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blogging about my books

National Storytelling Week

ChildrenPosted by Foley Western Sat, February 01, 2014 11:54:30

It is said storytelling began a very long time ago when man collected words and spoke to lift life through fables, tales and stories, often accompanied by hand movements and facial gestures. Nowadays storytelling is a huge part of life that starts as early as the infant years and continue through life until the last years of life. Storytelling is not just for entertainment, it can help aid bereavement and therapy, support learning difficulty and special needs groups, to even improving communication in the business world. The act of sharing stories between storyteller and listener feeds the imagination and is continued to be passed from one generation to another.

Today sees the start of the 14th annual National Storytelling Week which is run by The Society of Storytelling. It begins today Saturday 1st February and last until the following Saturday 8th February. The aim of the National Storytelling Week is to spread the ‘word’ and promote ‘the oldest art form in the world’ – storytelling. You might have seen posters in your local library or art gallery with details of how they are celebrating National Storytelling Week, or if you have young children their school may have decided to include National Storytelling Week in their school week.

You can find out where and when events in your area are taking place on The Society of Storytelling website http://www.sfs.org.uk/ where there are lots of information and resources for everyone to use.

Why not have your own storytelling event and help spread the word. All you need is your imagination and a willing audience and it doesn’t matter if it is 1 person or 100 people, keep the joy of storytelling alive and pass the ‘word’ on.



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The Twelve Days of Christmas

ChildrenPosted by Foley Western Sun, December 15, 2013 16:47:43
We have all heard of the popular festive song The Twelve Days of Christmas but how many of you know all the gifts 'my true love' sent over those twelve days. You know there's a partridge, some gold rings and something about ladies dancing, but what were the others?

On the first day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
A Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the second day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
2 Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the third day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the fourth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
4 Calling Birds
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the fifth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
5 Golden Rings
4 Calling Birds
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the sixth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
6 Geese a Laying
5 Golden Rings
4 Calling Birds
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree



On the seventh day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
7 Swans a Swimming
6 Geese a Laying
5 Golden Rings
4 Calling Birds
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the eighth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
8 Maids a Milking
7 Swans a Swimming
6 Geese a Laying
5 Golden Rings
4 Calling Birds
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the ninth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
9 Ladies Dancing
8 Maids a Milking
7 Swans a Swimming
6 Geese a Laying
5 Golden Rings
4 Calling Birds
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the tenth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
10 Lords a Leaping
9 Ladies Dancing
8 Maids a Milking
7 Swans a Swimming
6 Geese a Laying
5 Golden Rings
4 Calling Birds
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the eleventh day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
11 Pipers Piping
10 Lords a Leaping
9 Ladies Dancing
8 Maids a Milking
7 Swans a Swimming
6 Geese a Laying
5 Golden Rings
4 Calling Birds
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the twelve day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
12 Drummers Drumming
11 Pipers Piping
10 Lords a Leaping
9 Ladies Dancing
8 Maids a Milking
7 Swans a Swimming
6 Geese a Laying
5 Golden Rings
4 Calling Birds
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree


Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and hope the festive holidays are filled with love and laughter!




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Bonfire Night

ChildrenPosted by Foley Western Mon, November 04, 2013 21:29:18

Guy Fawkes or Bonfire Night s it is sometimes known is celebrated across Great Britain every year on the evening of the 5 November and the history of this night dates back to 5 November 1605. Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot was arrested while guarding explosives that had been placed under the House of Lords. People celebrated the failed attempt on King James I life by lighting bonfires around London. The introduction of The Observance of 5 November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving.


So where did fireworks come from? Fireworks are thought to originate from China 2,000 years ago and were first known as fire crackers.

Now to test to see how much you know about staying safe on Bonfire Night.

* Any idea which age group are most affected by firework accidents? Reports suggest that half of all firework accidents happen to children under the age of 16.

* What do you do if a firework that has been lit doesn’t go off properly? Would you run over and relit it? That is the worst thing you could do – never return to a firework once it has been lit, you never know when it might suddenly decide to go off. Imagine if you were bending down trying to relight it and it sudden exploded. Not worth thinking about.

* Do you let your children help you entertain the neighbours? As much as it is great to make Bonfire Night a family occasion do not extend that to allowing them to hold or even light a firework. Only an adult should take that responsibility.

* How about Fred the family dog or Ginger, next doors cat can they join you in the garden? I think most people know that the noise of the fireworks is what terrifies both cats and dogs. Please make sure they are indoors somewhere they are not afraid.


