Staycation Guide special edition – February 2021

Staycation Guide special edition – February 2021

Many of you contacted me frustrated about spending February holiday in the city with everything closed. It’s true: no museums, no ice skating, no cinemas, theatres, or bowling. But I promise there are other options! I have vowed to never leave families in Geneva without ideas of outings and activities, so I did what I love doing – a Staycation Guide!

This special edition of the Staycation Guide is free. It does not mention camps. It is not sponsored. It’s just me for you. The times are tough, and we have to help one another, stick together, and get through this madnesses!

WHAT’S IN IT?

The Staycation Guide for February 2021 presents some hikes in the Canton of Geneva and day trips around to cool places not far away.  It also suggests ways to make the family walks in nature (and in the city) more adventurous. There are also propositions of indoors outings (yes! nothing spectacular but useful for rainy or especially cold days). I also included some online activities.

SUMMER STAYCATION GUIDE

Have you ever seen the Summer Staycation Guide (new edition every year)? If not, this free February edition can give you some taste, although – it’s much simpler and with less functionality. Ask around, and you’ll find out that the summer edition is simply fabulous.

GET THE GUIDE

Receiving the Staycation Guide February 2021 edition is as simple as a download can be. As already mentioned, I am not charging a penny for it. Nevertheless, I am asking for something in return – that is to stay in touch with you via my email list. 

Subscribe to the newsletter and enjoy your holidays in Geneva!

Let’s play Switzerland!

Let’s play Switzerland!

So, you’ve been living in Switzerland for a while. You’ve visited some mountains and a few lakes. You get to know the country more and more every weekend. You may have even learnt some French (yey!). But how much do you really know about it?Speaking the language and the knowledge about local tales, traditions and places are bases for good integration.

I’m here to tell you that you can deepen your integration from the comfort of your sofa while playing with kids! Sounds good, right? Damn, I hope… Anyway, while scrolling down you’ll see children’s books and board games that will teach the whole family about Switzeraland in a pressure-less and enjoyable way. 

Ok, you’re ready? Let’s go get’em!

BOOKS by Auzou Suisse

Auzou has published lots of children’s books about Switzerland for all ages. Many of them are available in French, German, Italian, and English!

aucou suisse maelys
Les enquetes de Maëlys

Perfect for early readers (7+) or as bedtime stories.Maëlys is a curious little girl who solves mysteries all around Switzerland with her friend Lucien’s help. They work on finding out why all of the Escalade chocolate marmots in Geneva disappeared; they’re chasing the flowers thief in Carouge; spend an adventurous evening in Chateau Chillon. They also travel to Vevey, Bern, Lucern, and many many more places. With each mystery, each adventure, readers get to know more about beautiful Swiss places and traditions. Available at many bookshops, libraries, and online. Check their official website. For Males in English click here.

switzerland books kids
MES P’TITS CONTES DE SUISSE

Each culture has its legends, and Switzerland is not an exception! Of course, because of its cultural and linguistic diversity, there are different legends in all cantons. “Mes P’Tites Contes de Suisse”

This series is available in French only. It invites children (and adults) to discover the swiss legends canton by canton. These books are also great to read together, or independently by 9+.

switzerland children's books lives infants suisse
Mes petits atlas des cantons suisses

So far, this series presents three of the Swiss cantons: Vaud, Valais, and our beloved Geneva. With these playful atlases, children (and adults) can follow playful characters and broaden their knowledge about the cantons. Because these are areas close by, they can be a great base for the day-trips bucket list. It’s always great fun to visit the places kids read about in books (sure, they would more likely enjoy a visit to Hogwarts but let’s give them a chance). As every atlas, these are also made of maps and drawings, and the content is diverse.

OTHER BOOKS

abc geneva children book switzerland
ABC GENEVA by Parentville

The most lovely book about Geneva – the work I am most proud of! A children’s book about Geneva in the form of an ABC-type book. Each letter of the alphabet presents a place, a person, or something else characteristic for the Geneva canton. It’s been sold out everywhere to my knowledge, but you can find it in most libraries in the canton.

