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The Curved House Editor

Dinosaur Puzzles for Future Palaeontologists is here

By | 6-8 years, 8+ years, Blog, News

Calling all future dinosaur experts! Real-life palaeontologist, Dr Dave Hone, has located a bountiful dig site but he needs a brave explorer to help unearth the fossils and discover the mysteries of our prehistoric Earth.

This brand new puzzle book from Curved House Kids sets ten science-themed challenges for kids that help them build knowledge about a subject they love (dinosaurs!) while also strengthening skills that make a great scientist: problem solving, critical thinking, curiosity, patience, visual literacy and creativity.

This exciting new puzzle book is from our Think Like A Scientist series which takes real research and science and turns it into a fun and challenging STEM puzzle book. Not only are kids entertained but they also get a dose of careers inspiration from real experts all around the world.

Dave Hone has helped us to craft this paleo adventure based on a real discovery. The book is inspired by the research paper ‘Bite marks on the frill of a juvenile Centrosaurus’, published by Dave and fellow palaeontologists Darren Tanke and Caleb Brown.

The team took a fossil that had been found at Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada, and analysed the bite marks to identify which dinosaur the fossil belonged to, and what the likely cause of the bite marks was. The 10 puzzles in the Dinosaur Puzzle Book take children on this very same journey – from locating the dig site and unearthing the fossil, to analysing the bite marks, collecting data and reporting on the find.

Kids aged 7+ will LOVE this book and we think adults might too…!

About the Expert

Dave Hone is a senior lecturer and researcher at Queen Mary University of London. His research focuses on the (non-avian) dinosaurs as a whole and especially the carnivorous theropods, and also on the flying pterosaurs. He is passionate and curious about dinosaurs and wants to know:

  • How did they hunt and feed?
  • How might they have communicated?
  • Was there social structure within herds?
  • How large did they get and what did this mean for their biology?

Find out more about Dave Hone and his work on the QMUL website.

Grab your copy today >>> Download a free dinosaur activity!

Dinosaur Puzzles by Future Palaeontologists is written by Kitty Harrison and Lucie Stevens with Dr Dave Hone. Illustrated by Ben Hawkes. Published in June 2021 by Curved House Kids.


By | 4-6 years, 6-8 years, 8+ years, Advice for Parents, Teaching Resources, Visual Literacy, Worksheets

June 9 is Empathy Day! Empathy is the crucial skill we need to better understand others. Here are some ways you can help children develop empathy.

Stories are portals to other times and places. But perhaps most importantly, they’re doorways to other people’s hearts. When we engage with stories by listening to someone else’s experiences, reading books or studying artworks, we gain insight into how life looks and feels from a different point of view.

Practising empathy connects us so powerfully with our humanity that it can inspire social change. By broadening our perspectives, we begin to understand how we can support others in meaningful ways.

Empathy Lab have an impressive programme on June 9, to help us train our brains so that we can become more empathetic. All their events – from poetry writing to poster making – are perfect for home learning. Check out their free Family Activity Pack too.

Before June 9, you might like to warm-up your empathy neurons with this simple visual literacy activity. Using the worksheet below, can you create a portrait of someone expressing an emotion? Can you make this face happy? Sad? Confused? Send us your completed illustrations by tagging @curvedhousekids on FacebookTwitter and Instagram, so we can guess which emotion you drew.

You might also like to explore Empathy Lab’s Read for Empathy Book Collections, which include Mum’s JumperThis touching story by Jayde Perkin and published by our friends at Book Island, explores loss and grief in a way that’s accessible to children. Since difficult emotions are often the hardest ones to express and understand, books like this one are especially useful in building our empathy toolkits.

We look forward to hearing about how you celebrate Empathy Day. Get involved in the conversation online by using #readforempathy.

Image by Jude Beck

Mental Health Awareness Week

By | 4-6 years, 6-8 years, 8+ years, Advice for Parents, Teaching Resources

May 18-24 is Mental Health Awareness Week. This is a great opportunity to explore the importance of self-care.

Astronauts and space travel can be hugely effective (and non-confronting) themes for discussing mental health, wellbeing and mental self-care. Here are two space-themed activities to try this week.

Activity One: Astronaut Workout

Suitable for all ages

Kick off the week with a mini mind and body workout. This activity ends with a mindful breathing exercise – an important reminder that, when you’re facing a big challenge, mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness.

Download the activity and lesson plan.

Activity Two: Astronauts and Isolation

For older students

Tim Peake spent six months living and working in the small confines of the ISS.

The job of an astronaut comes with many big challenges – from the physical and psychological pressure of a rocket launch, to dealing with long periods of time away from home (and family) and the stress of physical isolation. Astronauts have a lot to take on and they work hard to manage mental health in space. But what about when they are back on Earth? What then? Space travel is a unique and intense experience and having few people to truly connect with about it can evoke feelings of isolation.

Use this topic and the questions below as conversation starters, research questions or creative writing prompts:

  • Why might an astronaut feel isolation when they are back on Earth?
  • What other things (other than going into space!) might cause a person to feel mentally isolated?Can you think of other experiences, people or professions?
  • Is it possible to experience isolation in the company of others? How? Why?
  • What do astronauts do to cope with isolation?
  • How do astronauts manage their mental health in space and on Earth?
  • With the experience of lockdown, what can you learn from astronauts about dealing with isolation? Are there things you can do to keep a healthy mind?

You can find more free resources to explore during Mental Health Awareness Week here.

Photo credit: ESA/NASA

Celebrating National Share-a-Story Month

By | 4-6 years, 6-8 years, 8+ years, Advice for Parents, Teaching Resources

Happy National Share-a-Story Month! May 1st marks the beginning of a whole month of creating and celebrating stories, in all different ways!

At Discovery Diaries HQ, we’re passionate about this year’s theme: The Planet We Share. While our space missions take us far from home, looking at that small blue dot from beyond our atmosphere both humbles and inspires us. We see how interconnected we are, not just on an intergalactic scale but as members of our world and our communities. Stories help us learn more about that world and the people in it.

Stories can be told in all kinds of ways. Long before the written word, people shared them verbally, through music and by making art. Throughout May, we’ll be celebrating storytelling in all its different forms.

To help us celebrate, we’d like to challenge you to tell one story each week in May using different storytelling methods. Here are five different ways to get you started:

  1. Get your Hemingway on and write a piece of micro-prose, using Visual Verse’s daily visual prompt.
  2. Embrace the gift of the gab like Christian Rogers and host an oral storytelling session. You can do this in-person with your household, or online with your friends (with a parent’s permission if you’re under 16). Your story could be one you’ve made up or one you’ve been told.
  3. Follow in the footsteps of the great bard and dabble in poetry. Writing a Shakespearean sonnet is a particularly satisfying challenge. Following one of our templates will help you keep those rhymes in order.
  4. Songwriting is a fun way to share a story. Musician Will Stoert has created a simple five-step method to help you write a song. You don’t need any knowledge of music to use it, so warm up those vocal chords and have some fun!
  5. Not all stories are told through words. From the time our ancient ancestors painted the walls of caves, visual storytelling has been one of our traditions. Why not make your own space-themed comic strip? There’s no limit to where an intergalactic story can take you!

The Federation of Children’s Book Groups has all kinds of resources you can use to celebrate National Share a Story Month, from downloadable activities to reading lists. Their handy mind-map with help you come up with ideas around this year’s theme.

Don’t forget to let Discovery Diaries HQ know how you’re going with your Share-a-story Challenge! Use #discoverydiaries on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to tell us how you’re spinning tales.

Primary school science programme starring Tim Peake translated to inspire next generation of Welsh astronauts

By | 6-8 years, 8+ years, News, Principe Space Diary, Principia Space Diary

Children’s publisher Curved House Kids is excited to announce that their hugely popular primary school science programme has been translated into Welsh, with a mission to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and astronauts. 3,000 copies of the Discovery Diaries will be made available to primary schools in Wales in support of their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) teaching.

With support from the Welsh Government, the UK Space Agency and the Science and Technology Facilities Council, all three programmes (the Principia Space Diary with ESA Astronaut Tim Peake and by Lucy Hawking, the Mission Mars Diary by Lucy Hawking and the Deep Space Diary by Dr Olivia Johnson) will be available to Welsh-medium schools and learners, ensuring they have access to high-quality, leading space education resources. 

