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  • InSeasonal events

    World Book Day: Easy to find dress up ideas

    It’s almost that time of year again.

    The time of year when parents across the globe dread those 3 little words:

    “World Book Day” – 5th March 2020

    Of course, it’s really nothing to dread. In fact, it’s something to celebrate and fully get behind for our children.

    World Book Day is a registered charity on a mission to give every child and young person a book of their own. It’s also a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) it’s a celebration of reading. In fact, it’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.

    World Book Day costume

    The thing to dread is the inevitable fancy dress costume that your child will ask for.

    Even worse, parents often face the last minute panic of scrapping together an outfit for World Book Day because either the school forgot to send the memo, the kids forgot to give you the letter, or you simply forgot to check your notifications on the app.

    Whichever one it is, and no matter how awesome it is, World Book Day is another thing that parents have to try to fit in.

    So we thought you might need some help organising a World Book Day fancy dress costume that’s not too expensive and is easy to find.

    Even better, you might even be able to pick it up whilst you do your weekly shop.

    World Book Day dress up that’s easy to find

    Asda George. The bigger Asda stores might have a selection of costumes in, but otherwise, you can do click and collect within a couple of days, or select next day delivery directly to your door.

    George at Asda

    Sainsbury’s. With lots of costumes on offer this is one to plan ahead as they currently have 25% off but only until 17th February 2020.

    Sainsbury’s dress up

    Matalan. The costumes here also have 25% off, so order soon to make sure that the one you want isn’t out of stock.

    ALDI. These Specialbuys are always a “once they are gone, they’re gone” deal, but there is a selection of outfits available to order online or pick up in store. You might just have to chance your luck to get the right sizing.

    ALDI dress up

    TK Maxx (& Homesense). These can be a bit hit and miss in terms of what is in stock, but if you can find something, you’ll definitely bag yourself a bargain.

    TXMaxx dress up

    B&M. This shop can also be tricky to guarantee what you might find on the day, but they have an app to help.

    B&M fancy dress

    Then there is eBay or Amazon.

    Or if you’re more adventurous and well-organised, look at Pinterest for some homemade costume inspiration.

    Find out more about World Book Day.

    And read this handy guide to see how you can be involved.

    World Book Day

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  • InCrafty Kids, Family friendly days out, Seasonal events

    FREE half term activities at IKEA Coventry

    Are you looking for some half term activities to keep the kids busy?

    You might remember just before Christmas that IKEA announced some pretty epic free breakfast with Santa events. Well, they’ve gone and done it again.

    IKEA is putting on free half term activities that the kids will love.

    Free half term events at IKEA Coventry

    We all know how horrific a shopping trip with kids can be. Whether it’s the supermarket or post office, children get bored, fiddle with things they shouldn’t or you end up carrying them out after a meltdown over nothing.

    A trip to IKEA can be better as it’s almost like an adventure playground already and they really cater for the kids, but there’s still a chance it can all go a bit Pete Tong. Even with the offer of meatballs and hot dogs.

    Over February half term however, IKEA is going that step further again. The stores are offering children the chance to take part in some free activities to make the shopping experience a whole lot better!

    Kids can pick up a treasure hunt sheet for the chance to win 1 of 5 hampers. There are spray bottle craft sessions where they can make their own piece of art using washi tapes, arts and crafts supplies. And of course, don’t forget, there’s also the free SMÅLAND crèche for children over 3 years old.

    IKEA treasure hunt

    Pick up a copy of the treasure hunt and enter for the chance to win 1 of 5 IKEA hampers,

    IKEA Children’s Craft: Spray bottle art

    Using spray bottles, washi tapes, arts and crafts supplies and a pinch of your creativity, you’ll be able to make your own piece of art.