 

GAMES

Let’s move from books to an even more playful introduction to Switzerland for the whole family. Play at home, on holidays, on warm days out in a park. You’ll giggle, you’ll have fun, and get to know Switzerland along the way. Let’s play Switzerland!

helvetiq games switzerland family
Super cool board games by Helvetiq

 My favourite is the Grand Tour Switzerland by Helvetiq available at CFF shop (here). It’s a fun board game for 10+ (although we tried with an 8+ and it worked out fine too). Players answer questions to move their cars from one place to another. There’s no need to know all the answers to win as several factors play a role. On the way, you win tokens and points. Even though I know more about Switzerland than Z, she managed to win several times, and we all learnt a lot about the country we call home.

Helvetiq has several games about Switzerland in their catalogue, and many are available in English: Matterhorn (8+), Swiss IQ (12+), Helvetiq (10+), Geographica (8+), Dice Trip (8+), Zurich IQ (15+), and more!

Monopoly

An old-time classic, Monopoly, wears many hats! It’s been years since they launched regional versions, and Switzerland is no exception. You can find Monopoly based on places in many different cantons (Monopoly canton Uri anyone?) or a Monopoly game with the whole country divided into cheapest and most expensive areas (that’s intriguing on its own in a country like Switzerland). I couldn’t find Monopoly Junior in a regional version, but am sure 6+ is a good age to start a regular one.

Jass

A cards game like no other. And nope, you won’t be able to use your regular cards. Jass looks complicated to novices but I’ve seen so many families with kids playing this game, that it is surely possible! First, dive into the rules and applications, prepared perfectly in English on this website. Master the game and surprise your Swiss friends (some people report to have seen Swiss people in Geneva, it’s not an urban myth).

jass switzerland game family

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Stroll along the river Aire (animal farm included)

Stroll along the river Aire (animal farm included)

Ferme la Gavotte is one of the most popular places among families in Geneva. It’s a petting farm with sheep, goats, poneys, rabbits, and more (more about it here). They also offer money rides on Wednesdays and on weekends. And guess what? It is very close to the river  L’Aire, making it a perfect starting point for this walk!

(Oops! Restrictions due to the Virus-That-Must-Not-Be-Names can force La Gavotte to close at times. Check their website before planning your trip).

Thanks to the numerous arrangements made by the canton, the surroundings of the Aïre (or L’Aire) allow this peaceful pleasure to as many people as possible. The Promenade de L’Aire is accessible for prams and wheelchairs. The short bits in the woods may be doable with all-terrain prams but not with a wheelchair.

The path allows you to go as far as Saint Julien en Genevois! Or you can make a full loop (around 2h30) through Signal de Bernex and Onex vineyards.  There are many picnic areas and large benches all along the way, so don’t forget your snacks!

two ways to begin

You can park at Centre Sportif des Cherpines (very close to La Gavotte). For 100% pram & wheelchair friendly way go through La Gavotte, to Chemin des Verjus, turn left to Route de la Galaise, through the Pont des Marais to the Promenade de l’Aire. 

For a bit of wilderness, feel start differently. From Cherpines go left on to the Chemin du Pont-du-Centenaire and follow it until you reach Chemin des Marais. From now on follow the river to reach the Promenade de l’Aire. You may encounter a super cool swing made of brunches and a robust rope – this fun place may make your shoes wet, but it’s so worth it!

stroll geneva family l'aire gavotte

ARCHITECTURE

It is a perfect place for prams, scooters, and bikes. It’s also a perfect place to walk on dry land when all forests are wet and muddy due to days-long rain. But we most loved it for combining urban architectural delights with nature. There is a gigantic pergola offering shade during the warm months, a beautiful bridge with a sharp triangle, and schody rzeka jakby wodospady?