The Education Minister for Wales, Kirsty Williams, said:

“Learning about outer space can be a child’s first experience of science and technology and is often the first small step into a lifelong passion for STEM subjects.

“The Discovery Diaries are a great example of how different disciplines, such as art and science, can complement each other and lead to a broader and more meaningful understanding through our new Curriculum.

“I’m really pleased the Welsh Government is supporting this project so that our next generation of Welsh astronauts can enjoy this in Welsh too!”   

The Discovery Diaries’ translation into Welsh will help schools to embrace the new Welsh curriculum, which hopes to equip children with the skills to become global citizens through the study of six key areas of learning, including science and technology. Due to be fully implemented by all maintained Welsh schools and settings by 2022, the curriculum also hopes to provide teachers with the flexibility to deliver classes in more creative ways, and for children to become more adaptable in an age of fast-paced technological changes and globalisation.

Author Lucy Hawking said: 

“Fun and creativity are so important to learning and the Space Diaries provide the perfect opportunity for students to enjoy STEM subjects in an innovative and inspiring way. I am so pleased that they are being translated into the Welsh language and look forward to seeing the creative and scientific results!”

To ensure maximum accessibility to Welsh-medium and bilingual schools throughout Wales, the translated programmes will be available to schools free of charge via the Discovery Diaries website ( with a suite of teaching resources and lesson plans alongside over 60 creative, cross-curricular activities. 

As learners work through the activities they will meet a diverse team of STEM experts to inspire them to see themselves in STEM careers. Watch out for volcanologist Tamsin Mather, astronomer Sheila Kanani, instrument scientist Pamela Klaassen and engineer Piyal Samara Ratna. 

Kristen Harrison, publisher of the Discovery Diaries series, says: 

“Language is central to how children connect their identity and culture to the wider world, so we are thrilled to offer this series in Welsh and look forward to seeing learners and their teachers being challenged, empowered and inspired in the Welsh language.” 


For more information, images and interviews, contact: 

Rachel Powell (Welsh/English)

PR Consultant

Mob: +44 (0)771 266 3117


Kristen Harrison (English)

Curved House Kids

Berlin Office 

Mob: +49 162 431 6736



Notes to editors

About Discovery Diaries

The Principia Space Diary and the Mission Mars Diary were created by Curved House Kids and author Lucy Hawking with funding and support from the UK Space Agency (USKA), European Space Agency (ESA) and ESA Astronaut Tim Peake. The Deep Space Diary, written by Dr Olivia Johnson and launched in 2019, was created with support from the STFC and draws on the knowledge of experts working on the James Webb Space Telescope. 

Originally launched as a STEM-literacy initiative with the aim of getting 500 primary schools involved in ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s Principia mission to the ISS, the Discovery Diary programmes have taken UK schools by storm with their wealth of interactive activities that encourage children to read, write, draw, research, experiment and problem-solve while strengthening STEM, literacy and visual literacy learning. 

All three programmes come with extensive teaching notes, lesson plans, multimedia, PowerPoint presentations and more. Teachers have the freedom to use the materials from beginning to end, in a linear way, or pick and choose activities to fit with their existing curriculum.

Over 4,000 schools across the UK are now using Discovery Diaries’ learning suite to complement their STEM teaching. Curved House Kids will continue to make the science programme available to a wider range of children by translating teaching materials into simplified Chinese. 


Curved House Kids is an educational publisher specialising in arts-based STEM and Literacy learning for children and young people. Our mission is to ensure that every child, everywhere in the world, is empowered to learn, create and communicate. We enrich education by making challenging subjects – like science and literacy – exciting and accessible. We do this by incorporating the arts into education and by working with like-minded partners who value learning, creativity and innovation.

Cyfieithu rhaglen wyddoniaeth i ysgolion cynradd, sy’n astudio Tim Peake, er mwyn ysbrydoli’r genhedlaeth nesaf o ofodwyr yng Nghymru

By | News, Uncategorized

Mae’n bleser gan y cyhoeddwr Curved House Kids gyhoeddi bod eu rhaglen wyddoniaeth hynod boblogaidd i ysgolion cynradd wedi cael ei chyfieithu i’r Gymraeg, gyda’r nod o ysbrydoli’r genhedlaeth nesaf o wyddonwyr, peirianwyr a gofodwyr. Bydd 3,000 o gopïau o Dyddiaduron Darganfod ar gael i ysgolion cynradd yng Nghymru i gefnogi eu hadnoddau addysgu STEM (Gwyddoniaeth, Technoleg, Peirianneg a Mathemateg).

Gyda chefnogaeth gan Lywodraeth Cymru, Asiantaeth Ofod y DU a’r Cyngor Cyfleusterau Gwyddoniaeth a Thechnoleg, bydd pob un o’r tair rhaglen (Dyddiadur Gofod Principia gyda’r Gofodwr ESA Tim Peake gan Lucy Hawking, Dyddiadur Taith i Blaned Mawrth gan Lucy Hawking a Dyddiadur y Gofod Dwfn gan Dr Olivia Johnson) ar gael i ddysgwyr ac ysgolion cyfrwng Cymraeg, er mwyn sicrhau bod ganddynt fynediad at adnoddau addysg blaenllaw, o safon ar thema’r gofod.  

Dywedodd Kirsty Williams, Gweinidog Addysg Cymru:

“Dysgu am y gofod yw un o brofiadau cyntaf plentyn o wyddoniaeth a thechnoleg, ac mae’n aml yn gam bach cyntaf tuag at frwdfrydedd gydol oes am bynciau STEM.

“Mae’r Dyddiaduron Darganfod yn enghraifft wych o sut gall disgyblaethau gwahanol, fel celf a gwyddoniaeth, ategu ei gilydd ac arwain at ddealltwriaeth ehangach a mwy ystyrlon drwy ein Cwricwlwm newydd.

“Rydw i’n falch iawn bod Llywodraeth Cymru yn cefnogi’r prosiect hwn fel bod y genhedlaeth nesaf o ofodwyr yng Nghymru yn gallu ei fwynhau yn Gymraeg hefyd!”   

Bydd y fersiynau Cymraeg o’r Dyddiaduron Darganfod yn helpu ysgolion i groesawu’r cwricwlwm Cymraeg newydd, sy’n gobeithio rhoi’r sgiliau i blant ddod yn ddinasyddion byd-eang drwy astudio chwe maes dysgu allweddol, yn cynnwys gwyddoniaeth a thechnoleg. Gobaith y cwricwlwm, a fydd yn cael ei roi ar waith yn llawn ym mhob ysgol a lleoliad a gynhelir yng Nghymru erbyn 2022, yw rhoi’r hyblygrwydd i athrawon ddarparu gwersi mewn ffyrdd mwy creadigol, ac i blant allu addasu’n well mewn oes o globaleiddio a newidiadau technolegol cyflym.

Dywedodd yr awdur Lucy Hawking

“Mae hwyl a chreadigrwydd mor bwysig i ddysgu ac mae’r Dyddiaduron Gofod yn gyfle perffaith i ddisgyblion fwynhau pynciau STEM mewn ffordd arloesol ac ysbrydoledig. Rydw i mor falch eu bod yn cael eu cyfieithu i’r Gymraeg ac edrychaf ymlaen at weld y canlyniadau creadigol a gwyddonol!”

Er mwyn sicrhau bod cynifer o ysgolion cyfrwng Cymraeg a dwyieithog ledled Cymru yn gallu cael gafael ar y rhaglenni Cymraeg hyn, byddant ar gael i ysgolion yn rhad ac am ddim drwy wefan Discovery Diaries ( Bydd cyfres o adnoddau addysgu a chynlluniau gwersi ar gael hefyd ynghyd â dros 60 o weithgareddau creadigol, trawsgwricwlaidd. 

Wrth i’r dysgwyr gyflawni’r gweithgareddau, byddant yn cwrdd â thîm amrywiol o arbenigwyr STEM i’w hysbrydoli i ddychmygu eu hunain mewn gyrfaoedd STEM. Cadwch olwg am y fylcanolegwr Tamsin Mather, y seryddwr Sheila Kanian, y gwyddonydd offerynnau Pamela Klaassen a’r peiriannydd Piyar Samara Ratna. 

