Thursday, 11 November 2010

We've moved!

We've moved our blog over to our newly revamped website (preview below). If you aren't redirected automatically, please click here to visit the new site.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Coming soon - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I

Wizard fans, your wait is almost over. The Seventh movie in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is due to hit UK cinema screens November 18th. As you may have heard, the seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series “The Deathly Hallows” has been split into two parts, the first of which will be released this November whilst part II shall follow next year. Director David Yates claims that the split is necessary because J. K. Rowling’s source material is too rich and too dense to squeeze into a single 120-or-so minute film. Thus in order to do the book justice he has opted to tackle it over the course of two films.


The film follows Harry as he attempts to hunt down Voldemort’s remaining Horcruxes. What’s a Horcrux I hear you ask? A Horcrux is a receptacle into which a wizard has hidden a part of his soul and in doing so has granted himself immortality. Voldemort is incapable of being defeated so long as his Horcruxes aren’t dealt with. The hunt takes Harry, Ron and Hermione away from the relative safety of Hogwarts and out into a wizarding-world at war. School is well and truly out.

But should we be excited about the release of The Deathly Hallows Part I? The first thing to note is that whilst the film was scheduled to be released in 3D, these plans have since been axed (although it has recently been announced that The Order of the Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince are being converted into 3D for Blu-Ray). Children may be disappointed with this news, but bear in mind that 3D can in many cases detract from your enjoyment of a film. This was certainly the case with the awful 3D conversion job that was done for Clash of the Titans. I think we can treat this news as a quaffle dodged.

If you’ve read the 7th book, you’ll know just how exciting it is. Despite being remarkably well written it essentially boils down to a number of exhilarating chase/escape sequences (including: a broomstick chase near the beginning and perilous escapes from both the Ministry of Magic and Gringotts Bank) interspersed with some angsty characterisation. Ron in particular has some growing to do over the course of the book and it’ll be interesting to see how Rupert Grint handles these changes to his character. The good news is that when the film was test screened it received some rave reviews (sample: "amazing and dark" and "the most perfect Harry Potter film"). If you have any interest whatsoever in the Harry Potter franchise, this is a must see film.

The Deathly Hallows, as you can imagine from its rather ominous title, is the darkest Harry Potter book of the lot. The movie has a PG certificate but please be aware that this it deals with themes that younger children may find disturbing (but if your child was able to handle the cave full of zombies and a certain main character's death at the end of the last film, they ought to be alright here). If you’re worried and want to know if this film is suitable for your child, be sure to check the BBFC website for further details.

Haven't read it yet? Click here to check prices on Amazon for the adult edition or the children's edition (shown below).



   


Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Family Friendly Bonfire Nights Across the UK

by Sam Sanchez

Guy Fawkes Night
In and Around London:

Visit IanVisits for an excellent and fairly comprehensive list of Bonfire Night celebrations across London. There are a good few family friendly events in his list.

Across the UK:

Leeds Castle Fireworks Spectacular , Maidstone, Kent
7 November, fireworks begin 5.30pm, event site opens at 2pm with live music and entertainment.
Hailed as one of the finest fireworks displays in the country. All ages are welcome.

Wizard’s Fireworks- The grand Tournament of Spells, Legoland, Windsor
6 November, fireworks begin 5.30pm
The popular family attraction is putting on a fun packed day with spellbinding activities including secret potion classes for ages 5 and up and a wizard treasure trail, plus selected rides will remain open for 1 hour after the fireworks.

Cambridge Bonfire Night on Midsummer Common
5 November, fireworks begin 7.30pm, £1 per person (donation)
The biggest free firework display in East Anglia. The fireworks will be preceded by a spectacular fire performance between 7-7.20pm. There will be a bonfire lit after the fireworks. There will also be a family fun fair from 6pm to 10pm.

Lincolnshire Fireworks 2010
5 November, children’s fireworks begin 6.30pm, main firework display begins 8.30pm
Under 2s free, Children £2.70, Adults £5.40
A night of family fun with a traditional bonfire food stalls, children's entertainment, side shows and stalls and free car park. Gates open at 4pm.

Bonfire Night at Ragley Hall Park & Gardens, Warwickshire
6 November, fireworks begin 8pm, £5 with children, under 2s free
A spectacular fireworks display set to music, a bonfire by the lake with entertainment and food stalls. Children’s entertainment.

Pypes Hayes Park, Erdington, North Birmingham
5 November, fireworks begin 8.30pm, free admission.
A night out under the stars at Pypes Park with a traditional bonfire night with fireworks and a funfair. One the best and safest bonfire nights in Birmingham.

