Last updated: 3rd May
27th April: Green Care
This current period is a golden opportunity to develop ‘outdoor’ learning programmes for children. So often, when children are in school, their time outdoors is constrained by the school timetable and the perception that ‘real learning’ takes place inside a classroom. Now, they are positively encouraged to spend time outside, with their parents, and to go on foot or on a bike rather than being driven to an activity. What better time to develop their interests and build knowledge of their local environment!
Every child in Manchester lives within a short walk of a green space. To find the nearest park or green space, go to the neighbourhood information on the Manchester Council website, put in your school postcode, and filter on the link for ‘parks and open spaces’. You will see a map with all parks marked. Beneath the map are the names of the parks/open spaces, exact location and other information such as opening times. Manchester parks are open from dawn until dusk, so this is a free open air classroom, available to every family!
Some great ideas for the great outdoors
Outdoor learning can be really effective because it encourages curiosity, fosters motivation and is accessible to all children regardless of their attainments in reading, writing or maths.
Stimulating an interest in nature, in trees and in birds can develop into a lifelong hobby. Now that would be a positive outcome from the COVID19 lockdown!
Try these ideas from the Field Studies Council who have a special page with ideas for children at home and daily updates for outdoor learning on their twitter feed @NatureFSchools:
Maps: create a sound map (you can do this in a park, garden, or even through a (safe) open window. Download the activity sheet here.
Mapping your local area could provide a number of ‘spin off’ projects – map the route from your house to the park, map your route to school (how much can you do from memory), visit the park then draw a map of it when you get home
Outdoor Scavenger Hunt. The activity sheet here provides a list of things children could collect, and you can obviously produce your own lists.
Make a weather diary. The activity sheet here provides some ideas, including how to make a simple rain gauge. I also love the idea for ‘Sky TV’: just lie down outside and watch the clouds!
The RSPB website also has a number of outdoor learning ideas for children here, although the RSPB app is easier to navigate. The app allows you to filter for a number of different projects, graded from easy, and variable depending on how much time you have.
19th April: Positive Psychology
Ideas for children and adults. Some activities will need adult support, or adaptation for younger children:
1. Positivity_Project_Manchester: a positive psychology informed art collaboration on Instagram
Gratitude is a big contributor to happiness in life. The more we cultivate gratitude, the happier we feel. It can seem difficult to feel grateful about the current situation, and the constant flow of worrying information being beamed into our homes 24/7, can negatively affect how we feel. Sometimes it helps to start small, to start to notice the little things we are grateful for and that help to grow our feelings of hope. What better symbol of hope for the future than a simple heart. Once you start looking, you’ll see them everywhere, and you’ll have started helping to focus your thoughts back to something positive.
The Positivity Project Manchester is a positive psychology informed art collaboration, using your uploaded photographs of hearts, to create a lasting symbol of how we all fostered hope during this difficult period. All you need to do is to follow us on Instagram at @positivity_project_manchester, and then start tagging us in your heart photos along with telling us where you are, and we’ll do the rest. For more information contact Paula Muir ([email protected])
2. Staying with the theme of Gratitude
I loved this clip on Newsround of Paul and Freddy’s Top Tips for Mental Health (write down something that you are grateful for each day). Paul is a wellbeing coach and Freddy is his son:
3. Action for Happiness
..have lots of ideas on their website, with information about why happiness is important and how to focus on remembering what makes us happy. Have a look at their ‘Coping Calendar’ here. I especially like Day 2: “Enjoy washing your hands. Remember all they do for you!”
4. Visit the Museum of Happiness
..and learn about the science of happiness. Their Cultivating Happiness Toolkit could be used with older children and young people. They have adapted the ‘5 ways to well-being’ for the ‘happiness’ agenda, for example “Take notice: Remember the simple things that give you joy”. During the Lockdown, the museum has produced a number of virtual events for adults too: more information here.