Dywedodd Kristen Harrison, cyhoeddwr cyfres Dyddiaduron Darganfod: 

“Mae iaith yn ganolog i’r modd mae plant yn cysylltu hunaniaeth a diwylliant â’r byd ehangach, felly rydyn ni wrth ein bodd o allu cynnig y gyfres hon yn Gymraeg. Edrychwn ymlaen at weld dysgwyr a’u hathrawon yn cael eu herio, eu grymuso a’u hysbrydoli yn yr iaith Gymraeg.” 


I gael rhagor o wybodaeth, lluniau a chyfweliadau, cysylltwch â: 

Rachel Powell (Cymraeg/Saesneg)

Ymgynghorydd Cysylltiadau Cyhoeddus

Ffôn Symudol: +44 (0)771 266 3117


Kristen Harrison (Saesneg)

Curved House Kids

Swyddfa Berlin 

Ffôn Symudol: +49 162 431 6736



Nodiadau i olygyddion

Gwybodaeth am Discovery Diaries

Crëwyd Dyddiadur Gofod Principia a Dyddiadur Taith i Blaned Mawrth gan Curved House Kids a’r awdur Lucy Hawking gyda chyllid a chefnogaeth gan Asiantaeth Ofod y DU, Asiantaeth Ofod Ewrop (ESA) a’r Gofodwr ESA Tim Peake. Ysgrifennwyd Dyddiadur y Gofod Dwfn gan Dr Olivia Johnson ac fe’i lansiwyd yn 2019, gyda chefnogaeth y Cyngor Cyfleusterau Gwyddoniaeth a Thechnoleg. Mae’r dyddiadur hwn yn defnyddio gwybodaeth arbenigwyr sy’n gweithio ar Delesgop Gofod James Webb. 

Cafodd rhaglenni Dyddiaduron Darganfod eu lansio’n wreiddiol fel menter llythrennedd-STEM gyda’r nod o gael 500 o ysgolion cynradd i gymryd rhan yn nhaith Principia’r Gofodwr ESA Tim Peake i’r Orsaf Ofod Ryngwladol. Maen nhw wedi bod yn llwyddiant ysgubol gyda’u gweithgareddau rhyngweithiol di-ri sy’n annog plant i ddarllen, ysgrifennu, tynnu lluniau, ymchwilio, arbrofi a datrys problemau yn ogystal â chryfhau dysgu STEM, llythrennedd a llythrennedd gweledol. 

Mae’r tair rhaglen hyn yn cynnwys nodiadau addysgu cynhwysfawr, cynlluniau gwersi, deunydd amlgyfrwng, cyflwyniadau PowerPoint a mwy. Mae gan athrawon y rhyddid i ddefnyddio’r deunyddiau o’r dechrau i’r diwedd, mewn ffordd linol, neu ddewis a dethol y gweithgareddau sy’n cyd-fynd â’u cwricwlwm presennol.

Mae dros 4,000 o ysgolion ledled y DU yn defnyddio rhaglenni dysgu Dyddiaduron Darganfod i ategu eu hadnoddau addysgu STEM. Bydd Curved House Kids yn parhau i wneud yn siŵr bod y rhaglen wyddoniaeth ar gael i ystod ehangach o blant drwy gyfieithu’r deunyddiau addysgu i Tsieinëeg Syml.  


Mae Curved House Kids yn gyhoeddwr addysgol sy’n arbenigo ym maes dysgu STEM a llythrennedd yn y celfyddydau ar gyfer plant a phobl ifanc. Ein cenhadaeth ni yw sicrhau bod pob plentyn, ym mhob cwr o’r byd, yn cael ei rymuso i ddysgu, creu a chyfathrebu. Rydym yn cyfoethogi addysg drwy wneud pynciau heriol – fel gwyddoniaeth a llythrennedd – yn gyffrous ac yn hawdd eu deall. Rydym yn gwneud hyn drwy ymgorffori’r celfyddydau mewn addysg a thrwy weithio gyda phartneriaid o’r un anian â ni, sy’n gwerthfawrogi dysgu, creadigrwydd ac arloesi.

Deep Space Diary

The Deep Space Diary is here!

By | 6-8 years, 8+ years, News

To celebrate the launch of the Deep Space Diary, Curved House Kids and the Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) are giving away 15,000 free books to UK schools.

This exciting new school project celebrates the UK’s involvement with one of the most globally-anticipated space missions, the James Webb Space Telescope, and will encourage thousands of British students to realise their inner space expert and explore the Universe.

The Deep Space Diary programme introduces KS2/P5-7 students to astronomy, physics, engineering and space through the story of the James Webb Space Telescope. With the support of the STFC, 15,000 free books will be available to schools across the UK with priority given to those in disadvantaged areas or with high numbers of pupil premium.

The Deep Space Diary is the third book in the series, with the previous two created with the UK Space Agency, author Lucy Hawking and inspired by European Space Agency (ESA) Astronaut Tim Peake’s 2015 Principia mission.

“In 2015 we created the Principia Space Diary to empower younger students to learn about space and science while they followed my mission to the International Space Station. That book, and the subsequent Mars Diary sequel, were a huge success as they tackle a range of challenging subjects in a creative and hands-on way. I’m excited to see the ideas and innovations our young British space experts come up with as they complete this new Deep Space Diary and explore the biggest questions about our Universe.”

ESA Astronaut Tim Peake

I loved creating the original space diary to celebrate Tim Peake’s journey to the ISS. It was a great honour to work with Tim on such an imaginative scientific project which gave primary school students the chance to explore space while learning and having fun. In the follow up Mars Diary, we gave students the huge challenge of planning a mission to the red planet. It has been exciting to launch this series and see how successful it has become. I am sure the Deep Space Diary will continue that success.

Lucy Hawking, author of the Principia Space Diary and Mars Diary

The James Webb Space Telescope (or simply Webb), due to launch in 2021, is the largest space telescope ever built (the size of a tennis court when deployed) and is expected to reveal even more about the Universe than its predecessor, Hubble. Webb is a global project, led by NASA, with some of its key experts in Europe and the UK. The Deep Space Diary makes this incredible human achievement accessible for younger students by delivering complex ideas in creative, student-led ways. The diary was also developed with and features a diverse group of real engineers and astronomers who have worked on Webb or will use it to explore the Universe.

“Celebrating the involvement that the UK has in this revolutionary mission, whilst at the same time giving children an insight in to how exciting being involved in a space science mission can be makes this a very special project; after all they will be the scientists and engineers of the future.”

European Principle Investigator for MIRI Professor Gillian Wright

From today (Thursday 13th June) primary schools in the UK are invited to register at for a chance to receive a free box of 30 Deep Space Diaries plus stickers and a Mission Log poster for their class. Books will be allocated to schools on a first come, first served basis with priority given to those in disadvantaged areas or with a higher percentage of free school meals. Other schools, home educating families and community groups can also register to access the free online programme, or purchase printed diaries via the online bookshop. Books will be delivered in September 2019, at the beginning of the new school year.

Teachers are fully supported with an online portal containing over 60 hours of classroom and home learning activities, differentiated teaching notes, curriculum guides (for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), extension activities, multimedia resources and more. The programme also provides cross-curricular links, combining STEM learning with a breadth of other subjects to ensure that every child can find a way in to science and engineering.

“Our goal with the Discovery Diaries is not necessarily to hot-house future STEM experts (though that’s a happy bi-product!) but to encourage every child, regardless of their skills, interests or circumstances, to imagine, create, question, research, visualise, analyse, problem solve and generally “think like a scientist”. These are skills that will help them throughout their lives and the James Webb Space Telescope is the perfect inspiration for all of that.”

Discovery Diaries Publisher, Kristen Harrison

The Deep Space Diary has been developed by Curved House Kids with Dr Olivia Johnson at STFC’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre and Royal Observatory Edinburgh. A skilled team of practising primary teachers have co-written teaching materials and curriculum guides and Professor Peter McOwan at Queen Mary University of London has provided academic advice and feedback on activities.  

Notes to Editors
Download photos, logos and Tim Peake video from our Media Kit:  
Registrations open 13th June, 2019 and schools who register before 5th July, 2019 will go into the draw for free copies.

UK scientists and engineers are part of a team who built an instrument for the James Webb Space Telescope – the mid-infrared instrument (MIRI), an infrared camera and spectrometer.

