Queen’s Platinum Jubilee ideas for children at home

Queen Elizabeth II has reigned for 70 years which makes her the longest reigning British monarch, and the longest reigning female monarch in history. The Platinum Jubilee is an anniversary of her ascension to the throne on 2nd June 1953.

Here we share some Queen’s Platinum Jubilee ideas you might like to try at home with your child. We hope you enjoy the celebrations!

Find out about the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

Does your child know what the Platinum Jubilee is? For young children, this short film called Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee by Miss Ellis explains everything they might like to know.

For older children, Queen Elizabeth: World’s longest-reigning monarch from India Today gives them key facts and an insight into what the Platinum Jubilee is all about.

If your child wants to learn about the Queen’s life story and more about her role, we recommend Queen Elizabeth II (A Life Story) by Sally Morgan and Our Queen Elizabeth: Her Extraordinary Life by Kate William for children from age 8 upwards. Busy Royal Family by Campbell Books is great for very young children.

Sing the UK National Anthem

We may take it for granted that our children know the National Anthem, but we may be surprised. As it is part of our heritage, there is no better time to learn it than now.

There are lots of versions of the National Anthem available on YouTube, but like everything on YouTube it’s important to watch it yourself first for internet safety reasons.

Go exploring

There are plenty of historic royal buildings to visit both in London and outside London including Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, the Tower of London, Balmoral and Sandringham – to name just a few.

Don’t worry if you cannot make a trip out because there are virtual tours available either on the websites or on YouTube.

Queen’s Platinum Jubilee ideas: arts and crafts

Here are a few of our favourite Jubilee-themed arts and crafts

Crown Jewels

Your child could make necklaces, bracelets or charms by threading beads onto elastic.

Red, white and blue beads can be bought very cheaply from Ebay and other places online. Your child could thread these beads in random or repeating patterns.

Alternatively, they might use gold, silver and sparkling beads to make jewels fit for royalty.

Flag buns

Make these easy buns and then decorate them with red, white and blue icing for a Union Jack.

To make the buns, preheat an oven to 1800C/1600 fan. Simply mix 100g caster sugar, 100g self-raising flour, 100g soft butter, 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence in a food processor. Spoon the mixture into 12 cake cases and bake for 20 minutes.

Once the cupcakes are cool, decorate them as Union Jacks. Start by covering the top of each cake with a layer of pale blue buttercream. Make buttercream by mixing 600g of sifted icing sugar with 300g of soft butter and then adding a few drops of blue food colouring.

Once the cakes are covered in blue icing, criss-cross lines of red and white fondant icing (which you can buy in tubes from supermarkets) across each cake to make a Union Jack. It may be helpful for your child to have a picture of a Union Jack in front of them.

Hama bead Union Jack

If your child has enough red, white and blue Hama beads at home they could create this Union Jack coaster. Huge tubs of Hama beads can be bought very reasonably online.

Platinum Jubilee fortune teller

Do you remember making an origami fortune teller when you were a child? Here are some instructions from Red Ted Art and a template to make a Jubilee-themed fortune teller.

Queen’s crown

We love this crown from Today’s Parent which is made from craft pipe-cleaners. It is a bit fiddly though and it’s definitely a craft for older children.

For younger children, make a crown by cutting a wide cardboard strip to fit around the circumference of their head (a large cereal box is perfect for this). Your child can decorate the strip with anything they like – photos cut from magazines, stickers, craft supplies you have at home, leaves from the garden etc. When they’ve finished decorating, tape or staple the strip into a loop around their head.

Union Jack garland

This Union Jack garland craft is brilliant for practicing fine motor skills and patience.

Children weave red, white and blue wool around a cardboard template to make a Union Jack design. If they do not want to make a whole garland, they can just make one to hang.

Windsor Castle

Make Windsor Castle (or any castle really!). All you need are cardboard tubes, old cereal boxes and other miscellaneous packaging you would otherwise recycle. For inspiration, type ‘easy simple cardboard castle’ into Google Images.

As an alternative to using hot glue, your child could use a cold glue gun to fix boxes together or masking tape which is easier to paint over than cellotape.

So that your child does not have to paint over shiny print, carefully peel boxes apart and turn them inside out, fixing them back together with tape or glue.

Royal guards

How about making some lolly stick guards to play with in the castle? All your child needs are wooden lolly sticks which you can save or buy online, a black and a red felt tipped pen, a gold marker pen, black craft pom-poms and glue dots.

Does your child love learning?

Whether your child has a passion for a certain subject, or they need help with a specific area of learning, TutorMyKids can help.

Our tutors build on children’s interests and passions and boost their confidence so they develop a ‘can do’ attitude. When children are enthusiastic, motivated and determined we know they are more likely to reach the highest standards of achievement.

We offer tuition in English, maths, humanities and languages to children in Cambridge, Ely, Huntingdon, Newmarket and the surrounding areas.

To find out more about one-to-one tuition please contact 01223 858 421 or hello@tutormykids.co.uk

Would your child benefit from one to one tuition?

Are you wondering whether your child needs one to one tuition? Here we share a few examples of circumstances where a child could gain significantly from individual tuition and what a tutor would do to help them.

