Why reading stories will help prepare toddlers and parents starting school journey this September

Going to the toilet, tying your shoelaces, brushing your teeth and speaking correctly are all tasks that children should have mastered before starting school, however it transpires that many little ones are lacking these crucial skills, and are even arriving at school without basic hygiene awareness.   

According to a recent study, an increasing number of children are starting school without being able to communicate or carry out key tasks for example using the toilet. BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity, wants to help time poor parents and urges them to start reading basic life skill stories to little ones now, ahead of their life changing move to primary school in September. Having these skills before they start school, so they won’t fall behind, hold classmates back and to also help ease the burden on teachers.

BookTrust has put together a booklist to encourage parents and carers start talking to small children about starting school and the skills they will need – for example going to the toilet, brushing their teeth, tying their laces, speaking properly etc. These books are brilliant for helping toddler and pre-schoolers (ages 2-4) develop everyday life skills.

  I Want My Potty!
 Author: Tony Ross Publisher: Andersen Press
 The Little Princess hates nappies and thinks there must be something better. This is classic picture book entertainment, which will be especially appreciated by any children who are learning to love their potty!



 Zeki Gets a Checkup
 Author: Anna McQuinn Illustrator: Ruth Hearson Publisher: Alanna Books
 Zeki is a big boy now – he loves hiding toys, playing ball, singing and dancing. Today, he’s going for a checkup at the doctors’ with Daddy and his toy Mister Seahorse. A lovely book to share with toddlers, which marks their developmental milestones.


 My Big Shouting Day
Author: Rebecca Patterson Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Bella is having a Big Shouting Day: from morning until bedtime, she shouts and complains about everything from biscuits to baths. But eventually, Bella says 'sorry' for her big shouting day...



 My New Shoes
 Author: Leilani Sparrow Illustrator: Dan Taylor Publisher: Boxer Books
 Young bear’s feet are growing, so it is time for him to get some new shoes. Vibrant illustrations and rhyming  text capture the excitement of this familiar experience, making this an ideal tale for toddlers who are embarking on their own visit to the shoe shop.


To see the full booklist, click here.

Diana Gerald, CEO of BookTrust says: “We know there are an increasing number of demands placed on parents and that they’re busy all of the time but using books and stories as an opportunity to start discussions with young ones to prepare them for school can go a long way to help get them ready to start in the new term. If cost is a concern, then why not visit your local library or hold a book swap. There are so many great books out there to help get the conversation started so why not add these to your summer reading list.”

According to Amanda Spielman, head of Ofsted (as published in the Daily Telegraph) “Children arrive at school without the words they need to communicate properly. Just imagine the disadvantage they face, right from the start. Unable to follow what’s going on. Unable to keep up with their classmates. Unable to reach their full potential.” In the piece, she also reported 70% of schools are finding an increasing number of children starting school without being toilet trained compared to five years ago.

Giant inflatable wonderland comes to Kempton this weekend

The world’s longest continuous inflatable obstacle course bounces into Surrey this weekend.

Kempton Park Racecourse is the location for the Labyrinth Challenge, an inflatable wonderland for all the family featuring 30 attractions, a mini-course for the younger ones and a giant air-filled assault course for those brave enough to take it on.

Tickets are selling fast for the event which returns after a superb debut last summer when hundreds of people from across the region enjoyed its thrills and spills. This year, all ticket-holders also gain unlimited free entry to The Village, extending the inflatable fun and games beyond the course itself.

Along with the Mini Labyrinth course for children aged 5-9, The Village includes inflatable volleyball, penalty shootout, crazy golf, wipeout stepping stones, Nerf wars, laser tag, a toddler playroom, bouncy castles and lots more.

The Labyrinth course itself is also bigger and better than before, stretching over 1,000ft across 30 obstacles, with participants navigating five different zones before sliding down to complete the course and celebrate with friends and family.

Dan Byrne, Tour Director for The Labyrinth Challenge, said: “We’re ready to celebrate the summer by bringing the Labyrinth Challenge and Inflatable Village to Kempton this weekend.

“While our new look main course provides serious fun and excitement, this year the expanded Village ensures it’s a true family outing with attractions and entertainment to keep kids and adults entertained for the whole day.

“For 2018, all ticket holders get the chance to take on The Labyrinth course as many times as they like during their 60-minute slot, alongside unlimited use of all the inflatables and attractions within The Village.”

The event takes place at Kempton Park Racecourse this Saturday and Sunday, August 4 and 5, from 11am to 5pm.

Tickets for the Labyrinth Challenge are priced £20, while tickets giving access to The Village only are £15, available online at www.thelabyrinthchallenge.com. Tickets for the under-5s cost £5, while a spectator’s ticket is £2.50.

For more information, follow on Facebook: @thelabyrinthchallenge or Twitter: @Labyrinthcourse or Instagram: @labyrinthchallenge

Enjoy the Jurassic Discovery for free this summer with a Blue Peter Badge

RHS Garden Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire, RHS Garden Hyde Hall in Essex, RHS Garden Rosemoor in Devon and RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey have all signed up to become Blue Peter Badge Attractions, adding new outdoor adventures to hundreds of great days out around the UK that lucky holders of the coveted Badges can enjoy for free.

