Wednesday, 30 September 2020


The last few months have been many things and one of them was a very steep learning curve and a complete recalibration of how us kids' writers and creatives do our job. Because it's not just sitting at your desk all day and typing or doodling away, it's not just time alone thinking and dreaming and imagining. It's also, of course, getting out there, meeting young readers and writers and their families, their teachers, their librarians, their teddies! 
With 'out there' being essentially out of bounds, we've have to reinvent how we do things. Over the past while, I've been busy experimenting with online workshops (junior book club, toddler time, writing club, even Zoom baby book clubs!), pre-record videos (writing challenges, desincarnated residencies...) and also outdoors events. 
Those are the new ways we'll get to reach out to kids, families, schools, libraries and festival goers for the next while. It's been intense and intensive and, sometimes, very enjoyable!
So, teachers, librarians, festival programmers, if you want to keep young readers and writers engaged, chat to a creative today, they'll have come up with something! (such as my Poetry Treasure Hunt or my Ninja Writer's Workout, more here)

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Keeping the little ones busy: Pirates!

How are you all getting on? Have you begun to lose count of the days in confinement and to forget what the old normal was yet? It feels a bit like that here...
To help with the long days, I'll be sharing some of the tried and tested activities we've enjoyed in Baby Book Club. You'll need very few materials and could get hours of entertainment out of these!

Today, I give you: Piratic adventures!
There tons of books about pirates and you possibly have some lying around. If you don't, it doesn't really matter: there's still plenty of fun to be had. You can enlist the help of older kids there as well, as they can push the pretend play into some detail.

Today, pretend you're all part of a pirate crew.
First, you are going to need a ship. The couch could do very well, or bunk beds, or under the kitchen table, or, the ultimate holy grail of pretend play, you might have a cardboard box lying around? Decorate it together. What could you use for sails? Do you want a flag? And what will you call your ship?
Next you'll have to look the part. What you need is a hat! Take a sheet of A3 paper if you have it (if you don't, tape together two A4) and fold it in half. Draw a piratic hat shape and cut it out. Unfold it again and let your little one decorate it. They can draw, use stickers, stampers, whatever you have to hand! Refold the paper and staple the sides together, it should sit nice and snug on your young pirate's head, as in the pic above.

Finally you'll need a place to go, in other words, a treasure map! Print an island shape off the internet or draw one yourself and add detail to it with your child. Trees, rivers, mountains, sheep, scribbles, etc. and don't forget to place an X to mark the spot!

Now you're ready to set sail! Remember to use your best piratic words (you'd be amazed how many of those really young kids know!). You can find more in this English/Pirate dictionary and you can also generate your own pirate name over here!

Why not round off the day's adventures with a bit of water play? Take out a basin, pour some water in it and throw in plastic containers, slotted spoons, colander, anything that will pour in an interesting fashion. Hours of focused fun guaranteed! (You may want to strip your pirate down to the bare essentials first, though)

As before, here are a few more links to keep the fun going! :)

Peter Pan - A Pirate's life  
Pirates of the Caribbean Orchestral Medley, He's a Pirate  

Flannery Brothers Children's Music - "Pirate or Parrot?"

Hang on in there, me hearties!

Monday, 6 April 2020

Creativity Bingo!

Feeling overwhelmed by all the things you and your kids 'should be doing'?
Can't face another day of cleaning up after a bake-off or a water-colour marathon?
And yet worried about your young ones missing out and not doing enough creative activities?
It's true, being creative will help with your energy levels, your problem-solving, your mental health and more. But creativity isn't just about making art and big complicated enterprises. It can be found in everyday activities (like brushing your teeth or getting dressed); it can be practised and grown.
Creativity is a state of mind that will get you (whatever your age) through times happy and hard.
To help you spot and create creative moments in what you and your family are already doing, here is a handy Creativity Bingo put together by illustrator Margaret Anne Suggs and yours truly.
We hope that you find it helpful, useful, stress-free and a bit of fun!
Feel free to share and let us know how you get on!
Hang on in there, one and all,
Juliette and Mags

Monday, 23 March 2020

Keeping Little Ones Busy: Bringing the Library Home!

No creche, no play group, no storytime, no play dates… The days and weeks ahead are going to feel like one very long break-less, nap-less afternoon.
That said, once everyone has adjusted to the new routine, there are really fun, simple things you can do to keep your little one busy, amused and, yes, learning!

Over the next while, I will share here some of the tried and tested activities we've enjoyed in Baby Book Club. You'll need very few materials and could get hours of entertainment out of these!

Today, I give you: Bringing the Library Home or… Solo Book Clubbing!

If your child is especially missing their trips to the library, why not recreate a story-time setting at home by simply placing teddies and/or other family members in a comfy circle and following the routine you are used to.

