31 March 2007

April Dates

1st - April Fool's Day
3rd - Pesach (Jewish)
5th - Maundy Thursday (Christian)
6th - Good Friday (Christian)
7th - Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race
7th - World Health Day
8th - Easter Sunday (Christian)
13th - Baisakhi (Sikh)
13th - Hindu New Year
21st - Queen's Birthday
22nd - London Marathon
23rd - St. George's Day (Patron Saint of England)

30 March 2007

Last Chance!

Don't forget our BIG BOOK SALE and our 'Write a Review' competition ends at midnight tomorrow.

Visit Littlesheep Learning NOW to find out more, write your reviews and get your bargains.

24 March 2007

Time to tell the Time!

It’s time again for the clocks to change, British Summer Time (BST) starts tomorrow, the 25th March 2007 so the clocks need to go forward an hour at some point in the early hours. I'm sure there is an official time for this to happen but I'm not staying awake until the designated hour so will change mine before bed!

Summer causes havoc for lots of young children because they use the light=day dark=night message they learnt as babies and start to wake up early and try to stay up late. If you have a toddler, you might want to start helping them to understand the concept of time and how to actually tell the time to explain that bedtime is not just when it’s dark!

The official guidelines for learning to tell the time are part of the National Numeracy Strategy with the following targets:
  • Reception class children (ages 4-5) should be beginning to read the time to the hour
  • Year 1 children (age 5-6) should be able to read the time to the hour or the half hour on analogue clocks
  • Year 2 children (age 6-7) should be able to read the time to the hour, half hour or quarter hour on analogue clocks
However, as with a lot of learning there is no right or wrong time to start teaching your child about time, it is a concept that is learnt gradually with practice over time, so start when you think they are ready.

To start teaching children the time it is important to get them familiar with clocks. Look at clocks and point out the hands, the big hour hand and the small minute hand. Spot clocks for example, church / town clocks, watches and alarm clocks. Have fun listening to the tick tock of clocks and watches. Then start to point out the times that set activities happen, for example “it’s six o’clock look the big hand is pointing to the twelve and the little hand is pointing to the six now it’s bath time”, eventually children will match the verbal / the visual clock and the activity and start to learn to tell the time for themselves.

A fun activity for younger children is to make a pretend clock. Use a paper plate or a circle of card to make the clock face. Write on the numbers (the easiest way to space them evenly is to do the 12, 3, 6 and 9 first and then fill the gaps). Make some hands to turn using some card (don’t forget the minute hand is longer than the hour hand) and attach them with a paper fastener. You can use your ‘clock’ to show events as well as hours for example drawing symbols for dinnertime, bath time, bedtime next to the correct hours.

Older children who are starting to learn the value of time might like to play timed games for example seeing how much of a picture can be drawn, how many words they can write or how many toys picked up in a fixed time. This is also a good task for children who need to practice staying focussed on an activity or who need speeding up (can they get dressed faster today than yesterday)! You can also use a timer to signal the end of activities such as five minutes more bath time, ten minutes more in the garden or watching television.

There are lots of resources available at Littlesheep Learning to help children tell the time, for example, teaching clocks with moveable hands, clock faces to draw on your own hands, games including Time Snap and books for example ‘Telling the Time’, a popular Usborne book which features the favourite Farmyard Tale characters.

23 March 2007

Whatever the Weather

Today is World Meteorological Day, an opportunity for national meteorological services around the world to come together and raise awareness of various weather issues. The day commemorates the forming of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1950, the WMO has became the specialised agency of the United Nations for meteorology, operational hydrology and related geophysical sciences.

The weather is something that toddlers learn about very quickly, they are told to wear coats, hats and gloves because it is cold, wear their raincoats and wellies because it is wet and to take their jumpers off when it is too hot. There are many different ways that learning about the weather can be incorporated into children’s activities.

The weather (in particular rain!) features in many children’s songs and rhymes so you can sing your way through the different the different types of weather. Some favourites include:
  • Rain, rain go away
  • Insey Wincey Spider
  • I hear thunder
  • It’s raining it’s pouring
  • Five little snowmen
  • The sun has got his hat on

Children who are learning about the weather my like to keep a weather chart. Younger children can keep a simple daily chart by checking the weather and sticking on that days symbol or by turning a clock hand to point to the correct symbol. Older children might prefer to keep a weather diary where they can draw in the weather each day and then count up how many sunny, cloudy, rainy and snowy days there have been in the week or month. They might also want to make a wind sock, a wind vane and rain guage to measure the weather more scientifically.