A tutor can help if your child is struggling academically

The school curriculum is jam-packed and fast paced. Although teachers try to ensure every child understands a concept before they move on, in a class of at least thirty children it is very difficult to personalize learning.

The problem is that once a child has gaps in their learning they can fall further behind. As an example, if your child’s class has moved on to algebra before your child has fully understood operations like adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing then they are going to find algebra very hard.

Everybody has areas in life where they excel and others that they find more challenging. Continuing with maths as an example, some children take a bit longer to understand concepts than others. This simply means they need more time and concepts may need to be taught in a slightly different way.

A tutor can help your child by first identifying gaps in their learning. Then they will move at your child’s own pace to fill those gaps. They will not take the next step until your child is ready.

Signs your child may be struggling at school

There are a number of signs that might indicate your child is struggling academically. However, other difficulties such as bullying or arguments with friends, for example, could also result in these signs.

  • Your child used to talk freely about school, but they have suddenly stopped.
  • Their attitude towards school has changed. If they say they are bored, for instance, it could be that the work is too difficult so they have switched off, or because it isn’t challenging enough.
  • They complain of physical symptoms such as headaches or stomach aches, and/or they are not eating or sleeping well. These are classic signs of stress.
  • They spend a long time completing homework, perhaps because it is too difficult.
  • They misbehave at school. Misbehaviour can stem from boredom which may indicate an issue with work.
  • They receive poor reports from teachers or low marks.

If you think your child has a problem at school, you will want to find out more. Your child may tell you themselves and the school should help.

If it transpires that your child is finding their work difficult, then the school should be able to pinpoint where their difficulties lie. You could then pass this information on to a home tutor, who will also carry out their own assessment.

Children who lack focus can achieve with a tutor

Some children do not have academic difficulties, but they just do not work at their best in a busy classroom. They may be distracted by friends or just need a quieter room to work in. A lack of focus can have a significant impact on academic achievement.

With a tutor focused entirely on them in a quiet space with no distractions, your child can thrive, particularly if tutoring sessions are arranged at a time that suits them. For example, a young adult may get more from a tutoring session later in the day than early in the morning.

A tutor can help your child to learn how to learn

Every child has their own learning style and a tutor will get to know whether your child leans more towards an auditory, kinesthetic or a visual learning style. They will find the learning techniques that work best for your child and teach them how to use those techniques effectively.

‘Learning how to learn’ is a fundamental skill that sets a child up for life. It is not only important when revising for exams but for every aspect of life. The earlier they master the best learning techniques for them the better.

One-to-one tuition benefits children who love learning

If your child has a passion for a certain subject or a particular topic a tutor can nurture this. In school there is little time to dive deeply into specific subjects because there is so much to cover.

At TutorMyKids our tutors are qualified teachers who have specialist subjects. Whatever your child’s fascination, whether it is engineering, zoology, creative writing, a specific period in history, geology or something else we will do our best to match them with the right tutor.

As well as this, our tutors make learning any subject more interesting by linking it to a child’s interests wherever possible. If your child listens to a certain artist’s music then the lyrics might be used in an English lesson to help them to understand metaphors or similes, for instance.

Would you like to find out more about one to one tuition?

Whether your child needs a little extra help with their schoolwork, a confidence boost, or they have a passion for a subject they would like to explore further, we can help.

We offer tuition in English, maths, science, humanities and languages to children in Cambridge, Ely, Huntingdon, Newmarket and the surrounding areas.

To find out more about one to one tuition please contact 01223 858 421 or hello@tutormykids.co.uk

How children can get published

For young, budding authors getting published is a dream come true. If you want to encourage your child to write, seeing their work in print is a great motivator. Alternatively, if your child has written a story and they would like to see it in print – they can!

Here we share how children can get published and the skills they will learn along the way.

For young children

Here are some ways young children can see their stories in print. These ideas are a brilliant for motivating a reluctant writer too.

Tell a story with photos

Can your child tell a story with their toys? For example, if they have a dragon, can they invent a story starring their dragon? Your child could start by planning the story on paper as a story map or just tell the story verbally. When they are happy with the plot, they can physically create the scenes with their toys and take photographs of each scene.

Photographs can be uploaded onto Photobox and text added to create their very own book.

Create a comic

Children can create their own comics with Make Beliefs Comics . We also recommend the Cat Kid comic creator from Scholastic.

If your child has read the story Charlotte’s Web, they might like to create their own version of the story using this comic creator tool.

For older children

Self-publish a book

Over the years many children have successfully seen their books in print. Just have a look at this list of child authors as inspiration!

Self-publishing a book is a brilliant learning experience because it requires a whole host of skills: organization, perseverance and problem-solving as well as the English skills needed to write a book in the first place. There are plenty of free self-publishing companies you can use.

When it comes to self-publishing, it is important to do your homework first. The best starting place for advice is Derek Haines article, Just Publishing Advice.  If your child wants to self-publish their book you will need to work in partnership with them as a child cannot enter into a legal or financial contract with a publisher in their own right.

Submit to BBC Upload

BBC Upload is a chance to upload content and share it with a local BBC radio station. Only children over the age of 16 can upload content, and they must have permission from their parent of guardian.