MIRI was developed in a collaborative effort between ten European countries, led by the UK and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), with the support of ESA and NASA. The UK team is made up of a partnership between the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), University of Leicester and Airbus Defence and Space with funding from the UK Space Agency. The European Principal Investigator (PI) is Prof Gillian Wright who is Director of STFC’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre in Edinburgh.

In addition to MIRI, University College London’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory is contributing NIRSpec’s on board calibration system and ground support equipment, and a Staffordshire-based company, Tekdata Interconnect Systems, provided the JWST cryogenic harness.

For more information visit:

Curved House Kids is an independent publisher specialising in arts-based education for children and young people. Our mission is to ensure that every child, everywhere in the world, is empowered to learn, create and communicate. We enrich education by making challenging subjects – like science and literacy – exciting and accessible. We do this by incorporating the arts into education and by working with like-minded partners who value learning, creativity and innovation. Curved House Kids was founded in 2013 by Kristen Harrison, a former Penguin editor and the co-founder of the Visual Verse online anthology.

JWST: @WebbTelescopeUK
Olivia Johnson: @cocjohnson
Alastair Bruce: @spacedoot
Naomi Rowe-Gurney: @NRoweGurney
Curved House Kids: @curvedhousekids


Becky Parker-Ellis
STFC Media Officer
Tel: +44(0)1793 444564
Mob: +44(0)7808 879294
If you have an urgent out of hours enquiry, please call the duty press officer on 07092 982664

Kristen Harrison (Publisher)
Curved House Kids
Mob +49 1624316736

Free Creative Writing Resources for Teens

By | 11+, 8+ years, Further Education (FE), News, Teaching Resources, Visual Literacy

Download our latest free teaching resource for students aged 12+. We’ve created a set of creative activities that use art and photography to inspire creative writing and storytelling in the classroom. This free resource has been created in partnership with FXP Festival, a STEM initiative based on a computer and mobile game design and development competition for school and college students in the UK.

Inside this book you will find 6 activities to ignite a passion for creative writing and storytelling, and prime your students for FXP Festival in Cambridge (6-8 July).

The aim of these activities is to give students an experience of language and literacy that they can really make their own. We use visual prompts to ensure that every student can find a “way in” to literacy, and we focus on holistic communication (verbal, visual, creative, text etc). The ultimate aim is to empower young people with the confidence to communicate creatively and effectively.

These activities are designed for years 8–11 and FE and they include differentiation ideas for adapting within this range. All of the activities are flexible in nature so you can incorporate them into existing classes or tie them to your curriculum.

This resource is based on activities designed by writers, publishers and educators at The Curved House and Visual Verse. This edition of the resources is published in collaboration with FXP Festival 2019. It is a free resource for teachers, parents and educators, so please feel free to share. We hope you enjoy and look forward to seeing what your students come up with.

Download this Resource (PDF)

curved house kids frankfurt book fair

Frankfurt Book Fair 2018

By | Blog, News

Rolling out of bed at 3.30am to catch a flight is never an easy task, but with the lure of spending the day surrounded by books in all shapes and sizes at Frankfurt Book Fair, the 6am flight was surprisingly painless.

Curved House Kids Lawrence King Frankfurt Book FairUpon entering the fair I was astounded at the scale. Frankfurt Book Fair is the world’s largest book fair but the reality of what that actually means doesn’t hit you until you get your map and enter the first hall, in which rows upon rows of stalls are set up with people from all over the world showing off their books and wares. Zoom out slightly and there’s six of these halls with multiple floors. It’s huge.

As we roamed the halls we got chatting to Katie de Clercq from Lawrence King, publishers of Yasmeen Ismail, Marion Deuchars and many other wonderful artists. They have such a great selection of books and print products all with an artist-led and often quirky vibe. Totally up our street.

Mid-morning had us heading over for a meeting at the Independent Publishers Guild with Lynette Owen, author of the Publishing Rights bible Selling Rights. We are very much at the beginning of our commercial publishing journey and Lynette was exceptionally helpful and full of excellent advice about rights.

On the same floor we found the Irish publishers stand and took the opportunity to speak to Tadhg Mac Dhonnagáin and discuss translations of our Discovery Diaries into the Gaelic language for bilingual schools through the country. It was very interesting to learn that only a handful of schools in Ireland are teaching a full curriculum in the native language and if we were to do translations of the Diaries it would be more viable to get funding from an organisation who supports it – anyone out there interested in partnering?? While we didn’t find a Welsh publishers stand, we do know that Government funding exists for the translation of education resources into Welsh and we’d LOVE to do this for our Welsh schools.

Curved house kids frankfurt book fair special dinosaurs nicky dee

Just before lunch we headed down to Hall 6 to have a meeting with the wonderful Nicky Dee who was very excited to show us her latest project: these incredible mountable cardboard dinosaur heads! The models were designed by a paper engineer (that’s a real job title!), and the packaging by me, and they now form part of Nicky’s Special Dinosaurs collection of books and products. Curved House Kids did the artworking and layout for four of these books and we are chuffed to have played a small role in the series. The dinosaur heads are 100% recyclable and we were so impressed to see how sturdy and detailed they are!

Justine Solomons of Byte the Book and Andreas Trefzger of Wolf Präsente joined us outside for lunch where we enjoyed the warm Autumn sun and caught up on what everyone had been doing while at the fair. Justine was fresh from chairing a panel on censorship and morality that you can read about here. And Andi was taking a break from manning his stand: CreaBrulee, connoisseurs of magical washi tape!

Gibbs Smith Curved House Kids Frankfurt Book FairThe afternoon was spent looking for printers for our forthcoming books and snaps cards and we also managed to get some time in checking out new titles from some of our favourite publishers. The art book section was particularly inspiring. Like magpies to shiny objects were drawn to many beautiful cover designs and great ideas. We poured over Gibbs Smith’s extensive collection of BabyLit classics for kids, delighted at V&A’s introduction to Frida Kahlo which gives children a way into exploring and getting more from their recent Kahlo exhibition, then we learnt a huge amount thanks to Sourcebooks Baby University series which ranges from General Relativity and Statistical Physics all the way to Rocket Science and Quantum Physics.

And then just like that, we were back in Berlin.

Curved House Kids live an ecclectic life: we work mainly from an office in Berlin, with UK schools and organisations, combining the arts, education, literacy, STEM and book publishing. Going to Frankfurt Book Fair gave us the opportunity to reconnect and re-engage with just the books part of all of this and it felt a little like going home for Christmas. We are energised for growing our lovely little list in 2019. Watch this space!

Mission Mars Diary STEM KS2

We’re making 15,000 free books available to schools in the UK’s most deprived areas

By | 6-8 years, 8+ years, News

Lucy Hawking and Curved House Kids today launch Mars Diary, an ambitious new primary science programme, in partnership with the UK Space Agency, that aims to get 60,000 British schoolchildren involved in the UK’s ExoMars mission and other human and robotic space endeavours. At the core of the Mars Diary programme is an illustrated activity book that students personalise as they complete a range of creative, empowering STEM activities. Teachers are supported with lesson plans, teaching notes, differentiation ideas, multimedia and detailed curriculum links for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

With the support of the UK Space Agency, 15,000 free Mars Diary books will be made available to primary schools across the UK with priority given to those in areas of high levels of deprivation and education under-achievement. Five thousand of these will be distributed to teachers via ESERO-UK and STEM Learning. To ensure full access to these high-quality materials, all UK primary schools will also have free online access to the entire programme including over 60 hours of lessons for Key Stage 2 (P4-7 / Y3-6).

Mars Diary is a sequel to the hugely popular Principia Space Diary, one of ESA Astronaut Tim Peake’s education outreach projects that has inspired over 95,000 British schoolchildren since its launch in 2015. Watch Tim Peake’s welcome message to the “brave space explorers” who will embark on the Mars Diary programme. View and download Tim Peake’s video message, photos and other programme information in the media kit:

Mars Diary Media Kit

Sue Horne, Head of Space Exploration at the UK Space Agency says:

“I am really pleased that we have been able to build on the success of the Principia Space Diary and we can share the excitement and challenges of Mars exploration with young people. I can’t wait to see the amazing ideas and work that students generate.”