Matching and sorting games are great to help children understand the consequences of the weather. Cut pictures of people / clothes from magazines and match them to the weather types; swimwear, shorts and t-shirts for sunny days, raincoats and umbrellas for rainy days, snowsuits, hats and gloves for snowy days. Or do it in three dimensions – get a big basket of real clothes and sort them into piles for the different days of weather. Also match activities to the weather for example, flying kites on windy days, splashing in puddles on rainy days and building snowmen on snowy days.

A fun weather related craft activity is making weather collages. Use cotton wool to make fluffy clouds, silver foil to make rain drops, cut out paper snowflakes, and use squares of different coloured paper to make a bright rainbow mosaic.

22 March 2007

World Water Day

Today is World Water Day, and quite appropriately it's raining so locally at least we are celebrating by answering lots of 'why is it raining?' questions from our three year old and puddle jumping!

However, seriously the international observance of World Water Day is an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro.

The theme for World Water Day 2007 is coping with water scarcity - the theme highlights the significance of cooperation and importance of an integrated approach to water resource management of water at both international and local levels. Equity and rights, cultural and ethical issues are essential to be addressed when dealing with limited water resources. Imbalances between availability and demand, the degradation of groundwater and surface water quality, intersectoral competition, interregional and international disputes, all center around the question of how to cope with scarce water resources.

An activity ideas to develop children's understanding of the problems of water shortage is growing cress seeds - make up to identical trays of kitchen towel and a sprinkle of cress seeds, make one wet and one dry - what happens and why? what are the implications for countries with no rain?

For further information:

Water Aid - an international charity dedicated to helping people escape the stranglehold of poverty and disease caused by living without safe water and sanitation.

21 March 2007

Spring, Trees and Poetry

Today is the first day of Spring, World Poetry Day and World Forestry Day.

Spring has sprung! We've already mentioned some of the Spring festivals from different cultures and I'll be adding more about Spring showers tomorrow for World Meteological Day and then next week when we look towards Easter and other April festivals.

World Forestry Day is celebrated around the world on 21st March. This day commemorates the contribution and value of forests and forestry to the community.

Celebrate World Forestry Day by visiting your local woodland - look for the signs of Spring - the new leaves / blossom on the trees, the flowering of daffodils, snowdrops and bluebells, and the birds building nests. Look at the trees, can you identify the different types of trees and plants, do bark and leaf rubbings, and have fun running aroung exploring!

Believed to have its origin in the 1930s, World Poetry Day is now celebrated in hundreds of countries around the world. This day provides a perfect opportunity to examine poets and write poetry. In 1999, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) also designated 21st March as World Poetry Day. Check out the
Read Write Think website for lots of information on different types of poetry with special tools to help you write your very own create acrostic poems, diamante poems, letter poems, or shape poems.

We'd love hear your poems especially those about Spring, trees or the weather please add them as comments on the post.

15 March 2007

Mothering Sunday / Mother's Day

This Sunday (18th March) is Mothering Sunday (often known as Mothers Day). Mothering Sunday is celebrated in the UK on the fourth Sunday of Lent, which means that the date varies from year to year.

It is unclear when Mothering Sunday was first celebrated. Traditionally, it was a day when children, mainly daughters, who had gone to work as domestic servants were given a day off to visit their family and return to their ‘mother church’ the church in which they were baptised. Today it is a day when children give presents, flowers and cards to their mothers, women attending church services will often be presented with flowers and many youth organisations for example Scouts and Guides will have church parade services.

Craft activities are a great way to help children develop fine motor skills in a fun way. Here are some craft ideas for children to make for their mums that will encourage the development of these skills whilst making great presents. A range of left and right handed training scissors are available at Littlesheep Learning

Paper flowers
You will need: Pipe cleaners (preferably green ones or colour white ones green), coloured tissue paper, scissors and sticky tape.

