Home Schooling in the Time of Coronavirus #Part 1 – The Early Years

New to Home Schooling? One of our very own library staff is here to help! Pick up some great tips as Suzanne shares a wealth of experience gained on her previous home schooling journey. This week we take a look at Early Years, ages 3-5.

shutterstock_188675354Here a few points to keep in mind and to help keep you sane!

  • Home schooling is only temporary during the time of Coronavirus. Who knows, you may enjoy it so much that you decide to continue!
  • The school is still responsible for the education of your child so once schools reopen they will continue to teach your child everything that is required.
  • Every child and family is different and what works for one family may not work for another.
  • Be prepared to adapt. What works one week may not work the next. You may be trying to do your own work from home so don’t be hard on yourself.
  • Try to get into some sort of routine, however loose it might be. Maybe a get up time and set meal times but too much structure can cause stress for all.
  • Try to enjoy this time even though you didn’t choose to home school! This is a wonderful opportunity to be spending time at home with your child/children so enjoy yourselves and make memories. When your children grow up they will probably look back at this, as a very special time.
  • Children learn through every experience, whether playing board games or helping you cook dinner.
  • Try to do some reading regularly, this may involve your child reading to you but if this causes upset and worry it is also very helpful to instill a love of sharing books.

Stay Active!

How to watch Joe Wicks' PE workout live on YouTube - Tuesday 26 ...PE Lessons at home – Young children are used to burning up a lot of energy in the school playground so try some fun exercises together at home. PE with Joe Wicks provides fun exercises for children of all ages. They are free live workouts that run live from 9-9.30 Monday to Friday.


Cooking – Chef Theo A Michaels streams live cooking lessons on youtube. Great recipes that are easy to cook with children. Recipes on the web here.

Reading Together! While the libraries are closed you can still access free online learning resources via Hillingdon libraries homepage including Britannica and Borrowbox for lots of children’s titles on eBook and eAudiobook format.

We hope you find these tips helpful. Next week we will continue our home schooling journey focusing on Key Stage 1 with more helpful insights and advice from Suzanne.
In the meantime here a few extracts from Suzanne’s home schooling diary to inspire you:

Early years“When we started to home educate, it was very daunting, particularly because at the time, I didn’t know anyone who was home educating and it was still rather unheard of thing to do.”

“My main aim was for my son to grow up with a love of learning, and the life skills required to be able to follow his own path in life and make a positive contribution to society.”

“As I looked at different educational philosophies I began to shape a style that would work for us. One educational style I liked was the Charlotte Mason approach. She was an English reformer and educator from the 19th Century who devoted most of her life to Education. She did not like the education of her time, and her reforms shaped future schools and teaching methods. She believed in the cultivation of a love of learning through the use of ‘living books’, active hands on learning, nature, art appreciation, music, handcrafts, Maths, foreign languages, good habit formation and character development.

Living books are ‘classic’ or great books which really engage the child, and bring a subject alive by increasing a child’s interest in the topic as they become engrossed in the story line.

Good luck to everyone home schooling out there and see you next week!

Code Club Thursdays (Week 4)

Image courtesy of Code Club/ The Raspberry Pi Foundation

Welcome back to Code Club!

We have now reached week 4 of Digital Making at Home, time just flies. This week the libraries have been celebrating British weather – but as it has taken a turn for the worse, why don’t we escape it all and turn our attention off-world to space for the beginner project? For those with a bit more experience, create your own multi-roomed world with as much adventure as you can build, take hold of the project and make it fly.

We are sharing Code Club activity sheets each week for you to follow, adapt and make your own. The projects are designed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation for Code Clubs across the world and are aimed at both beginner and intermediate level coders from 9-13 years. Although you can catch up on any of the projects that capture your imagination at any time, or just join in this week, if scratch programming is new to you it will be easier to start with this beginner project from week 1:


Don’t forget to let us know how you are getting on and if you have any questions about the projects.

So time to lift off with this week’s projects…





Rebecca’s Wonderful Weather Quiz!

Rebecca From Hillingdon Libraries has created an awesome weather quiz to celebrate the wonderful world of weather come rain or shine this April, so why not get involved?

Hillingdon Libraries’ Online Kids’ Club is here for you to learn amazing new facts, so why not start the quiz today to test your knowledge?

All of the answers can be found on the junior Britannica encyclopaedia at Hillingdon’s online library. 

Go to https://www.hillingdon.gov.uk/article/4067/Free-online-resources-for-library-members and log in using your library card number and your 4 digit PIN number. 

Remember there are hints and tips on the way to help you out!

Once you’ve answered all of the questions, use the first letters of each answer to crack the secret weather prediction message! 

If you think you’ve found the answers, the next step is to see whether you can use them to complete Rebecca’s secret message…

Secret Wonderful Weather Message!

