Home Education Parenting

Half Term in Lockdown – Update

Since I shared our Half Term plan with you, I thought I would let you know how it went in practice.


We began the week with some housework and gardening. It was really important to me. There were jobs that needed doing, and getting the boys to help out really helped me relax and feel ready to create a lot of fun for them during the rest of the week!

We finished the day off with a virtual theatre trip. We watched four short puppet shows about Ancient Greek Myths.


The virtual zoo trip!

We began with a cuddly toy safari. Which ended with a huge surprise when Mr Frogotter leapt out from behind a bush, disguised as a crocodile!

We took turns being crocodiles and chasing crocodiles. Which was a lot of fun! Middly was tempted outside to join in.

Back inside, we did some face painting. And Middly made a panda head.

Then we put on the TV and watched a tour of Longleat. Eldest finally joined us, so the whole family watched together. It’s a brilliant tour, really interesting and with loads of baby animals!

Lunchtime! Eldest warmed up some pasties and made a side salad.

After lunch, we went back outside, with our masks, and used Google 3d animals to get some fun photos.

Finally, we went online and let the children each choose a ‘souvenir’ of our trip.


We had a Hat Day!

This is a simple idea, but it works really well. All the children think of two things they want to do, write them on bits of paper and put them in a hat. Then they take it turns to pull one out and we do it.

We had a walk by the river, played hide and seek, cut paper (Baby Girl’s idea!), made Skylanders, baked hot cross buns, played charades, and had a mini Jurassic Park.

The ‘souvenirs’ that we bought yesterday arrived. So all the children enjoyed playing with them.


Art Day!

The teens were tiring of family time, so ducked out of the morning. Baby Girl and Youngling enjoyed Wednesday’s walk, so we went for another one together.

Then Youngling got a new book in the post, so disappeared to read it! Baby Girl and I popped into town to post some parcels.

We painted together. I had a set of canvases for the children to use.

Baby Girl painted some dinosaurs.

We finished our creations for Art Day with decorating T shirts together, to make a family set.

Finally, we watched a tour of the Louvre on YouTube. It wasn’t actually very good, but we had snacks, so nobody minded.


A relaxed day today. I set it aside to be a Games Day. Another slow start for the teens. Youngling, Baby Girl, and I read some books together, and played Labyrinth.

When the older boys joined us, we played Giant Dobble – which was a lot of fun. Baby Girl worked out how to play, which delighted her brothers.

After lunch, we played Brainbox French and normal-sized Dobble, then charades.

Then the boys got the Wii set up and played a sports game together.


We have a regular Skype call with family on Saturday mornings, it’s kept us all in touch during lockdown.

After that, Mr Frogotter took Eldest out to run some errands and the rest of us did a bit of weeding in the garden.

Mr Frogotter brought home belgian buns, which was a nice treat after our hard work.


Online church. Then a family walk by the river. Our usual Sunday during Lockdown. This time, we took a box of chocolate eggs with us and had an Easter egg hunt as we walked.


Half Term went really well. I think that starting with jobs really helped my mood! Putting the big fun day near the beginning worked well, too. By the end of the week, the children were more tired and wanted quieter days. I’m very glad that the weather is starting to warm up. It’s felt like a long, cold winter. It’s very nice to see Spring on the way, at last!

I hope you’re all managing to have fun during lockdown too!


Half Term in Lockdown

I don’t know about you, but we’re very much ready for a break. We’re looking forward to Half Term! But, how can you have fun during a Half Term in Lockdown? I’ve been busy making plans!

Half Term in Lockdown Time Table

I like to plan, and my chlidren like to know what’s going to happen. So we have prepared a basic time table for the week.

Gettting chores done on Monday will help us all to enter the holiday feeling ready to relax. I won’t spend all the time worrying about everything that needs to be done. And we’ll all feel like we deserve our fun!

Our big excitement will be on Tuesday – mainly because that’s the day that works best around my husband and my work schedule. We can both be around on Tuesday.

Hat Days are a favourite in our family. Basically, everyone writes down two things that they want to do. We put all the ideas in a hat. Then we take it in turns to pick out an idea and do it. We continue until the hat is empty.

Art and Board Games are also popular here, so Thursday and Friday will be fun. We’re going to paint T shirts, make clay models, and play whatever board games the children like. We’ve started having Easter Egg hunts every weekend to bring a bit of joy to Lockdown, so the children have come to expect them!

A Trip in Lockdown

Half Term usually means a trip or two, and Half Term in Lockdown deserves a Big Day Out of its own. We can’t actually go anywhere, but we can certainly pretend!

I gave the children a selection of options to choose from:

They picked the zoo! So, we’re going to have a big day in, pretending to go to the zoo! We’re looking forward to a Youtube trip around various zoos – one big plus of virtual trips is that you can travel all over the world on the same day!

We’re going to set up a cuddly toy safari, and I’ve ordered these big animal heads, from Fiesta Crafts, to add a surprise to some of the exhibits.

