020 8567 3112 hello@westlondonkids.com
Win a 5-Day drama summer holiday camp worth £155!

Win a 5-Day drama summer holiday camp worth £155!

WIN A 5 day summer holiday LION KING themed drama camp for your child with Masquerade Voice & Theatre Arts

Sing the sensational songs of this smash hit musical and blockbuster hit, dance the rhythmical dances, explore & fall in love with the characters of Simba, Mufasa, Scar, Timon and Pumbaa in our special week long Summer workshop not to be missed! On the final day parents are invited for a special show!

To enter, go to the West London Kids Facebook page and read the instructions on the pinned competition post. Or you can enter on Instagram: www.instagram.com/westlondonkids

Prize winner can choose between taking the course in KINGSTON (Mon 22nd July – Fri 26th July 2019) or EALING (29th July – Fri 2nd August 2019).

For more information about holiday workshops and term time drama classes in Ealing and Kingston, visit the Masquerade website: www.masqueradearts.com

Win a free drama class!
5 simple ideas to teach kids creativity and innovation

5 simple ideas to teach kids creativity and innovation

I first met Laura Cross, Founder of Inventors and Makers a few months ago when my children attended her Inventing & Film Making course. Laura’s classes are unique and a wonderful way of bringing out the creator and collaborator in children so I invited her to write a guest blog to give fellow West London parents some quick tips for replicating some of the ways she brings out creativity in children during her after school workshops and holiday camps in Ealing.

In 1900, creative workers made up about 10% of the workforce; this figure is now closer to 30%. Creativity is one of the most important skills to bring to the future workforce. However, it is increasingly being squeezed out of the school classroom as other pressures on testing and data take centre stage.

Creativity is the use of imagination or original ideas to create something new. Many children think creativity means drawing, but you can be creative in writing or even  maths! You can nurture your child’s creativity at home by getting them involved in creative and innovative activities.

We’ve pulled together five examples that we’ve seen work really well at Inventors & Makers workshops. There’ll be something for you to try, whether you have 15 minutes or even several hours to spare.

1. Complete the Drawing

There’s plenty of ideas for these online, but feel free to borrow the image shown. The idea is that you give your child the lines printed on an otherwise blank sheet of paper and tell them to get creative to complete the drawing.

This works even better if you do one yourself too, without looking at each other’s, so you can compare how you each creatively interpreted the lines afterwards. You can even take a look through some examples completed by others once you’ve finished to give them ideas for next time. Children tend to improve at these the more they do.

Equipment: Paper, pencil, (colours optional)

Time: 10-15 minutes

Best for: Low tech quick activity, appealing to most children

2. Dream up a robot


Ask your child what their least favourite thing to do at home is. Maybe it’s tidying their room or doing their homework. Then sit down together to create a dream robot to do the job for them.

We did this at an Inventors & Makers class recently and the children came up with some fascinatingly innovative ideas. Again it’s best if you do this with them or have them work with a sibling or friend, as collaborative creativity is always much more fun for everyone. Remember not to make too many suggestions, but instead  ask questions like “Hmm…but how does the robot know what your homework is?” As you ask questions, they can develop their design into a final dream robot. Perhaps they can present it to another family member or create a physical model of the robot.

Time: 30-60 minutes

Equipment: Paper, pencil (ideally a large A1 sheet of paper)

Best for: Spending a bit of time creating together, appealing to most children

3. Build a Marble Run

With some old cardboard, tape and marbles, kids can go wild creating their own marble runs. Perhaps take a look together at some images or videos to get them started with ideas. They can get really creative as they decide on other things around the house they could use such as wooden train tracks, building blocks or even Lego. Remember to ensure they construct their run from the bottom up and test and fix it at every stage of the build.


This is a more fun activity to do with friends or siblings as they get excited about adding parts to their run. They could spend hours on it!

Time: 1-3 hours

Equipment: marbles, tape, scissors, scrap materials (cardboard, toilet/kitchen rolls, plastic cups etc.), train track, blocks, and anything else they want to incorporate!

