Category Archives: Learning, Books & Apps

5 Best Family October Half Term London Events

I hope you are well and really looking forward to making the most of 1/2 term for us with school aged kids… and for those of you with pint-sized babes not at school, then it’s that time when the venues become even more alive, so come and join us.


To keep you up to speed, I’ve started an enterprising approach to getting us all out to these fantastic events. I’ve set up a company My Culture Club that curates all the best family things to do, and allows you book your tickets for through the website in one place.

No longer will you have to trawl between different websites, nor most importantly ever miss out on the best tickets in town again, as I will do all of this for you … and there are even a few goody bags, and smiles thrown in for good measure.

Here are my top 5 events for the October Half Term


Judith Kerr in Conversation at the Unicorn Theatre (Age 8+).

Julia is one of the nation’s most celebrated and beloved authors. Join the Guardian children’s books editor Julia Eccleshare and Judith for a fascinating chat about escaping from Hitler, creating Mog and the Tiger, and about her latest book Mister Cleghorn’s Seal inspired by Judith’s father. There will be time to ask your own questions too.

Event Details ; Unicorn Theatre, London Bridge, SE1. Sunday, October 23, 2016 1:00pm  1:45pm


Family Science Day ‘Surprising Senses’ at the RI (Families welcome, activities aimed at 6+)

It’s time for Family Fun Day at the Royal Institute. The team at the Ri will fill it to the brim with a sensational set of demonstrations, experiments and talks. This time, explore the limits of the human senses and get your hands, noses, tongues, eyes and ears ready for an unforgettable experience.

Drop in anytime to enjoy the short talks in the famous lecture theatre and get stuck in to experiments, creative activities and making things to take home. Suitable for children aged 6-12, though older and younger siblings and friends are very welcome.  There are activities on for everyone to do together.

Event Details; Royal Institution, Albemarle Street, W1, Sunday, October 30, 2016, 11:00am  4:00pm

Please note though, they don’t have any childcare facilities, so you’ll need to stay with your children at all times.The day is fully flexible, so you can drop in for 30 minutes, or stay for the whole five hours. Most people say they find there’s enough here to fill at least three hours. The event is especially suited to 6/7 year olds, but everyone is welcome. Tickets : Adults £16 & 3 – 18 year olds £9


Family Fashion Workshop at the V&A Museum (Age 5+)

The Make-It family workshops at the V&A never disappoint. As to be expected with the award winning museum dedicated to nurturing and displaying the best of the creative industries, they know their onions. This workshop is bound to be seriously creative one, inspiring mini designers to produce some real couture.

Event Details; Art Studio in the Education Centre, V&A Museum, South Kensington, SW7, Tuesday, October 25, 2016, 10:30am  12:30pm

Very Limited Tickets, Advance booking essential. For 5-12 year olds. £12.00 per child, advance booking essential. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Max. 1 adult per child Recommended for ages 5+. There are two sessions for this event, one at 12.30 and the other at 2.30. If you would like to book for the afternoon session, please email me directly, and I will set up another booking page.



Dinosaurs : Monster Families Exhibition at the Horseman Museum (All Ages)

This museum is one of the most popular family stop offs for anyone passing through South London. It’s a must for Natural History lovers, and fans of all things scaly and covered in feathers. In the final weeks of this show, you will see life-size models of dinosaurs, the cast of an extinct Elephant Bird egg, and get stuck in to interactive learning stations.

Event Details; THE HORNIMAN PUBLIC MUSEUM AND PUBLIC PARK TRUST 100 London Road, Forest Hill, London SE23 3PQ

Under 3’s go free, Family Tickets £17, Adults £7, Children £4 (Image © Luis Rey)


Around The World In 80 Days, Polka Theatre, Wimbledon (Ages 6-11)

Based on Jules Verne’s famous novel, Around the World in 80 Days is set to takes you on a musical adventure, and a high speed, mad-cap, transcontinental, race against the clock! For all the kids that thought Phileas Fogg was a rapper from NY, or a type of crisp, this show has already served an essential purpose in introducing families to Phil himself, and his faithful servant Passepartout. The plan is quite simple; navigate the globe in just 80 days.

Main Stage, 2 hours including interval, Tickets £13.50 | Concessions £10, £1.50 transaction charge per booking with the venue



My Culture Club is your family events diary & personal concierge. I hand-pick the most interesting and most popular events in town, and schedule them way in advance so you can book your tickets in one place. I get discounts on tickets where where I can, and only choose the best seats for small people, I’m quite fussy, so you can be certain that if I wouldn’t pay for it myself, I certainly would ask you to.

The Almeida Drama Academy for 5-14 year olds

“It’s really quite unique, you get to learn about scripts, about what really happens in drama and I think the teachers are really nice.” – student, 9

The Almeida Academy is a programme of Saturday drama classes for children and young people aged 5 to 14.

The courses at this Islington theatre are run by industry professionals and give children and young people the opportunity to experiment with their creativity, build confidence, and develop talent.


Although the teachers deliver a drama focus in their classes, kids also get to learn about movement, voice work, and the creative use of the voice and body for performance.

Sessions (which are split into ages 5 – 7, 8 – 10 and 11 – 14) start with warm up activities, and over the term will cover skills such as improvisation, playwriting, movement, voice work, devising and storytelling. The classes end with the kids sharing and evaluating each others work.


Weekly classes last an hour and a half, and the themes of the theatres shows inspire the workshops. It’s worth knowing that the educators always ensure that they tailor the time to the skills of the group, so all new kids will be given the confidence to grow, whilst the more experienced kids build on their talents.

Then the exciting bit, is that during the course of the year, there will be opportunities for the work of the Almeida Academy to be performed to an audience. Oh! and there is never any homework, apart from the kids being a little bit ‘dramatic’ at home occasionally!


Booking info;

Sign up at the start of each term, or book now for all three terms at a reduced rate*

Saturday sessions: 

5 – 7 year olds | 1.15 – 2.45pm

8 – 11 year olds | 3 – 4.30pm

12 – 14 year olds | 4.45 – 6.15pm


Almeida Theatre Rehearsal Room
108 Upper Street
London N1 1QN


Book your place now by calling the Box Office on 020 7359 4404.

Prices :

£150 per term  *£400 for the full year when booking three terms together

Photo credits;
Eileen Walsh and Adam Greaves-Neal in #LittleEyolf by Henrik Ibsen | adapted and directed by Richard Eyre | Photo: Hugo Glendinning
Audiences at the Almeida Theatre before The Odyssey | 12 Nov 2015 | Almeida Greeks | | Photo: Manuel Harlan

5 Best STEM Toys for Kids

STEM is an acronym for ScienceTechnologyEngineering, and Mathematics. STEM toys encourage kids to learn more about these different subjects by applying each to the real world. They make education exciting for kids and help to develop key skills.

If you’re keen to know more about STEM and its place in the classroom, take a look here at the National STEM Centre learning website. They provide STEM subject teachers with access to a huge range of teaching support materials for all ages from 4+, a good 5 mins worth of surfing for anyone excited by innovation and creativity.91rFAXr3ktL._SL1500_.jpg


Kidz Labs Magnet Science £10.99 (Age 6+)

The Kidz Labs Magnet Science is new to Great Gizmos this year. Perform fun magnet games and experiments. Learn the science principles involved. Contains a super magnet set that could be transformed to perform 10 fun experiments and games. Make a super power horse shoe magnet or a magnet wand. Construct a super magnet racer, a yacht compass or a mysterious dangler. You can also have great fun playing a fishing game or creating a magnetic sculpture.91gNAiyeVEL._SL1500_.jpg

Orchard Toys Counting Caterpillars £8.50 (Age 2+)

Collect one to ten in this first colour and number game. Can you be the first player to find all the numbers to complete your caterpillar? A fun colour matching game that helps to teach number sequencing.61UZ01jveRL._SL1000_.jpg

Gears! Gears! Gears! Beginner’s Building Set £22 (Ages 3+)

Learning Resources Gears! Gears! Gears! Beginner’s Building Set. This great value set offers endless colourful construction fun! Set includes a box overflowing with gears, cranks, connectors, interconnecting base plates and Activity Guide.


Stick Insect Kit £15 (by Insect Lore) Age 5+

Is it a twig or an insect? Well, both, kind of – it’s an insect that looks just like a twig and acts like one too! Raise Indian Stick Insects with this complete kit. Feed them bramble, ivy or privet and watch them shed their skins and grow 6 to 10cm. Watch them mimic a stick swaying in the wind. Kit includes 30cm tall spring up habitat, voucher for Indian Stick Insect eggs, brush to make transferring easy.


Little Labs: Stepping Into Science by Thames & Cosmos £27 (Age 5+)

Begin a lifetime of scientific investigation and understanding with 25 fun experiments in five key areas: nature, physics, chemistry, air, and water. Learn what plants need to grow, build a barometer, see how water climbs, watch plants sweat, and investigate plant propagation.

Discover how a magnifying glass enlarges, how colours mix, how static electricity attracts, how sundials tell time, and how a motion picture works. Investigate air pressure, air flow, hovercraft, paper airplanes, and suction. Write secret messages, float a paper clip, blow super bubbles, observe capillary action, and test displacement.

Build a soap-driven boat, mix oil and water, experiment with evaporation, paint with sugar, and watch a balloon inflate itself. With a 48-page guidebook, Stepping into Science teaches science fundamentals with step-by-step, hands-on experiments, while also introducing children to the scientific method itself.

Bus Stop Note: As I’m not affiliated to any retailers (and this bus stop is totally non money making), and feel that linking the above to suggested stores would be too much favouritism at this time of year, I’ll let you search the best shops to buy them.


5 Best Kids Bookplates and Bookmarks

We’ve just started a book swap in my little girls Year 2 class at school. It’s super simple to set up. I grabbed a basket from the hardware store, and made a painted sign (home made is always best right?) for it. Then all that happens is we send home a bookplate with each child, and they bring in a book they don’t mind parting with, write on the bookplate and stick it in.


If you think about how excited kids get about wanting to see and play with each others toys, then sharing a book should generate a similar level of excitement I hope! I’ll let you know how we get on, in the meantime here are some beautiful bookplates for you to set you up to start your own book swap. There are lots more over on my Pinterest here.


If you have time read this earlier post I published which has lots of reading advice from the UK’s top literary organisations, and don’t forget one of the best places to generate a love of reading is just taking a trip to your local library. Giving your little one their own card, allowing them to choose whatever they want, and reading to them, all helps them appreciate the joy of hanging out with words and pictures and you!





Credits (all came via Pinterest, and can be found on my board see link above)

Ex Libris, Mollusks, 1902 :

Vintage Clip Art – Children’s Bookplate – Squirrel – Elf

NOTE : These book plates are free to use for non-commercial purposes only.  Copyright for these artworks belongs to the artists.

5 Best Kids Books That Have All the Answers (almost!)

what happened book

1.What Happened When in the World (DK)

This is a history book with 60 stunning, specially commissioned historical maps which chart the migration of humans, the spread of the black death, D-day landings and much more.

the vikings

Follow the devastating spread of the black death through Europe, the Roman Empire’s expansion to North Africa and the Middle East, and the impact of world war II on the globe. This will surely help you (not the kids) with their ‘A-Star’ homework projects, everyone loves a map don’t they?

philosophy book

2. Children’s Book of Philosophy (DK)

From Socrates and Aristotle to Kant and Confucius, in this book you will learn about the clever ‘thinking’ people whom have helped shaped our world. Find answers to life’s big questions such as ‘Who am I?’ or ‘Should I ever tell a lie?’ and what philosophy actually is.

philosophy book 2

The concepts are shown in simple terms to make them accessible to children and adults alike. The graphics are easy to read, and the book is simply organised and divided into larger sections covering broad themes in philosophy, with biographies of famous philosophers and fascinating thought experiments interspersed throughout. In the tradition of philosophy, you’re never told what to think but instead offered a variety of opinions and theories, and asked questions that make you ponder what you personally believe and why. There’s a philosopher hidden in every one of us right ?

earth book 1

3. Earth: The Definitive Visual Guide (DK)

This stunning book shows us 400 of the tallest, longest, widest, most significant and most unusual geographical features of planet Earth. Featuring volcanoes, deserts,  and rivers to weather systems, rocks and minerals.

earth 2

By learning about the health of our planet you can explore the interaction between people and the environment, from living in volcanic areas to deforestation, to understand the human impact on nature and how we can keep our physical environment. Check out my instagram page sian_gwilliam, it’s full of #busstopnature  photos that will inspire you.

dinosaurs 1

4. The Big Book of Dinosaurs (DK)

The Big Book of Dinosaurs is wild, scare and packed full of these mysterious creatures from the past that will keep even those that can’t yet read, entertained for hours.

dinosaurs book 2

Children will love spotting all the different dinosaurs – from the fierce meat-eating Tyrannosaurus and the long-necked plant-eating Diplodocus to the heavily armoured Stegosaurus and the city Compsognathus. Definitely one for Santa’s bag this year I think.

the animal book

5. The Animal Book (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Animals smooth and spiky, fast and slow, hop and waddle through the two hundred plus pages of the Caldecott Honor artist Steve Jenkins’s most impressive nonfiction offering yet. This Youtube film shows how Steve researches, plans and sketches the book. It’s really interesting, and a quick insight into how a book is written and illustrated. (Translation Zerox = Photocopy!)

Sections such as “Animal Senses,” “Animal Extremes,” and “The Story of Life” burst with wild facts and infographics that will have the whole family asking lots of questions that the kids will love finding out the answer to.


knowledge encyclopedia 1

6. Knowledge Encyclopedia

An encyclopedia like no other, the DK Knowledge Encyclopedia uses the latest CGI technology to help us explore everything we’ve ever wanted to know more about, covering space, Earth, nature, the human body, history and culture, and science and technology in incredible detail.

knowledge encyclopedia 2

From 3D images of the sun and the inside of a shark to a 3D DNA strand and a model of Shakespeare’s globe, this is an amazing visual introduction to every aspect of human knowledge.

These books do really deserve a place on your bookshelf, if only to use as a reference if and when you need to fact check.

You can order or buy all of the books above at your local bookshop, or try the wonderful independant Daunt Books in London, they are a very helpful bunch.

A Guide for Keeping Kids Safe Online


Last week was ‘Safer Internet Day’, and The Guardian published these stats from the UK Safer Internet Centre. “According to the Safe Internet Centre report, 26% of British 11-16 year-olds use six or more social networks and messaging apps every week. The most popular individual services are YouTube and Facebook, used by 78% and 74% of this age group respectively. They’re followed by Snapchat (46%), Instagram (43%), Twitter and WhatsApp (both 37%) and Skype and Minecraft (both 32% – the latter game presumably included because children can play it together online).” 

So on the basis that kids grow (like beautiful, well mannered weeds who eat all their dinner) up very quickly, and ours will all be planning their 13th birthdays at Westfield before we can say “Thanks for doing the washing up again Jemima” I have put together a simplistic list of tips to help us through these exciting times;

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Watch and Learn How To Build An Igloo

“…like all good architects they build houses from the materials around them…” This is a charming video recently re-uploaded by the National Board of Canada. The films were from a series titled Arctic Notebook 1, produced in 1949, and narrated by Doug Wilkinson.

I’ll put a £5 bet down that the next C5 reality TV show is ‘Living In The Arctic’, with celebrity guests being voted in to join the Inuits. I can see Nigel Farage hunting for fish as I type…!

Thanks to The Kid Should See This, who sent the link to me.

Watch and Learn This Body Move

The Human Body is an App ($3.99 : Age 4+) made by the Designers at Tinybop. They create elegant, educational iOS apps to spark the curiosity of kids around the world today. Within the apps, kids play and learn by diving into big ideas, seeing how things work, and making connections about the world they live in. The Human Body App lets you explore a working model of the body. Every part is animated and interactive: the heart beats, guts gurgle, lungs breathe, the skin feels, and eyes see. Designed for kids to discover what we’re made of and how we work. There is also a Plants App and Homes App. Treat yourself, oh! I mean the kids, and indulge in some beautiful designers hard work.

Elegant Events Not To Miss at Somerset House

mr niggles1. Free Exhibition : Beard

You might have seen one or more of the portraits from this exhibition already, as the one of charity campaigner Jimmy Niggles above went viral last year. The photographer Mr Elbank started The #Project60 after meeting Jimmy in Sydney, who was campaigning to raise awareness for skin cancer, after losing a close friend. Through the project, 1200 people contacted the photographer to join forces and share beards, as a result many of the images have been widely shared on social media and have encouraged viewers to go for skin checks which can prove life-saving.

