The Book Activist reviews: Early Learning at the British Museum – ABC and 123.

British Museum Early Learning books 1

These two fantastic board books have just been published by Nosy Crow in collaboration with the British Museum as part of their new range for children aged 0-12. A whole lot more than your average counting or alphabet book, each one celebrates the wonderful artefacts that can be found at the museum.  

British Museum Early Learning books image 2

As well as teaching children number sequences, letters and words, they show some of the amazing objects that make up the museum’s collections. The lovely colourful photographs celebrate many cultures introducing little ones to the idea of the similarities and differences we share. 

British Museum Early Learning alphabet book

A helpful index at the back of the book shows where and when each item is from.  Children and adults alike can marvel at the wonders of the world and learn even more by using the QR code at the back of the book to visit the website – or perhaps even plan a visit to the museum itself!

A great opportunity for early learning and encouraging curiosity, these are well worth adding to your little ones bookshelf. Find out more at

Victoria Dilly
The Book Activist
May 2017

Why do we like small worlds so much?

You might be wondering why we always include a small world in our messy play sessions?

Here's a few reasons why...

Small worlds can be based on any theme. They inspire storytelling and allow children to use their imaginations. Importantly, they develop communication skills through role-play as well as informing and teaching children about different environments.

Want to have a go at making a small world with your little one? Use puppets, play toys, cardboard boxes, leaves, cereal, soil, twigs and other sensory materials such as rice, pasta, hay, dry lentils etc to re-create your very own small world!



In picture 1 (above) we have used animals, ice, rice and glitter, cotton wool and shaving foam to create a mini frozen kingdom.



In picture 2, we have created a small world construction site using cornflakes, stones, weetabix bridges, jenga bricks, egg boxes, oats, kitchen roll insides and diggers.


These are just two ideas, and there are plenty more suggestions out there if you're in need of inspiration. Or just see what you have around the house, and what small toys your children enjoy playing with.

The Book Activist reviews: Sky Private Eye and the Case of the Missing Grandma by Jane Clarke and Loretta Schauer

It’s a Fairytale emergency! Granny’s gone missing... Has the Big Bad Wolf kidnapped her or even gobbled her up? Quick, call Sky Private Eye! Cupcakes, clues and rescues are this fairytale detective’s speciality, but can Sky and Little Red Riding Hood uncover the clues fast enough to save Granny.

This is one of a lovely series featuring Sky Private Eye and various fairytale characters. In this book Sky (along with her dog Snuffles) is called to investigate when Little Red Riding Hood’s Granny disappears. With the help of Sky’s special cupcakes and some clever detective work, they discover Granny hasn’t gone missing but she IS in danger of being gobbled up!  Sky and Little Red Riding Hood use all their ingenuity to help rescue Granny and make sure the Wolf never bothers them again.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable read, bringing to life classic fairytale characters in a new and brilliant way. A very accessible font and clear narrative makes this a great book for fledgling readers to try themselves, as well as being a good story to read aloud.  The illustrations are lively, colourful and perfectly capture the tone of the story – fun with just enough thrills but not too scary! I loved the use of magic baking to help save the day and readers can try their hand at baking these brilliant cakes using the recipe at the back of the book.  All in all, it’s a great story to have on your bookshelf and sure to be a hit with aspiring bakers and fairytale fans.

I’m looking forward to reading Sky Private Eye and the Case of the Runaway Biscuit featuring the Gingerbread Boy!

Victoria Dilly
The Book Activist

Feb 2017

If you'd like to order a copy of this book, you can do so here.

Discover & Be at home: African adventure

It's cold outside this week, so why don't we take ourselves off to enjoy the African sun? 

First up we have these impressive African-style necklaces, made from paper plates.

All you’ll need are some large paper plates, some scissors and either paints, crayons, pencils or felt tips. Of course, there’s no limits to your customisation, so why not add pasta, sequins, pipe cleaners or anything else you have at home! This creative idea is from GreenKidCrafts.

Sticking with the paper-plate idea, here’s a cute giraffe made with the help of a few materials including paint, googly eyes, paper and glue.

Of course, you could change the animal to an elephant, zebra (as we made in our session this week) or rhino depending on how creative you’re feeling! Thanks for IHeartCraftyThings for this crafty fun.