Sparklers are okay they weren’t hurt you? Do you think that’s true? If you said no, then you have a few things to learn. Sparklers should always be held at arm’s length and never waved in front of any one’s face. Once it has gone out, do not be tempted to touch the end, it could still burn you. Best thing to do once you’ve had your fun is put any used Sparklers in a bucket of water to cool them down and get rid of any dangers.

So now you’re armed with a bit of history, what you should and shouldn’t do on Bonfire Night, and the only thing left is for me to wish you a fabulous time watching the dark skies being lit up with a mixture of shapes in the colours of the rainbow.

Enjoy and make sure you are not one of the casualties of 5 November!



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Happy Halloween

ChildrenPosted by Foley Western Thu, October 31, 2013 08:02:26

If you were asked to describe Halloween in one word, would you mention any of the following; vampires, candy, pumpkins, scary, fun, witches. There are very good reasons that these particular words make up Halloween but most people wouldn’t be able to tell you why. So I am going to give you a quick lesson and if you find yourself having to answer a question on Halloween for the top prize in a quiz you’ll be well prepared.

All Hallow’s Eve or Halloween as we best know it, is the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day, a day dedicated to remembering the dead and dates back to around 1750. Although customs have changed over time, 31st October is still a significant date on the calendar and remembered all across the world.


Costumes associated with Halloween have traditionally been modelled on supernatural figures; vampires, ghosts, skeletons, witches and devils but today anything goes, as more and more costumes are readily available to buy.

Trick or treating back in the 1700s didn’t involve sweets or candy, Halloweeners would go house to house singing for food, a luxury in those times. Kids now come home armed with bags of candy, willing households all ready for them to knock on the door as supermarkets stock up with ideal ‘treats.’

Another symbol of Halloween is the Jack-o-lantern and I have included the myth that surrounds what is believed to be the first making of a Jack-o-lantern.

On route home after a night's drinking, Jack encounters the Devil who tricks him into climbing a tree. A quick-thinking Jack etches the sign of the cross into the bark, thus trapping the Devil. Jack strikes a bargain that Satan can never claim his soul. After a life of sin, drink, and mendacity, Jack is refused entry to heaven when he dies. Keeping his promise, the Devil refuses to let Jack into hell and throws a live coal straight from the fires of hell at him. It was a cold night, so Jack places the coal in a hollowed out turnip to stop it from going out, since which time Jack and his lantern have been roaming looking for a place to rest.


The turnip was eventually replaced by a pumpkin as it was more cost effective and due to its softness easier to hollow out. The insides were then turned into pumpkin soup or pumpkin pie to feast on – definitely sounds more mouth-watering than turnip pie or turnip soup. Carved out pumpkins are placed in windows or by front doors as a sign that Halloweeners will be well received when they knock.

So know you have learnt a little about the history of Halloween, it’s time to put on your witches hat, grab your black cat and head out into the dark to practise your best scary face. Happy Halloween.

Have fun and keep safe and don’t terrify anyone that doesn’t want to be terrified.



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Staying in for Half Term

ChildrenPosted by Foley Western Mon, October 28, 2013 21:21:08

It didn't seem that long ago that the six week long summer holidays were in full swing and now Half Term is upon us, with the Christmas holidays not that far in the future. Parents are finding it harder and harder to entertain their youngsters and stop the boredom creeping up when the sun is shining, but what to do when the weather is just too bad to go outside.

The arrival of St Jude’s Storm has thrown the country in to chaos, with everyone being advised to stay indoors unless it was completely necessary to brave the gale force winds and flying branches. The groans of parents and kids alike can be heard up and down the country, the thought of having to entertain indoors for a week filling them with dread.

Sitting in front of the TV or the PC is okay for an afternoon but definitely out of the questions for a week. What else does that leave? I have drawn up a list of five ‘indoor’ activities that might just keep a smile on everyone’s faces.

1. Home Cinema
Local cinemas do normally run a school holidays programme but if you can’t get out to one, how about make your own. You don’t need a big room or plenty of chairs, cushions, pillows and duvets will do the trick, and kids of all ages will love it. A box of ice lollies and a big bag of sweets is the perfect combination. And the adults can even join in.

2. The Great British Baking Afternoon
Why not get a few youngsters over and have a bake off. If you are also thinking Option 4 (below) too, what a great opportunity to make the party food. You could also use Halloween as the theme. Some of the older children could take on the roles as the judges and the winning ‘baker’ win a prize.