GAVOTTE – THE BEST TREAT

you can visit Gavotte at the beginning of your Aire adventure or at the end. Bear in mind, kids get stuck there for a long time. The visit to this farm can be used as a reward for a long walk (for those kids who need it). I guarantee that cuddling with a poney is a better reward than any cookie!

stroll walk geneva family gavotte

practical INFO:

Accessibble with TPG: from Route de Chancy and Route de Base.
Parking: blue zone (3h) at the Centre Sportive de Charpines.
Duration of the walk: 2h30 for the whole loop but feel free to shorten it according to your preference.

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Geneva outdoor adventures – 3 propositions for families

Geneva outdoor adventures – 3 propositions for families

You’re about to find out how to transform a simple outing into a fun Geneva outdoor adventure!

Because let’s face it, at some point strolling through the city gets boring even if we change places regularly. It’s still just walking. But not anymore! Next time you venture out, it will be a whole different kind of family time, promise. Scavenger hunts and escape games await!

Ready?

Outdoor Escape Games
For 10-12+, paid game

If you’re like me, you may be a bit too anxious to try out an indoor escape game but this company offers great games outdoors (available in English, German, and French)! Currently, in Geneva, they offer one game for adults, and one perfect for families with children – Le Portail Magique. This adventure happens with the help of AR technology in the heart of Geneva. You will receive a tablet and an activity pack. With these tools in hand, by working as a team, you’ll see Geneva’s Old Town from a different angle! Your goal is to find crystals that close the portals and banish some evil creatures. Sounds fun!

More info: outdoor-escape-games.ch

Ouchui.ch
8-10+, A scavenger hunt, free

 Ouchui is a free scavenger hunt, available in several places in the Canton (Lancy, Nations, Old Town, Carouge etc). All you need is a smartphone (and a sense of orientation). You’ll be led by a map from one place to another and at each point, there is something to find and a question waiting for an answer. You will learn a lot about Geneva for sure, even if you think you know it all.
Two of the hunts are available in English (Geneva and Carouge). I couldn’t find official information about the minimum age recommendation but I think it’s doable with 5+ (just adapt their role and help them out and leave out most of the historical info given on the way). It can be a perfect outing for parents of babies, too! Just grab the pram or the carrier and have some fun!

More information: ouchui.ch.

GEOCACHING
free, 5+

Geocaching is so far Parentville’s favourite. This game takes place worldwide everywhere. All you need is a free app with a map. The goal of the game is to find the treasures aka “caches” – waterproof containers. Inside the treasure, you will find a logbook (sometimes also a pen and other things). Finding caches is a reward in itself. It is not as easy as one could think. The caches come in all sizes: from micro to lunch-box size. For adventures with kids chose caches marked “easy”, and don’t hesitate to read the hints.

More info: here.

Yummy snack for kids by kids

Yummy snack for kids by kids

One of the most frequent question parents hear is “can I have a snack?”. Sometimes it gets asked so many times a day, it’s difficult to have so many snacks prepared, not to mention healthy options. I mean.. how many times a day can I offer an apple to my kid? We always have to come up with ideas and stock the cupboards. 

Fortunately, we have Oksana from Nutrition Right sharing her recipes! You will end up not only with a snack but also a screen-free activity, yeah!

A WORD FROM OKSANA

Kids love snacking and “gouter” is their adored treat time. So, if you live in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, you will know that the afternoon gouter is firmly installed into a daily routine of children. It is a good moment in the day to have a break and enjoy something small and yummy (for both kids & adults). Usually, the snack choices are sweet, like biscuits, fruits, small baked goods like madeleines, etc. But why not using the gouter as a chance to eat healthy foods?

Here are the simple and nutritious snack ideas to make gouter a healthier! 

healthy snack nutrition right

APPLE SLICES SURPRISE

The first recipe, Apples Slices Surprise, is a super fun one as kids get to choose the topping for their apple slice. Firstly, you cut an apple, take the core out and slice it into rings. Then, layout different kinds of nut butter such as peanut, pistachio, almond. Add a selection of nuts and dried fruits like raisins, cranberries; cream cheese or honey. Then, let your kids decide what they want to put on top of the apple slice. 

CHOCOLATE SUPER BALLS

This recipe is an amazing time-saver, since the balls can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days! In fact, they even taste much better after being in the fridge for a while as they get cold and firm. Chocolate Super Balls are simply a kids-friendly version of the power balls, much loved by many adults as a quick highly nutritious snack.