So you’re on your African safari, and what do you need to see all those animals? Binoculars! Remember to keep your toilet roll tubes so you can make this one.

We think you could use any tape you have if you don’t have the washi tape as ArtsCrackers suggest, so don’t let that put you off! ArtsCrackers have suggested a whole host of safari-related ideas so check out their site.

This idea is fab as it combines both a small world with some play dough. What more could you want?!

africa playdo jungle.jpg

NurtureStore have even used broccoli in this suggestion, which might even make it more attractive at meal-times!

This African mask activity is probably better for slightly older children but it can be adapted depending on your child’s age and abilities.

You’ll also need some items that you may not readily have such as raffia or a hole punch but the rest of the materials you’re likely to have at home. Thanks Art.Paper.Scissors.Glue!

Did you like hearing the story of Handa’s Surprise? It’s a great way to discuss different fruits as well as introduce children to a different culture. You can buy a copy for yourselves here

Of course, fruits play an important part in diet and ensuring young children are introduced to a good variety is beneficial. Emily Wysock-Wright, of Nourish2Nurture, would encourage you to make sure you follow her '7-a-day' rule which is made up of three fruits and four vegetables. Find out why this is important and which fruits have lower sugar levels and are, therefore, the best to sustain energy on her blog post.

How about one or two other ideas for Africa-related kids’ books? Recently published as a board book is How to Hide a Lion which you may know as the paperback version. Whilst not strictly African, it does feature the iconic African lion and is all about something we love very much at Discover & Be: friendships.

And moving to another iconic African animal: the zebra. This is a Greedy Zebra, and one who lives in Africa. This story tells of how the zebra came to be covered in black and white stripes and is part of a charming series about African animals including the Lazy LionHot HippoCrafty ChameleonLaughing Giraffe and others!

We hope you enjoyed your time on safari. More activity ideas on a different theme coming soon! Why not sign up to our emails to hear when the next Discover & Be at home ideas are posted? 

Discover & Be at home: ice, ice baby

With the temperatures dropping several degrees these last couple of weeks, chances are you're keeping warm indoors!

In which case, here’s some wintery activity ideas to try…

This fun bit of hand-printing gets great results plus it has a sensory aspect with the feeling of the paint on your hands:

In the Playroom give some instructions as to how you can get some lovely pictures like theirs. You could always add some extra elements.

Here’s another art activity featuring pretty snowflakes, this time from Kids Craft Room:

Trying to keep the snowflakes symmetrical and looking like snowflakes (!) is great for developing little ones’ coordination.

If that’s a little too sophisticated for you, this winter textures collage idea may suit you better, and it’s great sensory activity for younger children.

Chances are you’ve got some foil and kitchen roll around, so you’ll be off to a good start! You could add in bubblewrap, tissue paper or anything else that takes your fancy. See what In the Playroom suggest.

This is also a fab sensory activity and either a good activity for older children, or one a parent can make for a younger child to enjoy:

No Time for Flashcards' idea is lovely to look at and has quite a festive feel too!

Last up we have some sparkly, squidgy play dough that, according to The Imagination Tree, is edible and gluten free! There are probably tastier snacks but if it does get nibbled, at least you know what’s in it!

You could add elements to make snowmen or use biscuit cutters as in the photo.

Talking of snowmen, one of our book recommendations this week is the all-time classic by Raymond Briggs: The Snowman. No doubt you caught the film when it was on over Christmas; it’s always watchable and readable.

The illustrations are beautiful and it’s a great (if a little sad) story. It’s definitely a favourite in this family!

Another oldie-but-goodie is The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.

You may recognise this book from your childhood. Its simple descriptive text combined with the striking graphics make this a classic that all children will enjoy.

If you’ve got a younger reader, why not try one of the ‘That’s not my’ series, in this case a penguin.

that's not my penguin.jpg

The different textures on each page are great for touching, and the descriptive words will add to vocabularies. Of course, there’s a whole load of other titles to choose from including That’s Not My Snowman and That’s Not My Polar Bear.

The Book Activist reviews A Sky Full of Kindness by Rob Ryan

Join two birds on an epic adventure as they become parents for the first time...

