As the weather is finally getting nicer, we are able to play out in the garden after school. This gives a great chance to do some more messy activities. The activity we did today – Sensory play with rice and lentils – I wouldn’t have wanted to do inside the house, as it can be a bit hard to keep it all contained.
But out in the garden without needing to worry about mess, the boys had a lot of fun!
SA Fruits have been kind enough to provide us all with a selection of their delicious fruit to try out, and has also sponsored TWO family picnic rucksacks (for 4 people) to give away for our Twitter party!
We will be talking about healthy eating for children and families, different healthy snack ideas and also giving the opportunity to win plenty of extra surprise prizes so we would love it if you join us on twitter at 10.30-11.30 on Monday the 22nd, with #HealthySnackChat.
In our package of South African fruit, we tried a selection of apples, pears and plums. These South African fruits are all available from April til September in supermarkets throughout the UK. You can also have the chance to win mini footballs, frisbees and boomerangs every time you buy South African Fruit! See here for the details.
These fruits were all lovely to eat just as they are. The Royal Gala Apples were very sweet and flavoursome and the Angeleno plums were very tasty and juicy, enjoyed by my children and myself.
We also used the fruit to make a small fruit salad as my 4 year old enjoys chopping the fruits and mixing them in a bowl, it’s a nice activity for him and I find it helps the children to feel really enthusiastic about eating the fruit. We sometimes make fruit kebabs too which is a really simple and fun idea for the children to do with different fruit.
Over the school holidays, with the weather still not being very Spring-like, we were on the hunt for some indoor activities to keep the children entertained. I came across The Look Out Discovery Centre in Bracknell, which is not too far from us so decided to give it a go.
It reminded me a bit of the Science Museum (which I will hopefully put a post up on soon as we have been a few times lately), although not the whole centre is not as big it has some quite similar elements in terms of toddler activities, but with the massive advantage that it is far less crowded! You do have to pay to go in, but the price was pretty reasonable and if you go in term time with preschoolers there are special rates for that, so would be even better.
The first thing you see when you go in is the water play room, the main attraction is a long yellow water play trough for the children with fountains, boats and all sorts of little things to experiment with. Waterproof covers are provided for the children, and also hand dryers which is a nice touch! This water play section is pretty big so plenty of room for all the children to play and move around, and not too over crowded. There also seemed to be plenty of boats to go around. My boys aged 1-4 all really enjoyed this water play. There are other water related features in this room but not as interactive as this play area so this was the one which kept most of their attention in the room.
We were really wondering how we were going to manage to drag them away from the water play so we could go and see the rest of the centre! But luckily then my 4 year old noticed the construction area opposite, so eager to have a look they agreed to come out of the water!
I was really impressed by the construction zone! I can’t see much mention of it on the website, but it is a great feature. There is a massive two story house structure, which the children can build from giant lego blocks – following the architect plans. They can make the walls, add all the tiles to the roof, move around the bricks in their wheel barrows and ride around the “construction site” on little diggers and bull dozers. Hats and luminous jackets also provided to help them get into character!
My 4 year old loved this area and it was really nice to see many of the children working together to build the walls, cooperating well and working as a team although they don’t even know each other!
My younger two really enjoyed the ride ons and there was plenty of space for them to ride around in this area.
Once you have finished in the construction area, you go further on into the main hall which has two floors. The upper one seemed to have exhibits a bit more suitable for older children so we did not concentrate on that too much, but I did see that they all seemed to be quite interactive.
In the lower level there are plenty of things to discover. At the front a giant hot air balloon which the children can activate, as well as some experiments with balls and other interactive exhibits. Again these are probably more for slightly older children. My 4 year old was interested but I would say he was definitely at the lower age range for them and an older child would learn more from it. Toward the back of this hall is a toddler section, which has a little shop area which my 3 year old really enjoyed. It also has a small ball pool and some soft play blocks and a nice relaxing area with sofa, books, giant lego and other activities suitable for little ones.
Outdoors the whole centre is surrounded by woodlands and seems to be really popular for biking. It also has an outdoor play area which we didn’t have the chance to explore as it was not good weather. I’m sure we will go back in the summer and check it out.
