Our local Charlton-based dance company, Greenwich Dance will be broadcasting four ‘TV episodes’ featuring brand new dance works performed by professional dancers and local volunteers and interviews with choreographers from next week.
With the Covid-19 quarantine only eased slightly, cinemas and theatres are still no-go zones. Bummer. There’s talk that they might re-open in August or after summer however this will be dependent on government advice. We miss the theatre – last time we went was when I took Little Miss to go and watch Alice’s Adventures Underground at the Royal Opera House.
Greenwich Dance has kindly taken it upon themselves to create an at-home experience for us. They’ve re-imagined Up My Street – Showtime! – a borough-wide project designed to tackle cultural inequality and loneliness, into Up My Street – Online!
If you’ve been talking to your children about all the events that have been going on at the moment regarding BLM and its movement or haven’t yet found a way to discuss it then this may be one way to get the conversation started.
Beginning on Thursday 25 June, the four TV-style episodes featuring brand-new short dance works, interviews with choreographers and excerpts from their eclectic back catalogues, (plus an invitation to get moving) will be screened via the organisation’s YouTube channel. More details can be found on their FB page: https://www.facebook.com/greenwichdance/
Greenwich Dance has commissioned four choreographers, (Zoie Golding, Mathieu Geffré, Temujin Gill and Sarah Blanc) to each create a brand-new piece of dance for the camera, made entirely within lockdown restrictions. Edited by award-winning film-maker Roswitha Chesher, each piece will be screened within in its own magazine-style episode which will be hosted by Blanc, also a comedienne and performer.
Greenwich Dance’s CEO, Melanie Precious says:
“Up My Street was designed to bring dance to parts of the borough at risk of being overlooked. It was about putting a social event right into the heart of people’s communities. When Covid19 hit we got together with our four choreographers and filmmaker to work out how we could offer those same communities some of what the original promised. Up My Street – Online! is what we have come up with…”
This is the first-time experience for the Greenwich Dance company too so it’ll be interesting to see how they manage filming and performing in this kind of way. If they manage to pull it off well, this could be something they could look into in terms of reaching more people through online performances. An intimate e-theatre experience, if you like!
I’ll be reviewing each episode and write up a blog post ideally after each performance. HOWEVER if I don’t get round to doing that, you can expect two comprehensive blog reviews, one for film 1-2, and 3-4.
The closure of schools in response to the Coronavirus pandemic has meant millions of parents are having to play the role of ‘full-time teacher’ to their already busy work schedule. Murray Morrison, founder of learning program Tassomai and ex-supertutor explains why it’s more than OK to lean on technology for support.
Article by Murray Morrison
Let’s get one thing straight right from the start: it is not your job to replace your child’s teacher for the duration of the school closure. Parents all over the country are piling on way too much pressure to meet their own expectations of what homeschooling “should” be, while also trying to maintain their day-to-day job. Be under no illusions that your main obligation should be to your own work – you are not a teacher, and that’s fine.
Give yourself a break – and remember school will cover everything
When school resumes, the first thing that will happen is that teachers will run over everything from last year, and teach everything that had been planned for teaching during the “lost term”. There is no new learning that is meant to happen now that won’t be taught – so there is no pressure on families to exclusively cover this new content.
That said, getting your children to read what the school sends, and spend time practising, reading around the subject (and making notes where they can) will be positive – it means that when the material is taught in class, it will be easier to absorb. That’s going to be useful when the teaching next year is necessarily compressed.
Find things to occupy them so you can do your stuff
Self-directed learning will be a great stand-by: not only does it make for better, longer-lasting learning for your child, but also it gives you time to focus on your own work. The key thing is to make sure that work is done in a structured way with tangible outcomes that you can check periodically. Don’t let them just “read some notes”; instead ask them to make flashcards, make a video or write an essay. Technology comes in very useful here – especially if there is interactivity: Tassomai helps students practise knowledge through personalised quizzing while parents can see exactly how much has been done; other softwares teach through videos that track engagement.
EdTech can really be your friend when it comes to getting your children studying under their own steam: BBC Bitesize has fantastic learning games for all age groups, and a few minutes browsing YouTube will yield plenty of excellent learning channels for occasional use through the day.
Make the time you spend together happy, enriching, positive time that school cannot offer
When it comes to working one-to-one with your children, if you can take a few hours off for it, I’d recommend parents spend their time doing activities that schools cannot provide. There are a wealth of “enrichment” activities that schools struggle to support, but parents can do fairly easily. There are obvious options like craft projects, story-writing and baking which allow you to be creative and discuss words, ideas, maths and science. But you could also try some gardening projects or – with just a few materials like cardboard and tape – tackle some STEM projects like making beautiful 3D shapes, building bridges or constructing gliders.
Use technology where you can to make learning effective and powerful
My advice to parents is to spend a little time seeing what technology platforms are best-suited to solving your most pressing needs as parents: you want education technology that occupies your child’s attention so you have time to do your own work; you also want products that have a solid evidence base underpinning them, so you can be confident that their use will be beneficial.
