English lessons at schools and in kindergartens are nowadays taken for granted. The quality, however, sometimes leaves a lot to be desired. Kids learn vocabulary and grammar and use it only to make sentences in their exercise books. Real conversation is less important. Many parents look for other ways to learn. Lessons with native speakers, English schools and English holidays are only a few of them. Last weekend we had the opportunity to attend the perfect initiative of one of Warsaw's English schools. The teachers of Early Stage prepared a theatrical performance called "Pig in a wig in space", which is a perfect way to make an English lesson more creative.


If one of you wants to encourage your kids to learn English or you simply want to spend time with them in a funny way, go to Culture House Kadr in Warsaw. "Pig in a wig in space" is a pleasant story about a small pig who wants to fly into space and for different reasons must therefore transform into a dog. This fabulous initiative is aimed at kids between 4 and 8 years old, but even really small children will be satisfied. The actors on the stage and among the small kids in the audience really do a lot to present a fully English story to the Polish kids in an understandable manner. There are amazing faces, gags, repetition of words, audio-visual support and other elements to help transfer the English ideas into the little Polish heads. We take part in an interactive play engaging all the senses. There is a Cosmic Cactus playing the guitar, a pig dreaming of cosmic trips a Cosmic Dog and a mysterious aunty who has recently disappeared during her travels.

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In Poland and in the world there are places which we should see even if only once in our life. Some of them, to my regret, are unavailable because they are dangerous. Fortunately, we can show at least some of them to our children. One place which everybody should see in Poland is Malbork Castle.


This castle, which is the biggest in the world in terms of area, is placed on the banks of the river Nogat and is very impressive. It has been built in phases since 1280 and has been passed from German hands to Polish hands many times. Eventually, after a pounding in 1945 by The Red Army, it was rebuilt and deemed a national monument. In 1997 it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.


Huge but interesting in terms of architecture, this bricky building is intriguing and encourages us to visit it. The features of the castle include: the Karwan Lower Castle, where train equipment, cannons and ammunition were kept; St Wawrzyniec Chapel and outbuildings; the glamorous Medium Castle, which was the political centre of authority and in which we can find St. Bartłomiej Chapel, the Great Refectory, the Grand Master Palace, and the Monastery of the Teutonic Knights, known as the High Castle.


Visiting the castle takes 3.5 hours and is conducted by an experienced guide or (for a fee) with an audio-guide. I don't know any child - even one who is very interested in medieval castles - who patiently follows his parents, listening about the historical and architectonic details of this wonderful castle.

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During the long May weekend the weather in Karkonosze wasn't nice. In Poland we say: "the weather is squared". The sunny moments with almost summer sun were interspersed with torrential rain and cold wind. In short: "something nice for everybody".


One of the mornings said hallo to us with almost October weather. Somehow we had to utilise our children's energy. Mountain trips weren't possible. Fortunately, we found Glass Factory Julia near Szklarska Poręba, which we decided to visit.


Our first contact with the place was disturbing. The crowds of people milling around the building, the buses and cars filling up the decent-sized carparks and a lot of children messing around frightened us a bit. Actually, it turned out that the only difficult thing was finding a free space in the car park. The crowd of adults and children were efficiently directed by the Glass Factory staff. The checkout line, tickets, the set times for visiting the Factory, the shop, guide and interpretive walk – everything was well thought out and very well organized.


Visiting the Factory is possible only in the care of a guide in 20-person groups. The groups enter the factory every 30 minutes. If there is an exceptionally large group of people, visiting starts every 15 minutes. Although there were a lot of people ahead of us, we waited only 45 minutes, which was exactly as much time as we needed to see the products in one of the shops with coloured glass (visiting the factory finishes in the shop with white glass) and drink an excellent hot chocolate and coffee in the Lily-white Café. The cakes and dessert served in the local glass looked appealing and were very tasty. The only minor flaw was the small amount of chairs in the café, but here we were also lucky.

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Lower Silesia is a completely new area for us. This year we went there for the first time and now we know that it wasn't the last time. We were there for a week with our children who need changes and attractions all the time. We decided to do something new every day. However, if we had been there without the children, we would probably have done different things. For starters, we went on hikes to the Szklarka and Kamieńczyk Waterfalls, Jurassic Park in Szklarska Poręba, a crystal glass factory called Julia, and Chojnik Castle. For me, the best thing was an attraction which, to my astonishment, cannot be found in every Tourist Guide: The Colourful Lakes, lately recognized by National Geographic Traveller as one of the new seven wonders of Poland.


Any careful visitor to the Szczecin and Wolin Island area has had a chance to see the Emerald and Turquoise Lakes. In my opinion however, their actual colours have been at odds with their names for some time, and the leaves which lie on the bed have caused the azure to be less and less visible. There is no such doubt when it comes to The Colourful Lakes. Their colours really significantly differ from typical, clear tarns, although I think that everybody can see different colours from those indicated by the names.


The Lakes are situated in Rudawski Landscape Park near Wieściszowice village. Four of them lie on the slope of Wielka Kopa. Back in the XVIII century a pyrite mine was situated here. In the XX century the extraction of this mineral ended and once again mother nature came into power in this place. The mine excavations were filled with water, creating picturesque lakes where the colour comes from the chemical structure of their walls and beds.

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The long weekends and holidays are coming. A lot of us want a change of scenery, some rest and to see something new and interesting. The big Polish cities like Warszawa, Kraków, Poznań or Gdańsk are always attractive destinations. In each of them you can find places which will please our demanding children and areas which will guarantee a nice and reasonably peaceful rest. Every parent knows that there are few things as annoying and likely to rain on our parade as a whinging and boring kid.


Everybody who has been to the Old Town in Gdańsk knows that it is a picturesque place, full of relics, monuments, and charming corners. I think that you should see Długi Targ Street with the Fountain of Neptune, the Żuraw (crane) on Motława – which is the emblem of Gdańsk – and the museum dedicated to the people connected with the harbour. You should also visit Artus Court with the Historical Museum of Gdańsk, the Amber Museum and, in my opinion, the most beautiful little street – Mariacka, where you can find picturesque townhouses and galleries with silver and amber jewellery. This kind of walk is interesting and relaxing for adult visitors, but it may test the patience of even the most resilient children.


To those of you whose children have had enough of old walls and potsherds and can't eat any more ice-cream, I recommend taking a break and going to the Maritime Culture Centre near the Żuraw. Here you can let the children play while visiting the exhibition "People-Ships-Ports".

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