Flying high with Legoland

Round & About

children

Families can book in to enjoy the UK’s first flying theatre ride at the LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort at the end of this month

Gates will open to the new multi-million-pound land, created by kids for kids, on Saturday, 29th May.

Standing at over 25 metres tall, the Flight of the Sky Lion ride is at the heart of LEGO® MYTHICA: World of Mythical Creatures, the hotly anticipated new land which marks the park’s single biggest investment since the resort opened 25 years ago.

Aboard the Flying Theatre ride, families will be taken under the Sky Lion’s wing and transported to the parallel universe of LEGO MYTHICA, where mythical creatures come to life. Standing at 13 metres tall, the equivalent of 325 LEGO Minifigures, are two drop towers and prepare to get wet on Hydra’s Challenge steering your own vessel.

Also not to be missed will be the 13 mythical creatures made from more than 1.7 million bricks by a team of 15 master builders over f 8,649 hours – almost a full year of building. Adorning the Flying Theatre building will be the model of the Sky Lion, Maximus, made of 685,530 bricks. Using the resort’s new augmented reality technology, watch the mythical creatures come to life before your eyes using the LEGOLAND App.

Helen Bull, divisional director at the resort, said: “The country has never needed escapism more than right now and we’ve worked closely with children and their families to make sure our new land delivers thrills for everyone.”

The Resort’s existing 4D Cinema will feature a new and exclusive LEGO MYTHICA film. To book tickets, visit www.legoland.co.uk


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Take our Horrible Histories quiz

Liz Nicholls

children

Pinch punch first of the month… it’s April’s Fools Day! This is a tradition that some say dates back to Chaucer here in the UK. It is celebrated in various guises across the world, including in Poland, where it is called Prima Aprils and parts of French and Dutch-speaking Europe where there is fish-themed fun for Poisson d’avril or Pesce d’aprile.

Tradition dictates that practical jokes or hoaxes are played upon the unwitting, before noon, ideally, before the prankster shouts “April Fool!”… However, we’ve all lived through such surreal & challenging times over last year that we’ve decided we don’t have the energy for pranks today!

So, instead, to celebrate the Horrible Histories live on stage this month with Car Park Party, we’re bringing you some Horrible Historical Facts courtesy of Horrible Histories, the world’s bestselling children’s history book series.

Which of the following historical facts is an April Fool??

Take our quiz, inspired by genius author Terry Deary and comment below

• The Georgian era was when toilets first started to come indoors. They were usually put into cupboards though some were placed into dining rooms

• Georgian women favoured the very pale face look and would achieve this with a concoction that included vinegar and horse manure!

• The wealthy Georgians loved sweet foods, so it’s no surprise their teeth often fell out. However, they were able to replace them with real teeth purchased from a donor – sometimes one that was not even still alive!

• The Georgians considered crime scenes as entertainment and would enjoy visiting to gawp at a dead body in the room where it was discovered. 

• George III was thought to be mad though he actually suffered from a condition called porphyria. One of the symptoms of this is doing a blue wee!

• The Victorians thought that arsenic would make their skin look younger and be a tonic for good health. It’s actually a deadly poison.

• Victorian women had a reputation for fainting. It wasn’t because they were sensitive souls, it was because their corsets were tied so tightly they couldn’t breathe properly. If it was extra tight, it also could displace their organs!

• Charles Darwin was a famous Victorian who travelled the world to study exotic animals. He also liked to eat them and was known to have consumed iguanas, armadillos, giant tortoises and a puma.

• Victorians wore black clothes a lot of time. This was not because it made them look slim but rather because the air was so dirty it would not show!

• It was not uncommon in Victorian times for photos to be taken of relatives after they had died. Sometimes other family members would pose with the corpse to make it look alive.

Car Park Party Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain and Gorgeous Georgians and Vile Victorians shows are at various Covid-safe locations between Monday 12th & Monday 3rd May, including Newbury Racecourse, Crawley Lingfield Racecourse and Windsor Racecourse. Tickets on sale at www.carparkparty.com starting from £39.50 (+ £2.50 booking fee)



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Spring has sprung so let’s celebrate!