Check sites like Edtech Impact and Edtech Evidence Group to see which products can be trusted to have a real learning impact so that you can focus on your work and make the time you spend learning with your children as wonderful as possible.
This is a contribution post written by Murray Morrison for The Expert Agency with consent to be shared on this blog.
The online world is brimming full of wonderful things to discover. More so now than ever as we are all still quarantined and in lockdown.
BoJo has said today that the UK will be easing restrictions and going forward, it looks like schools may reopen in phase two which is due to start around June 1st. I’m not sure how I feel about this but we’ll have to just play it by ear and see how it goes. As for work, I work in a spa which is classed as hospitality so I’m guessing I’ll still be furloughed until they execute phase three.
Free printable and downloadable crafty activities
I’ve compiled a list of fun and free downloadable and printable activity packs, posters and projects for you to try out. I’ll also include a list of resource links where you can access even more crafty activities. I’ll continue to add to the list when I find more so it’s a little more comprehensive.
You can bookmark this page so you can return back to it at any time for more crafts.
Free Activity Packs for kids & families
1. VE Day Activity Pack – word search, drawing challenge, home scavenger hunt and more.
9. NOW Gallery SE10 Creative Activities – from creating cat masks and crocodiles to colouring in and memory test games, this art gallery has a range of quirky and colourful projects to get the children’s creative juices flowing.
With London in lockdown for five weeks now and counting, the government have said that restrictions are NOT going to be easing up any time soon. As the country tries heavily to control and slow down the risk of more deaths and a second wave, more people will be celebrating their birthdays indoors this year. Last week we celebrated my little girl’s fourth birthday and next week will be Daddy P’s birthday. Little Man’s and mine are in August so hopefully restrictions will have lifted by then.
Firstly, I can’t believe it’s been four years since Little Miss was born! Time really does fly by – with it comes many tears, tantrums, angry moments but also many loving memories, best hugs, lots of laughter and love. These two little monsters really have turned my world upside down but I don’t think my life would be as interesting without them!
Little Miss’s birthday in lockdown
It’s been the first time we’ve celebrated the kids’ birthday at home. We don’t usually celebrate their birthday at home simply because there’s so many family relatives and friends to invite so we usually book for an activity venue instead.
We did two birthday calls via Zoom; one with friends and the other with family. It was fantastic! It was quite easy to set up and the video quality was pretty decent. There was a little bit of a lag-time with the audio but it wasn’t a major issue. Little Miss really enjoyed seeing her nursery school friends even though they were all a bit shy on the Zoom call (including us!). It was also my MIL’s birthday and she chose to do her call via Skype which was good but I found the video quality not as good and also couldn’t work out how to get all callers on one screen like I could on the zoom call.
It took me around 2-2.5hrs in total to hang up all the decorations, blow up the balloons and tidy up the living room. Our space is not big as we live in a city flat but it was spacious enough for a little girl’s birthday with just the four of us. Please excuse the broken TV unit cabinet door. That’s what happens when your kids decide to play with the furniture and lose the screws that goes with it. It’s on our long list of things to replace in the house… (¬_¬’)
Birthday parties are as unique as the person celebrating; whether you choose to go all out or just get a few things to add around the house. Here are some helpful points to consider when planning your party…
How to plan a quarantine birthday party for the kids
1. Plan your party at least a month ahead
Seriously, a quarantine birthday party needs a little more planning than you’d think. Mainly because it takes that bit longer to source things for the party and there’s no way you can chance leaving things to the last minute if you want everything to go to plan. I started planning Little Miss’s party a month before, well as soon as London’s lockdown was announced in March I started to plan out what we’ll need for her party.
Things like party decorations, food, presents and birthday cake should be at the top of your list. Try to have a back-up plan in case it doesn’t go to plan or things you order go out of stock. If you’re inviting family and friends to join you online, you can even make party invites online using sites like Canva which you can then send as an image via email, text or whatsapp.
If you’re setting up your decorations on the day, make sure you’re up early enough to get it all done. When I was checking the time, the hanging decorations took just over an hour but it was blowing up the balloons that took me forever. If you have a pump use it, if you have a helium tank, even better! You could potentially put up all the other decorations the night before and leave the balloons for the morning.
Note: make a list of things to do, buy, organise with a checklist so you can tick off the completed tasks as you go along. Get those birthday pressies in advance!
2. Save money buy ordering party decoration sets
I ordered Little Miss’s party decorations from Amazon. I have Amazon Prime so everything arrives in good time but I ordered early to avoid ordering for next day delivery – just to be considerate for vulnerable or priority customers. I found this fantastic 79-piece birthday decoration set which was excellent value for money. I also bought a smaller set of decorations with hanging lanterns and honeycomb balls to add some variety to the decorations. Confetti balloons are a great touch to any party, even if you can’t get helium to blow it up (we didn’t!) the balloons still look fantastic. We got confetti balloons as part of our 79-piece set.
