Tag Archives: primary school

World Book Day Epic Fail

World Book day Epic Fail

There are some things in life which I swear are created solely to make mothers feel inadequate and useless, and World Book Day falls squarely into that category in my opinion. Along with spots and stripes day for Children in Need. Pyjama days – now THOSE I can cope with it, although we should perhaps gloss over the fact that I managed to send the kids to school in their school uniform for that as well last term, because I was a week out in my planning. Still, could have been worse, I could have been a week out in the other direction, right?

So World Book Day has been a complete disaster. My eldest point blank refused to contemplate dressing up because it was ‘stupid’. In vain I tried to come up with people for him to dress up as – the Demon Dentist? Wimpy Kid? Horrid Henry? Charlie from the Chocolate Factory? No – none of these fitted the bill. Then finally – ever the creature of habit – at bedtime yesterday he said ‘fine, I’ll go as James and the Giant Peach again’ – except I foolishly didn’t keep last year’s Giant Peach and we had nothing big enough to magic one up.

‘Right’ says he.’This is my LAST WORD on the subject – I’ll be Timmy.’

‘Timmy…which Timmy?’

‘Timmy from the Famous Five, of course!’

Well, if I can’t magic up a giant peach at 8pm at night, I sure as hell can’t magic up a flipping doggy costume…after much more discussion we finally settled upon Dennis the Menace – I am not sure if comic characters count for World Book Day but frankly I’ll take what I can get on this one, so Dennis the Menace it was. Except this morning he said he was too cold to wear shorts – can’t blame him, really. So he basically went to school in his school uniform with a red and black top that he grew out of 2 years ago. World Book Day Epic Fail Number One.

My daughter views World Book Day completely differently – she practically inhales any book she can get her hands on. The whole process of choosing a costume was much more fun, and over the week we’ve we discussed the relative merits of Amelia Jane, A Little Princess, Anne from the Famous Five, any of the Colour Fairies or Rainbow Fairies, as well as what I’d call traditional Fairy Tale characters but what she calls Disney Princesses…we’d finally settled on the Worst Witch. Yay! A fun costume that she was excited about, that I could manage easily, AND that I could take a picture of for all those totally-not-competitive-at-all pre 9am Facebook posts…and then we received a text from school to say that because of their trip to Cardiff Castle, my daughter’s year would need to wear school uniform after all…World Book Day Epic Fail Number Two.

Thankfully, my youngest is still in nursery, so I didn’t have to worry about a costume for him….though he would have been the easiest of the lot, given that we have a dressing up box full of superhero outfits, all of which he loves, and will wear at the slightest excuse. So imagine his distress (and my shame) when we rocked up to the Nursery entrance – to find it chock full of superheros.  FFS. World Book Day Epic Fail Number Three.

Don’t know about you lot, but I’m glad the whole shebang is done with for another year!

As you can see there really isn’t much hope for me in the motherhood skillz arena. But  if you think I’m a (slightly) better blogger than a mother, please feel free to nominate me in the MAD Blog Awards ‘Best New Blogger’  category – just click on the pretty pic below….THANK YOU!

MAD Blog Awards

City of Zombies Board Game – Giveaway

One of the fab things about having another life as an accidental games shop owner is we get to play loads of games ‘for work’. It’s obviously not possible for each of us to have played every single game on our shelves, but between the team of five who work on the shop floor, we do have a fair amount covered, which means we can give genuine advice to the people who shop with us.

Since we have a ready made testing panel in our house, it falls to us to road test the kids’ games that come into the shop. This is something of a relief for me as my brain just does not work well enough these days for most of the grownup stuff (I live in hope that my marbles will one day return but as time goes by that is looking increasingly unlikely, ho hum).

Though we primarily play for fun, the kids learn a lot from game playing. Turn taking, negotiation, losing gracefully, thinking ahead, and if we’re playing a co-operative game, teamwork – all skills which will stand them in good stead in later life. Because I think they learn so much from board games already, I never really seek out ‘educational’ games for them. They love playing as things are and I don’t really want to spoil their or my experience by trying to bundle something in which is ‘good for them’.

So when I had a call from games designer Matthew Tidbury of Thinknoodle, telling me about a game suitable for age 8 and above that he had created to support his kids’ maths skills, I was initially slightly reticent. But then he started talking about a game featuring a city overtaken by zombies, and that sounded like a whole lot more fun. Ok I said – I’d love to trial the Zombie game in the shop, and maybe we’ll look at the Maths one at a later point? At which point Matt kindly said to me ‘ummm, sorry, you’ve misunderstood a bit – the Maths game is the Zombie game, at which point I got a bit flustered and pretended that I had totally not got the wrong end of the stick, and he politely let me pretend, before offering to send a copy to the shop to try out.

City of Zombies

The game happened to arrive on a day when my daughter was on a sleepover and my youngest was poorly, so we played it first off with the eight year old. It was refreshingly easy to set up and start playing – there is an instruction video available but the booklet that comes with the game is so well set out that you can easily manage without it.