Best for: A rainy day when you have some time to spare, appealing to most children once they get started.4

If your child prefers more physical activities, perhaps they could come up with their own dance routine. This can appeal to boys and girls if you give them some inspiration to get them started that suits their own music tastes (hip hop, pop etc.). There’s plenty of examples of routines on YouTube to give them some ideas. Let them choose their favourite song and explain they should choreograph in small segments from the start, then leave them alone!

They might want some privacy to do this at first, but putting on a show at the end allows them to share when they are ready. Alternatively, perhaps they can teach you the routine afterwards – always good for a laugh!

Time: 1-3 hours

Equipment: something to play music

Best for: Children with an interest in music, but could be fun for all children if you give them the challenge


4. Choreograph a dance 

If your child prefers more physical activities, perhaps they could come up with their own dance routine. This can appeal to boys and girls if you give some inspiration to get them started that suits their own music tastes (hip hop, pop etc.). There’s plenty of examples of routines on YouTube to give them ideas. Let them choose their favourite song and explain they should choreograph in small segments from the start, then leave them alone!

They might want some privacy to do this at first, but putting on a show at the end allows them to share when they are ready. Alternatively, perhaps they can teach you the routine afterwards – always good for a laugh!

Time: 1-3 hours

Equipment: something to play music

Best for: Children with an interest in music, but could be fun for all children if you give them the challenge

“You have to be creative to be an artist, but you don’t have to be an artist to be creative.”

5. Shoot a movie

Shooting a short film during one of our recent holiday workshops

If you have an iPad or iPhone* they can use, children can create their own short film using the iMovie app. You might give them a brief such as: advertisement for something, news report, documentary about something they are interested in.

iMovie has some templates for creating movie trailers which make it easy to create something that looks great. If they are feeling ambitious, they could create a new video project from scratch and play around with the different features. If you have a basic understanding of iMovie you can help them get started, but it is very intuitive to use if you’re happy to let them play around with it for a while. You could even finish with a family premiere screening

This is a nice activity for children to do with friends as they’ll usually need at least one camera person and one person on screen.

Time: 1-3 hours

Equipment: iPad or iPhone*

Best for: Tech or movie fans, appealing to all children if the brief matches their interests.

*There are alternative video apps for android

If you want to get your child more involved in creative activities with a focus on problem solving and creativity, take a look at our Inventors & Makers classes – for a fun children’s activity in West London.


West London Kids in Iceland

West London Kids in Iceland

This year for a week long New Year holiday, we stayed with friends who live in Reykjavik. Our 7 and 9 year old children get on brilliantly well with their 5 and 8 year olds (who have stayed with us in London) and we were excited to show the children Iceland, a country, my husband and I have visited twice previously.

We arrived to lashing rain and wind, thankfully we had a lift from the airport, with Kristen one of our hosts. The children soon settled in, despite not having seen each other for 18 months and were playing dens and hide and seek in no time.

The next day we awoke to a decent covering of snow and the children delighted in making a snowman and other snow creatures in the garden after sleeping in after 10am (it is dark until 11am in Reykjavik in mid-winter, result!) We managed to get out sledging for an hour after lunch before it started getting dark again, about 3.30pm.

The snow only stuck around for another day, after that we had unusually mild weather for Reykjavik for that time of year (between 6 and 7 celsius) We spent a day in Reykjavik showing the children the sights and enjoying a nice meal in a traditional Icelandic fisherman’s café. Reykjavik is beautiful in winter when the cloud and rain clears. The water twinkles under the colourful Christmas lights and stars at night. We learnt about the Icelandic legend of the Christmas Cat aka The Yule Cat

Whales of Iceland

The Whale Museum passed an interesting couple of hours. My son was particularly fascinated with the fun facts – whales make a sound underwater that could drown out the sound of a jet engine being one. It was a reasonable entry fee – lots of life-size models of whales and dolphins for the children and audio, plus signage was in clear English. There’s a small café inside which served reasonably priced (especially for Iceland) hot and cold refreshments and light snacks. Despite living a short tube ride away from the magnificent Natural History Museum in South Kensington, my children were entranced by this little museum and it was well worth going. https://www.whalesoficeland.is/