    What you need to know:

    Treasure hunt:

    • Pick up a copy of the treasure hunt from Meet and Greet on level 6
    • Once completed put your sheet in the post box at the back of Checkouts on level 3 for a chance to win one of our five hampers
    • Running from 15th February 2020 – 1st March 2020
    • Read more at https://events.ikea.com/gb/en/events/#/book/10823

    Children’s Craft: Spray bottle art:

    • Using IKEA spray bottles, washi tapes, arts and crafts supplies and a pinch of your creativity, you’ll be able to make your own piece of art. Once completed, you can take your creation home for free.
    • The workshop is suitable for children aged 4+
    • Places are FREE but you can only book one workshop per IKEA Family member
    • Your places will only be held for 10 minutes after your booked time slot to allow for enough time to run the workshop
    • Last day of registration is Sunday, 16 Feb
    • Running from 15th February 2020 – 1st March 2020
    • Book at https://events.ikea.com/gb/en/events/#/book/10819

    SMÅLAND crèche:

    In addition, remember that IKEA also offers plenty of child-friendly places to grab food, lots of toilets and baby changing facilities, and toys around the stores too.

    Find out what’s happening at IKEA Coventry or find your nearest IKEA store holding these half term events.

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  • InSeasonal events

    Review: A Christmas Carol, Warwick

    When it comes to December, a few things that must happen for it to officially be Christmas.

    You have to have heard Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ or Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ daily since the start of the month.

    There must be an open box of chocolates on the sideboard to eat unnecessarily.

    And of course, you must have also referred to at least one person who doesn’t get into the spirit with ‘bah humbug’.

    How about saying it to the real Scrooge though?

    Bah humbug

    Well, this year we had our opportunity.

    On Thursday, we were lucky enough to be invited to the press night of A Christmas Carol at Bridge House Theatre in Warwick.

    What could really be more appropriate for a British Christmas?

    Created by award-winning puppetry and visual theatre company Smoking Apples, the show promised to be an exciting new take on the old classic.

    If you’re not familiar with the story, in a nutshell, Mr Scrooge, a rich and selfish man, comes face-to-face with magical spirits who help him to learn the true meaning of Christmas. He travels through time to face the ghosts of his past, present and future who show him his fate if he continues to be such a mean person.

    So what did we think?

    Initially, I wasn’t sure how it might go, taking my 5 year old to watch the show. It was an evening performance to start with, she is shattered in the run up to Christmas, and it is essentially a ghost story.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    I decided that it was worth the risk given what I knew of the story. She’s previously seen cartoon versions of the story before too, so she had some idea of what to expect.

    At first, she was a bit spooked by the idea of the ghosts. This quickly subsided though as she interacted with the characters before the performance. The actors were making their their way around the auditorium in character, cracking jokes and encouraging the audience to ‘boo’ Scrooge, which was a great touch – especially for the kids.

    Once the show started, she was fascinated by the sets, how they looked and how they changed between scenes. It’s not a huge theatre, but the set design was really clever and the outside of buildings were quickly switched around to become the inside of the next scene, for example.

    Scrooge on stage

    As you’d expect, the story mostly followed the classic novel, but used puppets to illustrate parts of the show. There was one scene in particular that used shadow puppets to convey when Scrooge is shown how his relationship with his fiancé breaks down as he revisits his past. It was such a simple idea but so clever and really captivated the audience.

    shadow puppets

    As the actors paused for the interval, I could see that my daughter was getting tired. I asked her if she was OK and she questioned whether the show had finished. I thought this might mean our evening was coming to an end, but as I explained that it was just a break, she replied, “ah yay – so there is more to come?”. We all know that kids say what they mean, so I took from that that she was enjoying it!

    The second half started with a comical scene of a food fight to show Scrooge how other people can be frivolous and wasteful, and take pleasure in it. It was so funny and well done, mixing in slow motion, which really made us laugh.

    food fight scene

    The next ghost appeared (the sinister one that represented the future), and of course, Scrooge saw the error of his ways. So to top it all off, the show ended with the feel-good scene of Scrooge sharing his wealth and having a good old sing song.

    The final word

    Unlike some Christmas shows, I wouldn’t say this one was specifically for little children as they might be a bit freaked out by parts of the story. It is however but a great option for family theatre if you have slightly older children (from 5-6+ years) – especially if they are looking at A Christmas Carol as part of their school festivities. My daughter said she really loved it – particularly the part with Tiny Tim.

    We also really liked the brilliant scenery such as when the magical woods appear near to the end. Theatre stages never cease to amaze me!