How to make them:
  • Cut a strip of tissue paper about 15cm long and 3cm wide and cut a ‘fringe’ (lots of downward snips) along it – this is a great activity for children just starting to learn scissor skills.
  • Wrap the strip of fringed tissue paper around the end of the pipe cleaner and secure with sticky tape – this makes the centre of the flower.
  • Cut out several circles (or flower shapes for children with more advanced cutting skills – right handed children should find it easier to cut it anti-clockwise and left handed children clockwise) of tissue paper - the more circles used the bigger your flower.
  • Cut a small slit into the centre of the circle shapes and thread them all onto the pipe cleaner (again good for fine motor skill development) and then secure with sticky tape.
  • You may want to also cut out leaf shapes and attach these.

When you’ve made your flowers you can put them on the front of a card or make a whole bouquet in different colours and put in a decorated yoghurt pot ‘vase’ or tie with a ribbon.

Flowery cards

There are several fun ways of making flower cards using fine motor skills.

  • Cut out flower shapes and stems and stick them onto a card to make a collage.
  • Finger paint to make the petals of flowers.
  • Scrunch up coloured tissue paper into ball and stick it within a flower outline.
  • Cut paper (old flower catalogues are good for this) into small pieces and stick them within a flower outline

St Patrick's Day

The 17th March is Saint Patrick's Day, Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and his day is celebrated by the Irish and their descendants all over the world.

Saint Patrick is believed to have been born in the late fourth century, and is often confused with Palladius, a bishop who was sent by Pope Celestine in 431 to be the first bishop to the Irish. Saint Patrick is often credited with bringing christianity to Ireland.

Most of what is known about him comes from his two works, the Confessio, a spiritual autobiography, and his Epistola, a denunciation of British mistreatment of Irish christians. Saint Patrick described himself as a "most humble-minded man, pouring forth a continuous paean of thanks to his Maker for having chosen him as the instrument whereby multitudes who had worshipped idols and unclean things had become the people of God."

Saint Patrick is popularly known for driving the snakes from Ireland and it is true there are no snakes in Ireland, however there probably never have been as the island was separated from the rest of the continent at the end of the Ice Age! As in many old pagan religions, serpent symbols were common and often worshipped so driving the snakes from Ireland was probably symbolic of putting an end to that pagan practice. While he wasn't the first to bring Christianity to Ireland, Patrick is said to have encountered the Druids at Tara and converted the warrior chiefs and princes, baptizing them and thousands of their subjects in the "Holy Wells" that still bear this name.

There are several accounts of Saint Patrick's death. One says that Patrick died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, on 17th March 460 A.D, where his jawbone was preserved in a silver shrine and was often requested in times of childbirth, epileptic fits, and as a preservative against the "evil eye". Another account says that St. Patrick ended his days at Glastonbury, England and was buried there and the Chapel of St. Patrick still exists as part of Glastonbury Abbey. Today, many Catholic places of worship all around the world are named after St. Patrick, including cathedrals in New York and Dublin city.

Saint Patrick's Day has come to be a celebration of Irish culture and associated with everything Irish, green and gold, shamrocks and luck, since the holiday began in Ireland, it is believed that as the Irish spread out around the world, they took with them their history and celebrations. As St Patrick's day is a religious holiday as well, many Irish attend mass, where March 17th is the traditional day for offering prayers for missionaries worldwide. Big cities and small villages alike celebrate with parades, "wearing of the green", music and songs, Irish food and drink, and activities for kids such as crafts, coloring and games. Some communities even go so far as to dye rivers or streams green!

Red Nose Day

As you can see Red Nose Day is Friday 16th March - fundraisers all over the country are busy doing small things to make a BIG difference.

Here are some ideas celebrating the colour red: wear red clothes, collect as many red things as you can, eat red foods, paint red paintings, build red towers and colour with red crayons.

At Littlesheep Learning we will be celebrating Red Nose Day by donating ten pence from every order placed from now until Midnight on Friday 16th March - so hurry and place yours now!

Computer Down Time

We're going to be having some computer down time over the weekend at Littlesheep Learning - but don't worry our website will be working as normal. Whilst I might not be able to post I thought I'd post the weekends blog posts today instead so you don't miss out!

14 March 2007

No Smoking Day

Today is No Smoking Day.

No Smoking Day aims to help people who want to stop smoking by creating a supportive environment for them, and by highlighting the many sources of help available to people who want to quit. Now in its 24th year it is a firm fixture in the UK calendar because of its popularity amongst smokers and continued success. Three quarters of smokers would like to stop and on No Smoking Day over a million try.