In my sessions, we always start with the same songs (one to say good morning, a couple to get moving and get energy out of our systems, one to calm down and get ready to listen), before moving on to the books, anything between 1 and 4, depending on the group. Pick up some books, ask your child to choose some too, and off you go!

Follow your little one's lead: if they want to spend ages poring over the pictures of one story, let them at it. Ask them questions, point and name the things in the illustrations and listen to what they have to say. If they want to skip ahead to the next book, you can always come back to it at a later stage. And if they want to tell the story themselves, your work here is done!

To finish up, you can throw in a craft. One lovely activity that works with really young kids is to get them to make their own book. Fold and staple together a couple of A4 sheets, bring out old magazines and newspapers, some glue and kiddie scissors and off they go! They love cutting (so do the parents, admit it), lifting pictures from supermarket catalogues and messing about with glue.

When you're done, make sure you share your little one's work with other family members (in real life, but also remotely) and display it somewhere around the house: on the fridge or on your kid's bookshelves...

For a perfect finish, you might want to blow some bubbles to mark the end of the 'session' and provide even more lasting fun!

Prolong the fun with these songs and videos!
The Library Song, a fun kids’ song from New Zealand. 

Lil B Dub / The Rapping Bookworm, a thing of silliness!

Martians Discover a Book, classic Sesame Street madness.

Bruno Mars' Uptown Funk Parody: Unread Book (you’ll never look at your librarian in the same way!)

The Mount Desert Island High School version of Meghan Trainor's "All About The Bass/Books" 

Hang on in there!

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Let It Snow

Image may contain: foodThe babies braved the snow, the rain and everything in between today! We, very aptly, looked at books with a wintery feel where polar bears featured prominently. We explored textures and our senses with Usbourne's This is Not My Polar Bear and enjoyed another 'touchy-feely' book, Making Tracks: Snow by Cocoretto, this time following grooves in the sturdy cardboard with our fingers and guessing who might me hiding behind the flaps.

We also made connections with our bear-loving siblings and had a lovely sensory moment playing with cotton wool to give our very own polar bears some fur. Your fridges will look glorious tonight, babies!
As promised, here are the links!

World’s coolest snow sculptures: 

Do The Funky Penguin by Rufus Thomas :

Penguins ice-skating, clip from a BBC documentary: 


Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Roaaaar Like a Baby

The little ones in this group are really little, which means you see them grow week by week. Today, the wobblers were a wee more steady, the shy ones came out of themselves a bit more and the talkers got super chatty thanks to Dinosaur Roar. There was a lot of interaction with the book, with what was going on in the pictures, a lot of description and general excitement. You know, dinosaurs!
We then played freely with a bunch of plastic and soft dinosaurs, shared them, swapped them, gave them tea and some even spotted other dinosaurs in other books around the room...
As promised, here are the links to the songs and videos.

The Dinosaurs Song by Big Word Club

The Dinosaur Song by Johnny Cash

Running from a T-Rex by Daddy Donut

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Don't Worry, It's Baby Book Club!

What do babies do? They grow! It's been a while since I last saw some of our regular Baby Book Club members and the changes are astonishing! We now crawl, walk, look out, make sentences!
Today we went for a dip in Chris Haughton's huge-enormous-massive waves as we read Don't Worry Little Crab. They enjoyed 'holding tight' before each wave and the colourful fish the pair of crabs meet on the sea floor. They loved when Little Crab introduces themselves to said fish, as they saw it as an opportunity to say 'Hello, fishy!' and started on a round of introductions of our own: 'Hello, fishy, I'm Juliette! Hello, fishy, I'm Flynn...' The excitement to 'find' themselves in the book!
Overall, I think this crowd might have been a little too little for this book. It's longer than Haughton's previous offerings and didn't keep their attention as well as, say, A Bit Lost or Goodnight Everyone.
Our activity today was… to go fishing! I had drawn and cut out sea creatures and plants inspired by the illustrations and stuffed them into a box full of shredded cardboard, a leftover from my Christmas book shopping.
The kids really enjoyed the challenge of touching the strange-to-them texture and rummaging through it. It took some longer than others to go for it, but everyone took part in the end. They were then plied with blue paper and glue sticks and got a chance to create their own seascape. The concentration and seriousness as they worked was fantastic. These guys are aged 10 months to 2 and a half!
As promised, here are the lings to the songs and videos.
Until next time!

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Once I Caught a Fish Alive l

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a great YouTube channels with lots of videos. Try the Bell Jellies:
 the Galloping Bay Pacific Seahorses:
 or the Pelagic Red Crabs:

That’s What Makes the World Go Round (the fish scene from the Sword in the Stone):