The story begins with two birds who are ecstatic to discover they are going to be parents.  Their fellow feathered friends are overjoyed for them, but are soon sharing their wisdom, causing the mother bird to become frightened about all the potential perils of parenting. Are they ready to have a child? Such is her fear, the wisest and oldest bird of all sends her on a journey of discovery to see if she can find some peace about what lies ahead.  The journey takes her across the land and sea and she meets many other birds of all different kinds, each reassuring her through kindness that whilst the world might be big and full of danger, there are many people in it who can help when you most need it.

This is a stunning book by the incredible artist and illustrator, Rob Ryan.  The artwork alone is a sight to behold; each word and image beautifully paper cut down to the finest detail.  The story itself is lyrical and flows beautifully; a tale depicting the journey towards parenthood with all its highs and lows and everything in between. Poetry and prose combine, with each word literally illustrating the magic of the childlike but utterly insightful narrative.  The mother bird is determined to find out how she can allay her fears, travelling over the widest oceans and unknown lands looking for answers.  The other birds she meets are strange and exotic, each with their own wisdom to share, each showing her kindness.  The mother bird repays the kindnesses she is shown along the way and she finally realises that through being kind, brave and finding hope, she can face her fears.  A Sky Full of Kindness is a heart warming tale about unconditional love, the hopes and fears we have for our children and ultimately shows how kindness can change the world we live in.

This is a must-have book for everyone’s bookshelf!

Victoria Dilly
The Book Activist

January 2017

Want to buy yourself a copy? Click here to buy from Amazon...

The Book Activist reviews Christmas books!

Christmas is the ideal time to give the gift of a book.  With so many to choose from, it’s difficult to know where to start! Sitting by the fireside or curled up at bedtime, sharing stories or reading independently; here are some suggestions to get you in the festive spirit!

Festive Favourites

The Night Before Christmas by Clement C Moore

As St. Nick and eight tiny reindeer descend through a brilliant night sky onto the roof of a Victorian house in a snowy New England village, the famous Christmas poem begins. First published in 1823,  this classic poem brings to life Father Christmas and all the excitement of Christmas Eve.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss

"The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!  Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason." Dr. Seuss's small-hearted Grinch ranks right up there with Scrooge when it comes to the crankiest, scowling holiday grumps of all time!

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

One winter's night, a snowman comes to life and an unforgettable adventure begins. Raymond Briggs' favourite classic is a true piece of Christmas magic - narrated entirely through pictures, it captures the wonder and innocence of childhood and is now recognised throughout the world.

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

The story begins with a young boy, who hears a train whistle roar. To his astonishment, he finds the train is waiting for him. He sees a conductor who then proceeds to look up at his window. He runs downstairs and goes outside. The conductor explains the train is called the Polar Express, and is journeying to the North Pole….

Festive Picture Books

The Empty Stocking by Richard Curtis

It's Christmas Eve. And there's one very important question on everyone's lips...have you been good this year? For twins Sam and Charlie this is a big worry because Charlie is really quite bad. And sometimes, just sometimes, Santa has to get tough...

Father Christmas Needs a Wee by Nicholas Allan

At each different house that he visits Father Christmas drinks and eats all the goodies left out for him. Before long he really, really, really needs to go to the loo, so much so that he even forgets to leave the presents behind. But he dashes back, delivers all the gifts, and flies home at high speed to avoid an embarrassing accident—but there's just one tiny problem—he's lost his house key! Find out what happens in this fabulously funny counting book!

The Snow Womble by Elisabeth Beresford

Snow has arrived on Wimbledon Common! The young Wombles, including Bungo, Orinoco and Tomsk, can't wait to start sledging, making snow Wombles and generally having fun in the snow. Then one particular Womble decides to play a snowy trick on the small Wombles . . .A funny, warm picture book, perfect to curl up with on a cold Christmas night.

The Christmas Show by Rebecca Patterson

The Christmas pageant doesn’t go QUITE as planned in this fantastically funny holiday tale for the forgetful kid in all of us. It’s almost time for the nativity play, and everyone has been practicing hard. The narrators know their lines, the Important Angel has brushed her hair, and the audience is in their seats, eagerly awaiting a special Christmas performance. But there’s one cast member whose listening skills haven’t exactly been the best, and no one’s expecting a spare shepherd to steal the show…

Ollie’s Christmas Reindeer by Nicola Killen

This is a gorgeous new picture book featuring a magical adventure.  When a jingling sound wakes her from her sleep, a little girl's dreams come true when she meets a lost reindeer in the forest. Setting off together it soon becomes a Christmas never to forget. 