5. Read a book
Beverley has written about one of her favourite books, The Happiness Project:
“Our theme of ‘positive psychology’ this week reminded me of one of my favourite books, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. The author, Gretchen, realised one day that, despite having a lot to be thankful for, she wasn’t as happy as she hoped to be. As she puts it, ‘Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter’. Following this realisation, the author decided to dedicate a year to researching whether she could become happier by making small but meaningful changes to her life. Whilst I do enjoy watching TV shows about more radical lifestyle changes, such as families relocating to far off islands, this isn’t something I’m considering anytime soon, so Gretchen’s research feels more relevant. The book is written in a fun and casual style and gives useful tips for many aspects of our lives, from boosting energy levels, to parenting, to work. At this time, when we have even less control over upsetting things than usual, rather than trying to mend what doesn’t make us happy, it might be best to focus on what does.
Gretchen’s website can be found at https://gretchenrubin.com/, and includes information about her books, podcasts, and other resources”
6. Focus on your strengths and help others to find theirs
Tim suggests taking some time to think about character strengths and what makes us resilient. He has provided some activities that could be adapted for use with your staff teams and/or children and young people. Download Tim's ideas sheet here.
5th April: Social play at a distance: practical ideas for keeping in touch with friends (all ages)
Ruby and Hannah have reviewed the variety of ways to stay in touch and ideas for virtual socials/play dates. Download the information sheet here.
- Join a video chat with your friends using Google Hangouts , Facetime or Zoom. Google Hangouts and Facetime are free and Zoom Basic is free and gives you an unlimited number of 40 minute group meetings.
- Play online games with your friends. Have a look at what is available on the app stores on your phones or go to gaming platforms such as Steam to browse multiplayer games. Steam has some free games, and there is currently a sale on a few Remote Play games, including classics such as Uno. You can also access virtual versions of board games. Hop into a call with a friend and load up your favourite game! Kast is a good screen capture app that could be used to share your gameplay.
- Go on a virtual trip together. Museums, zoos, aquariums and more are offering livestreams and virtual tours. Personally, I’ve been enjoying watching jellyfish floating around! Some links are available here and there are plenty more to be found online. Again, use a video chat platform to make this a group trip.
- Organise a film night with your friends using Netflix Party. You can watch a programme together and join a group chat to talk Netflix Party lets you synchronize Netflix watching across device/locations and adds chat feature between a group
- Kast is a real-time video sharing app with screen capture, voice, text, and video chat technology that makes it easy to connect with friends wherever they are. Similar to Netflix party but you can play games etc. together and video message, text etc. at the same time. Download, invite friends, and share your experiences!
On line Uno – link up with friends on-line and play a game of Uno together
Algoriddim is a DJ app The basic version is free and allows you to use your own music library to mix, scratch etc. and basically learn beginner DJing skills. Simple enough for KS2 child to do. They could take it in turns to provide the sound track via Zoom etc.
DIY Science: anyone can be an engineer with Siemans - quick and simple experiments that KS2 children could do simultaneously in their homes and watch how their friends are getting on at the same time/chat with each other. The experiments look fun, but the videos do feel a bit ‘educational’ .
Lego: Visit the official (I think) Lego site where you can join in activities and competitions to build a design following a particular brief and then upload pictures of your models. The ‘community’ then judge the entries of the competition pieces. Groups of friends could do this together – i.e. all agree to a theme and then build their model before sharing via Zoom, Facetime, WhatsApp etc. They could also video call each other whilst they are building to chat and share ideas. The 30 day Lego challenge seems to be very popular.
27th March: Resources for talking with children about the pandemic
Information from the British Psychological Society on Talking to Children about Coronavirus: click here to download
Newsround has a helpful information page with a video and FAQs for children: click this link to access
This short video, also by Newsround, is reassuring for children: click this link to access
Young people who need more support
If young people require further support in managing these present circumstances, there are organisations who can help:
Young Minds Crisis Messenger - provides free, 24/7 crisis support for young people experiencing a mental health crisis.
