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These ideas were put together by the team of Play Association Tower Hamlets, PATH, several years ago.

The idea was to give some no-cost little nudges to parents to help during the in between moments, a doctors waiting room, a train journey, a walk to school, and to provide some ideas for resources of things to do at home.

All of them are tiny provocations or hints that an adult can use to spark play.

Any of these ideas will kickstart improvisation from the children and lead to their own ways of playing, which will be much better than any suggestions and adult will ever make.

Sad to say PATH had to close this month after 20 years of advocating for play in Tower Hamlets. With a typical generosity of spirit, they were keen to see the resources that they had produced over those years shared as widely as possible. I think that this rainbow of Play Prompts is just the sort of thing that is useful right now.
We can do craft sessions or fitness classes or homeschooling to support our children. But it is entirely possible that the very best thing we can do for them is to have them play, in ways that are invented and inspired by themselves.

Play is how children work out how to be in the world and they also use it to manage the problems that they are coming across.

We need to trust our children with their playing. These card are a way to help adults to do just that.

Keep Playing!


angel

I hadn’t realised until I started doing some research for this post, but almost every world faith has stories about angels. For me, this makes them even more incredible.

They always seem to be supernatural creatures, often having a human shape. I am used to thinking of angels as being a beautiful human with enormous feathered wings, surrounded by a divine light. I am also used to thinking of them as part of the story of the Christmas story where they deliver important messages to Mary, to tell her she is going to give birth to Jesus, and delivering news of the birth of Christ to the shepherds. Almost always in every faith, angels are there to deliver messages from God to Human Beings.

Many faiths also believe in guardian angels, appointed to look after specific people.

I drew a picture of one way of making a paper angel for you this week. I was thinking that this simple papercraft project would make nice decorations and cards and gift tags and something lovely to put on the Christmas tree.

Now that we have entered Tier 4 and we have had to adapt our Christmas plans, the idea of us all sharing angels in our homes is strangely moving. There is a story-like comfort in each of us having an angel to look after us.

Julian of Norwich was a Holy Woman who was born in 1343 and lived in Norwich. The city suffered tremendously from the Black Death and the Peasants Revolt or Great Rising, which was an uprising of the ordinary people in England who were suffering socially and financially from the after effects of the Plague and the fallout from the conflict between England and France. The reason I am mentioning Julian (or Juliana) is that she wrote a lot. One of her most famous prayers finishes like this, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” For me this is a reminder that things might feel rubbish, but there is always something good out there to fix my eyes and thoughts on.

To all of you who celebrate a faith and to those of you who follow your own path, please stay wise and strong. And let’s hope for a peaceful year ahead.

*By the way King Richard 2nd met with Watt Tyler, one of the leaders of the Great Uprising in Mile End and agreed to meet many of their demands. That makes me quite proud to live in this corner of Tower Hamlets.


pomander

Originally a pomander was a hollow sphere that had holes punctured in it. Inside the sphere were spices and herbs or ambergris, things which smelled both beautiful and strong. If you were rich, they would be made of gold or silver and they would hang on a chain from your belt, or be made very tiny to fit onto a ring. The idea of course, was to have something to hold beneath your nose or waft delicately around you to keep at bay the smells of sewage and dirt that were all around.

Nowadays, they are most often little china ornaments filled with lavender that you put in clothes drawers to make things smell fresh. But at Christmas they are something else again: an orange with cloves studded all over it in patterns and hanging from a tree or sitting on a shelf, not to keep bad smells away, but to bring beautiful festive scents into your room.

Oranges are fairly affordable now, and you can buy large bags of cloves in lots of our corner shops here in Tower Hamlets for a couple of pounds. This is a lovely thing to make in the darker winters days, the bright colours of oranges is always magical and the smell of the zest and the tang of the cloves combined are a joy. You may end up making some just for the pleasure of it, if so, they make lovely little gifts for neighbours and friends.

Despite everything, enjoy the days.