Liz Nicholls

children

Bees are buzzing, flowers are blooming, and the sun is shining: spring is here!

We’ve teamed up with Wiltshire creative company eatsleepdoodle who are celebrating our springtime burst of wonderful wildlife waiting to be spotted. From butterflies to badgers, wild garlic to woodpeckers, there are so many things to look out for!

Butterfly watch

What wildlife can you spot this time of year? Well, we’ve been in touch with Butterfly Conservation, and they have kindly given us a picture guide as to what butterflies and moths you can expect to see in April and May.

Some have even appeared early this year! You’ll see on Butterfly Conservation’s Instagram account, that an Orange-tip (anthocharis cardamines) was spotted in Kent at the beginning of March!

Orange-tip butterfly photograph by Tim Bates and Joanne Fegan

A common butterfly to see all across Britain, according to the Butterfly Conservation’s research, is the Common Blue (part of the Blues family and similar to the Adonis Blue!). They enjoy sunny, sheltered areas, and some of the most common places to find a Common Blue include grass and woodland clearings, road verges and coastal dunes. The male butterflies are the most colourful; bright with a beautiful light blue upper-wing; whereas the females are more muted and usually have larger areas of brown.

Another common butterfly in Britain is the Peacock. The underside of their wings is camouflaged to be hidden amongst leaves, but their upper-wing has beautiful bright colours, which help confuse and startle any predators. They can be found across the British Isles and are most often found in gardens!

Also keep an eye out for the Large White, the winner of the 2020 Big Butterfly Count, these lovely butterflies enjoy a variety of habitats, but can usually be seen in gardens and allotments.

Common Blue

Peacock

Large White

Butterfly Conservation

Butterfly Conservation is a wonderful organisation, aiming to recover threatened species of moths and butterflies, increase numbers of widespread species, promote international conservation actions, and inspire people to understand and take part in conservation.

Last year’s Big Butterfly Count saw the ‘lowest numbers recorded in 11 years’. The average number of butterflies logged by Butterfly Conservation in 2020 was down by 34% in comparison to 2019. However, last year a record number of people contributed to the count, ‘it seems that, in a very dark and challenging year, the opportunity for getting out into nature and helping as citizen scientists were very welcome to people who were able to participate in the Count this year. Butterfly Conservation is thrilled the event was enjoyed by so many people.’

More information on how to get involved with and contribute to Butterfly Conservation’s work can be found on their website here.

Other wildlife

It’s not just butterflies that Spring brings, soon we’ll see new life popping up everywhere! Badger cubs begin to emerge, mallard ducklings start their adventures and frogspawn can be spotted in ponds across the UK. The dawn chorus will get louder and more persistent as the fledglings take flight and more birds are looking to mate.

Spring birds are ready to be found in gardens and woodland across the UK. Cuckoos are calling, woodpeckers are hard at work (carving a nest hole in a tree trunk!) and blue tits can frequently be seen hopping around the garden in search of snacks.

Woodpecker – photo by Strong Fish

Blue Tit – photo by dfkt

The RSPB have a great article about common garden birds to look out for here – this can also help identify the birds you are seeing in your garden in the coming Spring months.

As well as birds and butterflies, other small wildlife venture out in the Spring, like hedgehogs! Did you know that hedgehogs roam an average of one mile each night looking for food? That’s a long way on little legs! Waking up from their hibernation, hedgehogs love gardens as they provide the perfect habitat.

How can you help wildlife?

Gardens provide them with plenty of food and potential nesting sites. Hedgehogs like to eat creepy crawlies, however, during dry periods these can become sparse. You can create a small home and supplement food for hedgehogs in your garden. A shallow dish of water will benefit them hugely and even meat-based dog or cat food can be left out for them. Springwatch suggests that logs, leaves, twigs and natural garden compost make an ideal home for these small creatures (and bumblebees too), if you keep a pile in your garden – visitors may start to appear!

