The yellow balloon


Faith had a yellow balloon. It was her favourite balloon because it was yellow. Everywhere she went, she carried her yellow balloon.

She took it to the shops with Mummy. When she went to Granny and Grandpa, along came her yellow balloon. When she went for a walk with Penny the dog, she carried her yellow balloon. Faith could not remember when she got it, and it felt like she had always had her yellow balloon.

One day, Faith and Daddy took Penny for a walk to the park. Faith brought her yellow balloon of course.
It got windier and windier and even windier. Penny ran off after a squirrel, and Daddy chased her. Faith was swept up by a gust of wind, still holding tight to her yellow balloon.


The wind lifted her up, up, up. She floated over Daddy. She swooped over the houses in town.

She soared over the sea. Faith and her yellow balloon flew all the way to the moon! It was beautiful up in space, and the Earth looked tiny.

“Wow! This is the greatest adventure ever, isn’t it, yellow balloon?”

After a while she got scared and wanted to go back home.

The yellow balloon carried her back down to the park safely. When she landed, Daddy was still there with Penny, looking for her.


“Where were you, Faith?” Asked Daddy. “I was looking for you everywhere!”
Daddy was upset because he thought that Faith had got lost.


“I was ok Daddy. My yellow balloon flew me all the way to the moon.” 


Daddy looked at her and laughed.
“Ok darling, but please don’t run away again. I was very worried that you were lost or hurt.”


“Sorry Daddy.” Faith replied.


She took Daddy’s hand and they walked back home. Penny walked beside them, and the yellow balloon was in her other hand.
Suddenly another gust of wind swept the string out of Faith’s hand, and before she knew what was happening, the yellow balloon went flying off. She tried to chase after it, but she couldn’t fly. It flew over the road, over the houses and far away.


“No! Come back!” Faith shouted. 


But the yellow balloon did not come back.
Faith cried and cried. She had never been so sad in her life. 


“I want my yellow balloon back!” She cried, all the way home.


“I want my yellow balloon back now!” She sobbed in the back garden while Penny looked at her sadly.


“Why doesn’t my yellow balloon come back?” She asked Mummy at dinner time.


‘I’m so sorry, darling. The balloon has gone away now. We can’t ever get it back again.”


“That’s not fair!” Shouted Faith.


Faith went to bed very sad that night. She missed her yellow balloon. Things did not feel right without it. She was still the same Faith, but just a bit sadder. 
That night, she could not sleep. It was very late. She looked out of her bedroom window. The moon  was big and bright. Then, Faith saw her yellow balloon! It was on the moon. She could just make it out, a tiny yellow dot ever so far away. She had excellent eyesight.


“So that’s where you went.” She whispered into the night sky. 
“I miss you yellow balloon.” 


Faith climbed back into to bed. She knew that her yellow balloon would never come back now. But, she just knew that it was safe, up on the moon. 
She yawned and fell asleep. In her dream, her visited the moon and her yellow balloon, and that made her feel happy. 


The next morning, Faith woke up and looked around her room for her yellow balloon. Then she remembered that it was gone forever. She felt sad all over again.


“I feel sad Mummy, I miss yellow balloon.” She told her mum at breakfast.


“I know Faith   I’m sorry. I know what, why don’t I buy you another yellow balloon? Will that help?” Asked Mummy.


“No thanks, I want my yellow balloon, not another one.” Sighed Faith as she ate her toast.


Daddy drank his cup of tea and thought.Penny looked at Faith’s toast and wished that she could have some.


“Why don’t you draw a picture of you holding your yellow balloon?” He asked. “I know that you love drawing.”


Faith chewed her toast and had a drink of orange juice. 
“Ok Daddy, I will.”


After breakfast, Faith went and sat in the garden with her crayons and some paper. Penny came too, and lay down next to her feet.
She drew a picture of her and yellow balloon standing on the moon, because that is where they had their greatest adventure. Penny had a nap and dreamed of squirrels.
When she had finished her drawing, Faith showed Mummy and Daddy. 


“Oh, that’s beautiful darling, well done.” Smiled Daddy.


“What an artist!” Agreed Mummy. “Would you like to put it up in your room?”
“Yes please.” Replied Faith.


So Mummy put the drawing of Faith and her yellow balloon up in her room. Whenever she felt sad, Faith would look at it and remember her greatest adventure with her beautiful yellow balloon.

