Page 1

July/August/September 2016


5 Top Tips for your

Family Holiday with Susan Becker Counselling

Explorers at the

Learning Tree Cooperative School

This Little Life

Lego fun

Contents 2



Editor’s Note


COM Corner


Calm Your Anxious Mind




Let Them Eat Cake


Raising Teens


Five Tips For Your Family Holiday


Out & About


Learning Tree School


A Fair Challenge


Time For Lunch




Pirouettes & Pliés


Little Readers


Let’s Get Crafty


This Little Life


Readers Gone Wacky


5 Warm Weather Activities




Coffee Break

THIS LIFE Editor’s note Welcome to the Summer edition of This Life Magazine! We have lots of fabulous things in store for you in this issue. Our Anonymum column returns with a look at role models and where our children should be seeking their source of inspiration. We are also dipping into the often dreaded world of teenagers and unravelling the mysteries of how to guide them through their journey and deliver them safely into adulthood. If you’re heading off with the family for a well-earned break, we have some helpful tips on how to ensure that everyone gets the most out of your holiday. And to while away the hours during the summer break, check out our book reviews for adults and for kids. Our friends at the WAC and Learning Tree School have also provided craft ideas, activities and recipes to keep you busy. Don’t miss our colouring pages and keep your eyes peeled for the butterflies appearing throughout the magazine – how many can your kids find? And not forgetting our younger contributors, This Little Life is back with a word on the world of Lego… If you’d like to get in touch with us with an article, recipe or craft idea, maybe you are a blogger looking for ways to share your work by having a feature in the magazine, or if you just want to let us know what you think, we’d love to hear from you at Have a great Summer! Love life Love This Life Louise & Tamsin

Inspiring people with children If you want to get in touch with us at This Life please email us at This Life Magazine is an independently owned magazine and run in cooperation with The WAC and Learning Tree Cooperative School in Uster. Although some parts of this publication may be reproduced or reprinted we require prior permission to be obtainined in writing. This Life Magazine is currently a FREE publication distributed throughout Switzerland. It is available in selected libraries, schools, community centres, spas, hair and nail salons, doctors and dentist offices and numerous other high traffic locations. If you would like a copy for your business place please contact us directly at the email address above. We do not necessarily endorse the views expressed in the articles, nor are we responsible for the products and services listed. We welcome your ideas articles and feedback, LIKE This Life Magazine and The WAC & Learning Tree Cooperative School on facebook to stay up to date on special offers, local events and much more! thislifemagazine/ For more information about the WAC please go to

The WAC and Learning Tree School International Club & School Dear Readers, If you’ve just received the Swiss school timetable for your kids for the new school year, now is the time to consider what extra activities you can add for the year ahead. As mom to a 12 and 6 year old, I understand what a planning nightmare it can be. In past years I’ve even resorted to creating an excel spreadsheet, trying to figure how who goes where, when! At the WAC, our school classes aim to give you as much flexibility as possible. We give your children the chance to build and improve their English language skills, and at the same time make English-speaking friends and benefit from being part of a dynamic English-speaking community. For younger children, we have pre-school in English or Swiss German playgroups, and you are totally free to choose how many days you want your child to come. Busy picking up or cooking for older children over lunch time? Then why not consider Lunch Club, knowing your children are picked up and/or delivered to their class and fully supervised whilst eating, playing and listening to stories. If your child is just starting kindergarten this year, then maybe an afternoon class in English would be right for them? We have Explorers and ESL classes and can offer a free trial class to assess what level is right for your child.

UPCOMING EVENTS Fri 8th July Jucker Farm Breakfast Fri 8th July School summer break Sat 9th July WAC Hairdresser Sun 10th July Parent/Child book club Weds 13th July Face painting workshop Mon 22nd August School starts

Our comprehensive reading and writing classes on Wednesday afternoons are aimed at schoolage children who are fluent in English, but need support in developing their expertise. With regular visits to the library, we encourage children to develop a love of books and reading, ensuring that their literacy gets off to a head start.

Thurs 25th August Spanish Class A1

Alongside all this studying we also have ballet for children aged 4+, and of course lots of social activities. All of the latest information and news is on our website –

Fri 26th August Spanish Class A2

If you’re not (yet!) a member of our club but would like to know more, we’re very happy to offer you a tour of the WAC, explain what we offer and answer your questions. Just email me at to arrange an appointment. Equally if you’ve been with us for a while but want to know more about our classes and activities, call into the office any weekday morning or drop us an email, and we’ll be more than happy to help.

Fri 9 Sept Intergration Seminar Fri 9th Sept Back to School Disco

I look forward to hearing from you!

Carol WAC Club Office Manager

Life at the WAC is never boring! We always try to offer new, exciting activities and clubs for our members and guests to enjoy. For food enthusiasts, we hold both a Pot Luck club at the WAC clubroom and a dinner club which enjoys exploring different restaurants in and around our area. Keeping fit is also possible at the WAC with our weekly Pilates and Zumba classes held in our clubroom. Love reading? There is a fabulous book club - you find out a bit more about them further on in the magazine and see what they have been busy reading! Want to improve your German or English language knowledge or how about Spanish and French? We offer language classes and are always looking at ways to offer you more! Our popular playgroups run every Tuesday and Thursday morning for toddlers and their care givers. Enjoy socialising while the kids are playing, doing some crafts and making their own little friends. This really is a place where to make friends and have fun! With so much more on offer and to discover at the WAC why not come in and visit us to see what we can offer you and your family.

Ieva Ciceri WAC President

Five Tips for Your Family Holiday Aaaahhh… summertime, and the chance to get away for a while. The kids are on their summer break (though the 5 weeks they get in Switzerland may seem scant indeed to you), Dad put in early enough for time off at the office, and you are all set to go to your favourite mountain or beach resort. What could possibly go wrong? Many things often do go awry on a family vacation, as many of us know only too well from experience. Somehow, we can’t quite seem able to make that dream holiday happen as a family, and soon a sense of frustration may set in, at a time when it’s least wanted or expected. Let me share five tips with you on how to avoid the most common pitfalls and make your time away from home a success:

Before you leave: Talk about your hopes and expectations Are you “secretly“ hoping to finish that 500-page romantic novel over the holidays that has been waiting on your nighttable for the last 3 months? As long as you keep your hopes a secret, they may never materialize. Tell your family that you would love to have some reading time while you all are away, and enlist their help in making this possible. You may be surprised at how willing they are to do you a favour, and you can help them please you in stating what you need.

At your destination: Do things apart What…? You are going on a family holiday, and my best piece of advice is to spend time apart? It works wonders, I tell you. How about giving Dad a day off to book a motorcycle tour, while Mom takes the kids to the beach? Why not let Mom indulge in a shopping spree (or finish that novel…) while Dad and the children enjoy the fun fair? Enrol the children in an afternoon-filling organized activity and spend some time as a couple. Give each other the precious gift of a “breather“ – some space and time alone. As an added benefit, when you meet up again you’ll have, hopefully, a lot to talk about, and in our smartphone-dominated era, even some pictures to share.

