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Slimy fun parties with Jacqu’in the Box

Slimy fun parties with Jacqu’in the Box

My children both have their birthdays in the same week of the summer holidays . Consequently they like to have their parties at the end of term, before all their friends go away on holiday. It’s a fun, but rather exhausting time, coupled with all the other stuff that the end of the academic year throws at primary school aged children and their parents.

We did a few years of hiring venues for the parties but it just gets so expensive with the birthdays being so close together (and it’s not like summer holidays aren’t expensive enough). The last few years we have therefore decided to find children’s entertainment that we can do from our West London home. This year I got talking to the lovely Jacqui of Jacqu’in the Box party entertainment and we agreed a contra-deal for her to run a slime party for my son in return for the equivalent value from me in promotion and a marketing power hour. Wi

I had several other offers, being a family blogger and having lots of contacts in the children’s activity industry but the slime party was by far and away the most popular idea with my son and I loved the idea of him getting to experiment with lots of different slimes with his friends in a way that would cause a total mess in my house. We were lucky with the weather of course and so it was all in the garden, but having said that, Jacqui is so tidy and efficient and the materials all washable so it’d be fine to have indoors on a table as well – most tables you wouldn’t even have to cover as she washes them for you afterwards!

We had the party the Saturday afternoon after the school fair, so we faced eight sugar high and overheated boys. Jacqui arrived bang on time, directly from her previous Frozen party (yes a woman of many talents this is!) and absolutely took this young boy hyper enthusiasm in her stride. She sat them down on the grass and quickly had their attention. Jacqui, it is fair to say has one of those qualities I lack – the ability to make a big group of young boys stop kicking round objects around and listen to her!

Jacqui came with an array of slime making materials (all washable) and kept everything remarkably tidy. We had it outside on the garden table. The boys delighted in making lots of different coloured concoctions, which Jacqui deftly collected at the end and put into little pots.
And, yes of course there was some snot and poo including in the slimy creations, this was a group of 8 year old boys after all!)

They also had fun doing some group work giant slime stretching. At the end the children were given party bags with a cone of sweets and the little pots of the slime they’d made.

It was one of the easiest parties I’ve ever had for my son. She handled everything so well that it was totally stress-free for my husband and I, meaning we were actually able to enjoy our son’s birthday party, instead of rushing all over the place. Highly recommended. All his friends loved it and several want slime parties of their own. My daughter who wasn’t there at the time is deeply jealous and now wants a slime party for her next party too! I can recommend Jacqui – 100% whole-heartedly.

Jacqui is based in Buckinghamshire where she runs fun baby and toddler classes (also in Hertfordshire) but for her children’s party business she can cover Ealing, Harrow, Ruislip and other areas of North West London. She has a really exciting selection of themes for her West London children’s parties and covers a wide age range. For more information about the children’s parties in West London on offer with Jacqu’in the Box, see her website:
http://www.jacqinthebox.com/childrens-parties.php

Creative Collaboration with Inventors & Makers

Creative Collaboration with Inventors & Makers

It’s fair to say that we are pretty spoilt for choice for kids activities in Ealing – and West London in general. Tennis, horse riding, Cubs, Guides, music classes, tennis, football, cricket, any other sport you can think of pretty much, drama, dance – you name it – and West London will provide it! Not only is there the choice of dozens of different after-school, weekend and holiday clubs – but often a choice of multiple suppliers too.

Then every now and again you come across an activity you never even knew existed, let alone thought about your child doing! This is where Inventors and Makers comes in. Just before Easter this year, I came across a post in the Hanwell and Ealing Friends Facebook group. I got speaking to Laura Cross, Founder of the holiday and after-school club, Inventors and Makers and she offered my children a free place on her brand new two day – inventing and film making course in exchange for some marketing consultancy and a bit of help in getting the word out to West London parents (I also run Amazing Futures, a marketing agency, specialising in children’s activity providers).

Laura taught in primary schools for many years, including Ealing but to see how quickly she has developed her business, you might be mistaken in thinking she was from a business or marketing background! She clearly has a natural aptitude towards running a business and shows all the diligence, multi-tasking skills and resourcefulness you’d expect from an experienced teacher with no corner left unturned when it comes to the children’s safety and provision of high quality holiday workshops.

West London Kids using imagination
Working hard, planning an invention.