Sproutzilla vs Christmas by Tom Jamieson and Mike Byrne

Readers young and old may well be able to identify with this story!! Jack loves everything about Christmas.  Except for one thing: he does not like Brussels sprouts.  When Jack's parents bring home the largest sprout he has ever seen, things are about to get out of control. Sproutzilla is the meanest, greenest Christmas ruining vegetable ever and now he's heading straight towards Santa! It's up to Jack to save Christmas, and there's only one way to do it ...He'll have to eat the sprouts!

Stories for sharing

Christmas Stories by Michael Morpurgo

A collection of beautiful stories by one of our best loved storytellers.  Including: "The Best Christmas Present in the World," a mysterious letter in a secret drawer brings one night in the Great War vividly to life. Writing home from the front, a soldier has an incredible story to tell. The second tale is "On Angel Wings." A singing of wings, a glorious light, and a sudden beacon of brightness? It can only mean—can it really?—a visit from the Angel Gabriel himself. When the Prince and Princess marry in "The Best of Times," joy rings out across the land. But all too soon it fades away and a shadow hangs over the royal palace. As Christmas approaches, Prince Frederico must find a way to warm his new bride's aching heart. In the new story, "The Goose is Getting Fat," Gertrude the goose is getting bigger by the day, and Charlie is proud to look after her. But as Christmas approaches, the thought of the grizzly fate awaiting her fills him with sadness. Can he save Gertrude from the Christmas dinner table?

Winter Magic by Abi Elphinstone and others

A beautiful anthology of frosty, magical short stories from acclaimed children’s writers such as Michelle Magorian, Berlie Doherty, Lauren St John and Katherine Woodfine, and edited by author Abi Elphinstone.  Featuring snow queens, frost fairs, snow dragons and pied pipers this is an enchanting treat of a collection that will be enjoyed for years to come.

Something for independent readers

The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig

Following up his bestselling book A Boy called Christmas, Matt Haig brings another magical tale of hope at Christmas time.  If magic has a beginning, can it also have an end? When Amelia wants a wish to come true she knows just the man to ask - Father Christmas. But the magic she wants to believe in is starting to fade, and Father Christmas has more than impossible wishes to worry about. Upset elves, reindeers dropping out of the sky, angry trolls and the chance that Christmas might be cancelled. But Amelia isn't just any ordinary girl. And - as Father Christmas is going to find out - if Christmas is going to be saved, he might not be able to do it alone . . .

Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens

Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are spending the Christmas hols in snowy Cambridge. Hazel has high hopes of its beautiful spires, cosy libraries and inviting tea-rooms - but there is danger lurking in the dark stairwells of ancient Maudlin College. Two days before Christmas, there is a terrible accident. At least, it appears to be an accident - until the Detective Society look a little closer, and realise a murder has taken place. Faced with several irritating grown-ups and fierce competition from a rival agency, they must use all their cunning and courage to find the killer (in time for Christmas Day, of course).  The fabulously festive fifth mystery from the bestselling, award-winning author of Murder Most Unladylike.

Letters from Father Christmas by J R R Tolkein

Every December an envelope bearing a stamp from the North Pole would arrive for J.R.R. Tolkien’s children. Inside would be a letter in a strange, spidery handwriting and a beautiful colored drawing or some sketches.  The letters were from Father Christmas. They told wonderful tales of life at the North Pole: how the reindeer got loose and scattered presents everywhere; how the accident-prone North Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Father Christmas’s house; how he broke the Moon into four pieces and made the Man in it fall into the back garden; how there were wars with the troublesome horde of goblins who lived in the caves beneath the house.
No reader, young or old, can fail to be charmed by the inventiveness of J.R.R. Tolkien's Letters from Father Christmas.

