As you may have noticed, In The Playroom has moved! We now have self-hosting and a proper domain name – yay!
You may need to resubscribe via Email, Networked blogs, Bloglovin as all of this won’t carry over. (Twitter and facebook not affected)
Of course for the purposes of the competitions currently running, any subscriptions you have done on the old version will still be counted! But in order to stay up to date with anything new I recommend doing it again. All the usual subscription options are on the right hand side, or to make it easier I have put a couple here below! 🙂
LoveTea is a new service where you can have different Gourmet teas delivered every month. They kindly sent us a pack to try out and share our thoughts. I do enjoy relaxing with a nice cup of tea, and my husband is a real tea lover so I was interested to see whether we would be able to tell much difference from our usual tea.
The tea we were sent is Jun Chiyabari tea – a Himalayan Imperial Black. The tea comes with the full information about the tea estate on which it was grown, and tells that it is from a family owned estate and is certified as Organic, which is all great to know!
The tea is loose leaf, something I don’t normally make as I always think it might take more time or be more complicated but they provided some bags together with the tea, so that you can measure out the required amount of leafs and just place them into the net teabag and brew it as normal, so there is no straining required but you still get the effect and taste of having a loose leaf tea. I found this a great solution as its really convenient.
My husband and I both really enjoyed our cup of tea and could tell a difference from our regular teas. I found this has more of a stronger and fully developed flavour, and I will definitely drink it again. I would also be interested in trying out some of the other varieties they have available, including the green teas as I love green tea and find it really refreshing.
LoveTea is run by a husband and wife team with a real passion about tea. Many of the teas are Fair trade certified but all of them are bought from source for above the minimum Fair Trade prices. They don’t include herbal teas but do include black, green, white and oolong teas. There are gift subscriptions available so it could be a good one for any tea loving relative, as a thoughtful gift. Perhaps even for Father’s Day coming up – for any tea enthusiast dads!
LoveTea have offered me a great deal to share with my readers – for anyone who is feeling tempted to give it a try, I have an amazing 40% off to share with you. Simply use the code PLAYROOM40 and you will be able to redeem 40% off your first month of a tea subscription. Monthly packages start from only 4.50 a month which is very reasonable, working out at 30p a cup. Or for the insatiable tea drinkers you can get a much larger package to make sure you are in no danger of running out!
What is sensory play and what are the benefits of this for children? This is a basic introduction with suggestions of materials to explore for children aged 0-3, 3-5 and 5-10.
Sensory play is a topic that really interests me. My 4 year old Mr T has Autism and as with most children on the Autism Spectrum, that comes along with sensory issues. Mr T tends to be hyposensitive to sensory input, meaning that he is under sensitive to it and can be sensory seeking. Whether children are hypersensitive (over sensitive), hyposensitive, or neurotypical children with no sensory issues – sensory play is beneficial to every child to help them to understand the world around them.
Sensory play is often thought of just as messy play, and although lots of sensory play ideas can be messy – it is not just all about messy play but any play involving the senses.
Tactile – Touch, like exploring textures
Gustatory – Exploring Taste
Visual – Sight which could be exploring colours and light
Auditory – Exploring Sound
Olfactory – Exploring Smell and Scent
Vestibular – Exploring Balance
Proprioceptive – Exploring the relative position of your own body
All of this sensory play helps with creativity, problem solving, and supports children’s brain development!
Here’s a quick list some of ideas to get some inspiration at a glance, if stuck for something to do!