- Text YM to 85258
- Phone 0800 1111 (9am-12am)
The Mix - information, support and listening for people under 25.
Supporting teenagers: 27th March 2020
Although the current situation is difficult for everyone, there are particular challenges for young people in the 13 – 19 age group. Social interaction is important at all stages of development, but socialisation outside the family plays a particularly important part in adolescent development. Research suggests that adolescence is a key time for the development of regions of the brain involved in social cognition and self-awareness and that a lack of social interaction during adolescence has lasting consequences in adulthood. Lucy Thompson has reviewed the research for us and provided a summary for our Research web page. The impact and implications for our young people are described in this comment piece for the Guardian by Donna Ferguson: A survival guide for parents during family isolation
With this in mind we have gathered resources to support your young people at home, with a particular focus on teenagers:
BBC Bitesize: How to look after your mental wellbeing at home
Young Minds: What to do if you’re anxious about coronavirus
Lisa Damour, writing in the New York Times reminds us that because of coronavirus, teenagers are missing out on many rites of passage. She recommends offering compassion in this piece: Quaranteenagers: Strategies for Parenting in Close Quarters.
If you are worried that your teenager is spending too much time on their phone, the British Psychological Society advises that being active on social media will help us cope with isolation: read their advice here and browse a range of recommended resources on our web page Practical Resources to Support Children and Young People
On a lighter note, perhaps the problem is that we are all suffering from Offline Friend Addiction (with thanks to @LindaKKaye, Cyber Psychologist):
Home schooling: Teacher Views
Will Tyrrell is a teacher at Silver Springs Primary Academy in Stalybridge.
As well as keeping in touch with the children working at home, a small number of staff at Silver Springs are still keeping the school open for children of key workers and vulnerable children. The school is also still providing free school meals for collection, by delivery, and in the form of vouchers.
Will says: “Schools across the country have distributed worksheet packs, and a seemingly endless list of resources is available online, but, at this strange and unsettling time, it is the personal touch that will matter most. If children feel connected to their teachers, their classmates, and their school communities, this will empower them to learn and complete work at home. More importantly, they will understand that they are not alone at this frightening time, but that they are just as loved and interconnected as they were at school.
To that end, along with the usual reading, writing and maths, we have been devising all kinds of challenges to inspire our classes online. We have had a workout, and a fashion shoot. We have watched a documentary together and answered questions about what we learned. We have filmed ourselves reading our work aloud, and then given feedback to our friends. We have shared photos of ourselves practising mindfulness, reading in the sunshine, and doing fun activities with our families. Every child is working on a personal project, about a topic of their choice. Through it all, we have kept in touch with each other, and tried to make one another smile”
Ben Pearce teaches English at Ark Globe Academy in London
"You can't use up creativity. The more you use the more you have." -- Maya Angelou
Ben says: “When schools shut their doors to most students last week the word ‘unprecedented’ enjoyed the kind of comeback that Oasis fans can only dream about. It is unreasonable to expect parents to deliver Ofsted-pleasing lessons from your front room. So, here are some alternatives to help young people keep learning whilst accepting this is not “business as usual”:
- Audible is offering audiobooks free to students.Get children listening to a story and then set a creative task: “Choose your favourite character and write their origin story”, “Turn the story into a film script”. (and then email it to your English teacher, trust me they will appreciate it!)
- The excellent Mr Bruff teaches daily lessons on the English GCSE through YouTube with worksheets. He even goes through the comments to give feedback!
- If you don’t mind making a mess of your kitchen, set a Food Technology challenge: “Make a cake, but the flavour needs to be suitable for us and the cat.”
Adults are being forced to be creative in the ways they work, imagine if we had learnt to do it as a child!”
If you want to encourage your teenager’s creativity, try this idea from Nicola Morgan “The Teenage Brain Woman” who recommends writing a diary and is planning a writing competition open to all age groups. More information on her blog here.