I’ll be home for Christmas by various (for ages 13+)

The UK's top Young Adult authors join together in this collection of new stories and poems on the theme of home. Contributors include: Tom Becker, Holly Bourne, Sita Brahmachari, Kevin Brooks, Melvin Burgess, Katy Cannon, Cat Clarke, Juno Dawson, Julie Mayhew, Non Pratt, Marcus Sedgwick, Lisa Williamson and Benjamin Zephaniah.  At a time when many are homeless at Christmas, this book celebrates home and reminds us that not everyone is as fortunate as we may be.  Supported by Amnesty International, funds raised from sales of this book benefit the charity Crisis.


Victoria Dilly
The Book Activist

December 2016




The Book Activist reviews Oi Dog! by Kes & Claire Gray and Jim Field

Age 2+

Frog is changing the rules... Dogs no longer sit on Frogs. Phew! Dogs now sit on logs – and everyone else is going to have to sit somewhere different too. Will cats want to sit on gnats? Will dragons like sitting on wagons? Will whales be happy to sit on nails? And, most importantly, where is frog going to sit?


Frog is fed up of being sat on by Dog. So he decides to change the rules. Not just for Dog, but for EVERYONE! So all the animals get someone or something new to sit on; from slugs to leopards, from crickets to whales, there’s a new rule for all. But what or who will Frog end up sitting on?!

‘Oi Dog!’ is the brilliant sequel to the equally brilliant ‘Oi Frog!’. Colourful and entertaining, it is a great story to read aloud, showing the wonder of rhyming words. You’ve got to love a tale that features ‘cheetahs on fajitas’ and ‘gnus on canoes’! The fantastically expressive illustrations capture the animals varying reactions to their new ‘seats’ perfectly; some surprised, some distinctly unimpressed and some very uncomfortable. Will pigs like sitting on wigs?! Will flies enjoy sitting on pies?! All the animals find themselves with new places to sit, amounting to a hilarious story that will have children in stitches.

Shortlisted for the Sainsbury’s Children’s Book Awards, ‘Oi Dog’ is deal for children learning to read, as well as those who are just discovering the magic of books. And grown-ups will enjoy it too!

Victoria Dilly
The Book Activist
November 2016

Want to buy a copy for yourself? You can purchase it through Amazon here.

Making music fun for young children!

Music lessons aren't just about learning scales and passing exams. 

Improvising (making music up on the spot) plays a very important part in my music lessons. For example, children love creating story boards for animals. We might make up music for the weather, for the life cycle of a frog or for a haunted house! Inspiration comes from all sorts of places.

This is Alice's 'dolphin' improvisation, inspired by a cuddly dolphin toy that I brought along one week. Alice is 5 and a half! Through music making and creating musical sound effects, she has developed the confidence to explore the piano in a relaxed and playful manner.

Rhiannon Harman, Founder and Music Co-ordinator, Discover & Be

Discover & Be offer music tuition for children and adults in the Haywards Heath, Uckfield and Lewes areas. Take a look at our page dedicated to music tuition to find out more.

Discover & Be at home: Indian Summer

Those of you who came along to a session recently will have taken part in our Indian Summer themed activities, which we paired with reading The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr.

Here we’ve gathered a selection of activities for you to try at home. Some are super easy and others might need a bit of preparation but all are fun, creative and inspired by the amazing country of India.

Something for the very little ones to start with… making tiger stripes.

IS tiger stripes.jpg

This comes from the LibrarianMade blog and can be done with a minimal amount of resources: principally the coloured paper and some glue. You could develop this activity by cutting out a tiger shape and using it to make a collage or as part of a drawing.

We’ll stick with the tiger theme, and here’s an idea for making a tiger picture with the aid of some hand prints:

The instructions (if you can’t tell how to do it from the lovely picture!) are on the Mommy Maleta website along with some other India-inspired craft ideas.

At our sessions we had some messy fun with tiger shaving foam. This one can also be adapted if you want to make different coloured fun foam. To start you off, here are the instructions from the PlayCreateExplore blog.

Like the tiger stripes activity, this can be developed so you can print using the foam and make a cut out tiger for use in a collage or similar.

With the BBQ season not quite over, you may well have some paper or foam cups lying about. How about making this cute foam/paper cup tiger, courtesy of Kids Activities blog?

They’ve got additional ideas for other safari animals that you could have a go at making too.