Congratulations on completing the quiz! Now, using the first letters of your answers, not especially in the order they came, fill in the blanks and de-code the weather themed message below. Good Luck!

…….ravo for your ……errific quiz knowledge! I …..redict the weather this ……pril brings you a ……limate which is ……agnificent, soak up the ……unrays. If you should stumble upon rain at home, spot the ……apors in a …….ainbow and dont forget the wonders of ……ature!

Finally, if you’re ready to check how you did, here are the answers:

  1. Atmosphere 
  2. Climate
  3. Meteorology 
  4. Precipitation 
  5. Thunderstorm
  6. Sandstorm
  7. Vane
  8. Barometer 
  9. Nineteen Sixty
  10. Raindrops

How did you do? Share your thoughts with us online!

Twitter: @Hill_Libraries

Facebook: @HillingdonLibraries 

Instagram: @Hillingdon_Libraries 

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Clare’s Weather Week Windsock Craft Project

To celebrate Weather Week here at Hillingdon Libraries’ Online Kids’ Club, Clare from Harefield Library has been making her version of a do-it-yourself wind sock. It’s super simple to make at home, too!

To make the wind sock you will need: 

  • Half a kitchen roll tube 
  • A piece of white paper
  • Some blue paint or blue pens / crayons. 
  • Glue
  • A pencil / Pen
  • Coloured tissue paper
  • String to hang it up

Instructions for making the Windsock: 

  • Paint your halved kitchen roll tube blue and allow it to dry. If you don’t have paint you could use felt tip pens or crayons.
  • Make holes near the top of the tube so it can be hung. You could use a hole punch for this or very carefully push a pencil through – an adult will need to do this.
  • Cut out different sized clouds. Fold a piece of white paper in half and draw the outline of half a cloud, as seen in photo. Cut around it to get a symmetrical shape. 
  • Start by gluing the largest cloud in the centre of the tube, then glue the remaining clouds evenly around it. 
  • Thread some string through the holes so that the Windsock can be hung up. 
  • Next cut up approximately 8 strips of coloured tissue paper. I used shades of blue and white but you can use any colours you prefer. 
  • Apply some glue to the top of the strips and stick them to the inside of the toilet roll. 
  • Hang windsock outside in dry weather to see which way the wind is blowing. Or hang just inside a window to see it flutter in the breeze.

Variation: instead of tissue paper you could use coloured ribbons. 

You can share you creations with us online in all the usual places – we’d love to hear from you if you’ve used Clare’s instructions!

Twitter: @Hill_Libraries

Facebook: @HillingdonLibraries 

Instagram: @Hillingdon_Libraries 

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Things to do in lockdown #3 – The Great Indoors

Books to Ease Your mind and Inspire you during Lockdown


Whilst stuck indoors it is natural to hanker after trips to the countryside, walks along the coast, or even picnics in the local park. This must be especially true for parents stuck at home attempting to home school. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that the indoors can’t be great. It is good to know that there are books to bring us comfort and inspiration, to plan for better times to come.

I am blessed with a garden where I can sit and read but if outside space is limited (or you can’t face another walk), you can relax with a book while staying safe at home. During this time there are books to boost your wellbeing and keep you motivated with goals you can achieve even during lockdown. For best results combine with at least some daily exercise!

When the weather does not favour us or other reasons force us to stay at home, we can indulge in some self care and invest some of that newly acquired time to enjoy a book that will be kind to us. While isolation can be challenging perhaps it could also offer an opportunity to connect with your own thoughts?


Here are three titles to inspire and ease the mind during lockdown.

First What a Time To Be Alone by Chidera Eggerue. An apt title! This book offers tips on how to evaluate and take control of your own self worth.


Secondly a book to keep you busy and help you to acquire new skills in lockdown. Craftfulness by Rosemary Davidson


So the science behind this is that crafting helps to reduce stress and you can mend yourself by making things! I think you need to have some basic skills but even for those of us who never craft there are tips for fitting a small moment of creativity into an otherwise busy day and taking advantage of the soul-enriching benefits of making something with your hands.

hitchhikersFinally something to make us laugh when times are tough.


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams Still a go-to read for dark times. It has provided us with so many laughs over even more decades.


We would love to hear about the books you recommend!


Thank you for reading!


Local Walks in Hillingdon

I always enjoy a walk in the countryside, backpack on, flask at hand and, of course, a camera or ‘phone to capture those all important memories.