Ideas for 0-3
Exploring textures with their hands – paint, shaving foam, jelly, spaghetti etc
Nature walk to feel the wind on their face and explore the grass and trees
Edible paint (recipe is on the imagination tree)
Exploring different textured balls
Foam pieces stuck on a window with water
Nature hunts, and make a collage
Popping pom poms through holes in containers
Listening to music
Ideas for 3-5
Making instruments from Pea shingles, Lentils or Dried rice to explore cause and effect
Burying treasure in a sand box
Exploring light with torches and different coloured cellophane
Gloop from soap flakes and boiled water – left to cool over night
Spagetti as paint brushes
Hands in paint or finger printing
Painting with frozen paint ice cubes
Bringing stories to life with props or musical instruments
Experimenting with different flavoured and coloured drinks
Mark making in sand (even better with shiny card underneath, exposed when marks are made)
Making crayons (from broken crayon pieces, shape them and then bake)
Removing objects from science putty
Experimenting with moving sand on a sheet
Colour spotting walk with paint cards – to find the matching colours in nature
Ideas for 5-10
For this age group, the idea is more about adding a sensory focus to an idea or experience. I find my almost 5 year old often likes to use the textures or different sensory items as a background for his imaginary play rather than just experiencing the senses for its own sake. Sensory play can be incorporated into a lot of science and learning for this age group. Play can be linked to an idea or topic, or special interest of the child and then sensory elements incorporated into that.
Spellings in shaving foam
Fill containers with spices or herbs and identify the smells. You can make 2 of each and challenge them to find the pairs.
Make fossils by imprinting shells, bits of plant or plastic dinosaurs into Playdo. You can then bake and hide in sand.
Any form of cooking or baking
Making elf or fairy doors from wood or any natural items you can find
Building bridges with wood or bricks
Floating or sinking activities, with different items in water
Making a lego boat to float on water
Lay coloured paper on the floor outside and put objects on it to explore the shadows and silhouettes
Make a sensory car track, driving through mud, sand, leaves, dried rice, slime or any other texture
Blindfold taste test games
Making gloop or borax
Colour mixing with paint
Cinnamon sticks for number bonds
Excavating frozen dinosaurs or other toys from blocks of ice
Large scale junk play, or loose parts play
For even more ideas, Sue Gascoyne of Play to Z has a book on Treasure Baskets and Beyond – Realizing the Potential of Sensory-rich Play (Buy on Amazon UK / US)
Ideas for things to use or explore
Glass cubes or beads
Water beads (use with care these are dangerous to babies if put in their mouth)
Pea shingles, Lentils or Dried rice
Coloured foil or cellophane
Lemon or lime
Glitter or sequins
Fibre optic lights
Organza and streamers
For more in depth examples, check out our sensory play resource post where I share many sensory activities that I’ve enjoyed with my kids.
The ideas and activities are endless really and this is just a taste, but hopefully it will help you out if you are ever stuck for a sensory activity to occupy your little ones! If anyone has any ideas that I have forgotten, which you would love to recommend – please share it in the comments, and feel free to tell me which ones you and your children enjoy!
If you have blog posts or pictures of sensory play ideas that you have done with your kids, why not share them with us on the In The Playroom Facebook page, by posting them on the wall.
Explore Chessington World of Adventures – a wild adventure for all the
It’s a whole world of Wild Adventures all in one place.
Discover the Serengeti in Surrey; go on the exciting new safari; or explore the ancient ruins of Wild Asia, a mythical land where families can take on the KOBRA, an awesome spinning disc ride! Go truly wild on an expedition through the Lorikeet Lagoon in amongst the exotic colourful birds. With exciting rides and rollercoasters, amazing animals and a SEA LIFE Centre – Chessington really is Britain’s wildest adventure!
Chessington’s amazing new ride for 2013
The amazing new safari ride is now open.
Initial investigations have unearthed a new land called “ZUFARI”. The only signs of civilisation are some mysterious African carvings that we believe are warnings. Journey through the extreme terrain in our off-road trucks and encounter many species including giraffes and white rhino.
MU’s delicious, rich flavour is a winner for the whole family, making it easier than ever for mums to get creative in the kitchen and keep everyone happy. MU has been exclusively sourced from Ireland, from well fed cows to fully ensure a delicious taste that will soon have your family moo-ing for more.
Available in six exciting varieties from Tesco, MU’s eye catching packaging will be loved by kids and adults alike.
Why is Mu good for you?
Plays a vital role in vision, bone growth, cell division and the immune system.