Ingredients:
Makes abt 16 balls

1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup oats
1/3 cup walnuts
1/3 shredded dried coconut
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
7 dates, pitted
¼ cup of coconut oil
2tbsp dark unsweetened chocolate powder
Pinch of salt

Instructions:
1. (child) Put all the ingredients, except for the sunflower seeds, in a blender.
2. (adult) Blend.
3. (child) Using a big spoon transfer the mixture from the blender into a bowl.
4. (child) Add sunflower seeds & mix very well using your hands. The mixture should be sticky but also a bit crumbly.
5. (child) Take abt 1 tbsp of the mix & roll it in the hands to make a ball. Once all the balls are rolled, put them in a plastic container with a cover put in the fridge.

Get inspired by a selection of healthy easy recipes for the whole family prepared by Oksana Petersen @ Nutrition·Right, Geneva. Visit Oksana’s blog over at Nutrition Right!

 

Geneva Lux 2021

Geneva Lux 2021

Geneva lights up not only for Christmas. No, no, no. The end of January marks the start of the Geneva Lux Festival, it will last till 31.01.2021 Illuminated pieces of art in the streets of Geneva are a perfect reason to get dress warmly and make a good use of the early nightfall. And please do, it is a wonderful viasual feast!

Geneva LUX makes the city colorful, artful, and joyful in the coldest weeks of the year!

Spiders and whales

My favourite 2021 Geneva Lux edition pieces this year are the Spiders in Situ and the Flying Whales.

You’ll find the spiders at the Rotonde du Mont Blanc. Created by the Group LAPS, Spiders in Situ will make you think about how we’re both attracted to spiders as fascinating creatures and also how we fear them. Observe their setting and the situations they’re placed in – I’m sure kids will be able to make many stories about spiders after seeing this artwork.

The Flying Whale at Ile Rousseau is the creature brought back to life after being forgotten. Rumour has it a writer once saw a while in Lake Geneva… The old story has been taken seriously, and we can now admire the whale flying above Geneva’s waters.

Old & New

There are other pieces of the art of light as well. Some are new, some have earned a “traditional January Geneva decor” stamp (the floating buoys in front of the Hotel des Bergues for example). I’ve also fallen in love with Pinta Cura at Place de Montbrillant – be sure to see it and let me know what you think about it and how it makes you feel. 

FOR FAMILIES

There are 2 family trails already programmed on the map! So how about an evening out with a hot cup of something chocolate?

Both family trails are doable with a pram and not too long for older kids. They also lead to the artworks that children will enjoy the most, including 200 illuminated birds in the Parc des Bastions!

How to plan the adventure?

The official website has an interactive map, where all the artworks are pinpointed and described. It also lets you choose from several trails, two of them were especially though for Families (fingers crossed that next year we will also see a wheelchair-friendly trail).

PRACTICAL INFO

Location: the streets of the City of Geneva
Dates: January 22 – 31.2021
Website: evenements.geneve.ch/genevalux-oeuvres/

Family: Christmas things to do in Geneva 2020

Family: Christmas things to do in Geneva 2020

This bizarre year is almost over, and with this ending comes Christmas. For obvious resons, most Christmas events have been cancelled, but it does not mean there is nothing to do! I mean, this is why you follow Parentville, right? Whatever the season, whatever the weather,no matter the day of the week – I will always find things to do and places to visit for you!

Ready? Let’s go!

ILLUMINATIONS

Ville de Geneve

Christmas lights in Geneva are an art of its own. It’s not so much about Santa, but  more about lightning up the city with amazing art pieces. Illuminated trees, fountains, and other places – there are 22 places to discover! Grab warm jackets, gloves and all – and enjoy the evening walk expierencing a very seasonal Geneva! More about it here.

Plan-les-Ouates

Plan-les-Ouates also holds its annual illuminations! While strolling through the city of PLO – look up! Among the illuminated places are the Town Hall, la Julienne, and over 30 trees. It’s always beautiful and if you’re looking for new stroll routes, I recommend PLO. Have fun! (official website).