Content such as stories, poems, reviews, diaries, blogs and podcasts can be uploaded and shared. The BBC watches everything that is uploaded, and they choose the very best to be broadcast on air or on their digital platforms.

Publish a book review

Although we have included this in the ‘older children’ category, children of all ages can publish a book review. When an older child writes a book review it is helpful to encourage them to use the thesaurus to search for descriptive words they may need.

There are plenty of websites online that publish book reviews written by children. The Storyroom is a popular UK website and reviews can be sent to helena@storyroom.co.uk. Make sure your child reads reviews on the website first, so they know what to do.

Write a blog

If your child is 13 years old or over, they could start their own blog. However, it is very important to be aware of internet safety and to know how to keep your child safe. As a starting point we recommend reading this fantastic article Kids Who Blog by Reading Rockets.

The best thing about writing a blog is that your child can share their passion for anything they like with other people. They can dip in and out of blogging as they feel like it, but if they want to build an audience, they will find that posting interesting content regularly is the key. Perseverance and quality are very important.

Write for your favourite magazine

Many children’s magazines publish letters, reviews and stories written by children. A child – of any age – could submit a contribution to their favourite magazine.

An older child who writes to a high standard (a strong A Level English student, for example) might consider submitting a standard article to their favourite magazine. The children’s magazine Aquila,, for instance, publishes articles on animals, historical figures and science topics and your child might feel they could contribute. It is important to study the articles in the magazine first by carefully analysing the style of writing, how articles are structured and the tone of writing. It is also essential to follow a magazine’s submission guidelines.

English tuition with TutorMyKids

TutorMyKids English tutors are qualified English teachers who are passionate about their subject. They love reading, writing, film and theatre and they are dedicated to inspiring children.

Whether your child is at primary school and needs a boost with their reading or writing, or they are studying GCSE or A Level English and would benefit from extra support, we have the right tutor to help them succeed.

Please contact us today on 01223 858 421 or hello@tutormykids.co.uk

National Vegetarian Week: Great recipes for children

It’s National Vegetarian Week from 16th – 22nd May which is about raising awareness of how we can all help the planet by eating a more veggie-based diet. Cutting back on meat is one way we can reduce our carbon emissions and save many animals and plants from extinction.

The problem for parents, however, is that children don’t always like to eat vegetables. So, we are here to help you with these quick, easy and delicious recipes for National Vegetarian Week.

If you can get your child involved with cooking, then they are even more likely to enjoy and appreciate different food.

Hidden vegetable pasta sauce

Ingredients:

1 x 400g can tomatoes

1 x tbsp tomato puree

1 x onion

½ stick of celery

1 x leek

½ apple

A handful of any other vegetables you choose (mushrooms, broccoli, green beans etc.)

1 x tsp mixed herbs

1 x tbsp oil (or a knob of butter or margarine)

200ml vegetable stock

Method:

  1. Roughly chop all the vegetables, except the onion, and put into a food processor.
  2. Dice the onion and fry until golden.
  3. Whilst the onion is frying add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and blitz until you have made a pasta sauce.
  4. Add the pasta sauce to the pan with the onion and give a quick stir.
  5. Cover the pan and leave on a medium-low heat to simmer for 25 minutes. Cook pasta at the same time.

Cheese tart

Ingredients:

1 x packet ready-rolled puff pastry

1 x punnet (or 2 large handfuls) of plum tomatoes

150g goat’s cheese

1 x tbsp of fresh thyme (finely chopped)

1 x clove garlic (finely chopped)

2 x tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 1900C/3750F.
  2. Place the rolled-out pastry on a greased baking tray.
  3. Mix the goat’s cheese, thyme and garlic in a bowl with a little salt and pepper.
  4. Spread the goat’s cheese mixture on the pastry about 1cm from the edges.
  5. Slice the tomatoes and spread them over the cheese mixture in rows.
  6. Drizzle the tart with olive oil and a season with salt and pepper.
  7. Bake for around 50 minutes, or until the pastry is golden.

Vegetarian Shepherd’s pie

Ingredients:

Mashed potato for the topping (made from about 3 medium sized potatoes)

1 x onion

2 x cloves garlic

1 x carrot

2 x tsp mixed herbs

190g cooked green or brown lentils

2 x tbsp cornflour

3 x tbsp soy sauce

200g (or ½ a can) tinned tomatoes

250ml vegetable stock

Salt and pepper

Handful of grated cheese

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 2000C/4000F.
  2. Finely chop the onion, garlic and carrot and fry in a little oil, butter or margarine until softened.
  3. Add the herbs, lentils, cornflour, tomatoes, and soy sauce and stir well.
  4. Slowly add the stock and a little salt and pepper.
  5. Stir the mixture until it boils.
  6. Pour the mixture into an ovenproof dish and top with mashed potato.
  7. Sprinkle with grated cheese.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes.

Winter soup

Ingredients

85g red or brown lentils

2 x tbsp tomato puree

2 x carrots

3 x celery sticks

2 x leeks

3 x tsp mixed herbs

2 x cloves garlic

3 x tsp vegetable bouillon

1 x tsp ground coriander

Method:

  1. Boil 2 ½ pints of water (1.5 litres) in a large saucepan.
  2. Add all the ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes.

