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5 things to do before they go back to school

  • 4 min read
With back to school just around the scooting corner we are thrilled and a little starry eyed to host this guest post from Lauren Pearson the amazingly talented writer of the popular Crabtree School books. Here Lauren shares 5 ways to make the most of the last days of Summer. We’re nearing the end of the summer holidays and trying to think of exciting ways to keep the kids entertained. As a kid, I loved that lazy feeling that came with days spent at home or camped out around the neighbourhood pool, a million light years away from the reality of school and structure and grown-ups. As a parent, it’s that feeling that I want to make sure that my children get to enjoy. Sometimes in the rush of camps and lessons and play dates and holidays, I forget to leave my kids to their own devices. (Then again, leaving them to their own devices can mean a marathon session of Octonauts episodes, or a serious run at the longest session on an iPad ever recorded in the history of the world.) Crabtree SchoolWriting the Crabtree School series, and digging up those memories of what I loved about my own childhood, gave me fresh inspiration about how to fill those free days – and indeed any days. Even though the Crabtree books are set in a school, the series is actually more about real-life childhood as I remember it: how the little things mattered, and how much more important imagination is than Pinterest-style preparation. Here are a few ways to spark some fun Crabtree School–style – think of these as Crabtree camp if you will. (Of course, it goes without saying that these are especially fun if you read the books at the same time!) 1) DO SOME REALLY GROSS "COOKING"!In the first book in the series, Year Two Forever and Ever, our heroine Ava and her friends turn the signature school dessert (a lovely apple crumble) into something properly disgusting. Why not let your Crabtree camper make a truly terrible, properly awful pudding? I recommend this particular pudding be baked outside: a triple-mud pie, or a sandpit sundae, anyone? If you’re a really magical mum or dad, let them use a few pie plates and spoons from the kitchen. It’ll be messy, but it’s worth it: my cousin and I had an epic mud-pie-making session sometime around 1981, and I remember it like it was yesterday. 2) GET YOUR GAME ON! In Best Friends for Never, a new girl joins Year Three at Crabtree School. Rani knows all sorts of fun games, like one called “Go Go Grannies Gotcha!” which is basically “It” played in slow motion. As the story continues, the other characters add to the game and make it a lot more fun and completely bonkers. My kids loved bringing this to life by making up their own game. We ended up with something that was a combination of memory and charades. (I couldn’t understand the rules to save my life, but they did and that’s the important thing.) Crabtree School 3)MAKE THE BEST HIDEOUT IN THE WORLD in The Girl Who Stole the World, Isabel builds an amazing igloo out of milk cartons. But it doesn’t have to be that involved – simply ask your Crabtree camper to build the best hideout in the world. She/he could use sofa cushions, blankets, towels, cardboard boxes... Of course, there need to be some rules and a secret password, and maybe even a garage for a scooter! If your camper is stuck for ideas, the quiz in the back of book three can help to determine which type of hideout is best. 4) HAVE A SOFT-TOY SLEEPOVER! In book four of the series, The Case of the Missing Cat, Lottie and her friends have a sleepover in Crabtree School, complete with a tent, ghost stories and a midnight feast. Your Crabtree camper can have a sleepover too, without the risk of a late-night journey home: simply replace a real-life friend with a doll or a favourite teddy, or better yet, lots of dolls and teddies. The best thing about a softtoy sleepover is that your camper can have as many guests as she wants! To be like Lottie and her friends, have your camper create a plan for the sleepover. Should there be a sleeping bag for each teddy? Can your camper tell the teds a spooky story (or a funny one?) Maybe Mum or Dad will even allow a midnight feast before bedtime. (Of course, it’s nice to have a real-life friend for a sleepover from time to time, but this is pretty fun too, we’ve tried it!) Crabtree school 5) “ADOPT” A PET Spoiler alert: in the fourth book in the series, each of the five Crabtree friends gets to take home her very own kitten. You can bring this to life without a house full of cat fur by suggesting your camper adopts a pretend pet. Maybe it’s a stuffed animal, or a new friend made out of plasticine, cardboard, anything. The new pet will need a house, feeding and endless looking after. And you know what the great thing about a pretend pet is? Your camper can take him anywhere. (Well, almost…) For loads more Crabtree fun, visit and find quizzes, crafts, colouring sheets and lots more free time fun. I hope you love reading the books with your Crabtree camper as much as I loved writing them! Illustrations © Becka Moor, 2015