Dedicated to my niece Lara, who loves yellow balloons.

And my baby son Samuel, who is my little yellow balloon in Heaven. ❤

Alan and the fairy

Alan lived alone in a nice chalet-style cottage.
Alan was bored and lonely. He had been in isolation for 4 months and 17 days. He was working from home and had done all of the Joe Wicks PE sessions every day (if you asked him, Alan would say that Joe was a little too enthusiastic); and he had re-read every book in his home library. All series of Friends had been watched. What he needed now was an adventure.
“Sigh.” He sighed, “I am so bored.”
Unexpectedly, a fairy appeared in his living room, where he was listening to 80s tunes.
“Hello,” she announced, “I am Felicity the fairy.”

“Hello, pleased to meet you,” replied Alan, who never forgot his manners.
“Where did you come from?”
“Just round the corner,” answered Felicity, “I live in the flats.”
“OK.” Said Alan, wondering if he had spent too long in isolation or consumed too many chocolate brownies.

Alan excited with Fairy at home

“I heard that you were bored?” Asked the fairy.
“Yes,” answered Alan, “I am.”
“Ok, I have a special task for you, and at the end you will get what you really need.” She answered mysteriously. Or it may have been sarcastically, Alan couldn’t really tell the difference.
“Is it for Costa Coffee to open up again?” wondered Alan.
“Um, no.” She replied.
“Pity. Well, what is my task then?” He was starting to miss his own company.
“You have to help someone in need,“ she replied.”
“Oh… I would love to help someone, but how can I do that if I can’t leave the house?” Asked Alan.
“Don’t worry, I’ve already thought of that. I’m going to turn back time to take us to 6 months ago when things were still normal. Just for one day, so that you may complete the tasks and hopefully receive the thing that you need.” Felicity smiled.
“Right, but what if it takes me a longer than one day to achieve my goal?” Wondered Alan
“Then you will not receive your award, I’m afraid. Everything will return to normal, back to the present day and lockdown, in 24 hours. So you must complete your task before 1pm tomorrow.”
“It would be a real shame to miss out on that thing that I need,” sighed Alan. “Perhaps I could just have it anyway, for trying my best?”
“Sadly that is not an option,” she replied, “Sorry, I am not the one who makes the rules.”
“Who…”
“So, if you’re ready, the first task is to help someone. Just walk outside your house and see if there’s anyone who needs assistance.” Felicity announced rather strictly.
“Sure, why not? I haven’t spoken to a real human beings in months. But what do I do when I find the person?” He asked.
But Felicity fairy had already disappeared, so she couldn’t answer Alan’s query, annoyingly.
“Well, at least I can go outside for a bit now.” He said to himself as he opened the door of his chalet- style cottage and took a little wonder around his neighborhood in the frosty air.
It was exactly as Felicity had said, the weather and plants were wintry, just as though it really was February again. People were busy, cars were driving around on unnecessary tasks, the shops were open and fully stocked with milk and loo rolls. It felt like another world.
Alan saw some ducks swimming on the nearby lake.
“Hello,” said Alan to the ducks, “Do you need my help by any chance?”“Quack.” Said the most harassed-looking duck.
“Ok. Now I’m talking to birds.” Sighed Alan.
He swiftly left the ducks behind and continued his walk. Would he find anyone who needed help today? He wondered. Did he really care?
Soon he came across a penguin standing next to a car, who was in tears. The penguin was in tears, not the car.

“What’s wrong? Do you need any help by any chance?” He asked the penguin.
“It’s my new car. I can’t get it to work.” Replied the penguin.
“I can have a look if you like?” Offered our hero.
“Great, thank you,” answered penguin, “I think it might be the catalytic converter.”
Alan had watched some automotive related YouTube videos when he was younger, so he felt quietly confident.
“I see your problem mate.” He said after a minute, “It’s just this little bit of plastic needs to be put on the right way.”
Alan quickly fixed the problem. The car started up first time.
“Thank you so much!” Smiled the young penguin, screeching down the road enthusiastically.
Alan waved him goodbye. It felt wonderful to help somebody.