Now it’s your chance to get in with the hairy crowd, and take a look at the rest of the collection of images from photographer Mr Elbank in which all of his subjects share a common grooming theme. The show celebrates the beard in all forms. His subjects include actors, artists, tattooists and women. 

The exhibition will encompass Mr Elbank’s original collection of works, #Project60, plus new and unseen photographs shot specially for the Somerset House show, bringing them all together for the first time.

5 – 29 March 2015 : Daily 10.00-18.00 (last entry 17.15) : Terrace Rooms, South Wing

guy bourdin

2. A Free Tour : Guy Bourdin Image Maker Exhibition : 13.30 Wednesdays and Fridays (with exhibition ticket)

Join a member of the gallery team for a spotlight tour of the Guy Bourdin: Image Maker exhibition. Each tour delves into these iconic, groundbreaking images and stories behind the style. Tours are free with an admission ticket, and last approximately 20 minutes. Limited spaces are available on a sign-up basis in the exhibition 30 minutes before the tour.

The exhibition itself features over 100 works and previously unseen material from the photographer’s estate, (from 1955 to 1987). This major show charts Bourdin’s distinguished 40-year career from Man Ray’s protégé to photography revolutionary in his own right and explore his pursuit of perfection. The exhibited works exemplify the craftsmanship behind his images, from production to publication, and their enduring quality as a consequence.

The exhibition runs until 15 March 2015 : Open Daily 10.00-18.00 (Last admission 17.15) : Until 21.00 Thursdays (Last admission 20.15) Embankment Galleries, South Wing Tickets : £9.00, £7.00 concessions


3. Free Family Drop-in Workshop: Mapping Through Making with Maggie Li : Saturday 7 February 12.00-15.00

Join Maggie Li, illustrator and author of Big City Explorer to fill the room with marvellous 3D map making! Explore some of the most vibrant cities in the world in response to our exhibition Mapping The City and Maggie’s most recent publication. Free for families with accompanied children aged 6-12 years.


Aardman Film Making for London Kids

Who doesn’t like Shaun the Sheep? Even if you find his chat a bit woolly, you have to give him credit for being such a sweet-sheep and loving his mossy bottom family. In honour of Shaun, Timmy, The Twins, Slip, The Farmer and the release of his first ever feature film this year, the BFI are dedicating their 1/2 term family events to him and his makers ‘Aardman’. Ps. The Guardian gives the film a whopping 4star review, read more here.

PS. if you’re stuck on where to watch the movie when it comes out, check out my guide to the best of London’s independent cinema for kids here.

Here’s your Bus Stop quiz question of the week; Which comedian/ actor voices Bitzer the Dog and the Farmer, Mr Elf, King Marigold (Ben & Hollys Little Kingdom) and Steven in Fireman Sam? Leave your answer in the comments box, expect a tiny but very sweet present to be on it’s way to someone picked at random.

shaun-laid-back (1)-736782

Here is a round up of the workshops on offer for the kids … if you want my advice, I’d say “Go book it Bitzer”.

The Great Escape!

Film making workshop and screening Mon 16 February (10:00 – 16:00)  : 8 – 14 yrs (children work in age appropriate groups) You’ll be having lots of fun at this Chicken Run inspired workshop where a drama will be created with an all important flying sequence – using green screen technology! You’ll also be scripting an escapade drama and delving into the dressing up and props boxes to create characters that will be scary and funny in equal measure!

Workshop from 10:00 – 14:30 Screening of Chicken Run from 14:30 – 16:00 (Please bring a packed lunch). Cost per ticket: £27.50 (includes workshop and screening) & Siblings are £18.50 each. Parents leave their children for the duration.


Aardman Curse of the Were-Rabbit Messy Time!

Tue 17 Feb : 12:30 – 14:00 : 0 – 7 years
Film making workshop, creative crafts and screening – The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (BBFC Classification U)
At this workshop there will be crafts galore – making a Were-rabbit puppet or mask, painting and drawing, sculpting and gluing… also – plasticine animating! Using stop motion animation software… so lots of fun to be had! And the best bit? No clearing up to do afterwards!

Workshop from 12.30 – 14:00 – 14:30 Screening of The Curse of the Were-Rabbit from 14:30 – 16:00
You can bring a packed lunch or there are places to eat in the building or near by NB> Parents must stay with their children. Tickets are £5 each/siblings are £4 (please note: animations can be filmed onto mobile devices or bring a memory stick to take them away – the BFI cannot send them after the workshop) Tickets to attend the screening to be purchased separately.


The Brilliant Art of Claymation! 

Film making workshop and screening : Wed 18 Feb 10:00 – 16:00 : 8 – 14 year olds (children work in age appropriate groups)

If you have ever wanted to try your hand at plasticine stop-motion animating, this is the perfect workshop for you! Working in small groups you’ll be creating a stop-motion animation scene complete with narration, sound effects and you’ll find out how to add additional effects – how to add effects like snowing, raining or explosions can be discovered – so not just an animation workshop! Workshop from 10:00 – 14:30 Screening of Chicken Run from 14:30 – 16:00 (Please bring a packed lunch). Cost per ticket: £27.50 (includes workshop and screening) & Siblings are £18.50 each & Parents leave their children for the duration.


The Curse of the Were…what?!

Film making workshop and screening (The Curse of the Were-Rabbit) : Thu 19 Feb : 10:00 – 16:00 : For 8 – 14 year olds (children work in age appropriate groups)

You’ll be delving into a dark and humorous place with today’s workshop that will explore themes of Were-nesses! So you will have Werewolves and Were-Rabbits… at the fun workshop you’ll be exploring this theme, using your imaginations and creativity to produce films which could be scary…ooh er… or funny! Workshop from 10:00 – 14:30 Screening of The Curse of the Were-Rabbit from 14:30 – 16:00 (Please bring a packed lunch. Cost per ticket: £27.50 (includes workshop and screening) & Siblings are £18.50 each & Parents leave their children for the duration.

Parents Information;

Email if you have any specific queries such as access/ disability/ allergies/ special needs.
Bookings only via box office on 020 7928 3232 from 11am – 20.00 each day (All tutors are certificated). Films created at workshops (except Messy Time) are posted to our Youtube channel above once they are fully edited – the BFI do their best to finish them on the day but sometimes this is not possible. Check out their YouTube channel for previous workshop films. Sometimes due to time constraints it can take a few weeks for the films to appear.

All at BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XT : Nearest Underground and Train – Waterloo.


Shaun in the City Gossip for 2015;

In 2015, Aardman’s internationally-acclaimed character Shaun the Sheep will appear in two ewe-nique arts trails! Over 100 giant sculptures of Shaun the Sheep created by artists, celebrities and designers will be placed in iconic locations and beautiful green spaces across London and Bristol.

Shaun in the City will be appearing in London in spring and flocking to Bristol in summer, before both flocks go to auction to raise money for sick children in hospitals across the UK.

The London trail will take place from Saturday 28th March to Monday 25th May, and the Bristol trail from Monday 6th July to Monday 31st August.

Shaun in the City is brought to you by the team that created the award-winning ‘Gromit Unleashed’ which saw Aardman’s loveable canine sidekick Gromit raise £2.3 million for Bristol Children’s Hospital.

Credit : All images copyright Aardman Films.

Watch and Learn Brooke Raboutou, World Rock Climbing Champion

If you have a spare 8 minutes this weekend, take a look at this. I’m a huge fan of the #activegirls campaign from the Youth Sport Trust. Here’s some info why it’s important;

“Engaging and retaining girls in physical activity is a challenge and something that the Youth Sport Trust has been committed to for over 10 years. The 2010 PE and School Sport Survey of schools in England showed an alarming drop in participation as girls become teenagers: only 15 per cent of girls aged 17-18 took part in at least three hours of PE and school sport each week compared to 68 per cent of girls aged 10-11. The recent Health Survey shows that by age 14, just over 10 per cent of girls achieve the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day.”

Credit : Film : Created and produced by, THNKR gives you extraordinary access to the people, stories, ideas that will change your mind.

Adult Workshops at Heal’s Modern Craft Market


This February Heal’s (the Tottenham Court Road store) are hosting some very special workshops that celebrate using new materials and processes at their Modern Craft Market between 2-15 February. If you didn’t know, Heal’s really love emerging design talent, and like to push the boundaries in any way they can when it comes to furniture design, and for that matter design in general.


During their Modern Craft Market, whilst they celebrate the best in contemporary craft (expect the best designer balloons, hand-made bunting and very hip jelly and ice-cream), they have invited six established furniture designers* to take over their front windows for a week.

*Chris Eckersley, Sarah Kay, William Warren, Gareth Neal, Carl Clerkin and the designer of Heal’s Koji collection, Koji Katsuragi

Heal’s catchphrase is to the point ‘good design, well made’, it’ works don’t you agree? For the curious here are some facts about Heal’s, you will now know why this company has a special place on the mantelpiece in the world of Design.



1. The store is over 200 years old, it started out as a bed maker in 1810.

2. The eldest of 5 children, Ambrose Heal studied at Marlborough College and Slade School of Art before beginning a two year apprenticeship as a cabinet maker at Graham and Biddle of Oxford Street.

3. Although dubious of his furniture designs, his father nevertheless admitted him to partnership in 1898 and allowed him a small part of the shop to show his work, where he gained the attention of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

4. In the early 1900’s he established an art gallery at Tottenham Court Road, showing works by Picasso, Wyndham Lewis and Modigliani.

5. His style of furniture helped to change the whole concept of home furnishing – leaving behind by the tyranny of ‘period style’ and providing an agreeable alternative to the reliance on antique-style furnishings.


The Modern Craft Workshops  

(To book your place click on the link just above)

Tortie Hoare

Setting the market off with a bang, bespoke furniture designer Tortie Hoare provides an insight into the medieval art of leather moulding. This workshop is a unique opportunity to explore a centuries old technique by making a one-off piece for you to take home and treasure.

Location: Heal’s, Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 7LQ Date: Tuesday 3 February 2015 Time: 12.30pm – 2pm Cost: £12 : Limited space available

Jo Davies

Exploring the translucent qualities of the material porcelain, Jo Davies’ workshop gives you the chance to design your own miniature porcelain tea light lantern. Using natural and man- made materials to imprint the piece, you will create beautiful patterns around the surface building them up to make a truly personal gift or memento.

*Please note: items cannot be taken away on the day as they have to be fired. Allow 7 days before pick up.

Location: Heal’s, Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 7LQ Date: Wednesday 4 February 2015
Time: 12.30pm – 2pm Cost: £27 Limited space available

Gabrielle Vary

Providing a crash course in the intricate craft of knitting, Gabrielle Vary will take you through a range of skills and techniques; from teaching you the basics of how to use a knitting machine right through to creating Fairisle and pattern in knit. This one-to-one workshop is the perfect opportunity to take a love of knitting to the next level, giving you the chance to translate your designs into custom knitting patterns.

Location: Heal’s, Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 7LQ Date: Thursday 5 February 2015
Time: 12pm – 2pm (30-minute slots) Cost: £7 Limited space available


Gemma Waggett

Hosted by textile designer Gemma Waggett, this workshop teaches you how to create and screen print pattern on to your very own tote bag. Working alongside Gemma, you will learn all of the skills involved in using a digital embroiderer as well as translating to a silkscreen. With all materials provided, there’s nothing stopping you from making.

Location: Heal’s, Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 7LQ Date: Friday 6 February 2015 Time: 12pm – 2pm (30-minute slots) Cost: £7 Limited space available

Stephanie Hosmer

Join ‘Miss Papercut’, aka Stephanie Hosmer, for an introductory workshop in crafting with paper. By first teaching you the techniques of how to use tools to cut from templates, the workshop leads on to you trying your hand at more complex patterns, creating a collection of beautiful cards in the process.

Location: Heal’s, Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 7LQ Date: Saturday 7 February 2015
Time: 12.30pm – 2pm Cost: £12 Limited spaces available, adults only,

Katharina Eisenkoeck

This workshop lets you test out the techniques used by Katharina Eisenkoeck to mould leather and emboss concrete, creating 2 beautiful handmade napkin rings to take with you. By cutting the leather into strips then wet-forming it in water you will learn how to emboss the material with your own unique pattern, before

casting small cubes of concrete to attach to your napkins.

Location: Heal’s, Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 7LQ Date: Monday 9 February 2015
Time: 12.30pm – 2pm Cost: £17 Limited spaces available.


Justine Wall

Talking you through the different stages and techniques, Justine Wall’s workshop will show you how to design and make your very own lino-cut. Sketching your own designs onto tracing paper, you will transfer your creations onto lino block before carving in your design. This highly-skilled workshop includes all the materials you will need to create a master piece in your lunch break.

Location: Heal’s, Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 7LQ Date: Tuesday 10 February 2015
Time: 12.30pm – 2pm Cost: £17 Limited spaces available, adults only

Zara Day of Rosemaryrose

Led by Zara Day of Rosemaryrose, this workshop gives you the chance to create your very own Love Token. Popular in the 19th Century, the Love Token is a gift traditionally given by gentleman to show their affection. The hearts are filled with fragrant local Cotswold lavender, which in Tudor times was associated with passion, and are hand-made using the traditional technique of embroidered stitches. The perfect workshop to craft handmade your Valentine’s Day gift.

Location: Heal’s, Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 7LQ Date: Wednesday 11 February 2015 Time: 12.30pm – 2pm Cost: £12 Limited spaces available, adults only.


Crafts Magazine Talk

Keeping it Real: craft and authenticity

From traditional techniques to cutting-edge digital processes, this panel discussion – chaired by Crafts’ editor Grant Gibson and featuring bodger-in-chief Chris Eckersley, Studio Manifold’s Zachary Eastwood-Bloom and up-and-coming designer Xenia Moseley – sets out to discover where the limits of craft reside and asks the question: what precisely is ‘real’ craft. The lively debate will be followed by drinks.

Location: Heal’s, Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 7LQ Date: Wednesday 11 February 2015
Time: 6pm – 9.30pm RSVP:


Out of the Dark

Join Out of the Dark at the Heal’s Modern Craft Market for their brand new, introduction to caning workshop. You will cover the history of caning plus examples of different caning styles. Learn the basics of 6 way chair caning on a small frame that you can then take home with you.

Location: Heal’s, Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 7LQ Date: Monday 9 February 2015 Time: 6pm – 9pm Cost: £30 – all proceeds go to charity; Limited spaces available, adults only

Thomas Appleton

Using stone donated by London Stone Conservation, this workshop gives you the chance to try your hand at traditional techniques of letter carving. Under the watchful eye of master craftsman Thomas Appleton, you will carve letters in stone to take with you and enjoy at home. All equipment and materials needed for the workshop will be provided.

Location: Heal’s, Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 7LQ Date: Friday 13 February 2015
Time: 12.30pm – 2pm Cost: £12 Limited spaces available, adults only


Umut Yamac

With years of experience making delicate paper sculptures, this workshop will show you how to create your own handmade wall clock using the origami style of folding paper. Inspired by Umut Yamac’s own Perch Light artwork, each participant will be supplied with all the materials necessary to create their own clock to display at home.

Location: Heal’s, Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 7LQ Date: Friday 13 February 2015 : Time: 5.30pm -7pm Cost: £12 Limited spaces available, adults only.


Nancy Nicholson

Join us as the Heal’s Modern Craft Market learns the art and craft of stitch-work with Nancy Nicholson. During this workshop you will be shown many of the specialist stitches that Nancy uses in her designs, which will also be on display throughout the duration of craft market. You will also be provided with a printed motif for you to stitch and take home to enjoy.

Location: Heal’s, Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 7LQ Date: Saturday 14 February 2015
Time: 12.30pm – 2pm : Cost: £12 mLimited spaces available, adults only.

 Heal’s are launching an ‘open call‘ for the annual Heal’s Discovers award. This is the first time they are running an open call, so are opening it up to all emerging designers. If you know anyone who might be interested please feel free to pass on this post.They are looking for print / textile designers as well as furniture/product designers.

Don’t Move, Improve!  : Free Style Consultations
As part of NLA (New London Architecture)’s “Don’t Move, Improve!” competition, Heal’s will offer free one-to-one style consultations at its Tottenham Court Road store on 24 January 2015, from 11am to 4pm. 

This event will include free industry advice from the Heal’s styling service. The in-house specialists will be available for advice on colour, texture and space planning with a focus on furniture, lighting and textiles.