The Day's main messages are:

  • No Smoking Day is a good opportunity to stop

  • Smokers can get help when they want to stop

  • There are health and other benefits to stopping smoking

Are you giving up today? If so good luck.

More New Year Celebrations

Today is Sikh New Year!

Did you know that there are new year celebrations every month? For those who thought that New Year comes once in a year, think again! New Years are celebrated several times through all of the 12 months of the year! Here are some of them!

1 - New Year's Day (Gregorian calendar) - The most widely celebrated holiday.
1 - Japanese New Year's Day - Also known as Gantan-sai or Oshogatsu.
7 - Egyptian New Year's Day (Sekhmet)
8 - Druidic New Year
11- Old Scottish New Year
Mahayana Buddhist New Year is celebrated on the first full moon day in January.
14 - Eastern Orthodox New Year's Day
14 - Julian Calendar New Year
21 - Celtic New Year
Korean New Year (Sol-Nal) (Lunar New Year) is celebrated at sunset on the day of the second new moon after the winter solstice.
Tibetan New Year (Losar) is celebrated in late January or early February at the time of the new moon.
Vietnamese New Year or Tet is celebrated between January 17 and February 19 at the time of the new moon.
Chinese New Year is celebrated between January 21 and February 20 on the second (very rarely third) new moon after the winter solstice

Tibetan New Year (Ugyen Thinley Dorje) - Some Tibetans celebrate their New Year a month later than the Lunar New Year as Ugyen Thinley Dorje.
Muharram is the first month of the Muslim year and its first day is celebrated as Islamic New Year's Day.

1 - Roman New Year also called the Festival of Mars (Feriae Marti) honouring Mars, the Roman god of war.
8 - Sun Rise Day — The world's most northerly village, Longyearbyen, Norway celebrates the first dawn of the new year (their New Year's Day). Around noon on this day, they celebrate their first glimpse of the sun since it sat in October. The long night of winter is compensated by the midnight sun of summer.
14 - Sikh New Year Day - the first day of Chet, the first month of the Sikh calendar.
21 - Astrological New Year
21 - The Baha'i New Year (Naw-Ruz)
Hindu New Year also known as Bikrami Samvat falls on the day following the new moon on or after the spring equinox.
Persian or Iranian New Year (Noruz) is always held on the spring equinox.
Assyrian New Year, called Rish Nissanu, occurs on the vernal equinox, commencing the start of the spring.
Telugu New Year's Day also known as Ugadi is celebrated on the day after the new moon following the vernal equinox (first day of spring).
21 - Zoroastrian New Year or Jamshedi

Theravadin Buddhist New Year - The Tharavadin Buddhists of Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Lao celebrate the New Year on the first full moon day with three days of celebration.
14 - Solar New Year (Songkran) - This new year's day is celebrated in many southeast Asia countries as Baisakhi in India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka (or Varushapirapu); Songkran in Thailand; Boum Pimay or Bun-Pi-Mai-Lao in Laos; Thingyan in Myanmar; and Bon Chol Chhnam in Cambodia. The exact time on the 13th or 14th is determined by astrologers.
14 - Nepali New Year Day - The specific time of the New Year is set by astrologers on the 13th or 14th.
13 or 14 - Sikh New Year Day (Vaisaki or Baisakhi) -On this day in 1699, Guru Gobind Singh created the Brotherhood of the Pure. April 14 - Sinhala /Tamil New Year's Day - Sri Lankans celebrate their national New Year's Day (Puththandu in Tamil and Aluth Avurudhu in Sinhala). The specific time of the New Year is set by astrologers. The Tamil New Year and Vishu are celebrated on the same day respectively in the Southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
13-15 - Thai New Year
13-15 - Cambodian New Year and Lao New Year
14 or 15 - Bengali New Year called Pohela Baisakh
22 - Parsi New Year Day also known as Pateti is celebrated on April 23 (April 22nd on leap years), this is one of the local new years celebrated in India.
24 - Babylonian New Year - The Babylonian New Year begins the Nabonassar Era Year 2752 on April 25th (24th on leap years).

26 - Buddhist New Year also known as Buddha Purnima or Buddha Jayanti - Some Buddhist sects celebrate Budhha's birthday on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month as their New Year's Day. Note: Some sects now celebrate Buddha's birthday on April 8th.

