31 July 2009

Percy the Pigeon’s anti-bullying campaign

We've just been introduced to Percy the Pigeon via Facebook and I thought it was such a good idea that I'd help spread the word!
Anita Hunt wanted to support the work of Bullying UK – http://www.bullying.co.uk/ , by raising funds and promoting their work. Bullying UK supports over 500,000 people a year for a cost of just £50,000 a cost of just 10p per person supported, Founded 10 years ago Bullying UK is the leading Anti-bullying charity and a safety net for UK children when all else fails. As a part of Anita’s fundraising efforts, they have a Just Giving page for this purpose – www.justgiving.com/areyoubeingbullied.

Due to her experience of bullying through personal experience, research, and working with young people, one of the most difficult aspects surrounding this sensitive issue, is it that many people whether children or adults, find it very hard to talk about.

Anita wanted to find a way to encourage families, schools and communities to talk about this subject. She decided to write a children’s novel aimed at 8-12 year olds which is a fun story, but has the underlying theme of encouraging those affected by bullying to tell someone / a safe adult.
The book – ‘Matty-boy & The Secret Pigeon Racket’ was published in April 2009 and very quickly a website was developed to not only provide a platform to talk about the book, but to be a place where a discussion could take place, to offer suggestions of how to cope and where to go for help. 50p from every book sale will be donated to the work of Bullying UK. The book is available through their website for £8.99 plus p&p as well as other gifts, or the book can be ordered through other online stores such as Amazon.

The book gave an ideal opportunity to begin a campaign to spread Percy’s message; a pigeon that helps his friend Matt to tell a safe adult that he is being bullied, so that he may be able to receive the help that he needs.

Percy’s campaign has been receiving great support through twitter, if you would like to follow their work on Twitter please follow @percythepigeon . Recently the campaign has spread to Facebook, you can find his page here - http://companies.to/percythepigeonscampaign

As a part of the campaign, they are working on spreading his message into as many schools as possible, by inviting knitters to knit a mini Percy from their specially designed Percy pattern by Alan Dart, which can be found through their website. Kristina from Flutterby creations, has very kindly set up a Ravelry group for knitters to join the campaign, as well as putting a Percy Kit together, with all that you need to make a Percy for £2.50, (50p will be donated to Bullying UK from each sale.)

If you would like to help with this campaign, more information can be found on Anita’s website http://www.areyoubeingbullied.com/, they have many suggestions of ways you can help.

If you are affected by bullying please contact Bullying UK, or one of the other organisations listed on their website, you do not have to deal with it alone.

28 July 2009

Summer Holiday: Letter Writing

One of the ideas suggested in a discussion with some friends of mine for free / cheap summer holiday activities was playing Post Office/ postman. You can print off some signs / stamps/ passports etc. from CBeebies Postman Pat website, make a cardboard box Post Office / post box and use old envelopes and scrap paper (finally a use for junk mail!). Then the children can have great fun posting and delivering the post to various rooms around the house or if weather fine you can include bikes in garden to deliver to shed etc.

This then reminded me of a post at Let's Explore about making up 'summer fun bags' one of which was a letter writing kit - Amy suggests gathering up odds and ends of cards, stickers, envelopes, etc. from around the house and included a couple index cards with helpful letter -writing words, and names of friends and family for reference. She also has designed some lovely outdoor stationery - do take a look.

Letter writing is a great way to get children to practice their writing over the summer holidays - children love receiving post so see if you can find a relative or friend that they can write to so they get a letter back!

24 July 2009

Summer Holiday: Messy Play

Today we did 'messy play' luckily for us it was at the local Children's Centre so no mess in our house for once. I've posted lots of messy play ideas before here and today wasn't any different - the eldest two liked finger painting - blobs of squeezy paint on the top of the paper and useur fingers / hands to draw patterns and mix them up and the baby enjoyed playing in a bowl of runny strawberry angel delight (don't ask how much he ate!). They also played with coloured sand, cooked pasta, playdoh, water and grains of wheat and jumped in bubbles with the bubble machine. Maybe something to do on a sunny day at home when you can use the garden so as not to make too much mess in the house!

23 July 2009

'Virtual schools' swine flu plan

I found an article on the BBC News about a plan to set up 'Virtual Schools' in case all schools have to close due to swine flu.

Apparently officials in England have considered extending the school summer holidays to try to limit the spread of the virus before a vaccine is widely available. Head teachers want schools to stay open but say they will do all they can to continue lessons if they do close but England's Schools Secretary Ed Balls has said the government will monitor the situation closely over the holidays and review the evidence in late August.

Scientists at Imperial College London have asked the government to consider closing schools this autumn to curb the spread of swine flu cases, while outlining the costs in terms of disruption and impact on business and essential services. England's chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, said yesterday that "it would take a lot for us to move in that direction; it would be extremely disruptive to society".