WHEN: 24th January 2015 

WHERE: Tottenham Court Road – Fabrics Department

The Best Art-y Books for Kids

I have a small passion for art books in general, but mostly for the ones designed and lovingly produced for Kids. One of my favourite past-times is floating around museum book shops, taking notes of all the glossy activity books and art products, and generally soaking up all that creative goodness. I like to think of kids art books, as the equivalent to one of your 5-a-day in the Creative Bus Stop world. The other 4, well there are no rules, so take your pick depending what day of the week it is. Today, I’m choosing (2) a decent pencil, (3) any old paper, (4) an ear bud and (5) some blue paint. With this lot, I’m off to create a masterpiece … back soon. xo


1) Craft Projects for Minecraft® and Pixel Art Fans by Choly Knight £4.79


2) Tate Kids British Art Activity Book by Lambert and Jackson £6.99


3) Drawing Faces (Art Ideas) (Usborne Art Ideas)


4) The Super Book for Super-Heroes Paperback – 23 Sep 2013 by Jason Ford (Author) £6.97


5) Let’s Make Some Great Fingerprint Art Paperback – 8 Oct 2012 by Marion Deuchars (Author) £9.95


6) Meet Matisse: Art Activity Book (Paperback – 3 Apr 2014) by Jean-Vincent Sénac £4.49

water paper paint

7) Water Paper Paint: Exploring Creativity with Watercolor and Mixed Media (Paperback – 27 Jan 2011) by Heather Smith Jones

cute animals book

8) Illustration School: Let’s Draw Cute Animals (Paperback – 1 Nov 2010) by Sachiko Umoto (Author)


9) Art Lab For Kids: 52 Creative Adventures in Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Paper, and Mixed Media – For Budding Artists of All Ages (Paperback – 1 Mar 2012) by Susan Schwake

creative thursday

10) Creative Thursday: Everyday inspiration to grow your creative practice :  From the popular website! (Paperback – 7 Jan 2013) by Marisa Anne


11) 13 Artists Children Should Know by Angela Wenzel


12) How to Draw a Chicken by Jean-Vincent

How To Start a Children’s Home Library

book cThis article from The Guardian Book site gives sound advice on building a library for children. I’ve picked out the bones to help you speed through it, and also listed their reading list for ages 8-11. I can do other lists if you’re keen, just give me a shout.

1.This is the age at which reading starts to get interesting, and the time when you may be able to introduce your kids to the books you read as a child.

book a

2. Books are not medicine to be forced down; they should be fun, exciting doorways into other worlds and different feelings and points of view.

3. There is sometimes a density to the writing of many of the older classics, which can be very satisfying, but which can also be a turn-off to a generation raised on the Oxford Reading Tree and Ginn.

4. Between 8-11 there is no such thing as a bad book, it is the habit of reading that counts. Don’t get prissy and ban Enid Blyton.

book b

5. For some children this is also the age when books become friends, the same one consumed over and over in the same way that a teenager will play the same track on a new CD over and over. Assume, if this is the case, that the child is getting something crucial from it in the same way that the child who demands cheese three times a day for a week is probably unconsciously seeking some essential nutrient. At this age, books can be the most satisfying food in the world.

Further Reading :: BOOK LIST from The Guardian Book Site :: Ages 8-11

  1. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury (Walker, £14.99)
  2. Rumpelstiltskin and Other Grimm Tales by Carol Ann Duffy, illustrated by Marketa Prachaticka (Faber, £8.99)
  3. The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks (Collins Modern Classics, £5.99)
  4. The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy Boston (Faber, £4.99)
  5. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by TS Eliot, illustrated by Edward Gorey (Faber, £9.99)
  6. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren (Puffin, £4.99)
  7. The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley (Puffin, £3.99)
  8. Please Mrs Butler by Allan Ahlberg (Puffin, £3.99)
  9. The Haunting by Margaret Mahy (Puffin, £4.99)
  10. Thunder and Lightnings by Jan Mark (Puffin, £4.99)
  11. The Snow Spider by Jenny Nimmo (Mammoth, £4.99)
  12. The House of Rats by Stephen Elboz (OUP, £3.99)
  13. The Wreck of the Zanzibar by Michael Morpurgo (Mammoth, £4.50)
  14. A Dog So Small by Phillipa Pearce (Puffin, £4.99)
  15. The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban (Faber, £4.99)
  16. The Finders by Nigel Hinton (Puffin, £3.99)
  17. The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson (Corgi, £3.99)
  18. King of the Shadows by Susan Cooper (Puffin, £4.99)
  19. Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie (Granta, £6.99)
  20. The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin (Puffin, £4.99)
  21. The Rinaldi Ring by Jenny Nimmo (Mammoth £4.99)
  22. A Voyage of Discovery 1: From the Land of the Amazons to the Indigo Isles by Francois Place (Pavillion, £12.99)
  23. The Ghost Drum by Susan Price (Faber £3.50)
  24. Walkabout by James Vance Marshall (Puffin, £3.99)
  25. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (Puffin Modern Classic, £5.99)
  26. The Earth Giant by Melvin Burgess (Puffin, £3.99)
  27. Woof! By Allan Ahlberg (Puffin, £4.99)
  28. Matilda by Roald Dahl (Puffin, £4.99)
  29. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (Puffin, £2.99)
  30. Stig of the Dump by Clive King (Puffin, £5.99)
  31. Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield (Puffin Modern Classics, £5.99)
  32. Mary Poppins by PL Travers (Collins, £5.99)
  33. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling (Bloomsbury, £4.99)
  34. Lizzie Dripping by Helen Cresswell (Puffin, £3.99)
  35. The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goodge (OUP, £4.99)
  36. The Borrowers by Mary Norton (Puffin Modern Classics, £5.99)
  37. Stonestruck by Helen Cresswell (Puffin £4.99)
  38. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Collins, £3.99)
  39. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken (Red Fox, £3.99)
  40. The Boggart by Susan Cooper (Puffin, £4.99)
  41. The Peppermint Pig by Nina Bawden (Puffin, £4.99)
  42. Five Children and It by E Nesbit (Puffin, £3.99)
  43. Double Act by Jacqueline Wilson (Corgi Yearling, £3.99)
  44. Watership Down by Richard Adams (Puffin, £5.99)
  45. The Runaways by Ruth Thomas (Red Fox, £3.99)
  46. Clockwork by Philip Pullman (Corgi Yearling, £3.99)
  47. The Firework-Maker’s Daughter (Corgi Yearling, £3.99).
  48. A Pack of Lies by Geraldine McCaughton (OUP, £3.99)
  49. Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce (Puffin, £4.99)
  50. What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge (Puffin, £3.99)
  51. The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier (Puffin, £5.99)
  52. Skellig by David Almond (Hodder, £4.99)
  53. The Guardians by John Christopher (Puffin, £4.99)
  54. The Tulip Touch by Ann Fine (Puffin £4.99)
  55. Wolf by Gillian Cross (OUP, £5.99)
  56. Two Weeks With the Queen by Morris Gleitzmann (Puffin, £3.99)
  57. Goggle-Eyes by Anne Fine (Puffin, £4.99)
  58. Smith by Leon Garfield (Puffin Modern Classics, £5.99)

Get Your Kids Reading, The Best Sites & Children’s Book Clubs

book 5

You might not have had the time to research all the online children’s book clubs out there, or it might not be your (book) bag! As I’m in constant amazement at how quickly time speeds past me, I’m all for expert advice, and there are some well curated sites dedicated to promoting literacy to kids.

If you search through this Bus Stop you will find some other features about the UK Charity Bookstart Trust, and a popular post here with recommendations from my youngest daughters Nursery class (Age 2-4) book club, as well as info on the fantastic educational and fun kids magazines you can subscribe too (perfect presents for all).

book 6

The Oxford Owl (from the Oxford University Press) is a resource offering 250 free eBooks for you to share with your child as well as simple ideas, top tips, activities and games to help your child with their reading at home. The website offers brilliant fun educational games to engage your kids. Split into age groups they have sections based on reading and maths. This should def be on your ‘favourites’ page.

book 11

You’ll also find advice from educational experts on many areas including phonics, motivating boys and how to help a child who is struggling with their reading.

The National Literary Trust, have launched a new website called Words for Life. The site gives you an idea of what communication milestones your baby and child might reach as they grow. There are also ideas for fun activities you can do together to help your children develop their skills.

book 4

Scholastic Book Club is a long running service that send leaflets into schools that are packed with great books with savings of up to 70%. Parents buy books which in turn enable your school to get free books. The website has heaps of friendly information, from guides in age groups, author chat, competitions, free activity sheets to print at home and an area where kids can review books online, and see their published work in lights.

Loveread4kids is a site created by parents, and book lovers. They originally set up the site, and offer reviews and tips on a whole range of books for every age.

book 3

Waterstones website show you their best sellers, and offer tips on new books. You can order online, and check their events page for the latest action your nearest bookstore. Also, The Reading Agency offer a guide to find local reading groups, they also offer insightful interviews, and an activity pack for children, and have a dedicated section for young readers. If you fancy starting a book club, read this BBC guide written by Sarah Kingsley a member of the BBC Parent Panel.

Other sites you should know about is the Books for Keeps, an independent kids book magazine that reviews hundreds of new kids books and fascinating articles about all aspects of kids literacy, like this one on Classical mythology in children’s books. A solid favourite with schools is First News the weekly newspaper for young kids, and Reading Zone.

book club 1



Rome and Juliet Family Workshops at The National Theatre 2014

jpeg 14. Umar Pasha (Capulet) and Vanessa Babirye (Tybalt)_Romeo & Juliet_credit Ludovc des CognetsCan you tell I get excited about all the inspiring creative activities that are on offer out there? I also often cannot believe how many people don’t know about what’s generally happening in the arts venues across town, and consequently miss out… cue : design your own website to share the love and call it Creative Bus Stop.

If you want to be in the cool gang in your English Lit class, or thought Romeo was a rapper from LA, or that show on Nickelodean, then they are all reasons you might just fancy taking a trip to the The National Theatre this 1/2 term. On the Southbank, you will be able to see a family version of the classic Romeo and Juliet (by Ben Power) set to music, and dance with live song (29 – 31 October, daytime performances), and then until the 14th of November.

jpeg 3. Romeo & Juliet company_credit Ludovic des Cognets

You will also be able to learn how to stage a street fight or learn about the feuding families in their pre-show workshops. For £5, it’s worth booking now so not to miss out.

The big event of the holiday is the FAMILY DAY on 1-November. These always take place once a month and include a mix of drop-in activities and ticketed workshops. For kids 6–12 and adults to enjoy together.

jpeg 16. Joanna Burnett (Nurse)_Romeo & Juliet_credit Ludovic des Cognets

During the day you can :: have a go at designing a costume :: Learn how our actors perform realistic fights on stage :: Find out how music is used in NT productions and try your hand at composing :: You will also be able to meet some of the team who work behind the scenes to bring NT productions to life. If you do make it to the Family Day, have a go at the free drop in workshop : Graffiti Art – Design a Family Tag : between 11am–1pm and 2pm–5pm : Inspired by the production, design and make a family street tag using a combination of collage, stencilling and paint. Kids love nothing more than going freestyle with spray paint.

Please sign up on the day in the Clore Learning Centre from 10am to take part.Each adult may only be responsible for up to three children.

Check these books out if you want to get your young readers warmed up ;

Shakespeare for Children

Romeo & Juliet : A Babylit Counting Primer

Romeo and Juliet for Kids

Performance Info :

Romeo  & Juliet : by William Shakespeare : in a version by Ben Power : The National Theatre : 29 October – 14 November 2014 : Tickets £8 and £12 : Age 8 to 12
A modern city. A deadly feud. And a pair of star-crossed lovers.Set against a vibrant urban backdrop, bursting full of excitement, colour, dancing and live song, a company of eight recreate the most famous love story of all time. Here’s much to do with hate, but more with love…

100 Family Workshops for a Halloween Half Term 2014

There’s so much to do and so little time this 1/2 term (so to get you planning ahead, and not missing out on booking your place on those workshops with limited space), for once I’m going to keep quiet, and deliver the goods. Don’t forget to check in with the schedule from the Family Arts Festival (17 Oct to 2 Nov), they have pulled together a whole lot of fun. Enjoy…

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Don’t forget the Calendar of Events on the home page which will give you a wide range of activities for the whole year. As well as checking on the DIY CRAFTS category for rainy-play ideas, and Halloween inspiration. Also there’s my spectacular offer :: if you drop me a line in the comment box below, asking for help planning day trips, or almost anything else, I’ll send you some ideas, tied in a pretty gingham ribbon of course. 

Updates to list :

Clifton Nurseries offers Plant Drawing with Artist Venetia Norris
: 11-5pm : The Big Draw at Clifton Nurseries : A free event that takes the form of a fun collaborative drawing (all ages). There will be outlines of different plant pots for you to choose from and add your plant. and Adult Drawing Classes throughout November also with Venetia Norris : Thursdays 6, 13, 20 & 27th : 6:30pm – 8pm, Clifton Nurseries, adults, £15 in advance or £18 on the night (glass of wine included).

The Royal Albert Hall has the Music for YouthSchools Prom : 10-12th November : 7-930pm or for Disney fans of Frozen, you can join the Sing-Along on 17-Nov. Performances at 2pm, 5:15pm, 8:45pm (All ages welcome).These events will see Frozen screened in stunning high-definition, with a bouncing snowflake over the lyrics allowing audiences to follow the music, in true sing-along tradition.

Technopop 2014 : (until 2Nov) Technopop is the UK’s first pop-up Science, Technology and Innovation Festival aimed at 6 – 19 year olds.Technopop includes a fully immersive exhibition, alongside interactive workshops and events – all of which are FREE for Children (aged 6-19), and only £10 for adults.

Burgh House : Halloween Party 31 October, 2-4pm : Their frightfully fabulous Kids’ Halloween Party is back! There’ll be spooky storytelling and creepy craft activities, with party food, fancy-dress competition and a monstrous museum trail. Advance booking is essential: tickets are not available on the day, so don’t miss out! Ages 10 and under. £15 per child. Must be accompanied by an adult.

Gamer Workshop on Saturday 1 November at ACE Hotel, Shoreditch with Technology Will Save Us (age 4+) :£10 per person for half hour taster slots (and they’ll offer discounts on DIY Electro Dough Kits on the day for anyone who wants the fun to continue).

Sadlers Wells, Chalk About : Dance Show (Ages 8+) : 1 & 2nd November . A family dance show that considers life’s big questions, and with dance, chat, music and more

1. RIBA : Workshops : Ages 7-18 : Start Monday 27/10 :: All workshops have been inspired by the exhibition Ordinary Beauty: The Photography of Edwin Smith and are led by professional educators. Materials included unless otherwise indicated. Workshops take place between Monday 27 and Friday 31 October 2014 and booking is essential. £30 per workshop (£20 – eligible for free school lunch). Family Fun events take place on Friday 31 October, £2 per child / £8 per family and paid on the door.

2. The National Gallery : Daily Family Drop In Workshops : Start 27/10 : Join in workshops ranging from clay, puppetry, painting, drawing and more.Free ticket required, available one hour before the event on a first come, first served basis. Places are limited to 20 tickets per session for children, plus an accompany adult. For ages 5+

3. British Museum : Drop In : Daily at 11am : Daily Activities in the Great Court : Magnificent Ming China

4.  Geffreye Museum : Daily Activities : Join the museum as they celebrate their anniversary year. Bake special treats, create party-ware and make decorations. Start on Tuesday 28 – Friday 31 October, 10.30am – 12.30pm and 2 – 4pm

5. Museum of London Docklands & Museum of London : Daily Activities at 11am and 2pm. So many to choose from, check the site, and go for your life.

6. BFI, Southbank :: October Half-term Workshops for Children and Families (see bottom of post for all details) : Inspired by the Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder season. Start on 27 October.

7. Take a Yeoman Warder Tours at The Tower of London. Join one of the famous Yeoman Warder tours where Yeoman Warders (popularly known at ‘Beefeaters’) will entertain you with tales of intrigue, imprisonment, execution, torture and much more. Tours start near the main entrance every 30 mins.

cupcakes to scare
cupcakes to scare

8. Imperial War Museum : Various Activities for Age 4+ : (see bottom of post for all details) : Themed around War Horse, Book ahead to reserve and pay for places

9. London Transport Museum : Storytime daily at : 11.00 and 14.00 : Fun and interactive storytelling sessions. Join us on a time travelling adventure to Victorian London. Can you make it back to 2014 without anyone finding out you’re from the future? Maybe you’ll need some sort of disguise! Suitable for families with children aged 3–7. Make and Take Craft Workshops Daily at: 11.30 and 14.30 : Get messy with some hands on craft activities. Build your own bus inspired by over 150 years of public transport, then take it on a ride round the Museum before taking it home. Suitable for families with children aged 4–12

10. The skate rink opens at The Natural History Museum on 30 October, and as you all know there is enough to see and do to keep you going for weeks around this part of town. Check out the listings on line for daily talks, hands on exhibits, and free films showing in the Attenborough Studio.