21 - Ancient Greek New Year - Some versions of the ancient Greek calendar celebrated the new year on the summer solstice.

9 - Armenian New Year - The Armenian Era, an old way of measuring time, began on July 9, 552.

Malayalam New Year - On the new moon in late August or early September (the first day of the Hindu month of Bhadon), the southern Indian state of Kerala celebrates its new year.
23 - Zoroastrian New Year (Shenshai), for those Zoroastrians who follow the Shenshai calendar.

1 - Orthodox Christian New Year - This day marks the New Year for some Russian Orthodox Christians.
10 - African New Year
11 (12th in leap years) - Ethiopian New Years Day - This is a national holiday in Ethiopia.
16 - Rosh Hashanah or Jewish New Year begins on the first day of the Jewish month of Tishri (Tishrei), is also called the Day of Judgment and Remembrance.

3 - Moroccan New Year's Day

Hindu New Year (Diwali) is celebrated on the new moon in late October or early November. It is considered by some as one of the Hindu New Years (sometimes celebrated the day after Diwali as Vikram New Year). The Marwari New Year is celebrated on the day of the festival of Diwali Jain New Year - Celebrated on the day after Diwali, this is the New Year's day for the Jain religion. It is the day after of the attainment of Moksha by Mahavir Swami and the day when his chief disciple Gautam Swami attained Kevalgnan. The Gujarati New Year is usually celebrated the day after the festival of Diwali (which occurs in mid-autumn - either October or November, depending on the Lunar calendar.

Sikkimese New Year - The Sikkimese New Year or Losoong is celebrated from the first to fifth day of the Lunar 11th month. It is also called Sonam Losar or the Farmer's New Year.

09 March 2007

Reviews Competition

I'm calling any past customers to write a review of the products they bought. It's really simple to do and could win you a prize!

Go to Littlesheep Learning and log in (you might need to create an account if you don't already have one).

Choose the product to review, click on 'review' and then on 'write review' and add your review!

Everyone who adds a review before the 31st March will receive a discount code for their next order and be added into a draw to win a selection of goodies worth at least £20.

Get writing!

07 March 2007

Colour Playtime

Spring seems to have arrived with a few sunny days and the garden has become a lot more colourful; this gave me the inspiration for the subject of this article - fun ways to teach colours. Children learn to name colours at different ages however it is never too early to start and it can be great fun!

Here are some ideas for colourful experiences:
  1. Name colours in general conversation, “look there is a yellow digger”, “look at that black bird”, “can you eat up your red strawberry” etc.
  2. Use colours as part of choices, “do you want to wear the red t-shirt or the blue t-shirt?”, “what colour plate would you like?”
  3. Play matching games, using simple colour flashcards get your toddler to find an object the same colour or take the card to something the same colour.
  4. Play the game ‘I spy’ but instead of saying “something beginning with the letter…” say “something the colour…” and guess things that are that colour, you can also use patterns – “stripy”, “spotty” etc or try the more abstract “I’m thinking of something that is…” for things out of view
  5. Go on a colour adventure – choose a colour and while you are out see what you can spot that is that colour, or try and find a rainbow – something of each colour in turn.
  6. Play turn-taking games that involve matching colours or throwing coloured dice
  7. Use colours as part of physical play, play with coloured beanbags, balls, and hoops, get children to run to, kick, or throw a certain colour.
  8. Have a colour day – choose a colour and make that your theme of the day, wear clothes that are that colour, eat food that is that colour, play with toys that are that colour, paint pictures with that colour.
  9. Use colours in messy play:
  • Add food colouring to water for colourful water play
  • Mix paints – paint one hand yellow and the other blue, make a handprint picture... then see what happens when the hands are rubbed together
  • Mix playdoh – get a ball of red and a ball of yellow, what happens when you mix them together
  • Freeze coloured water in a variety of containers and watch what happens when it melts, and the colours mix together
  • Make collages using different colour materials, e.g yellow sand, orange lentils, green grass and blue paper
  • Make finger paint pictures

Overall the most important thing when learning colours is to have fun and include colourful language in general conversation.