The Mars Diary has been written and developed by Lucy Hawking and Curved House Kids with a strong emphasis on creativity and visual learning. Students will be inspired by real space, STEM and education experts including Sue Horne and Libby Jackson from the UK Space Agency Exploration team, volcanologist Professor Tamsin Mather, Mars weather expert Professor Stephen Lewis, Pamela Burnard, Professor of Arts, Creativities and Education at the University of Cambridge and robotics expert Professor Peter McOwan at Queen Mary University of London.

From today (Thursday 22nd February) primary schools in the UK are invited to register at for a chance to receive a free box of 30 Mars Diaries plus stickers and a Mission Log poster for their class. Books will be allocated to schools on a first come, first served basis with priority given to those who have a high percentage of free school meals.

Other schools, home educating families and community groups can also register to access the free online programme, or purchase copies of the printed diaries via the online bookshop at Books will be delivered late-March. If the popularity of the Principia Space Diary is any indication, schools are encouraged to register fast to avoid missing out on printed books.

The programme is fully supported, flexible and can be completed at any time during the school year. Particular emphasis has been placed on making the complex topic of space science easy for any teacher to confidently deliver, giving them the tools to inspire children to read, write, draw, research, experiment and problem solve while strengthening STEM, literacy and visual literacy learning. The multi-modal approach to learning means students use a wide range of analogue and digital media to complete their tasks: from videos, tablets and phones to images and audio.

Publisher Kristen Harrison says:

“Space and science can be daunting topics for teachers and their students, but what we know from our past projects is that leaving plenty of room for individual creativity and ownership gets students engaged in a really meaningful way, and has a lasting impact. We are thrilled to have the chance to create another project like this with the UK Space Agency.”

The Mars Diary programme is funded by the UK Space Agency, as part of a scheme to support education outreach associated with the ExoMars mission, which is sending a rover to Mars in 2020 to look for evidence of life on The Red Planet.

Notes to Editors

Download Mission Mars Media Kit
Registrations open Thursday 22nd February and successful schools will receive books at the end of March 2018.

About Lucy Hawking (

Lucy Hawking is a British author who writes adventure stories based on science for a primary school age audience. Featuring a boy called George and his best friend Annie who have exciting space adventures together, the George series combines storytelling with science, and gives young readers an entertaining introduction to the world of space exploration. The series is published in over 40 languages. An Oxford graduate, Lucy started her writing career in journalism and worked for British newspapers, radio and magazines before becoming a published author. Lucy has been recognised for her work in science and education with several awards – she won the Sappio Prize for Popularizing Science in Rome 2008 and the UNSW medal 2015 for Science Communication and was awarded a doctorate in science by Queen Mary University of London in July 2015. Lucy is a trustee of the Autism Research Foundation, supporting scientific research into the condition of autism.

About Curved House Kids (

Curved House Kids has a simple mission: to improve education by creating books and learning materials that engage children the way children are engaging with the world. This means visually, interactively and with tools that empower. In 2015, we published the Principia Space Diary, a STEM-literacy programme that followed ESA Astronaut Tim Peake’s mission to the International Space Station. Our goal was to distribute 15,000 free books to children in the UK and with the support of the UK Space Agency we ended up distributing over 40,000 free books and having over 95,000 students register to participate online at

We are proud to produce work that makes children part of the creative process and encourages them to form a positive relationship with books and science that will bolster them for a successful education. Curved House Kids was founded in 2013 by Kristen Harrison, a former Penguin editor and co-founder of Visual Verse online anthology. Kristen sits on the board of the International Visual Literacy Association.

About ExoMars

In 2020, the European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission will deliver a rover to Mars. The rover will travel across the surface of Mars, looking for signs of life. Using its specialised instruments, it will collect and analyse rock samples from below the Martian surface and send its findings back to Earth. ExoMars will be the first mission to combine the ability to move across the Martian surface with the ability to collect and analyse rock samples. For more information on the ExoMars mission, visit:


The European Space Education Resources Office, in the UK, aims to open doors for young people by supporting world-class teaching in STEM subjects, through the context of space. This is primarily achieved through bursary supported CPD, an online resource collection, and through our wider networks. ESERO-UK is part of STEM Learning Ltd. and funded by the European Space Agency and UK Space Agency.

For Further Information and Enquiries

Curved House Kids
Kristen Harrison (Publisher)
Mob +49 176 876 02770

Lucy Hawking
C/- Rebecca Carter, Literary Agent
Janklow & Nesbit (UK) Ltd
Tel (020) 7243 2975

UK Space Agency
Gareth Bethell
Press Officer
Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1SZ
Tel 01793 41 8069
Mob 07925 891 949

Inspired by Space: Engaging Girls in STEM

By | Blog, Principe Space Diary, Teaching Resources

Curved House Kids launch a free guide to engaging girls in STEM to mark the 26th anniversary of British astronaut Helen Sharman’s historic space mission

Twenty-six years ago, on 18 May 1991, astronaut Helen Sharman became the first Brit in space, and the first woman to visit the Mir space station. Dr Sharman beat 13,000 hopefuls to the post after responding to a radio advertisement requesting “Astronaut Applications. No experience necessary”. Sharman’s mission was, and still is, a remarkable moment for both British history and for women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). It is also a timely reminder of the urgent need to promote and encourage girls into STEM careers. Two and a half decades on and achievements like Dr Sharman’s are still all too rare.

In the UK, women make up just 21% of the entire STEM workforce (WISE Campaign, 2016, Meanwhile, there is a serious skills crisis across every part of the STEM sector with an estimated shortfall of 69,000 recruits every year. This is costing billions and putting the UK at a significant disadvantage, especially post-Brexit. However, we have a solution right in front of us: the tens of thousands of female students each year who are choosing not to pursue STEM careers. These girls are more than capable of contributing to the STEM sector – and the UK economy – but they are not choosing STEM careers. An education pipeline published by the WISE Campaign last year highlights the diminishing rates: 50% of girls do GCSE science, 34% continue into A-Level and just 7% go into higher education. That is in stark contrast to the 24% of boys at the same education level.

Inspired by Space: Engaging Girls in STEM, published by Curved House Kids on the anniversary of Sharman’s launch, is a guide for teachers and educators that aims to not only engage primary-aged girls but also to embed a genuine and lasting interest in science. It provides easy-to-implement ideas for both the classroom and home learning. Written and compiled by primary educator and science specialist Claire Loizos with Curved House Kids publisher Kristen Harrison, it details five strategies to help girls succeed in STEM learning, including harnessing skills like communication, collaboration and creativity. Each strategy is accompanied by a number of adaptable activities for teachers to use in the classroom and beyond.

The guide draws heavily on the learning and feedback from the Principia Space Diary, a primary science programme that now has over 90,000 British students registered to complete their own diary as they follow ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s Principia mission. Developed by Curved House Kids with author and science communicator Lucy Hawking, the Space Diary highlights the roles of many influential women in the space and science sectors. These include Dr Helen Sharman, astronomer Sheila Kanani and Tim Peake’s Mission Director Berti Meisinger, who are featured in the guide.

Our goal is to help primary-aged girls to see themselves in STEM careers – whether it’s as astronauts, scientists, mathematicians, coders or any other role. We also aim to ensure girls in STEM are visible and celebrated by peers, family and the wider community. Publisher Kristen Harrison stresses that this guide is not just for girls and promotes the use of these ideas with all students.

‘True equality is not just about giving girls opportunities,’ Harrison says. ‘It’s about developing empathy in all students to ensure we are all open to female voices and appreciate the benefits of diversity.’

We hope this guide will help teachers to implement new ideas without adding hours of workloads. Teacher Claire Loizos says:

‘I have found that open tasks that require children to “learn on their feet” and choose their own methods of application have worked wonders at encouraging girls to take ownership of their own learning, with huge increases in enjoyment and progress. The ideas and activities in this guide bear this in mind, providing minimal teacher input and maximum pupil effort, encouraging independence whilst allowing girls to be creative.’

Download Inspired by Space: Engaging Girls in STEM for free here.

News outlets are welcome to make the guide available on their own websites. Please contact us at for the Press Kit.

Follow the conversation using #spacediary on Twitter.