Do things together How do you make a family outing a shared experience – a time in which your sense of togetherness gets a real boost? The solution may sound contradictory: Make everyone feel special. And how do you do that? By sharing your loved ones‘ enjoyments, even if they may not be your first choice. Share your daughter‘s favourite dessert – and try to see why she likes it so much. Build a sandcastle with your son, and give your all in implementing his ideas on the defences. Let your partner introduce you to kite-surfing, and feel the thrill he raves about. At the end you will know each other more deeply – and that is what we commonly mean by feeling “connected“.

Relax a little on the Ps and Qs Your kids sit down for dinner with sand in their pockets – and your first reaction may be, “what are people thinking?!“ Well, for all you know they could be thinking that you are a wise parent who lets their kids have as much fun at the beach as possible, and doesn’t get all stressed out about appearances. I am not saying that you have to let everything go haywire, but relaxing the rules just slightly and making everyone feel comfortable may spare you a lot of friction.

Be grateful – and say it out loud Make it a habit – on holidays and in everyday-life – to recount the highlights at the end of your day, and be grateful for them. Don’t scoff at this apparently simple piece of advice – it has its roots in neuroscience, and affects your brain’s pathways in powerful ways. Reminisce, with your loved ones, about the good things that happened to you today – even if, at times, you may have to “dig“ a little; you will be surprised at the positive effects. And now, get packed, and away with you… and have a great summer!

Susan Becker is a school teacher, job coach and relationship counselor and offers services in German and English. She recently opened offices in Stäfa. You can find more information at

AnonymThe um Good, The Bad and The Frazzled.. It was one of those spur of the moment conversations which pops up as you drive along with your children. That random thought that pops into your head as you are driving them around here, there and everywhere, or sitting at the dinner table and you decide to bring up to discuss with them to see what’s going on inside their heads. Today's was... Who inspires you? Who do you think you would like to be like when you grow up? One of my daughters immediately pipes up with 'Wonder Woman!!!' (As she strikes a somewhat interesting super hero pose from the back of the car). "Why would you choose her?" I ask. "Well, she's cool,” came the determined little voice! "Yes ok, but why?" "She has a cool outfit, is strong and fights off all the bad guys... Pow Pow“ (cue dramatic arm movements as she fends off invisible bad guys in the style of her hero). The funny thing is, I do not know how she even knows anything much about Wonder Woman, she has never watched any programmes or read anything about her, she just happens to own a t-shirt with her logo on…Goes to show me what my children know… I hope that’s the extent of her hidden knowledge! So I turn to my eldest who is sitting solemnly looking at the window in a far off gaze (quite normal for her) - “What about you? Who do you aspire to be like or who do you think is a good role model?" I am met with a small sigh, and a 'no one'. At first I feel a little let down as a parent, I can just about cope being top trumped by some fictional superhero, but the thought that no one, not even me... inspires her was a saddening thought…. (MUST NOT GIVE IN TO TEMPTATION AND WAVE MY ARMS MADLY AROUND HINTING SHE COULD MAYBE CONSIDER HER OWN MOTHER!)

Ok, well, that summary has totally trumped the 'like you mum' answer (although some deep down selfish part still wishes to hear - “I wish to be just like you as you are sublimely wonderful”) and it's definitely trumped a fictional super hero. In fact I think it's the best example of what we should want from our children's own expectations of themselves. Now, some of you may be shouting or thinking 'this girl is a genius, give her a medal, hurrah for her’. And yes I agree, I am very very proud of her statement and pleased she is just happy to be herself. But I also think some part of her revelation is down to the fact she is a high functioning, atypical autistic little lady and she literally can not see any point in wanting or trying to be anybody but yourself because if you don’t do that, you are not really giving yourself the chance to be you. She is thinking about it in a very black and white manner... And before the other half of you start to protest 'Einstein/Mozart/Charles Darwin etc etc etc was a genius and they were on the autistic spectrum!’… I know! There are some incredibly talented, clever and wonderful people today and throughout history who are total geniuses who have had some degree of autism so maybe, just maybe, my daughter is on the verge of some historical revelation too! The innocence and plain simplicity of the idea is amazing. When I look around at children the same age as her from home, from her previous schools and where she is now, I wonder what outside influences these children have, read and seen and how they affect them in their daily lives. Do they feel the pressure to find a role model? Do they choose wisely? Do they choose them on their own? Do they read kid/tween magazines and feel the pressure to look like the latest celebrities, wear make up, be skinny, have boobs.... Have boyfriends?!

Have these kids got the ability to think with such innocence and total detachment from the "What, no one? Not even someone you pressures and influences around them and know?" (hint hint hint...your mum is sitting accept it’s pretty cool to just be themselves? right here) "or how about that programme you Or do kids just go along with the influences watch? You like the hero in that?!'" parents have put before them to ensure their kids grow up how they would like, rather than ‘”Yeh but mum, she is cool because she is her. I don't want to be like any one else. I think let their child think 'hey, I’m not really a plain shade of black and white, I'm actually a bit they are cool because of who they are, not grey- is that ok, is that allowed?!' because I want to be like them. I want to be like myself. I don't want to be like anyone else, Do they get fed lines like: or to grow up to think I have to be like "Look at all these doctors, that's what you someone, I just want to be me”. want to do isn't it… isn’t it?!”

”Look at all these professional swimmers, if I drive you to practice at 5am every day, every week for your entire too can be like them”. I appreciate this example is not true of all parents, probably a very elite few, and I also appreciate some parents do get badgered into taking their children to every ballet workshop or football camp as their child has their sights set on the ‘next big thing’. I just hope that these children can appreciate their heroes and inspirations and think ‘they are pretty awesome but I can be just as awesome doing it my way, not because I am going to be their mirror image’. A bit of a cocky "I'm going to be the best I can be as me" attitude isn't too much to ask for from your children I hope. So do you have role models in your house? Do you help guide and choose them? Do your children find them in their books, films and daily life? And what are your thoughts on having role models vs not having role models and allowing your children to be their own source of inspiration? I am personally happy with both my children's choices. They have found them by themselves, and chosen values which are important to them to live by and be influenced by. Besides, they could have chosen much worse things to be inspired by! I won't try and encourage them to think any differently, I just hope they grow up to know that they can be strong, powerful girls by being themselves, but there's definitely no harm in aspiring to be an awesome superhero if that's what you want to do. Just be a super hero in your own right, as yourself! To quote Dr Seuss, in my all-time favorite quote:

“Today you are you, that is truer than true, there is no one else who is youer than you.”

