Chinese New Year celebrations, bottle oven building challenges and live storytelling sessions are among a host of free online activities available for Stoke-on-Trent families over the half term break.

The city’s museums, libraries and other indoor attractions remain closed throughout the national lockdown, but the venues are continuing to provide alternative entertainment on their websites and social media channels.

During half term, the city’s Visit Stoke team also has information about outdoor spaces that households can use for daily exercise in their local area, as well as details of virtual attraction visits, Valentine’s Day ideas and more.

There is also a range of wellbeing support on offer to help families look after their physical and mental health, with details available on stoke.gov.uk.

The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery would normally be holding its hugely popular Chinese New Year celebration (the weekend of 13-14 February), with an event that usually attracts thousands of visitors to the Hanley site.

This year, while the museum is temporarily closed, the team have instead created a special section on their website to help families enjoy the festivities at home. There are craft activities including mask and Chinese lantern-making, a zodiac animals home trail, and a poem and willow pattern competition. 

The museum has also produced a host of Valentine’s-themed activities and events, as well as a range of other information based on exhibits and the city’s history.

gladstone-pottery-museumGladstone Pottery Museum also has a range of activities available during half term. The team are encouraging families to build their own bottle ovens from construction blocks and share photos of them. You can tag in the museum on social media or email photos to gladstone@stoke.gov.uk and entries will appear in an online gallery.

The museum’s website also has a selection of videos from skilled demonstrators, with the chance to follow step-by-step guides and make your own clay creations.

Other highlights include a virtual tour of the site, presented by 360 Picture UK, with the chance to ‘walk’ through the historic pottery factory and explore each fascinating room.

The website also has the first edition of a new Gladstone comic – The Improbable Adventures of Blunger Woman – and a range of other content including fun craft activities, quizzes, a board game, pottery painting kits to buy and more.

Details about all museum activities can be found at https://www.stokemuseums.org.uk/gpm

librarian-story-time-stoke-on-trentStoke-on-Trent’s libraries are putting on a selection of online events for half term – and they also have covid-secure ways to borrow books during the current restrictions.

The service is offering two Facebook Live storytelling sessions, at 11am on Saturdays February 13 and 20, with fun tales read by one of the city council’s librarians.

There are also two of the libraries’ popular singing bears events – at 10.30am on Tuesday, February 16 and Friday, February 19 – with songs and rhymes that young children can join in with.

Families can find the live videos, or watch the recorded sessions afterwards, at https://www.facebook.com/stokeontrentlibraries

The city’s libraries have also launched a new book bundles service, with packages available for children and adults based on a range of themes and genres.

There is a covid-secure click, call and collect book borrowing service, as well as online borrowing for e-books, e-magazines and e-audio books. For more information, visit https://www.stoke.gov.uk/libraries or contact your local library.

A full list of activities can be found at the bottom of this article.

Councillor Lorraine Beardmore, cabinet member for public health, culture and leisure, said: “Our fantastic museums and libraries would usually be packed with families during half term, with lots of children enjoying the fascinating displays, events and activities. Unfortunately that’s not possible at the moment and we know how much the city’s families are doing to drive down coronavirus rates in the city by staying at home and protecting the NHS. People are making an incredible effort and we think it’s extremely important for our venues to provide alternative online half term activities during that time.

“I know how hard it is to continue to entertain a family with young children at the moment, so these wonderful virtual activities and services will be something different for everyone to get involved in. Make sure you check out the museum and libraries’ websites and give them a follow on social media for the latest updates.”

While families are not able to visit indoor attractions this half term, under lockdown rules you can exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person. Residents are reminded exercise should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area. 

For half-term wellbeing support click here

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PLEASE SEE BELOW FOR A LIST OF ACTIVITIES

Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

Chinese New Year: Welcome in the year of the ox by taking part in craft activities which include mask making and creating your own Chinese lantern. Families can also see images from previous Chinese new year events and enjoy a video from 2016 – the year of the monkey.

Youngsters can learn about the story of the zodiac animals and what place the ox took in the race. There is also a ‘home trail’ to help Ozzy Owl find animals in your own home.

Competition to design your own willow pattern plate or create a poem based on the Chinese new year story. The deadline for entries is Sunday, February 28. There are three age categories, five to seven-year-olds; eight to 11-year-olds; and 12 to 16-year-olds. The winners in each category will receive a goody bag with activities, puzzles and a small toy from the museum shop. All submissions will be featured on an online gallery.

Residents interested in the Chinese new year can also find out about the many museum collection objects relating to Chinese culture from Mahjong playing cards to exquisite Chinese porcelain and a stunning collection of jade and ivories.

Video of the museum’s latest touring exhibition – China: Through the Lens of John Thomson 1868-1872. It shows stunning images from the long-lost world of imperial China as well as pieces from the museum’s own collection.

Residents who are celebrating Chinese New Year at home are encouraged to share their images with museumeducation@stoke.gov.uk or on Twitter and Instagram @potteriesmuseum – with the chance to feature in an online gallery.

Valentine’s Day: The museum has created a website section to celebrate Valentine’s Day, with activities for children including making heart-shaped bunting, decorative wreaths and pop-up greetings card. Children can also colour in a Valentine’s Ozzy Owl card.

