Assisi for kids 

Let’s face it, Assisi attracts so many tourists because it IS so magnificent and there are so many incredible monuments, works of art, views and attractions that you would be plain stupid not to experience them!
Even though I long ago ceased being a ‘tourist’ here and Assisi has become just another place to meet friends or shop or go out for a meal, I nearly always walk to the Basilica della San Francesco because it continues to fill me with awe and wonder and I still marvel at the amazing architecture and murals.
Assisi is the most magical of towns and one which needs to be lingered over. To be explored. To be experienced in the cool of the morning before the crowds and in the evening when a magnificent sunset bathes the basilica in a golden light. To wander through its mellow streets late on a summer evening with soft music and delicious aromas permeating from hidden trattorias. I would even suggest that one simply wanders on a first visit to capture the atmosphere before engaging in any serious sight-seeing.

But what about the kids???

I first visited the city as an eighteen year old so not exactly a kid! Although, since it was my first trip outside the UK I certainly felt like one! 

In stark contrast our eldest daughter was just five!  Although she has now lived and worked in four countries and visited so many others that I’ve lost count, Assisi is the first  place she insists on visiting everytime she sets foot in Italy!  

So, yes!  Assisi can be a magical place for children too but I think it does depend on how one approaches the visit.  

If you arrive around lunch on a stinking hot day and trail the kids around crowded streets and through every church then definitely NO !  They will not think that Assisi is magical. Just the opposite! 

Assisi is the hottest place on earth in the summer with sunlight reflecting off every facet of its pinky white buildings. It is also blessed with lots of steps and hills!  I have to admit that our daughter number two did once (aged 4) sit down  at the bottom of some steps and refuse to go up!  We learnt our lesson! 
So. What do you do if you can really only spare one day and it’s during the summer school holidays and HOT? 

First prepare the kids. Read them stories about St Francis and Santa Chiara and make them aware of the earthquake. People who say they don’t want their kids to learn anything about religion, are, in my opinion extremely shortsighted!  Let’s  face it without religion  there wouldn’t be any culture and very little art or beautiful buildings! Take away religion and places like Assisi wouldn’t exist! Granted religious battles wouldn’t have happened but  wars and terrorism would still have occurred because unfortunately that is human nature not faith!  St.Francis is everywhere in Umbria and you will miss so much if you don’t know a little of the background. 

Get up early. Pack a picnic. Get out early. Arrive in Assisi by ten. Stop on the way to marvel as the breathtaking apparition as this city appears on the horizon.  Park on the outskirts of the town and wander around the magnificent church of Saint Maria and the Angels. It has a tiny church inside the larger church which looks no bigger than a dolls house and is sure to captivate the  hearts of children.  They will also enjoy deciding if the doves on the huge statue of Saint Francis in the Rise Garden are real. You may have to wait a while to catch one of them blinking! 

Enjoy a coffee in one of the local bars and then drive right up to the Rocca Maggiore and enjoy your picnic before exploring the ruins.  The walk up to the Rocca is beautiful in the spring and autumn. In the summer it will finish you off! 

The afternoon can be spent quietly reading and taking photographs or playing games. The Rocca is a great place for hide and seek with its stone towers and ramparts and a spooky dark tunnel!  There’s also a lovely grassy courtyard which is great for letting off steam.

When it approaches 4 O’clock drive down and park. Then you can wander up into the main town and have a quick wander around the church of  Santa Chiara. There is a Carousel outside the church which the children can enjoy after the visit. On the way to the Basilica della San Francesco you will pass an enchanting toy shop with lots of wooden toys, Pinocchio being the main attraction.  A good break between churches and the toys are very unusual and very beautiful.  

Franchi. The address is Via Portica 15/A

Another ship they will enjoy is the Laboratorio Artistico Alice. This shop is full of hand painted items. Gifts and T shirts and all sorts. An Aladdin’  Cave! 

Address: Piazza Chiesa Nuova 
The next stop is the Basilica della San Francesco which is out of this world. It is also wonderfully cool. The crypt is a ‘must’. Even the youngest will be totally in awe of the glittering decorations and atmosphere. 

The evenings in Assisi are beautiful so enjoy an early meal. We like the little ristorante near the fountain. After dining you  can  wander around the  backstreets  basking in the golden light that bathes the town after dark. 