Another animal iconic of India is the majestic elephant. Here’s a few ideas of how to use a paper plate to make a selection of elephants:

This is Crafty Morning’s version:

Another version with a more Indian look to it from Whirls and Twirls

And another bejewelled version - this time from Activity Village - which doubles as a mask - great for some imaginative role play! 

These images show the adaptability of this type of activity: you can use what you have at home to decorate whether it’s some sequins, paint, a bit of wrapping paper, googly eyes, etc. You can make your elephant your own!

I love this puppet idea from I Heart Crafty Things. You might have to look around for a larger paper plate than you might normally find (or make it out of stiff card) but it’ll be worth it! This could also make a good fancy dress idea.

Finally, a non-animal related idea: painting with tea-bags! In this case, the author of the article suggests a selection pack of fruit tea bags to give variety of colour and some lovely scents. This a super way to explore the senses as well as be creative at the same time!

We hope you’ve found an activity here that inspires you and your children. Come back soon for more activities on a different theme. Perhaps you’d like to suggest a theme? Email with any ideas you might have!

The Book Activist reviews A Great Big Cuddle - poems for the very young by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Chris Riddell

All ages!

Cuddles and puddles, mangos that tango and a terrible berrible... button bops lunchtime chants and rhymes about rattling radiators...

This brilliant collection of poems will have children jumping for joy and begging for more! Simple, joyful rhymes featuring wonderful characters throughout these poems draw on the best things about being young. Running, jumping, dancing, leaping, playing, eating are just some of the themes. And then some of the other things that happen when we’re young, like getting lost, being cross, being hungry and not getting what you want are featured too – in a very simple, easy to understand way. Everything that makes children the magical beings they are is celebrated in this collection!

Children can learn about the seasons, the animal world, and even looking after themselves. They will be able to identify with, and enjoy, many of the situations depicted in the poems – ‘Boing! Boing! ‘Let me do it’ ‘We can’ – as will their mummies and daddies!! This a perfect early introduction to the wonder of words through poetry. Every single poem is beautifully brought to life through gorgeous illustrations by the current Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell. Bright colours and perfectly caricatured figures, whether they are human, animal or fantastical, positively leap from the pages.

Careful thought has gone into the use of font to help aid expression and enjoyment. It is no surprise Michael Rosen was joint winner of the CLPE Poetry Award 2016 for ‘A Great Big Cuddle’.

This is a must-have for every child’s bookshelf – and for every parent to enjoy reading aloud with their little ones!

Victoria Dilly
The Book Activist

To buy this book from Amazon, click here.

The Big Friendly Read - can you meet the challenge?!

Get down to your local library this summer for The Big Friendly Read Summer Reading Challenge 2016! It launched in all libraries this week and there are plenty of events taking place this summer at local libraries across East Sussex, West Sussex and Brighton and Hove.

This year, the Big Friendly Read celebrates 100 years of Roald Dahl and for each book read, children can collect special limited edition cards showing characters from Roald Dahl's books as illustrated by Sir Quentin Blake.

It's free to join the scheme, and you just need to read six books by Saturday 17th September 2016.

In conjunction with the Big Friendly Read you can also have fun trying out the online Book Sorter which will suggest books to you based on your preferences.  

Get down to your local library to join the scheme and get reading!

Discover & Be at home: make your own William Morris-style wallpaper!

Do you ever wonder how wallpaper is made? Today it's made on a very large and clever printer. However, one of the most famous upholstery designers didn't have such technology at his finger tips. Who am I talking about? William Morris of course. 

William Morris was born in 1834 and died in 1896. Although he lived more than a century ago he remains England's most famous textile designer, known for his designs inspired by the flora and fauna of the English countryside. Did you know that he was also a poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist?!

So do you fancy trying to create your own wallpaper, just like William Morris, without using your printer? You can! 

You can try two different methods.

Block printing 

You will need:

  • A tile and some string
  • OR a thick piece of card or polystyrene and something to make grooves in it
  • Paint
  • Rolling pin
  • Paper

1. Make a design on your tile using string to build up a pattern or, if you're using card/polystyrene make grooves in the card/polystyrene. 