Anonymum is written by any parent who wishes to share their stories, thoughts, trials and tribulations in the hope of inspiring -rather than shaming - and giving others a sneak peek into their lives. If you wish to be an Anonymum OR an Anonydad contact us at

Let them eat cake.. This is a very simple, and yet very delicious quick recipe I recently made for the WAC café. It calls for lots of apples, and do stick with that amount, because it makes it all the more delicious! Give it a try, I hope you enjoy it.

Super Easy Apple Squares (recipe from

Total time: 1 hour Ingredients: ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪

3 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into small square chunks 1 teaspoon cinnamon 4 tablespoons brown sugar 1 and 1/4 cup all purpose flour, sifted 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/8 teaspoon salt 1 cup white sugar 1/3 cup vegetable oil 1/3 cup Greek yogurt 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 eggs

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 °C). Grease a 9×9in (23cm) square pan. 2) In a medium bowl, toss chopped apples with cinnamon and brown sugar. 3) In a mixing bowl, combine together 1 and 1/4 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. 4) In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 cup of white sugar, vegetable oil, yogurt, and vanilla until very smooth. Add eggs and whisk until smooth. 5) Add dry ingredients (flour mixture) into wet ingredients and mix until just combined. 6) Pour half of batter into the greased pan, top with half of apples, then pour the remaining half of the batter on top of the apples layer. Top with the remaining half of apples. Bake for about an hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 7) Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

The WAC café is open every Tuesday from 2-4pm. Aside from freshly baked cakes we also offer tea and coffee at a great low cost, as well as lots of room for children to play and have fun. Children of all ages welcome!



T g e n e i ns is

Yes, my daughter is now a full blown teenager. The time I have long dreaded is really happening, and she really is just as hormonal and rebellious as I feared. So it’s time for me to shift from The Siblings Busy Book which is still on my coffee table to books all about raising teenagers. One in particular I highly recommend is by Michelle Icard titled Middle School Makeover, Improving the Way You and Your Child Experience the Middle School Years. I’m sure it was recommended to me by the folks at, and they are right, it’s a fantastic resource for raising my own 3 girls to be “mighty”. But this book contains equally great advice for raising boys.

* Give you constructive criticism without becoming emotional? * Respect your personal life? * Encourage you to take risks and grow? * Provide you with opportunities to try new things? * Show a willingness to learn from you? * Have fun at work and enjoy their role?

making, impulse control, and critical thinking skills are at this stage. During the teen years the prefrontal cortex, which is part of the brain responsible for high-level judgment and analysis, is under construction. You might call the prefrontal cortex the manager of your brain. It also performs impulse control and moderating social behavior. It’s a good idea to explain this to early teens and even get them interested in some basic neuroscience.” I want to inject here that David Eagleman just put out a fantastic documentary on the brain that would keep a kid’s interest, mine found it really interesting to watch and there was a great section on teen brain development in the episode “What makes me?” Icard goes on to say that teens should understand that a parent's job is to act as an assistant manager at times while their prefrontal cortex is under construction. This provides a great time to talk about qualities of a good boss vs a bad boss. Do they: * Give you consistant feedback? * Set clear expectations? * Communicate clearly when you did something well?

So back to Middle School Makeover, Icard gives some excellent ideas for creating a positive source of risk where your child will be less likely to fill their need for risk through unhealthy activities. She suggests parents encourage their teen to participate in things like: auditioning for a play, starting a business, trying a new sport like rock climbing or river rafting, running for student council, joining or starting a club, entering a competition, starting a blog, mentoring a younger child or volunteering at an animal shelter.

Micromanagers are not good bosses. It’s important that your child practice critical thinking and decision making a lot during the middle school years. They need to be allowed to learn from their mistakes. If not, their developing brain will think these In this book Icard points out that our kid’s brain is only about aren’t important skills. Strict rules at home may cause a teen to halfway developed during the middle school years. At the start take more risks outside of the house because they can’t take of middle school (which is 7th grade in the States not the 4-6 them at home. Icard goes into a lot of great ideas for raising Mittelstufe here) major brain changes begin to happen. “To ease teens but this one in particular was an aha moment for me: the anxiety this can cause both parent and child, it helps if you Your middle schooler should be taking more and more can reframe the way you think about weird middle school risks and as an assistant manager you can help create an behavior. When your kid started to toddle it was kind of scary at atmosphere where she is allowed to do things that feel times, like when she would tumble onto concrete or bang her thrilling, daring, scary and unknown. head on a corner, but …. it was also exciting. You cheered her on through every tumble because that is how she learned to be Which reminds me of another fabulous book, Lean In by Sheryl bigger, stronger, and more self-reliant. You didn’t want to carry Sandberg. In it, Sandberg urges women to take risks and seek new challenges, to find work that they love, and to remain her on your hip forever. With teenage brain development the passionately engaged with that work at the highest levels tumbles aren’t as easy to spot or as adorable. But, if you can throughout their lives. Sandberg really wants to see more adopt the same attitude toward learning to use an adult brain that you did toward your child learning to walk, than it’s easier to women involved in the top management of their professions. Becoming comfortable with taking risks is a strong recurring have empathy and be supportive through this unsteady time. When your kid stumbles, as she inevitably must in order to learn theme to her message and to her own personal success. This to use her developing brain properly, it’s fine to correct her. Just risk taking message for women is equally applicable for teens, especially teen aged girls. try to also maintain sympathy for how weak her decision

My own teen is a big fan of river rafting and cave exploring. During our family vacation I actively look for things to push her thrill seeking curiosity. Starting a business or a blog would be great although she seems to only have

enough time for her massive amounts of homework then her daily protection and ultimately outside of your house. Yes, I’m friends and if we are luckily she might put her phone down long looking forward to those days, but until then I’ve got some enough to have a rambling conversation with a family member. assistant managing and modeling healthy risk taking to do. It is certainly not easy for me as her mother to accept her Jana Parkin runs the Girls Club International at The WAC. profound need for independence when just last year we could still skip rope together. Which leads to Icard’s point as to why Girls Club offers a monthly opportunity for girls ages 5 and older risk taking, impulse control and critical thinking are so up in the to make English speaking friends, have lots of fun and learn about air during the teen years. “Your teen‘s developmental various topics. The majority of participants do not use English in responsibility is to form a unique identity apart from you so that their school environment but speak it as a second or first she can leave your house, get a job, and start a family of her language. Girls Club allows students to learn some English terms own someday. Without being comfortable with taking risks she that might not come up as often in regular dialogue. might think “Why take a risk? You have everything you need Past themes have included: being responsible with money, nutrition, helping others less fortunate than us, building structures, right here. A warm bed, plenty to eat, TV. It’s scary out there. gaining confidence, caring about the environment etc. We focus Let’s just stay put.” on empowerment through education and building strong I guess it’s like when I was pregnant, toward the end of bonds.There is also a strong emphasis on science and nature. pregnancy I was just so uncomfortable that I was ready to face We offer the chance for the girls to earn badges to proudly display when they have achieved a goal. Girls club is non profit and relies the pain associated with childbirth, it was part of the on the help and support of parent participation. development of my child and necessary for me to be able to tie my shoes again or stay asleep while rolling over. Teen years For more information about the Girls Club please contact the are the same, purposefully a bit miserable so you are quite WAC at happy when they continue their development outside of your

Calm your anxious mind with these five tips By Tara McLaughlin Giroud

Most parents I know have struggled with anxiety of one

degree or another and I’m no exception. I’ve learned to cope with anxiety from my first diagnosis in 2001 and then again with postpartum anxiety in 2011. I’ve developed, with the help of therapists, self help books and blogs, a handful of tricks I use when anxiety takes hold. You may need to try them several times to get into the habit. You may need to try several of them together. That’s what I do. Try one step and then another until eventually you find something that lifts you up. 1. Where are you now?