Crucial for blood and cell formation, maintaining the nervous system and protein metabolism.
Helps build strong bones and teeth. Eating 20g of cheddar cheese is the equivalent to a 200ml glass of milk.
Needed to facilitate the absorption of calcium and assist in the formation of strong bones.
Protein – Essential for forming the building blocks of the body.
The No 1 visitor attraction operator in Europe, No 2 in the world, Merlin Entertainments’ (Merlin) headquarters are in Poole, Dorset (UK). Merlin operates an international portfolio of 94 global and local attractions, among them many of the world’s best known brand names – Madame Tussauds, The Dungeons, Alton Towers Resort, LEGOLAND, SEA LIFE, Gardaland, The EDF Energy London Eye and many more as well as 7 hotels and 2 holiday villages!
On the weekend, we decided to take the kids to Peppa Pig World. We don’t normally go to theme parks without planning in advance and getting our tesco club card rewards ready, but the boys have really got into Peppa Pig lately and we really fancied a family day out so we decided to just go for it! It comes to £98.00 for a family ticket which is quite expensive! This is for 4 people, our youngest was free as he is under 90cm. Booking online would have saved £12 from that so would definitely be the better option, but unfortunately we didn’t plan in advance this time! This admission covers the whole of Paultons Park, not just the Peppa Pig World.
I don’t know whether there is any concession price for children receiving DLA and their carers, as some other theme parks do have. We didn’t ask and the website only mentions that wheelchair & Mobility Scooter dependent guests are admitted free of charge – so whether they do take other disabilities and conditions into account, I am not sure. I would be interested to know, if anyone has asked them let me know in the comments! I am also not sure whether they operate a Qbot system like some of the Merlin Parks but the queues were very short on the day we went, so it really wouldn’t have been needed at all. We did not have to wait more than 5 minutes for any ride.
When we arrived at Paultons, we went straight to Peppa Pig World. The first ride the children chose to go on was the Windy Castle which you can see in the background below. It’s actually a little scarier than it looks, it goes quite high! My 4 year old was a little scared while riding on it, but the little ones were fine. It gives you a good view of the whole Peppa Pig World so it is a good choice to go on this first. All 5 of us were able to sit together in the carriage and there was no restrictions of height or age.
The children also went on the following rides:
Grandpa Pig’s Boat Trip – this is a very gentle and calm ride, not scary at all for any more sensitive little ones. They go round and round in a boat on real water, with a slight up and down motion. Only 4 were allowed in each boat, so we had to split up and have one parent per boat to take all the children. Again there is no restriction on height or age on this ride, just a recommendation that it may not be suitable for under 12 months. All 3 of my children enjoyed this ride.
Grandpa Pig’s Little Train – Again there is only 4 allowed in each carriage, so we had to split up for this ride, and there is no restrictions so all of the children were able to go on this ride and they all enjoyed it. My boys are mad about trains so this was very popular with them. You can see my 3 year old below, excited to go on this train ride!
Daddy Pig’s Car Ride – Only the 3 and 4 year old went on this ride, with their dad. I never went on it as I was keeping an eye on the little one sleeping in the buggy, but my 4 year old tells me it was one of his favourites!
George’s Dinosaur Adventure – This was the other definite favourite. Again only my 4 and 3 year olds went onto this, the 4 year old riding alone and 3 year old together with Dad. They really enjoyed this one.
There are 2 other rides in Peppa Pig world – Peppa’s Big Balloon Ride and Miss Rabbit’s Helicopter Flight (which you can see here in the background below), which they didn’t chose to go on. There are also loads more in the main Paulton’s Park, including some much more advanced and thrilling rides for the slightly older children. My husband did try to persuade the 4 year old onto the Cobra ride, but he didn’t go for it (which I was glad – I would be so nervous seeing my little boy on such a big ride!)
Some of the other rides that were suitable for my 4 year old in the main park were the Flying Frog, the Astroglide slides, the Raving River and the Wave Runner. There are also plenty more, if you have time.