Perlan

No visit to Reykjavik is complete without a stop off here. The views from the top over Reykjavik and beyond are mesmerising, particularly in the winter twilight. There is a fab natural history of Iceland exhibition with lots of interactive features for the kids.  The 4D ‘Wonders of Iceland’ movie gives you a sense of the natural wonders of this small, island country. The Ice Cave was a little over hyped but a bit of fun. Warn your children it’s very short though because my two were a bit like ‘is that it?’ when we came out after 2 minutes, after waiting 45 minutes for our turn. No different than the average UK theme park ride though! 

https://perlan.is/

The Golden Circle tour

This is the classic tourist trail so I won’t go into too much detail. We were lucky enough to borrow a car, but otherwise you can hire them locally (not cheap) or book a coach tour (also not cheap but perhaps easier). First stop was Thingvellir – a historic site and national park in Iceland, east of Reykjavík. It was the site of Iceland’s parliament from the 10th to 18th centuries. Thingvellir sits in a rift valley caused by the separation of 2 tectonic plates, with rocky cliffs and fissures and small waterfalls. Very beautiful, even on the windy and cold day we went. Geysir was the next stop and didn’t disappoint. The Great Geysir area allows you to see Iceland’s hot springs spouting boiling water 70 metres into the air. Final stop was Gullfoss, an absolutely stunning waterfall which I could have stood and watched for hours but it was starting to get dark and my husband was keen to start the journey back to Reykjavik so I had to settle with 20 minutes of walking along the path in wonder.

Living the Icelandic life

One of the things I enjoyed most about my third trip to Iceland (the first two, we stayed in hotels) was living with an Icelandic family and getting to do lots of ordinary things with people who lived there. We went to the supermarkets (and came out a lot poorer, £25 for a very average bottle of Rioja in the adjacent liquor store!) We also went to a trampoline park (where we bumped into the Icelandic president who was there with his family – as you do! Neither my husband, nor I can ice skate but luckily our hosts can, so they took all four children ice skating too in a fantastic rink, close to the grounds of the Icelandic football team (which my son was very happy to see too).

New Year’s Eve

I couldn’t finish this article without a mention of the incredible fireworks displays we saw on New Year’s Eve. The Icelandic people certainly like their fireworks. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. We enjoyed about 18 hours’ worth of fireworks over three days. I did have a few safety concerns and it was a bit disappointing to see the fireworks litter left lying around for a few days afterwards in an otherwise very clean and environmentally conscious seeming country but my, those New Year’s Eve fireworks were spectacular. It was worth standing outside in the cold.

Swimming outside in January

We didn’t go to the Blue Lagoon this time, have been before and it’s ok – but packed with tourists as it’s on the way to the airport. Instead we enjoyed a morning at the Lagafellslaugh baths (again borrowing the car) This was a great experience for the kids. It was very quiet as it was a week day and most Icelandic children were back at school but it was a much more local experience – albeit a very different one to the Blue Lagoon. Running from the changing rooms to the ultra heated leisure pool (with slides for the kids) and spa pools was quite an experience but a good one! Highly recommended if you can get transport there: https://visitreykjavik.is/lagafellslaug

Visiting Iceland – further essentials

We flew Icelandic Air from Heathrow. Bonus is that as all the planes are used for TransAtlantic flights, you get seat back TVs. The children got a free sandwich, a gift, chocolates and Skyr yoghurt. Very impressive airline for a short haul flight.

We enjoyed our winter break but for milder weather (we were very lucky) and lots more daylight you could consider a summer break. May half-term is an ideal time to go. That said, Reykjavik was a lovely break from London in mid-winter – still cold but in a very different way. Only warning: don’t go expecting to see the Northern Lights. I’ve been twice during winter and not had so much of a glimpse. They are very elusive down the south of the country I think (although you might get lucky). Norway is probably a better bet if that’s your main reason for going in winter. The fireworks were great though and helped make up for it!