Carouge Magique

Illuminations in Carouge are my favorite of all. All the birds and fish sparkling above the streets together with elves and flowers make walking in Carouge a marvelous experience. There’s lots to see! I invite you to check this website for detailed plans of each illumination’s location. You can also scroll down this article to find out about more things happening in Carouge this month! (official website)

Lausanne Lumieres

A not that long drive away from Geneva, in Lausanne, you can admire an amazing mapping show on many buildings. It’s colorful, mesmerizing, and fascinating! There are guided tours available. It’s a great way to get to know this beautiful city. More info here.

CHRISTMAS MARKETS

Schilliger Garden Center

Schilliger’s Christmas decorations turn this garden center into the most beuatiful Christmas wonderland. This year the theme is very trendy and spot on (not only for those living in Switzerland): Swiss Mountains. There’s lots of snow, ski lifts, lots of wood, and it’s just hard to imagine that it was made by people and not elves. It’s usually accompanied by various workshops and events, but this year.. well it’s 2020, so there’s that.

Herstreet

Herstreet will transfrom into a Christmas market on December 5th (11h-20h) and 6th (11h-18h). Thirty local makers will show up with their goods – perfect Christmas gifts. And for kids? Santa’s grotto awaits – to meet Santa (while respecting social distance) please book online. The old man will also read stories to little groups and has little gifts for kids to take home. There is also a Christmas cards workshop for children (8y+). More info here.

Carouge

The shops in beautiful Carouge are open every SUNDAY from 11h till 17h. This way you can combine shopping, illuminations, poney rides (yes, yes! read on!) all in one place.

Charmille

Know-it-All Marketplace is back in Planete Charmille with over 40 local creators. You can find out more here.

Hammeau du Pere Noel (France)

Santa’s village across the border is a fairytale on Earth. Their shop alone is an all-year-round Christmas wonderland. If you’re looking for some seasonal gifts of any kinds 0 they probably have them. (Please rememmber about restrictions in France).

OTHER FUN THINGS

HAMEAU DU PERE NOEL (France)

The most famous Santa’s place in the region opens again on December 15th. There is a chance (fingers crossed) that Parc de Noel will open up as well – I will surely announce it on Instagram once there’s any info. This year, of course, you have to book your visit online (they reimburse 100% in case you cannot come), small groups will be allowed in, masks are mandatory. Please, check the Covid measures in France on the day of your visit and prepare required documents. To book your visit check here.

CABINE A HISTOIRE

A fantastic idea by Plan-les-Outaes – listen to a story while waiting for the bus! Each story is 1-5 minutes long, so just perfect when you have a moment to spare. Stories are all-ages appropriate and are awaiting your visit in an old phone booth next to the Aviateurs bus stop.

CARRIAGE & PONEY RIDES, Carouge

Enjoy the seasonal ride till January 3rd at Place du Marche in Carouge! If your kids prefer poneys, it’s also possible but at the Place de la Sardaigne (till January 5th).

LETTERS TO SANTA

Sending the letter to Santa is one thing, but receiving a reply (not written by parents) is one of the most exciting things that can happen to those who believe in Santa. There are two ways to do this.

The first is by sending a letter in your local post office. You can find out all about it here.

The other way, is heading to Carouge and sending the letter there via a very festive and special letter box. To receive the old man’s reply before Christmas – send your letter by mid december.

The unique bilingual program at Institut International de Lancy (IIL)

The unique bilingual program at Institut International de Lancy (IIL)

Institut International de Lancy (aka IIL) is a school with a long-standing history starting in 1903. The school offers a French section (with a French curriculum), and an English section (with a British curriculum). They have recently expanded their bilingual section and it sounds fascinating!

To know more about this program, and about the school in general, I talked to two moms whose children attend the ILL bilingual section.

THE SCHOOL

IIL is an international school with a plurilingual approach meaning they teach English and French as core languages in the classroom but every child’s home language is welcomed and encouraged. From early years education (3- 6 year old) through primary school (6 – 11 year old).

