Support for local families

It’s brilliant to see so many business and community organisations pulling together during these tough times to make sure that everyone is okay (especially those who are most vulnerable in our society). 

We’ve started putting a list together (by no means exhaustive) of organisations/groups/individuals who are offering their support, including free food supplies or meals, to the most vulnerable children and families across Birmingham.

If you’d like to add to the list, please get in contact with us via social media or pop over to our contacts page.

#endchildpoverty

Ten Things To Try if You’re Scared In A Storm…

A multi-layered felt thundercloud in lots of shades of grey against a black felt background. The cloud has six jaggedy yellow zigzags of lightning coming out of it in different directions, some smaller, a couple of 'em whoppers. It looks quite scary and a bit angry.

Our director, Katerina, has always been a bit scared of thunder and lightning. Here, she shares her favourite calm activities to pass the time at home during stormy weather.

  1. Make a playlist of songs for different weather: write down lots of different kinds of weather and think of any songs that remind you of them. See if the other people you live with know any more songs that remind them of weather. Listen to all the songs in turn, and as you listen to each one try moving your body like that kind of weather. Or, if you really love one kind of weather, you could make a playlist of songs all about that. Then put them on, shut your eyes and imagine what you might be doing if the weather was like that: pick a few different activities and then try acting them out while you listen to the songs.
  2. Beat The Storm at its own game! Every time you see a flash of lightning, shout  “kapow!” and make a quick lightning shape with your body (it might look like a star or a zigzag or a superhero pose: it’s up to you!). Whenever you hear thunder, get down low and roll your arms (as if you’re winding the bobbin up) and say in a very deep voice “rumble, rumble, rumble” until it stops. See if you can get louder and quieter at the same time as the storm. Once you’ve mastered Beat The Storm, see how many different versions of the game you can make up. Play with changing different elements, like:
    • how loud and quiet the storm is (you might make your thunder/lightning sounds and movements whisper, or get slowly louder, or get loud and quiet in turn)
    • how fast or slow the storm is (for example, you could try making your thunder really fast and your lightning slow-motion).
    • the words the storm says: imagine what kind of characters the thunder and lightning might be, and try replacing ‘rumble’ and kapow’ with different words you think those characters might say
  3. Colour naming: Find a really comfortable position in a quiet room, and oh-so-slowly, oh-so-quietly, name all the colours you can see. Start on one side, and looking at each object in turn, say the name of its colour out loud. It’s not about doing it best or fastest: this is a chance to enjoy all the colours of the space, really wallow in them. Notice the difference between one green and another, between a bright orange and a dark one. Spend some time thinking about what objects or places each colour reminds you of.
  4. The story of a moment: Think of a moment when you felt really relaxed, and tell somebody else the story of that moment. Or if you’re playing on your own, you could try writing it down or drawing a comic book / photo story all about that moment. Try to include as many details as possible about what happened in that moment:
    • what the weather was like?
    • do you remember what you could see?
    • what colours and shapes do you remember?
    • could you hear any music or any other sounds?
    • were you eating or drinking anything?
    • what position were you in?
    • were you still or moving?
    • what kind of movement?
    • were there any smells that you remember?
    • were there any people, animals or plants nearby?
    • could you feel anything else on your skin or in your body?
  5. The shape of the clouds: Choose an object or group of objects you really like moving around: it could be anything from a nice bit of shimmery fabric to some building blocks you enjoy. Lay if out gently in front of you. Then listen to the sounds of the storm, without looking out of the window. When you hear thunder, imagine the shape of the clouds in the sky outside and move your object/s around to look like they look in your imagination. When you hear thunder again, move them to make a new shape. You could try doing this with a few different kinds of objects.
  6. Make up weather characters for the thunder, the lightning, the rain and the wind. You could:
    • write down what personalities they might have, and what might they look like if they were people or animals
    • draw pictures of your weather characters and make up funny names for them
    • act out your weather characters with your voice or your body: do impressions of how they talk / move, and think about what they might say or do
  7. Go smell-seeking! Search your home for:
    • three things that smell tasty
    • three things that smell sleepy
    • three things that smell friendly
    • three things that smell like a place where you feel happy
    • three things that smell like a specific person you like spending time with.
  8. Get creative with the smells you’ve collected from your home. You could try:
    • writing a list of all the smells you find and describing them in as much detail as possible with words
    • drawing pictures of what each smell looks like
    • doing a dance about some of the smells
    • making up a song with all your smells in
    • making up a story that includes some of the smells
    • performing your song, story or dance to an audience: and giving them the smells to pass around and sniff while they enjoy the show!
  9. Create a sensory picture of the storm: Start by drawing a picture of the storm outside your home. Label the main shapes in your picture: you might find lightning, dark clouds, lighter clouds, blue sky, brown walls, and so on. Then gather 3D objects to represent each item: try to find things you can make into the shapes from your picture (make sure you ask before ripping or cutting anything up!). Choose objects which feel really interesting and different from each other. For example, you could make your lightning out of sand, or a sponge, or a wooly sock. Set out all your 3D objects like the shapes in the picture.
  10. Make up music about the storm: Shut your eyes and listen to all the different sounds you can hear in the storm. The thunder might have low rumbles and sharp cracks, the rain might sound like lots of big drops or just one SHHHHHH sound, the wind might be making a high up singing sound and also making a gate creak or bang. Think up ways you can use your voice, your body or objects to copy the different noises the storm makes. Then, try putting the different nosies together and see how they sound. Look out for the combinations of sounds you like best. Then decide on a story for your storm: it might start quietly in the distance, get louder and slower when it’s nearby, and then disappear quietly into the distance: think about what the real-life storm did and see if that gives you any ideas. If you’re able to, you could try recording the music you make so you remember it later.

