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  • InAt home, Seasonal events

    How to celebrate VE Day at home

    VE Day is coming up on Friday 8th May 2020.

    This year, this special date coincides with the early May Day bank holiday. As a result, lots of events were going to be happening up and down the country.

    Initially, it was going to be an exciting time to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day. A good excuse to celebrate a great occasion.

    As the UK is in lockdown due to the coronavirus however, organised events around the country have had to be cancelled, or moved online.

    Lockdown doesn’t mean that we can’t still have a weekend of celebrations to mark this special moment in history though.

    What is VE Day?

    VE Day is short for ‘Victory of Europe Day’, and was the day on which allied forces announced the surrender of Germany in Europe in 1945. In other words, it was the day that marked the end of Adolf Hitler’s reign. At 3pm on 8th May 1045, Prime Minister Winston Churchill told the nation that the war was over.

    On that day, a crowd of 50,000 took to the streets in Piccadilly Circus, cheering and waving flags to celebrate.

    Usually, we’d all be seeing the occasion is celebrated with street parties, community gatherings, organised events, and a parade through Westminster towards Buckingham Palace.

    Not this year though. So how can we celebrate VE Day at home?

    Well, the street parties and parades might not be going ahead, but there are still lots of ways you can enjoy this momentous celebration.

    Having fun at home

    Have a look at these ideas of things you can do with your kids at home to celebrate the occasion.

    Have a picnic at home. We’re not able to head to the parks or beaches at the moment, but kids always love a picnic, wherever it is. If the weather holds out, why not enjoy a picnic in the garden, or if it’s too wet, have a carpet picnic indoors instead? Just make sure you are observing social distancing wherever you hold it.

    Decorate your house. Add a bit of patriotic cheer to your windows by making your own bunting, hanging flags, and making decorations to celebrate the occasion.

    Join in with a virtual event. There are online events being planned all over the country, with lots of fun activities. For instance, how about vintage dance sessions, family yoga, music, magic and circus skills?

    Get your bake on. English Heritage has a VE Day At Home pack for families to download. The pack includes recipes for ginger beer, lemonade, carrot scones and cheese-and-marmite swirls, as well as tips for dancing lindy hop-style music to enjoy too.

    Afternoon tea. Once you have your goodies sorted, enjoy an afternoon tea at home. Include scones and a classic Victoria sponge cake with a nice pot of tea.

    Throw your own virtual party. Invite your friends and family to your tea party or picnic using a video call platform such as Zoom, FaceTime or Houseparty.

    Raise a glass to the heroes. No party is complete without a cocktails and some canapés. A simple Pimms and lemonade is quintessentially British, but obviously not appropriate for little party guests. Fun alcohol-free mocktails mean that everyone can raise a glass to those who fought for our country. Above all, that’s what it’s all about.

    VE Day bunting

    VE Day activities for the kids

    Enjoy the TV specials. You can even enjoy some of the TV specials planned for Friday, with documentaries, unseen footage and lots more for the whole family. The Queen is also making a speech at 9pm on BBC One. This is the exact same time that her father, King George VI, spoke to the UK 75 years ago. It’s definitely a day to let the kids watch the telly and get their questions flowing. Check out the Radio Times listings.

    Get imaginative with fancy dress. Research what children in the 1940s used to wear, and recreate what you can with the kids. Even if you don’t have everything you’d like, it’s a fun research project and conversation starter with children.

    Listen to war time songs. Music was such a massive part of the war and keeping everyone’s spirits up. Therefore, it’s the perfect opportunity to educate kids about 1940s music, wartime songs, and artists such as Dame Vera Lynn.

    Get crafting. A simple search for free VE Day crafts will throw back hundreds of things to make with kids. Try simple WW2 Spitfire Glider paper craft project and Union Jack colouring sheets that are both free to download.

    Enjoy a history lesson. And last but not least, try to get children involved with understanding the significance of the day. There are a whole load of resources in the Teach section of the website, with specific topics and videos about WW2.

  • InAt home, Resources, Seasonal events

    Fun superhero activities – #NationalSuperheroDay

    28th April is National Superhero Day, and what better way to engage children by creating some fun superhero activities to show them how important role models are.

    Each year, since Marvel Comics created the day in 1995, it honours superheroes, both real and fictional.

    Whether it’s Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, or another well known superhero, they are great role models for our children. The whole idea is that these individuals serve and protect us while fighting evil.

    In real life, our children are surrounded by people who don’t have superpowers or wear capes. These people however, still help to protect them and keep them safe.

    Medical staff, police, social workers and teachers are just a few of the heroes who protect children on a daily basis. 

    So it’s a day to celebrate the work they do (and have some fun doing it too).

    We’ve come up with some fun ideas superhero activities that the kids can do at home with no real special equipment or planning.