Butterbean stew

Ingredients:

2 x 400g cans butterbeans

1 x 400g can tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato puree

1 x onion

1 x carrot

Generous handful chopped parsley

Small handful mint

2 tsp dried oregano

½ tsp paprika

1 x tsp sugar

Method:

  1. Finely chop the onion, carrot, parsley and mint.
  2. Fry the onion, carrot and paprika in a little bit of oil until softened and slightly brown.
  3. Add the drained butterbeans and can of tomatoes to the pan.
  4. Half fill the empty tomato can with water and pour in.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the stew has thickened.
  6. Serve with warmed pitta bread and a leafy salad.

Did your child love our National Vegetarian Week recipes?

If your child loves to cook, you might like to read our other blog posts: Easy pancake recipes for kids and Fun ways to teach your child where food comes from.

At TutorMyKids we are dedicated to inspiring young people to learn new skills. Whether your child already has a passion for a certain subject, or they need a boost in a subject area we can help.

We offer tuition in English, maths, science, humanities and languages to children in Cambridge, Ely, Huntingdon, Newmarket and the surrounding areas.

To find out more about one-to-one tuition please contact 01223 858 421 or hello@tutormykids.co.uk

Fun Easter games for all the family

Are you wondering how to keep the family entertained on Easter day? We may have the solution for you!

Here are some fun Easter games that children and adults of all ages can enjoy together. We’ve included both outdoor and indoor games because who can predict the British weather at Easter? 

Some games are more relaxed, while others are perfect for working off that Easter roast and all those chocolate eggs.

Have fun and happy Easter!

April showers

Start by dividing the family into two teams. Everybody needs to wear a shower cap covered in squirty cream. Each team is given a bowl of Cheerios (other similar breakfast cereal will do).

When someone shouts ‘Go!’ the teams run around throwing Cheerios at the other team’s shower caps.

When all the Cheerios are used up, or everyone has had enough, the game ends. The team with the fewest Cheerios on their shower caps wins.

Bobtail tag

For this chasing game you need a selection of large craft pom-poms and some sticky tape. Make little loops of sticky tape and stick a loop on each pom-pom. Put the pom-poms in a bowl or box, making sure they don’t stick together.

To play, everybody runs around the garden trying to stick bobtails to each other. When all the bobtails have been stuck, the game ends. The person with the least number of bobtails stuck to them wins.

Easter bingo

There are lots of free Easter bingo games available online, which are great for a rainy day. We like this one by Crayons & Cravings.

If your child is feeling inspired, they could create their own Easter bingo or matching pairs game. They could make boards and cards by drawing designs or by cutting and sticking Easter-themed pictures from magazines or the internet.

Egg roll

For this racing game everybody needs a hard-boiled egg (to hard boil an egg place it in boiling water for 8 minutes), a paper plate and some Easter-themed stickers. Arrange some stickers, sticky-side up on each paper plate.

Everybody then rolls their egg around on their plate to decorate it. Whoever decorates their egg with the most stickers before it falls on the ground is the winner.

Egg tower

For this challenge you need lots of toy eggs (you could also use Cadbury’s Crème Eggs or hard boiled eggs). You will also need to cut up kitchen or toilet roll tubes to make lots of smaller tubes.

When you’re ready, everybody builds a tower using the eggs and tubes – tube, egg, tube, egg, tube, egg etc. The person who builds the tallest tower wins.

Eggy nose race

This is the same as an egg and spoon race except racers must roll an egg along the ground with their nose (no hands or other parts of the body are allowed). A hardboiled egg or plastic egg is best for this game!

Hopping rabbits

This is a sack race, but everyone could wear a pair of bunny ears so they feel more like hopping rabbits! Sacks can be old pillowcases or potato sacks which can be brought for a reasonable price online.

Anybody feeling crafty could decorate their sack before the race with Easter themed designs. Fabric markers work well on sacks, and they can be bought online or from craft shops.

You could help your child to think of design ideas by taking them on a spring walk and asking them what they can see and hear, or you could type ‘spring art’ into Google Images.

Silliest bunny ears

Everybody in the family makes some plain bunny ears from card. Then, the fun begins.

Using anything you have in the house (old magazines, scraps of paper, buttons, bits of ribbon, old clothes etc) or in the garden (leaves, flower petals etc.) everyone decorates or otherwise embellishes their bunny ears.

Who can create the silliest bunny ears?

Treat line

For this game you need a length of string (or washing line) and some biscuits or cakes to thread onto the string. Party rings and doughnuts work well.

Thread one treat for each member of the family onto the string and then tie the string between two posts. Posts could be a fence and a tree or two chairs, for example. Make sure the youngest member of the family can reach a treat with their mouth.

The object of the game is for everyone to eat their treat off the line by using only their mouth. No hands allowed!

Does your child need a learning boost after Easter?

Give your child the confidence and knowledge they need to achieve their full potential with TutorMyKids.

We offer tuition for primary level, SATs, Common Entrance Exams, GCSEs and A/AS Levels. Our tutors cover English, maths, science, humanities and languages in Cambridge, Ely, Huntingdon, Newmarket and the surrounding areas.