Definitely worth a visit for those not too far away. Makes a nice change from the usual soft play on rainy days. There is plenty to keep the little ones entertained. We were there for a good few hours and still they were reluctant to leave at closing time!
My little one has been testing out the Toddle Bike for a few weeks now, and he is still loving it and riding round the house on it regularly. It’s definitely not a one hit wonder, but something that is really keeping his interest as the weeks go on. I can not see him getting bored of it any time soon!
We have not yet taken it outside, but he is quite confident riding it inside now so I will take him out soon and I think he will be fine on it!
Here are some pics.
He does tend to sit quite far forward like this at times, but it doesn’t seem to stop him getting around, or be uncomfortable for him. I’m not sure whether its just because he is a bit small for his age (20 months), and this makes it easier for him to reach the handle bars.
My 3 year old is also very keen on the toddle bike, although he is over the recommended age of 36 months he has been using it whenever the little one is not looking! And he is also getting on really well with it, speeding around – so it would be nice to get a slightly bigger version for him. Although he is 3 years he’s not yet peddling and a bigger one of these would be just the right stage for him, and good for helping his coordination.
I will have to put up a video so you can really see it in action, but I’m really pleased with this bike and finding it brilliant so far!
It has rivaled this hippo for coolest and most-prized ride on, in the eyes of my younger two so that is definitely saying something!
The ToddleBike lets them go much faster and is easier for them to take around the house. Even the youngest is able to even take the toddle bike up and down the stairs easily, which is not something I would have expected from a bike!
I am looking forward to seeing how my youngest gets on with it out and about in the Park or Woods.
I first heard about GelliBaff when they came to Playfest recently to support red nose day, by providing the Jelly for people do something funny and raise money. It’s a great material for sensory play and we were lucky enough to win a pack by participating in the Playfest discussions, and with all the kids at home for the school holidays – Messy play with GelliBaff seemed like a fun activity to keep them busy for a while!
GelliBaff is designed to go in the bath, but rather than filling a whole bath and putting the kids in it I decided to put some of in a baby bath and let the children play like that. They are used to doing messy play with their hands in trays, or the baby bath which I always use at home, so they didn’t hesitate too much. This would be a better option for any children who are unsure about the texture.
We had the “lava red” colour as you can see above. I would say it looked more of a pinky purple to me, but it was quite a nice colour.
It’s very easy to make, just add the gelli powder under running water and mix it until you are happy with the consistency. It can be made thicker or more watery, according to whatever you prefer.
Adding toys to it definitely helped to keep the children’s interest on the activity for longer. The tipper truck was a really good one, as they can fill it up with the GelliBaff and empty it to cover and bury the vehicles and any characters that have been placed inside. Having a tool like a plastic spanner or wrench was also good for them to use to dig out the buried vehicles and “rescue” them.
We also decided to pour glitter into it just to add a bit of sparkle, then use the empty glitter containers to do filling and pouring with the Gelli.
This was all very easy to prepare and quite easy to tidy away afterwards. It washes off hands and toys very easily. I purposely made sure they only chose hard plastic toys which are easy to wipe down, but none of the toys have been discoloured or marked in any way by being played with inside the GelliBaff. Some of it was dropped onto the floor, thanks to my youngest – but it was quite easy to clean off and didn’t leave any marks.
I had been wanting to do this outside, but as the weather hasn’t been too good we just did it indoors and it was fine. As messy play goes its not too bad at all in terms of tidying up. To dissolve the GelliBaff you add a 2nd powder and then add water and mix until it becomes thinner, then it is fine to go down the drain.
The feel of the GelliBaff is quite slimy and gloopy but its not unpleasant and all of the children were quite happy to play in it. My 3 year old normally loves all the messy play and sensory things so I thought he would be the most keen, but actually the other 2 spent more time in it and he was slightly unsure although he did join in and play for a while.
It kept all of the children entertained and next time I will probably try and find different toys to put into it to mix it up a bit and make it different. All sorts of different play scenes could be created, like getting the blue gelli baff and putting artic creatures inside it to make a kind of slimy polar world or the green with space ships, astronauts and space creatures!
It’s definitely a good one to have in the cupboard to add variety to your messy play 🙂
Today is World Autism Awareness Day, and the month of April is Autism Awareness Month.