2. Roll the paint over the design on your tile/card/polystyrene and then place your design on to your paper.

3. Roll over the back with a clean rolling pin and peel away to see you design. Then you can repeat it to make your own roll of wrapping paper or wall paper.

Wallpaper roller

Now William Morris would have used a heavy cylinder of wood and carved the flowery design out of it ready to roll over the blank wallpaper to create a repeating pattern.

Now I'm guessing you don't have a large piece of perfectly smoothly wood in a cylinder laying around so... all you need is a Pringles tin and some foam stickers.

1. Stick the stickers all over the tube so they are raised up from the surface.

2. Paint over the stickers with a generous amount of paint and roll it along your paper.

Hey presto you have made wallpaper with the same technique William Morris used! 


- try loading the paint on and rolling it a few times. The first few prints aren't very strong but as the paint soaks into the foam you get a better quality of print. 

- you don't have to use flower stickers. You could try musical notes, animals or letters. You could even get sheets of foam and cut out your own shapes to stick on your wallpaper roller. 

In the very rich houses the wallpaper would have been printed on and then an artist would have added to the piece by hand, sometimes adding extra colours, birds and details on the flowers. Why not wait for your piece to dry and then add to it carefully by hand?

Want to see some example of this type of wallpaper decorating? There are plenty of examples at Brighton Pavilion. Why not take a look?

This would make a great summer holiday project. Have fun and do post your printing pieces to our FB page. We'd love to see them. 

Key Stage Three tuition now available!

We are delighted to announce that we are now offering tutoring for Key Stage 3 pupils. We can help your child make the transition from primary school into secondary school by ensuring they feel confident with new concepts and subjects they are covering at school. 

Want to help them prepare for starting year 7? Contact us for further details about our holiday tuition. 

Do you have a secondary school aged child who could use some extra support to help them fulfil their potential?

We have highly experienced and well qualified teachers in our team who can encourage, support and guide your child to being a more confident and independent learner. Get in touch to find out how we can work together. 

Discover & Be comes to Brighton & Hove!

We’re delighted to be launching new multisensory messy play sessions in Brighton and Hove on July 15th 2016. Our venue is Portslade Leisure Centre, and we’ve two sessions:

  • MiniBees: for babies aged 6 - 18 months

  • DeeBees for children aged 18 months - 4 years old

The launch events on Friday 15th July are free, although with limited spaces available you will need to sign up in advance. Simply send an email to or visit the dedicated Facebook page for Portslade, and drop us a message there.

Our theme for the first week is The Very Hungry Caterpillar. We recently featured this theme at our sessions in Cuckfield, Newick and Scaynes Hill where it was universally popular! Parents and carers remember - and love - the story from their childhoods and it’s a great opportunity to introduce it to children who haven’t seen it before.


As well as reading this iconic book, we will also have a host of activities for you and your children to enjoy including:

  • Test your fine motor skills by threading a caterpillar necklace

  • Encase yourself like a caterpillar in our cosy cocoon

  • Get stamping with some paint and our selection of circular stamps

  • Make your own caterpillar to take home

  • Explore different fruits as we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar

  • Join us to sing our caterpillar-themed songs!

So be sure to join us for lots of inspiring and fun activities, and to meet your session facilitators, Siobhan and Kate. Between them they’ll make sure you get the most out of your time with us and will, of course, point you in the direction of a coffee and a snack!

If you can’t make the launch events, we’ll be back the following week so join us then. We offer an initial free taster session; just let us know you’ll be coming along so we can expect you!

Portslade Leisure Centre is located on Chalky Road (see this map for the location) which is served by the 1 and 1A bus service. Alternatively, if you’re coming by car, there is plenty of free parking.

We look forward to seeing you there!


The Book Activist reviews Fabulous Pie by Gareth Edwards & Guy Parker Rees

 Age 2+

What’s cooking in the forest? It’s a fabulous pie! But what, or who, should go in it? One bad bear has a very wicked plan. But will the woodland animals outwit him?

Bear is cooking and invites the other woodland animals to help him make the most fabulous pie ever. Each adds their own favourite food to the pie, but little do they know that the bear is hoping for his own favourite fillings which the other animals will definitely not enjoy!