Becta has confirmed contingency plans are in place. Its officials have been liaising with the government and are working on revising government guidance to schools about how they can help children's education continue using technology. Guidance released by the government in December last year details plans schools and local authorities should make in case schools are closed for extended periods. It includes provision for long-distance learning using email, the internet and the post.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 350 councils in England and Wales, says that any decision to order the nationwide closure of schools would have to be taken extremely carefully as it has a potentially massive knock-on effect because of the numbers who could be expected to stay at home to care for their children rather than going to work.

The government advice says if schools are closed for an extended period in a flu pandemic "students should be provided with a reasonable degree of teaching and learning".
The overall planning responsibility "lies with the local authority, working with schools on planning and delivery". It calls on local authorities to discuss plans with schools now and for schools to review "the proportion of students with IT facilities at home" and the extent to which students with such facilities could access school IT systems from home. Local authorities should also consider posting work or making it available at central points such as libraries or town halls, for children without access to online systems. It adds: "A severe pandemic would cause major disruption to all aspects of life, including what is reasonable to expect of schools and local authorities - but that is not a reason to neglect planning".

22 July 2009

Summer Holiday: Play dough

This afternoon we played with play dough (playdoh) and I was reminded of the fine motor benefits of playing with play dough and all the different things you can do.

First off play dough is fairly cheap to play with - you can make it yourself and make lots of different colours, textures very easily, plus you don't need any fancy tools as you can use your hands and other household objects to mould it.

Fine motor activities with play dough:
  • roll into tiny balls using the palms of the hands facing each other and using only the finger tips
  • make designs using toothpicks
  • practice cutting using plastic scissors
  • practice using a knife and fork to cut it up
  • knead the dough
  • stick small objects into dough and pull them out
  • poke holes in it
  • squeeze it
  • press it flat
  • pinch it (pastry pinches)
  • roll into a sausage using palms
  • make models
  • use cutters
  • squeeze in garlic press
  • play with paydough tools eg spagetti making tool, rollers, molds

Most importantly - have fun.

21 July 2009

Summer Holiday: Market Shopping

Tuesday is Market Day and school holidays are no exception to the need to get fresh produce so that is our first activity of the day but how can this activity be extended. In our blog post on Super Maths for the Supermarket we looked at some of the maths related activities that supermarket shopping could involve and many of these are the same when shopping at the market.

Other activities that could be incorporated into market shopping are:
  • writing a shopping list (or drawing one)
  • reading a shopping list
  • labelling the different fruits and vegetables
  • labelling the colours seen on the stall
  • thinking of recipes to use the ingredients
  • classifying foods into food groups - fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, fish
  • counting in 6's (eggs!)
As the rest of the day seems quite likely to be raining other ideas to extend the 'shopping' theme of the day include:

20 July 2009

Summer Holiday - Library Reading Challenge

Today we went to the library and signed up for the summer reading challenge - Quest Seekers. Run from 13th July until 5th September the challenge asks all four to twelve year olds to join in the annual reading challenge! This year’s theme is fantasy – dragons, knights, fairies, space - so let your imagination soar! Everyone who signs up for the challenge receives a membership card and a special fold out poster to record the books read and to stick the stickers on. Plus there are themed activities, worksheets and competitions at many libraries over the holidays - today we've designed a 'crest' to enter a competition and collected a dragon colouring sheet and we are hoping to go to a workshop to make a dragon puppet later in the holidays.

Have you signed up? Please share your favourite books and the activities you've been doing with your library.


We are very pleased to see that in the latest TOTS100 index we have gone UP twelve places to number 75. Do take a look at the list there are some fab blogs on there and do keep reading and commenting on here!


18 July 2009

Summer Holiday Plans

The summer holidays are now here and in the Littlesheep household we have seven weeks to fill with things to do. There are lots of activity ideas already on this blog and I'll post some of our activities, adventures and things to do ideas over the coming weeks in the hope of inspiring others. If you have anything exciting planned / any great activity ideas then please comment on this post and share them - I'm sure there are thousands of parents over the country who want to know the ideas!

The first thing we are going to do is sit and write a list of some of the things the boys want to do over the summer and put it onto a calendar - I've found this planner on netmums which also has 20 activity ideas to help you fill some of the slots!

So far on our list of things to do we've got:
  • going to the library
  • a week at Grandma and Grandpa's
  • a week's intensive swimming lessons
  • setting up the womery
  • setting up the ant farm
  • making popcorn
  • making cakes
  • making bread
  • making ice lollies
  • homework sheets from school!

We are also going to keep a holiday scrapbook so we can remember all the fun we've had.