The long summer holidays were looming. I had so many plans to keep my little ones entertained yet I knew at some point over the 6 week stretch I’d still be hearing the inevitable ‘Mummy, we’re bored. What can we do..?’ Well, this year I was ready! No more scrambling around to find an activity that would satisfy their demands. A perk of my job is that from time to time I can sample our products and so I’d tucked away one of our WordSpace creative writing kits for just that moment! The Borrower's kit is a set of miniature furniture which teachers can use to create a borrower’s world in their classroom. The idea is that pupils 'discover' the world and this kick-starts their imaginations which can lead to some wonderfully creative writing.
I wasn't sure whether I would be able to achieve at home what a teacher can in the classroom setting when I set out to 'stage' the discovery for my three children under 6. We’d had a spell of nice weather so I’d chosen to place the small pieces of furniture in the shed where we keep the garden toys. I set the small 'front door' up against the wall and carefully positioned the tiny broom, slippers and rug next to it…and waited! I kept my distance, not wanting to give anything away and at first nothing happened. I thought perhaps they'd noticed but weren't bothered but it turns out they’d just not seen it as a little while later I heard squeals of excitement which could mean only one thing – they’d discovered the tiny world! What seemed like hundreds of questions then followed. “What is it?”, “where did it come from?”, “who left it here?” Then interestingly (and perhaps because I didn't have many answers for them) they started answering their own questions. "Perhaps they’re tiny creatures who have nowhere else to live”, “I think it must be some friends of Bilbo (our cat)" "They’re living here because it’s near the compost heap and they can get food from there!" I was intrigued. They showed absolutely no signs of being apprehensive about some small unknown beings inhabiting their garden. In fact, the opposite -they were curious to know more and perhaps even meet them! I couldn't let this drop. I had to go with the flow. Having concluded that camping out and waiting for the inhabitants to appear really wasn't the best idea, we spent the rest of the afternoon collecting things for them. Food was a popular choice, twigs and leaves for bedding, a few sparkly things from my youngest (to make them feel happy) and without any coaxing at all, a couple of letters that my 6 year old daughter and 5 year old son were keen to write. The Borrower’s kit comes with tiny little letters, envelopes and stamps so this was an instant hit.
We’d had a great afternoon in the garden I concluded as I sat down with a glass of wine that night. However, I’d completely forgotten my work wasn't done – I hadn't written replies to the children’s letters. Big mistake! The next morning, before we’d even eaten breakfast, the door had been flung open and three children in pyjamas and bare feet were racing into the garden to see if the creatures had written back to them. I realised at that moment this wasn't going to be one afternoon’s activity – this was going to run the whole holiday. They were completely hooked and keen as mustard to write and I wasn't going to stop them, despite many an hour on the laptop each night dreaming up tales and stories from our newly acquired family of Flumps (no prizes for originality I'm afraid).
As the holidays drew to a close and the new term started, our little borrowers were forgotten. I brought the pieces of furniture inside and placed them in my eldest daughter’s doll’s house. She turned 7 just after Christmas and was buzzing with excitement as I tucked her up in bed the night before her birthday. She turned to me and whispered “I've left them a note mummy!” I was puzzled. “The Flumps” she replied “I've told them it’s my birthday tomorrow and I've asked them where they've been and why they haven’t written to us in so long”. You can guess what I was doing that night!