Explore all five senses in the moment you are actually in as opposed to the one you’re imagining. For example, if you’re in the shower (I meet up with a lot of anxious thoughts there), feel how the streams tickle your back, smell the scents of your soap, open your mouth and taste the water, listen to it hit the ceramic tiles. Ask yourself: Where am I now, in this moment? Repeat it for several minutes. Any time my mind wanders back to the worry, ask again. “Where am I now?” 2. Imagine it differently, imagine the good. 

Imagination and anxiety go hand in hand; it’s where our catastrophic thoughts live. While we may often recognize that these scenarios are pure imagination, what is harder to remember is that we can turn it around. Instead of imagining the negative, imagine the positive. For example, I often worry my partner, if late from work, is hurt in a car accident. Instead, I take a moment to imagine a smooth drive home, the traffic is heavy but he’s enjoying his music. Then I imagine him walking through the door, safe and sound, just like every day. If we can imagine the bad, we can imagine the good. Just remind yourself to do it. Imagine the good and get back to the moment you’re actually in. 3. Dear Fear, Thank you for your concern, now kindly be quiet.

I sometimes imagine my emotions as characters in an office comedy. I know it’s a little odd-ball, but stay with me here, pull out your brilliant imagination. Picture Fear, the well meaning, albeit loud, one of the bunch, calls board meetings to warn everyone of the latest impending doom. While it’s helpful to recognize down sides, Fear’s incessant yammering at the top of her lungs isn’t productive. So I, as CEO, calmly ask Fear to state her concerns in a precise manner, I will write them down on the white board and then I’ll ask her to be quiet while we consider the validity of the concerns and determine any course of action (if necessary). If she won’t quiet down, she has to go sit in the waiting room. Picture her leaving and closing the door. Imagining fear as merely one aspect of ourselves gives us a little space between our true selves and our anxiety, just enough to bring you back to the moment and recognize you

were getting lost in the gunk. If you want to take it a step further actually write down what Fear says. Then give the rest of the Board — your rational side, your historical knowledge, your statistician that calculates how probable these outcomes are, etc. — a chance to say something. See if you can find a more likely outcome or more reasonable solution to Fear’s concerns. I have found giving fear a little respect (because it is after all a very natural and necessary part of existence) eases its grip. 4. Get your shoulders out of your ears and breathe.

When I’m in anxiety’s grip, my shoulders creep up into my ears as if they are trying to take cover behind my ear drums until the storm has passed. I have to exhale, strong, and force them down, even shake out my arms. Then I wonder: “My god, how long have I been walking around like Frankenstein’s monster?” Since my tight shoulders are linked to tight-chested breathing (itself a trigger for anxiety and panic), I find a few breaths helps me refocus and return to the moment. Don’t just focus on breathing in, though. Start by blowing out all the air you can and then slowly letting your lungs naturally fill up. Do this a few times focusing on the exhale and see if that helps you to physically banish tension (or at least dial it down a bit) and get your mind back to the moment. 5. This too shall pass.

I actually hate this saying, it feels so unhelpful. So I’m sorry, but it’s often the truth and you know what they say about the truth and hurt. We’ve all been in the grips of anxiety and somehow made it through. When we start to feel lost and dizzy in fear, try to tell yourself (or read it if you’ve printed this out), “I’ve been here before. I recognize this feeling. I’ve made it through before. In a while it will be over.” If you can somehow squeeze that thought into your mind maybe while you incorporate one of these other tips, like shaking out your shoulders and counting your exhales (often it’s more than one exercise that helps us get through), you will be well on your way to feeling less rocked by anxiety. About Tara: Tara is a journalist and creative writer born in the United States, living in Switzerland since 2011. She has a master's degree in journalism and bachelor's degrees in communications and biology. She taps her professional background and personal experiences to share compelling, thought-provoking stories and essays covering mental health, wellness and parenting at her blog Read more about Tara’s writing at She lives in Bern with her husband and two daughters.

by Melanie Miller My husband and I love hiking. With our children, now 5 and 8, we had to rethink our goals and strategies. The days of backpacking in the wilderness are on hold for now and we are contemplating how to make hiking enjoyable for little kids’ legs and minds. After all, our overall goal is to pick up backpacking again when they are a little older and stronger and for them to come along with a degree of enthusiasm and not dread. We learned that hiking downhill works best. We either take a cog-train, a cable car or even a Postbus to the top of whichever hike we decide on and then walk downhill to our destination. It works like a charm. The stroller days are over, so we don’t have to consider smooth paths and can take pretty much any terrain. It is not difficult hiking, more like walking in the outdoors, but everybody has fun and there is so much to see. Around Uster and Zurich are plenty of wild and interesting spots to explore and we have come to love hiking down “Tobels,” of which there are many in the region due to the plentiful little creeks. A Tobel is the German word for a narrow valley, gorge or ravine. In our area, they often include waterfalls and the paths next to them make for comfortable walking. Here are just a few to choose from:

Küsnachter Tobel (see http:// 660_Zuerich.html)

Fällander Tobel (see de/tourismus/wanderwege/welcome.php? action=showobject&object_id=277)

Wildbachtobel – make sure to start in Ringwil and hike toward Hinwil (see zo_leserwanderung_juli2015.pdf)

The Tobel we hiked along recently is the Pfäffiker Tobel. We took the bus 833 from Pfäffikon, ZH to Wallikon. The yellow hiking sign predicted a 45-minute hike back down to the train station in Pfäffikon. It took us longer with the kids but we also stopped a few times along the way.

The path was easy to follow. Once we had to walk along the road for a few hundred meters, but other than that it was mostly in the forest. Next to a beautiful waterfall was a nice picnic area with a fire pit where one could barbecue sausages for lunch. After exploring some more we continued on to the “Weiher,” a small pond with ducks and carp to watch. The girls took off their shoes and cooled off their little hiking feet before heading to the next waterfall. We came upon a “barefoot path” – where you are supposed to take off your shoes and feel the ground beneath your feet - that the local school had installed during their recent project week.

