
Another fundraising challenge from Save the Children, you can now build your den and get sponsored to sleep the night in it on whatever date suits you best.  Get creative, spend time with the family and raise money to help “children growing up in some of the toughest places in the world”.

Do you know of any other fundraising challenge specifically designed for little ones to take part in?

Children of Lincoln

Children of LincolnHave you heard about the Children of Lincoln project?

At the beginning of November Daddy and the two eldest minis attended a family fun day entitled Imagining a ‘Child Friendly’ Lincoln at the University of Lincoln.  They enjoyed some art and crafts activities and taking a shot at the Lincoln City Imps in the Community goal and had the opportunity to find out more about children’s rights and “Child Friendly Cities”.

UNICEF Child Friendly Cities initiative was launched by the UN in 1996 with the aim to make cities liveable places for all by putting children first stating “The well-being of children is the ultimate indicator of a healthy habitat, a democratic society and of good governance”.

The School of Social & Political Sciences at the University of Lincoln have been working with the City of Lincoln Council and Lincolnshire County Council since 2016 to launch a child rights initiative for the city of Lincoln and the fun day saw this aim realised.  Other Children of Lincoln steering group partners include the Lincolnshire Children’s University, Children’s Links, Lincoln BIG, Education Business Partnership, Priory Academies, Bishop King Primary School, St Francis Special School, LiNCHigher, Bishop Grosseteste University and LCVYS.

Now they can start work to achieving their aims.

“Our aspiration is to be recognised by UNICEF as a Child Friendly City alongside a number of other cities in the UK.  We aim to raise awareness of children’s rights in Lincoln, by holding events for children and families, conducting research and working with local services and businesses to help them prioritise children’s rights.”

Acknowledging that Lincoln is already a great place to grow up in, they wish to pay special attention to the most vulnerable children within our city listing children with disabilities or health needs, children who are looked after by the state, children who get into trouble with school/police, children who are young carers, children living in poverty and children who are homeless.

Find out more at http://childlincoln.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/

Do you think Lincoln is a child friendly city?

Seven things I hate about school

#Blogtober17 – Day Five: Education

Before I start on this rant I want to make it clear that I’m obviously grateful for the universal public education offered in this country and that when I was originally bemoaning not getting the school of our choice for our eldest seeing Malala joining Twitter put my complaints in perspective somewhat.

But that doesn’t mean that I have to like all of it.

  1. The illusion of choice
    The majority of people were given a place for their child at their first choice of school.  We were in the minority.  This did not bode well for me accepting let alone embracing that it was already time to lose my first born to the school gates.
  2. The effect on siblings and the family unit
    Full family time was already at a premium due to working hours but now it is almost restricted to the weekend.  Holidays and days out are crammed into the same time and space everyone else needs to cram them into as we all roughly share the same term times.  Siblings are separated for hours each day, younger siblings get dragged along on the school run for no benefit of their own, loose their playmate(s) for most of the week and the freedom the eldest child may have been lucky enough to have known for the first four or five years of their lives is truncated for the younger siblings.  We thought Willow would miss Luke a lot now he is in his reception year but Luke too has also asked when Willow will be starting his school.
  3. Uniform
    I like a team strip but I’m really not a fan of uniform for uniform’s sake.  He has plenty of clothes that fit him already, why are we wasting money and the earth’s resources (the fashion industry is a huge polluter) buying him more in order to deny him the opportunity to be an individual and the opportunity to wear any bright colours or fun designs?
  4. The school run
    All the schools in our area are over subscribed so we knew early on that I would have to start driving frequently and regularly which, considering up until August I barely drove at all as I’m quite scared of the concept, is a very big deal for me.  It creates such a busy time on the roads and siblings get to waste double the amount of time in the car due to the return trip.  Anyone recommend some interesting CDs to listen to?  And my sense of urgency for getting to the school gate on time is rarely reflected in the time it takes the minis to get in and out of the car.
  5. Time
    The school gets the best of my son’s time.  We get the rush at the start of the day, the tired at the end and we’re always watching the clock in between to make sure we march to the sound of the school bell.  They get to see him learn, his wow moments are now shared with his teacher’s and not me and I lose opportunities to learn along with him.
  6. Influence
    Peer pressure and other adult influences will start to make a bigger impression on my child’s outlook.  We’ve already had gender limitations alluded to which I did my best to quash immediately but such labelling can be insidious.  It doesn’t help that he is among the many children who subscribe to the “what happens at school stays at school” line of thinking offering up exceedingly little information as to how his day has unfolded or even just whether he’s eaten or not.
  7. Homework 
    I was one of “those” children who actually asked for homework when I was in primary school even though we weren’t regularly set it then in the way children are now.  As a parent however, I’m not sure I approve of having too much set (if any) for such young pupils.  They already over tired from the school week, have such reduced family time at home or for truly free play, why rob them of more?

I know the answer to some of my genuine concerns rather than just grumpy grumbles would be to home educate which I have considered but, for now at least, he is apparently enjoying school whilst he’s there and his younger siblings can enjoy more of my less divided attention too.

All of this, of course, I do my best not to voice around him and I’m well aware that, after experiencing our first half term, I may well be writing a seven things I love about school instead…

Blogtober17