If you also have any party decorations from previous years that you can use again, bring them out! No-one is going to judge you for having mis-matched party decorations. 🙂 These are the decorations we had for our party: Happy birthday banner, bunting, balloons and confetti balloons, ribbon swirls, tissue paper pom poms, honeycomb balls and lanterns, confetti cannons, party cups, party hats and poppers. You could also include party streamers, birthday crowns, plastic medals (for games), glow sticks, sparklers (use safely outdoors NOT indoors), glitter confetti to sprinkle on the table, party napkins, cups and cutlery.
Note: love sparkles? Get yourself a confetti cannon like this one or a glitter cannon. They’re cheap and you really get loads even in a small cannon – be aware, there’a lot of clean up though! If the glitter cannon is too messy for you, make sure you get a pack of party poppers for a true celebratory feel.
3. Save time (and money) with a supermarket birthday cake
We usually order a traditional Chinese birthday cake but with health and safety regulations, the Chinese bakers are not making any cakes – boo! I know that there are a few bakeries in London still open ie. Cakebox however we don’t drive so we wouldn’t have been able to collect. So we opted for a supermarket unicorn birthday cake instead which cost us £12 and tasted great! Asda do a range of celebratory cakes and birthday cakes from chocolate to vanilla sponge, in popular designs like unicorns, drip cake, Peppa Pig, Marvel superheroes. There’s even an option to create your own design in store. I think other big supermarkets like Sainsburys and Morrisons also have a great birthday cake department.
Note: if you decide to order a supermarket birthday cake, you can make it look extra special by adding a sparkler or number candle, personalised cake toppers, or anything else you’d like to decorate with. These can be also bought in store or online for personalised.
4. Prepare your party food the day before if you’re a big family
If you’re going all out with party food and have a large family, you might want to prep some of your food the night before. Most party foods can be cooked in the oven which cuts down cooking time, and whilst they’re in the oven you can concentrate on the other party foods you need to get ready.
For us, we’re only a family of four so I decided to make our party food on the day. Little Miss asked for burgers so we had burgers with chips, and crisps, sliced apples and animal cookie bags for snacks. We skipped making dessert as we ate the birthday cake -we still had so much cake left over it took us 2 days to finish it.
Note: whilst you are preparing the food, keep the kids entertained by giving them a game or challenge to keep them occupied. When you’ve finished or can leave the food to cook in the oven, you can join in on the fun!
5. Get the party started with a party playlist
With apps like Spotify to help you out, you can’t really go wrong with this one. Download Spotify, select a playlist and you can leave it running in the background. Failing that, YouTube playlists are also great. You can select chart toppers or cheesy children’s birthday songs, it’s completely up to you. If you fancy compiling your own, you can do so on both platforms.
Our top songs to include in a children’s birthday playlist:
Happy – Pharrell Williams Happy Birthday – Stevie Wonder Move your feet / D.A.N.C.E. – Trolls movie Girls like you – Maroon 5 ft. Cardi B Mi Gente – J Balvin ft. Willy Williams
Note: why not have a game of musical statues or musical chairs just to have a bit of silly fun? If your children are older, they might not want to play but perhaps a game of guess who musical version ie. “guess who sang this song?” by playing a snippet of the intro or playing an instrumental version of the song.
6. Ask friends & family to join in with you (virtually!)
Don’t party alone! Let the children enjoy their birthday party with family, friends and school friends. If you created a special playlist on YouTube you could even send a direct link to them so they can party along in their own homes.
We just kept it simple for ours and because our computer speaker isn’t that loud, we had our party with minimal music. We used ZOOM to host our birthday party call which allows up to 60mins of free unlimited calls of up to 20+ people. We only had 8 and that was big enough for us! We used the computer and could see all callers on one screen in the ‘gallery’ viewing mode. The screen is also much bigger than my iPhone 7 screen so I like using ZOOM on the computer for that reason.
Note: host your birthday party call on ZOOM or Sype or another conference calling platform. There’s so many you can choose from that there’s no excuse not to connect with others on your birthday.
If your child’s birthday happens to fall on a Sunday, you can party along with events organiser, Big Fish Little Fish events who host ‘virtual kitchen raves’ with their resident DJs every Sunday at 2-4PM via Facebook LIVE stream. It’s a family rave and has become so popular since the lockdown. I’ve been a fan of them since five years ago and still love the stuff they do.
Bonus tip: be prepared for the after party (clean-up!)
Once all the fun is over, the clean-up commences. It’s no small task I’ll tell you that, especially if you went crazy with the confetti and glitter cannons like we did. I still manage to find bits of confetti hidden around the room but I don’t mind. It’s a nice little reminder of Little Miss’s special day.
She still wore her party hat and party dress two days after her birthday and we left the birthday decorations up for the whole week because I was too lazy to take them down. Plus… they looked too cool to take down earlier. 🙂
Do you have children celebrating their birthday in quarantine? If so, make sure they have a great time. Having a birthday at home should be just as enjoyable as going out. Sure, it is hard right now as we can’t visit family and friends but with all the technology around us we are even more connected than ever before so utilise it.