Percy's car is broken
“That’s the task successfully completed.” Said Alan to himself. “I wonder if the fairy will appear with my reward?” He looked over his shoulder, in case she was following him down the road. No. No sign of a fairy.
Now slightly concerned about his stress levels, Alan walked slowly back to his house and made himself a cup of tea.
“Oh well.” Sighed Alan. “That’s that then.”
Suddenly Felicity the fairy appeared in his kitchen.
“Hi again,” she said, “Well done for completing your first task.”
“Thank you,” replied Alan, “it felt good to help somebody else. Now what is my reward? What is it that I need? And it had better not be deodorant.”
“Oh, I’m afraid there’s another task to complete before you receive any rewards.” She answered.
“Oh man, you didn’t say anything about another task… go on, what’s my second task then?”
“You have to put someone else before yourself. You must be kind even when it hurts.” Felicity said.
“Right. What does that mean? Let them stand in the queue at the post office or something? I mean, you should be more clear on these tasks, someone could…”
But he was talking to himself again. The fairy had gone.
“Oh man.”
He finished his cup of tea, and then helped himself to the last bourbon biscuit in the tin. He must go to the shops soon.
“So, I need to put someone before myself. I must be kind. I wonder if those ducks need some peas… no probably not.”
Alan thought about putting on some MC Hammer again, but reconsidered.
Our unlikely hero decided to walk around the neighbourhood again, as this method was successful last time. He didn’t see any more ducks, but he did see a sad-looking giant cactus in a park. It looked like it needed some kindness. He approached the potted plant with some trepidation.

 

“Um, hello, my name is Alan,” he said to the cactus, “Uh, are you… that is can you talk?”
The cactus looked at him with an impatient air.
“Yes, I can talk, what do I look like, an aloe?” She answered rather spikily.
“Great, I mean, you don’t look an aloe, no.” Stumbled Alan. “My name is Alan, nice to meet you.”
“Well, you don’t look like an aloe either,” the cactus replied. “And my name is Cassandra.”
“Oh, you’re a lady!” Smiled Alan.
“How rude! Of course I’m a lady!” She huffed. “Why have people got to be so rude? Just because I have spikes, doesn’t mean that I haven’t got a heart!”
“Oh gosh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean anything by that… I mean, I’m not great at talking to ladies at the best of times, and I am having a rather strange day. Um, well, you are quite far away up there. Would you mind awfully if I climbed up your pot?” Alan asked, blushing.
“Well, sure, that’s fine.” Cassandra replied, in a more friendly manner.

Alan talks to Cassandra dog nearby
Alan climbed to get closer to Cassandra.
“Sorry that we got off on the wrong foot, er, root… I haven’t met many cacti.” Alan explained.
“Sure, I get it. We aren’t known for being sociable.” She replied with a smile.
“Is that your dog?” Asked Alan.
A small friendly dog had turned up, looking for attention.
“No, I don’t have any pets.” She replied. “Sometimes she just visits me. I don’t know who she belongs to.”
Alan patted the dog’s head.
“Woof!” Barked the small friendly dog.
Cassandra and Alan chatted for some time. Soon it felt like they were old friends. The sun was starting to set, and Alan was freezing cold.
“Well, it’s getting late, and those spaghetti hoops won’t cook themselves,” he chuckled.
“Mmm, sounds delicious. Nice to meet you anyway, Alan, people aren’t usually very nice to me, it may surprise you to find out.” Said Cassandra.
“No, surely not?” Alan suddenly had a thought. “I noticed that your skin is rather spiky. I wonder, has anyone ever hugged you?”
“Hugged me?” Cassandra laughed. “No one has ever hugged me. Cacti don’t do hugs, you know, and people don’t tend to want to get near to my kind either.”
“Well, this is crazy but would you like me to give you a quick hug? Please, say no if you don’t want one, I would completely understand.” Alan blushed.
“Wow, nobody has ever… yes please, I would love a hug!” Cassandra grinned. “But be very careful, I am sharp!”
Alan hugs Cassandra with stars