Walks 1This has previously meant driving out and walking for the day, hopefully with a pub stop along the way or at the end of the walk. Of course, we’re now in different times so my walks have become locally focused and how lucky I am to live in Hillingdon with all the footpaths, trails and rivers to be found within 5 minutes of my front door. It’s quite often the case that we neglect what’s right in front of us to explore things further away, but no more! Walk 6I had been saying “I must explore that footpath” or “one day I’ll have a look where that river runs”, so this is just the chance I needed to explore. I have so enjoyed watching the trees and flowers budding, coming into full bloom and now some of them such as the cherry trees have already lost their beautiful balls of white and pink blossom; what a short flowering season and one I’ve never really noticed before. 

Walks 8The birdsong has been amazing, now I can start to identify the sweet song of the robin, the squawk of the parakeets and the whistling of the song thrush, not to mention the distinctive call of the chiffchaff.

I have been intrigued by the numbers on the footpath signs and visiting the Hillingdon website, there are maps of where the numbered footpaths lead, together with details of other trails by clicking here lots of reasons to explore the amazing green spaces of the borough.

I’m enjoying the connection with nature and the beauty of the trees and wildlife. Hope you will get out and about and experience the great outdoors that Hillingdon has to offer.

Some of my photos are placed throughout this post but we’d love to see where you have been exploring, so please share your photos with us!

Thank you for reading 🙂



Things to do in lockdown #2 – Childhood Books Revisited

Library staff member, Anne, looks back at some of her childhood favourites:

960x0In these uncertain times where we are having to stay at home and find new ways to occupy ourselves, one guilty pleasure has now become evermore important to me and that is the comfort derived from a good book. There is nothing better to my mind than finding a quiet place to curl up in, coffee to hand and a really great story. Whilst I am spoilt for choice with Hillingdon’s online library app, Borrowbox, I’ve actually found myself longing to lose myself in some of those books I read over and over again during my childhood. Luckily I kept hold of my favourites, and having dug them out and dusted them off, I’m ready to revisit favourite worlds and reacquaint myself with the characters who now feel like old friends. I’m sure we all have our favourites but these are some of the more influential books of my childhood.

wizard of earthseaNotwithstanding Enid Blyton’s Famous Five who I lived, breathed and acted out for a number of years; the first book that comes to mind is The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin. At the age of eleven I will never forget my first English teacher, Mrs Hepburn, telling me that I was far too old for Enid Blyton and that I needed to broaden my horizons. She brought in The Wizard of Earthsea for me to read and I was instantly hooked on fantasy. This was pure escapism; a world of wizards, magic and epic adventures. A young mage, Ged discovers he has great powers and leaves home for the island of Roke where he studies the art of magic. But a conflict with another student leads to a magical duel and Ged releases a shadow into the world which he is forced to follow and eventually discover its true name to destroy it. 

fire+and+hemlock+coverAnother all time favourite book is Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, a modern fantasy based on a couple of Scottish ballads, Tom Lin and Thomas the Rhymer. Although I was in my early twenties when I first read this, I have probably reread it no less than ten times over the last thirty years and it still feels new every time I open the cover. Polly aged 19 realises she has two sets of memories; her normal life and a second, more unusual set that started when aged 10, she gatecrashes a funeral and meets Thomas Lynn. Over the next nine years against the backdrop of her parents’ breakup and having to move in with her grandmother after realising neither parent wanted her, she corresponds with Thomas, writing stories with him that appear to come to life when they meet up. Very loosely a love story, Polly has to find a way to rescue him from his ex-wife Laurel (the queen of the fairies) and cheat his planned death. Even now, after all this time, I still don’t think I have worked out exactly how it ends up. 

Magicians Nephew 001Another series that was hugely influential on my life long love of this genre was The Chronicles of Narnia. Perhaps one of the most famous fantasy series ever written, the book most people will identify with is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe featuring four children, talking animals, a traitorous faun, an evil Ice queen and Aslan the lion. Whilst the last book to be written, The Magician’s Nephew tells the story of how the iconic world of Narnia was created and is the definitely the place to start.

Dark materialsFrom there my love of fantasy has continued with The Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey, His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman, Magic Kingdom, For Sale – Sold by Terry Brooks and last but not least, The Borrowers by Mary Norton.

Each individual and everyone will have a different definition of the types of books that give them reassurance, comfort and happiness. Mine at the moment are; childhood comics like Snoopy and the Peanuts gang, Archie and Friends and Garfield; Cozy mysteries that are set in a small town and village with an amateur sleuth ready to solve a mystery (think Murder She Wrote & Midsomer Murders); and anything by Wodehouse because, to quote Stephen Fry “You don’t analyze such sunlit perfection, you just bask in it’s warmth and splendour”. 

These are the books that take me back to a childhood sitting in my uncle’s study devouring his comic books and trying to draw my own, where I return to a fictional town where the amateur sleuth finds the murderer, with red herrings along the way and there is a happy ever after at the end and of course, all of the books by the funniest writer ever, who makes me laugh and feel warm inside.