Lion 3D Mask Card Craft

We’ll finish up our virtual trip with a virtual gift shop. I’ll create a special Amazon Wishlist full of little gifts and the children will each pick one. This will serve as a souvenir to remind them of all the fun we’ve had during our half term in lockdown. Souvenirs are a really fun way of helping children remember a fun time, we always use them, ever since I read Love Bombing by Oliver James.

Half Term Trips Untakken

The trips that I offered the children, which they didn’t chose were:

The Circus: A youtube show, face painting, making stilts, family talent show, making cotton candy.

Disney World: A Disney movie, crafts, youtube rides, indoor fireworks.

Half Term Feeding Fun!

To add a bit of joy to the whole week, the children are taking over the kitchen! They’ll plan the week’s meals, order the groceries, and prepare the food. We’ve been doing this as a family for years, and the children are pretty capable now.

The first time we let the children take over, they chose the meals (and we had a bit of a debate about how many Pot Noodle meals were permitted!). We ordered the food together – online groceries make it really easy to keep to a budget! Then we helped the children prepare the food.

It’s always a fun thing to do, and it has the added advantage of giving the days a bit of structure. My children thrive with structure.

The Rest of the Time

I don’t structure every minute of the day. I am a firm believer in boring children. If you give them enough space and time, they will start to find out what they really like doing.

However, Half Term in Lockdown is also going to mean a break for me. So, I’m taking a break from monitoring screen time! I don’t think that does any harm from time to time. They’ll be cooking and playing for part of each day, but, then they can spend as much of the rest of the day staring at screens as they like. They’ll hopefully have had their fill of screens for a while by the end of half term, and be ready to return to educational activities.

Wooden Calendar
Home Education Parenting

Keeping Creativity Alive

I read a blog recently that suggested our creativity declines as we age. And that the big, dramatic drop comes, not with old age, or even with the maturing adult brain, but with beginning school! This isn’t, however, true for everyone. How can we keep our children’s creativity alive?

A picture Youngling made with the counters from our Frogotter Box.

Creativity Can Be Taught

It may sound perverse, but it’s perfectly possible to teach people to be more creative.

Edward de Bono wrote books about teaching creativity. One of my favourites was ‘Teach Your Child to Think’. You can use some of his techniques to enhance your own and your child’s creativity.

One of the techniques that I really liked for solving problems was to use a random word generator. Then use that random word to spark ideas to solve your problem. We often believe that we will be most creative without any constraints, but actually, having a jumping-off point can help us to avoid simply travelling down well-worn tracks in our brain.

If you challenge yourself to think of lots of possible ways to travel to work, you might think of bike, bus, car, taxi etc.

But, if you challenge yourself to think of ways to travel to work inspired by the random word ‘spaghetti’. You might think about connecting strings of spaghetti to bring work and home together, or taking your work to an italian restaurant, or asking a food delivery service to take you to work.

Of course, most of these ideas are crazy. But, they might have the kernel of a good idea inside them. We can’t connect homes and offices by spaghetti, but we can connect them via the internet and work from home. Working from an Italian restaurant might be absurd, but renting a spot in a shared office could be a possibility. Food delivery services probably don’t want to take you, but you might be able to arrange lift shares.

When I read the idea in De Bono’s book, he included a word list that could be used to generate random words. But, there are tools online for that now!

Find Inspiration at the Crossroads of Limits and Space

One thing that I took from De Bono’s work was the idea that inspiration strikes when people have a combination of limits and space. A blank page can be intimidating and hard to fill.

If we tell our children – or ourselves for that matter – that they can write a poem about anything they like, they may find that their minds are suddenly blank. With a bit of structure, however, the ideas start to flow.

In fact, we had a family poety writing competition the other week, and I foudn exactly this. When faced with a completely free offer of any form and any subject, we struggled. When I challenged us to attempt limericks – a highly structured form – everything flowed much more easily!

Though Youngling reads late every night,

In the morning he’s cheery and bright,

His creations impress,

But what does he like best:

To build them, to draw, or to write?

Eldest and Middly are brothers,

And, deep down, they’re fond of each other,

Though they bicker and fight,

They make up each night,

To play X box with one another.

Structure doesn’t reduce creativity. The right kind of structure frees us to explore ideas and sounds. Johnny Walker has written a lovely post about the joy of teaching a class of primary children to write sonnets, called ‘Freedom Through Constraint’.

Creative Outlets Aren’t Enemies

There are lots of different ways to be creative, e.g. art, music, writing, building, inventing.

But, you don’t have to stick to just one! It’s very limiting to consider yourself an artist who’s no good with words, or an inventor with no sense of rhythm.

Some of the greatest creations cross over several disciplines. So encourage your child to explore them all! And, when they find one they love, keep encouraging them to include others from time to time.

When I read Youngling a story about the ‘Lion Man’ figure (from ‘Vincent’s Starry Night’), he responded by making his own version of the sculpture on Minecraft. Combining subjects is an easy way to encourage creative thinking.

How Creative Are You?

It takes some creativity to think of a way to test creativity! But, there are some popular tests used by psychologists studying creativity, such as the ‘Alternative Uses Task‘. Participants are shown, or just told about, an object, and asked to think of any many possible uses for it as they can. We play a similar game with shapes in the Frogotter Activity Box.