Roughly 1 in 100 children are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and 1 of them is my 3 year old. He was diagnosed 6 months ago, but I had felt before he was 1 year old that he had some kind of special needs because he always had physical delays. Around 18 months I started to wonder about Autism and it took more than a year from then until he was diagnosed.
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and makes sense of the world around them.
It is a spectrum disorder, meaning there is a massive variety in people with Autism. There is a saying that if you have met one child with autism – then you have met one child with autism. You can’t make generalizations.
People used to say to me “he can’t be autistic, he can make eye contact” “he can’t be autistic he is so affectionate” “he can’t be, he is very social” – but children with autism sometimes can do these things. In fact my little boy is overly affectionate, he does not have the normal social boundaries or inhibitions or any awareness of strangers, or any danger awareness. He would happily go with anyone. This is part of his autism, but it does not fit the stereo type some people have of children that will not look at or touch anybody and are very isolated.
People with Autism can often be either over or under sensitive to noise, lights, touch or other sensory issues which can make every day situations very difficult. My little boy tends to be quite sensory seeking and has a fascination with water, we are always having to stop him from trying to pour water all over the house, and have to be careful as he could flood the house if our back is turned. Obviously we do try to direct him to more appropriate water play and give him an outlet for it where possible!
Getting him to wear new coat or shoes is very difficult for him and he gets really distressed. Having his hair cut, which is a simple thing for many children is a massive achievement for him. He recently managed to do this, although with a lot of support and reassurance, but it was such a proud moment for us! The small things which are not a big deal to majority of children, can be real issues for children on the austistic spectrum.
In the shoe shop for example when a child is having a melt down as they can not cope with having their feet measured, or can not tolerate the feel of the new shoes, and are unable to understand the situation and the need for new shoes, and have become overwhelmed by the situation – to a casual observer they may start thinking how naughty the child is! But this is not the case, and we should not rush to judge. Of course children with autism can be naughty sometimes too, and we must guide them and support them and help them to cope, but it can be harder and what is needed is understanding and patience.
The amount of ignorant comments that families living with Autism come across on a daily basis can be quite disheartening.
This varies from people telling you that your child’s condition must have been caused by you giving the wrong food to them, must have been caused by giving vaccines to them, must be caused by cousin marriage, or caused by whatever else random thing people can think up!
Then you get those who try to be reassuring, by telling you “there’s nothing wrong with him” “he will grow out of it” “I’m sure its normal for them to do that” “so & so’s child didn’t talk til 5 yrs old then they just magically started talking”. It’s true that there is nothing wrong with my boy, he is perfect as he is, and this is who he is BUT he does have ASD and he will always have it. Having to deal with friends or relatives who refuse to accept a child’s condition is not helpful.
Then you also get the busy bodies who want to tell you what to do or just have their say. For example strangers, on seeing the children in the buggy come up and say “make them walk!” and I have also heard so many parents saying its sickening to see older preschoolers or children in a buggy, it can only be down to laziness of the parents – etc etc. My little boy is in the buggy the vast vast majority of the time, this is for his own safety as he has no danger awareness and coupled with a fascination with cars, that is not always the best combination! We do work with him on walking outside the buggy, in order to strengthen his muscles which is important for him too, but this is not safe for him to do all the time!
Then those who presume that if your child can not speak, then you must not talk to them, and of course their little darling has such a wide vocabulary because they are always talking and they read to them morning, noon and night. “Have you tried reading to him, and singing songs?” some people ask, as though it would not have occurred to us to do so, and as though it would make them talk over night!
My little boy is lovely, he is a joy to be around and he wins everyone’s heart – whoever meets him loves him! His name means perfect and complete, and he is.
I wish the world will become more accepting of differences, and I wish things were easier for him than they are.
Hopefully by raising awareness of Autism slowly we can change attitudes and help to make the future a little easier for my boy and others like him. So if you come across someone who does not know what Autism is, or has some misconceptions please do what you can to dispel them as every little helps!
Finally, I thought I would share this video which we watched in the Early bird course (a course for parents which children recently diagnosed with ASD). It is only 10 minutes and explains the experience of living and growing up with Autism, narrated by people with Autism themselves. It’s worth a watch if you have the time.