For those seeking a longer hike, instead of stepping out of the bus at Wallikon you could continue on to Hermatswil and start from this cute little village in the Zurich Oberland. You’ll have to be prepared to hike for about an additional 2 hours both up and down hills, but the picturesque scenery and views are definitely worthwhile. The children were content most of the time. We saw a frog, many birds, a monarch butterfly, and finished our outing with wet socks, muddy shoes and lots of “treasures” like a bird’s nest, pretty pebbles and flowers as well as an assortment of different leaves. And should the going get tough at some point and those little legs too tired, the prospect of getting an ice cream reward at the train station in Pfäffikon offers a little extra incentive.

The Learning Tree This term our theme is all about animals and the habitats that they live in. We explored life under the sea and we learnt about the amazing life the coral reef has to offer. We found out that each animal has a purpose and a function in the system in which they live. We explored animals living in the wild, in forests, in deserts and in our homes. We were fascinated that amphibians can live on land and in water, we loved how chameleons change their colours and the different ways in which animals can protect themselves from danger. We found out that there are herbivores, carnivores and omnivores just like us! We studied the difference between mammals and reptiles, who has warm blood and who has cold blood, who lays eggs and who suckles their young, which animals have lighter bone structures, like birds, to get them in the air. Do you know that insects and spiders have more legs than any other species? We loved acting like the animals - we slithered, leapt, jumped, flew, slid, galloped, trotted, crawled and boogied like the animals! We roared, we bellowed, we fluted, we grunted, we yelped, we hissed, we brayed, we trumpeted and stomped like an elephant . Sadly, we learnt that some animals are endangered and are in danger of extinction. We can help by protecting them from poachers and hunters and by not buying fur coats and keeping the land they need to live in free from pollution and overcrowding. We learnt to respect, love and care for all animal species big and small! As part of our school readiness program, we also spend time on numeracy, literacy and language skills. We learn numbers and develop our number concepts using various numeracy games and we use workbooks set at our individual pace.

“We learn, we work, we play! We develop a love of learning! We are encouraged to be who we are and are made aware of our potential of who we can become!�

Cooperative school We develop our language skills through discussion and stories during our circle time. We are encouraged to ask questions and we seek the answers together. Depending on the theme, we may also bring show and tell items from home. In our Pre-Reading & Writing lessons we start with learning the letters phonetically, blending the letters to form simple words and then writing these words. We learn a new sound every week: we sound it out, we say it, we read it, we write it in the air, we write it on the board and we practise it at home. Once we have learned the sounds, we learn to blend and to write the words. This prepares your child for the higher classes we offer at our school.

Animal Action Songs Let’s go to the Zoo And stomp like the elephants do Let’s go to the Zoo And stomp like the elephants do Let’s go to the Zoo And jump like the kangaroos do Let’s go to the Zoo And jump like the kangaroos do Let’s go to the zoo And scratch like the monkeys do Let’s go to the Zoo And scratch like the monkeys do Lets go to the Zoo And waddle like the penguins do Let’s go to the Zoo And Waddle like the penguins do Feel free to make up your own verses: the snake slithers, the fish swims, the lion roars. This is a great song for children to participate with and come up with their own ideas and moves to match their chosen animal.

Are you looking for a fun afternoon class to enrich and develop your child’s love of English? Well, the Learning Tree School has the right class to offer you!

The Learning Tree Cooperative School (LTCS) is designed to meet the pre and after school needs of our children. The LTCS programs are designed to complement both the Swiss public school system as well as the international schools in our area. Whichever school system you decide on, the Learning Tree Cooperative School is set up to support your family with a unique and successful formula. Our caring and qualified staff of administrators and educators will be happy to help you to select the right classes for your child. You can find a description of each of our classes, plus online enrollment forms and information to download on the individual class pages on our website.

A fair challenge By an ex-pat Dad

It’s a tough life being an ex-pat dad in the land of milk and money, as any ex-pat dad will tell you. Okay, you have the white stuff for your breakfast cereal, and you receive a salary that would have anyone in the old country gasping in awe and envy – but then you realise there is a reason for the elevated wage; it’s called “high prices”.

That was back in August 2015. The season having just ended, I can confirm that the role has certainly been on the challenging side. As an Englishman in the Canton of Zurich (Sting’s great lost song from his brief Swiss period in the mid-1980s, available on bootlegs only), my verbal communication with die Jungs has been minimal, but on the plus side, my knowledge of Swiss German footyspeak has And then there’s the language. Even if you have a smattering come on tremendously, and I feel that the boys have come of what is loftily known as High German before you come out to respect my quiet authority – one that comes from having here, nothing prepares you for the Swiss version. Once you been born in the land that invented football, rugby, and encounter it, you will never be the same again. When talking cricket (and is now equally mediocre at all of them). to the natives, you find yourself adopting a quizzical expression that swiftly becomes the default facial setting, It is only when you become a coach (I use the term loosely in and before you know it, you’re craving a Stange or three – my case) that you begin to appreciate how difficult a job it and if that isn’t available, then a mound of Schoggi will have is, and you wish those well-meaning parents would keep to do. their views to themselves (or, at least, express them in a language I can understand). When your lot win a match, they Of course, your kids will master the lingo quicker than you say how great it is that your work on the training field is can say “Roger Federer”. They have to, of course. My eldest paying off, and when you lose, it’s “Why did you take my boy Mark I, who is now ten, suffered greatly in his first few Markus off? He was our best player.” Also, our team were an months at the local school from not being able to understand unruly bunch, and Swiss Dad nearly blew a gasket on a a thing, but he now talks Swiitzerdütsch fluently in his sleep. weekly basis as he yelled at the lads to shut up and tried to (He still supports his native country at football, though – impress on them the importance of discipline, effort and Hopp England!) My other lad Mark II is two years younger and teamwork (at this age, talent is way down on the list of appears to be more interested in tennis, sensible lad that he criteria). is. Addressing my son in Swiss German was strange, to say the Talking of the so-called beautiful game, Mark I became pretty least, but he seemed more or less to understand me, and has enthused about it a couple of years ago. (He took his time, actually flourished this season. In August he will move up to but it wasn’t for want of trying from his footy-mad the next age group. Who will be coaching his old team? One dad.) thing’s for sure: it won’t be me, or Swiss Dad, for that He duly joined one of the juniors’ teams at the local club, matter. I don’t think either of us had a grey hair before but when that team’s coach moved to another team August 2015. at the end of the 2014-15 season, it looked like Mark I’s outfit would have to fold, as no one appeared willing to come forward to take the reins. Enter Swiss Dad, whose son was also in the team. He was willing to coach the boys, but due to work commitments, he needed an assistant. As fellow paters, he and I had met on the touchline at training and matches – I remember he showed me his holiday snaps at length once – and so he approached me. Would I, Ex-Pat Dad with no Swiss German, be willing to help him shoulder the burden? We discussed the matter as men down at the local hostelry. I prevaricated, I hummed, I hawed, and I ordered another beer from the friendly female barperson. Eventually, of course, I acquiesced. How could I let my son not play for a year?