IIL offers 3 sections (English, French, and bilingual). I will focus on the bilingual section, which was launched 3 years ago.

When Christina decided to place her children at IIL, it was based on several factors. After looking into the other private schools in Geneva, she concluded that IIL was the right choice for her family: the fees are competitive; she liked their academic rigor and the idea of uniforms. The high-level education is high on her priority list, and ILL meets her expectations. But most importantly, she was hooked when she discovered the high-quality bilingual program!

IIL BILINGUAL PROGRAM

Given their approach to learning languages at IIL, the school decided to create their version of a bilingual program where children can learn both languages, at the same level, at the same time.

How?

In the bilingual section, children follow both the French and the British curricula. Their activities are in English and in French. Native English speakers will work more on their French and vice versa. These kids may do some work slightly harder than those from other sections, as this is an ambitious program. But according to the parents I talked to, it really works, and kids love going to school!

Because English and French curricula are different and focus on different skills for different ages, children in the bilingual section work first on writing in French and start reading in English.

Another mom, Kate, told me that her daughter started the school at 3 ½ speaking only French. Two years later she is fluent in English. At aged 5 ½, she starts her adventure with English literacy skills as well, and it is all going well.
99% of children in her daughter’s class started with one language, and two years later they can communicate in both languages. It does sound fantastic!

According to Kate, kids learn about the same topic in both French and English (but on different days), so that they can have a bilingual vocabulary in every subject.

Another interesting aspect is that many families with a non-English or non-French parent are enrolling their children in bilingual to get the best of both. The classes are filled with children and cultures from all over the world.

MORE THAN ACADEMICS

Kate also loves the schools focus on collaboration between the children and the way they learn how to resolve conflicts and compromise. I agree these are the soft skills that are as essential in adulthood, as hard skills. IIL is also the only school in Switzerland and France to implement the Finnish anti-bullying program – KiVa.

IIL is a well-rounded school with a community feel. Although the focus is on academics, the amount of homework grows with the children (but differently in each section). But this is not all. The Institute is also proud of its sports program, offers a rich artistic program, is very IT-oriented, and organizes enjoyable outings and events for children of all ages.

MAKING THE BILIGUAL SECTION WORK

Following two curricula at once may seem like a lot for children, but IIL magically makes it work. I won’t lie to you, they work a lot, but they also play a lot, and everything is wrapped in a friendly and warm atmosphere. Of course the children learn academics but they are also encouraged to learn through games, collaboration and creativity.

Of course, IIL is not the only school with a bilingual program. But all these programs use different methods. Every school is different. With this article, I wanted to give you a glimpse into the International Institute of Lancy, do not hesitate to reach out to them in case of questions. Their friendly staff will be happy to answer your question or arrange a visit to the campus. Personally, I am very much intrigued and fascinated by their bilingual section!

Would you like to learn more about IIL’s programmes for children ages 3 to 12? In that case, I recommend you join their virtual tours early December. More info and sign up here.

UPCOMING EVENTS

9 and 12 December Virtual tours of START and Primary, the English French and bilingual sections for children age 3 – 12. More info and sign up here.

PRACTICAL INFO

International Institute de Lancy (IIL)
Avenue Eugène Lance 24,
1212 Lancy

Website: www.iil.ch

Kosmos magazine – for girls and the rest of the world

Kosmos magazine – for girls and the rest of the world

There’s a new magazine for girls (and the rest of the world)  in Switzerland – “Kosmos”. I can’t wait to tell you all about it! It’s fun, it’s wise, it’s silly, it’s interesting, and more! It opens the door to new interests, passions, and self-confidence. (And no, I was not paid to write about it).

“Kosmos” is new in Switzerland but I’ve known it for several years. It was founded in 2017 in Poland and I’m Polish – voila! We had a subscription for a while but Z was too little to appreciate the contents. We are thrilled to present it to her again, in French and adapted to kids living in Switzerland. After reading the first “test” issue, we are sure she will be excited to discover the future editions!