Alan leaned in and gave her the most gentle hug. It hurt a little, but it felt amazing to be a friend to someone who wasn’t used to kindness.
“Thanks.” Cassandra whispered.
“Oh, you’re welcome.” Alan replied. “Right, I’m cold, so am going to head home. See you soon?”
“That would be nice,” she smiled.
Alan walked briskly back home, shivering in the chilly air.
Alan had just finished off his spaghetti hoops for dinner, when Felicity appeared in his living room.
“It’s you again.”
“Indeed.” She agreed.
“Are you going to give me my prize now?”
“Well, no, not yet… you see, there is just one more bonus task that I’d like you…” The fairy began.
“Oi! First there was only going to be one task before I got my reward of the thing that I need. Then you added another. And now you expect me to do a bonus task on top of that? No way! Please leave, I am fed up with your incessant tasks.” Alan cried.
“Oh…ok.” Stuttered Felicity. “If you insist, then I will go.”
She disappeared.
Alan made himself a cappuccino with frothy milk, looked in the biscuit tin, saw that it was empty, and sat heavily down on his armchair.
“Hmph,” he mumbled, “Who does she think she is? Expecting me to do all sorts of tasks, for some silly reward. Well, I won’t be pushed around anymore. I don’t want to help others, or be kind to spiky plants anymore. Hmph.” Alan sipped his coffee grumpily. He felt out of sorts. He didn’t want to watch TV, listen to Human League, or even read. He went to bed early that night.
When Alan awoke late the following morning, he wondered if the previous day’s adventures had all been a dream. Or perhaps he was going mad. He realised that there was an easy way to find out: when he switched on the news, if everything was about coronavirus, he would know that it was all back to normal. If not, he was no doubt still stuck 6 months in the past, before the lockdown.
Alan got out of bed, made himself a coffee and some toast, and switched on the news channel.
“Storm Jorge will soon hit coastal parts of the UK, with winds of up to 70mph expected.” Read the presenter.
“Ah, so I must still be stuck in the past.” He said to himself.
Alan remembered that Felicity had said everything would return to normal at 1pm today. So, he had a couple of hours in which to complete the task, if he wanted that elusive reward… no, what was he thinking? The silly fairy was probably making the whole thing up. Why should he waste his time being kind to others, when he was perfectly happy by himself?
He switched the news off. What was he going to do today? It was a Sunday, so he wouldn’t be at work anyway. He could go shopping at least, or maybe a trip to Costa. He finished his coffee and breakfast.
“I wonder what the reward would be, if Felicity was telling the truth?” He said to his teddy bear.
He had a shower and got dressed. He listened to some Wham. He watered his plants. His tidied his sock drawer.
“Maybe I should find out what the last task is, before deciding?” He asked his teddy.
Teddy just sat on the bed, looking at him and not offering any opinions.
“Oh, go on then” he sighed, “I’ll do the silly task. Probably be completely wasting my time, but…”
“Good morning.” Smiled Felicity.
“Oi, what are you doing here?” Alan asked. “Have you got my house bugged or something”
“No, I am magical, remember?” She replied. “Now, would you like to know what your final task is?”
“Well, ok. But this had better be the last task. And the reward, ‘what I need’ had better be amazing!” He answered grumpily.
“It is, and it is.”
“Go on.”
“Today, Alan, I would like you to be brave.” The fairy replied.
“Be brave? But I am a complete wuss! I hope that it’s nothing to do with roller coasters? I swore that I would never get on one again after that awful incident when I was in college… I never lived that one down. And that poor man…” Alan began.
“Oh no, nothing like that.” She said. “This is about facing your fear of drains.” She explained.
“Drains?” Alan gulped. “But… they… they’re worse than rollercoasters!” Alan gulped.
“Yes, I have heard of your phobia. There was a childhood incident I believe?” Enquired the fairy kindly.
“There was.” Alan nodded. “I would rather not talk about it.”
“I understand.”
Felicity explained that she had recently heard on the fairy network that a resident had had an accident in the park, and needed some help. It involved a drain.
“Does it have to be me who helps this unlucky resident?” Asked Alan.
“It doesn’t have to be you,” said Felicity, “but decide soon. The poor man is getting cold.”
“Ok then. Seeing as it’s going to be my Last Ever task, ah…how close exactly do I need to get to this drain?” Alan shuddered.
“He’s in the park.” Replied Felicity before disappearing.
Alan really did not like drains. He headed off to the park to see what he could do to help.
He found the poor man quickly. He had fallen into a drain and did not seem pleased about it.

Jeffrey stuck in drain

“Help, I have fallen into this drain!” The man shouted, unnecessarily.
“Yes, I can see that. I don’t like drains though.” Replied Alan sadly.
“Neither do I at the moment.” He answered. “Why don’t you grab that stick over there?”
“Good idea.”
Alan got the stick and held it out to the man. He grabbed hold of it, and our hero pulled him out of the dreaded drain.
“Thanks.” Said the man.
“You are welcome.” Smiled Alan.