Let us know what your childhood comfort reads are!

Thanks so much for reading.




Staying Well in Uncertain Times – The Psychology of Wellbeing at Home & Work

We hope this blog post finds you well.

We’re entering unprecedented times with this Coronavirus pandemic. No one knows how it is going to pan out or how long it is going to last for. An unintended consequence is that our mental health may suffer as we keep apart from our families, friends, neighbours and colleagues.

The good news is there are lots of positive things we can do to stay as physically and mentally healthy as possible.


At Work

Five ways to improve your wellbeing at work – Edexec.co.uk

Hillingdon Council have previously partnered with Roberson Cooper to devise a “Resilience” training programme and they have created some amazing resources, absolutely free to all, to support wellbeing at work during these uncertain times. Whether you’re working from home or providing an essential service and social distancing, there are some great techniques here.
If you’re struggling and have a spare 15 minutes check out the webinar in the video “Staying well in uncertain times” below. It it will take you through the psychology of wellbeing as we move through the different stages of the COVID-19 crisis to ‘adaptation’ and our ‘new normal’.

Continue reading

Make A Hanging Rainbow Decoration with Anne

Hello from Hillingdon Libraries’ Online Kids’ Club! Anne from Harefield Library has made a weather-themed hanging decoration with 3D butterflies in the colours of a rainbow. You could even hang it in your window to show your support for the NHS!

To make your own, you will need:

  • Coloured card
  • White card
  • Paper
  • Glue
  • Sticky tack 
  • Double sided tape
  • Thread, ribbon etc
  • Pencil 
  • Scissors
  • Rubber


Draw a cloud shape on white card and cut it out from two pieces of card at the same time.

Fold a piece of paper and draw half a butterfly. Cut it out.

Fold the rainbow coloured card in two and draw around the opened butterfly template. Cut out both butterflies at the same time.

Cut out twelve raindrops. By folding the card and cutting out two at the same time you will have two identical shapes when gluing together later.

Cut one piece of thread, around 4 feet in length. Cut two shorter pieces around 15” in length. Knot one loop at the top of the long thread to enable you to hang the decoration. If using very fine thread, knot a second loop about 6” from the first knot to help the thread stick to the cloud. Knot loops at the top of the two short pieces of thread to help them stay in place.

Add glue to one side of the raindrop, place the thread over it and stick the second half on top. Repeat for the next two drops. On the final drop add a little bit of sticky tack in between the two pieces to weigh it down when hanging.

Place double sided tape widthways across the cloud shape and stick the raindrop loops either side. In the centre stick a vertical piece of double sided tape and repeat with the long piece of thread, sticking the second loop to the tape. The first loop should now come out of the top of the cloud and the main length from the bottom. Glue and stick the second cloud to the first.

Add a thin, vertical piece of double sided tape to the body part of the butterflies. Place the thread along this vertical piece of tape and stick the second butterfly on top. Repeat at short intervals with all the butterflies keeping to the colour order of a rainbow. Add a small piece of sticky tack to the last butterfly along the body, to add some weight when hanging it.

Finally, open the butterfly from each side along the edge of the tape to create a 3D effect.

Hang by your window to support the NHS!

Why not share your butterfly rainbow with us online?

Twitter: @Hill_Libraries

Facebook: @HillingdonLibraries 

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Building Challenge Wednesdays (Week 3: Weather)

Hello lovely library builders, it’s that time of the week again – our weekly LEGO Building Challenge! The challenge this week is WEATHER. All kinds of weather!  You could build bold, beautiful rainbows to place on your window sills, cheering up anyone who walks by, and showing support for our amazing NHS and other key workers including your teachers.  Alternatively you could build a weather station, or a scene with dramatic weather, such as a tornado or storm.  Maybe you could build an avalanche rescue vehicle? Whatever you chose to do, we would LOVE to see photos of your builds. 

As usual, Hillingdon Libraries’ staff have been having lots of fun building along with you. Caroline, and her daughter Lucy, aged 9, have been building rainbows with bricks they have at home.   

Here’s Caroline’s rainbow model:

And Lucy’s fabulous rainbow model:

Caroline has also built a cheerful sun:

And a thunder cloud:

What amazing weather model could YOU build? We would love to see.

If you’d like to build along with Suzanne, check out this wonderful pen holder she has made – in the shape of wellie boots!  You can find her two part video on our Instagram account, @Hillingdon_libraries or Facebook page: @HillingdonLibraries.

Happy building everyone and see you next week for a new challenge! 

It would put a huge smile on our faces to see your creations. Please share with us on:

Twitter: @Hill_Libraries

Facebook: @HillingdonLibraries 

Instagram: @Hillingdon_Libraries 

WordPress: HillingdonLibraries.wordpress.com

Thank you 😊