Four brave women are behind bringing “Kosmos” to Switzerland: Marta Kosinska, Laura Simon, Martina Polek and Cyrielle Cordt-Moller. They are working around the clock to bring this inspiring magazine to Swiss preteens. “Kosmos” is ads-free, non-profit, relying on sales and support from foundations and NGOs. This ambitious project, with the future of little girls at heart,  deserves our full attention.

What is Kosmos?

It’s an empowering magazine for girls aged 7-13. The goal is to help them get and keep self-confidence, find new interests, embrace their passions. It presents captivating texts on psychology, environment, science and society – presented in an engaging and humorous way There are also jokes, games, propositions of science activities and arts projects, as well as books reviews.

The first issue, for example, is all about the voice (but also about what is needed for a reindeer to become a pet). There’s a short history of feminism, the biology of voice, a piece about ways to use the voice and more! And a bricolage project that also has to do with voice! 72 pages of passion, knowledge, silly jokes, and wise messages. Z. had a ton of laugh discovering yodelling and trying it out herself – it’s the Swiss touch that we are grateful for as an expat family.

HOW & WHERE

New issues will come out every 2 months. 72 pages of it to be exact. It will be available in a form of an annual subscription, in kiosks, libraries, museums, bookstores, and schools. Every issue will be printed locally in Switzerland in an ecological way – limiting the carbon footprint as much as possible. Each issue will also have an accompanying section on Kosmos website, with some more inspiring materials (ex. videos, music). You can see the bonus for the first issue here.

 

WHY KOSMOS?

A pilot study of the research project “Mädchen in der Schweiz” shows that girls lose confidence in themselves as they grow older. While the majority of 9 yo girls surveyed described themselves as brave and strong, only half of those between 12 and 16 kept this strong feeling about themselves. Girls are capable and curious, but they are less daring to express it as they grow up, especially if it does not correspond to stereotypical expectations related to their gender. On average, girls do well in school, but they often do not realize their potential in their professional life.

Kosmos aims to support preteens in exploring and developing their skills & knowledge of different areas of life. It will show them the world with an angle free from gender stereotypes. With this magazine they will get to know positive role models, but also have a platform to present their ideas and passions. I really believe “Kosmos” can be one of the tools that helps preteen girls strenghten their self-esteem, so that they can grow without feeling small and keep following their dreams.

LAST CALL

The crowdfunding campaign launched to gather the funds for “Kosmos” was met with a lot of excitement and is going amazingly well! It’s still on, so check it out and grab the deals. There’s a one year subscription, an option for a personalized first issue, workshops, and more. All prepared by a team of professional, passionate amazing ladies! And what a great Christmas gift!

 

Everything closed and it’s cold. What now? November 2020 in Geneva

Everything closed and it’s cold. What now? November 2020 in Geneva

Here we are again with Covid messing with our lives on all possible levels. Geneva has announced the closure of almost everything. No more museums, libraries, ice-rinks, no indoor family-friendly attractions. At least school remain open, but what to do on weekends, Wednesdays, and after school?

Parentville to the rescue!

Below you’ll find ideas for walks, indoor places (yes!), and toys/activities.

Let’s go!

INDOOR PLACES

Yes, indoors! I won’t unravel any fascinating places to visit here as all that I would love to share this winter are closing their doors as I type. But there are still two places that offer an outing-feel.

1. Schilliger Garden Center in Gland and Plan-les-Ouates. Gardening shops can stay open, winter holidays are coming, and Schilliger is the master of creating Christmas decorations. So, if you’re missing Christmas markets, head over to Schilliger (the one in Gland offers way more, but PLO is fun too). Every year they turn their shops around into the most beautiful Christmas worlds. They also organized workshops and activities for the kids – check their website.

2. Geneva closed down all of the libraries but let the bookshops stay open (go figure… can’t help to think about all the unpriviliged families that will deprived from the joy of reading, and all those kids who like mine love the local library and rent books in bulks). It means that Fnac and Payot shops will be welcoming clients. Children’s sections are great and many kdis can easily spend 1h sorting the pages of several books to choose the one they would like. It’s not a super fun something, but when we have nothing, let’s cherish what we have.

