This month's guest is the fabulous Gina Bale, founder and director of Littlemagictrain, a multi-sensory resource that uses movement, music, stories and imagination, a bridge between the real and imaginary world, to engage children from Early Years to KS1 so they are ready to learn and achieve
Tell me about your first job Gina?
I was a dancer touring Germany. My background is in vocational ballet, and I trained at U.C.T Ballet school in Cape Town, Bush Davies in U.K followed by Scapino in Netherlands.
Tell me about Littlemagictrain
Littlemagictrain is multi-sensory resource that engages ALL children through stories, illustrations, music, and movement. Every adventure has linked activities ranging from sensory to yoga to extend the learning process.
What sparked your interest in the Early Years?
After an injury, I had to stop and after a break of 10 years, I attended my first teaching course. Upon graduation from the Royal Academy of Dance, I was asked to teach ballet in a nursery one morning. I said yes as had never taught anyone that young before and was curious to see what would happen. Yes, I was terrified!
What inspired you to launch Littlemagictrain
That first session in the nursery school. It was a total disaster (right to be scared…) and I realised that there was a better way to engage little ones with movement. Yes, over the years I have made huge mistakes that I learnt from. These failures and successes gradually evolved over the years to the Littlemagictrain you see today. We started out as being all about physical literacy, but it organically developed into other areas of learning using creative role-play. For me, it’s all about listening and learning what the needs are of the children and staff that day or week.
Do you have a favourite Littlemagictrain adventure?
This answer changes like the wind but today I would say it is my new Amazon adventure and next week it will probably be Africa or Space.
Can you describe a typical day?
Lots of phone calls and emails to nurseries to ensure they are all ok and whether they need any extra support. .
Spending time thinking about where we can go (Mars etc) and what we can do to make life easier for nurseries, childminders and home learners.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
That I can work from my home office surrounded by my 3 dogs. Speaking and communicating with so many people daily. This is the ideal balance for me as can’t be without my dogs.
What is your proudest career moment?
Seeing Littlemagictrain in the Butlin’s skyline with the gorgeous Bonnie Bear.
Are you working on any exciting projects?
We are incorporating Yoga into all of the adventures – really excited about this as the feedback from settings is so positive on this new development.
Tell me about your recent trip to India?
This was fascinating and a real eye-opener at the same time. There is a hunger for play-based activities but at the same time, there is a lot of parental pressure on teachers to ensure the children can recall the alphabet and write their names in the first week, or even day, of school. Very tricky but there are a lot of amazing practitioners putting play first and I am so excited to be a part of that adventure.
What are your top tips for inspiring our young learners?
If they are having fun, then they will be inspired and curious to know more. For me I just want them to be happy in the learning process as happy children are learning children.
Which three historical figures would you invite for supper and why?
1. Serge Diaghilev – find out everything I could about the Ballet Russes
2. Alfred the Great – as I am currently hooked on ‘The Last Kingdom’ and that part of history is fascinating. I feel medieval and Viking adventures brewing in my brain J.
3. Neil Armstrong – to grill him on what the Moon felt and looked like. Imagine seeing the Earth from space.
You have a time machine set with two trips. Where are you going to go?
1: Ancient Greece (but not as a slave) to learn all about the gods.
2: 1000 years into the future in space with Kirk and Spock by my side.
What three items would you take to a desert island?
A piano – we have unfinished business!
A book on survival.
Who would you most like to travel on a train with and where would you go?
Miss Marple. We could gossip, put the world to rights and of knit.
If you had a superpower what would it be?
To be able to communicate with animals and be Dr Dolittle.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Honestly, nothing as everything happens for a reason and I wouldn’t listen anyway.
...and your motto Gina?
Keep going, never give up and sing “I’m still standing” on those tough days.
Website link: www.littlemagictrain.com
Social media links
Rhyming Multisensory Stories are delighted to have been contribute to the sensory activities for Littlemagictrain along with the fabulous Joanna Grace of The Sensory Projects.
List of current adventures:
Dinosaurs on the loose!
Picnic on the Moon
Visiting the Bears
African Safari (July release)
Visit to the Zoo
Toy Shop at the North Pole
Looking for Pandas
New adventures coming soon:
Under the sea
Royal trip to the beach
Under the sea