Guy Fawkes Experience, Waltham Abbey, Essex
6-7 November, fireworks begin 6.30pm,
Enjoy a fireworks display at this historic site where gunpowder was made, a host of children activities including Guy Fawkes lantern making. Activities run from 3.30pm-5.45pm. Food and drink are available until 7pm.

Manchester Heaton Park Bonfire and Firework Display
5 November, fireworks begin 7.30pm.
Variety of entertainment and food and drink will be available. A funfair will run from 5pm-9.30pm.

Kempton Park Fireworks, Sunbury
6 November, Fireworks begin 7.45pm, Kids under 5 free, tickets £6 in advance and £8 on the night.
A fund raising event organised by a number of local Round Tables with the aim of distributing proceeds to local causes and charities. A more intimate and smaller fireworks display.


Waterloo Rugby Club, Crosby, Liverpool
7 November, Fireworks begin 7pm, family ticket £14.50 consisting of 2 adults and 2 children, £7 for adults and £3 for children.
A great fun night out for all the family at the annual fireworks display. Food and refreshments will be available.

Round Table Fireworks at Anstey Park, Alton
6 November, fireworks 7.30pm, Tickets in advance adults £5, children £3, £1 extra on the night.
A very popular family evening out, with a grand firework display held at the park. Special appearance by Mark Chivers and Eagle Radio Love Crew. Gates open from 6.30pm.

Woodhouse Moor, Leeds
5 November, fireworks begin 7.30pm, Admission free
Hundreds of people will visit this park to see the spectacular fireworks and bonfire brighten up the city’s skyline to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night this year.

Please add your favourites below too!
  
Thanks @sjwarnes @JAD73 @nige270 @creepycrawlies @Netmums @LawMum and Hayley for all your Bonfire Night suggestions!

Friday, 29 October 2010

Five fun ideas for Halloween with kids


1. Carve the ultimate Jack O'Lantern
image credit: LifeHacker
We're so pleased that British families have finally started to adopt the North American tradition of carving ghoulish faces into pumpkins to celebrate Hallowe'en.... it makes Hallowe'en so much more fun! Unless you have some hitherto hidden talent for carving gourds, you might want to take a peek at these jack-o-lantern stencils, or for something really simple, turn a small butternut squash upside down and carve it into a skull. For some excellent tips on carving the best pumpkin ever, you must read this post on LifeHacker.

2. Make some tasty, sticky no-bake Hallowe'en Ghosts

image credit: Kellogg Company
Remember the Rice Krispie squares you used to make with your mum? OK, so these are like ghostly little  versions of those - totally cute, yummy, sticky, and great fun. Nuff said.  Click here for the recipe.

3. Get crafty with your children

Why buy Hallowe'en decorations when you can make something at home? Okay, it won't be quite as attractive... but making your own decorations is a great way to keep the kids busy indoors if the weather isn't cooperating, and the end result will be a nice keepsake. We like this really simple Halloween Pumpkin Mobile - it's simple enough even for toddlers, and super cute.

4. Gross them out with Halloween Feel Boxes

The idea here is to let the kids reach their hands (without looking) into containers filled with things that feel like body parts. Shudder-inducing, we know, but believe us, they will love it. For eyeballs, try some peeled grapes, and a good one for guts or chopped brains are cooked noodles. For extra un-appeal, try the really thick noodles (like Udon) and toss them in the tiniest bit of olive oil to make them a little slimy. This article suggests soft corn flour tortillas smeared with a little olive oil for skin - the very thought of it is so vile that we can totally imagine your boys laughing and trying to stick it to each other.

5. Make a Hallowe'en inspired dinner


For dinner, why not make a few dishes inspired by your Feel Boxes and let the kids draw some scary menus while you cook? Start off with a nice warm bowl of blood (tomato soup), move on to some brains (macaroni and cheese) and some cockroach-infested salad (salad with raisins scattered in), and for dessert you can dish up some mud and maggots (a chocolately rice pudding). To wash it all down, enjoy some murky swamp juice (orange juice with a touch of blue food colouring or blueberry juice), sucked up through a licorice straw, or try this recipe from Family Fun magazine.

Got any other ideas you'd like to share? Post them below or on our Facebook page!

Happy Hallowe'en!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Ten of the best websites for kids

Thanks to the "grotty weather", we've had a special request for a list of fun, safe, educational and entertaining websites for kids, so here it is...  Have a look at our favourites, and please leave a comment below if we've left out a website your kids love!


