In the beginning…

The Birth: 2004 – 2010

During this time Gina met Jonathan Still and Daniel Jones the original masterminds behind the music and the Littlemagictrain was officially born in the spring of 2004!

Littlemagictrain has been tried and tested over the last 15 years through different venues and ways of delivering from managing classes to licensing (dance teachers/leisure centres/pre-schools and Butlins) with over 100,000+ children per year participating in classes.

However, during this time the financial crisis had a major impact and changed Littlemagictrain forever. Gina had reports from teachers that some children were being excluded from sessions as some parents were just unable to pay for any extras, quite understandable at this time of uncertainty, and the children were being made to sit and watch.

Gina immediately decided to stop sessions in pre-schools and find a way of ensuring all children in a setting would be able to join in and never be excluded for financial reasons in that way ever again.

‘The Break’: 2010 – 2012

Gina took a break from everything and tried to find the best way of emptying all the knowledge and sessions from her head into a resource pack to ensure the adventures were accessible for every setting and child.

The goal was to create a resource that anyone could just pick up and use. Gina wanted to do all the work so the practitioners could just enjoy the learning experience with the children as they developed their creative skills.

There were a lot of errors and tears (from Gina) along the way and then in February 2012 the first resource pack arrived from the printers.

 

The Resource Pack Pilot: 2012 – 2014

Now the work truly began convincing settings that they could deliver these sessions in-house with their staff. It took some time but the response was excellent along with the feedback.

There were requests for more sessions. Gina and Jonathan got back to work and this time a new mastermind Andrew Holdsworth came on board to help with the new tracks.

2014 – 2019

September 2014 saw the launch of the second pack at the Childcare Expo in Coventry with great success.

In 2016, Butlin’s asked Littlemagictrain to trial sessions as part of their new ‘Teeny tot’s’ concept as an extension of their ‘Just for Tot’s’ break.

This was very successful and Littlemagictrain has appeared every year since. In 2019 the sessions were developed further with Bonnie Bear appearing on stage with the Redcoats to join in the adventures.

2020 and Covid-19

This was a very difficult year but, settings were still able to take the children on the Littlemagictrain for fun adventures during their Covid secure bubbles or online for children at home.  During lockdown, Gina ran virtual sessions for nurseries in Bridgend and Swansea to help with training and to keep the children having fun during those difficult times.

Unfortunately,  due to COVID-19, Littlemagictrain was suspended at Butlin’s to ensure the safety of all their customers and staff.

2022

Post-Covid. We bounced back into Butlin’s ‘Just for Tot’s’ breaks with our new adventure ‘Looking for pandas’.  Littlemagictrain was so happy to be back with the amazing teams of Redcoat’s in Bognor, Minehead, and Skegness.

2023

During 2023 Littlemagictrain was available on all Butlin’s Showtime breaks on the fabulous Skyline Stage.  Showtime breaks run throughout the year during term time.

In October Gina signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Dileep Aadhi the creator of De-SkooliT.  De-SkooliT will introduce Littlemagictrain to their and other early years settings, and primary schools, across India.  Littlemagictrain is very excited about this collaboration, with Dileep and his amazing team, and we can’t wait to update you on our progress.

 

2024

This year we made further changes to help early years educators with their ‘in the moment planning’ by releasing our resources as a subscription.  This means that if their little ones are showing a curiosity about Dinos, Space, or creepy crawlies they can access those adventures to enhance imagination and learning.

This year Butlin’s fabulous Redcoat’s are taking children to the Amazon during their Showtime breaks.  Showtime breaks run throughout the year during term time.

 

We will keep you updated on our news this year.

The Creator

Littlemagictrain is the brainchild of Gina Bale.  Gina was inspired by her young daughter and a love of trains which was instilled in her by her late uncle and grandfather and has been working on this “Labour of Love” since 1991 and born in 2002.

Gina’s background was originally ballet and trained at UCT in South Africa, Bush Davies in the UK, and then Scapino in the Netherlands.  Due to an injury she gave up her dreams and 10 years later she was offered a place on the teaching course at the Royal Academy of Dance. This was the start of Gina’s passion for teaching little ones – the best decision ever!

On graduation Gina was awarded the Iris Truscott Bursary and attended a SEND course on movement at the LABAN Centre, London.

Gina worked in ballet schools gaining experience and then set up ‘The Southfields School of Ballet’ in South West London.

Very quickly the school acquired contracts in local nurseries and primary schools and this was how the seeds of Littlemagictrain were planted. Gina saw the need for something more than just music and movement sessions for pre-schoolers and started to think about how you could engage young children to learn about the world around them through fun whilst keeping them fit and helping them build confidence in their abilities.

Gina piloted a few ideas but in 1999 she had to sell her school due to a very difficult pregnancy. However, this break from teaching gave Gina the time to think about her ideas and the issues she had come across while teaching in early years settings.

The early pilots (successes and failures) of Littlemagictrain helped turn it into a multi-sensory learning experience.

Whilst developing ideas for sessions Gina started teaching again and worked on projects to fund and copyright her own baby Littlemagictrain which was being designed specifically for Early Years and SEND children:

  • Set up the Cannons Dance School within the London Cannons Health Clubs and ACE Dance Academy for Holmes Place (Now Virgin Active) providing them with dance teachers and training them to deliver a pre-school movement programme.
  • Created the Hi-5™ dance programme to run alongside the Australian Children’s TV show.
  • Created the Angelina Ballerina Dance Academy for Hit Entertainment, which was also part of the entertainment offering at Butlin’s.  This was licensed to qualified and registered ballet teachers.
  • Created a dance format for children to dance and participate in promotional events for Angelina Ballerina at Harrods, Hamleys, and Nick Jr in the Park events across the country.
  • Joined forces with the Prince of Wales Arts & Kids Foundation to provide dance classes in conjunction with Arts & Kids Week with Classic FM.
  • Created the interactive dance session for ‘Florence Ballerina’ at Pontin’s Holiday Centres.
  • Delivered Primary Steps workshops for the Royal Ballet School.

Gina Bale holds the following qualifications in the teaching of movement:

  • Royal Ballet School Diploma of Teaching Dance.
  • Trinity College Diploma of Dance Teaching and Learning (Children and Young Adults).
  • Royal Academy of Dance Teaching Diploma (Grades and Majors).

 

Gina remains in practice by teaching movement at a school for students with educational and complex needs ranging from 2-19 years of age.

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