11. Royal Maritime Museum, Greenwich. A whole range of fun to be had, you can also meet various characters aboard the Cutty Sark, and hear Cutty Sark’s incredible stories, brought to life by characters from the ship’s past. Meet Captain Woodget, the ship’s most daring master; Jock Willis, the man who built Cutty Sark; Nannie the ship’s figurehead; or the ship’s cook, James Robson, who all have a special story to tell.

12. V&A Museum : Make it Painting workshops are at the V&A Museum in South Ken. In this family event you can work with a landscape painter to recreate details from some of Constable’s famous paintings.Imagine you’re in the Salisbury water meadows, sketching cowslips, wild herbs and willow branches. Held daily during 1/2 termTimes are 10.30–12.30 & 14.30–16.30 : Recommended for ages 5-12 : £7.50 per child, children must be accompanied by an adult.

13. Horniman Museum and Gardens : There is daily free family art fun for ages 3+, between 11-2.45 in the education centre. Choose from Monday 27 October: Loi Krathong Paper Boats: Make a paper boat complete with tissue paper candle and some shiny pretend coins., Tuesday 28 October: Loi Krathong Paper Boats: Make a paper boat complete with tissue paper candle and some shiny pretend coins, Wednesday 29 October: St.Martins Day Lanterns: Make a lovely decorative lantern on a stick from card and tissue paper, Thursday 30 October: St.Martins Day Lanterns: Make a lovely decorative lantern on a stick from card and tissue paper and last but not least Friday 31 October: St.Martins Day Lanterns: Make a lovely decorative lantern on a stick from card and tissue paper.

14. Cartoon Museum, Bloomsbury : Great sessions with illustrators and publishers over 1/2 term. Booking essential, fill up your basket, and sharpen your pencils. Write & Draw Your Own Comics! workshop is on Sunday 26 October, 2pm & 3pm. Draw Big for Big Draw! on Saturday 18 October 12 – 4pm is a free drop in event for all visitors. Come and take part in the creation of a giant cartoon-strip mural, inspired by the film Night at the Museum, that will be displayed around the Cartoon Museum’s upstairs gallery.

Pangaea Exhibition : Saatchi Gallery
Pangaea Exhibition : Saatchi Gallery

Under-18s Free! Adults £5 (advanced booking only)

15. V&A Museum of Childhood : Never ever a dull moment in this museum, check the site for all the exhibitions, daily craft drop ins and holiday activities. For the 1/2 term, they are running ‘Wizz-Bang and Pipsqueaks‘ which are daily war themed activities between 10.30-4pm. You will be able to design your own medal to take home, try on costumes, and join story time at their Discovery Station.

16. Saatchi Gallery : This half term will be the last chance to see the exhibition Pangaea: New Art From Africa and Latin America before it closes on 2nd November. The education team are hosting a new animation workshop led by professional illustrator and animator Helen Piercy (whose book ‘Animation Studio’ is stocked in the bookshop!). (see below for more details).

17. The Queens House (Royal Museums Greenwich) : Halloween Spooktacular Family Fun Day : 31 Oct from 11-4pm £40 for a family of 4. Check online for more ticket prices (all ages).

Come along in your scariest fancy dress to a spooktacular Halloween party at The Queen’s House. Make a pom-pom creepy-crawly to take trick or treating. Create and animate your own ghost story, and enjoy storytelling about mysterious happenings in the night sky. Have your photo taken at our dress-up family photo booth; play super-sized board game Spooks and Shudders; and show off your monster moves at our Halloween disco. Parade your outfit at the end of the day in our creepiest costume competition. You may even bump into our resident ghost… There are heaps of activities from stories, animation, crafts and wizard and magic shows all day, check the website for the schedule.

18. Whitechapel Gallery : Free Family Workshop : On Saturday 1 November, 12pm – 4pm (All children must be accompanied by at least one adult). Get inspired by Richard Tuttle’s playful use of humble everyday materials. Join artists Monica Rivas Velasquez and Freya Gabie to make and exhibit your own collaborative drawings in wire, cotton, string, rope, plywood and paper. Explore the exhibition with a new Family Trail by artists Simon & Tom Bloor.

tate modern building_0

19. Tate Modern : Open Studio: Sculptural Weave is in the Clore Learning Centre Activities are available every weekend. Additionally, Thursdays and Fridays during holidays, 11.00–16.00.

20. Museum of London : Find out more about the big beasts of prehistoric London, and meet giants of the imagination in craft, drama, storytelling and digital art workshops daily throughout October half term. – See more details of timings, and events online.

21. RAF Museum : First World War Airfix Make and Take : Between 25th – 31st October 2014 | London  :: Make your own Airfix model at the Museum over the October half term.

22. Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art : Friday 31 October 14.00-15.30. Hercules on Halloween: storytelling and shadow puppets workshop. Join them for a special Halloween storytelling of Hercules’ twelve gruesome tasks. Hear how he used his strength and ingenuity to overcome impossible tasks such as saving a village from a flock of man-eating birds and tackling a five headed monster. Bring the characters to life by making your own scary shadow puppet. Storytelling will start promptly at 2pm.

Family events are drop-in with no booking required. Free for children accompanied by a paying adult.

23. The Parasol Unit : Sunday Family Workshop: 19 October : 2.30-4pm : Ages 5-15 yrs : The Music of Sound, with SoundFjord : Improvisation with Everyday Material :: inspired by Artist, Shinro Ohtake’s works and materials.

24. The Royal Society : Free  – The Big Draw Event : 25 October  : See and draw historical artefacts and scientific illustrations pulled from the Royal Society’s archives, as well as the extraordinary architecture of our Carlton House Terrace building.

25. Storystock Festival : Bush Theatre : 28-30 October. Book tickets on line for this storytelling festival for children (3-11) and their families, which launched at the Bush Theatre in autumn 2013.

26. Benjamin Franklin House : Halloween Event :: Family Day: Tuesday 28 October, 4-5pm

As Hallowe’en approaches, brave the dimly lit corridors and creaking floorboards of this 18th century Georgian house for ghostly games and scary stories told by Benjamin Franklin’s friend Polly Hewson. Dress up and be ready to trick-or-treat, otherwise the lady of the House may not let you enter… (£5 per child, free for adults).

sweet frankenstein
sweet frankenstein

27. Ragged School Museum : This October Half Term on 28&30/Oct, the Ragged School Museum is becoming the Ragged GHOUL Museum! They will be running a whole host of fun, free Halloween activities, including arts and crafts, face painting and dressing up. There’ll be lots to make and do, so bring your little pumpkins to us this half term! Ideal for primary aged kids.

28. Cass Arts (Islington) Saturday 25 October (10-12pm)  : Decopatch Scary Cats and Spooky Spiders : Decorate paper maché witches’ cats and spooky spiders with Decopatch colourful, patterned papers. Wednesday 30 October : Halloween Masks : Get ready for Halloween and draw your make your own scary mask to go with your Halloween costume. Saturday 1 November : Monster Drawings  : Colour your own monster using templates or practise your comic drawing skills.

29. Cass Arts (Hampstead) : Saturday 25 October (10-12pm)Decopatch Scary Cats and Spooky Trees. Get ready for Halloween and decorate paper maché witches’ cats and spooky trees with Decopatch colourful papers. Tuesday 28 October Monster Piñatas ; Create your own scary monster piñata for Halloween by decorating boxes with coloured tissue paper! Saturday 1 November; Vegetable Printmaking; Using fruits and vegetables, learn the art of printmaking to create colourful and easy works of art.

30. Cass Arts (Kingston) : Children must be accompanied by an adult events 10-12pm. For ages 4+ : Saturday 25 October : Decopatch Scary Cats and Spooky Spiders Decorate paper maché witches’ cats and spooky spiders with Decopatch colourful, patterned papers. Thursday 30 October ; Halloween Masks ; Get ready for Halloween and make your own scary mask to go with your Halloween costume.Saturday 1 November ; Fireworks! Create your own firework picture using coloured pencils and black wax crayon.

31. Hyde Park Look Out : More grown up Movie Nights :  On the eeriest nights of the year, tip toe by torch light through the mystical plains of Hyde Park to our hidden pop-up film venue! Watch screenings of Ghostbusters, The Wicker Man, Little Shop of Horrors & The Blair Witch Project. £25. Ticket price includes a free glass of fizz, a street food wrap, Halloween themed activities and a fire pit with marshmallows.

easy peasy ice cubes
easy peasy ice cubes

32. Hyde Park : Discovery Centre : 2 free discovery days for kids in October Half term – 29 & 30 Oct. 11 – 3pm. You can get into the Halloween spirit and take part in a host of spectacularly spooky activities from ‘Pin the wart on the witch’ to potion making from herbs, sticks and mud. Or why not come along in your own Halloween fancy dress?

33. National Theatre : Family Days are being held at The Clore Learning Centre, National Theatre. The next one will be held on 1 November 2014 and the workshops are inspired by the production of Romeo and Juliet which will be performing at the National Theatre during half term (29 – 31 October, daytime performances), and then until the 14th of November (details on

34. Fulham Palace : Come along and help them celebrate Apple Day at Fulham Palace.
Sunday, 19 October, 11am-3pm. Join in the family fun celebrating their apple trees and different varieties of apples with wildlife activities, story telling, baking competition, live music, food and drink stalls and more. Family Fun Day : Wednesday, 29 October, 10am-12pm and 1pm-3pm. A day of free family fun including crafts, storytelling and dressing up! Run with the Hammersmith and Fulham Adult Learning and Skills Service.Hallowe’en Crafts and Pumpkin Parade. Friday, 31 October, 2pm-4.30pm : Meet by the café in Bishop’s Park for Hallowe’en themed crafts and face painting. Bring your pre-carved pumpkin for the pumpkin parade around the Park at 4pm!

book jam

35. Brixton Book Jam : Workshops & Storytelling FREE ALL DAY :It all starts at 2pm Age 5-7 : Gabby Dawnay and Alex Barrow: London Calling and A Possum’s Tale & Andrew Weale: Nora & Tamara Macfarlane: Dylan’s Amazing Dinosaurs……3.30pm Age 6-9 : Piers Torday: The Last Wild : Emer Stamp: The Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of Pig……..5pm Age 9-12 : Margaret Bateson-Hill: The Silver Flame & Jan Devenish: The Great Pie Rivalry & Sam Hepburn: Chasing the Dark

36. Between Oct 18-Nov 2 : Deadly and Disgusting Plants and Fungi at Kew Young visitors can follow clues and puzzles on a trail through the gardens to help save London from the evil Smedly Deadly and his poisonous plants, meeting some interesting characters along the way.

37. Frieze Art Fair : Oct 16-19 :152 galleries from 30 different countries gathering in Regent’s Park for the biggest contemporary art event of the year. 2013′s fair saw a redesign which featured more sizeable public areas, plus the return of the Frieze Sculpture Park

38. House of Vans : Skatepark, Under Waterloo station. It looks amazing, even if you don’t own a skate board and goaty beard. I am digging for more information as you read, watch this skate space.

Card : Hoxton Street Monster Supplies
Card : Hoxton Street Monster Supplies

39. The Royal Academy : Totally wonderful workshops in one of London’s most beautiful museums. Family events start with The Big Draw on Sunday 19 October between 11am — 3pm. In this free drop-in workshop, part of The Big Draw 2014, families have the chance to work collaboratively with RA artists in a drawing workshop inspired by Anselm Kiefer.

39a. Also, book now for the Anselm Kiefer Family Workshop. On Oct 28 & 30th, inspired by the work of Anselm Kiefer, the session comprises an interactive tour and a practical hands-on session. (Ages 6+) This event is also taking place on 30th October. Meet at the Learning Desk.

40. House of Illustration : Workshop : Discover the history of comics and make your own with creator Karrie Fransman : 18 Oct 2014, 2:00pm – 5:00pm : £15/£10 concessions – book tickets here. Join in the fun for their Big Draw Family Day : Workshops will run from 11 am to 1 pm, and 2 pm to 5 pm – no booking necessary, just show your admission ticket to the workshop leader and get stuck in!

Levi Pinfold : Somerset House

image : Levi Pinfold 


IWM Workshops info ::
Inside the Horse : Tuesday 28 October – Wednesday 29 October, 3 – 4pm : Ages 4+ £10 : Join Jimmy Grimes, Associate Puppetry Director for the international blockbuster War Horse, as he demonstrates how the horses work and how the show was developed. Joey, the life-size horse puppet, will meet visitors after the event.
In Conversation with Rae Smith :Tuesday 28 October – Wednesday 29 October, 12 – 1pm : Ages 4 and up £10 :Rae Smith, Tony Award-winning designer of War Horse, talks about her creative approach to the story and how IWM inspired her original designs.
First World War in Children’s Literature :Monday 27 October, 12 – 1pm and 3 – 4pm :Ages 4 and up £7 :Join three renowned writers as they discuss the impact of and their approach to the First World War in children’s literature, fact and fiction.
Martin Brown Draws the First World War : Sunday 26 October, 12 – 1pm and 3 – 4pm : Ages 4 and up £7 : Brush up on your art skills and hear some of the First World War stories that inspired illustrator Martin Brown’s Horrible Histories®: Terrible Trenches.
Poppy Field : Saturday 25 October – Sunday 2 November, 11am – 5pm : Free drop-in family activity : Make your own paper poppy and plant it in our Poppy Field to remember those, past and present, who gave their lives to protect their country
BFI Workshops Info ::
Mon 27 October 10:00 – 16:00 The Invisible Man – Now you see him, now you don’t!
Filmmaking workshop and screening
Using film techniques, we’ll be recreating all the horror and amazement of ‘tales of an invisible man’ including objects that move all by themselves! Starting with drama games and scripting, there will be plenty of scope to develop films that will truly make your hair stand on end!
Workshop from 10:00 – 14:30 Screening of the Invisible Man from 14:30 – 16:00
Please bring a packed lunch
For 8 – 14 year olds (children work in age appropriate groups)
Parents leave their children with us for the duration
Tues 28 October 10:00 – 16:00 The Black Hole … a sci-fi adventure!
Filmmaking workshop and screening
Mixing live action with stop-motion animation, this workshop will definitely challenge the most creative of young filmmakers … lots of acting and dressing up fun promised and non-stop action guaranteed!
Workshop from 10:00 – 14:30
Screening of The Black Hole from 14:30 – 16:00
For 8- 4 year olds (children work in age appropriate groups)
Please bring a packed lunch Parents leave their children with us for the duration
Weds 29 October 12:30 – 16:00 Sci-fi Messy Time!
Filmmaking workshop and screening – ET. the Extra Terrestrial (U)
Come and make your very own spaceship and alien or robot to take home, plus you can make a stop motion animation starring your very own alien, spaceman and rockets! We’ll also be making a large space canvas … so lot’s of fun to be had!
Workshop from 12.30 – 14:00 14:00 – 14:30 BREAK Screening of ET from 14:30 – 16:15
You can bring a packed lunch or there are places to eat in our building or nearby
For children 0 – 7 years Parents must stay with their children
Please note: animations can be filmed onto mobile devices or bring a memory stick to take them away – we cannot send them after the workshop
Thurs 30 October – no workshop The Invisible Man NFT3 14:30
Fri 31 October 10:00 – 16:00 Silly sci-fi slapstick! Filmmaking workshop and screening (The Black Hole)
Is it possible to make a silly sci-fi movie? One that is a little bit scary but also very, very funny? We think so! This workshop will provide all the tools to script a hilarious sci-fi spoof and have a laugh a minute while doing it!
Workshop from 10:00 – 14:30 Screening of The Black Hole from 14:30 – 16:00
Please bring a packed lunch
Bring a packed lunch
For 8 – 14 year olds (children work in age appropriate groups)
Parents leave their children with us for the duration
Email if you have any specific queries such as access/ disability/ allergies/ special needs
Bookings only via box office on 020 7928 3232 from 11am – 20.00 each day
All tutors are certificated
Saatchi Gallery
Monday 27th October: Manga Master Class
Manga expert Samuele Falzone will be running his popular master class in creating Manga drawings. Participants will learn about the history of Japanese comics before developing their own characters and storyboards.
For ages 7+
Drop In
11am – 1pm and 1pm – 3pm
£5 per participant
Tuesday 28th October: Pangaea, Free Family Day
Graffiti, collage, printing and painting, come and join us for our final Pangaea workshops.
All ages
Drop in 10.30am – 3pm
Wednesday 29th October: Manga Master Class
Manga expert Samuele Falzone will be running his popular master class in creating Manga drawings. Participants will learn about the history of Japanese comics before developing their own characters and storyboards.
For ages 7+
Drop In
11am – 1pm and 1pm – 3pm
£5 per participant
Thursday 30th October: Animation Studios
Learn how to make stop-motion videos like a pro. Discover 2D and 3D techniques with character design, cutout puppets, and speech bubbles. From storyboarding to the editing suite, you’ll learn everything you need to know on this workshop master class with animator and author Helen Piercy. This workshop is a fantastic opportunity to really learn the fundamentals of animation. Click here to learn more about Animation Studio
Ages 7 – 12
11am – 1pm
£8.50 per participant
Limited places, booking required. Please book here

5 Best Creative Summer Holiday Camps for London Kids

Kids rubbings workshop, RIBA, 6th August 2013

RIBA : Holiday Workshops


All workshops are inspired by the RIBA Stirling Prize, the world’s most significant award for architecture, and are led by professional educators. Materials included in the cost of the workshop unless otherwise indicated.Presenting…the Starling Prize! Beehives, birds’ nests, rabbit warrens, spider webs and ant hills – animals are great architects. Explore the architecture of different animals in a series of challenges before taking on a design-and-build challenge of your own!