Some tips.

Ice cream. Children love ice cream. There are a couple of very elaborate and beautiful ice cream parlours but  my advice is to go to one of the small bars where you will pay less and be served with a smile! 

The same goes for drinks and snacks. 

Cakes!  Giant meringues and brightly coloured and nutted slabs of cakes tempt you from many windows!  Just be aware that you pay by weight and that can be staggering! 

Local produce. There are many shops selling local foods. It’s always a good idea to pay a visit to a supermarket before buying from this type of shop. Then you can distinguish between the real local produce and the overpriced items you can pick up at half the price in an alimentare.  Packets of Torta al Testo being a common one! 

How are you getting on with the Sunday Challenge? 

                   Click here to see how we are getting on at Jumble House

(Click on the words above) 

What can you make from ………?

How are you getting on with the challenge?
Last week’s challenge was to make a model using the objects in the picture above. 

4 plastic plates.

2 plastic cups.

Two eyes. Four pipe cleaners

One balloon

Stickers are optional. 

Nothing less. Nothing more.

You can use a pair of scissors, glue, cellotape and string.

What can you make from these bits and pieces ?

If you click on the link at the top of the page you can see how we are getting on at Jumble House 

Colour volcanoes. Fun Science Experiment for Home and School.

A fun and easy investigation for children from 4 years upwards. 

At Jumble Fun we don’t spoon feed !  We want youngsters to ask questions, to think creatively, to try out their own experiments and not just copy ours! 

Children need to be encouraged to predict the possible results before watching or doing an investigation and to draw conclusions from the results. 

This experiment is a fun way colour mixing as well introducing acid reactions. 

                 Click on this link watch the video

Make a Spider’s Web

Here’s the web for yesterday’s spider .

It’s not difficult. Just fiddly!  AND sticky! 

I recommend that this web should be made by an older child or adult. 

I will be back later in the week with simpler webs for young children to make 

And here are the instructions


The first three of my  ‘Lizzie Witch‘ books are written and illustrated. 

That was the ‘fun’ bit,  but now comes the hard bit …..publishing!   It may be a long wait so there’s a ‘taster’ from the first book at the end of this post with a few of the photographic illustrations. I have a second edition of this book with watercolour illustrations. I’m also working on the idea of producing ‘Thematic Lesson Packs’ for Schools  based on the Lizzie Witch stories and a monthly magazine.   If anyone would like more information please email me at: 

The Lizzie Witch books are meant for sharing. They are books to read at bedtime and during that cosy ‘Tell me a story’ time that all children love. The smallest child will soon learn to join in with the many repetitions and responses and older children will find the books fun as first readers.  But the LIZZIE WITCH books also encourage creativity and develop a love of learning

Every book contains a link to a video giving simple instructions on how to make one of the characters or objects in the story and further enrichment and learning links can be found on the JUMBLE FUN channel and website. (Click on the links below to check these out).

The link to my Website
The link to my YouTube Channel 

The first story, LIZZIE THE FORGETFUL WITCH introduces us to Lizzie and JUMBLE HOUSE (Yes! There really IS a Jumble House!) and three of her JUMBLE friends, Maisie, Freddie and Georgie.  We follow this loveable witch during a typical chaotic day when good intentions and forgotten magic spells produce hilarious results. With lots of laughs and opportunities to interact it is a perfect book for toddlers and young children and one that adults will be happy to read over and over again! 

​Children love their story book characters to ‘come alive’ and the characters in the LIZZIE WITCH books do just that!  Above is a short clip showing Lizzie in action! 

There are over 100 videos on the  JUMBLE FUN Channel covering a wide range of topics from art and craft to science and nature and healthy eating, recycling and conservation!  Lizzie Witch has her own playlist containing fun but informative videos which not only complement the books perfectly but also deliver basic scientific concepts and information about the world around us in a way which will captivate everyone and motivate children to find out more for themselves. 

The books are set in and around  JUMBLE HOUSE and young readers will enjoy spotting familiar objects that they have seen in the videos or noticing missing ones that I have hidden !

The second and subsequent books have a simple science or nature theme with an art and craft extension at the end of the story.  For example TUFTY THE CATERPILLAR  tells the magical story of a caterpillar changing into a butterfly and has a link to video instructions on how to make a little ‘Tufty’ toy. Written in the same captivating style as LIZZIE THE FORGETFUL WITCH, it introduces children to the amazing world of insects and the wonder of metamorphosis. 