Hedgehog photo by Alicja Gancarz

Another way you can encourage wildlife at home is by letting your lawn grow and trying to establish a flower-rich lawn. This is a great way to encourage bees. Something as simple as leaving a strip of long grass or planting wildflower seeds or nectar plants can help bees, and butterflies too! Recently, we’ve noticed a lot more places such as churchyards and village greens-leaving large sections of grass or lawns uncut as a safe place for bees and other small wildlife.

Don’t forget that if you see a bee struggling, you can gently pick it up (we recommend using a piece of paper!) and give them a few small drops of water with sugar or honey – this should give them a boost! Another great idea is a bee house – this is a collection of small (usually wooden) tubes that bees can use to lay their eggs in.

Plants & flowers

Spring sees a whole new world of colour from gorgeous plants and flowers! The start of Spring is when we see beautiful blossom and daffodils begin to flower, both of which create an instant atmosphere as they open up quickly in the sun.

Whilst these bold blooms begin the month of March, towards April we begin to see the bright hues of bluebells and smell the strong aroma of wild garlic (yum!). Head to any wooded area for your bluebell fix. Bluebells fill the forest floor with a cool blue tone, an added pop of colour to the regular muted tones. Did you know that over half of the world’s population of the iconic bluebells are grown in the UK? Bees love them and we have ants to thank for helping spreading their seeds!

Wild garlic is not only charming but delicious as well! Spending most of the time as a bulb underground, wild garlic then emerges with gorgeous white flowers that explode onto the green leaves during April and May with an amazing firework-like flower. It is the perfect plant for pollinating insects such as butterflies and hoverflies. You can also make your own pesto with wild garlic – scrumptious!!

What are you most looking forward to this spring? We’re excited to see some brighter days ahead and being able to take in the magical spring delights. And we’ll be making full use of our pond life tablecloth and tote bag and butterfly collection to keep track of what wildlife we can spot this year! With bird seed, butterfly references and a pesto recipe at hand, off we go into another enchanting springtime!

Win a Pond Life Tablecloth

We’ve teamed up with Wiltshire’s eatsleepdoodle to encourage you to notice the wildlife all around you and give you the chance to win a Pond Life Colour and Learn tablecloth. To enter to win, all you have to do is follow eatsleepdoodle on social media and tag eatsleepdoodle & Round & About in your wildlife pics on Instagram before Easter Monday (5th April). We can’t wait to see your creations!

Usual Round & About competition T&C’s apply.

So get outdoors and enjoy the nature around you this Spring!


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Putting children’s wellbeing first: Inside Out

Karen Neville

children

Inside Out is an education charity based in Reading focussed on improving children’s wellbeing.

Children’s mental health and wellbeing have never been so high on the school agenda. Teachers have never been under so much pressure, managing daily change.

To help teachers and parents with the current, flexible approach to schooling, they have developed a ‘Wellbeing Guide’ based on their 5 Keys to Happiness, the equivalent of 5 fruit and veg a day for your mental health.

This is a free resource for schools, teachers and families packed with inspiration and activities to boost children’s happiness and wellbeing. These resources will now help ease the long-awaited transition back to school.

There is a wealth of information and resources out there but it’s often confusing and hard to know where to start. The Wellbeing Guides are full of activities that are simple, fun and quick-to-use, at home or school.

The Guide offers fun, simple ideas and resources for children, whether they are currently being educated at home or in school with a new edition shared each week during lockdown. Please see attached pdf of the latest edition, which includes a 5 Keys to Happiness poster for parents to print out and use at home.

For more wellbeing inspiration, why not follow INSIDE OUT on Facebook and twitter or visit their website www.theinsideout.org.uk for all previous issues of the Wellbeing Guide.

Read about pop icon Billy Ocean and the Young Voices Choir’s charity single to help children’s mental health here.

Half term fun for families

Liz Nicholls

children

Half term fun for families & children with Surrey Wildlife Trust

Half term is here: Hurray! We know it’s been tough times for parents this winter & that (whisper it) you might not exactly be jumping for joy at the prospect of filling extra time with your children.