Residents can find out about love-themed objects in the museum’s collections – including ceramic figures and poignant messages sent from soldiers serving on the frontline during the First World War to their sweethearts back home. There is also information about a previous exhibition – called A Romantic Proposal, which looks at courtship in history. Visit https://www.stokemuseums.org.uk/pmag/

Language of Love: On Sunday, February 14 at 2pm the museum will host an online presentation exploring the ‘language of love’. This event, with the History’s Maid group, will look at the secret meaning behind objects such as fans, red roses and a bunch of tulips. Tickets are £6, plus booking fee and are available from https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-language-of-love-online-presentation-tickets-139364367575

Other activities: The museum also has a host of other family activities. There is a virtual tour, further online collections, craft, history and art activities, and more. For information, visit https://www.stokemuseums.org.uk/pmag/

Social media: The museum is encouraging residents to share their photos of half term activities on Twitter or Facebook with @potteriesmuseum .

Gladstone Pottery Museum:

Build a bottle oven: The museum is encouraging families to build their own bottle ovens from construction blocks and share a photo with them on social media. You can tag in @GladstoneMuseum on Twitter or Instagram and @GladstonePotteryMuseum on Facebook. Alternatively, email photos to gladstone@stoke.gov.uk. Please submit photos by Sunday, February 28 and the creations will be added to a gallery on the website.

Youtube demonstrations: Families can watch Gladstone Pottery Museum’s demonstrators in action. If residents have clay, salt dough or play dough at home they can try making something with the step-by-step guides. There are also videos with a flower-maker showing how to create a rose or a lily.

Pottery painting at home: The museum gift shop sells craft kits and packs for families to paint pottery at home – for more information visit https://www.stokemuseums.org.uk/gpm/paint-at-home/ or https://www.stokemuseums.org.uk/gpm/craft-kits/

The Improbable Adventures of Blunger Woman: Gladstone Pottery Museum has published its own comic strip – following ‘the improbable adventures of Blunger Woman’. The first adventure is available to read now and the next instalment is expected soon. Visit https://www.stokemuseums.org.uk/gpm

Other activities: The museum also has a host of other family activities. There are colouring in sheets, craft creations and puzzles. There is also a Gladstone board game, ‘Who Am I?’ pottery jobs challenge, and even a quiz based on the history of toilets. For information, visit https://www.stokemuseums.org.uk/gpm

Social media: The museum is encouraging residents to share their photos of half term activities on Twitter or Facebook with @GladstonePottery

Stoke-on-Trent Libraries

Story Time Live: On Saturday, February 13 at 11am families can join librarian Chris for a Facebook Live session. The story will follow a hippo hunt, with animals hiding in the pages. The session will also feature information about a craft activity that youngsters can do at home after the event. The books Chris shares will be available to borrow from Stoke-on-Trent Libraries via the Click, Call and Collect service.

On the following Saturday, February 20, at 11am families can join the next Story Time Live when librarian Amy will share tales about ‘being you’ and ‘what makes us who we are’. This session will cover Super Duper You, Dracula Superstar and Elephant Me. Again, the books will be available to borrow via the Click, Call and Collect service. Visit https://www.facebook.com/stokeontrentlibraries

Singing Bears Online Live: On Tuesday, February 16 at 10.30am, librarian Janet will be leading the first of the week’s Singing Bears Facebook Live sessions. She will share songs and rhymes that are perfect for babies, toddlers and pre-school children. Parents can leave a comment online to let the librarian know their family is watching and Janet will try to say hello during the session.

On Friday, February 19 at 10.30am, librarian Chris will host another Singing Bears session. Residents can leave a comment about their children’s favourite nursery rhymes or songs and Chris will choose some to include in his event. Visit https://www.facebook.com/stokeontrentlibraries

Book Bundles: Stoke-on-Trent Libraries has created a book bundle service for families who are not sure what titles to choose from their covid-secure Click, Call, and Collect service. There is something for everyone – with specific packages for children and adults. All residents need to do is get in touch with their local Stoke-on-Trent library by phone or email and let them know what sort of books they enjoy reading. The library staff will then pick a selection especially for them.

For adults there are fiction, mixed, crime/mystery/thriller, light reading, romance, cosy crime, new year/new you, fantasy and science fiction, local authors, local history, and popular non fiction bundles.

Children can choose from dinosaurs, things that go, animals, monsters and aliens, space, silly stories, magic and baby bundles. For more information, visit https://librariesonline.stoke.gov.uk/ or https://www.facebook.com/stokeontrentlibraries

Click, Call and Collect: Although Stoke-on-Trent’s libraries are currently closed for browsing, residents can still borrow books by using the covid-secure Click, Call and Collect service. You can request books online, or by contacting your local library by phone or email, and the service will arrange a contact-free appointment for you to collect your books. Find out more about Click, Call and Collect at https://www.stoke.gov.uk/clickcallcollect

Online borrowing: Residents can borrow e-books, e-audiobooks or e-magazines from Stoke-on-Trent Libraries via https://librariesonline.stoke.gov.uk/ . Anyone who does not have a membership can get one easily by visiting https://www.stoke.gov.uk/librarymembership . Residents who have a membership but cannot find their number should contact their local library by phone or email.

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