3. Still a library, but so kids-friendly it deserves a separate mention: Au Chien Bleu near Plainpalais. It’s a colorful place filled with beautiful picture books, great adventures, and staff with perfect advise for everyone.

OUTDOORS

I know, I know, it’s getting cold and wet. But there will also be many days with a sunny sky and dry ground under our feet. The fresh air, and nature around is a great remedy for the autumn/winter blues.

What to do when out in nature?

  1. Gather leaves, sticks, cones, rocks and create mandalas.
  2. Build a petend fire pit.
  3. Using sticks and strings build a raft and play in one of the many streams.
  4. Use the colors and textures around to design clothes (like here).
  5. Gather branches and stick fallen down to build huts.
  6. Enjoy geocaching – the best outdoors adventure for the whole family and for free.

 

Where to go? Here are some ideas:

The list is long so I created a separate article with the destinations in the canton and around. You can access it here.

TOYS & ACTIVITIES

Semi lockdown in spring and semi-quasi-lockdown in winter is not the same for one reason: the weather. What to have at home to have kids occupied? I have some ideas.

BOARD GAMES

Board games and book are perfect for every gloomy season no matter what virus waits around the corner. We have recently received some games and a book from Helvetiq and can only recommend! Tip: pay attention to the age range as the games really do get more complex with indicated age. When shopping at Helvetiq check their online bookstore as well! Their offer is stunning.

READ & WRITE ADVENTURE

How about letting your child be a queen/king of a kingdom or a zoo director? This and more is possible with Epopia. After choosing an adventure, and answering several questions about your kids (fav colour for example), they will start sending out quests via traditional mail. It’s a great activity for kids who can read (or start reading) in French, and fun writing exercise. All their “orders” must be written down. They will also receive some gadgets and accompanying activities. We tried it and Z loved it very much.

ESCAPE GAME @HOME

Escape games are now available not only in special venues, not only online, but you can also easily turn your place into an escape game room! We have already tried several games from the Escape Kit, and can only recommend it. There’s some printing to do, then cutting and glueing but all rather easy to prepare. A very fun way for a weekend afternoon at home!

SCREEN TIME

As Z is already 8, I have no idea what fun apps are out there for smaller kids. I can only tell you what works here and it’s mostly for computers.

1. Minecraft – the creative mode is great even for kids ages 5+. The creative mode gets rid of the monsters, there are no other players to interrupt or attack and it gives the kid unlimited access to the building materials. It’s like Lego with unlimited blocks and even more options. It’s fantastic! There are animals, villages, mountains… Kids can create whatever they want and if they catch the Minecraft bug they may even want to get into some programming and more advanced Minecraft features.

2. For the horse lovers world over, the best game ever is Star Stable. It’s all about the horses, quests, amazing adventures, races, discovering new lands and more. The game has a chat to connect with other players (an internet safety conversation recommended). The game is available in many languages, and there’s quite a lot of reading involved. So, if your child is not a great reader yet, they may need your help quite often.

MEL SCIENCE

During the spring lockdown we both got into some basic science experiments. You can find many of them in my spring posts on Instagram and my IGTV videos. Now, I have my eyes set on MEL Chemistry. It’s one of those companies you subscribe to and every month they send new things. They have a engineering/physiscs activities for ages 5-10, and super duper cool chemistry experiments for older curious creatures.

LUNII

When parents need a little time to themselves while kids would love to listen to a story, the Lunii “Ma Fabrique à Histoires” comes in handy. It’s a little radio-like box with uploaded story. But! It’s not the same story every time as before listening to the child chooses three main elements of the story. Changing even one of them will change how the story goes! Available in French, English, and possibly other languages too.

LEGO

The all-time classic, the toy that can occupy kids for hours is of course LEGO. For a year it was all my daughter would do all day every day. If you’re worried about the mess, Ikea has just launched a new collection designed to keep the bricks tidy – BYGGLEK. (Available at Click&Collect Ikea service).