But Surrey Wildlife Trust have some great resources to help you spot & encourage wildlife in your own garden or outdoor space, as well as activities you can enjoy online or in one of the 70 Surrey wildlife reserves the charity manages.

England’s most wooded county, Surrey is impressively diverse and possibly the richest of all land-locked counties in terms of numbers of recorded species.

This includes a stunning mixture of landscapes to explore in Surrey, from the beautiful chalk meadows and rolling hills of the North Downs, to the vast heathlands of the Thames Basin and sprawling wetlands in the east of the county.

Visit surreywildlifetrust.org & keep your eye on our social media feed to find out about courses & how you can identify nationally scarce mammals, birds, insects and reptiles that share this gorgeous county with us.

Another half term idea is building a family time capsule with the kids, read our tips here

Billy Ocean & the Young Voices

Liz Nicholls

children

Billy wishes you a Lovely Day with charity single to help children’s mental health

Pop icon & beacon of positivity Billy Ocean, who lives in Berkshire, has teamed up with the Young Voices Choir to release a new and uplifting recording of the Bill Withers’ classic, Lovely Day.

Also featured on the track are award-winning broadcaster and musician YolanDa Brown (saxophone) and The Voice UK 2018 winner (and former Young Voices singer) Ruti Olajugbagbe. Released on January 26th by Magic Star (the home of children’s and family entertainment at Sony Music UK), all UK profits will go to children’s mental health charity Place2Be.

“We have all been affected in different ways over this difficult last year,” says Billy MBE, “and many children have really struggled. I’m so happy to be able to join with Young Voices to help make a difference and to raise funds for children’s mental health with this wonderful and hopeful song.”

Profits from the single Lovely Day will go to the Place2Be charity which launched the first ever Children’s Mental Health Week in 2015. Place2Be’s school-based teams estimate that 85% of the young people they support have been negatively affected by the pandemic, and have seen an increase in referrals around self-harm and suicidal thoughts in secondary schools. 1 in 6 children and young people have a probable mental health condition (Source: NHS Digital)

Ben Lewis, CEO of Young Voices, says: “With school life currently disrupted, this highlights the need, more than ever, to support children’s mental health.”

Young Voices is an all-inclusive educational programme designed to use music to develop 21st-century skills such as communication, collaboration, creativity, mindfulness, and innovation. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year Young Voices have staged the largest children’s choir concerts in the world. In 2020 alone, Young Voices headlined 24 arenas across the UK, including a record breaking concert at Manchester Arena, overtaking Take That’s previous record of 46 shows.

This summer Young Voices will attempt to break their own Guinness World Record for ‘Largest Simultaneous Sing-Along’, currently standing at 293,978 – a record set when the ‘Big Sing 2005’ was broadcast live from the Royal Albert Hall. Streamed live from The O2 arena, Bily Ocean, Yolanda Brown and Ruti and Young Voices will join children, their teachers and families throughout the UK to sing ‘Lovely Day’. Involvement can be registered at: youngvoices.co.uk/biggest-sing/

Show your support and buy the single and share with us if Place2Be have helped you or someone you know

Build a lockdown family time capsule

Round & About

children

Kirsty Prankerd, from photo keepsake retailer Write From The Heart, explains how to build a time capsule with the kids.

If you’re currently looking for an educational family activity that will keep the kids busy during lockdown (and who isn’t at the moment?) then why not try building a time capsule?

Not only is this great fun, but it can help encourage the kids to learn more about the past, and to imagine their futures. Here, I’ll share my tips for creating a capsule as a family.

Make it educational

Before you set out to build your time capsule, you’ll need to decide how long you want to wait until you re-open it. Then, ask a few questions and get your children to use their imaginations.

For example, how old will they be when it’s re-opened? What might they be doing? What will the world be like in the future?

Find a sturdy box

Of course, before you can assemble your time capsule, you’ll need to find a strong box that will keep everything safe for a long time — preferably one that’s water- and air-tight. If you’ll be burying your capsule, it may help to double up and use multiple boxes to help provide an added layer of protection. Placing photos, letters, and newspaper cuttings in plastic wallets will also help to keep them safe.