Black Lives Matter: resources

It’s appalling to witness the increasing prevalence of racist, violent and oppressive systemic inequalities in our society: we recognise the devastating impact these are having on the lives of Black children, families and communities in Birmingham and beyond.

We’ve gathered some useful resources designed to help children think about race, or to help parents/educators talk about race – along with others designed to support Black children at this difficult time, and those which centre Black characters and narratives. We’ve split them into resources for younger children, for older children, for parents/educators and finally a list of ethnically diverse libraries, publishers and booksellers.

We also want to use our social media platforms to amplify Black voices in UK theatre/literature for young audiences (and share ways you can support them too). In the meantime, we’re working on what we can do better to support Black voices in children’s theatre and Black children themselves, and how we can encourage the wider sector to do so too.

We’d welcome your suggestions for any of the above: just drop us a line on hello@cloudcuckoolandtheatre.com

RESOURCES FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN

There’s a lack of UK resources for younger children, so we’ve drawn these from a wider geographical area. This is a wider societal issue which sees younger Black children prevented from seeing their lives and those of their peers reflected truthfully and thoughtfully in children’s literature, drama and education activities.

ANANSI THE SPIDER RE-SPUN (3-8 years):
The Unicorn Theatre’s brilliant Anansi The Spider Re-spun adapts three classic West African and Caribbean tales to enjoy online until 27th July:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLfRny0NepZ03QOujK9U3KRtyXqNGMi_4A&fbclid=IwAR1gXTXz3GOiFB4h8w6050spHa0llYiSYidKIGKqTMBVczbMI4AJrwFKyiY

SESAME STREET (early years):

RACISM AND PROTESTING: Elmo and his dad Louie address racism to help educate children after recent protests in response to the BLM movement and George Floyd’s death. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGcGXXCRrow&feature=youtu.be

COLOR OF ME SONG: What is the color of “you?” Is your skin color tan, light brown, milky white, or dark dark brown? Whatever color you are, be proud and sing along.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sqN2J9_axY&feature=emb_title

I LOVE MY HAIR SONG: Is your hair frizzy or wavy or straight or curly or long or short or red or black or brown? Whatever it is, you should love your hair! It’s a part of who you are. Listen to Mando sing about why he loves his hair! https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=8&v=cYMsiwjAY0w&feature=emb_title

WHAT I AM: Will.i.am sings “What I Am” as part of Sesame Street’s 41st season. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyVzjoj96vs&feature=emb_title

CBEEBIES (early years):

JO-JO AND GRAN-GRAN: JoJo is almost five, and Gran Gran is her wise and loving grandmother. They live close to each other, and Gran Gran always has something fun planned to do when JoJo comes to visit: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/m000ghpx/jojo-gran-gran

MY WORLD KITCHEN: Pre-school series celebrating foods from a rich diversity of backgrounds: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0009138/my-world-kitchen-series-3-10-iaias-guineabissau-kansiye

STORIES + BOOKS (younger children):

PLAY AFRICA STORYTELLING (early years / infant school): Play Africa Children’s Museum is sharing lots of African storytelling videos designed for younger children on its Facebook page (they also have helpful resources for parents): https://www.facebook.com/pg/PlayAfricaChildrensMuseum/videos/?ref=page_internal

ANTI-RACIST BABY (early years): This new picture book by Ibram X Kendi tries to show children what they should be, as opposed to what they should not be, and teach them to love themselves and their people and their humanity—and humanity: https://www.instagram.com/p/CBf7WPNngqF/?igshid=w1u0je98301

SAME DIFFERENCE (4-8 years): In Calida Garcia Rawles’ story, Lisa and Lida realize their bond is deeper than what they see:
http://www.samedifferencebook.com/watch_video.html

ROCKET SAYS LOOK UP (3-7 years): Nathan Byron’s storyabout a young black girl who LOVES space and not only looks up at the stars but looks up to Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXFS3RGl2Zg

A KIDS BOOK ABOUT RACISM (ages 5+): Yes, this really is a kids book about racism. Inside, Jelani Memory offers a clear description of what racism is, how it makes people feel when they experience it, and how to spot it when it happens. This is one conversation that’s never too early to start, and this book was written to be an introduction for kids on the topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnaltG5N8nE