Back in Peppa Pig World, there are quite a few attractions to see other than just the rides. One of the main favourites with all 3 boys was the George’s SpaceShip Playzone. It is an indoor soft play area. There are loads of slides, and different sections for different age groups (baby, toddler and slightly older). I can imagine this would get packed out if it rains!
The playground in Peppa Pig World is also really nice. It’s very spacious and really well designed. We did this at the end of the day and the children would have been happy to spend much longer in it, if the park was not closing. Because it is so big and spread out, I don’t think it would get too over crowded so is fine for even little ones newly toddling around. Some pics below to show just a little bit of what there is!
(Excuse the lack of shoes, he threw them out of the buggy half way through the day and we never found them! This child is a nightmare for always chucking his shoes!!)
In Peppa Pig land you can also go inside Peppa Pig’s house (shown below, outside and inside!) – just note there is no buggy or wheelchair access for this.
The characters inside the house move and speak.
You can also see the camper van, but not go in it. Still, the boys enjoyed looking.
Other attractions in the main Paulton’s park, which we had not known about before but enjoyed, were all the animal attractions.
Throughout the park, as you walk around there are various exotic birds you will see – flamingos , cranes, emus and even more. Apparently there is a meerkat section too, which I have now seen on the website but did not spot while we were there.
There is also a penguin section which is located inside Peppa Pig World and you can see the penguins at their feeding time. There is a ramp which allows access for pushchairs, and there they have windows to see underneath the water so you can see many penguins coming past and diving to eat the fish.
Going through the gardens and the birds section was really peaceful and quiet. I found this brilliant, for my 3 year old. He has ASD and although he really enjoys these type of theme parks, after a little while I felt like it was starting to get a bit much for him and he was starting to melt down a bit. Lucky that I was able to put him back into the buggy and take him to spend some time quietly looking here.
My favourite bird was definitely the Toucan – so beautiful!
Another nice and quiet area in Paultons is the Dinosaur Land. You go through the path and there are so many models of different dinosaur species which you can see, among the real trees and mud. This would be great for any dinosaur enthusiasts, and is quite educational too. My younger two really enjoyed looking and pointing at these dinosaurs. 4 year old was busy on the astro slide, but I know he is scared of dinosaurs so maybe its better he missed out!
At the end of the day, tired out but enjoyed themselves!
My 3 yr old loving his new mr Dinosaur!
Overall I would say it was a good day. It’s a shame we didn’t plan and get the slightly cheaper tickets as I’m not sure its the best value at the full price but there is lots to do and the children definitely enjoyed it. The next day my 4 year old came home with a note he had written in school: “Mum, I like you. Can we go to peppa pig land again one day” So I’m sure we will be back – after all how can I say no to that? 🙂
I was really happy to be chosen by Mum Panel to help out in their campaign to spread the word for Soreen’s 75 birthday! I loved Soreen Malt Loaf as a child, and have to admit I still do, so was quite intrigued at the sound of their new limited edition item – Chocolate Soreen!
My boys are very keen on chocolate, so I knew they would be eager to try it out too. It looks just like chocolate cake, so they viewed it as a treat and enjoyed eating it up. It is really squidgy and you can taste the choc chips in it, it has plenty of flavour. Sometimes there might be ideas that you think sound good but when you try it they are disappointing. This is not one of them, it is really nice!
This chocolate malt loaf is limited edition so if you want to give it a try, you better get in quick!
If you are tempted to give it a try there is a fab competition up here with a chance to win one of 75 loaves of choc Soreen. It ends on Wednesday so be quick!! And if you don’t get lucky then don’t worry – you can still pick it up from supermarkets:
Chocolate Loaf is available from the following stores, for just £1 and when it’s gone it’s gone!