    Celebrate National Superhero Day

    Fun superhero activities for kids

    When you say ‘superhero’ to a child, they will automatically think of the caped crusaders of their favourite TV programmes or films.

    Naturally, they will look up to these characters. They might need a little education that it’s the ‘everyday’ people around us who really look after us.

    For now though, there are lots of fun activities that you can do with your child to capture their imagination.

    Recognising our real life heroes

    To truly do this day justice though, we need to educate our children about the real life heroes who keep our world turning. In the current climate of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are lots of ways that we can recognise people who make a difference.

    Explain to your child the idea of everyday heroes. These are people who make a difference, perform good deeds, and don’t do it for recognition. Or perhaps survivors and other people who are brave or important to someone.

    At the moment, children will be more aware of this idea, so it’s a great time to build on what they are hearing all around them.

    • Get them involved in Clap for Carers if they can last until 8pm bedtime
    • Write about a real hero
    • Write a list of real life heroes they have seen or met
    • Share a photo on social media of someone making a difference and explain why
    • Play with toys that represent real life heroes such as vets, rubbish trucks, fire engines etc.
    • Discuss what characteristics makes a hero
    • Download images and create a collage of people who help us
    • Do some ‘thank you key worker’ colouring sheets and display in your home
    • Read stories about people who help us
    • Dress up as key workers or play games
    • Explain how every role is important even if it might not seem it e.g. shop workers, delivery drivers and cleaners etc.
    • Make a card for someone who has helped with something (this can even be a parent or carer)
    • Have a look online for lots of free worksheets and resources for children that explain the idea of important jobs and people

    Whatever you decide to do to celebrate #NationalSuperheroDay, remember to share it with others to spread the word of how many people keep our world turning.

  • InHealth & Wellbeing, Recipes, Seasonal events

    Easy banana pancakes recipe for Pancake Day

    The easiest banana pancakes recipe you’ll ever find.

    When it comes to pancakes, there are really two types that the kids love.

    Then big flat traditional crepe-style pancakes or the fluffy fatter ones.

    Both are a super simple and have their merits.

    The difference between pancakes

    The traditional pancake is more exciting for kids to watch being prepared, and the icon of Pancake Day.

    It’s the one that you can legitimately serve up as an entire meal on Shrove Tuesday, with no guilt. If they want to try to beat last year’s record of how many they can eat, then that’s fine too. It’s only once a year, after all.

    Not only does the flipping process makes it more fun, but they can get involved with the preparation too. Older kids can help by chopping fruit to add to pancakes, and younger ones can get messy adding their toppings themselves.

    And if it’s too much of a rush to squeeze in after school, no doubt it’s what they will be enjoying at nursery, school or playgroups as part of learning about Shrove Tuesday. So again, no guilt.

    But then there’s is a whole other type of pancake for kids to try.

    The smaller fatter ones require less preparation, have extra fruit hidden in them, and are naturally sweet, so need very little toppings adding.

    They are great for using up bananas that are a bit too squishy to be appetising, and ideal as a toddler snack or for baby-led weaning.

    And like the traditional pancake recipe, kids can eat a load of them without any worry about stuffing them with junk.

    So here’s our tried and tested family favourite recipe.

    banana pancakes recipe

    Easy peasy lazy banana pancakes recipe

    I originally made this recipe up based on an even easier version of these yoghurt snack pancakes when me daughter turned 1.

    The recipe for the pancakes that includes yoghurt is super easy, but I wanted something with even less ingredients and time to prepare. If you can’t even be bothered to reach onto the top shelf and grab the flour, you can even make them without that too.

    I even make these with protein powder as a recovery meal when I’ve come back from a run. I wouldn’t recommend giving that to kids though. Keep that as your own post-exercise recovery treat.

    So, 2 (or 3) ingredients that can be adapted to suit the whole family. What could be easier?

    Easy banana pancakes recipe

    The recipe made 6 pancakes.


    • 2 bananas on the softer side
    • 1 egg
    • Half a cup of self raising flour (optional)


    • Mash up the bananas in a bowl.
    • Add an egg and mix in.
    • Add the flour to thicken the mixture if using.
    banana pancakes

    Mix mashed banana with a few lumps, the egg and flour together in a bowl

    • Heat a pan and add some butter or oil (1 teaspoon of coconut oil) on a medium heat.
    • Add a spoonful of the mixture to the pan, flipping using a flat cooking utensil when it looks like the side is cooked.
    banana pancakes

    Spoon the mixture into a pre-heated oiled pan

    • Once both sides are cooked but not burning, remove from heat and leave to cool slightly before cutting into bitesized pieces of strips if easier to handle for baby-led weaning.
    banana pancakes recipe

    Cook both sides until the mixture sets

    • Add a little honey (optional) and your toddler’s favourite fruit such as blueberries. Add a dollop of natural yoghurt too.


  • 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

  • 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
    •

    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

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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

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