Design Quest workshops for 7-11 year olds are taking place from Monday 4 to Friday 8 August 2014. £30 children, £20 concessions.

fimo workshop

Fun with Fimo Clay

Clare McKnight is a professional Staedtler UK demonstrator (who manufacture FIMO). She runs fun and creative sessions, which are fully supervised and non messy (CRB Checked). Recommended for age 6+. Workshops take place in  home in Acton, West London, morning refreshments are provided, but remember your lunchbox.  Just incase you wondered, when Claire is not teaching or working on new projects, she takes care of her family and enjoys feeding her 15 chickens, caring for their 60,000 bees and growing all her own vegetables!

Dates : Fri 25th July Snoopy & Woodstock go camping : Mon 1st Sept. Pretty & useful jars, boxes and bowls : Tues 2nd Sept. Sylvanian Family Characters. Prices : All sessions run from 10.15 to 4.15 and cost £50 each.

fine art for kids

Dulwich Picture Gallery

A fantastic range of holiday workshops from their practical art for young people project. Choose from 8-9 August Gallery Gardeners: Base Camp and Beyond : 22-23 August Summer Sculpture Lab: Build and Experiment : 26 August August Bank Holiday Family Drop-In – Mini Masterpiece : 7, 14, 21 and 28 August Art in the Garden. A wonderful location, great range of workshops for all ages, and great prices too.


MIni Monets UK

This year Summer camp will take place in 2 different venues. The waterside Studio at the Red house in Harefield and the new larger venue in Malthouse Sq. in Beaconsfield Old Town. August 11th – 15th Harefield 10- 3 pm. (FULL) August 18th-22nd Beaconsfield (Limited)
25th – 29th 11 – 4 pm in Beaconsfield (limited) £45/day, £195/week, Discounts for siblings and multiple weeks. £8 for early drop off or late pick up.

dulwich picture gallery

Fine Art 4 Kids

FineArt4Kids are dedicated to teaching children all aspects of fine art using the influences and techniques of the great masters. Their creative and educational lessons will teach your child about a range of skills, materials & artists in a fun and safe environment. The holiday workshop runs for 2 hours and there will be a break of 10 minutes for a snack and drink. The object that they complete will be ready to take home the same day! All tasty snacks and drinks are provided. Two Hours per day: 10 -12. £15.00 per day. At the end of the session, all children will learn, about the artist & How to use the materials & how to produce an image or object & personal achievements of their own in terms of confidence, ability as well as many others!

Locations : Bricket Wood / Chorleywood/ Crouch End/ Crouch End – Highgate/ Hampstead/ Harpenden/ Kingslangley/ Rickmansworth/ Radlett/ St Albans/ Stoke Newington/ Watford

49 Things to Do with the Kids this Summer



1. Take a picnic : Explore one of the secret gardens in London, take a sketch book and some pencils, and collect as many different shaped leaves that you can. If you need a ‘warm-up’ exercise take a look at my favourite MrPrintables site for craft inspiration. Oh! and we wouldn’t be without our yumbox on our picnic these days, so let the kids fill their own boxes, and you’ll find they eat everything on the bus before you get there, and they say “what’s for lunch?!”.

2. Geeks are great : Book your kids onto one of the brilliant science camps this summer, let them find out the answers themselves to all those brilliant questions such as Why is the Sky Blue? Where does all the rain go? and why do I have to make my bed (ok, maybe not this one, but at least they might get used to working things out for themselves…!)

3. Nature not nurture : Let your kids get grubby, and find out more about their local eco-system. There is so much going on right outside their window that they might not realise, and now is the best time of the year to find out what. Sign up to a local nature club, the Woodland Trust Nature Detectives club, or go on a woodland walk and breath!

4. Summer of High Streets Fun : London’s high streets will come alive with pop-up cinemas, street markets, fashion shows, dance, music, food festivals and more! Check out what is happening near you here.

5. Cook up a Storm : Give your kids free reign to make all the meals for one day. Let them write out the menu, the shopping list, the recipe cards, the place cards, decorate the table, and make the salads, and homemade pizzas! They will not only learn and appreciate all the work it takes to get dinner on the table every night, but also enjoy the independence, and learn more about their GCSE maths in this one day, than they will all of their Year 3!

5a. If you want the kids to take a taster workshop to get them excited for their stormy cooking day, book in for the Mr Men icing session (£15, 15 July, 2-5pm) at Biscuiteers cafe in Notting Hill. Each child will receive all the decorations and icing to create three Mr Men themed biscuits, as well as Mr Men storytelling and face-painting.

6. Crafty Crufts at The LIttle Angel Theatre will help you make your own pet dog puppet in their summer workshop. For ages 5-11 on Thursday 7 August, or Thursday 28 August.

7. Pop Up and over to the Momma Loves & Carousel Show Un-Birthday Party in Covent Garden on Saturday 19th July  at 17 Floral Street, WC2E 9DH. Rsvp : KIRSTI@MOMMALOVES.NET X

8. Love your local Lido. Grab your swimmers, and join the brave crew that swim daily at 0630 in that fresh fresh water. These buildings are beautiful every day of the year, but when the sun is shining on the victorian tiles, and the water is glistening there is probably no better place to spend a morning during the Summer.

9. Sir John Soane’s museum wants you. Born in 1753, the son of a bricklayer, Soane died in 1837 after a long and distinguished career. He designed 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields as his home and as a setting for his antiquities and works of art. After his wife’s death he lived here alone, constantly adding to and rearranging his collections. He established the house as a museum by Act of Parliament (1833) requiring that his romantic and poetic interiors be kept as they were at the time of his death.

10. Festival of Love, Southbank : Between Saturday 28 June 2014 – Sunday 31 August 2014, The Southbank Centre brings together hundreds of artists, communities and partners to create its Festival of Love. The festival celebrates the Same Sex Couple Act, hosts an exciting programme of free events, differently- themed weekends, performances, poetry, talks and pop-ups. It’s worth just wandering by the Thames-side site which is also being transformed by several large-scale indoor and outdoor installations and artworks

11. West End Theatre : Jazz hands at the ready : Purchase half price and discount London theatre shows at theatre lands famous discount ticket booth in Leicester Square. Originally founded in 1980 as The Half Price Ticket booth, TKTS is located at the centre of Leicester Square in the Clock tower building and provides a one-stop ticket shop for West End Theatre.

12. Cooking Lessons : Cook up a storm, and your tomato sauce and allow your kids to improve their cooking skills at a course in town, there is a fantastic selection read my earlier post on cookery courses here.

13. Cartoon Museum Workshops : Create a Beano Cover, or improve your Manga style at The Cartoon Museum : Summer Workshops for kids : starting 28 July and run throughout August : Ages 8+ : Check times/ prices online above.

14. Exhibition at The Tate, St Ives : When you’re down West in Cornwall, make a visit to the exhibition The Modern Lens : International Photography and the Tate collection : Ends 10 May 2015 : Pioneering artists from across Europe, the Americas and Japan will be shown at Tate St Ives for the first time in The Modern Lens. Tate St Ives : Adult £7.00, Concession £4.50; free to 18s and under and Members Open daily 10.00 – 17.20 : For public information print +44 (0)1736 796226 | | Twitter @tate_stives

15. Open Air Theatre : Learn the words to Summertime, and enjoy the stunning location of one of London’s Royal Parks watching The Gershwins Porgy & Bess : Regents Park Open Air Theatre : Runs 17 July 2014 – 23 August 2014 : Tickets £25 for under 18’s, book online above.

16. Kidsweek Theatre Week, London : These include half price and free tickets for kids’ theatre shows this August (mainly in the West End). One child goes free for every adult ticket bought. There are loads of behind-the-scenes events including workshops with the crew, back stage tours and singing workshops, and all are absolutely free. Booking started on June 17th at 10am.

17. Tate Modern & Tate Britain : From Thursdays through to Sundays throughout the summer holidays experience the Tate through a Sonic Trail created by Sound Artists. Visit the “Families Welcome” spaces to pick up your trail kit. (This recommended for children of age 7 and up). From the 24th of July at Tate Modern, The Family Gallery brings Matisse’s cut-outs to life through specially commissioned sound, animation and sculptural work. You can also talk part in Colour Walk, an activity that explores the tones of colour that Matisse used in his work. If you’re nearer to the Tate St Ives and Barbara Hepworth Museum then take the “I Spy Challenge” and use picture clues to spy artworks on display. Prizes are available if children complete the challenge.

18. National Trust Days Out : Visit any of the endless National Trust houses, castles or majestic gardens. Make sure you check out their Activity List of 50 Things To Do before you leave home. For 5000 acres of unspoiled Chiltern countryside, try the Ashridge Estate in Berkhamstead, Bucks. There you can choose to explore any number of trails and woodland walks. There are lots of specially organised family events, too. If you feel like a taste of France without the journey, try Waddesdon Manor near Aylesbury in Bucks. It is a 19th century chateau built by Baron Rothschild, which houses an impressive personal art collection and has a lovely restaurant, shop and gardens – a little slice of fairytale life for all your Princes and Princesses.

19. Party hard at The Little Angel Theatre Summer Party on Sunday 7 September between 1-5pm.

20. BBC Proms to sing-a-long with CBeebies : Book one of the many BBC Proms family events this summer. The Proms bring together acclaimed artists and great music at London’s Royal Albert Hall in Kensington. There are both ticketed and free events and there is even the dedicated CBeebies Prom on Sunday 27th of July at 11am. (Please see their website for the full schedule and all booking information).

21. Imperial War Museum re-opens : Celebrate the 2014 centenary of World War 1 by paying a visit to the Imperial War Museum, which reopens on the 19th of July after a much-anticipated transformative building project. The museum will now feature a huge new atrium that will house iconic objects from across their collections, and there will also be a moving, brand new First World War Gallery space to view. The First World War Centenary Partnership will last for four years from 2014 – 2018, and this huge project, which is led by the Imperial War Museums will be running a wide range of events across the UK.

22. Family Festivals : Festivalkidz have lots of advice and tips for first timers. They have an A to Z directory of the many festivals on offer, and posts on how to survive at festivals, what to pack for the potential wet weather, the range of food available, baby changing facilities, the size of each festival, and more. I recommend that if your little ones are under 4 years of age that you first try out a day pass and then embark on the full camping experience (complete with noise) when you feel ready.

23. Become an author, and start your own book. Take inspiration from the brilliant Booktrusts website, which offers tips from authors, games, advice and book lists for those that are restocking their library.

24. Go Asian, and eat dim sum in one of London’s many dim sum and chinese restaurants. Small parcels of chicken feet never tasted so good.

25. Rambling is cool : There are endless stunning walks around our beautiful countryside. There is little better medicine than leaving your car behind, turning off the phone, and packing your bag with treats for a glorious walk across the Chilterns, the Lake District, or even Hampstead Heath in North London. The National Trust have a guide to 10 best family walks around the UK or, if you’re ‘with buggy’ you should check out the Walks With Buggies blog, that offers tested walks across the UK. Walking Britain is a fantastic free resource for walkers covering the nation.

26. Watch a Studio Ghibli movie : All kids love these films, and for those that are totally enchanted and drawn into the world of Director Hayao Miyazaki (know to many as Japans’ Walt Disney), take yourself down to Forbidden Planet and buy a plush Totoro keyring.

27. Garden Camping :  A great way to spend a day with the kids is to book in a whole 24 hours when you all live in your tent as a family. Each of you can take one bag full of whatever you need (apart from a picnic basket from the kitchen fairies), and cuddle up together, telling each other stories, drawing pictures (no iPads allowed), and playing cards. If Dad likes to ‘be prepared’ he can have a read of the Camping with Kids “Love the Outdoors” website, which has the best camping checklist and scavenger hunt ideas. For those that get the bug, you could order the Cool Camping Guide book to plan your next trip away (not forgetting your duvet and hand sanitizer, of course).

28. Kids and playgrounds rule. Jump on the bus, and spend the whole day at a playground. Don’t leave until the kids are begging you to, until they have climbed every step, met every child, jumped across every block, just allow them to take control of what time you leave for a change. One night of beans on toast when you get home, and no bath never hurt anyone.

29. Rain Play Time : The team from The Wild Weather Book have lots of ideas on how to keep yourselves entertained during the rain, wind and even snow-filled days. These range from making wind flags and flying creatures, playing stuck in the mud, creating a wormery, making a water run, and catching raindrops. What could be more fun than that?

30. Pick Your Own : One of the best days out that we ever had, which has never been forgotten by my girls, was picking our own fruit at our local farm. Although there weren’t many blackberries or raspberries left, and I was hoodwinked into buying the most expensive local honey ever, my girls and I enjoyed the fresh air, hunting down healthy runner beans, and the excitement of eating the very freshest strawberries. You can find your nearest pick your own farm in the UK on this website.

31.Plan ahead, and book a children’s trip to the theatre for the whole family. We are spoilt for choice with some of the best theatre production teams globally, and if ever there was a reason to support the Arts, then this is one of the best places to start.

32. Get planning a house swap for your next holiday. Save money on rental fees, time on searching out the best properties, and just lock your valuables away, and enjoy a holiday home from home.

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33. Grab your sword, and take a day trip complete with armour, 4 roast chickens, and a flask of mead to your nearest English Heritage palace, castle or park.

34. Playing on the beach, has to be one of everyone’s top 5 ever best things to do ever! Grab your jelly-shoes, sun hat, and get instagramming your kids holding as many weird pieces of seaweed, massive stones and crab legs on one of our well cared for beaches. For ideas click on the link.

35. Free Food, yes really! Treat the kids to some free food (click on the link for the 5 Best Eat free post) and fine dining in London, and buy yourself another drink and celebrate your savings!

36. Take a family trail around The Barbican. You are spoilt for choice here, with the wonderful scooting, playing and spacious surrounds of the Barbican to play in. Then walk over the footway to The Museum of London, grab a Benugo coffee and pick 3 facts about historic London to impress your Grandma with.

37. Spend your pocket money, and support one of the brilliant British kids magazines. If you want to get familiar with the content, take a look at their websites, they have fantastic games, films and also sell great books, and other creative gifts for all ages.

38. Make your own flowers for Auntie Ivy. They will last forever, and you will never want to throw the Sunday papers away again.

39. If you need a craft holiday book for the whole family, how about the brilliant paper-toy book? It is a hit with our Super-hero Dad, and the kids can spend a while (under supervision) crafting families of sweet monsters together.

40. Fish and Chips are nutritious when you eat them on holiday only. Get yourself down to Whitstable on the super fast train out of St Pancras, and wander past the sweet traditional shops on the high street, grab a beer, and catch a crab or two.

41. Take the kids for lunch on a scooter at Camden Market. You name it and you can find it in the world of global cuisine, and crazy take-away food at the Market. Choose from famous residents Honest Burgers and Big Apple Hot Dogs, plus, Global Kitchen favourites Circus Brothers and Fresh Vietnamese. There is also free football and table tennis, and if you stay late enough (ahem bed time please) then the DJ’s get to the decks…

42. Fancy a dig? On 29 July, Enjoy the Family Day: Festival of British Archaeology & Bones in the Basement at the Benjamin Franklin House.
Children will explore the House’s fascinating archaeological history.

43. Watch This Space will you please?  Between 27 June – 31 August 2014 this summer, the Watch This Space Festival packs its bags and heads out on tour, taking some of the best free outdoor entertainment right onto our neighbours’ doorsteps, in and around Lambeth and Southwark. Check the schedules for various wild and wonderful events.

44. Get down to the Horniman Museum in Dulwich, either just for a day out to visit the art, exhibitions and gardens, or if you’re going on a weekend check online as they run food markets, festivals, craft drop ins, dance classes, no wonder they keep winning awards and is known as the best family friendly museum in town.