Alan rescues Jeffrey from drain

Alan swiftly stepped away from the drain. Suddenly he needed a coffee.
“Right, I am going home to have a coffee.” He announced.
“Coffee? Great. I am desperate for a drink. I was stuck down that drain for 3 hours!” The man replied.
“Oh… I thought that you lived nearby?” Asked Alan.
“It’s a fair walk. Your house is probably closer. I really need the toilet, too.” The man said.
“Ok… um, well I can give you a coffee too, I guess.” Muttered Alan.
“Great. You lead the way.”

Soon after they got back to Alan’s house, Felicity appeared.
“Eek! There’s a fairy in your kitchen!” Spluttered the man.
“Hello Felicity.” Said Alan.
“Hi Alan. Hi Jeremy.” She replied.
“How does she know my name?” Cried Jeremy.
“She’s a fairy, they know things.” Answered Alan, sipping his coffee.
“Pleased to meet you.” Smiled Felicity.
“So, I completed all of your, frankly ridiculous, tasks.” Said Alan. “Where is my reward please?”
“Your reward, as I am sure you remember, is something that you need.” Said Felicity.
“Yes, what do I need? Is it a holiday? An endless supply of bourbon biscuits? A yacht?” Prompted Alan.
“Alan, did you introduce yourself to Jeremy after you removed him from the drain?” Asked Felicity.
“No, I was too busy thinking about coffee.”
“Right. Alan, this is Jeremy. Jeremy, meet Alan.”
“Hello.” Said Alan.
“Pleased to meet you. Properly.” Answered Jeremy.
“Great, how nice. So, where is my reward? Outside?” Alan peered into his garden, hoping to spot the prize.
“The thing that you really need is not an item, it’s a person.” Smiled the fairy.
“It’s what?!” Alan spluttered in disbelief.
“Alan, more than anything in the world, you need a friend. Jeremy is your reward.” Said Felicity.
“My reward is a man?” Alan stared at Jeremy, feeling confused.
“Your reward is priceless. A friend.” She smiled.
“Um, well, I like your coffee…” Said Jeremy. “Is it Italian?”
“Oh yes, single origin from Italy,” replied Alan enthusiastically, “I get it online from a boutique coffee supplier. Most people haven’t heard of it, it’s called IactuallyloveItaliancoffee.com “
“Oh! I’ve heard of them! They’re amazing. Have you ever tried their Napoli rich dark roast?” He asked.
Felicity’s work was done. She disappeared. The clock struck 1.
“I’m just going to switch the news on for a bit.” Alan told Jeffrey.
“And in international news, Donald Trump has blamed the Red Cross for the current covid 19 crisis in the US. He says that they knew about the virus even a month before China did, and chose to keep it under wraps, in order to damage his chances of re-election at the end of the year…” The Newsreader stated.
“I guess that we are back to normal time then.” Said Alan.
“Huh?” Replied Jeffrey. “How did I get to your house? I don’t remember leaving my place.”
“Never mind.” Smiled Alan. “Do you like football?”
“Sure.”
“Should we go to a game when the lockdown has finished?” He asked his new friend.
“Yes, that sounds good. I should probably go now… I shouldn’t be at your house … so, yeah, see you soon. I’ll text.” Said Jeffrey, looking a little confused.
“Ok, bye.” Replied Alan.
Alan looked in his biscuit tin after Jeffrey had left. It was still empty. Oh well. Time to listen to some more 80’s tunes.

When lockdown had finally ended, Alan and Jeffrey went to a football match.

They also visited Bournemouth one day in the summer, where the small friendly dog mysteriously appeared. Sometimes they would walk to visit Cassandra, who always enjoyed a chat.

 

There was no sign of Felicity, which was probably just as well. She was quite annoying.