About Claire Loizos (@primary_sci)
Claire Loizos trained as a Secondary Science teacher, and has taught in a range of secondary schools, including South-London (Deptford) and North-London (Wood Green). Having specialised in Primary-Secondary transfer she found herself working closely with feeder schools and primary school science teachers. As a consequence she decided to take a leap down to primary, becoming Head of Science at a Hertfordshire Prep. She is now leading science in a large state primary school on the Isle of Wight. Claire is a mum and a full-time teacher but she spends her free time running STEM clubs and promoting primary science and STEM learning opportunities, especially amongst young girls.

About Kristen Harrison/Curved House Kids (@curvedhousekids)
Kristen Harrison is a former Penguin editor who founded the children’s education publisher Curved House Kids in 2011. She has a Masters in Communications and her primary interest is looking at how visual learning methodologies can help to raise literacy levels. She sits on the board of the International Visual Literacy Association and is the co-founder and curator of Visual Verse, an online anthology of art and words that invites writers to respond to a visual prompt. The anthology has featured new work by Ali Smith, Bernadine Evaristo, Andrew Motion, Adam Foulds, Nikesh Shukla and hundreds of other established and emerging writers.

earth day earth hero

Earth Day 2017!

By | 4-6 years, 6-8 years, 8+ years, Blog, Earth Hero

Earth Day has arrived! To help you celebrate, we’ve put together a list of our favourite Earth-related experiments and activities for your Earth Heroes. We can’t wait to see how you celebrate Earth Day. Don’t forget to use #EarthDay and #EarthHero on Facebook and Twitter, so we can see what you get up to!


You don’t have to travel far to become an Earth Hero. Just take a wander through your backyard or nearby park to get started. Here are few activities involving plants, flowers and leaves found around your neighbourhood. The can encourage investigation, exploration, identification and analysis which can easily be adapted for different age levels. Discuss colours and shapes with younger children, and with older children utilise the internet and look up the names of plants you find and discover why they might be growing in your area. Which animals benefit from them?

Make fossils from leaves and flowers using clay

Leaf prints on paper or fabric

Create nature dioramas


Getting children involved in gardening is a hands-on way to teach them about the lifecycle of plants. You don’t need a back yard to do this! There are loads of ways you can grow a garden inside using recyclables from your rubbish bin.  Read this useful resource on how to garden indoors, if you get stuck!

Egg Carton greenhouses

Grow your own celery


Got an aspiring David Attenborough in your household? Birds, butterflies and worms are three of the most common animals you’ll see looking out your windows. Why not make a bird or butterfly feeder and create a log of who comes to visit? Chart which birds or butterflies are the most frequent visitors. Note: If you can’t find any pinecones, use an apple. It’s biodegradable and good for birds!

Pinecone bird feeders

Sugar water butterfly feeders

Earthworm hotel


Earth Day is a good time to bring up important issues surrounding waste. Start a recycling box at home, sort through your wardrobes and toy boxes and donate old or unused items to charity. Here is some great information on how you can explain the importance of recycling and upcycling to kids.

Composting at home

Make your own paper

Make a robot

Recycle Now also has a fun, interactive game to teach kids about recycling. Play it here.


Please remember that adult supervision is advised on all these activities.






A Runthrough My Dyslexia

By | 4-6 years, 6-8 years, 8+ years, Advice for Parents, Blog, Visual Literacy


Valeria De La Vega talks about her experiences of growing up with Dyslexia in Colombia and how she overcame the challenges of this reading disorder.

In the first grade I had an activity where we had to go around tables and read a paragraph out of a book. Once you finished it you could move on to the next one. I remember just staring at these pages and their illustrations and not being able to understand the words while my classmates passed by me on to the next table. So instead of trying I pretended to know what was going on and imitated what my friends did. This sort of thing happened a lot in primary school. I didn’t participate much, I got nervous every time I had to read out loud and I loved going to the nurse’s office just because it would get me out of class.

The Challenge of Reading Aloud

This is how my dyslexic brain works now when I have to read out loud, or better yet my thought process. Okay I can do this, I’ll just read it before so I don’t make a fool of myself. Starting now, alright these words I can read, I know them and this is going pretty smoothly, oh long word now, it’s okay I know it… continuing ugh made a little mistake with that one, back on track… oh no this next word I don’t know it I’ll read it a bit slowly but not too slow so people don’t notice it, oops said the wrong word, this time I said it right. Okay Vale keep up, I just stumbled on some other words and made up a word again but it’s okay it’s going alright and now it’s over, success.

It’s not like I’m stumbling across every word I read, or that it takes me twice the amount of time to read out loud. Sometimes when I don’t recognise a word or if it’s too long I have to stop and sound out the letters. This leads to a slower reading time and in some cases mistakes because my brain doesn’t sound them out properly or it decides that it’s another word. This happens more frequently to me than to normal readers. Reading silently is something that I prefer, nobody is looking at me, I can read at my own pace and I make fewer mistakes because I feel no pressure. Unless it’s like when I was in school and I had to read in pairs. The other person would want to turn the page and I wasn’t at the end yet so I felt hurried, had to run through the sentences and not enjoy it at all.

When I was younger I had trouble recognising letters, I would confuse b-d a-q-p c-o l-i r-t, and I would stumble more when reading. That lead me to ask more questions, a thing that is normal among children I think, but in my case curiosity was also accompanied by a break. Recognising letters wasn’t my only problem, once I solved that I still had other reading difficulties.

For me reading was a tedious task and it took me longer to learn how to do it than it did to my classmates. When having to read out loud in the classroom I would see which was the passage that I had to read before so I would do it just like my classmates did. This way I wouldn’t stumble or have the others read the word correctly on top of me if I took too long.

The Invisible Disability  

I had a lot of help growing up, and I didn’t realise that I had a problem. I had to go to special-ed classes in school, do extra homework, went to after school tutorials and I even had reading classes during vacations. However, I think that there is an age where you don’t question why you have to do some things and you just do them because it’s part of a routine. Or you don’t really notice that you are struggling with some things because you just find it normal until it fades away. So when I had to do all of this I found it normal, unless I was lazy or I saw that my siblings were playing while I had to work, and that’s when it started to bother me. On the other hand, my mom always said I was special, but I thought she meant it as a quality I had because of my personality, while my sisters who were a bit older did know that I struggled. One of them loved to help me out, showed me different ways to succeed with creative ideas for school, and something about the way she explained things to me made it all more simple.

There were various exercises that I had to do along the years that I had help. Sometimes my teacher and I read a text in unison, in other cases I would have to read a paragraph out loud and start again every time I made a mistake (an exercise that could be very frustrating). There were times when I did exercises with audio, for example writing down the lyrics of a song, listening to an audio and writing down the main idea or learning how to take notes from dictations or things I heard. There were other ones that had to do with identifying differences between letters and having to write them properly, as well as identifying different shapes and cataloguing them with colour. Images played an important role. With them I did exercises like cross matching vocabulary to pictures or describing what was happening in sequences that I saw. Since it wasn’t only about learning to read it was about comprehension as well I learned how to identify the main idea in a paragraph and its supporting ones as well.

This was a process that took various years until I got a hang of it. Up until the third grade going to the nurse was a hobby for me to skip classes. Everyday I would say to my teachers that my stomach or my head hurt, of course they knew that it wasn’t true but off to the nurse I went. There she would make me have some tea and because of that I’ve developed a dislike for it now. In classes I would get easily distracted and just go to imaginary worlds. I loved story time when my teachers read out loud to us. So I wanted to be a writer, but when someone told me that in order to be a writer I had to read a book per week I thought that I couldn’t do it and I didn’t want to anymore. But little by little I started getting into books, stories became more captivating and all the extra work I had done was starting to pay off. It wasn’t hard to read anymore.

Overcoming My Dyslexia

Some people think that dyslexic people are dumb and I can assure you we are not. Albert Einstein, Andy Warhol, John Lennon, Walt Disney and F. Scott Fitzgerald were all dyslexic and they were brilliant. Now I’m not saying that I’m anything like them, only that dyslexia doesn’t mean not being intelligent. I had a switch go on in my head when I finished primary school. I decided that I wanted to be one of the best and so I paid attention, I read, I studied hard and even graduated second best in my class. I think few people from my school know that I was dyslexic because it’s not something that I talk too much about or that showed after primary.

In university I started studying Communications and I wanted to go into publishing. However, I was scared because spelling in Spanish wasn’t something that I had mastered. Even though it’s my first language I was always better at English because I preferred reading in this language and it doesn’t have accents like Spanish does. I took a copyediting class and had a talk with my professor and told her about my fears and her words encouraged me. She told me that she is also dyslexic and she is a great copy editor, so I said to myself well if she can do it so can I, and I did.

