29 days till Christmas…

Cover of The Christmas countdown… yep, that freaked me out too! But in my house, we have the Energizer Bunny version of the Festive Season: with all four of our birthdays falling like dominoes each month from October to January, and our Wedding Anniversary on Christmas Eve (not to mention a dozen or so birthdays in the extended family) the festivities just keep on going and going and going.

The best (and worst!) thing about this crazy time of year is planning the kid’s birthday parties. I love the baking and cake decorating, the planning and searching of the interwebs for party ideas. But I don’t do anything by halves! On party-eve, I’m always up at some ungodly hour of the morning, still working my magic on the sugar-and-food-colouring on chocolate-cake masterpiece that will become the birthday cake. Sometimes the magic is less than forth coming. Stressful? You bet! Rewarding? Absolutely!

cover of Step by step Kids' birthday cakesWith a just-turned-six-year-old, and a nearly-thirteen-year-old, I’ve had plenty of birthday parties to plan and pull off. But last year, for some reason, with the momentous occasion of the Young Lad’s 5th birthday looming (which was to be his first “proper” party, with friends from preschool and all the hoopla) I felt at a complete loss as to what to do. I’d never planned a party for little boys before. What do they do at a party?? I took home book after book on party games, party foodparty themes, and of course party cakes. But the clock was ticking, and I still hadn’t figured out what to do-oo when (miracle of miracles) Step-by-step Kids’ Birthday Cakes fell into my hands.

I showed the Young Lad the Pirate Cake, and everything finally fell into place. Funnily enough, after all my angst, we ended up with pretty traditional games like pass the parcel, pin-the-tale (or in this case the treasure chest), and a treasure hunt (with actual pirate treasure – well, OK, cardboard pirate chests full of chocolate coins). The cake turned out pretty good, I reckon.

pirate cake

I’ve certainly come a long way since Miss Missy’s third birthday, when she requested a Peppa Pig cake. I looked in horror at the amazing creations on the interwebs, and decided that I could probably pull off a picture of Peppa piped atop the cake. The midnight drama that year was the red icing for Peppa’s dress. I added more and more red colouring, the icing turned pinker and pinker, stubbornly refusing to turn red! Then I had an a-ha moment, added some chocolate icing, and came up with perfect Peppa red.

Cover of 50 easy party cakesSince then, I’ve turned more to the library for inspiration, and have created my own versions of cakes from several of the books in the catalogue.

I love Debbie Brown’s books, the instructions are really easy to follow, and I’ve used quite a few of her designs now. I found the perfect cake for Missy Missy’s pony party in  Debbie Brown’s 50 Easy Party Cakes. It really was easy! Honest! And it survived the near disaster of having the oven door slammed, which jarred the mane off one of the ponies (and I’d put it in the oven FOR SAFE KEEPING!)

pony cake

The kids and I drooled over More Cakes for Kids and the Young Lad chose the fire engine cake. It turned out almost too good, because he was desperately upset when we cut it up and ate it!

fire engine cake

Cover of Celebration CupcakesThis year’s wonderful discovery was Tamara Jane’s Celebration Cupcakes. I used her royal icing recipe to make Gingerbread Hulks, and her floodwork instructions to create superhero cupcake toppers. I had a lot of fun making them, but when the Young Lad saw the Hulks, he informed me “I can do it betterer than you, Mum!” and proceeded to amaze me with his piping skills. Our top tip from this year’s cakery is to use little zip-lock bags for piping the royal icing. That way, the icing stays where it should (inside the bag, not squirting out the back and all over your hands) and the icing stays nice and fresh, even while you wait for things to dry before adding more details. We just snipped the corner of the bags, but I imagine you could put a piping nozzle in it if you wanted to.

superhero cupcakes

OK, I’ll admit it – this blog post was mostly an excuse to show off, and redeem myself after sharing the story of my culinary failures. But a little bit of shameless self-promotion is alright now and then, right?

Whanau fun – celebrate Aranui at AFFIRM on 5 December

AFFIRM is a family festival organised by ACTIS. The local community sets out to celebrate and share its talents with the rest of Christchurch. AFFIRM14 takes place on Saturday 5 December 2015 at Wainoni Park from 9.30am to 4pm.

AFFIRM10 Flickr CCL-2011-12-03-AFFIRM December2011 DSC02813

There will be food stalls on site and more entertainment for the whole whanau:

Ki o Rahi, Giant Bouncy Slide, Water Rollers, 4’n’1 bungy, Info stalls, great giveaways, full days stage entertainment which includes: local schools, Jah Mana, The Byllie Jean Project plus many more. Featuring: T J Taotua and Donell Lewis.

Our Aranui Library is right by Wainoni Park, and is open on Saturday from 10am to 4pm. There will be a free giveaway book stand at AFFIRM, and there will be information available outside the library. We will also have 3D printing on show.

Aranui Library holiday activities
Aranui Library. January 2014. Flickr: 2014-ar.hols2

Go to the Aranui AFFIRM Facebook page to find out more and see photos from previous events.