Kids National Geographic
What a superb site. Aside from the feel good factor of letting your kids loose on a site where they can learn about the planet and the world's cultures, the site is really well thought out and is great fun. There are online games like Kung Fu Trash Master, interactive adventures, "stump your parents" quizzes, and some really cool videos like Snail Zombies. They also have plenty of ideas for "fun science" activities, and a special section where kids can make Hallowe'en e-cards.

Nick Jr
Okay, so it's a little bit American in content and style, but Nick Jr is a safe environment for kids to play games, watch videos with their favourite TV characters, and there are also plenty of ideas for cooking together and crafts. They're running a 7-day free trial at the moment for their premium online educational service, Boost, focusing on maths, literacy, computer skills, creativity and Spanish for preschoolers.

Sesame Street
We can't say enough about the Sesame Street website and the work of the Sesame Workshop. If you love the classic educational show for preschoolers, you'll love this site, with silly songs, videos, and your favourite TV clips, and fun games like Make a Monster. The big picture-led buttons along the top and the audio-instructions make it really easy for your little one to navigate the site by themselves, and they can even browse content by their favourite muppet (the girls always seem to pick Abby Cadabby!).  There is a special section for toddlers, a rare and very welcome find on the web.

Club Penguin
The award-winning Club Penguin is a safe and engaging virtual world for children aged about 6 to 14. Kids choose a penguin avatar, and then can play games and interact with other kids (penguins) on the site using some stripped-back social networking. Online activity and chat between penguins is constantly monitored by sophisticated technology and real staff, so your kids are in safe hands.


Moshi Monsters 
Moshi Monsters is one of the fastest growing sites in the world, with a child adopting a monster every second. Last we checked there were 27 million children using the site, and with good reason. We've written a pretty thorough review here, but in brief, it's a fun and stimulating virtual world for your child to explore in his or her customised monster guise. There are challenging games and puzzles, and they've even been credited by school teachers as being an excellent educational site. As with Club Penguin, they take your child's safety seriously, so all of the content is moderated in real time.

Crayola
This website is all about creativity, and is a lovely site for kids of all ages. There's a huge range of printable colouring pages, including some 'design your own' colouring pages. As you'd expect there's a nifty little section where kids can colour online. We also like the "idea generator" with ideas for stuff to do around the house - you click on the material you want to work with (e.g. paper, plastic containers, ribbon, etc) and out pop some craft ideas.

cBeebies
No surprises here - just high quality entertaining, educational games for preschoolers from the BBC, an organisation you know and trust. Kids can watch some of their favourite cBeebies clips, and find out more about their favourite presenters. We really like the Storytime section , featuring a mix and match of stories the kids can listen to on their own (like Charlie and Lola), and some to be read aloud by mum or dad.

Smories
A brilliantly simple idea. Kids love being read to, and reading to each other, and Smories allows them to do just that. The website is essentially a collection of videos of children reading their favourite stories aloud. You can help them find something appropriate for their age, or else just let them click on the wall of photos and hear some great stories at random. It's an international site, with stories read aloud in French, German and other languages, so also a great option for bilingual families.

NASA Kids Club

This cool website is definitely best suited to school age children, with tricky but entertaining space-related games and puzzles. If your kids are looking for a challenge, they can try out some of the space quizzes, or for a bit of fun they can find out their age or weight on different planets. We're also loving this low key Buzz Lightyear game - great for getting those little brains revved up.


Kideos.com
This is essentially YouTube for children. The team at Kideos carefully screen each and every video before categorising it and adding it to the site, so you can be sure there won't be any nasty surprises either in the "related videos" or in the clips themselves... which means that you can relax and let the kids surf the site to their heart's content. It's not just full of Disney stuff (though the Disney clips are great) - you'll find everything from classic Muppets to the Evian Rollerbabies.
Note - at the time of writing the site was down for a bit of maintenance. But do bookmark it and try it another time - it's worth coming back to.


If you've got older kids and are looking for some good gaming websites, you can also try Miniclip and GirlsGoGames, but just be warned they don't make the same promises in terms of age-approriate contents, so do help them navigate the site and find games you think are appropriate for them.

Enjoy! If you love our list, please tell your friends, and by all means add your favourites below too.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Is your baby cute enough to be a model?

How cute is your baby? If your baby can light up the room with a cheeky little grin, then he or she might have exactly what Next and Prima Baby Magazine are looking for in their next "superbabymodel".