3. Halloween Craft Day
If you are thinking of combining Halloween and the half term party/disco or just looking to decorate your hallway, a craft day is the perfect opportunity to make a wide range of decorations. From bunting to pumpkins to scary costumes, even the tiniest of hands can take part.

4. Half Term Party/Disco
Depending on the ages of your youngsters and their friends a half term party or disco at the end of the week is a perfect treat to finish off the holidays. Gives the parents a chance to catch up and join in the fun too. You could add a theme and get the kids to dress up.

5. Games Arcade/Board Games
Most families have some sort of games console, so why not get a few friends to bring theirs round and build your very own games arcade. You could have teams competing against each other, with the lowest scorer on each game being eliminated until you only have two components left to fight it out. An alternative to the games arcade, could be a board game convention. Kids could arrive with the board game of their choice and challenge the others. You could even set it up as if it was a game on TV with a live audience.



I am sure there will be many other ideas that spring to mind but if you do find yourself with a houseful of bored children, maybe one of these ideas might just turn their frown upside down.




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National Youth Film Festival

ChildrenPosted by Foley Western Wed, October 23, 2013 17:37:32

Have you heard of the National Youth Film Festival before?

I hadn’t until I passed a large group of children queuing outside my local cinema first thing in the morning. It made me wonder what they were doing, as the Cinema doesn’t normally open until later in the day. I had to ask.

It seems this week sees the launch of the very first National Youth Film Festival which is being held at participating cinemas between 21st October and 8th November across the UK. The first of its kind in this country, the festival is hoping to inspire young people aged 5-19 to watch, make and use film in new and creative ways, bringing learning to life to support education and personal development. And hopefully building a lifelong passion for films.

What a great idea. I can’t think of anyone that hasn’t watched a film, and what a fantastic way to get a particular message across. I needed to find out more. A few clicks of the mouse and I was soon on the National Youth Film Festival website. Wow they have really gone to town on promoting this. Not only do they offer an explanation of which themes have been chosen but why and which films they have decided fits the bill.



Monsters University, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, Man of Steel, Peter Pan, Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory – just a few gems being shown on the big screen.

They also have lots of downloadable information for educators and children to use once the festival is over, and a guide to help you get your own film festival started. That is just brilliant. I know a lot of young children who are very interested in films, from scriptwriting to making the film, to sound and visual effects.

So many good books have been turned into films – Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hobbit, Lion, Witch and Wardrobe – and another way of encouraging more children to pick up a book.

I have included a link to the National Youth Film Festival in case you know anyone who is a budding director, actor, animator and even a writer. Films do play a big part in gathering ideas for a great plot, so why not see which film stands out for you.

http://www.nationalyouthfilmfestival.org/





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TV Recording

ChildrenPosted by Foley Western Sat, September 28, 2013 22:46:33
Took my son to BBC today to record a children's programme , but unfortunately it did not turn out as expected. The cameras did not show him and his friends even once during the recording. This was quite disappointing especially as we had come a long way. Surprisingly he said he had a good time.
It would be nice if every child that made an effort to attend would be given a view from the cameras evenly through out the recording.

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Ideas for Children (and from Children)

ChildrenPosted by Foley Western Thu, August 08, 2013 23:49:21
Obviously, my children are my life. They take up much of my life too, but their creativity and energy, never ceases to amaze me.

As I think up new ways to keep them entertained this summer holiday, their zest for life continues to influence the themes of my books, especially children's books.

My book 'To Be Young' focuses on the adventures of different animals and their situations. I use these animals as tools which, I find, are a good way to illustrate life events and emotions. It's also such a good excuse for me to tag along on a trip to the aquarium or safari park as there is so much colour, wildness and action to witness there. Plus, the animals provide awesome photos, all in the name of research!

Another fantastic way to keep children occupied, but also to improve their writing and story telling whilst their off school, is to encourage them to record highlights of their summer holiday. One way is to introduce the 'summer diary' or scrapbook or even an online collage. Both can include anything they have found fun or exciting during their day. Trips out can be recorded using maps, brochures, shells, leaves, feathers etc. The more colourful and creative the better. Drawings, paintings and pressings can used to describe their day or trip out. The more stuff collected really does mean more memories.

What with technology nowadays, photos can be uploaded to create a virtual diary that might also include funny videos, drawings and links to favourite places, films, games - the world really is their oyster!

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