High Fives at South Learning Centre

A few wee things to celebrate at South Learning Centre.
Ep9 Trigger

HNN (Hillmorton Network News) finished off their year in style. I am so proud of their film and media progress, learning and confidence. The students presented to their Year 7/8 peer group. This was very nerve wracking for them with over 100 pairs of eyes scrutinizing them. This was followed by them presenting to school staff – who fired many questions at them ranging from their cross-over learning into other areas, what new skills they learned, and where could their skills take them?

Look out for HNN 2016!

HNN Episode 7

HNN Episode 8

HNN Episode 9

HNN Episode 10

HNN Episode 11

The second celebration is for Beckenham Centennial Film School. This was a hugely successful experience working alongside Beckenham School learning all about their 100 year history. We discovered some great stories of the past, devastating details of the fire and some exciting plans for the future of Beckenham.

Beckenham of Old

Beckenham Now

Beckenham Fire

Future Beckenham

In our Learning Centre, students experience eLearning programmes aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum document. These programmes provide learning in a technology-rich environment and the teaching within these programmes keep abreast with the latest teaching philosophies and strategies.

If you are interested in working with us to tailor an existing programme or work alongside us  please contact us Tel: 941 5140 or  Learningcentre@ccc.govt.nz


Te Kupu o Te Wiki – Toru (three)

Kia ora. To encourage the use of Te Reo Māori we are publishing weekly kupu (words) and phrases that can be used with children.

Kīwaha (idiom)

Ka mutu pea

Kupu (word)


Kua toru ō tau ināianei!
You’re three now!

Whāngahia te Reo

Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre opening Saturday 28 November!!!

Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre is opening on Saturday 28 November 2015 at 341 Halswell Road. There is a rather splendid and varied programme of events to celebrate its opening week.

North view of new Halswell Library and Community Facility

Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre includes a library, meeting rooms, a customer service desk, a 5,000 square metre outdoor area with a swimming pool.

Saturday 28 November: Official Opening of Te Hapua: Halswell Centre

Join Deputy Mayor Vicki Buck, Mana Whenua and Community Board members in officially opening the facility between 10 and 11 am.  You are then invited to be amongst the first to walk through Te Hapua: Halswell Centre. Find out more.

Sunday 29 November: Family Day

Book now for crafts

A day of activities designed for families to discover, connect and play together between 10.30 am and 2pm. Book now for crafting sessions – make a mermaid, rowing boat, or jellyfish. Join Streets and MORE FM for a fun Summer Pool Party between 12 pm and 2 pm. Find out more.

Monday 30 November: Older Persons Day

A day of activities designed to be enjoyed by our senior community between 10.30 am to 1.30 pm. Find out more.

Tuesday 1 December: Facility Tours

Opportunities to walk through the entire facility of Te Hapua: Halswell Centre. Architectural tour, grounds tour, and guided tours. Find out more.

Wednesday 2 December: Facility Tours

Opportunities to walk through the entire facility of Te Hapua: Halswell Centre.  Architectural tour, grounds tour, and guided tours. Find out more.

Thursday 3 December: Heritage Day

A day filled with events and activities celebrating local history. Find out more.

Join us for the Halswell Project Exhibition Opening, a documentary photography project on the wider Halswell area produced by University of Canterbury, School of Fine Arts students.  The opening will take place between 6 and 7pm.

Friday 4 December: Halswell Youth Evening

A fun-filled programme designed for the awesome young people in Halswell! Activities start at 4pm and include Zumba classes, art displays, Minecraft, 3D printing demonstrations, music and a fun pool party. Find out more.

Saturday 5 December: Multicultural Day

A family-friendly day filled with activities and events celebrating the diversity
of our community. Find out more.

Go to our page about Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre to learn more about it. We’ve also got a bunch of photos of it being built. I’m quite a fan of the fab seats – perfect places to park yourself with a book.

Chair Chair

In a library far, far away…

Are you counting down the days until The Force Awakens hits our screens? Is one month too long to wait? Your pain we at Central Library Peterborough feel!

Star Wars Day

In anticipation of the movie release we have organised a Star Wars Day on Saturday December 12th, so if you enjoy dressing up — or even if you don’t — do come along and enjoy our wide variety of Star Wars themed activities and competitions for the chance to win some great prizes.

Star Wars toys and memorabilia
Star Wars toys and memorabilia at Central Library Peterborough, Flickr File reference: 2015-11-16-IMG_0627

We’ve already got books, DVDs, and memorabilia on display, fiercely protected by Princess Leia. We’re still finalising the details of what should be an awesome afternoon, so if you have any special requests or ideas then please help us: you’re our only hope.

And if you find those droids please send them our way too.

In the meantime, re-watch old episodes and enjoy the massive range of Star Wars library items we have to offer! I’m settling in for a Machete order screening this coming weekend.

Dinosaur footprints: A story of discovery – and it’s Dinosaur Day on Saturday 21 November

Dinosaur Footprints: A Story of Discovery is a national touring exhibition brought to you by GNS Science and New Zealand Oil & Gas and supported in Ōtautahi by Christchurch City Libraries. It is on now at Fendalton Library.