Time for lunch Sometimes I find putting my kids lunch box together is easier than finding something new, interesting and fun to put in their snack box. With Switzerland having strong regulations on what you are allowed to give your child, the options can seem a little dull! So, to jazz up your znüni, here is my go to, healthy and home made fruit roll up recipe for you to try baking at home! And with only three ingredients and no processed sugar, what’s not to love about it!

Strawberry and Lemon roll ups 4 cups of fresh strawberries (remove hull) 1 teaspoon of lemon zest 1 tablespoon honey Set oven to 175 degrees (80°C) or lowest oven setting. * Put strawberries, lemon and honey together in a blender and process until a smooth paste. * Pour mixture on to parchment lined baking trays, spread evenly with a spatula. * Place in the oven and bake for about 5-6 hours or until dry to the touch. * Leave to cool. Once cooled use scissors to cut strips of the fruit leather, leaving on the parchment paper and roll up. * When you are ready to eat, simply peel off the paper and unroll your fruit roll up to enjoy. Note: If you have a dehydrator this recipe is also suitable to make in one of these machines. Lightly grease your dehydrator sheet with coconut oil and dehydrate on 110 degrees for about 9 hours or until the mixture is dry to the touch.

Time for Lunch is sponsored by The WAC Lunch Club Need some more time? Struggling with picking up, dropping off and staying home with your kids over lunch time? The Lunch Club might be your answer! The Lunch Club is a fully supervised 2 hour break for you and your kids. Parents bring their child’s own packed lunch (food can be warmed in our microwave). Times : Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 11.45 to 13.45 Cost : 15chf per day

Help! My child is expected to walk to school… ALONE! Even though they're really useful, wearing Apart from learning to act safely in them after first grade is considered uncool. traffic, children learn to assert themselves and integrate in a group. mothers talking about this unfamiliar They feel independant and raise their routine. Do you belong to the parents self-awareness. It is an opportunity to whose children are going to start learn about responsibilty in the outside Kindergarten or a new school after world- without adult supervision. (Yet summer? What a challenge. the concerns as a parent are often bigger than the wish to teach self-responsibility Too big a risk to take? at this early age...) This activity is good What in other countries is considered for their health and supports their completely negligent and often even concentration in school. Walking to illegal, is absolutely normal here. So no Kids crossing - Road safety school will also facilitate friendships for wonder parents would feel overwhelmed Road safety for Parents. your kids. by the idea of their children being Because of all these benefits there has *Accompany your child to school several expected to walk to school without been a campaign in some places called times on foot and make them aware of parental supervision. What a risk to take! risks. "Walk to school" where children earn points for walking and not driving to But be assured that the teachers are well * Do not take your child by car. There have school. aware of the challenging first steps into independence especially with the younger been dangerous situations due to cars waiting around at schools. Walking in ones. A teacher in Kindergarten or groups can help your child build up primary school will therefore call you if confidence, yet some children are less your child hasn't arrived on time. As we all attentive when walking with others. know small children don't have a sense of * Send your child to school on time. time and can easily forget the world Rushing and being in a hurry increases the around them being fascinated by a snail risk of an accident. or the work on a building-site... "It took me two years to give up my * Make sure your child wears bright concerns and let my 4.5 year-old walk to clothes, especially in bad weather How long should I walk with my school alone. Still, I will remind her what conditions. child? Even though parents are sometimes to do if I am not at home when she Road safety for drivers explicitly instructed to not walk the returns, who she can go with, or what to * It is difficult for children to assess the children to class longer than two weeks do if older children tease her on the way. distance and speed of vehicles. Always the teachers know that some children And of course, my cell phone number is in come to a complete stop at the take more time than others until they her schoolbag at all times..." a parent pedestrian crossings. The children learn feel confident enough to walk to school said. “Rad steht, Kind geht”, which means they by themselves. Usually after 3 months will only walk once the wheels of the car the majority of the children will manage are still. reasonably well. But if you don't feel

How many times have I overheard

good about it, trust your instincts, * Do not wave the children across. This may cause them to cross the road without maybe talk to the teacher. There's a big difference between walking to school paying attention to oncoming traffic. under normal circumstances and dealing * Children are often inattentive. with special situations like a lorry on the Therefore, stay focused when driving, pavement. It takes time and practice and always be ready to brake. until the child is able to judge all the Road safety instruction challenging situations that can occur. Mostly during Kindergarten and 1st to 3rd * Don’t be annoyed when children don’t And it takes time for you as a parent too, cross a road when no car is around, but grade a traffic policeman or woman will to feel comfortable with the idea. wait until a car approaches and is forced come to school and teach the children how to cross the street properly. In most to stop right in front of them to allow The bad guy who pulls kids into his them to pass. communities the children will be given a car… safety triangle to wear over their tops. The absolute worst nightmare of every The Idea behind it Sometimes you see them in different parent. Every now and then there are The walk to school and back is a really stories about drivers trying to harass colours for younger and older children. important social part of school life. school children.

True or not: you can be sure that in case of more frequent incidents, your school will inform the parents on how to behave best. They would also talk in class about proper behaviour towards strangers. Can the school really forbid my child taking a bicycle to school? What about a "fäG"? In contrast to what even Swiss people will tell you, there's no law prohibiting children from riding a bicycle to school or taking a scooter. The idea that this is not allowed stems from the time when the way to school was under the school's insurance protection. With accident insurance now integrated in the health insurance, the parents bear the legal responsibility. The school is theoretically allowed to decide on NO PARKING on school grounds.

So even though the children could take their bicycle, there are these myths that for example they can't take it unless they have passed their bicycle test in 5th grade or unless you live more than a kilometre away. And don't you dare question that! I once asked my daughter in 3rd grade to take her bicycle since we had to go somewhere right after that. She was attacked by other children in such a harsh way since it was "against the rules" that she refused to repeat that for a whole year, simply to avoid another negative experience. The same applies to the "fäG"."FäG" is the term for a vehicle/ means of locomotion with wheels that is actuated through own physical strength like roller skates, skateboards, scooters and bicycles for preschoolers.” FäG” is short for "fahrzeugähnliches Gerät", a device that is similar to a vehicle.