    The characters closely follow the original novel, and although it’s a small cast, they are excellent at holding the audience’s interest to tell the tale.

    And finally, A Christmas Carol illustrates the idea that money doesn’t necessarily make you a nice person (or happy). Explaining that to our children is an important message – especially at Christmas when it is easy to lose sight of what is important.

    We both really enjoyed the performance, and everyone around us was saying the same thing. I’d definitely recommend it this Christmas!

    Book tickets

    You can book tickets for A Christmas Carol between 14th – 24th December 2019 on the theatre website.

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  • InSeasonal events

    FREE Kindness calendar

    December has well and truly got us by the horns, and it feels as though there is so much to do in the run up to Christmas.

    The kids are making lists and writing to Santa for this and that.

    There are a million and one things that the school’s PTA are running. Your time and money are no longer your own, and most likely you’ll forget something.

    We’re all looking for ways to make Christmas less stressful.

    Kindness calendar printable

    One thing we can all aim to remember however, is to be kind.

    Teaching kids to be kind

    As Mum always said, “kindness costs nothing”. She was so right.

    Carrying out random acts of kindness is a great activity to do with your kids.

    It’s a great way to explain the idea of helping others, can be a lot of fun, and teaches kids about compassion and service. The best part is that it doesn’t need to cost you a penny.

    It’s important to instil the concept that any act of kindness, no matter how big or small, can make a big difference to someone.

    Think about times when you’ve woken up in a bad mood but someone has made you a cuppa without asking. Perhaps you’ve been running late and you find that the frost has already been scraped off of your windscreen. Or maybe you’ve just been feeling grumpy and someone smiles at you on your way to work.

    It makes you feel loved, appreciated, and all warm and gooey inside.

    So let’s encourage our children to be kind and pay it forward.


    Your kindness calendar for Christmas

    This is an idea that we’ve created to make it super easy to carry out random acts of kindness.

    Print off your FREE kindness calendar and stick it on your fridge so that you can dish out the daily activity.

    Enjoy that feeling that being kind gives you. Moreover, enjoy seeing your children get a kick out of it too.

    December Kindness Calendar

    Warwickshire Kids logo

    Sign up to receive your free December Kindness Calendar download!


    By signing up, you are giving consent to receive emails from Warwickshire Kids.
    We promise not to spam you. You can opt out at any time.

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  • InSeasonal events

    31 essential Alexa tricks for Christmas

    Christmas is literally just around the corner. Meanwhile, if you have little ones, the excitement will be mounting.

    For most parents however, the build up to Christmas means running around like a headless chicken (ahem, turkey) trying to squeeze everything in.

    So much planning goes into a family Christmas. Shopping, present wrapping, food planning, parties, outfit planning, and booking events to name just a few tasks.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to have a little help?

    The smart speaker revolution

    Lucky for us, those clever people at Amazon dropped the ultimate gift a few years back.

    The invention of the smart speaker has revolutionised the running of most households.

    In fact, you’ll find that most houses have either an Amazon Alexa or Google Home device somewhere around the house.

    As well as playing your favourite tunes or telling you what’s happening in the world, they are also pretty good assisting in every day life.

    Christmas is therefore no exception.

    Yep, believe it or not, there are a shedload of ways that Alexa can help out this Christmas too.

    Alexa tricks and skills for Christmas

    Here are Warwickshire Kids, we’re all about making your life easier. So here’s a list of ways that Alexa will make Christmas easier for you and your family.

    You’re welcome!

    For the kids

    Alexa,

    • Where is Santa? Where the big man is right now, how many days until he arrives, and some other festive facts.
    • How many days are there until Christmas? Your very own countdown with a message from Santa too.
    • Tell me a Christmas joke. Forget the crackers, Alexa has all of the best (worst) Dad jokes.
    • Open snow globe. Play peaceful music, and if you have a visual speaker, a spinning snow globe.
    • Tell me a reindeer fact. Learn all about Santa’s special pets.
    • How far away is the North Pole? Ask this and other random questions to keep the kids quiet.
    • Give me an Easter Egg. No. it’s not the wrong season. Alexa has lots of silly things that will entertain the kids such as songs or impressions.
    • Read what’s free from Audible? Listen to a selection of free books each month.
    • Open fireplace. Show a roaring fire it you have a speaker with a screen.
    • Open The Night Before Christmas. Play a 3 minute version of the traditional poem.