45. Grab your National Trust hat, and make it your mission to visit 3 of their amazing places of inspiration around London in 2014. Choose from Cliveden for a stunning location on the way out on the M4 (many film’s are shot here), Red House for design lovers, and 2 Willow Road for budding architects in Hampstead.

46. Have tea with the Queen, and if she’s not in, just see if she’s around in her onesie anyway! Royal London is where it’s at. Well that’s what millions of tourists think anyway.

47. For the perfect picnic spot, jump on the super quick train from Kings Cross to Hatfield, for a day out at Hatfield House. It’s up there in our top 5 days out ever list, and that’s not even mentioning the farm, tractor rides, amaze balls play ground, acres of green grass, posh house and rather nice cafe to grab a cuppa.

48. Walk in a straight line (or scoot, if you’re sensible) the 5k (3 miles) through the Royal Parks, and never put step on a London street. You start at St James, through Green Park, Hyde Park and finish up at Kensington Gardens for pirate action and pizza as a reward.

49. Teach the kids to haggle, at one of London’s rocking street markets. Choose from farmers markets, fashion, furniture/flea, and Columbia Road’s popular flower market (Sundays).  I like Chapel Market (Islington) for ease, it’s compact, and stalls sell vintage china, clothes, books and pictures, and Portobello for lunch with the girls, and the kids can grab cupcakes at the Hummingbird Bakery. Time Out London have kindly put together a market calendar for us all, so we can check what happens on what days. Don’t forget to keep your bag zipped up, and put your mobile number on their arm… and make sure you grab a bargain.

5 Best Kids Cooking Courses in London

Ok, let’s get this straight I totally believe that a way to a child’s heart is to feed and teach them how to cook the way we cook at home. This is because I know that above everything, all kids really really want is to spend time with you. I have also worked out that they also like to learn stuff (especially if it is a grown up skill, think spending their own money at the shop, cooking anything on the hob, a constant fascination with keys and opening doors, and then eventually learning to drive !!), and learning to cook is one of those rather important skills that will take you a long way.

So from someone who is a terrible cook, given the chance, I would happily spend a few hours down at Billingsgate learning how to gut a prawn with my kids or learning how to cook the perfect ragu, as a few hours doing this could possibly cost as much as a family ticket to see Frozen 2. Here is a quick round up of some schools and clubs that offer courses, parties, and holiday clubs. Oh! don’t forget to take a look at my post about where kids eat for free in town here.

cooking kids 1

1. The Kids Cookery School (Acton)

This school is a charity that offers classes, longer workshops, cookery lessons via their mobile school, and birthday parties. They support outreach programs and an assisted places scheme for those families on benefits. Through practical lessons the students learn about basic nutrition, how to prepare healthy and tasty dishes from fresh ingredients and to cook in safe and hygienic way. They develop social skills, as students become more independent, work together and learn about other cultures though food.

They have purpose-built teaching kitchens in Acton, where the majority of our practical cookery projects take place. They welcome students with special needs (physical, learning or behavioural), as their premises are fully wheelchair accessible.

Classes are split by age, 3-4yrs, 5-7yrs, 8-10 yrs and 11 to 14+yrs. Workshops are priced at £32 a session and run for 2 hours 30 minutes. Classes are priced at £17 a session and run for 1 hour 15 minutes. Check the site here for the latest event schedule.

2. Cookie Crumbles (SW & Central London)

This friendly company run parent and child courses from locations around South West London, mainly in Eddie Catz, Putney. They also offer bespoke (2 hr) birthday parties for up to 35 children, and if you don’t fancy the mess at home, they can host parties in their studios in Kensington, East Sheen or the Intercontinental Hotel in Park lane, London W1. Prices here.

The lessons sound great fun as an introduction, or fun treat. Choose from ‘Cakes around the World’ £25 (2hr), Little Chocolate Factory Workshop’ £25, Toddler Chocolate Cooking class £13 (1hr) or American Cupcakes & Milkshakes £25 (2hr). If you are heading South, then book in for a fun session at one of the workshops in Putney or Wimbledon, and check here for other events.

cooking 2

3. Recipease (South & West London)

With restaurants in Notting Hill, Clapham, and Brighton, they offer a wide range of adult courses covering all options from sushi making to fish filleting. Kids can choose from Pizza Making (Age 12+), Chocolate truffle (7-11yrs), Filled pasta (7-11yrs), Focaccia (7 – 11yrs), Thai green curry (12-16 year olds) Risotto (12-16 yrs), Pancakes (7-11yrs), Pasta master (7-11yrs) but double check what lessons are available at which centres first, before your protege get’s set on becoming a pancake chef.

They also offer birthday parties, and class prices range from £15-20, and last 1.5 hours. Note, children must be accompanied by an adult for classes, although two kids can have one parent with them.

4. Billingsgate Seafood School (City)

One for the more adventurous, chef-kids we know. Here you earn how to prepare various fresh fish and shellfish in the environs of the famous Docklands fish market. Some dishes are enjoyed with drinks for lunch, some taken home. 9:30am to 2:00pm approx, £120

5. Cafe Caldesi (Marylebone)

Children cook a two-course meal at London’s only Italian cookery school, in Marylebone. 10.30 to 1pm. £45.Help to spark your children’s interest in healthy food and cooking by bringing them to our Italian mama’s cookery course. We will teach your children a selection of seasonal Italian dishes to create a tasty 2 course menu of both savoury and sweet dishes, all packed into 21/2hours! This a fun, hands-on cookery class, where everyone has the chance to be involved and to taste what they have made as well as take foodie bites home. If you come to collect your children early, you may even get to taste some of what they have made. This course is aimed at 6 – 12 yr olds.


If you and your little ones have been to other local cookery schools, after school clubs, or courses please share the love and leave a comment below, it’s great to have your personal recommendations — PLEASE let me know about courses across the UK too, we’re not exclusive to London. xo

A little more reading :

Chef Mark Dodson’s advice for Cooking with Kids Children’s Food Trust, (previously named the School Food Trust), was awarded Big Lottery funding in 2007 to set up and support the first 5,000 Let’s Get Cooking school-based cooking clubs for children and their families. Let’s Get Cooking is now the largest national network of healthy cooking clubs in the country.The Kids Kitchen (Whetstone N20)

Kiddycook website, courses in London and around the UK

Read about the Out To Lunch campaign here.

The Fun Food Academy, North London and Chichester

The Fun Food Academy was established in 1998 and has since cooked with more than 2,000 4-11 year olds in and around London. As the name suggests, culinary thrills and spills include games and taste tests, two-hour cooking parties with foodie magic tricks and primary school sessions on themes such as the Ancient Greeks, Victorians, Aztecs and Egyptians. Workshops are an impressive six hours long and offer good value at between £20 – £25 per child.


They offer kids cooking classes during school holidays. Such a fun activity for kids to get their hands in the kitchen and make yummy Italian favourites like focaccia or gnocchi. Aimed at children 6 to 12 years-old, the classes cost £15 pounds, and include a drink and dessert.

Kids in the Kitchen class : L’atalier des Chefs school : Wigmore Street, W1
Our one hour kids classes are a great way to introduce your children to the joys of cooking. Our chefs will really help them to flourish in the kitchen. We have created fantastic recipes designed to appeal to young tastebuds that are healthy, easy to prepare and, most importantly, delicious! They’ll learn to make recipes including homemade fish fingers and proper mushy peas. Each one hour class will also include a tasty dessert such as banana pancakes, chocolate mousse or classic chocolate brownies. Children’s cooking classes run during the school holidays and are open to children aged between 7 and 14.

MunchkinsKids Cooking, Blackheath, London

Munchkins Kids Cooking offer summer holiday workshops for kids age 4-11, inviting children to have fun and make a mess! With appealing titles such as ‘Food from the stories of Roald Dahl’ and ‘Cooking the Rainbow’, classes are themed over the course of a week but individual days can be bought separately. Held at the brand new Blackheath Cooks shop and school, there are additional after-school classes for teens and ‘munchkins’, which are all very hands-on and offer technical tuition in the making of sushi rolls and lamb koftas. Also on offer are cookery workshops held at primary and secondary schools across London and the South East : After school clubs are £190 and Summer Holiday workshops are £42 per day

Daisy Cakes : Baking workshops : West London

Come and bake with DaisyCakes – Easter Holiday Workshops. Workshops are £18.00 per child and this includes everything. The workshops take place at my home in Chiswick, places are limited to 6 so please book early to avoid disappointment.

Gill Roberts Cookery Workshops (North London : Hampstead Gdn Suburb)

£50 for one day : Come and join Gill for a one or two day cookery course In May Half Term (2013) to develop your basic cookery skills, knowledge of healthy eating and make cooking fun! Cook a range of food like :  Minestroni Soup : Home made Pasta with a Tomato Sauce & Parmesan : Stuffed Jacket Potatoes : Filo Scunchies : Shaped Bread Rolls, then to take Home… Toffee Apple Flapjacks : Fruity Turnovers
Italian Mama’s Cookery Club : La Cucina Caldesi Shop : Marylebone


5 Best Science Clubs in London


1. The Royal Institution (Ages 7 – 18)

The RI in Mayfair (Green Park is 5 mins away), is a charity with a clear mission that is set on ‘encouraging people to think further about the wonders and applications of science’. Home to the famous Christmas Lectures, The Faraday Museum and the L’Oreal Young Scientist Centre.

They host family fun days about 3/4 times a year (usually in half terms between 11am-4pm), and we can’t recommend them highly enough. You get full access to the whole building, and the activities are well thought out for kids to be able to drop in and out of, and each station has an educator present, ready to help the kids, answer any questions, and mainly have a bit of fun with the science games. The tickets are priced around £14 for adults, and £7 for kids and they advise the event is for kids aged 8-12, but everyone is welcome (check online at the time of booking).


Each Summer they run a line up of workshops for 3 age groups. You can see the latest Summer ’17 brochure online here.

I can’t think of a better place for our clever-clog children to be inspired about science and maths, and advise that you get online now, as the places are filling up fast. FYI, for some fun prep over the holidays, take a look at the interactive games online here.

A selection of the courses: Week Long Summer School for 16-18 yrs or Week Long Summer school for 13-15 yrs, or Summer school workshop for 7-10 yrs. Sign up to their email alerts, and find out what’s coming up here. If you want to take care of your bookings for you, just drop me aline, or check out the site over here.


2. Mad Science Group (Ages 4-11)

Founded in Canada by 2 brothers at their local YMCA, this global company (with franchises) believe that teaching science invites children to pursue their interest and, ultimately, a career in science – thus, helping to preserve our very special and cherished scientific heritage.

As well as across the UK, they operate in the following locations across the South East : Islington, Wimbledon, Ealing, Finchley, Harrow, Putney, Isleworth, Highgate, Hillingdon, Hampstead. The website isn’t that easy to navigate, and you need to contact the local organiser directly for more information, though we like that their priority seems to be a learning through play, so on this premise, and with their more localised camp centres, keep the site on your bookmark list.

Normal Costs: £35 per child per day Week Rate: £160 per child/week (5 days) or £128 per child/week (4 days) GROUP BOOKING DISCOUNT: Book and pay for 5 or more children for the same day and each child comes along for £28 per day!

Times: daily 10am-3pm (please bring a packed lunch and drink: Online Booking: By phone – 0208 832 7447 : By email –


3. Fun Tech Summer Camps (ages 6-18)

The founding partners of FunTech are Philip and Sheineez Barber. They run a range of tech day and residential courses covering all manner of tech skills, including Robotz, 3D Game X, Minecraft Redstone, Java Coder, Code Breakers, Minecraft Mods, 3D Digital Modelling & Animation, FunTyper Intensive, Game Pro, Ultimate IT, Creative IT, Advanced IT, Animation, FunTyper, Essentials

The courses are located across the South East, in Maidenhead, Richmond, Elstree, Hampstead, Northwood, Tunbridge Wells, Oxford, Tonbridge (Residential) & Reading. More information online.

bees science

4. Mother Nature Science (Ages 5-12)

Mother Nature Science Holiday Camps (5-12 years) run twice yearly during the Summer and Easter Holidays  (but not during half-term breaks). Our Scientists will ensure your children ‘get ahead in science’ this holidays with action packed programmes of hands-on activities exploring a spectacular array of scientific themes and topics. Every day is filled with science experiments to make & take home.

Prices : £225 per child per week (5 days)

Paul Wilkinson Photography Ltd.
Paul Wilkinson Photography Ltd.

5. Little House of Science (Ages 3-8)

Set up by three ladies who love kids, their aim is to offer a foundation for youngsters to answer their own questions about the world we live in and they like to think of themselves as creating or fostering the spark for the next generation of scientists.

They offer weekly science workshops for younger kids in Chelsea, High Street Kensington, South Kensington, Notting Hill and Marylebone. Sessions include interactive talks and experiments, topics set on learning about Life, Earth, Space, Motion, Gravity and the influential scientists Galileo and Newton. Each session will offer a take home project and parent/ carer notes too. During term time classes run from Monday to Friday at 3/4/5pm and on Saturdays at 3pm. They also offer science parties.

It doesn’t stop there, here are more suggestions for ways to get kids into Science…

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To read up on science, geography and interesting facts in the ‘Kids magazines’ post here and here. I am a huge fan of Okido and Anorak magazines for inspiring these subjects in a fun and entertaining way through brilliant illustration and writing. Also, the brilliant MiniEco blog from Kate Lilley is another fun resource for DIY crafts. Your kids can enjoy great online games from some of these kids websites, or you could invest in her book full of crafts for the Summer.

Every child loves a day out at The Natural History Museum or The Science Museum, the BBCLearning website is a great resource and has online courses, curriculum based activities, and lots more and no child in the land should be content without knowing how to code, so enroll on some coding courses at Codasign, and read about a truly inspiring young lady here.

Note: Photos courtesy of the RI

5 Best Nature Clubs in London

1. London Natural History Society

They have been observing and recording the wildlife and plant life of the London area, within a 20mile radius of St Paul’s Cathedral, since 1858. By becoming a member, you will enjoy field meetings in and around London, illustrated talks by naturalists hearing about their latest discoveries, learn to identify nature in all its glory, monitor bird and butterfly populations, wild flower distributions and other areas, visit the society’s excellent Library at the Natural History Museum, and have access to the Members Forum. Membership is £20.

2. London Wildlife Trust

This is the site you go to if you want to find out more about your local nature reserve. London Wildlife Trust is part of The Wildlife Trusts, the largest UK voluntary organisation dedicated to conserving the full range of the UK’s habitats and species whether they be in the countryside, in cities or at sea. (There are 47 local Wildlife Trusts across the UK, the Isle of Man and Alderney.) They believe that Londoners have a right to access free, quality natural spaces in their local area, and will fight to maintain London as a critical home for wildlife. London’s wild plants and animals, and their habitats, are an essential part of the city and have a right to flourish. They manage over forty nature reserves across the capital, that cover a range of habitat types, including woodland, grassland and wetlands. Contact : London WildlifeTrust @WildLondon
‘Protecting London’s wildlife for the future. Love London, Love Nature’.

.3. Hampstead Heath Life Education & Visitors Centre

The Heath Life Education Centre covers all aspects of wild life, habitats, etc. in line with the National Curriculum. The centre is situated on the side of the Parliament Hill Lido. Open to the public on weekday afternoons. You will find stuffed animals, a life-size woodland jigsaw, and if in season even newts in a tank.

4. Wimbledon Common Nature Club

Discover more about the beauty of nature with Wimbledon Common Nature Club. Find out how to make a campfire and cook toasty things on it, go pond dipping and scavenger hunting, discover the secret life of honey bees and make leafy headdresses. They offer free workshops at the weekends, check the site, or better sign up for their email alerted. Feel free to tell me as well, incase I’ve not had time to catch up with their news.

5. Woodland Trusts : Nature Detectives Club

This is the kids club from the Woodland Trust, which is the UK’s leading charity devoted to (you guessed it) trees and woodland. Keep the website handy if you want to find the nearest woodland to you. The kids club is a truly excellent resource and place to be (online) if you are ever looking for inspiration and ideas. You can choose from spotter sheets, art sheets, puzzles, adventure booklets, leaf quiz, twig and blossom ID sheets, online games, colouring and fab fact sheets, mini beast activity sheets, woodland log books, printables, craft ideas to make at home, colouring sheets and more that we are leaving as a surprise! You can sign up as a family for a year (£48) or per child (£12). We are big fans.

Here are a few more suggestions for the really grubby, worm loving people you know…
London Bird Club
London Bird Club @LondonBirdClub
Recording birds in a 20 mile radius of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Bird news,…

AES – @amentsoc
The Amateur Entomologists’ Society (AES) is the UK’s leading…

RSPB Rainham Marshes
RSPB Rainham Marshes @RSPBRainham
RSPB Rainham Marshes is in Purfleet right on the doorstep of London….