The law asks for a “reasonable” way to school It is up to the community to offer transport by school bus or public transport if the walk is too long or to have “lollipop ladies” or “crossing guards” at more dangerous crossings. In case nothing is officially organised, parents often take turns in walking a whole group of children. Quite often additional measures are only provided for the lower school years. Children from 4th grade on are mostly expected to ride by bicycle if the way is too long to walk. So there are definitely ups and downs to the whole topic. And let’s be honest: it also adds to our own freedom if we don’t have to organise and join our children all the time.

If you’re interested in more insights into life in Switzerland, join us for Mirjam’s next seminars on the 9th and 22nd September. Mirjam, a native Swiss and trained life coach for English speaking people runs the popular HOW THE SWISS WORK seminars at the WAC in Uster. Her next seminar is to be held in September. General information, Swiss school system (from Kindergarten to apprenticeship/ university), school customs, do’s and don’ts, Swiss manners, local customs, food and “unwritten rules” of daily life and so many more topics are covered in this fantastic and informative class. Mirjam is also a teacher in the Swiss school system and experienced in personal development. For more on Mirjam: or pick up a flyer at the WAC clubroom. To sign up or have your name listed for more information/ references/ later dates please contact:


Pirouettes & Pliés Ballet is a great way to encourage a love of music, and to inspire young children to move and develop an awareness of their bodies. It is a great tool for helping reduce stress, increase relaxation and improve your child’s body awareness. Young dancers will find their posture and coordination improves, as does their flexibility, concentration and ability to follow instructions. Ballet is not just for little girls but can be a great skill for boys to master too. Ballet not only serves as the foundation for other forms of dance like hip-hop, ballroom, tap and modern but has also been proven to help with other sporting skills such as football/soccer. Footwork, agility, balance and endurance are great skills to understand and use, all which can translate to a number of sporting hobbies. Many new parents ask what their children should wear for class. There are specialist ballet shops, including one in Uster, which sell good quality ballet clothing and shoes, but they can be quite expensive – check out their second hand offering if you’d like a barely used item at a good price. However children can also wear leggings, a t-shirt, or a leotard and tights from any store (H&M has a good and reasonably priced selection). As an alternative to leather ballet shoes, the fabric gym shoes sold in sports shops for a few Francs are also suitable – these are called ‘Geräteschuhe’ in German. So Young has been teaching children ballet at the WAC for 4 years, and she is herself an accomplished dancer. The children love her enthusiasm, patience and persistence, she regulary rewards and encourages her dancers with plenty of hugs, stickers and such once the lesson is over. With her years of training and teaching, So Young recommends that children who wish to start ballet are at least 4 years old. By this age, their bodies are sufficiently developed and they are also able to follow the class for the full hour. If your child is younger than this and is expressing a keen interest, you can encourage their love of dancing by playing music and letting them dress up and dance at home – please feel free to join in as well! The highlight of the year for the ballet class is the annual performance at the WAC summer barbeque. The children are always excited to show off what they have learned through the year with Ms So Young and it is very motivational for them to have a performance to prepare for each year. So whether you have the next Anna Pavlova or Cristiano Ronaldo in the making at home, maybe you could let them give ballet a try and see what it does for their health, well being and of course, to have lots of fun and enjoyment in learning a new hobby and skill! Does your child love listening to, and moving to music? Bring them along to the WAC for a free trial class. Beginners are best suited to our Friday afternoon classes from 4.15pm. Many of our children also attend our Explorers or ESL classes at the WAC on Friday afternoons – and our teacher is happy to help them change and get ready for the class. Saturdays at 10am we hold a class for children with some ballet experience. If you’d like to know more please get in touch – you can reach us at

Little Readers Book review by Rachel, aged 8 The book is called “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle. I loved it. It was very exciting. There was lots of imagination put to this book. This story is about a girl named Meg Murry, her brother Charles Wallace and their friend Calvin O’Keefe. They set off on a journey to find Mr. Murry who disappeared after an experiment. Their adventure is dangerous because they have to go to the planet Camazotz. A planet where everything is in rhythm, because it is controlled by the IT, a giant brain that controls the whole of Camazotz.

I can’t wait to read the next book “A Wind in the Door.” Book review by Zaina, aged 7 The book is called “Lucy the Diamond Fairy” by Daisy Meadows. The story happens in Fairyland. Two girls named Kirsty and Rachel can transform into fairies. In Fairyland Jack Frost stole the gems from the Queen’s crown. It’s up to the friends to get it back as they enter the world of adventure. This book was an adventurous book and I give it a thumbs up. I liked it when the 7th gem was found and everything returned to normal in fairyland. My favourite character is Lucy because she is pretty, smart and kind.

Book review by Lily, aged 10 The booked is called “Gangsta Granny” by David Walliams This is a story about a boy called Ben. He has a crazy family. His parents just like dancing, and his granny has a big secret. The book cover will give you a clue. I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars. I loved everything! The pictures in the book were funny! This book made me feel happy because it has funny parts. It is a laugh out loud book. Overall, this book was amazing!

Book review by Amelie, aged 5 The book is called “Katie and the Dinosaurs” by James Mayhew. This is my favourite book as we are learning about dinosaurs at my school and I like dinosaurs. My favourite dinosaur is called a ‘Langhals dino’ (Brontosaurus in English). Maybe the girl in the story is my sister Katie, as her name is Katie too and she has brown hair like my sister. The little girl is at a dinosaur museum, I’ve been to this place before, it’s in England, that’s cool isn’t it! (The book is set in the Natural History Museum in London).

Open: Mon 9.00-10.00

Sponsored by the WAC Library. Tue 15.30-16.30 Wed 13.30-17-00 Fri 9.00-11.15 & 15.45-16.25

If you would like to write a book review for the next issue of This Life please send your reviews to or pop them into the WAC Library. Ths best four will be chosen each issue and the writer will recieve a free DVD rental of their choice from the library!

Let’s get crafty.. BUTTON BIRD PENCIL TOPPER What do you need? A button of any colour, some feathers, a pipe cleaner, a sticker for the beak, some tape or glue and some googly eyes Tip: This can get a bit messy if you're using glue, so it's a good idea to lay down some old newspaper first! Step 1 Take an old button in your favourite colour and tape/glue a feather to both sides Step 2 Tape/glue a pipe cleaner to the button Step 3 Turn the button over and tape/glue on the googly eyes and beak Step 4 Wind the pipe cleaner around a pen/pencil/paintbrush and VOILÀ!!