Decide what to include

You can include any objects that you think might be interesting to revisit years into the future.

All of the following items are perfect for a time capsule:

Money. A few coins and notes will show future generations how money has changed over time.

A list of prices for everyday items, e.g. a pint of milk. This is a great opportunity to teach slightly older children about how the value of currency changes

Newspaper cuttings.

A few handwritten diary entries describing what an average day in lockdown is like — perfect for getting the kids to practice their writing skills!

A family photograph.

A note or letter to your future selves.

Find a spot to stash or bury it

Finally, you’ll need to find a place to buy or stash your time capsule. Remember, you don’t necessarily need to bury it in the ground if you don’t have access to a suitable location. Instead, you can always stow it in an out-of-the way place like an attic or storage space.

Once you’ve buried or stashed your time capsule, remember to make a note of its location so you don’t lose track of where it is!

 

Let us know how you get on and send any photos of your time-capsule in the making to

Foster care in lockdown

Round & About

children

Lockdown has been challenging for many of us, for lots of different reasons, and none more so than for Sarah and Darren who are Oxfordshire County Council foster carers, who were staying at home with five children.

They were home schooling all of them as well as keeping them safe and well and happy! As with many foster children they all have specific emotional needs and two of the children have ADHD and are on the autistic spectrum.

We all know that children manage better with routine and for many foster children change is something they find scary and confusing, so to suddenly find their lives changed overnight to not being allowed out, no school, and so many other changes that happened they would have been extremely anxious and unsettled.

You might wonder what lockdown would look like with such a busy household.

The children were kept busy, Sarah is very creative and knows the children are happier when busy. They have fun, they bake, create and paint and garden!

Sarah says, “We do so many things including foam painting the french doors, obstacle course in the back garden and we have planted runner beans, tomatoes and many herbs. We have really enjoyed learning with the children along the way”.

Sarah and Darren were also home schooling so became teachers too, but they obviously did a marvellous job as one of the children got “star pupil of the week”! In total the two younger children have 35 rewards from their school!

It is truly amazing and inspiring to see what they have achieved as a family.

Our foster carers do amazing things and rarely want us to give them any kind of shoutout because, its just what they do. But I think you will all agree that they very much do deserve our thanks and recognition. Throughout these unprecedented times they have given these children everything they need and deserve which is to feel, safe, loved, cared for and to have fun!!

Foster carers offer a safe environment for children who are not able to live at home for however long that might be. We need more carers in Oxfordshire and would welcome to hear form you if you are interested to find out more.


Get in touch with Oxfordshire County Council by email:
Call: 0800 783 5724

Or visit their website

LEGOLAND®’s World of Mythical Creatures

Round & About

children

The World of Mythical Creatures is coming to The LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort in spring 2021 with the opening of a multi-million-pound new land where mythical LEGO® creatures come to life.

LEGO MYTHICA: World of Mythical Creatures will feature thrilling new attractions and experiences, including a never-before-seen UK ride.

Created for kids by kids, the parallel universe of LEGO MYTHICA marks the Resort’s single biggest investment since it opened 25 years ago and will see children’s imaginations and creativity run wild as mythical LEGO creatures come to life in front of their eyes.

Revealed in a video on LEGOLAND Windsor’s social media channels, you’ll be teased into a mythical portal to another world opening for the first time. In a hint to the creatures that families may find in this parallel universe, huge footprints shake the Resort, a winged shadow flies overhead and the 30 second film ends with an ice storm engulfing LEGOLAND Windsor’s entrance.

Working in partnership with Kids Industries, the LEGOLAND Windsor team behind the new the land spent a year discussing and testing ideas and concepts with seven to 11-year olds and their parents who influenced everything from the final ride experiences, names and characters.

Thomas Jellum, Divisional Director at the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort, said:

“What better way to celebrate our 25th birthday than by unveiling a completely unique experience like nothing else we have launched at the Resort since we opened.