05 March 2007

Chinese Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival is celebrated today, a Chinese festival that is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunar year in the Chinese calendar. The Lantern Festival is the last day of the traditional Chinese New Year celebration period and is also known as the Little New Year since it marks the end of the series of celebrations starting from the Chinese New Year.

During the Lantern Festival, children go out at night carrying bright lanterns. In ancient times, the lanterns were fairly simple, for only the emperor and noblemen had large ornate ones; in modern times, lanterns have been embellished with many complex designs. For example, lanterns are now often made in shapes of animals.

Traditionally, the date was a day for love and matchemaking. It was one of the few nights in ancient times without a strict curfew. Young people were chaperoned in the streets in hopes of finding love. Matchmakers acted busily in hopes of pairing couples. The brightest lanterns were symbolic of good luck and hope.

Those who do not carry lanterns often enjoy watching informal lantern parades. Other popular activities at this festival include eating tanguan), a sweet glutinous rice dumpling served in a sugary soup, and guessing lantern riddles, often messages of love.

Activity Idea
Making oriental paper lanterns is a great way to practice scissor skills – fold a piece of paper in half lengthways and make a series of cuts from the centre fold to about two centimetres from the edge, open the paper out and roll along the two short ends then join to make the lantern, add a string to hang it up.

04 March 2007


Purim begins at sundown tonight (4th March 2007). Purim is the most festive of Jewish holidays. It commemorates a major victory over oppression and is recounted in the Megillah, the scroll of the story of Esther and takes place on the fourteenth and fifteenth days of Adar, the twelfth month of the Jewish calendar. Purim is celbrated by reading Megillat Esther (the scroll Esther), Mishloach Manot - Sending food to friends, Matanot L'evyonim - Giving gifts to the poor, and enjoying a Purim Seuda (meal). At Purim Jews also celebrate by poking fun at themselves and their institutions, throwing synagogue decorum out the window and dressing in costumes. Purim is an important holiday. Jews throughout the world, surrounded by anti-semitism, take great joy in a holiday that reminds them, that even though throughout the course of Jewish History there have been too many real-life "Hamans," in the end Hashem never lets the anti-semites win.

03 March 2007

Magha Puja Day

Today is Magha Puja Day which takes places on the full moon day of the third lunar month. This holy day is observed to commemorate an important event in the life of the Buddha. This event occurred early in the Buddha's teaching life.

After the first Rains Retreat (Vassa) at the Deer Park at Sarnath, the Buddha went to Rajagaha city where 1250 Arahats,(Enlightened saints) who were the Buddha's disciples, without prior appointment, returned from their wanderings to pay respect to the Buddha. They assembled in the Veruvana Monastery with the two chief disciples of the Buddha, Ven. Sariputta and Ven. Moggalana.

The assembly is called the Fourfold Assembly because it consisted of four factors:
  1. All 1250 were Arahats
  2. All of them were ordained by the Buddha himself
  3. They assembled by themselves without any prior call
  4. It was the full moon day of Magha month


Today is the Hindu festival of Holi - an annual festival celebrated on the day after the full moon in the Hindu month of Phalguna (early March). It celebrates spring, commemorates various events in Hindu mythology and is time of disregarding social norms and indulging in general merrymaking. Holi is probably the least religious of Hindu holidays. During Holi, Hindus attend a public bonfire, spray friends and family with colored powders and water, and generally go a bit wild in the streets.

Holi is spread out over two days (it used to be five, and in some places it is longer). The entire holiday is associated with a loosening of social restrictions normally associated with caste, sex, status and age. Holi is also characterized by the loosening of social norms governing polite behavior and the resulting general atmosphere of licentious merrymaking and ribald language and behavior. A common saying heard during "Holi is bura na mano, Holi hai" ("don't feel offended, it's Holi").

Holi usually begins with the lighting of bonfires which have been built by everyone. People light their household fires, and then the community fire is kindled by a brahim priest. The ripening of the first wheat and barley crop is celebrated by being offered to the fire, and the roasted barley is eaten. The ashes of the fires are marked on the forehead to bring good luck in the year ahead.

After the bonfires comes the throwing of colour, which gives the holiday its common name as the 'Festival of Colours'. People throw coloured water and powders over friends or anyone who passes by. It is a happy celebration, everybody dances and has great fun. Processions of floats carrying statues of the gods line the streets. This ritual is said to be based on the story of Krishna and Radha as well as on Krishna's splashing of the maids with water, but mostly it celebrates spring with its bright colours.