Jazzing it up: Use a really funky button and colourful feathers for a disco bird. Or if you like birds of paradise, use extra long and fluffy feathers! Or make a peacock by using a blue button, blue feathers and colouring them with a gold pen! The Rockin’ Rascals & Zoom Zoom Zoom toddler groups run at the WAC club every Tuesday and Thursday morning 9.30-11.30. Crafts, snack time, singing and lots of fun to be had in our English speaking group for children ages 0-4 years. New members are always welcome to join us at The WAC, Winterthurerstrasse 18, Uster

This Little Life Hi everyone! Our names are Joseph and Hannah. We are 12 and 10 years old and we like playing with Lego. We enjoy building the kits that you can buy as well as constructing our own creations. We even have “The Lego Ideas Book” in case we run out of inspiration! At the moment we are building a Lego city. We have several buildings including a museum and a bank. Unfortunately, there is a crime wave in our city and despite a large police force with a wide variety of vehicles, the master crooks always escape! We also have a lot of Star Wars Lego and enjoy recreating some of the scenes from the films. One thing we don’t have is the Lego Death Star, so we are entering a competition to try and win one. A good way to get old sets that are no longer found on the shops’ shelves is to go to where people anywhere in the world can buy and sell old or new Lego. You can also buy specific mini figures and individual pieces, which is great if you want to build your own creation (or if you lose a piece!). We think Lego is a great toy because you can create anything you can imagine. We are still adding to our collection – the possibilities are endless! Bye for now!

Joseph and Hannah

Readers Gone WACky T

hings Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe follows the rise and fall of

Okonkwo, a respected warrior of the Umofia clan in Nigeria. Embarrassed by his father's laziness, Okonkwo works tirelessly to prove he is a better man than his father. He wins the clan wrestling tournament, becomes a tribal elder, raises a surplus of yams every year and he is stern and unemotional as a father and husband. After taking part in the murder of his adopted son (a war prisoner), despite being advised not to by a village elder, Okonkwo experiences a series of misfortunes, his daughter falls ill, he breaks the week of peace, and he accidently kills a man. He is banned from his village for 7 years and his entire family is sent to live in his mother's village. Upon his return, he finds that Christian missionaries have set up a church and won converts among his clan, including his eldest son. Okonkwo is disgusted that his clan is not aggressively forcing the foreigners out. After a final humiliating confrontation between the clan and the new District Commissioner, Okonkwo realizes that the old warrior ways are over and takes a final tragic step. Chinua Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart as a direct response to several novels written in the 1940-1950’s which portrayed Africa and its people as primitive and backwards. Having been born in a large village in Nigeria, educated in western schools and fluent in English, he wanted to highlight the complex social structure and artistic traditions of the indigenous Igbo culture. Throughout the book the reader is exposed to the justice system within the clan, the personal gods of the people and the rationale behind actions we would consider horrendous. He also makes a distinct effort to give various portrayals of the white colonizers, some benevolent and some arrogant and disastrous for the local people. He chose to write the book in English, one of the first from an African writer, rather than his dialect, to reach a wider audience, though he acknowledged that some sayings, traditions, and words did not translate directly. Things Fall Apart is an interesting look into African culture at the time of colonization by the western world. It brings us to question whether our actions or our fate control our destiny.

Readers Gone WACky is a small friendly book club held once a month at the WAC. Members take turns suggesting books and leading the discussions. We read a variety of books covering a wide range of subject matter by authors from al over the world. Meetings are usually on Wednesday evenings at 8pm and new members are always welcome. To join one of our next meetings feel free to come along to the WAC or email the office at for more information.

FIVE FUN AND EASY WARM WEATHER ACTIVITIES BY RACHEL BLATE Summer is quickly approaching and I for one can't wait for some nice and warm weather! There's no shortage of fun activities you can do outside with your kids in the summer, and they don't have to cost a bundle either! In fact, there are plenty of easy and cheap (or free!) ways to keep your kids entertained this summer, using things you most likely have around the house already! If you're looking to step up your outdoor time from just going to the playground, why not try one or more of these fun activities with your kids this week?

1. Ice painting Fill ice cube trays with different colors of paint and set a popsicle stick into each one. Place the tray in the freezer overnight to freeze it solid.On a sunny day, spread out a large sheet of paper outside and use the paint ice to paint away! The sun will help melt the ice paint a little and the colors will be brilliant in the sun! Be sure to use washable paint.

2. Water painting For a super easy play activity, and a great way to keep cool on a hot day, fill up a bucket of water and grab some paint brushes of various sizes. Go outside and let your kids "paint" with the water on the sidewalk or porch. Since it's only water, there is no clean up and your kids can have fun painting away!

3. Mini Car Wash Fill a big bin with water, sponges and small brushes (toothbrushes work great for this) and let your kid select some toy cars to bring to the "car wash!" Add a little soap if you'd like, or just use plain water for easy clean up!

4. Outdoor Scavenger Hunt Hide small animals (we used plastic dinosaurs) or other treasures outside and go on a safari to find them! Or, come up with a list of outdoor treasures to find and head outside to explore. Your list could include: flowers, a short stick, a long stick, a round rock, pine-cone etc.

5. Arctic Icebergs Add plastic animals to various sized containers and fill with water. Freeze overnight to make icebergs. Remove icebergs from containers (it may help to run a little hot water over the sides to loosen them) and add them to a big bin with a little bit of cold water for them to float in. Head outside to play! Kids can have fun chasing the icebergs around with their hands and excavating the animals from the ice!

Rachel is a blogger at My Mini Adventurer ( where she writes about travel, expat life, recipes and kids activities. Every Monday she shares a new kid friendly recipe with the series "Mini Chef Mondays”. She is a mom of one son and an expat living in Zurich. You can also follow her and her mini adventurer on instagram (@myminiadventurer) and facebook (

Classifieds Spanish Lessons


Ballet at the WAC

A1 Fridays 2.00 - 4.00pm


A2 Thursdays 1.00 - 3.00pm


Fridays 4.15-5.15pm & Saturdays 10.00-11.00am

Mondays 7.00 - 8.30pm

Starting 25/26th August 2016 For information contact

Back to School Disco Friday 9th September 6pm - 8.30pm Tickets 2chf (members) or 3chf (non-members) Available at the WAC from 22/08/2016


For more information

Tuesdays 7.00 - 8.30pm


To arrange your free trial at the WAC contact

Every Wednesday at the WAC 7.30pm-8.30pm For more information contact

Advanced English Lessons Level B2/C1 Tuesdays 7.00 - 8.00pm For information contact

*Breakfast Meetup*

at Jucker Farm Dorfstrasse 23, 8607 Seegräben Friday 8th July from 9AM

Everyone welcome, with or without children.

Face Painting Workshop WEDNESDAY 13th july 7:30pm-9:30pm A Beginner’s Guide to Face painting 25chf per person (incl. a glass of wine on arrival) all profits going to world child cancer

C o f f e e B r e a k

Help Kevin find his lunch!



* English pre-school * English reading and writing programme * International playgroups * Swiss-German Spielgruppe * Supervised lunch club * English library * German lessons * Family events * & much more‌..

The WAC is a non-profit organisation that supports English-speaking families living in and around Uster and helps develop international friendships.

This Life Switzerland (July 2016)  
This Life Switzerland (July 2016)