Dinosaur footprints

In 2009, geologist Greg Browne found dinosaur footprints in the Nelson region, which are thought to be 70-million years old! They are thought to have been left by plant eating Sauropods – the largest animals to ever roam the earth and the first ever evidence of dinosaurs in the South Island!

Dinosaur Day Saturday 21 November 10am to 4pm at Fendalton Library

Join us in this day of Family Fun! With 3D dinosaur printing, augmented reality books, 3D colouring, dinosaur storytelling and more. There will also be some craft activities for children with ‘The Make Company’. To reserve a place for these please book online.

Snap a selfie at the exhibition and upload to social media with #dinosinchch and be in to win cool dinosaur LEGO!

Dinosaur eResources

World Book Kids
An interactive encyclopedia with dinosaur articles, video and images. It includes articles all about dinosaurs including the Pterosaur which had a wing span of 12 metres! That explains why the word “dinosaur” is derived from two Greek words, meaning “terrible lizard”.

National Geographic Kids
The digital archive of the National Geographic Kids Magazine includes articles, images, videos and colourful online books all about dinosaurs. Did you know that dinosaur bones were mistaken for dragon bones when they first discovered 2,000 years ago?

Cover of We're going on a dinosaur digOverDrive for Kids
If you’d like to know more about dinosaurs, try these free online resources for kids. You may need a library card and PIN number for some of these – ask a librarian if you need help. Lots of eBooks and eAudio books about dinosaurs such as – Dinosaurs Love Underpants, Bruce the Brachiosaurus and We’re Going on a Dinosaur Dig.

Britannica Library Teens
The online version of Encyclopaedia Britannica provides articles, videos, pictures and journal articles about dinosaurs and palaeontology. There is even an article about fossilized dinosaur poop called coprolites which tell us about a dinosaurs’ diet!

Science in Context
Includes the latest news in the field of palaeontology, articles from magazines, academic journals and video and audio content. Learn about the debate about what caused their extinction – asteroid or volcano?

Cover of Lost Worlds of Aotearoa Cover of Dino-birds Cover of Yes! we had dinosaurs Cover of Dinosaur New Zealand Cover of Dinosaurs Cover of Dinosaurs love underpants Cover of Bruce the Brachiosaurus

Te Kupu o Te Wiki – Pakeke (growing up)

Kia ora. To encourage the use of Te Reo Māori we are publishing weekly kupu (words) and phrases that can be used with children.

Kīwaha (idiom)


Kupu (word)

Growing up

Kua pakeke haere koe, e te tau!
You’re growing up, my darling!

Whāngahia te Reo

Relishing the moments with a wordless picture book

Cover of Anno's journeyThe other evening, Mr K — who doesn’t usually like “girly” movies and would much rather watch the likes of Conan or Easy Rider — suggested we watch About Time. We both rather enjoyed this touching, romantic comedy about Tim who discovers he can time travel, and sets out to fix all the mistakes in his life. I was rather taken with the words Tim spoke at the end of the movie about relishing the moments of life

“We’re all traveling through time, together, every day of our lives… All we can do is do our best to relish this remarkable life”

I felt a kerplunk in my brain and a memory marble popped out showing me the day I picked up a copy of Anno’s Journey and flicked through it in a rush. I knew it was a classic picture book and had won like a bunch of awards and all that, but at first glance, I have to say I was underwhelmed. What was all the fuss about? There are no words, and the muted pictures didn’t seem especially eye-catching.

But then I took the time to sit down and actually look — to relish each page, each moment with the book — and I saw the clever details in the illustrations, the little stories within the story. I took it home for the Young Lad (who loves books, but does not like reading for himself) and it was a hit!

Although his teacher says he’s reading fine, he usually refuses to read at home. Give him a book he’s never read, and he refuses to read it because he doesn’t know the words. Give him a book he’s read before, and he refuses to read it because he’s had that one already. Getting him to read his school reading book is a nightmare! Frustrating doesn’t even begin to describe it.

This wordless picture book, though — it was a whole new experience. He didn’t need my help with it, he was in charge of the book. I think he found it empowering. Together, we found so many fascinating things in the illustrations. Miss Missy, not wanting to be left out, started searching too, and it was she who discovered Seurat’s “Bathers” and “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”

So then, of course, I couldn’t help but bring home more wordless picture books. We spent several evenings side by side on the couch, looking at the pictures, wondering over the story, and relishing our time together with these wonderful books.

Cover of Clown by Quentin BlakeHere are some of our favourites:

Now I know that “reading” these books didn’t actually help the Young Lad learn to read a single word, but we had such fun together, and I think that’s actually more important!

Useful links to help early readers –Cover of Flashlight by Lizi Boyd

Te Kupu o Te Wiki – Moe (sleep)

Kia ora. To encourage the use of Te Reo Māori we are publishing weekly kupu (words) and phrases that can be used with children.

Kīwaha (idiom)

Me he tē
Like a boss

Kupu (word)


E moe, e te tau.
Go to sleep, my darling.

Whāngahia te Reo