Asda (in most main stores, about half of all Adsa stores) for 6 weeks,
Morrisons from 20th May for 3 weeks
Sainsbury’s from 23rd May for 3 weeks
As well as the special chocolate loaves, we were also sent some packs of the lunch box loaves in original and banana flavours. I hadn’t seen these before but they are so convenient! I think I would buy these rather than the full sized loaf in the future, as I’m always trying to get more variety for my boy’s pack lunches and these are really handy to have in, so you could put one in the pack lunch now and again. It will give them plenty of energy! They are a really ideal size, and all individually wrapped. I have a couple of banana lovers, my 3 and 1 year old, so they have really enjoyed the banana flavour, and my 4 year old would definitely go for the chocolate as his favourite.
I have been handing out Soreen to all my friends and family and still have lots more to give out. So far it seems to be going down well! It’s a shame the chocolate loaf is only around for such a short time – but we will just have to enjoy it while we get the chance!
Funky Giraffe are a great company, which started out with bibs but have expanded into baby and toddlers clothes too and now have quite a vast range! I was surprised to see how many different items were available when I recently checked their website, so it’s definitely worth having a look. I am going to order a t shirt and play-suit for my youngest to try out, because I’m interested to see if the clothes are as soft as the bibs.
Funky Giraffe really do have the softest bibs I have come across and I have heard other mums say the same! The lining is really fleecy and lovely. You can tell it must be so comfy for a baby or toddler to wear. The first time we tried the bandana bibs I was so impressed, as I had tried other makes before which didn’t have this kind of lining and difference is really noticeable. They are a fantastic quality.
Since then I have got more to give to friends with younger babies and I have even got some waiting for a friend’s baby who is not even born yet! (I like to think ahead 😉 )
My youngest is 20 months now and getting a bit big for the regular bandana bibs, but when I was asked to choose some items from the website to review, I noticed they also have XL bandana bibs. Funky Giraffe were kind enough to send me a choice of three of these for him to try out. I chose the Nautical Blue, the Stripes R Us and the All American Boy. There are loads to choose from but I think these colours coordinate very well with a lot of his clothes.
The XL bibs are a perfect fit on my little boy and cover a decent area of his top, which helps to keep his clothes nice and dry while he is drinking. Otherwise he has a tendency to end up with his top slightly damp if he drips some of the drink onto himself. The bibs washed very well and I actually tumbled dried too and they were absolutely fine.
Here he is, modelling the XL Bandana Bib in “Stripes R Us”:
Great for keeping him dry when drinking juice
And just for posing in and looking stylish!
Another thing that’s different about Funky Giraffe bibs is that they always have designs available for special occasions. Whether its Christmas, Halloween, Valentines Day, or Mother’s Day – they will always have something to fit for the occasion. So of course with Father’s Day coming up, they couldn’t forget the Dads!
These are the Dad themed designs available and they cost £4 each or can be included in the 5 for £11 offer including free postage and packaging, which works out really reasonable!
Now onto the Giveaway!
I’m really happy to have the chance to share this with you. As you can see, I do really recommend this brand of bibs. If you have not tried them before, it’s a great chance to see what is so good about them. Or if like me you have already discovered Funky Giraffe bibs then why not take the chance to expand your babies collection!
Shown below is the section of 2 bibs that are up for grabs for one lucky reader. Enter via the raffle copter just below here:
For today’s sensory activity, I wanted to do an arctic, icy, polar theme with loads of things to explore. We are a bit hectic here this week as we are in the middle of redecorating and I had been rushing round to a couple of appointments so I didn’t get any chance to plan it, just pulled together whatever suitable things we had.
Today we ran our first Twitter party, on the topic of #HealthySnackChat. It went brilliantly and we were so happy to see how many people came. I’m proud to say, we were quickly trending and stayed trending throughout the majority of our party hour which is a great result especially for our first time! Thanks to all of you who came, and to my co-hosts @etspeaksfrom, @redrosemummy and @thebrickcastle.
For those who missed it, there’s no need to worry as the people at Cult Content have done a fantastic summary so you can catch up on some of the useful tips and ideas that were put forward during the chat. Have a look here!
I will definitely be trying out some of the suggestions from the other mums who took part. Freezing bananas sounds like a good one, and I would love to have a go at preparing Bento boxes for the boys.
