From the Dragon’s Den!


January 2013

Earlier this evening I was idly watching television – something to do with the fact that Blackpool had been the show business Mecca of the North of England in times gone by.  During the annual ‘Wakes Week’ works shutdown, whole families from the northern cotton towns would flock to Blackpool to see the shows and view the illuminations.  For many it was the highlight of the year.

A singer called Alma Cogan flashed across the screen and that reminded me of a time during the 1950’s when I enrolled in a night school class in order to learn shorthand and typing. I hated shorthand but really enjoyed the typing and my memories of Alma Cogan are associated with typing   a s d f g  and the rest of the qwerty keyboard in time to a 78 rpm recording of Alma singing ‘Bell Bottom Blues’.  Some of us lead a sad life!

      During my teaching career, as all teachers do, I sought ways of motivating and assisting children to learn – through practice, through repetition, through discovery – many, many ways to stimulate learning for life.11-03

This is one of the reasons that we provide certain experiences for our Little Dragons.  Opportunities to learn and  repeat fine skills at our art and craft table; providing means of developing larger physical skills whilst using the bikes, cars, prams; time to develop listening and learning skills as we sit ‘quietly’ (hopefully) whilst  listening to  the story and joining in by saying or singing action songs and nursery rhymes.


You may perhaps recall someone or something in your own past which taught you or inspired you to learn a life skill which still plays a part in your life.  If, like me, these memories are easier to recall than what you did yesterday, or last week – then be assured – you are not on your own!!

          Enough said!                                                            Val B.



December 2012

December 2012From the Dragon's Den

Another Christmas, another New Year – where did the last twelve months go?  How did they pass so quickly?

  ? ? ?

I look at the faces of the current crop of Little Dragons and see the changes that the months have brought – last year’s babes in arms are now staggering around on somewhat shaky legs, huge smiles of delight showing as the formerly unobtainable or unreachable is now within the reach of questioning fingers. Last year’s toddlers are now looking immensely grown up as they cycle the right way round the track and assist with setting up for Story Time and, even more importantly, clearing equipment away as the morning’s session draws to a close. Stacking cushions away tidily is a great achievement when many of the said cushions are larger than the labourers.

Thinking of cushions reminds me that the extra cushioning acquired bodily during the recent festive season must be dealt with.  It is easy to ignore the slight increase in weight and shape as one enjoys the delights of the many extras to be enjoyed as we feast and celebrate in our several ways.

So, why do we indulge ourselves, perhaps foolishly, at this time of year?  We may use the excuse that it is cold and we need to stock up the calories in order to keep our bodies warm and healthy (questionable!), or to keep our spirits high when we may be feeling that winter isn’t the best time of year.

Maybe it is simply that as we gather with family, friends and acquaintances to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child we feel lucky and glad that, in comparison, we have far more good fortune than many people in the world, and are able to put our perceived problems to one side and relax beyond the bounds of good sense.


So, whether you find yourself fatter or thinner, or, like the toddlers mentioned above, your legs are somewhat shaky, we extend –

Season’s Greetings to all and every good wish for the New Year

from everyone at Dragons’ Den.                              VB


November 2012

Yesterday I received a ‘new friend’ request on Facebook, sent by a former pupil of mine from around twenty–five years ago. He wondered whether I would remember him, quoting an instance of a very comical happening during the time that he was in my care. Yes, I did remember him and was able to remind him of another very happy instance of those years. It set me to thinking about childhood memories.
I can recall several flashes from the past concerning my own early days; some easily being called to mind at will and others which suddenly burst into my mind for no known reason.

Each Tuesday as I observe Little Dragons busying themselves during our sessions, I wonder whether they will, in years to come, have recollections of their time spent playing, learning, listening and enjoying these times together alongside others. Will they recall the joy of learning to pedal the tiny tricycles up and down the wide aisle; the fascination of rolling and cutting play doh; the fun and excitement of sticking or painting a picture especially when glittery things are included? Will they, as they sing nursery rhymes to their own future children, remember the actions they learned at Little Dragons and will the tune of ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’ rekindle the sense of fun and laughter they themselves have experienced?

When Little Dragons was initiated in September 2006 it was with the intention of providing a service which would encourage Outreach within and around our church community – not with expectation on our users to necessarily to become members but important to us that they would know that, if need arose, we would be there for them in their particular need and if that need involved them in church life then that would be a bonus for us and, hopefully, for them.

Considering the above, plus the impact of Friday Club, monthly Breakout, annual Holiday Club, Open the Book Assemblies and Reverend Margaret’s Assemblies, it is interesting to note that:

  • Many of our Baptisms involve Little Dragon babies
  • In our local primary school each class up to Y5 contains former Little Dragons, with Friday Club and Breakout members in all year groups
  • Several children are hoping to be take part in training in order to receive Communion
  • A growing number of young people attend choir practice and take an increasing part in services, in particular All Age Worship

These points indicate much time, effort and enthusiasm being put into Children’s Ministry in our church. This is heart-warming as these children are, hopefully, the future of this place that we hold dear. It also underlines that we, the oldies, need to continue to worship with whole hearts, upholding past traditions whilst being ready to give new innovations a fair trial, that we may continue together to make this place a ‘still, holy, centre’.

Val Butterworth

March 2012

Big risks are being taken at this week’s Little Dragons’ session – we are experimenting with hand prints!


The only riskier art activity is the attempt to make pictures or patterns using footprints.  Now that can be termed foolhardy rather than risky!

Imagine if you will, a tray or bowl containing lots of Readimix (washable) paint in position on the well-protected floor; followed by the management, which may consist of simple direction, persuasion or coercion for the LD to place both feet gently into the bowl before stepping out to place the feet squarely in the middle of a sheet of paper, then containing those happy feet to remain on the said piece of paper in order to make a pattern for posterity.  This can be termed a strong-arm job as several hands are required in order to direct the little feet in the appropriate direction and to the appropriate place.

feet 1 feet 2

Compared to this, handprints are easy! The hardest task will be to direct a pair of wriggling hands each with what seems like twenty wriggling fingers to ensure that they land on the waiting piece of paper on which, in advance, several flower stalks and leaves have been drawn.  All the LD has to do is to place the hands in place and, lo and behold, there will be several spring flowers in their full glory.  You bet?

Val Butterworth