To say I was massively impressed by the standard of the two day inventing and film-making course my 7 year old son and 9 year daughter did during the Easter holidays would be a massive understatement. Laura invited me to view some of the class and it was amazing how she managed to organise and motivate a group of nine KS2 aged kids. They started of with some team work exercises and moved on to play some games which involved a combination of partner trust, collaboration with other children and using their own initiative. It was really lovely to see.

Each child gets a colourful, hard-backed notepad to jot ideas and thoughts down during the course. I really enjoyed reading my children’s notes at the end and seeing how their thought processes developed during the two days.

Filming a news story
Filming a news story

Laura uses the ClassDojo system which is fantastic. I have rarely had so much feedback on my children during a holiday camp. You get a login and see notes Laura has written about how they have got on, along with some photographs. The children also loved reading the reports and seeing the pictures.

A bit about the current holiday workshop venue – Hobbayne Primary School is based in North Hanwell and about five minutes walk from Hanwell mainline station (direct trains from Paddington, Ealing Broadway) and right on the route for the E1 and E3 buses, with the E11 stopping very close too. Parking is easier than most areas of West London too (for now at least!) with several adjacent streets being out of the Ealing parking restrictions zone so it’s accessible to children coming from further afield.

The beauty of the venue is that the hall the workshops take place in, offers loads of space for the children to spread out when working in small groups and playing the innovative games that Laura comes up with to get them collaborating and using their imagination. The room spills out into a junior playground with lots of space for the children to get outside in break times. Some of the filming exercises took part outside too which was nice as the children got used to filming in different conditions.

Playing outside during a break
The Inventors and Makers venue in an Ealing primary school.

At the end of the two days, both my children and the new friends they had made (the classes are kept small so the children get to know each other well over the duration of the workshop. As a self-employed parent I found the hours perfect – 9.30 am to 4.30 pm but even better, Laura also offers wrap around care so you can drop off half an hour earlier and pick up half an hour later at a very small additional cost should you need a bit more time.

Make no mistake though – Inventors and Makers isn’t your Cheap as Chips holiday childcare solution. It’s absolutely fantastic value for what it is. It’s a premium activity which your child will benefit from in so many ways – building confidence and social skills, collaboration and team work, verbal and written skills (they write reports and plans for their projects), presentation skills, but also expanding their inner resourcefulness, unleashing their inner innovation and creativity and equipping them with essential 21st century skills. So don’t think of it as holiday childcare – that would be to insult what Inventors and Makers offers, it is so, so much more than that!

As 21st century parents we can’t ignore technology and there is no point banning it as our kids are growing up with it being a staple part of their lives, both in and out of school. So why not embrace it in a really constructive way?

Inventors and Makers teaches innovation and collaboration to children from 5 to 11.

As well as running holiday courses and after school clubs in Ealing, Inventors and Makers also offers bespoke classes and home education workshops in West London. The holiday workshops have already become very popular and spaces are strictly limited to ensure children get the most out of the course. Different workshops cater for different age groups from age 5 to 11, but with interest coming in from teenagers there may be classes and workshops for older kids soon too.

The main thing to warn you is that your children will want to return to these workshops again and again. Mine were actually quite annoyed that we were away during May half-term as they wanted to do the robot or machine making course. App making is high on their list too. They are booked up to do one of them this summer and I think Inventors and Makers is now a regular feature of our school holidays.

There are a few places left for this summer on some of the courses if you are quick – find out more here –
https://www.inventorsandmakers.com/holiday-classes If you are out of luck this time, get in on the act quick in time for October half-term by signing up to Laura’s mailing list.

As mentioned above, I did not take payment for this blog, but I did receive a free place on the first workshop my children did during the Easter holidays in return for writing this review and helping to spread the word about one of the newest children’s activities in Ealing. I do not review products or services that I do not firmly recommend however and I will only include activities that fall well inline with the West London Kids ethos of finding high quality and inspirational activities for children and families.

A task during and Inventors and Makers workshop
My two West London Kids getting stuck into a task at Inventors and Makers.
WIN a one hour mindfulness art class for your child and three friends. Worth £200!

WIN a one hour mindfulness art class for your child and three friends. Worth £200!

This engaging workshop provides resources for children to practise mindfulness using breathing techniques, arts and crafts and body movement. The prize can be for a group of siblings, friends or a mixture of both – the winner’s choice!