To find out more about one-to-one tuition please contact 01223 858 421 or hello@tutormykids.co.uk

Would you like to find out about Ramadan?

This month, all over the world, Muslims are celebrating Ramadan. If you are not a Muslim, you might know very little about this holy month. In today’s blog we share some resources and activities to help you and your family to find out more about Ramadan.

Why find out about Ramadan?

Encouraging children to learn about other cultures is very important. It helps them to build empathy and respect for others. At the same time, we need to treat people as individuals rather than generalising because everybody has their own character, mindset and experiences.

What are the benefits of understanding different cultures? written by Les Elfes International is a fantastic and quick read for anybody who would like to learn more.

What is Ramadan?

Find out what Ramadan is and how it is celebrated with this animated film by Adam and Ayan.

We also recommend What is Ramadan? from the Australian public broadcasting service (ABC). In this short film, older children explain how Ramadan is important to them and what fasting is like.

Share Ramadan stories

For young children, Hassan and Anneesa Love Ramadanby Yasmeen Rahim and Omar Burgess is a lovely picture book to share. The story follows two characters on the first day of Ramadan. Through the characters children find out about Ramadan traditions and discover that thinking about others is at the heart of Ramadan. Your child might also enjoy Rameena’s Ramadan from Twinkl which is  about empathising with others and sharing what you have with them.

Older children may like to read A Party in Ramadanby Asma Mobin-Uddin and Laura Jacobsen. Leena, the main character, faces dilemmas and challenges as she fasts for Ramadan. When her friends enjoy chocolate cake at a birthday party, what will she do? This book explores the universal themes of making difficult choices and resisting temptation. It is also about sharing and empathy, and what it is like to be Muslim in a multicultural society.

Learn about the Moon

Ramadan starts when the new Moon appears in the sky. Your child could learn about the phases of the Moon by watching this Free School film about the phases of the Moon. Can your child look at the Moon tonight and identify the phase?

Young children might like to make this Puffy Paint Moon or Phases of the Moon mobile. Older children might enjoy these Moon activities from NASA. The NASA activities are quite challenging and they encourage problem solving and creativity.

Make an Eid dish

At the end of Ramadan Muslim people celebrate the festival of Eid, which is a big party. Your child could make an Eid dish in the shape of their hand to hold sweets and treats at a party.

To make the dish, they need to roll out a piece of air-dry modelling clay. They place their hand on the clay with their fingers and thumb together and cut around the shape of their hand (not in between their fingers though).

They then decorate their clay hand by drawing in lines for their fingers, thumb and nails. The hand could be decorated with little dots, dashes and wiggly lines to look like henna patterns. Use tools you have around the house to imprint designs – the end of a paint brush, a chopstick, a blunt knife, a fork etc. Older children could take inspiration from henna designs on the internet.

Once the design is finished, curve the edges of the hand inwards a bit to make a concave dish shape. Then leave the dish to dry.

Once dry, the dish can be painted with acrylic paint. When the paint is dry, the dish can be sealed with a layer of Mod Podge.

Make healthy Ramadan food

Muslims fast during Ramadan but they do eat before sunrise and after sunset. These are generally healthy meals, as puddings and sugary snacks can make fasting during the day much harder.

Here’s a vitamin-packed fruit salad your child might like to make. All you need to do is stir the following ingredients together and then serve:

4 tbsp. lemon juice

5 tbsp honey

2 tsp. chopped mint

1 peeled and diced apple

Handful each of diced strawberries, grapes and blueberries (or any fruit your child loves).

Does your child enjoy learning?

Whether your child has a passion for a certain subject, or they need help with a specific area of learning, TutorMyKids can help.

Our tutors build on children’s interests and passions and boost their confidence so they develop a ‘can do’ attitude. When children are enthusiastic, motivated and determined we know they are more likely to reach the highest standards of achievement.

We offer tuition in English, maths, humanities and languages to children in Cambridge, Ely, Huntingdon, Newmarket and the surrounding areas.

To find out more about one-to-one tuition please contact 01223 858 421 or hello@tutormykids.co.uk

World Wildlife Day nature activities for children

World Wildlife Day is about raising awareness of the ways we can protect our natural world.

Almost a quarter of all species on Earth are at risk of becoming extinct in the next 50 years which means we are in danger too. People of all ages need to work together to protect nature and ourselves. You can join in with the event through the official UN World Wildlife Day website.

In our blog today we share some nature activities to fire children’s enthusiasm and their desire to protect our world.

Hedgehog café

You can make a hedgehog café any time of the year, but if you don’t get any visitors in the spring try again in the autumn when hedgehogs are looking for food to get them through their winter hibernation.

You will need:

  • A wooden or plastic storage box with a lid. The box must be big enough for a hedgehog (roughly 18cm high and 36cm long).
  • Saw
  • Duct tape
  • Scissors
  • Newspaper
  • 2 x shallow dishes for food and water
  • 1 or 2 bricks
  • Hedgehog food. You can often buy hedgehog food from pet shops. If you can’t find it, crushed cat biscuits or wet cat and dog food that doesn’t contain fish or beef is fine. Never feed hedgehogs bread or milk as they cannot digest it.

