Ramadan and the Moon

The Islamic calendar is based around the moon and so for them the day starts at sunset. The start of Ramadan is determined by the first sighting of the new moon of the ninth month so the first day of Ramadan can vary depending on where you are. Read the rest of this entry »

Neverland and Oz

I love May! Why? Because I’ve just found out that two famous children’s authors have their birthdays in this month, which allows me to indulge in some of my favourite stories. And, I’m sure they hold a place in your heart too. The two people in question are J.M. Barrie and L.Frank Baum – the authors of Peter Pan and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but I’m sure you’ve already guessed that from the title of the blog. J.M. Barrie was born on 9th May, 1860 and L. Frank Baum on the 15th May, 1856. So, this is a great opportunity to introduce these wonderful stories to your kids.

These two classics have been made into films, audio books and there’s animated TV series’ too. So there’s no shortage of material for you to use in class. And the number of arts and crafts there are to choose from is staggering. Here’s a great little hand puppet project to get you started. And our felt remnants are perfect for the job.

Creating maps of Neverland is another fun craft idea. Here’s a great example – Neverland map – tea bags and tearing the edges of the paper are a great way to make it look old.

I know that the film The Wizard of Oz is a classic – one of the most viewed films of all time in fact. However, it differs significantly from the books. In the film Dorothy is depicted as a ‘damsel in distress’ who needs saving. But, she was originally written as the one doing the saving. And, the time she spent in Oz was real, not a dream!

If you want to listen to the original books here they are:

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz audiobook

Peter Pan audiobook

And, if you fancy a little sing-a-long (and we all know the benefits of singing for kids), here’s a video of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ along with the text and another with the ever-so-catchy ‘We’re off to see the Wizard’.

Now, what do you imagine when I say Peter Pan? I bet you see a handsome young lad with a cute green outfit, pixie boots, pointy ears and a shock of strawberry-blond hair trying to escape from his cap. I’m not surprised, as that’s the image Disney created. However, J.M. Barrie never described Peter in detail – leaving it to the imagination of the readers. In fact, according to Wikipedia, Barrie describes him as a ‘beautiful boy with a beautiful smile, clad in skeleton leaves and the juices that flow from trees” – whatever that means! So, you could get the kids to draw what they think he would look like – I’m sure that would be interesting given the vagueness of that description.

I hope you have great fun using these two classics as the basis of some super arts and crafts. Do send us some pictures for our gallery – we’d love to see them. And you can win yourself a £20 voucher to spend on our site.

Written by

Chocolate Part Two

Okay, this week we’re going to look at caffeine. I know most of you wouldn’t dream of giving your kids those caffeine-filled energy drinks. But, I have to say that I’ve personally seen, on more than one occasion, very young children drinking from cans of energy drinks, such as Redbull and Monster. And, recent research from the European Food Safety Agency suggested that ‘more than two-thirds of the UK’s 10 to 18-year-olds have drunk high-caffeine energy drinks’.

That’s a very worrying trend, especially when you consider the effects of this powerful stimulant and the amounts contained in those drinks. According to the Food Standards Agency there can be as much as ‘80 milligrams (mg) of caffeine in a small 250ml can’ – to put that in perspective, that’s the equivalent of three cans of coke!

The Effects of Caffeine on Kids

And, you really don’t want the effects of too much of this stuff. It can ‘can cause difficulty concentrating and sleeping’ and result in an ‘increased heart rate’, as well as causing a plethora of other nasty symptoms – here’s a comprehensive list. You can see where this is going, right? You’re going to end up with a lot of hyper-active, and probably difficult to control, children.

Guidelines on Caffeine Intake for Kids

So, what are the guidelines for caffeine intake in children? Once again, they are very vague, with an amount detailed for under 16s only and, surprisingly, they are set by the industry themselves. Those guidelines state that a child should not ‘consume drinks with a caffeine level of 150mg per litre or more‘. Personally, I think that the amount a 16 year old could handle is probably considerably higher than a child of three or four years old. In fact, the Canadian authorities have advised that ‘preschoolers get no more than 45 milligrams of caffeine a day’

It’s also worth noting that caffeine is addictive, so it’s better to limit consumption early on, to prevent problems later.

What about chocolate? Sadly, it seems really difficult to find out how much caffeine is in chocolate. Why? Because of the differing recipes that are used. Once again, we need to work it out and I’m going to use the Cadbury Creme Egg as an example. It weighs 39g and, according to the USDA, the average amount of caffeine in milk chocolate is 20mg per 100g. Now, a Crème Egg also contains fondant, it’s approximately half the weight, so if we take that into account it that means that one Cadbury Crème Egg contains 3.9mg of caffeine. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s easy to see how that amount can easily add up over the day if other chocolate or soft drinks are being consumed. It’s also worth noting that caffeine is used by the food and drink industry in a number of products as a flavouring too, so it’d be a wise idea to check the labels for hidden amounts.

Right, those are the facts I can find. What you choose to do with them is up to you, but my advice would be to limit the amount of chocolate they have this Easter and use some of these healthier and, frankly way cuter, ideas by Fooducate instead.


Written by

Yellow and Purple Multi Media Pictures

There’s a great walk near us in the Peak District where, in May, you’ll find the fields full of yellow cowslips and purple wild orchids. It’s stunning. And now the daffodils are in full bloom along with crocuses, forsythia and primulas. Read the rest of this entry »


We can’t get to this time of year without mentioning Easter. It falls on 20th April this year and will, I’m sure, be another egg-stravaganza (sorry about that, I couldn’t resist!) of chocolate, chicks, bunnies and simmnel cake. Mmm… can’t wait! Read the rest of this entry »

Paper Friends

Mark making with large child-shaped paper for the toddlers this week. And what fun we had. Read the rest of this entry »


April is NaPoWriMo – that’s National Poetry Writing Month for those who don’t know. As such, it’s a great time to get the kids to have a go at writing poems. Read the rest of this entry »

Early Years Printing

Often the first print children will make is a handprint. It’s easy and they’ll do it spontaneously when given the opportunity to play with paint. They’ll either dip their hand in the paint if it’s on a flat pallet or, carefully paint their hand with a brush before pressing it down on the paper. Then they’ll smile with delight at the mark they’ve made. Read the rest of this entry »

Mother’s Day

This is always one of our favourite days at Artful Dodgers, so we stock up on pretty things for the little ones to use in their creative efforts for their lovely mums. And, we gather them all together into one section, not surprisingly called Mothers Day, so you don’t have to go searching all over the place to find them. Read the rest of this entry »

Sensorial Sensations

This week at toddler group we went all sensory. Three activities were set up for the children to explore texture, manipulation and organization. The children were free to move between the activities as they chose. Read the rest of this entry »