“At the heart of LEGO MYTHICA: World of Mythical Creatures will be epic rides, including a UK first, and breath-taking mythical creatures designed to capture children’s imaginations and inspire them to build and play.

“Our new land has been two years in the making and co-created with families to make sure it delivers what children and their parents want from a theme park in 2021.”

 

LEGO MYTHICA World of Mythical Creatures is currently under construction at the Resort and is set to open in spring 2021. The new land will be found between Heartlake City and the Resort’s LEGO-themed hotels.

For more details and to book tickets to the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort, visit www.legoland.co.uk/mythica

Wildlife Trusts online

Round & About

children

The Wildlife Trusts have created wonderful online nature activities to encourage everyone to tune in to wildlife at home this spring – and to help people find solace in nature during tough times

Spot bees, butterflies, bats and birds during your permitted local walk, keep children entertained with nature-themed crafts, or tune in to look at fabulous wildlife footage and photos! 

The Wildlife Trusts are also offering plenty of practical outdoor advice to inspire us to do more for wildlife in gardens, balconies or window boxes. 

Tune in at www.wildlifetrusts.org. The Wildlife Trusts launched a weekly wildlife programme on YouTube last week for kids and parents. A new video will be uploaded to Wildlife Watch UK every Wednesday at 10am. The channel will feature wildlife experts, home-school help and seasonal species to spot at wtru.st/Wildlife-Watch-YouTube. 

Future videos will include:

• How to build a pond

• Be a garden scientist  – exploring your garden wildlife

• How to identify insects in your garden

• How to make a bug hotel

• What is marine pollution?

• Why birds sing and how to recognise their songs.

Wildlife Trusts across the UK are providing new ways of helping us feel more connected to the wider world and each other, via their online and social channels.

Wildlife experts who are usually leading school visits, events or talking to visitors on reserves have had to down tools and work from home – and so they can now be found online leading wildlife-spotting tours through their gardens, blogging about the life cycle of oil beetles or sharing heart-warming sounds of a dawn chorus on a sunny April morning.

For example:

Follow over 20 webcams from nests and locations around the UK and watch puffins in Alderney, peregrines in Nottingham, bats in Essex and ospreys on their nests www.wildlifetrusts.org/webcams.

Join Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust’s mini-beast expert Ben Keywood talk about frogspawn and springtime insects from his own garden. Help the Wildlife Trust record sightings of wildlife and follow their advice for helping in your garden.

Daily wildlife diaries from Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Michael Blencowe who talks about the wildlife in his gorgeous garden.

Worcestershire Wildlife Trust is advising people about feeding birds, watching wildlife in the garden and learning how to identify it.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust is producing a series of videos called Bringing Nature to You. Join education officer Susan Symmonds and hear about the life cycle of an oil beetle.

Go to Surrey Wildlife Trust’s website where you’ll find spotter sheets and activities to help identify local wildlife.

Sign up for Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust’s Wild at Home ideas for regular activities and inspiration to help people stay connected with wildlife.

Keep an eye out for #EverydayWildlife across social media, an outlet to share local wildlife, big, small, grand or often overlooked.

Get guidance on how to create a butterfly haven in our Wild About Gardens campaign with the RHS, by downloading a handy booklet full of inspiration.

Leanne Manchester, wildlife gardener and digital communications manager at The Wildlife Trusts, says: “More people than ever are tuning into our wildlife webcams – more than double the figure for this time last year – and we’re seeing people have a lot of fun wildlife-watching in their gardens.

“Spring has arrived in splendid colour and sound, and over the past few days, hundreds of people have told us that they’ve spotted their first butterflies. These are joyful moments that people hold dear at this difficult time.

“Everyone can share and follow on social media using #EverydayWildlife – swapping such experiences can be a lovely way of keeping in touch.

“Do keep an eye on our channels in the coming weeks – we’ve got lots of lovely ideas and activities to help you stay connected to nature and still feel the health benefits of being outside in your garden or neighbourhood.”