Setting up City of Zombies

Once set up, the game is centred around a band of zombies advancing on a city – with a small bunch of heroes fighting them off, and (hopefully) destroying them before they make it over the fence. To get rid of a zombie, you use the three very dangerous weapons at your disposal – yep, these three dangerous weapons right here. Scary, aren’t they!

Zombie Killing Dice

On your turn, you must use the dice to get rid of as many zombies as you can, by using the numbers on the dice in any combination to create a number matching that shown in the red circle on the bottom right of the Zombie cards.


So, if you throw a 2, a 3 and a 6, you can kill off a zombie in the following ways…


This is the bit where a strange thing happens…yep, everyone gets very, very excited about, er, Maths! It was quite a revelation watching my eight year old bubbling over with different ways to try the numbers to kill off the most zombies possible, coming up with combinations that (whisper it) his father and I hadn’t seen. And it’s not just my boy – the exact same scenario was repeated with a whole bunch of children when we played at a family games event in the shop the next day…and the beauty of it was the kids didn’t even really realise that they were practically doing Maths homework!

Once everyone has grasped the basics of the game as above, you can have all sorts of fun by using optional special abilities and power ups, combining the two zombie decks to include extra-mean ones,  and using the advanced rules which mix the game up a bit – in short, there’s enough going on here for the kids to want to play it over and over again, and crucially, for the adults to enjoy it too.

Despite my reservations about ‘educational’ games, this is a game I’ve already bought for my kids to have at home – considering we already have a demo copy we could borrow from the shop, this says quite a lot about how frequently they want to play it! I’ve also been lucky enough to secure a free copy from Thinknoodle to give away here on the blog – entry is via the Rafflecopter below so why not try your luck – and see how much fun Maths can be!

If you’re not lucky enough to win a copy, they’re on sale at Rules of Play in Cardiff – or if you’re not local, you can also get a copy direct from the City of Zombies website.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**Disclosure – I’m a co-owner of Rules of Play; we were sent a City of Zombies free of charge for the shop to try out; Thinknoodle also supplied me with a copy to give away here on the blog. I have not received any payment for this post, and as always, this post reflects my honest opinion**

Considering Welsh Medium Education?

I’ve noticed (or rather those clever bots at Google Analytics have noticed) that the most popular posts on the blog at the moment are the ones about our experiences of Welsh Medium Education. I guess the folk stumbling upon my witterings are probably researching the choices for their own children, so I thought I’d do a quick summary of the advice I’d give to English speaking families considering Welsh Medium Education.

  • If you think you might choose Welsh Medium Education, then start learning Welsh yourself, now. You will need to understand and be able to read/pronounce at least basic Welsh to be able to support your child in learning to read, and beyond the early days, the more comfortable you are in Welsh, the more help you can be.
  • If both parents can learn, even better. If one never gets round to it, the reading/homework burden will always fall on one person. Just saying!
  • I’m sure you’d never dream of sticking your pre-schooler in front of the telly, but you know,  in case an emergency arises and you’re all out of organic baking ingredients or non-toxic finger paints then stick’em in front of Cyw rather than Beebies. And watch with them – it’s amazing how much you will pick up.
  • Same advice for the iPad – there are lots of Welsh language activities on Cyw that you can do together.
  • Choose Welsh medium childcare – or a bilingual setting at the very least. The more Welsh your son or daughter knows when they start school, the more comfortable they’ll be in an all-Welsh environment.
  • Even if you are not at all sure that Welsh Medium Education will be the route you choose, I’d seriously consider doing all the above in any case. That way you’re keeping your options open for as long as possible, and it’ll be a good grounding for your child since they’ll learn Welsh from day one in an English medium school in any case.
  • It’s very easy to find out about the benefits of bilingual education – and quite hard to find out about possible disadvantages. If I was making the choice again, I’d actively seek out parents who feel that their children have not benefited from being educated in Welsh, to find out what issues they faced and what they did about it. It may or may not have changed my decision, but I’d have felt better prepared for the situation we find ourselves in now with our eldest child.
  • You might well be told, as I was, that children not managing in Welsh and therefore switching to an English school, ‘just does not happen’. Well, it does happen  to some children,  so you may want to think through the implications of changing school at a later date. Particularly if you have a large family. I’d probably switch my eldest to English school right now if he was an only child, but what would going to a different school to his siblings mean to him?
  • When you’re looking at schools, make sure to ask about what additional language support is available to children whose first language is not Welsh. Also, ask where the trigger point is for accessing this support, and, importantly if there is flexibility in this.    If your child doesn’t take to Welsh like a duck to water, you need to know that you’ll be able to identify and act on this as early as possible, and with the support of your chosen school.


So, just some things to think about if Welsh is not your family language, but you are considering Welsh Medium Education for your children. It’s not meant to be a comprehensive guide, just a reflection of the advice I’d give now I’m four years into the journey. There may be more to add as time goes by!

As always, your comments/thoughts/suggestions are more than welcome, here or via @learnermother – thank you/diolch!