This game is recommended for age 5+ so it is one for either Mum or Dada to play with our oldest boy while the younger ones are sleeping or busy! It’s a maths based board game where the aim is to collect the most animals and then return to the camp. It involves moving around the board and either gaining animals by landing on the “look out” spaces or by rolling binoculars on the dice and getting the chance to take an animal from another player.
This really was a big hit with our 4 and a half year old, and it has already been played many many times since it arrived earlier in the week! Me and the boys’ dad quite enjoyed playing this. It’s good family fun and although it is an educational game it does have an entertainment side to it, rather than being just pure maths.
As with all the Orchard Toys items that we have had, it’s very well made and good quality. The small detail that I liked is that all the animals cards are slightly different. If two people pick up an elephant card it may be that one has the adult elephant, and the other has a card with 2 baby elephants, or they will have an elephant in a different position. This didn’t escape my little boys notice either and he enjoyed looking at the details, spotting “rare” cards which he hadn’t collected before, and carefully choosing his favourites. (The meerkats and the lions seemed to go down well with him.)
We really liked the game, and it will be nice when the younger boys are able to join in too as there is room for up to 4 players!
Have a look at the video below to see the game in action, and come along to Playfest at 8.30 on Tuesday on Twitter or Thursday on Facebook to see the other Orchard Toys games which we all have been trying out this week.
This is a lovely, large Jigsaw that doubles up as a play mat with 12 stand up characters. I really liked the multifunctional aspect of this and my 4 and 3 year olds both really enjoyed playing with it, especially the play mat side of it. I can see it being something that they will keep going back to, and definitely a good one for keeping them busy and quiet during the school holidays!
They were able to play with it independently but my 4 year old also wanted me to join with him and make up stories using the play pieces as characters. There are several adult and child play pieces including a horse rider, and a variety of animals from cows and pigs down to the smaller duck and chicken, and of course the large Tractor piece which was a favourite for both boys.
It is designed to work together with the Giant Road Jigsaw, which we don’t have but I am quite tempted to buy as they would work really well together and I like the fact you can make the road up into different layouts!
Have a look at the video below to see the Farm Jigsaw Playmat in action and see my boys’ reactions to it, and come along to Playfest at 8.30 on Tuesday on Twitter or Thursday on Facebook to see the other Orchard Toys games we all have been trying this week!
We are one of 100 families testing out the Toddlebike, a first bike for ages 18 months to 3 years. We will be testing it out for 3 months to see how our youngest (19 months) gets on with it.
The toddle bike arrived this morning! The first thing I noticed was how light it is, even before I opened the parcel I was surprised how light it was, it almost felt as though the box was empty – but no, it is just super light! It weighs less than 1 kilo. It’s made of plastic rather than wood so that obviously allows it to be much lighter than other balance bikes, but even compared to the usual ride ons we have around the house it is noticeably way lighter.
The next thing that pleased me was no construction necessary, it can be used straight out of the box. A massive plus for me as I hate putting things together.
As soon as my little one spotted the bike he was eager to jump on and straight away was able to scoot around the house on it, which he is still doing as I type this. He seems to be enjoying himself and getting the idea of it pretty quickly, so I will be interested to see how much more he picks up speed over the 3 months and how well it works outside.
I’ll add updates throughout our trial time to see how he is getting on, and some pics and hopefully videos of him riding along.
Now just waiting for the weather to improve so we can get the chance to let him lose on it outside!
For any mums whose little one’s love to try out new toys there is a fantastic opportunity at the moment from The Toadstool toy shop. You can see the details here on Facebook, and get the form to apply.
The first I heard of The Toadstool was when they participated in Izziwizzi Kids Playfest to come and tell us about their new product, the Worry Eaters or “SorgenFresser” BooBoo dolls. They have a brilliant range including loads of lovely wooden toys, so many things to chose from!
We will definitely be applying! And good luck to all the others who go for it.
Summer is here, and that means outdoor fun and lots of time spent in the garden. If you’re looking for ways to entertain your kids this summer, these awesome backyard ideas should give you some inspiration for a fun and frugal summer that memories are made of. Cool features to add to your backyard this […]
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 […]