Children can gain free entry to any RHS Garden with a paying adult by showing their Blue Peter Badge and accompanying Badge Card at the entrance. Coming just as schools break up for the holidays, the announcement will be welcome news for parents looking to entertain their children and get out and about in some of the country’s most beautiful green spaces this summer.

An exciting programme of events is planned to keep kids of all ages busy, as all four RHS Gardens a step back in time for Jurassic Discovery summer holiday fun. Throughout the holidays, visitors can unearth the secrets of the land that time forgot and learn about the plants that have survived for more than 350 million years as they take a trail around the gardens, looking out for the likes of dinosaur sculptures and gigantic footprints on the way.

During the first week of the holidays (21–27 July), children can help build a willow dinosaur sculpture at RHS Garden Hyde Hall, and take part in an interactive trail and fossil digs every day until 3 September. Meanwhile, at RHS Garden Wisley from 21–23 July, youngsters will have the chance to make their mark on a giant mural of dinosaurs and Jurassic plants, as well as arts and crafts fun and sow and grow activities throughout the holidays.

Adults and children alike will want to take selfies with a climb-in dinosaur egg and the seven-foot willow stegosaurus at RHS Garden Harlow Carr, and birds of prey displays on selected days will aim to demonstrate the link between these magnificent hunters and their ancient lizard ancestors. Down in Devon at RHS Garden Rosemoor, families can dig for dinosaurs in the sand pit and paint their finds, make hats, masks and dinosaur models and hunt down Jurassic plants around the garden.

Bing Live! showing at GLive later this summer

Calling all Bingsters! Bing and his friends are going on tour in the first ever Bing stage show, Bing Live!which will be visiting Guildford’s G Live on Saturday 31 August and Friday 1 September as part of a major UK tour.

Join Bing, Sula, Coco and Pando as they learn how to tell stories by pretending, dressing-up and singing songs. Flop and Amma are there to help, but in this magical world of make-believe things don’t always go according to plan…

The CBeebies favourites are brought to life in a brand new stage production full of fun, laughter, music and magical puppetry.  Bing Live! is the perfect first theatre trip for pre-schoolers and their families.

Going to the theatre… it’s a Bing thing!

Bing Live!is produced by Minor Entertainment (In the Night Garden Live) and directed by Will Tuckett, guest principal character artist of the Royal Ballet, whose production of Wind in the Willowswon an Olivier Award for Best Entertainment in 2014. 

The show will also bring together a first-class creative team to ensure a quality family entertainment stage show for audiences of all ages.  Bing is adapted for the stage by Helen Eastman with costumes and puppet design by Tahra Zafar.  As Head of Costume, Hair and Make-up for the Olympic and Paralympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies staged in London, 2012, Tahra managed the production of 23,000 costumes for all four Ceremonies.  Her film projects include: Star Wars VII The Force AwakensX Men-First Class,Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone andThe Fifth Elementand for television:In the Night GardenZingzillas and The Adventures of Abney and Teal.

Since its launch on CBeebies, Bing has been a huge ratings hit and it’s the number one top rated pre-school show on BBC iPlayer. Celebrating the joyful, messy, reality of preschool life, Bing finds the big stories in the smallest moments that little ones and the grown-ups in their lives will recognise…whether it’s dropping your ice-cream or losing your favourite toy. 

The series has won an International Emmy Award in the Kids’ Pre-School category in 2016, a Writer’s Guild Award and a BAFTA nomination for Best Pre-School Series. The animated series, which saw Mark Rylance make his children’s television debut voicing Flop, is produced by Acamar Films. 

Andrew Collier, Creative Director of Minor Entertainment, said “We’re thrilled to be bringing Bing to the stage - we know families throughout the UK love Bing as much as we do, and we can’t wait to see children’s faces light up when they meet him at the theatre for the first time. 

Mikael Shields, CEO of Acamar Films and producer of Bing said:“Seeing Bing take a leap from the screen to the stage is hugely exciting for all of us at Acamar.  We are thrilled to be working with Minor Entertainment to bring the 'Bing Live' shows to our young audience. Introducing Bing fans to possibly their first experience of theatre is a tremendous creative challenge and Minor has shown imaginative flair, exceptional attention to detail, and their passion for bringing preschool characters to life has been evident throughout our collaboration with them. We can’t wait to watch the reaction from Bingsters to seeing Bing and Flop on stage next year.”

Want to be in a pantomime? Oh yes you do!

Talented young dancers, singers and actors are needed to take part in Camberley Theatre's Christmas pantomime.

The theatre will be presenting a brand new adaptation of the classic fairy-tale; Sleeping Beauty with singalong songs, high energy choreography, beautiful scenery and a host of side-splitting jokes! Young performers over 9 years old and under 5 foot tall are needed to be a part of the production.

The show runs from December 10-31, 2018. Sleeping Beauty is a tale never told before in Camberley and with lots of audience participation, loveable characters and special effects, this promises to be Camberley Theatre’s funniest and most magical pantomime ever!

No experience is necessary; the audition is open to all and will feature a dancing, singing and acting audition so the director and choreographer can see performers in action.

The open auditions take place on Sunday 16 September 2018 and start at 12 noon.

You can download and complete a registration from the website, https://www.camberleytheatre.co.uk/events/sleeping-beauty-juvenile-auditions and return by 10 August 2018.

Before you apply please make sure you are available for all performances and rehearsals. All this information can be found on the registration form.  If you have any questions please contact the Box Office on 01276 707600 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.