The beach ball

The rainbow striped beach ball,

Suddenly free from the

Dusty garage, is kicked

Playfully by the breeze.
Round the garden he rolls.
Tumbling over the lawn,
Kissing the daffodils,
Bumping over decking.
Smiling at the sun.
But he misses the child.
He remembers how they
Played, last year at the beach.
The child and he.
“Where is the child?” He asks.
“Inside, watching TV.”
Replies his friend the breeze.
“Ok  I will wait for her here.”
“You don’t need her.” Says breeze.
“But I like her.” He smiles.
The breeze sends him soaring
Into a tree. He falls
Out, bouncing merrily.
“I am ready for the child.
Whenever she needs me.”
Ball and breeze for poem drawing

School at home ideas

With all schools closing in the UK from next Monday, I have been thinking  about how best to cope with kids at home, for what could be months.

I am going to try to be organised, and do a mix of activities each day. We’ll see how that goes. By week three, it’ll probably be pjs and popcorn in front of the TV most days. 😐

So, here are some suggestions for myself, and anyone else who may be interested.

Talk

Talk to your children about the coronavirus, they will be worried too. It’s better to chat about what is happening (age appropriate) rather than pretend that everything is ok. They will already know that something is wrong if they go to school and/or you watch the news.

Be honest that sometimes people will get on each other’s nerves. But agree we will all try to be kind and work on our patience too.

 

Structure

Most kids and adults will benefit from some structure in their day. I plan to make sure that we are all out of bed and dressed by a sensible time. Doing a mix of different learning, creativity and getting outside, as well as meals and chilling time of course, will probably work well. A few pj and movie days will be ok though, too.

 

Use school’s resources

Most schools will be sending paper and online resources home with students. Make sure that you make as much use of them as you can. Teachers have worked hard to put them together. If there is an online forum where kids can communicate with their teacher and school friends, even better.

 

Get outside

Until we are banned from stepping outside the door, or public parks close (let’s hope that it doesn’t get to that, but it might), make time to go for a walk, scoot or cycle, every day with your kids. Without exercise and fresh air, most people are going to struggle with their physical and mental health, grown-ups included.

There are also exercises that you can do inside, such as pilates, yoga and stretching. There will be loads of ideas online. I found this one  which looks good, from the NHS:

NHS exercises

Kick the kids out into the garden. If they are old enough, there are many free or cheap tasks that they could get on with unsupervised, if you need to work from home, like:

Weeding.

Make a bug hotel.

Simple Bug Hotel for Kids

Dig a patch of soil and count the number of mini beasts.

List all of the plants, and research their names if you don’t know.

Chalk drawing on paving stones.

Piles of pebbles, Makka Pakka style.

Feed the birds and see who visits.

Draw a plant or item in the garden.

Write a poem about what you can see, hear and smell while sitting outside.

Have a picnic.

Get small pots or a section of the garden for the kids, and plant flowers, fruit and vegetables, and record what does or doesn’t grow.

On rainy days, do puddle jumping, and older children can measure the circumference and diameter of puddles and pebbles.

Measure and record the temperature and rainfall every day.

The RHS website has some great ideas.

 

Write

Short stories; comics; letters to grandparents and friends; a diary (this is a pretty odd time: it will be fascinating to read back on it years later); facts about their favourite animal. All writing is good.

You don’t need to be too worried about grammar and neat handwriting, unless that’s your thing. More important is encouraging children to write and have fun with it. They could tell you about their favourite book, amd them write their own short version, with their friends’ and family’s names and a major change in it. Such as write Little Red Riding Hood from the wolf’s point of view, or where Cinderella accidently gets lost in the forest and meets the wolf too.

Or they could write a mystery story, where their most precious toy gets stolen, and they are the detective.

They could write their favourite jokes, or make up a recipe for the best dessert ever.

If you have two or more kids, they could write and act out a short play. Base it on well loved film or book, if they can’t think of any ideas.

Ask your kids what they would like to learn more about, get them to do some research and write an essay, story or newspaper article about it. Ideas include frogs, the Amazon rainforest, Disney films, castles, anything that your child finds interesting.

British Library has some good writing ideas, such as writing an animal story or making a miniature book.

 

Read

Read with children and encourage them to read every day. It doesn’t have to be fine literature: comic books; books that you think are ‘too young’ or ‘too old’ for them; newspapers and magazines all count. If you can’t do anything else, you can read with your kids before bed every night at the very least.

Have a look at #freebookresources on Twitter.

 

Be creative

You might not  consider yourself to be an artist, but most kids will happily draw, paint or do craft if encouraged to. It doesn’t have to be with expensive supplies either. Use what you have in the house.