Other titles in the Lizzie Witch series: 



THE JUMBLE-TUFTS (coming soon)

SAMMY SNAIL (coming soon) 

SPINNY SPIDER ( coming soon) 

……….. and now, here is the promised taster from the first book in the series: 


(Copywrite 2016 Judi Brereton. All rights reserved. No part of the text or photographs from this book, ‘LIZZIE THE FORGETFUL WITCH’ may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means without prior permission in writing from Judi Brereton.) 

Lizzie is a very forgetful witch.  She forgets birthdays.  She forgets the time. 

She even forgets her broomstick! 

But, worst of all Lizzie forgets her magic spells and that makes life very difficult for Lizzie and for everyone else. 

Yesterday was a particularly bad day.

Lizzie woke up. Forgot where she was and fell out of bed. 

On the mirror were the words, ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY’

‘I wonder whose birthday it is,’ said Lizzie.

Lizzie wanted a boiled egg for breakfast.

Could she remember where she kept the eggs? 

No. Of course not! 

‘Never mind,’ said Lizzie ‘I can magic an egg.’ 

Could she remember the spell ?

No. Of course not ! 

…….. and that’s when the fun starts!!!!

The Jumbles are very special ! 

They are characters designed to GROW with their readers. 

Tinies will enjoy playing with the toys and sharing the stories.

Older children will be inspired by my Sunday Challenge programmes to write their own stories and maybe feature JUMBLES they have designed and made themselves. 

THE PROBLEM WITH PEDRO PEAR is one of the stories I wrote to help youngsters write, illustrate and publish their own stories during a SUNDAY CHALLENGE programme.

Please note that: (Copywrite 2016 Judi Brereton. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means without prior permission in writing from Judi Brereton.) 

Click on this link for the narrated story about Pedro Pear

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Melted Crayon Pictures 

A fun and colourful project.  The challenge is choosing the best colours and arranging them to obtain the best effect. How you use the hairdryer and the tilt of the board makes a huge difference to the result . 

It’s a good colour mixing and coordination and thinking project. 

Watch our video :   

Crayon Melting at Jumble House


A good hairdryer …we use one from BOOTS . We reckon that if a hairdryer can withstand daily normal and being  used by Lizzie Witch on a regular basis for a couple of years it must be good! 

Crayons …we used Crayola and Bic crayons . Both are good. Some pictures look better with the paper left on. Others are better when the paper is removed. 

Some card to test out the process before doing the real thing. 

Glue to stick the crayons to the canvas. We used BOSTICK.

Cellotape can be used as an alternative to glue but fiddly.

Canvas boards. 

Suggestions :

Try using card and small bits of crayons for the first few runs.  This is cheaper and will enable the child to see what happens and to decide which colours to use and how to arrange them.

Don’t overdo the hairdryer bit! Kids will want to carry on and on until every bit of crayon has gone but as in a lot of art, less is best!  But it’s a good idea to let them have their own way during a practice run on card!  Learning from your own mistakes is the best way and hopefully they will see that controlled melting is more effective. You could suggest trying both and then comparing the results. 

Ask them to predict what they think will happen. Which colours will mix? What colours will this make?  What will happen if you point the hairdryer sideways?  What will happen if you point the hairdryer over the top of the crayons? 

More Ideas:

  • Make the melted crayon look like a tree full of dripping blossom ….you can paint or stick a tree trunk on the canvas before melting the crayons. 
  • Make a picture of someone blowing bubbles ..a few grated bits added helps.
  • Make the melts look like rain …draw or stick a person with an umbrella on the board.
  • A fountain 
  • A waterfall 
  • A bonfire. 


The crayons do splatter  a little so do cover tables well or do outside using an extension lead. 

This is a project for children old enough to hold a hairdryer confidently. Probably around 7 years and up. As with all of the Jumble Fun projects, adult supervision is advised

An adult will be needed to cut the crayons in half unless you use a big canvas board and then they can be stuck on intact.  

The video is fun to watch and shows the basic process. Use it as a stepping stone from which the child can develop their own ideas. 

Click on the link below to watch the Sunday Challenge in Jumble House: 

Melted Crayon Picture Challenge from the JUMBLES