I’m lucky that two of my boys do eat a lot of fruit and are always happy to try new healthy snacks, but my middle boy is not. He has a pretty limited diet, which is probably due to his ASD and other feeding issues that he has had since being a baby. Although it’s hard for him to try new things, I can’t give up so new ideas are always useful as you never know what may work. Hopefully one day we will get him eating some more new things (and preferably healthy ones!)
There was definitely a lot to think about from our chat, and it’s always interesting to see the different approaches that other mums use.
We also had some brilliant prizes to give away thanks to SA Fruit and Change4Life. Here is the winners list again, in case anyone has missed it:
Winners for the mini prizes are
Winners for the rucksack are
Congratulations to all our winners, and thanks again to all those who helped make our first twitter party a real success!
I hope we will be able to bring you more twitter parties in the future, so keep checking back on the blog (you can subscribe by email on the right hand side if you really don’t want to miss anything! 😉 ) and also on the Facebook page. Keep an eye on the other 3 host blogs too!
Here’s a collection of pictures of the Graco Evo Mini in action on a few of our days out!
Here is my little tester (2o months), relaxing in the buggy at the funfair. It was quite a rough terrain, bumpy grass and some gravel too but the Graco Evo managed well with it and didn’t become too difficult to push.
Here he is again, a little more close up.
A view from above! As you can see the harness is a 5 point harness with padding on the straps. All five pieces become separate when unfastened and you slot the top and side parts together before clicking into place in the centre.
A view from the side. The hood is folded back here as it was nice weather on that day, so this allows more visability for my little boy to see the world from his seat in the buggy. When you do want to use the hood, it is a generous size and extends quite far forward to give a good coverage.
Here he is relaxing and easily able to look around and experience all the sights from in the buggy. This was at a model village local to us (Beaconsfield) The pathways are quite narrow there as you go around the attraction but we had absolutely no problems with getting the buggy through anywhere.
A good place to relax and have an ice cream or drink! He was comfy enough in the buggy and happy to sit and do this.
Also comfy enough to fall asleep at the end of a busy day out!
Looking forward to the next adventure with our new Graco pushchair!
Disclaimer: We are testing this pushchair as a part of the Graco Ambassador Competition and were provided with the item by Graco to enable us to take part.
Big Little Tent Festival was created last year during lockdown, since we aren’t able to be out there exploring just now, Caravan Club came up with this idea to allow families to have fun and continue the excitement of camping at home. The festival aims to bring the great outdoors to you – in the […]
Sink or float is one of the most popular classic science experiments for kids. It’s so easy to set up, and a great way to introduce them to basic experiments at home. This fun twist on the classic experiment uses surprise eggs to add another element of fun to the activity. This sink or float […]
Every child is different, and with these varied personalities and interests you will need different toys to best keep your child occupied and entertained. Recently, I was having this discussion with one of my mum groups about which toys are most used by our 4 year olds these days and it was really interesting to […]
Kaleidoscope Have fun making this Kaleidoscope craft with the kids. This simple kaleidoscope works best when it is held up to the light. Move the tube around to see the pretty colours, glitter and sequins dance around. What is a Kaleidoscope? A kaleidoscope (/kəˈlaɪdəskoʊp/) is an optical instrument with two or more reflecting surfaces tilted […]
We have all been stuck indoors for a while so it is always good to have some ideas of how to keep the little ones entertained during lockdown. We still have only a few months to go until things go back to normal – hopefully – so read on to get some inspiration. Anna and […]
It’s fantastic to see World Book Day grow year on year, teaching children about the joys of reading in a fun and playful way and getting them to engage with characters and literature is an amazing idea and it’s fantastic it has become so successful here in the UK. Truly highlighting the joys of reading […]
If you are a parent and like me struggles to come up with ideas to keep the little ones entertained read on. To be honest I think even the most creative parents are running out of options of what to do with the kids after all these lockdowns and time off school. It is hard […]