How to Help Someone with Dyslexia

Dyslexia can subtly affect you and lower your self esteem, it can make you shy and not want to shine and it can make you feel slow. Once you get a hang of it there is nothing you can’t do, your brain just works differently. I believe that there is nothing bad with that. It is something that I will always have and struggle a bit with but from my experience it won’t impair you to do what you want. I can read out loud but it’s something that if I can avoid it I will, on the other hand I love speaking in public, doing speeches and presentations. So it’s not a thing about stage fright, it’s about feeling confident in what I can do in front of others.

If you know anybody with dyslexia it’s important to encourage them and not make them feel dumb. Since I can only talk about my experience and I got help when I was young I believe that the earlier you start getting help the better, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying if you are older. Visual learning is another way to get information through and I’ve found that it is very effective, words matter but so do images. A combination of both of these is a great approach towards learning for anybody, especially for dyslexic people who take longer to decode words, and you can get tired of working with letters again and again. Also, remember that every case is different and what worked for me could work differently for someone else and this is why it’s important to see what works out for each one and develop a strategy from that.

I do believe that there have to be different approaches to reading. There should be books made that can engage those who have difficulties with them, and the earlier it starts the better. I’ve seen that there are typographers that have been developing typefaces (fonts) specially made for dyslexic people that make it easier for us to recognise each character, and I think this is wonderful. What in my opinion is a great approach for reading is to patiently give approachable stories to children and let them discover them little by little, encourage their own taste in reading in whichever genre they prefer, they’ll get where they need to get in their own time, but do help out. For example, I loved stories and when I read to my little brother I didn’t feel any pressure to get it right. Because he was three years younger than me, he enjoyed the stories as much as I did and we both loved the images that they had. Having this in mind get books that interact with kids, but also don’t forget that they are kids and need time to have fun, too much help can lead to rejection. I had great teachers that were caring and we took time out to play and cook so I enjoyed going to my extra classes. My mum celebrated my successes and I loved it, it made me feel encouraged, but she didn’t do this all my childhood which I think is great because I didn’t want to get great grades for a prize, I wanted to do it for myself. I now enjoy reading and want to work with books. I’m happy dyslexia didn’t ruin this for me but I’m also happy to be dyslexic because it helped me develop a different approach to reading and a passion for books.

Valeria De La Vega just finished her undergraduate degree in Communications with an Emphasis in Publishing and Multimedia at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia. She is currently working at the Corona Foundation a non-profit organisation that works towards education in Colombia.

Interviews with Illustrators: Introducing Domestic Cowboy

By | Blog, Interviews with Illustrators

Announcing our new feature Interviews with Illustrators! We scour the web in search of awesome illustrators who have a knack with the brush (or pencil, or pen, or tablet..) and ask them all sorts of questions to gain an insight into their lives.

To start us off we want to introduce you to the talented illustrator Clayton McIntosh of Domestic Cowboy. Clayton moved from rural Australia to a bustling city in Japan and his retro-chic style immediately grabbed us! Here we talk to Clayton about his daily routines, how Japan informs his work and what his dream job would be. Scroll down to download free printables too!


Can you give us a bit of info about your background? Did you study, have you always wanted to illustrate? And where did the name Domestic Cowboy come from?

Domestic Cowboy Clayton McIntoshI grew up in Tamworth, a small rural city in Australia. I have always wanted to do something creative, but have had trouble sticking to one particular thing. As a high school student, I was under the influence of a lot of Homestar Runner (an online cartoon), so I decided to move to Brisbane to study animation.

While studying I started to draw simple comic strips and had them published in a couple of Australian street magazines. It was then that I came up with the name Domestic Cowboy. The idea of a cowboy doing the vacuuming or the dishes is hilarious to me.

After studying animation, I worked on two series of Pixel Pinkie – a children’s cartoon about a girl who has a digital genie in her mobile phone. Changing direction a bit, I went to university to study Social Science, and during that time I met and married a lovely lady, who was interested in living in Japan. So that’s where we live now, and I work as an assistant English teacher. All the while, I’ve continued drawing and creating.

What is a day in the life of Domestic Cowboy like? Tell us about your daily routine.

I get up at six every morning and try to do a bit of drawing or something before squeezing onto a crowded train and heading off to work at one of two schools – an elementary school (students aged 6-12) and a junior high school (ages 13-15). I do a lot of songs, games and fun activities with the younger kids. Junior high involves a lot more reading of texts, getting students to repeat after me, asking questions and making worksheets. I also spend a lot of time each day having simple conversations in English with students to help improve their language skills. It’s a fun job and the kids make me laugh.

After school I head home and often have a couple of hours to work on one of the million creative projects I’ve started – illustrating, writing, drawing, editing videos of my travels, and working on my website – I’m also studying Graphic Design online while planning and developing ideas for future projects.

Tell us about your move to Japan. What prompted it and how does living in Japan inform your illustrative work? How is it different from Australia?

domestic cowboy clayton mcintoshI’ve always had an interest in Japan. My family hosted Japanese exchange students a few times when I was in high school, so I already had some Japanese connections, but I’d never seriously considered living overseas until I met my wife. She had studied Japanese at university and was keen on living here, which sounded good to me! We both got English teaching work, and I’m now in the fifth and final year of my contract.

Living in Japan I am constantly surrounded by the most incredible images. I get a lot of inspiration from children’s drawings at school. I’m also inspired by posters, advertisements, logos and other things I see around the place. There’s a mix of simple child-like designs, retro designs and nostalgia, and unexpected craziness and surrealism. It’s a magical place and I’m constantly taking photos of cool things that I just wouldn’t see in Australia. I think Australian designers are a little more restrained and you don’t see the same range of styles. I enjoy searching Japanese second-hand stores for old books, magazines, and unusual knick-knacks.

I can’t help but notice that you do a lot of educational work: Library Walls – the posters and bookmarks, the library games. What drives you, or what do you enjoy most, in your personal work?

I was never very good at school, and even now I struggle to sit and study for long periods of time, but the world is fascinating and exciting and it’s such a privilege to learn about it. I think it’s unfortunate that the delivery of education is often boring and dull. It should be fun and awe-inspiring. We should encourage children to explore and read and play and create, and I want to create resources that facilitate this. I enjoy fun things, silliness, and having a good time, and children like those things too.

What tools or techniques can you share about your process? Is it all hand done or is there a computer involved?

I always start with pen and paper to sketch some rough ideas. When the end goal is hand-drawn outlines, I neaten up the original sketch, trace it with a marker, scan it, and colour it in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. If I’m after cleaner, neater outlines (or no outlines) I take a photo of the rough drawing and upload that to my computer, then trace it with the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator and move the elements around until I’m happy with how it looks, colouring as I go.

What social media platforms do you use, and do you feel social media is very important to your practice?

Social media is essential for people like me. These days I think it’s not necessarily the most talented people who are succeeding, but rather those who use social media to their advantage. I’m currently working to develop my online presence as I move towards working full-time in illustration and design in the future.

My favourite social media platform is Instagram as I think it’s the best way to share my artwork. I mostly use other social media platforms, like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, to keep up with family and friends, and to share video projects.

Sky Clayton McIntosh Domestic Cowboy

Who would be your ultimate client or collaborator?

My ideal project would be to work on my own Australian children’s TV program. Something involving puppets, animation, costumes, sets, stories, jokes and silliness – that would be wonderful! Australia had a Sesame Street-style kid’s show in the 90s called Lift Off. It was one of the best and wackiest shows I’ve ever seen. Most people remember the show because there was this creepy faceless doll that would occasionally move, as if it was possessed. It wasn’t actually supposed to be creepy – I think they were trying to make us use our imaginations or something. It also had all sorts of crazy scenarios, like some frill-necked lizards trying to document and understand humans, and an elevator with artificial intelligence that always misunderstood people. It was pretty fun. I realise it’s a bit of a fantasy, but I’d love to do a reboot of Lift Off for the Australian Children’s Television Foundation and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

More realistically, I would love to do something for Anorak Magazine, the “happy mag for kids.” It’s just such a great publication that mixes all the right kinds of fun, cool and nostalgia together.