Richard Jones
Richard Jones @bugmanjones
I’m very good at finding insects, in fact I am a professional. Recent…

5 Best London Drama & Music Summer Camps


1. West End In : Musical Theatre Workshops : (Various locations, London)

Summer courses : On each of the days apart from the last day your kids will work on one of the West Ends top shows: The Lion King, Matilda, Wicked, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (plus many more!) – learning songs, scenes and dances from the actual shows.We bring in the actual performers who have performed in these shows. West End stars who know the shows “inside out” and who will not only teach the shows, but share insights and stories about performing in the West End.

Prices : Cost £149 (Early Bird Ends 31st May) Normal Price: £199 for 5 days. Locations : Chelsea, Hampstead, Richmond. Performance on the final day.

holiday academy 1

2. Holiday Academy : (NW1, London) Ages 3+

Holiday Academy is a creative (and sporty) engaging children’s day-camp at Cavendish School, Camden, NW1. They run during every school holiday. Children are welcome from all schools 3-12 years. Music * Art * Drama * Sport. The kids can enrol on workshops for Drums, Ukelele, Street Dance, Gymnastics club, Language clubs, Football, Tennis, Forest School, Science experiments, Cold Cooking, Building dens. They will also arrange music or sport tuition for 1:1 or 1:2 sessions for singing, instruments, sport.

Prices : start from £25, call or check online for more details.


3. Pineapple Performing Arts School (Central London) Ages 8+

Musical Theatre & Street Dance (Ages 8+) : Two intensive courses each lasting 5 days, both courses include a certificate, a t-shirt and a performance at the end of the week for all students! Musical Theatre students take part in a demonstration held at Pineapple Dance Studios plus a visit to see a West End Show. Street Dance students get to perform all the routines they have been working on in a Street Dance Spectacular Showcase at the end of the week at The Shaw Theatre, in Central London.

Prices : Cost £235 per week for 5 full days : 10% Discount for more than one course : Age Groups
8 – 10 11-13 14-16


4. Guildhall School of Music & Drama : Summer School (Ages 12+)

One of the most respected music and drama schools in the UK, Guildhall run a wide range of courses for the older age children who are dedicated to their performance arts. Applications for the courses at Summer School open in Spring each year and continue to be taken until shortly before the Summer School commences.

The courses range from :

  • Jazz Summer school (age 12+) and Advanced Jazz Summer school (Age 17+).
  • Drama Summer School (Age 18+) this course provides intensive training, adult content and the participants need to have high levels of maturity and life-experience, and be fluent in spoken English.
  • Essential Music Theory Summer School (Age 12+) with a working knowledge of reading treble and bass clefs (about ABRSM grade 1) with fluent spoken English.
  • Music Theory: Beyond Grade 5 Summer School (Age 16+) students must have passed, or be working at a level equivalent to, ABRSM Grade 5 Theory.
  • Creative Music Training Summer School (Age 18+)
  • A Cappella Choral Summer School (Age 16+) Participants are expected to have basic sight reading skills and Choral singing experience
  • Stage Lighting Skills Summer School (Age 17+)
  • Scenic Art Skills Summer School (Age 17+) Some art experience would be an advantage but is not necessary.
  • Prop Making Skills Summer School (Age 17+) Some art experience would be an advantage but is not necessary.

5. Sylvia Young Theatre School : (Central London)

Musical Theatre (Age 10+) : The musical theatre courses offer a truly hectic week of rehearsals where students will dance, act and sing in preparation for a studio style workshop performance on Saturday which parents are invited. The course is open to anyone aged 10-18 years. Students are grouped according to age and will present excerpts from musicals. Each group has a production team consisting of a Director, Musical Director and Choreographer.

Theatre Skills (Age 7+) : This fun filled busy five day course is open to anyone aged 7-18 years and offers a combined course of theatre skills covering: Drama/Audition Technique, Singing & Microphone Technique, Street Dance, Basic Circus Skills., On Monday students are introduced to the sessions listed above. From Tuesday students can choose to follow their groups set session or the additional optional classes in Singing/Drama & Jazz. These classes are included in the fee.

Prices : Weekly fees are £300 for 5 full days with a performance on the Saturday

Not to be missed…

Unicorn Theatre runs PLAY IN A WEEK : SUMMER WORKSHOP : 11 – 15 Aug, for ages 8 – 12

A fun yet intensive workshop week that’s perfect for young theatre lovers! Participants will work with a professional director to work on a new play while developing skills in voice, movement, character, improvisation, performing and script writing.

£300 per week (lunch included)

Share the love for music… if you know of any local or other courses running across the year, or holidays please leave me a comment, so we can let everyone know. xo


Q & A : Debra Franses Bean : Mini Monet Art School : Buckinghamshire


Tell us a little about you, your family, and where you live.

Its me, husband and one son aged 7. We live in Harefield a little village on the edge of London. We moved here for the house, a modernist glass studio on the Grand Union Canal. We would have lived in Primrose hill if we had a few Million but you cant beat a great home – you can always travel into Central London for the cultural buzz. The call of nature was stronger for me especially after living for many years in London, New York, Rome and other cities. We would have liked to have had more kids but we started really late as I wanted to have a career change. So at 32 after I got married and my husband encouraged me to apply to art school. Initially it was just a foundation, but then I applied and got a place at Central Saint Martins to study Fine Art – we decided to give it a shot. Its a big commitment as you really don’t earn money for a LONG time! 
Mini Monet -summercamp2014-Final-lowres-amended
How did you choose your career in Art, and can you tell us a little about the journey from school to Art College/ Further Education.

I always loved art, from as long as I can remember I wanted to be an artist. I grew up in the Thatcher years and girls were encouraged to pursue a more academic and business path. I first studied Economics and Politics at Manchester University which I never really felt comfortable with. I could have changed to History of Art but was worried that I would never get a job!!!  

your money or your life?-1
Can you tell us about what you gained from Art College, and who inspired you when you were there.

Art school taught me to fight for my own vision. I had a challenging time there with quite a lot of criticism as I was a mature student and already had quite a lot of life experience. Much of it commercial, media, advertising and I had traveled as a sales representative, spoke languages even was a door to door sales person for a few years in Italy and Spain.  I had a lot that I wanted to say but honestly was so excited to be there, with young vibrant people I loved every battle of every day and made the most of my time there.


Tell us a little about Mini Monet’s, and why you started it. 

When we lived in NYC I used to go several times a week to the children’s museum of art in Soho where me and my son could explore all manner of creative output from Animation to sculpture, painting, music and film. It was such an inspiring space to be in and when I returned to london I couldn’t find anything like it. 

I wanted to use my art school principals to educate children in a conceptual and free thinking way. I was also keen to make my lessons like a mini foundation course where children got to try all medias. I emphasise children not comparing themselves to others and taking pride in their own work. Its quite magical the relationships that I have been able to make with both boys and girls. I teach an autistic boy privately too and even use art therapy ideas to help the children to open up into their art. 

The most important thing is that I teach art as a visual language. This makes the children conscious of their choices and also helps them to dare to go further. Its so important to counterbalance the structured results driven culture in schools. I like to think that they are developing a creative spirit of approval with me and thats why the children and parents love it . Parents are amazed at the work that their children produce and how happy they are to be left with me for 5 hours a day! I have children coming from London and a 20 mile radius weekly for classes so I know that what I am offering is quite unique

I run holiday workshops all year round and have a regular crowd and more new people coming each holiday. Some start coming weekly to saturday school and others save their art for the holidays. The success of Mini Monets has been a great relief for my husband as I promised him that when we moved to my dream home with a glass studio in Harefield that I would set up a business there and give him some time out as a thank you for supporting my art career for 10 years whilst he worked. It has been going for almost a year and we are very happy with the results. He is helping me with my marketing and we plan to franchise the concept over the next year so watch this space!


Which are your favourite cultural/ creative places to take the kids?

The South Bank literary festival, West end theatre and ballet, The Natural History Museum in Tring we are also going to Paris in the springtime and I cant wait to show Newton, Monet’s water lilies in the Tuillerie Gardens. We are also going back again to Marrakech as the Medina there is such a buzz of colour, smell and entrepreneurial spirit its a real mind opener.


Which exhibitions are you most excited about at the moment ?

Paul Klee at Tate Modern, James Turell at Pace and David Hockney printmaker at the Dulwich Picture Gallery.

The BIll Gates Foundation is giving you a work of art for your birthday, what would you choose ?

Matisse’s Red Studio

Which 3 items are most essential in your art-kit?
sketch book, travelling water colour set & pencil
Where can you recommend is kid-friendly for lunch/ day out  ?

The Tate Modern – take a sketch book and pencils and let them sprawl out on the gallery floor
puff magiv
Which 3 children’s books are you most fond of ?

Good Night Moon, Puff the Magic Dragon and anything by Michael Morpogo.

What success, personal or business would you like to have achieved in the next 5 years ?

I would like to see my students thrive, publish and write a book on my teaching methods, make my own artwork to be able to take my own family holidays again having successfully franchised MiniMonets!!

Thank you so much Debra.




Q&A with Rosie Fuller, Freelance Museum Educator


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Tell us a little about you, your family, and where you live.

I live with my very naughty cat in Walthamstow.

How did you choose your career, and can you tell us a little about the journey from school to College/ Further Education.

When I was a teenager, I queued up for hours at The Museum of London for my turn to see the Spitalfields Roman. Simon Thurley was the museum’s director then, and he was there, enthusing wildly about how archaeology allows us glimpses into past peoples’ lives. He sold it to me.

I spent a few summer holidays on training excavations, laughing and heaving buckets about and doing my knees in. Then I went to Sheffield to study archaeology and prehistory. I worked as field archaeologist for a bit, and volunteered at my local museum, Kelham Island Museum and at Conisbrough Castle. I got a job at Jorvik Viking Centre, interacting with visitors and going into schools dressed up as a Viking. I loved it. So I went to Newcastle and came back with an MA in Heritage, Education and Interpretation.

I became an Education Officer at the Horniman Museum, and after a couple of years there I decided to mix it up and went freelance. I work at lots of museums around London, mostly with schools and families.

Can you tell us about what you gained from school, and who inspired you when you were there.

We had some fantastic history teachers at school. In fact one of my old history teachers came to a family workshop I was running at Museum of London recently. So the tables had turned, I was teaching him and his son. it amused him; it freaked me out a bit.

kew gardens

Which are your favourite London cultural/ creative places to visit?

Well, I can’t choose any of the places I work with because, of course, I don’t have favourites. So I choose:
The Festival Hall, Southbank Centre – it has a singing lift, The little Angel theatre, Islington, and Eastern Curve Garden and Kew Gardens, which has a museum, a palace, an aquarium, an art gallery, beautiful glasshouses and, you know, plants.

Which exhibitions are you most excited about at the moment ?

  1. Vikings at the British Museum
  2. Britian: one million years of the human story at NHM
  3. Hockney prints at Dulwich Picture Gallery
  4. Matisse Paper cuts at the Tate
  5. Martin Creed at the Hayward
  6. Jeremy Deller at the William Morris Gallery
  7. Sensing Spaces at the Royal Academy

Which art institutions and or industry people are you most impressed with, and why ?

Two pairs of people who have set up brilliant consultancies that I wish I had thought of:

Janet Clark and Lizzie Edwards, who have established The Ministry of Making to engage people with their local area through art, culture and heritage.

Kim and Edward Biddulph who have set up Schools Prehistory to provide schools and museums with the support many urgently need to teach the new Key Stage 2 history curriculum in England.

If you were in charge of the curriculum and had a decent amount of funding for a week, what would you change ?

The National Curriculum? Blimey, I’m not sure I would achieve much in a week! Best use of the funding, then, would be to buy all the teachers a cake.

The BIll Gates Foundation is giving you a work of art for your birthday, what would you choose ?

I would like a creation by one of the artists at Arthouse Meath, please, Bill. Preferably something with flamingoes on.

Which 3 children’s books are you most fond of ?

Stig of the Dump by Clive King is a book I remember very fondly from my own childhood. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle was a book I loved when I was little too, but it is also use it at work a lot too – it is very useful when teaching children about silk worms. Banana by Ed Vere is one of my favourite books to read with small children.

What treats are on your present list this year?

Laduree macarons please.

Which 3 items are most essential in your teaching craft box?

Come family workshop season, every school holiday, I could not survive without: Double sided tape, Pipe cleaners and Googly eyes.

You have a weekend off, (no shopping) just culture and a long lunches, where do you head ?

Yorkshire. More archaeology than you can shake a stick at, plus Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the Hepworth, Leeds Art Gallery.

We feel very spoilt to have so many fantastic free museums offering inspiring and family workshops in London, if you wanted to share a secret about a museum in London or the UK that is in your top 5, can you !?

There is a secret door in The British Museum’s enlightenment gallery, disguised as a bookcase.

Rosies Easter workshops List : 2014:(See Event Listing on home page)

  1. Children’s workshops at RIBA
  2. Mobile making at the Cutty Sark
  3. Story book making at the Museum of London and Museum of London Docklands Archaeology
  4. Q&As for families at the British Museum : Part of the family programme accompanying : The Vikings Exhibition

Contact Rosie Fuller : Twitter: @rosieeatsjam

What’s On At The Polka Theatre in Easter, 2014

polka 22Act, sing, dance, direct and create at Polka workshops over the holidays. Whatever you’re interested in, experience life behind the scenes of a real working theatre by creating work of your very own. There’s something for everyone, just take a look at what is on offer.

Please note that unless otherwise stated, children take part in workshops without their parents.

All workshops can be booked online here. Remember to bring a packed lunch with you for all day long events. Workshops cost between £10 to £30, and last either for an hour (for younger kids) 10.30am-3.30pm for 6+ and 7+ ages.

0-5 Years 

28 March : The Pop Up Tea Room

8 April : Nursery Rhyme, Story Time, Music Mix.

16 April : Become bouncing bunnies in a bumper workshop full of Easter themed crafts and play.

22 April : Ocean Motion from the 22nd April.

27th May : Spring Sing Song in a musical storytelling workshop.

6-11 Years 

9 April : Slightly older children can also put a Spring in their Step, and learn a dance routine from a professional choreographer

10 April : Jokers will be able to learn slapstick comedy in a Physically Funny workshop.

15 April :  Learn how costumes and stage designs are put together with Miniature Theatre Model Box Making.

17 April : Then go on an Awesome Adventure, as either a hero or villain.

23 April : Starts a ten week Create and Perform course. For £85 kids will create their own play, from the characters and plot to the costumes and props.

10-13 Years

11 April : Big kids can work with a professional theatre director, learning how to act and direct their own play.

13 April : They get professional acting advice, learn acting techniques, and perform short scenes in an Acting Up workshop.

Travel information 

Polka Theatre
240 The Broadway
London SW19 1SB

Tickets & Information
+44 (0)20 8543 4888

5 Best Reading Book Plates to Print At Home

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World Book Day is a great charity, that celebrates authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) reading. It is designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world. We are big fans, and have written about the fantastic website before here. The site is jammed full of activity sheets, colouring pages, Story-craft a section with tips on writing stories from children’s authors, World Book Day TV, online games, author interviews, Storytime online where authors and stars read stories for kids, and amongst other goodies, a Parents bookfinder, and various competitions.

Below is an interesting Storycraft youtube video from Malorie Blackman (who holds the position of Children’s Laureate for 2013 to 2015) answering … How do you structure a story?

As were in the mood we also wanted to share the love for the World Book Day illustrator of the year (2014), Alex T Smith. Read on to be inspired, and find out more about this talented man who has a love of tiny cute dogs and a passion for breton t-shirts.

Alex T. Smith was born in 1985 and has drawn and written stories since he could hold a pencil. After considering several career options (space traveler, cake maker, professional rabbit), Alex decided to train to do the job he’d wanted to do since he was five – a children’s books illustrator.


Alex graduated with a 1st Class Hons degree in Illustration and, having won second place in the Macmillan Prize for Children’s Picture Book Illustration in his final year, began working on his first commission as he put his degree show up!

Since then Alex has gone on to write and illustrate his own books – many of which have won prizes and have been read on TV during the Bedtime Hour on CBeebies, as well as illustrating books for several different authors.

Alex is also the creator of the CLAUDE series for early readers.CLAUDE in the City was selected for the Richard and Judy Children’s Book Club 2011 and was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize in 2012.