Instructions:

  1. Using the saw (with adult supervision) make a hole in the box so a hedgehog can get in. This hole needs to be cut at the base of one of the sides of the box and it should be 14cm square. Do not make the whole too big or a cat could get in.
  2. Cover the edges of the hole with duct tape in case there are any jagged bits of plastic or splinters of wood that could hurt a hedgehog.
  3. Take the lid off the box and line the inside with newspaper and dried leaves. Hedgehogs particularly like birch, hazel and oak.
  4. At sunset put dishes of food and water inside the box. Replace the lid and put bricks on top to stop predators getting in.

Top tips:

  • Make sure your café is in a sheltered spot in your garden.
  • Replace hedgehog food and water daily so it doesn’t go off.

Make a mini pond

Making a mini pond is easy. All you need is a washing up bowl or a bucket and some gravel and stones. Place rocks and stones in the bottom of the bowl/bucket and wait for the rain to fill it up with water. Once the pond has filled you could add some water-loving plants bought from a garden centre.

In the spring all kinds of wildlife will be attracted to your pond. Your child might spot dragonflies, pond skaters and water boatmen, for example. If they are lucky, they might even get tadpoles and newts.

Your child could identify life in their pond, and other ponds where you live, by referring to Usborne’s brilliant book: Pond Life to Spot.

Minibeast hotel

Building a minibeast hotel is a great way to attract all sorts of insects to your garden. Your child could use a magnifying glass to observe the insects in the hotel and they could find out more about them in books or on the internet. We recommend the National Trust’s Minibeast Explorer book.

Follow Scotland Rural College’s instructions: How to make a bug hotel. You will need a wooden box, flowerpots, logs, bark, pinecones, leaves, straw, bamboo sticks and moss and corrugated cardboard. Supplies can be bought from garden centres or collected when you are out and about on country walks.

Treasure Hunt

Take your child for a walk in the park or the woods encouraging them to collect ‘treasures’. See the Woodland Trust’s Spring scavenger hunt for a list of things they might find. These treasures can be turned into an outdoor collage if they like. Type ‘outdoor nature collage’ into Google Images for ideas.

Before going out, your child could make a special box, bag or basket to collect their treasures in. We love How to make a basket from plastic bags because it’s great fun and encourages recycling. You don’t have to use plastic bags for this project – any plastic wrapping will do.

Further ideas

For more nature-related ideas see our blog posts, Homeschooling project: World Oceans Day and Getting Involved in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch 2021.

The School Run website also shares some fantastic nature activities for children.

Has your child enjoyed World Wildlife Day?

Does your child love science and nature? Whether they are fascinated by science and nature or they need support with their studies, TutorMyKids can help.

Our science tutors are passionate about their subject, and they want to share their enthusiasm with children. When children are engaged with their learning and enjoy what they are doing they are more likely to reach high standards of achievement.

To find out more about science tuition please contact 01223 858 421 or hello@tutormykids.co.uk

Easy pancake recipes for children

Hooray it’s Pancake Day, so we are sharing easy pancake recipes for children and unusual topping ideas they might like to try.

Traditionally Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday) was the day to use up all your eggs and fats before the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Also traditionally, (or often?) pancakes are served with sugar, lemon juice and maybe a few sultanas. But pancakes are so versatile, they can be served with just about any topping.

We hope the ideas below inspire children to experiment with their own concoctions and have lots of delicious fun in the kitchen!

Basic pancake recipe

To save you looking up a recipe here’s one that makes 8 pancakes:

You will need:

100g flour

Pinch of salt

1 egg

300ml milk

1 tbsp oil

To make a pancake:

  1. Sift flour and salt into a bowl.
  2. Add the egg and half of the milk.
  3. Beat into a smooth batter.
  4. Coat the base of a frying pan lightly with oil and place on a medium heat.
  5. When the oil is warm pour about 3 tbsp of the batter mix into the frying pan.
  6. Tilt the pan until the bottom is covered in batter.
  7. When the pancake moves freely flip it over.
  8. Cook until golden.

Terrific topping ideas

Here are some pancake topping ideas to get your child started. Can they mix and match the ingredients here to invent toppings of their own?

Apple crumble

Spread apple sauce onto a pancake. Top with a few thin slices of apple sprinkled with crumble mixture.

To make crumble mixture you need 175g plain flour, 75g butter and 50g caster sugar.

Sift the flour into a bowl. Rub butter and sugar into the flour with your fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs. Lightly press the crumble into a buttered ovenproof dish and place under a medium grill. Cook until golden. Once the crumble has cooled slightly it is ready to sprinkle onto your pancakes.

Go nuts!

Toast some nuts (almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts – anything you have in the cupboard) for 1-2 minutes. Top your pancake with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream and sprinkle with a handful of nuts.

Herb and crunch

Smash up a Crunchie bar (you could place it under a clean tea towel and bash it with a rolling pin). Sprinkle the Crunchie over your pancake with a drizzle of honey, a pinch of salt and a pinch of rosemary.

Jam and peanut butter

Jam – any flavour – goes perfectly with pancakes. Spread it on, mix and match different flavoured jams if you like, and enjoy.