Check out the Mindful Mentors Website: www.themindfulmentors.com

In the hour the children will be captivated in their own bubble of calm! The workshop will take place in Sasha’s studio in Chiswick.

To enter please follow these steps:
* Go to the West London Kids Facebook pages and like the pinned competition post and the page:
https://www.facebook.com/westlondonkid

  • Not compulsory but you can gain extra entries on the West London Kids Instagram & Twitter competition posts. 
  • Feel free to share/ tag friends to spread the word! Maybe tag in any friends whose children would love to join yours. They can enter too and double your chances 🙂

Terms and Conditions 
📚 Competition ends on 16.07.2019 at 11:59 pm GMT. Only UK entrants please. This giveaway is not affiliated with Facebook, Instagram or Twitter in any way.⁣⠀📚 You must agree to the Mindful Tutors Terms & Conditions made available at time of booking. 📚 Session must be booked and taken by 1st December 2019.📚 The prize is not transferable

The Winner will be contacted by direct message from West London Kids on 17th July 2019. Good luck!⁣ 🍀

Mindfulness for children competition
Encouraging a love of creative writing over the summer holidays.

Encouraging a love of creative writing over the summer holidays.

A guest blog by Danielle Okumura who has recently launched Creative Writing courses in Ealing. She has lots of advice for West London Kids on how to foster an interest in creative writing in your children over the long summer break.

Wondering how to cope over the long summer holidays? Worried your children might forget all they’ve learned at school? We’ve got some great tips here on how you can use the summer break to fuel your children’s love of creative thinking, reading and writing.

Creative Thinking:

A good place to start is to encourage creative thinking. Often during term-time, I find that as both a parent and teacher, I need my children to follow the ‘classroom’ and ‘home’ rules closely, mainly to ensure that everything is done on time! The summer holidays are a perfect time to relax a little bit more; to encourage more in-depth conversations; to nurture children’s creative abilities; and generally, to develop deeper positive interactions.

Try asking more open-ended questions to get your children thinking. Even silly questions can spark the imagination! What would happen if the sun never set? What if we lived under the sea? What would a cat say to a dog if they could communicate? What if our house was made of an apple? Look around you for ideas and delve into the unknown!

Girl inside classroom looking at turtle.
Apple story house
Let their imaginations take over …

Reading:

Next, I would take the opportunity to read! Bring a book to the park and spend the afternoon having a picnic and reading together. You could bring teddies too and read to them! Take turns to read pages and don’t forget to ask your children questions about the book to keep them engaged. There are plenty of great new books out there so take a trip to the library or local bookshop to find some books that will excite your child. Here are a couple of good websites which give recommendations for summer 2019:

Love Reading 4 Kids

Book Trust

Here’s our list of recommended books, all suggested to us by children we know:

Bright Light Education’s List of Recommended Reading for West London kids.

Two boys reading outside.
Reading outside together is a wonderful summer pastime.

Writing:

If you’ve encouraged creative thinking and started reading some books, your children’s minds should be opening up to the idea of writing their own story. Find them a notebook and pencil which they could carry around with them to jot down ideas. Look around you for a few days and try to work with your children to come up with a story-line. Think about who the main characters could be; try and sketch them so that they become easier to describe later on. Where will the story take place? Will the story start with some action or will it start with a description of the character and setting? It’s good to try to map out the plot together, so that your children don’t feel too overwhelmed. Are they going to write a short story, or could it turn into a couple of chapters of an adventure book? One of my most memorable and enjoyable creative writing experiences was when I wrote “The Adventures of Lucy Leek” at the end of year 6. See if you can give your child this opportunity to produce something that they will remember in years to come! Please do let us know how you get on!

If you are interested in purchasing a book to guide your children through some creative writing skills and techniques, please visit our website, Bright Light Education. Our Creative Writing Skills book is also sold in Pitshanger Book Shop, in Ealing.

Creative Writing Skills book by Bright Light Education

Creative Writing Workshops:

We, Bright Light Education, are excited to be launching our new Creative Writing Courses in Ealing and Putney from August 2019. These courses are aimed at children from 9-11 years old, who want to improve their creative writing skills. For a 20% West London Kids discount on the September 2019 Ealing course, please use the coupon code Ealing1-20. For more information, visit https://brightlighteducation.co.uk/creative-writing/.