When not working, Alex enjoys doodling in his sketchbook, reading, people-watching and eavesdropping. He is also a big fan of cake and a nice cup of tea and a sit down. He lives with and under the constant ‘supervision’ of his canine companions – two very tiny, very naughty chihuahuas (Coco and Mr. Bongo) and an ancient and very bossy Yorkshire terrier, Lucy Locket.

Via the wonderful Tipnut blog, where there are more book plate printables for you … happy writing, reading and World Book Day. ( Oh! and a thank you to Ethical Superstore who helped me track these down). xo








We Love The Loop Kids Newspaper


This is a great great great idea if you need one for a different type of birthday present for an 8-13 year old, then get them a subscription to THE LOOP. It’s the magazine that thinks it is a newspaper, for kids that are into everything and anything.

We are looking forward to meet the gang behind The Loop, as we get the feeling they know how to have fun, and all have an impressive list of credits to their names. The magazine is written and illustrated by a carefully selected group of talented writers, photographers and illustrators, who in their own right are all brilliant at what they do.

The team also collaborate with schools to develop the content for the mag, an in return for feedback from the classroom, they will provide the school with free issues of The Loop. If you know anyone that might be interested…

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5 Best Choirs, Music Classes & Courses

african choir

I know that there are 101 reasons why kids love music, but I’ll start with the first 5 that come to mind … it’s noisy, fun, they dance, sing and are able to pick it up like a second language. The regular Bus Stoppers will know by now, that we are aware that time is short when trying to plan family adventures, and that we like to be ahead of the pack. So, here’s a look at what’s on offer for those of you that like to get out and about and pack your triangle and bassoon.

I am sure we are only just scratching the surface of what is really going on out there for families, so please leave a comment if you have something to share, or just want to promote a brilliantly creative musician who gives up their weekends just for the love of it. For those of you that want extra reading to take home after this lecture (!) here is a resource titled What is the best way for my child to learn music? from the charity Youth Music, which is a very interesting bedtime read. (Picture credit : African Children’s Choir : Max Clements)

As well as the information on venues below you should also check out what’s on at KIngs Place in Kings Cross, Cadogan Hall in Chelsea (see below too), The Barbican , and The London Musical Arts Orchestra at St Martins in the Fields who have a special Mini Maestros Family Concert series for kids aged 4 to 12yrs. Not forgetting the esteemed Royal Academy of Music, which has a range of external events performed by Academy Students. They also run Saturday classes, and holiday courses. Also, for the month of October take a look at the Family Arts site whose aim is to promote family arts engagement (yippee), where you will find a huge resource of arts events for kids across the UK. You can also catch the UK tour of The African Children’s Choir, which ends in early November.

royal albert hall


The Royal Albert Hall in Kensington, which is a minutes walk from ‘child heaven’ with The V&A, The Science Museum, The Natural History Museum, Hyde Park and The Royal Geographical Society, is a spectacular location for any performance. They host a range of family events, which is best found from their website here. You will find events like the Family ignite concerts held in the Hall’s Elgar Room, Disney Fantasia concerts, the schools proms, various charity concerts, and the famous Jingle Bell Christmas concerts, Messiah,  and the Christmas Carol Singalong.


2. LSO (London Symphony Orchestra)

A great way to introduce your children to music and the orchestra is to bring them along to one of our concerts or events for families. From babies to age 12, they have a variety of suitable events including Family Concerts, Early Years Workshops and Family Saturday Mornings. Families with children aged over 12 might like to try the scheme LSO Backstage Pass, which includes specially priced tickets for Barbican concerts and a pre-concert talk from LSO musicians giving an insight into the music.

Performances are split into ages U5’s, 5+, 7+, 12+, 15+. They have a family concert ‘Witches’ for Halloween on Sunday 27.October for 7-12 year olds, which also has a craft session in the foyer and creche. For those aged 5+ there are the Friday afternoons at 6pm at LSO St Luke’s Britten’s ‘Friday Afternoon’ Songs.  Written by Benjamin Britten in the 1930s for his headmaster brother and his pupils, these 12 cheeky songs are revived by some of LSO Discovery’s younger participants.

Not forgetting the

Story-telling concert for under-5s on Friday 22 Nov 10.30am, LSO St Luke’s, where early Years expert Vanessa King and LSO musicians re-tell a popular children’s story through music. Join in with all the songs and play musical games.



 Children’s Interactive Music Workshops

These sessions alternate Saturday mornings are a great way to introduce and encourage your children aged 1-4 years into music. Run by experienced workshop leaders, activities include singing, dancing, rhythm work, movement and percussion playing. Drop in:  £6 online / £7 on the door Full Half Term pre-booking (£5 per session) – cash or cheque made out to ‘Forge Arts CIC’ on the first session. You can also choose Children’s Storytelling with Music which are enchanting sessions of storytelling and live music – come and rediscover some of the nation’s favourite children’s stories and bring them to life with songs and music.  Featuring classic works like The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, these are a lovely experience for all the family! Drop in:  £6 online / £7 on the door. Full Half Term pre-booking (£5 per Session).

Imagination Station : The weekly drop in Imagination Station sessions on Wednesday mornings offers toddlers aged 4 months to 2 yrs a unique music and movement experience.  With classes devised to work through the senses, your little ones will be nurtured in confidence, creativity, music and movement, independence and early age social skills.  Let the fun of learning begin! Classes are on Wednesday mornings. For enquiries about Imagination Station please contact Ema or visit their website phone: 07525 154 964 email: or try Bach to Baby, The critically acclaimed concert series for babies, tots and carers comes to The Forge. Experience exhilarating performances by outstanding musicians with your baby in tow. Children can crawl, dance, roam about, and listen to music the way they feel it.  A true family concert suitable for all ages. The concerts are one-hour long, and are held monthly on a Thursday at The Forge. Online discounts available:



These family concerts are very popular, so we advise booking up now, even for the Feb 2014 concert. The concerts with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) offer a chance to get a little closer to that experience. The OAE keep the experience authentic by using period instruments and musical techniques from the day to recreate the sound-world the composer would have known. The performances are suitable for ages two to five (and parents!). Little people aged two and over require tickets. Tots aged younger than two go free, provided they do not need their own seat. The next concerts are on 30 November at 9.30 and 11am in the Purcell Room at the Southbank Centre. £9 for adults, £1 for tots with a £1.75 booking fee.

suzuki institute


The Suzuki Method of music education is based on the philosophy and teaching methods developed by the Japanese violinist, pedagogue, educator and humanitarian, Dr. Shinichi Suzuki. The goal of Dr. Suzuki was to enrich people’s lives and make them more understanding and sensitive human beings. He developed a method of music education to enable children to play music to their highest possible level of ability.  The Suzuki UK institute based in Chiswick, oversees teacher training and also organises Workshops, National Concerts, Summer Schools, Graduation, and Conferences. Below is a list of some of the up and coming performances that are all children led.











5. (and a half) : CADOGAN HALL

A top line up of events are waiting for you at Cadogan Hall (minutes from Sloane Square) and home to The London Philharmonic Orchestra. Check the link above for the full listings & booking info, but as we are here to wet your appetite, I can tell you that you can choose from the Noisy Notes Family Concert with Sue Perkins on 29/10 at 11am which includes West End stars and music from Harry Potter, The Simpsons and the rest is a secret! Or the popular Crash Bang Wallop! Family Concert : The Mad Professor on 2/11 at 12pm. The English Chamber Orchestra present a concert on 17/11 at 3pm with presenter Claire Bloor who has been conducting experiments in her music lab and you’re invited to hear music by some of the most well known classical music composers. For Christmas there is The Childrens Trust Christmas Concert on 2/12 at 7.30pm and on Friday 20/12 at 3.30pm The Snow Queen and The Griffin and the Grail : Magical Musical Adventures told through songs, narration (the award-winning Olivia Colman) and projections, two magical adventures promising an unforgettable musical event for all the family. Find your tinsel and get booking.

A Saturday Workshop at the Zabludowicz Collection


Every Saturday at the Zabludowicz Collection in Chalk Farm NW5, drop into a Families Create activity in the café. Get creative using the current exhibitions as inspiration. Led by artist Effie Coe, they explore different creative ideas, materials and processes each week (Suitable for all ages & FREE).


Opening :Thursday – Sunday 12-6pm

Address : Zabludowicz Collection : 176 Prince of Wales Road : London : NW5 3PT

Google Maps

Tel +44 (0)20 7428 8940 :

Transport : Zabludowicz Collection is less than 15 minutes from the centre of London.

Overground: Kentish Town West Station: 5 minute walk

Underground: Chalk Farm, Northern Line Station: 5 minute walk Camden Town Northern Line Station: 15 minute walk

Bus: The 31 and 168 stop at Chalk Farm Underground station; the 24, 27, 46, 393 stop within walking distance of Zabludowicz Collection.

Please Note: There is no parking at Zabludowicz Collection. There is pay parking on Crogsland Road and Haverstock Hill and after 6.30PM and on weekends there is free parking on St. Silas Place and Queens Crescent near to Zabludowicz Collection.

The Drawing School at The Princes Trust

The Prince’s Trust Charity really do know what they are up to when it comes to providing education, motivation and pastoral care to young people.
The Young Artists Programme (read more here) empower children, open the door to careers in art, design, science, and engineering. Serious, sustained drawing tuition for children is rarely available. When it is, it often requires financial or other commitments beyond the means of less well-off families.
There are many excellent programmes which expose children to the arts. However, we are targeting children with aptitude and investing in building their skills over the long-term. We are matching them with our postgraduates (all of whom are practicing artists or designers) building the teaching and mentoring skills of a new generation of drawing tutors. (Photo : Student at work during a portraiture session) The Programme has two tiers: 1.) After-School Drawing Clubs: 10-14 year olds are recruited through local state schools. They attend weekly, After-school Drawing Clubs held in community or art centres where they draw from life: objects, people, landscapes and everything in-between, using a wide range of media from pencil to mixed-media, led by Prince’s Drawing School Postgraduates. 2.) Core Group: The most committed students are invited to attend Holiday Drawing Courses which have a career development focus. They are invited for extra tuition on Saturdays at The Prince’s Drawing School. Older students join the 15+ Drawing Club, tackling more complex approaches to drawing, including working from nude models and print-making. On our Mentoring Scheme for 16-18 year olds, students work one-to-one with a tutor to pursue further education or apprenticeships, leading to careers using their high-level drawing skills. GET INVOLVED :

We recruit the majority of our students through state schools. Places are limited. However, we do have a portfolio submission based scheme for selecting committed young people (age 10-18). (Photo : Student at a holiday course led by Kew garden botanical illustrators) If you are a teacher, a Gifted and Talented co-ordinator, or the parent of a student who you think would benefit from participating in the Programme, please contact Rebecca Blake, The Prince’s Drawing Clubs Programme Coordinator by email:( We will try to accomodate committed children in existing Drawing Clubs held after-school in 10 locations or our Saturday School at The Prince’s Drawing School in Shoreditch. Please note there is currently a waiting list for our Saturday School. We also run Saturday Drawing Workshops at Whitechapel and Saatchi Galleries open to all students aged 10-16. Please go to theWhitechapel and Saatchi Workshop pages for more information.

Drawing Club Locations:


Camden Tutors: Helen Burgess, Roland McMorran, Johanna Zhang Tower Hamlets Tutors: Anna Ilsley, El Bedlow, Maxwell Graham


Lewisham Tutors: Siobhan Lennon, William Wyld, Georgie Sleap Britto-Newham Tutors: Sam Halstead, Thomas Sander, Amy Ison Glasgow Tutors: Liza Dimbleby, Lorna Robertson, Jessica Wolfson


Kensington & Chelsea Tutors: Alice Shirley, Beth Collar, Nick Bush Southwark North Tutors: David Caldwell, Poppy Chancellor, Charlie Masson Haringey Tutors: Hannah Turner-Duffin, Emma Seach, Anthony Banks


 Westminster Tutors: Alex Cree, Sabrina Shah, Jonathan Farr Hackney Tutors: Chris Green, Clare Davidson, Daniel MacCarthy


Saturday 10-14 Tutors: Lucy Mellor, Jonathan Silverman, Jennifer Smith Saturday 15+ Tutors: Rowan James, Leonie Lachlan, Aude Herail Jager Kensington Palace Tutors: Phoebe Stannard, Tim Betjeman, Julian Woodward, Joanna Moore Saatchi Gallery Pippa Ridley, Grant Foster, Timothy Lees Whitechapel Gallery Richard Burton, Louise Wilde

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Architecture Courses at Sir John Soane’s Museum

Now here is what seems to be one of the best kept secrets in children’s museum workshops/ courses in London.  It’s all happening at the Sir John Soane museum at Lincoln’s Inn Fields. They have waiting lists for their young architect’s weekend courses until 2015 – yes, really. But it’s not all doom and gloom for our mini Zaha Hadid’s or Norman Fosters, they are taking bookings for the holiday workshops in the future. All the details are below, and you can have a look at the website here.

If you do go along, be sure to drop us a line at the Depot to let us know how it was, and don’t forget there are some great exhibitions open there. It is such a fantastic part of town, and not one you would go to that often unless you are lucky enough to have tickets to see something ‘hip’ at The Peacock Theatre. xo


The Young Architects Club & The New Architecture Club

Sir John Soane intended his Museum as a place where architects could visit to learn and be inspired about architecture. The Young Architects’ Club carries on this tradition. They now run two different clubs: YAC and NAC clubs.

The Young Architects Club looks at a different architecture-related theme each year and is run on the first Saturday of the month, 10am-12pm. The club is for children aged 7-10.

The New Architecture Club is for older children – those aged 11-14. This club is more project-based, with children working on their own architectural creations over the year. NAC meets on the first Saturday of each month, 1:30-4:30pm.

In both cases, an annual membership fee of £20 applies (to be paid on the first session). The clubs get full very quickly but they do run waiting lists.

Family Drop-in Workshops : Free | No need to book

The free family Drop-in workshops are suitable for children aged 6 – 11 years. Pop in any time and have fun creating up a storm in their dedicated Art Room. They also run family drop-in workshops on the first Saturday of every school holiday between 11-3pm.

The Museum

The architect Sir John Soane’s house, museum and library at No. 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields has been a public museum since the early 19th century. Soane demolished and rebuilt three houses in succession on the north side of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, beginning with No. 12 between 1792 and 1794, moving on to No. 13, re-built in two phases in 1808-9 and 1812, and concluding with No. 14, rebuilt in 1823-24.

soanes museum 2

On his appointment as Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy in 1806 Soane began to arrange the Books, casts and models in order that the students might have the benefit of easy access to them and proposed opening his house for the use of the Royal Academy students the day before and the day after each of his lectures. By 1827, when John Britton published the first description of the Museum, Soane’s collection was being referred to as an ‘Academy of Architecture’.


The Young Artists Courses at The Prince’s Drawing School (Ages 10-18)


princes drawing school 1

The Young Artists Programme empower children, by opening the door to careers in art, design, science, and engineering.  Serious, sustained drawing tuition for children is rarely available, so when it is, it often requires financial or other commitments beyond the means of less well-off families.

The Programme has two tiers:

1.) After-School Drawing Clubs: 10-14 year olds are recruited through local state schools. They attend weekly,

After-school Drawing Clubs held in community or art centres where they draw from life: objects, people, landscapes and everything in-between, using a wide range of media from pencil to mixed-media, led by Prince’s Drawing School Postgraduates.

2.) Core Group: The most committed students are invited to attend Holiday Drawing Courses which have a career development focus. They are invited for extra tuition on Saturdays at The Prince’s Drawing School. Older students join the 15+ Drawing Club, tackling more complex approaches to drawing, including working from nude models and print-making. On the Mentoring Scheme for 16-18 year olds, students work one-to-one with a tutor to pursue further education or apprenticeships, leading to careers using their high-level drawing skills.

There are many excellent programmes which expose children to the arts. However, they are targeting children with aptitude and investing in building their skills over the long-term. We are matching them with our postgraduates (all of whom are practicing artists or designers) building the teaching and mentoring skills of a new generation of drawing tutors.

They recruit the majority of our students through state schools. Places are limited. However, they do have a portfolio submission based scheme for selecting committed young people (age 10-18).


(above) A student at a holiday course led by Kew garden botanical illustrators

If you are a teacher, a Gifted and Talented co-ordinator, or the parent of a student who you think would benefit from participating in the Programme, please contact Rebecca Blake, The Prince’s Drawing Clubs Programme Coordinator by email:(

They will try to accommodate committed children in existing Drawing Clubs held after-school in 10 locations or our Saturday School at The Prince’s Drawing School in Shoreditch. Please note there is currently a waiting list for our Saturday School.

They also run Saturday Drawing Workshops at Whitechapel and Saatchi Galleries open to all students aged 10-16. Please go to the Whitechapel and Saatchi Workshop pages for more information.