If you are a fan of peanut butter spread some onto your pancake before the jam. A quick tip: peanut butter can be difficult to spread, so put a few spoonfuls into a bowl and microwave it for a couple of seconds.

Millionaire’s shortbread

Sprinkle a pancake with crushed shortbread, broken chocolate (such as a Flake) and a drizzle of tinned caramel sauce. Easy!

Mixed berries

Top your pancakes with a mixture of berries – or just one type. You could have blueberries, cranberries, raspberries and/or strawberries. Drizzle with honey, golden syrup or maple syrup. Top with whipped cream or crème fraiche.

Rainbow stack

Make a stack of coloured pancakes. To do this, cook pancakes in the usual way but add a drop or two of food colouring to the batter mix.

Stack the pancakes into a giant sandwich by spreading chocolate spread or syrup between each one.

Salted caramel

You could make your own salted caramel sauce, but be careful as it gets extremely hot. Children must only make this sauce under supervision. Tinned caramel sauce is a safer alternative.

Drizzle caramel sauce over your pancakes and top with vanilla ice-cream and salted pretzels.

Sweet pizza

This is great fun as basically you make a pancake look like a pizza.

Use strawberry jam for the tomato base and desiccated coconut for grated cheese. Then add little pineapple chunks, black grapes (for olives), pink mini marshmallows (for ham chunks), and white marshmallows (for mozzarella cheese).

Has your child got any more ideas? Their imagination is the limit…

Savoury pizza

If your child prefers savoury food, they could use actual pizza toppings on their pancake.

Start by spreading the pancake with tomato puree and sprinkling with grated cheese. Then add toppings such as pepperoni, olives, tomato slices, peppers, anchovies and tuna etc.

More easy pancake recipes for children

If your child has enjoyed experimenting with different toppings, they might like to try completely new pancake recipes. We highly recommend Oreo Pancakes and Jaffa Cake Pancakes. Delicious!

For those with savoury tastes, try this easy ham and cheese pancake recipe from BBC GoodFood. This is a great recipe for a child who wants to experiment with savoury fillings.

Bring learning to life with TutorMyKids

At TutorMyKids we believe children learn best through real-world experiences like making pancakes. By making pancakes and experimenting with toppings, for example, children weigh and measure (maths), read and follow instructions (English), and learn through observation and experimentation (all subjects).

Whenever they can, our tutors bring real life into their teaching. They know that when learning is relevant children are motivated and their understanding is greater which leads to further achievement.

Our tutors offer English, maths, science, humanities and language tuition to children in Cambridgeshire. To find out more please contact us today on 01223 858421 or hello@tutormykids.co.uk.

Engineering Week projects children can do at home

Engineering Week in February celebrates the different ways that engineering is part of our everyday lives, from our washing machines and cars to our mobile phones and toys.

Here we share some engineering projects your child might like to try at home. Challenge your mini Brunel to build these fantastic bridges and towers. How tall/wide/strong can they make their structure?

As well as being great fun, building towers and bridges can develop your child’s problem-solving skills, spatial awareness, hand-eye co-ordination, and social skills too!

Engineering Week Projects

Box towers

For this activity you will need to raid your recycling for boxes of all sizes – Amazon boxes, cereal boxes, shoe boxes, orange juice cartons, tissue boxes – anything and everything. You could make thinner boxes more stable by stuffing them with crumpled scrap paper and taping them up.

Challenge your child to stack the boxes to build the tallest and most stable tower they possibly can.

Pebble towers

You will need a selection of flat pebbles. If you are not planning a trip to the beach, you can buy pebbles cheaply online or from garden centres. The challenge is to build a tall and stable tower from the pebbles. This activity is best done on a flat surface.

There is a lovely picture book called Bring Me a Rock! which is all about a bossy grasshopper king who insists the other animals build him a high throne from pebbles. The tower is about to topple when someone wedges a tiny pebble between the rocks. You could share this story with your child as inspiration if you like. Free readings are available on YouTube.

Pyramid!

Can your child make a pyramid from paper cups?

They could start by placing seven cups upside down in a row, then balancing six upside-down cups on top of those, five on top of those and so on.

Can your child build a taller or a wider pyramid?

This activity could be a great introduction to the Egyptians – those incredible engineers of the ancient world!

Clothes peg and lolly stick bridges

We love this fantastic bridge building project. You need clothes pegs, craft lolly sticks (available online) and bulldog clips. Books could be a replacement for blocks in this project.

Your child can have fun building different types of bridges and testing their strength by placing weights such as toys and books on top.

Index card bridges

To build index card bridges, you need a packet of index cards (or ‘record cards’) which you can buy online or in stationary shop. You also need some small stones (like gravel).

With this project your child might build a beam bridge, an arch bridge and an accordion beam bridge. The challenge is to find out which type of bridge can hold the most stones without collapsing.

Can your child say why they think a particular type of bridge is the strongest?  

Paper bridge

You will need two heavy books, paper, cellotape and some coins.

Make a bridge by placing the two books a distance apart and then putting a piece of paper on top to make a bridge. Put a coin in the middle of the paper bridge and see what happens. Your child will probably notice that the paper sags.