    Preparation and planning

    Alexa,

    • Add to my list. Shopping, presents, or things to do, make a list on Alexa and automatically add to it in seconds. After that, get reminders on your phone too.
    • How do I make… Ask Alexa for advice with your recipes. Likewise, ask for food suggestions.
    • What’s on my schedule today? Ask Alexa to read directly from your calendar so that you don’t forget what you should be doing.
    • Switch on/off delivery alerts. Keep track of Amazon deliveries, or turn them off if they are automatically enabled.
    • Switch the lights off. Save energy and another job by asking Alexa to switch your smart plugs off. You can also set routines and access via the app if you are away from home.
    • Remind me to… Whatever it is, never forget it.
    • Set an Elf on the Shelf reminder. Never forget to check in with your elf to make sure they are still playing tricks.

    Festive fun

    Alexa,

    • Play Christmas radio. Non-stop Christmas songs on repeat.
    • Open Christmas quiz. Challenge your Christmas knowledge with a movies, music or general Christmas quiz, for example. Just ask for the one you’d prefer.
    • Play Christmas carols. Firstly, register your Spotify, Amazon Music or Apple Music account, and then play Christmas playlists or carols on your speaker.
    • What Christmas movies are on. Ask about a specific channel or time of the day to keep on top of Christmas films to watch.
    • Open Christmas kindness. This will suggest a daily act of random kindness.
    • What is Christmas number 1? You probably miss the charts completely these days, but Alexa doesn’t.

    Out and about

    Alexa,

    • What Christmas events are happening today? Find out what family events are happening locally.
    • What is the weather like today? Heading out for a festive walk? Ask Alexa ahead so that you can wear the right clothing.
    • What is the traffic like on the M6? Get an overview of any hold ups on the roads.
    • Is the 1106 train from Rugby to Birmingham on time? Check for delays and cancellations on the trains.
    • What is showing at Odeon Coventry today? Check movie listings.
    • What time is the Bullring open until today? Check for late night shopping times.

    Keeping the kids under control

    Alexa,

    • Tell those kids to make their beds. In other words, use Alexa to tell the kids to do all of the things you’ve already asked them to do 652 times.
    • Announce… Say “announcing” to broadcast a message to your speaker(s) e.g. “Alexa, announcing. Santa only comes if you all go to sleep!”.

    We’re sure there are even more uses for these handy tools, but these should keep you going this year!

    And if you are yet to join the Alexa crew, they have a special offer on Echo Dot at the moment.

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  • InSeasonal events

    FREE letters from Santa

    Did you know that if you send a letter to Santa via Royal Mail, you’ll get a reply?

    Yes, really.

    Royal Mail are offering this free service to deliver your child their reply from Santa.

    It’s great to have friends in high places.

    So here’s how to do it…

    1. Write your letter to Santa.
    2. Make sure that you include your full name and address in your letter.
    3. Put a stamp on the envelope so that it arrives in the right place.
    4. Write Santa’s address really carefully.
    5. Make sure that you send it before Friday 6th December 2019.

    Here’s Santa’s address:

    Santa/Father Christmas
    Santa’s Grotto
    Reindeerland
    XM4 5HQ

    To find out more, visit Royal Mail’s Letter to Santa page on their website.

    letter from santa
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  • InSeasonal events, Special Needs

    Making Christmas comfortable for children with autism

    When it comes to Christmas, events are popping up everywhere. You won’t have to look hard to find twinkly lights, loud and cheery music, and people dressed up as Santa or elves.

    Many children will love this and fully embrace the magic, but what if yours doesn’t?

    What if lights, noise and large crowds are quite terrifying for your child?

    For children (and adults) with autism, Christmas can be stressful and overwhelming.

    With this in mind, we’ve put together a collection of ideas to help anyone touched by autism to enjoy the festive period. We’ve also researched places to go and days out in Warwickshire that are suitable for children with autism. These places offer alternative entertainment for people who don’t fancy the traditional Christmas experiences.

    Read more
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