– Make a tall tower with only loo roll tubes and sellotape.

– Draw a bunch of fruit, portrait of your brother or your pet.

– Make a comic strip about your friends and family.

– Make cards for friends, to post.

– Scrapbook some photos.

– Let older children take photos on your or their phone or device, and look at them together, discussing which ones were best and why. Is it the subject, light, composition?

– Learn a new skill from Youtube videos.

– Follow artists and illustrators on Twitter, who have regular drawing challenges and art lessons.

Jabberworks

#DrawWithRob and #portraitchallenge on Twitter

are good.

There are some free paper craft ideas and downloads on this blog:

Joolswilson.com

 

Wider learning

Maths can be brought into activities such as baking- get your child to measure and weigh ingredients; set up a pretend shop where your child needs to count and give you the correct change; learn fractions with cakes or pizzas.

Let kids research a subject that interests them. They could do a project, with many activities based around a theme. For example, my daughter has been learning about Poland at school. She could draw maps; learn some of the language; make a traditional meal from the country; write a story set in Poland; look for non-fiction books in the library (while they are still open.)

 

I have found some sites that cover science, maths, quizzes, educational games etc. The BBC has many good resources on their website.

https://www.oxfordowl.co.uk/for-home/kids-activities/fun-maths-games-and-activities/

https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/collections/primary-games/1

The Beano is always fun, and has some educational stuff.

https://www.beano.com/categories/geography-quizzes

 

Let’s be honest, we are all going to go a little mad over the next few months. Try to get everyone to have a little space most days, even if everyone is home. One could go into the garden, one to read in their room, someone else has a soak in the bath. Anything to reduce the stress levels.

Hope that this helps a little, and good luck! 🙂

We are all artists

Like many kids, I loved drawing. I would do it a lot: mostly portraits of my cats sleeping, and also making picture books. Once I made a little book called ‘The Woodland Folke’; it was about squirrels and other British animals in a very British setting, which is odd as I didn’t go anywhere near the UK or even Europe until I was 16.

I did art as a teenager too, but slowly grew out of it as I grew older. Nothing unusual there, sadly. As someone once said, every child is an artist, so why are so few adults? It’s so sad, because creativity is brilliant for stress relief and escaping the noise and screens of life.

As a 33 year-old cancer patient, my life suddenly got strangely quiet. Yes, I still had my family and kids and numerous hospital appointments, but there was a lot I couldn’t do. I had chemo fatigue, I was hugely restricted on socialising, and I was house-bound for much of the time. What I could easily do, without leaving the house or being subject to germs, was draw.

I found #shapechallenge (run by @StudioTeabreak )on Twitter, and started to draw small and umimpressive doodles most days. It didn’t tire me out, let me be creative, and gave me a sense that at least I had done something ‘useful’ that day. It also offered a sense of community which had suddenly slowed to a trickle once my treatment started.

It was wonderful.

Now, 3 years later, I can draw so much better, and still love the artistic community and support on Twitter. Now I regularly take part on #PortraitChallenge which I never thought I would be good enough to do. Novices, book illustators and all sorts of creative types take part, and it’s great.

I also do drawings just for the sheer pleasure, and as gifts for friends. I have also contributed to the #breastcancerart project, which recognises the theraputic value of art for those living with or after cancer.

I realised that every time I draw, I feel happier. Some of the chaos of life is silenced and I have a little more peace. If something causes so much joy and isn’t illegal or bad for me, I would be crazy not to do it!

I believe that we are all made to be creative, but adult life squeezes it out of us until we are fooled into thinking that we can’t make or do anything beautiful. For some it’s visual art, others music, others baking, writing, carpentry or dance, but I believe that there is an artist in all of us, desperate to get out there.

Sometimes, I think that my drawing isn’t good enough to share, or that because I’m not using paint that it’s not ‘real’ art, or that people will judge me for showing off; but I know that those are lies and I will never be fully the person who I am made to be if I allow myself to be silenced.

And actually, what other people think of my art isn’t important (although of course I want it to be liked); because drawing makes me happy, and therefore is of great value. What could be simpler that that? 😊

Go to

http://www.jabberworks.co.uk/virtual-studio/

For more info on #shapechallenge and #portraitchallenge

For more about the breast cancer art project, go to

https://breastcancerartproject.wordpress.com