Some fun activity ideas to celebrate Holi are:
  • Adding food colouring to water for colourful water play
  • Painting paper with water and sprinkling on powder paints
  • Putting paint in squeezy bottles and squirt on paper (probably best done in the garden!)
  • Finger painting

Favourite Words

What's your favourite word? Can you help to build a mile-long Wall of Words by adding to it to the wall before the end of March (that's 50,000 words) and help raise money for I CAN, the children's communication charity. When the target is reached, Openreach will turn every word into cash and donate £50,000 to I CAN. It costs nothing to add your favourite word and you also get the chance to win an Apple MacBook or iPod Nano (terms and conditions apply). Visit http://www.wallofwords.co.uk to add your favourite word.

01 March 2007

St David's Day

The 1st March is St David's Day, Saint David (Dewi Sant in Welsh) is the patron saint of Wales and his day is celebrated in Wales and by Welsh people throughout the world.

St David of Wales or Dewi Sant, was a saint of the Celtic Church. He was the son of Sandde, Prince of Powys, and Non, daughter of a Chieftain of Menevia whose lands included the peninsula on which the little cathedral town of St David's now stands. St David is thought to have been born near the present town of St David's.

David was educated at what is usually taken to be Whitland in Carmarthenshire under Saint Paulinus of Wales. He became renowned as a teacher and a preacher, founding monastic settlements and churches throughout Wales, Cornwall and Brittany. He rose to a bishopric, and presided over two synods, as well as going on pilgrimages to Jerusalem (where he was anointed as a bishop by the Patriach) and Rome. St David's Cathedral now stands on the site of the monastery he founded in the remote and inhospitable valley of 'Glyn Rhosyn' in Pembrokeshire. David was buried at St David's Cathedral and unlike many contemporary 'saints' of Wales, David was officially recognised by Pope Callixtus II in 1123.

Many miracles have been associated with Saint David and medieval pilgrims equated two pilgrimages to St David's as worth one pilgrimage to Rome due to his holiness and over fifty churches in South Wales alone bear his name!

To celebrate St David's Day many children take part in school concerts or eisteddfodau, with recitation and singing being the main activities. Historically children would wear traditional Welsh costumes to school however dressing up for St David's day now includes dressing in rugby outfits or even as dragons! Many Welsh people will wear one or both of the national emblems of Wales on their lapel the daffodil (a generic Welsh symbol) or the leek (Saint David's personal symbol) on this day. The association between leeks and daffodils is strengthened by the fact that they have similar names in Welsh, Cenhinen (leek) and Cenhinen Bedr (daffodil, literally "Peter's leek").

Two fun craft activities to celebrate St David's day are making leeks and daffodils.

  • To make a leek get a rectangle white paper, and turn it so that the long side is at the bottom, colour the top half of the page green, turn it over and do the same on the other side, roll the paper tightly and secure on the white part with tape, using scissors make cuts down the green part about a centimetre apart and ruffle them to look like the leek's leaves.
  • To make a daffodil, paint one egg segment from an egg box yellow, cut some petals from yellow card and stick them on the bottom of the segment in a flower shape, then add a green pipecleaner for a stem and some green tissue leaves.

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus

World Book Day

Today, Thursday 1st March 2007 is World Book Day. World Book Day is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) designated day as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and was marked in over 30 countries around the globe last year.

The origins of the day come from Catalonia, where roses and books were given as gifts to loved ones on St. George's Day - a tradition started some 80 years ago. Although this is a world event, the date varies from country to country, it occurs early in March in the UK and Ireland because the initiative is so well established in schools it is important the Day happens in term time to really make the most of this opportunity to celebrate books and reading.

The main aim of World Book Day is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own.

Schools all over the country are celebrating World Book Day with children dressing up as characters from their favourite books - send me your pictures and I'll add them here! Popular characters include:
  • a Witch (from Room on a Broom)
  • Milly Molly Mandy
  • Harry and his bucket full of dinosaurs
  • Tracey Beaker
  • a cat (from The Cat in the Hat)
  • the children from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • a Fairy (from That's not my fairy)
At Littlesheep Learning we are celebrating World Book Day by holding a special book sale for the month of March - all our children's books are on special offer with savings of 33% off the RRP.