This is a great rhyming story which is sure to be a hit. Full of humour, which is brilliantly brought to life through the fantastic illustrations, you just know the bear’s dastardly plan won’t work. It wonderfully depicts how each animal is unique with their own tastes and favourite thing to eat.

Working together they all try and help the bear, who of course has other ideas about what tastes good. Children will love the animal friends and the delightful drawings bringing the forest to life.

The rhyming and repetition will encourage readers to join, making this a great book to read aloud. You can’t help but enjoy the naughty bear just a little bit, but only because he gets his ‘just desserts’ in the end! Thankfully the animals make an ingenious escape and their efforts at being helpful are rewarded. With such a wonderful cast of characters this lively and fun story is one that children will enjoy again and again!

Victoria Dilly
The Book Activist

To buy this book from Amazon, click here.

Have you entered our June competition?

Whether you're a regular attendee or haven't had a chance to try us out yet, this competition is bound to appeal. We're giving away three free sessions to one lucky person. All you have to do is sign up to our newsletter via this link before the end of June and you will be in with a chance of winning. If you're already a subscriber, just enter your details again to be a part of the competition.

If you decide you don't want our newsletters, you can unsubscribe at any time but we're confident that the combination of inspiring activity ideas, competitions, useful resources and handy information will convince to stay.

We'll contact the lucky winner by email at the start of July.

The Book Activist Reviews Is there a dog in this book? by Viviane Schwarz

Age 3+

Tiny, Moonpie and Andre – three cats- think there might be a dog in this book! Will you lift the flaps and turn the pages to help them find it?

This is a great book to share with interactive lift-the-flaps and characters that speak to the reader!

Children will love the three cats who are scared of the dog they think is in their book. The cats are certain the dog will be mean to them, because, after all, dogs don’t like cats...or do they? The story unfolds with the cats hiding in all sorts of places, ‘speaking’ to the reader all the time and each flap revealing another surprise. Eventually the cats discover the dog is not as bad as they feared and is perhaps even a little bit afraid too. You’ll have to read it to find out if they all make friends!


‘Is there a dog in this book?’ is lovely story with a very subtle message about making new friends and not being frightened of the unknown. The illustrations are lively and colourful and the interactive elements brilliantly engage the reader. This is a perfect book to read aloud and children will love the characters and be encouraged to think how they can help everyone be friends. It’s full of humour and a perfect addition to Viviane Schwarz’s previous books, There are cats in this book and There are no cats in this book. It is no surprise this book has just won the Children’s Book Award 2016, Books for Younger Children category!

Victoria Dilly
The Book Activist

Down on the Farm with Discover & Be!

Support your child's early language development with our TOP 5 FARM BOOKS!

Many of you will have already visited a farm this year to experience the lambing season, and no doubt you’ll want to go back for more! Enhance your trips to the farm this summer with these wonderful stories:   

Rosie's Walk by Pat Hutchins

This beautifully illustrated picture book allows you and your child to tell the story in your own way.

Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell and Helen Oxenbury 

A lovely tale about the importance of team work and friendship.

What the Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks

A Julia Donaldson classic including lots of animal noises to share... but what does a ladybird sound like?

Oh Dear by Rod Campbell

A super interactive book teaching children about the farm animals and where they live.

The Complete Book of Farmyard Tales by Heather Amery and Stephen Cartwright

Short, action packed stories for you and your child to share, this is also great as an early reader to help with recognising some high frequency words.  

Thinking about taking a trip to the farm? Why not try these local ones?

Photo from Middle Farm website -

Photo from Middle Farm website -

Blackberry Farm, Whitesmith, BN8 6JD

Middle Farm, Firle, Lewes, BN8 6LJ

Washbrook Farm, Brighton Rd, Hassocks, BN6 9EF

Springbarn Farm,Kingston Road, Lewes, BN7 3ND

Fishers Farm, Newpound Lane, Wisborough Green, RH14 0EG

Holmbush Farm, Holmbush Farm, Crawley Road, Faygate, RH12 4SE

Stoneywish Nature Reserve, Spatham Lane, Ditchling, BN6 8XH

It’s not quite a farm, but it’s full of lovely animals so you might want to check it out:

The Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare, The Broyle, Ringmer, BN8 5AJ ()

These are just a few suggestions of books and places to visit. Perhaps you'd like to suggest some of your own?