Where can you see (or would like to see!) your illustration work heading?

I’ll finish up my teaching job in a few months and move back to Australia, where I’m going to do all I can to make a living from my illustration work. I’m currently working on a website that will provide screen-free activities for children, which I’m pretty excited about. I would also love to illustrate children’s picture books, puzzle books, textbooks and other resources, and continue making use of my animation background, working on things like motion graphics, lyric videos, and other online content.

Fave kids book?

My favourite kids book is The Eleventh Hour: A Curious Mystery by Graeme Base. It’s an illustrated mystery and Aussie classic. The illustrations are extremely detailed and you can always find something new hidden in the background. It’s a fascinating book!

We love teachers here at Curved House Kids. Was there a teacher you had who inspired you to do what you do?

Most of my teachers were supportive and encouraging. There was one English teacher, Mr. Young, who encouraged me in my writing, which had a big impact on me because I wasn’t very good at English. I think if he hadn’t encouraged me I would have always avoided anything to do with writing or books.


The Curved House Kids x Library Walls

We collaborated with Clayton on two awesome print-at-home posters!

Click on each poster to download a high-quality, print-ready PDF. Read the Library Walls printing guide here.

Library Curved House Kids


To see more of Clayton’s work visit:

Domestic Cowboy

Library Walls

And follow him on Instagram

Library Walls


The Space Diary is back!

By | 6-8 years, 8+ years, Principia Space Diary, Teaching Resources

Principia Space Diary is back, giving thousands of schoolchildren the chance to become space experts as they learn about British European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake’s historic space mission

space diary

Students from Wellesley School show off their Space Diaries at the Principia Schools Conference in Portsmouth last month.

Curved House Kids and author Lucy Hawking today launch the second Principia Space Diary programme, exactly one year after British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake blasted off on his Principia space mission. The Space Diary is a pioneering primary science scheme first created in 2015-16 as one of the UK Space Agency-funded education outreach projects supporting Tim Peake’s mission. It was an instant hit, attracting an estimated 60,000 children in 1500 schools – three times the number it originally hoped to recruit. With Tim now back safely on earth the Space Diary programme has been revised and updated to incorporate the incredible range of resources he generated while aboard the International Space Station.

British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake says “Engaging students in STEM has always been at the core of the Principia mission and the Space Diary has proven to be a really effective and empowering resource for doing that at primary school level. The Space Diary programme not only teaches children about space and science, but also crosses lots of other disciplines and incorporates books, digital and multimedia to encourage full participation. Now that I’m back safely on Earth, I look forward to seeing what this new corps of Space Apprentices do with their new Space Diaries.”

The Space Diary programme aims to empower children and engage them in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) learning by giving them the chance to create and personalise their very own book while they follow Tim’s mission. Students read, write, measure, count, research, plan, draw, code and decode, design and create, invent, imagine and more. They will also have the chance to access videos and photos of Tim’s activities including running the London Marathon aboard the International Space Station (ISS), a range of fascinating space experiments and Tim’s epic space walk (EVA).

“Tim Peake’s mission to space was an inspiration to so many and I am delighted we can offer a new set of primary school students the opportunity to draw upon his unique experiences and, in doing so, engage with STEM subjects at an early point in their education. We are so proud to work with Tim again and I hope schools will enjoy the new Principia Space Diary,” says author Lucy Hawking.

The new programme links to the curriculum for Primary Science, Maths, English, British Values, Computing (ICT), Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development (SMSC), Design and Technology (DT) and includes exclusive coding activities from Code Club and Raspberry Pi, integration with the Zappar augmented reality app and a wealth of online resources. All lesson plans are differentiated for P1-5 (KS1 and KS2) for teachers in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and extension activities provide extra challenges for those who need them.

“It is a massive testament to the skill of whoever designed the Space Diary that not one child had ‘lost’ theirs over the summer. Indeed they treasure them.” – Teresa Harris, Westbrook Hay School, Hertfordshire

Teachers and homeschool parents in the UK can pre-register from 15 December 2016 in order to access the entire online programme for free when the materials are released on 30th January 2017. Access includes downloadable versions of the entire Space Diary book and curriculum-linked activities, differentiated teaching notes, lesson plans, extension activities and exclusive videos with experts including British astronaut Helen Sharman, Professor Stephen Hawking, TV presenter Dallas Campbell and astronomer Dr Sheila Kanani.

Teachers also have the option to pre-order printed copies of the Space Diary to be delivered to their schools. Those who pre-order by 16th January 2017 will get £1 copies of the Space Diaries to ensure that all children have access to physical copies. Publisher Kristen Harrison says: “We hope the £1 Space Diaries will make it possible for every child to have a physical book. We are still hearing from teachers who participated last year whose students have treasured their diaries long after the programme finished.”

The Space Diary programme is created by publisher Kristen Harrison at Curved House Kids and children’s author Lucy Hawking, and includes expert input from computer scientist Professor Peter McOwan, the Vice-Principal for Public Engagement and Student Enterprise at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). It is funded by the UK Space Agency with additional support from the European Space Agency and Curved House Kids.

Follow the conversation using #spacediary on Twitter and find out more about the Space Diary (

Tim Peake

Tim Peake to tour UK!

By | 4-6 years, 6-8 years, Events, News, Principia Space Diary

Tim Peake


Tim Peake is heading off on his post-flight tour of the UK this month, visiting all four UK national capitals along with Leicester, Manchester, Salford and Glasgow. NASA astronaut and crewmate Tim Kopra will join Tim for the visits to Edinburgh, Belfast and London.

Tim will be giving presentations at each city, giving his first-hand account about life onboard the ISS and talking about the important science experiments he conducted during his mission.

As part of Tim’s Principia mission, the UK Space Agency has invested £3 million in the biggest education and outreach initiative ever undertaken for an ESA astronaut. Over a million young people have taken part including over 60,000 UK school children that participated in our Space Diary programme!


Cardiff: 13 October 2016

Leicester: 14 October 2016

Manchester: 15 October 2016

Glasgow: 16 October

Edinburgh: 17 October

Belfast: 18 October

London: 19 October

Find out further information on the venues and times here.



Curved House Kids are hiring enthusiastic teachers!

By | 4-6 years, 6-8 years, 8+ years, News, Principia Space Diary, Teaching Resources, Visual Literacy, Worksheets

Curved House Kids are an energetic educational publisher with a focus on visual literacy and visual methodologies. We aim to make the art of communication achievable for all children, regardless of their skill level or circumstances. We take a democratic approach to learning and visual literacy is our secret weapon!

If this sounds like your kind of approach and you’re a practicing teacher in the UK, read on…

Teacher Ad SM1

This year we have run the Principia Space Diary programme in partnership with Lucy Hawking and Queen Mary University of London. This programme has been funded by the UK Space Agency as one of nine educational outreach projects associated with ESA Astronaut Tim Peake’s mission to the ISS. The programme has been a huge success, reaching over 60,000 primary-aged students across the UK, and we are now working to develop new resources and programmes that can be accessed in the classroom.

We are expanding our resources library for primary and early secondary students (Key Stages 1-3) to include more free, downloadable learning materials for teachers and we are looking for experienced educators to review our work and help us build a library of first-class materials. These materials will teach a wide range of subjects using visual methods, and always intersecting with literacy learning and visual literacy.

As a passionate and creative teacher, your job will be to review materials that we produce and help us to align these to the curriculum, making them as effective as possible for busy teachers. You will also attend our annual brainstorm in which you tell us what you think we should be producing and what we’re doing right and wrong. We’ll also show you new ideas and technologies that might improve your own work.

This is a freelance role at an agreed hourly rate and we offer plenty of flexibility to fit in around busy teaching schedules. All work, bar the annual brainstorm, is done remotely and with plenty of notice. We expect it would be around 10 hours per year initially, plus one day for the brainstorm. Expenses will be paid for those who need to travel. 

This call is currently open to all teachers in the UK and Ireland. We are keen to hear from KS1-3 teachers and welcome those with specialisms in particular areas. Our materials are not tied to the curriculum but they need to be complementary, so it is important that all applicants have an up-to-date knowledge of the curriculum.

Please click the link below to complete a very brief application form (it will only take 5 minutes) and we will contact you if we think you’d be a good fit. If you have any questions please feel free to email us at

Apply Now