RESOURCES FOR OLDER CHILDREN

ACTIVITIES

NEW VICTORY ARTS (7-15 years): A week of free videos and activities celebrating Juneteenth (the anniversary of the emancipation of slaves in the United States) as a way to educate, communicate and activate ourselves towards equality, liberation and justice. https://newvictory.org/new-victory-arts-break-juneteenth/

KIDS OF COLOUR (teenagers + young adults): A brilliant platform for young people of colour to explore race, identity and culture and challenge the everyday, institutionalised racism that shapes their lives. kidsofcolour.com

FILM + VIDEO

INTO FILM: Resources which explore the issue of racism and anti-blackness in a way that touches on older children’s curriculum subjects, alongside mental wellbeing resources which may be a help to young black people in coping with ongoing events. https://www.intofilm.org/theme/86?fbclid=IwAR3FCG1O51hAe9kBQbXTnAsg_0pwRYKJqVc2MQPYbAGvn_FxmXuroC-k5Bo#resources

MATTER (older teens / no specific age guide: contains swearing and mild references to drugs/sex; trigger warning for discussion of racially-motivated police violence): After a feud on social media, Cole and Kim sit down to discuss the difference in saying “all lives matter” versus “black lives matter”, and end up talking about a whole lot more. https://vimeo.com/207849259

NOUGHTS AND CROSSES (age 15+): BBC dramatisation of Malorie Blackman’s renowned young adult novels, set in an alternate history where black “Cross” people rule over white “Noughts”. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p082w992

WHY BLACK LIVES MATTER NOW: ELLIS FEARON / TEDX YOUTH: Although Ellis Fearon is not from the US, from the moment when he witnessed what was happening in the “leading power of the world,” he had a conversation with his parents about the implications of those events, he knew that he wanted to make more people aware about this. His talk is about what “being black” means to him. Ellis was born in the UK and last year moved to Argentina. He is currently in 8th grade. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7EZWBIPUUQ

RESOURCES FOR PARENTS / EDUCATORS

Several organisations are sharing excellent resources about teaching Black Lives Matter, anti-racism and tolerance, which are designed to help teachers, parents and carers talk to young people about race:

DC AREA 4 SOCIAL JUSTICE: Website packed with ideas, stories, videos and lessons for teaching early years and primary age children: https://www.dcareaeducators4socialjustice.org/black-lives-matter/resources/early-childhood-elementary#videos

THE BLACK CURRICULUM: Organisation which creates arts education programmes for all young people aged 8-16, aiming to equip young people with a sense of identity, and the tools for a diverse landscape. They’re working towards changing the national curriculum and building a sense of identity in every young person in the UK. https://www.theblackcurriculum.com/our-work

RAISING RACE CONSCIOUS CHILDREN: Resources to help with talking to young children. http://www.raceconscious.org

SOCIAL JUSTICE BOOKS: Guidance on choosing anti-bias books for children.https://socialjusticebooks.org/guide-for-selecting-anti-bias-childrens-books/

ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: An array of helpful webinars, podcasts, tools and info to support family and classroom conversations about race. https://www.adl.org/education-and-resources/resources-for-educators-parents-families

THE CHILD DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE: Teaching Black Lives Matter webinar (https://www.tolerance.org/professional-development/webinars/teaching-blm) and classroom resources at https://www.tolerance.org/classroom-resources

LIBRARIES + BOOKSELLERS

KNIGHTS OF: Each year, there are more children’s books published about animals than Black people. Black people have historically been, and continue to be, underrepresented, misrepresented, or invisible in children’s literature. Inclusive UK children’s book publisher Knights Of do things differently, publishing brilliant children’s books by writers of colour such as Sharna Jackson and Jason Reynolds. http://knightsof.media/

DIVERSE BOOKS FOR KIDS: UK instagram channel sharing diverse stories for young readers.
https://www.instagram.com/diverse_kids_books/?igshid=19962cxn0l94o

NEW BEACON BOOKS: London bookshop stocking a fantastic selection of children’s books representing culturally and ethnically diverse voices. https://www.newbeaconbooks.com/childrens

BLACK CHILDREN’S BOOKS: A monthly box-scheme where you can subscribe to receive representative books and activities. https://www.imaginemestories.com/

THE CONSCIOUS KID LIBRARY:
Black male characters are even less visible, and even fewer still, are books reflecting positive and empowered depictions of Black boys. The Conscious Kid Library curated this list of 25 children’s books celebrating Black boys, in partnership with Moms of Black Boys United. These books center, reflect, and affirm Black boys, and were written and illustrated by Black authors and artists. https://www.theconsciouskid.org/black-books-matter-childrens-books-celebrating-black-boys

Welcome

Hi everybody and thanks for visiting our Thinking Space.

We’ll be sharing all sorts of ideas, news and helpful resources for children and parents in Birmingham and beyond, so pop back soon to see what’s on our minds!