The challenge is for your child to think of a way to stop the bridge sagging in the middle. For instance, could they fold the paper to make the bridge stronger? Could they make a support for the bridge from scrap paper and tape?

Can they make a bridge that is strong enough to hold many coins without sagging?

Would your child benefit from science tuition?

Does your child love engineering and science? Whether they have are fascinated by science or they need support to understand tricky concepts, TutorMyKids can help.

Our science tutors are passionate about their subject, and they want to share their enthusiasm with children. When children are engaged with their learning and enjoy what they are doing they are more likely to reach high standards of achievement.

To find out more about one-to-one science tuition please contact 01223 858 421 or hello@tutormykids.co.uk

Fantastic children’s activities to celebrate Chinese New Year 2022

Find out about Chinese New Year and join in the 2022 celebrations with these super-easy, super-fun children’s activities, recipes and games.

What is Chinese New Year all about?

There are a few legends surrounding the origins of the Chinese New Year.

According to one such legend thousands of years ago a monster called Nian always attacked villagers at the beginning of every new year. The monster was afraid of the colour red as well as bright lights and noises, so the people used this to scare it away. That is why Chinese celebrations are full of red, gold, vibrant decorations, lights, and a cacophony of sound.

You could help your child to learn about Chinese New Year with the following books and films.

Children’s information books and stories

These books introduce children to Chinese New Year and are a little bit of fun too!

Celebrate Chinese New Year by National Geographic is full of engaging photographs of people celebrating Chinese New Year. The photos might spark discussion and raise lots of questions.

Chinese New Year: We Love Festivals by Saviour Pirotta. With full colour photos and accessible text, this is a great introduction to the ways people celebrate Chinese New Year.

Mr Men: Chinese New Year by Adam Hargreaves and Roger Hargreaves. The Mr Men are having a party with a dragon dance to celebrate Chinese New Year. What could possibly go wrong?

The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine is a delightful picture book for young children about a wok that escapes from a rich man’s home. It’s a book about generosity which is the true spirit of the Chinese New Year.

Films to bring Chinese New Year 2022 alive

For a young child, you could share CBeebie’s Preparing for Chinese New Year – Let’s Celebrate. This short film shows how families prepare for and celebrate New Year.

An older child might enjoy, How is Chinese New Year Celebrated? It is the story of Nian the monster and the origins of the Chinese New Year.

Finally, you could really bring Chinese New Year to life by watching festivities in China.

Children’s craft activities for Chinese New Year

These easy arts and crafts are suitable for children of all ages.

Moving Tiger

The year 2022 is the Chinese year of the tiger. Your child might like to make this fantastic moving tiger. All you need is cardboard, paint, scissors and split pins.

Panda rock

We love this panda rock painting idea. You will need pebbles and pebble painting pens.

Your child doesn’t have to paint a panda – they can paint anything. How about a tiger to celebrate 2022 or a dragon instead? You could find pictures online or in books for ideas.

Spicy, red playdough

Make some spicy red playdough by mixing 2 cups of flour, ½ cup of salt, 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar, 2 tablespoons of oil, a few drops of red food colouring and some Chinese spices (such as cinnamon and cloves) in a saucepan over a medium heat.  Continue to stir the mixture until it forms a ball.

Once the playdough is cool your child could decorate it with red and gold craft materials such as bottle tops, craft pipe cleaners, gold stars and chocolate coin wrappers – anything you can find at home.

Older children could sculpt dragons from the playdough and craft bits. Imagination is the limit!

Traditional Chinese cooking

Sticky rice is traditionally thought to be good luck at Chinese New Year. The stickiness of the rice is also a symbol of family togetherness. 

Why not have a go at cooking this sweet, coconut-based dessert? It’ delicious and the perfect way to celebrate Chinese New Year.

You will need:

1 x 400ml can coconut milk

2 cups of jasmine rice

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

Instructions:

  1. Wash the rice in a sieve and keep rinsing it until the water runs clear.
  2. Put the rice and all the other ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  3. When the mixture is boiling turn the heat down.
  4. Cover the saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Taste the rice to see if it is cooked. If cooked, serve immediately.

The great family chopstick race

We love the chopstick race. It’s a great game for the whole family, plus good practise with using chopsticks.

To play, give each person a pair of chopsticks, an empty bowl and a bowl filled with an equal number of sweets (like mini marshmallows). You will also need a one-minute timer – an oven timer will do.

The players have one minute to transfer as many sweets into their empty bowl as they can using their chopsticks. Whoever transfers the most sweets is the winner!

To learn to use chopsticks before you play watch Teach your child to use chopsticks. For young children, or anyone who is struggling, try this fantastic chopstick hack.

Does your child love learning?

Whether your child has a passion for a certain subject, or they need help with a specific area of learning, TutorMyKids can help.

Our tutors build on children’s interests and passions and boost their confidence so they develop a ‘can do’ attitude. When children are enthusiastic, motivated and determined we know they are more likely to reach the highest standards of achievement.

We offer tuition in English, maths, humanities and languages to children in Cambridge, Ely, Huntingdon, Newmarket and the surrounding areas.

To find out more about one-to-one tuition please contact 01223 858 421 or hello@tutormykids.co.uk