Five Ways to Well-Being
Rebecca Wright ([email protected])
Five Ways to Wellbeing is an initiative that was developed by New Economics Foundation (2008) as a way of promoting positive mental health and emotional wellbeing. It provides a framework for individuals inviting us to make small adaptations to our lifestyles.
The five areas include:
Connect – promoting social relationships. Talk, listen and be there for someone.
Be active – engaging in physical activity. Do what you can, enjoy what you do and move your mood.
Take notice – taking some time to enjoy/appreciate the environment around you. Remember the simple things that give you joy
Keep learning – engaging in learning or doing something new. Embrace new experiences, see opportunities and surprise yourself!
Give – participating in social and community life. Your time, your words and your presence.
27th March: Connect!
Connecting with our friends and family is one of the most important aspects of our lives, maintaining our mental health and wellbeing. For young people, connecting with their friends is even more important as peer relationships are key during adolescence. During the current pandemic, the social distancing and self-isolating guidelines mean that young people are not able to see and chat with their friends in and outside of school/college as much as they would like. Feelings of worry, frustrations and anger are normal, as we are no longer able to do the things we like. You are not alone if you are experiencing any of these feelings! We prefer to think of it as physical distancing but maintaining social connections. We are lucky enough to have technology to support our communication and connections.
WhatsApp calls – WhatsApp is a free app to download. Having video calls with friends and family can be a great way to share what you are up to.
Zoom – Zoom is an online platform which can be downloaded to a device (mobile, tablet, laptop). It is a video calling app which enables people to meet up online. Young people can have group conversations with their peers and family members or even consider birthday celebrations together! A little tip for improving the sound quality is to turn off the mic if you’re not speaking. Maybe wave to signal when you have something to say.
Whilst it can be helpful to talk about our worries, encourage young people to talk about other things too. Have a chat over a smoothie or eat lunch together virtually!
Social media platforms
Sometimes, young people may not have anything to say to their friends, but they just want to share an amusing image. Snap Chat and TikTok are becoming increasingly popular apps. Young people may want to share pulling funny faces or a new dance routine with their friends.
There is supporting guidance in discussing the safe use of these platforms with young people: safety advice for parents (tik tok)
Facebook – there are various live streams happening through Facebook Live such as comedy sketches, family quizzes and music concerts. Z arts, a creative arts company based in Hulme are streaming Yoga Live. This can be watched together with friends as a group.
Museum of Science and Industry – explore the museum at home! From stories to videos and games share your experiences with friends and family. The museum focuses on technology, science engineering and medicine.
Gaming - As much as gaming is seen as a distraction for young people, there are some occasions where it can be seen as a positive. Read this blog which discusses how gaming supported a young person’s mental health. There is also information about safeguarding young people online and parental controls here.
Why not see what your favourite artist is offering?
Messaging services – sending messages to check that people are well is a great way to connect. Encourage young people to message their friends and not feel afraid to make the first move.
Remind young people to stay safe and vigilant when online. For further support on staying safe online visit the Young Minds website
Contact with pets
Animals can always make good friends too. With no school, this is a great time to encourage young people to care for pets at home. Or if there are no pets in the house, they can always enjoy the live stream from Chester Zoo , or Zoo’s Victoria in Australia on Twitter @ZoosVictoria or on Instagram zoosvictoria.
23rd March: Stay Active!
This week we are focusing on keeping active, particularly important for those of you who are working remotely or not attending school. Consider home exercising:
For Early Years and Key Stage 1:
CBeebies Andy’s Workout
Key Stage 2
Key Stage 3 and 4
Why not try a dance workout
A 10-minute workout to do in your living room
Or make a date with Joe: 9 am every morning aimed at all ages
- visit a local park for a walk – do the daily mile or your own park run.
- Consider some outdoor gardening or planting seeds indoors.
Whilst engaging in outdoor activities do remember to adhere to the guidance on social distancing and take care to look after yourself and others. Enjoy!