The NEXT Baby Boutique Model Competition, in association with Prima Baby Magazine, is looking for the cutest, most photogenic babies and toddlers in Britain. If you think your little one will melt their hearts, go to http://facebook.com/nextonline and enter your baby's best photo in the competition.

The winners will receive £500 of Next vouchers, a 12 month modelling contract with Urban Angels, and take part in a photo shoot with Next and Prima Baby Magazine. To enter, and to read the full terms and conditions, go to http://facebook.com/nextonline.

Good luck!

Kids virtual world brings Europe's largest shopping centre to a virtual standstill


Monster madness reached fever pitch as Mr Moshi himself signed copies of the first ever Moshi Monsters book at Europe's largest shopping centre today. Hundreds of children queued up excitedly for more than 4 hours to meet Michael Acton Smith (known in the virtual world as Mr Moshi), bringing Westfield London to a virtual standstill.

While they waited, the children got to have their faces painted and meet two of the much loved monsters, Poppet and Furi. The first 150 children in the queue also got an extra special goody bag to take home.

Mr Moshi (aka Michael Acton Smith) with Furi and Poppet

So what's all the excitement about? Well, if you're one of the 27 million children who has adopted a monster in Mind Candy's immensely successful educational and entertaining virtual world, the new book is precisely what you want in your little hands.


Happy Moshi Monsters fans with their signed books
The Moshling Collector’s Guide is, as the name would suggest, all about Moshlings, little mini monster sidekicks for your pet. After all, the only thing better than adopting a virtual pet monster is acquiring a pet monster for your pet monster. Or so my neighbour's seven year old  boy tells me. The book has bios on the Moshlings, telling kids about their preferred habitat, personality, and most importantly how to catch them. There is a different little trick to attracting and catching each Moshling, and some are rarer or more sought after than others. With tips and bios like these, it's no wonder the new book is flying off the shelves.
Inside The Moshling Collector's Guide

You can pick up your copy on Amazon, Play.com,Tesco.com , or your local WH Smith. 

To find out more about the game and why Really Kid Friendly recommends it for children, click here to read our review!

Photography by Mick Gell. 

Friday, 22 October 2010

A day at The Barbican with E.T. and Paul Frank

by Dino B


When the opportunity came up for us to visit the children's cinema screening of E.T. as part of the Paul Frank Bicycle Film Festival, I must admit, I did have to do a sneaky search on Google to figure out what on earth it meant. On the face of it, it's all of the things we like, all in the same sentence. Kids stuff, funky monkey clothes, good movies and bikes. But all in one sentence seemed too good to be true. Turns out it wasn't.



So if you're as vague as I initially was, let me enlighten you. The Bicycle Film Festival (BFF) is a week long festival of movies that feature bikes. Simple. This is the 10th year it's been running which is an indication of
how popular it is. The screening of E.T. was inevitable, what with its classic BMX racing sequences and iconic bike-against-moon scene. It was also a great opportunity to clarify the point with my kids that we actually invented BMX bikes in the 1980's. Luckily, the Barbican Centre obliged with a great venue, and what better place to host the event. Their upcoming London Children's Film Festival looks really interesting and I guess this was a good way of getting the word out too. Definitely check it out if you're stuck for Saturday morning activity.

Now, at this point (and arguably for the previous 9 years) you probably wouldn't have batted an eyelid at either the festival or the Barbican Saturday cinema. So what made the difference this year? Or to paraphrase, what made my kids nag me to go? Simple, the monkey (aka Paul Frank). My sister, #ahem#, I mean Santa... gave my kids some Paul Frank clothes for Christmas a few years back, so they were clearly aware of the 'brand'. Turns out that the guys at Paul Frank are big into bikes and clearly, from their products, make some funky kids stuff too. Anyone parking their bike within a 5 mile radius probably came back from work to find a free saddle cover with monkey faces all over it as a flyer for the event. Nice touch. I used to race bikes for a local shop 'back in the day' and bikes are a passion. Our garage is stacked with them and it was a true right of passage when our kids made that first stabiliser-free ride across the local park. We like bikes in our house so were looking forward to the event immensely.


The day itself was mad. It was clearly a very popular event, "The most busy the Barbican children's Saturday cinema had ever seen!" according to the enthusiastic compere. The foyer was filled with activities from collage making to drawing - all with a monkey or biking twist. There was also a big monkey mascot for the all-important photo opportunity. My kids (7 and 9) still believe mascots are the real deal, so this was almost the highlight of the day. Long may the innocence continue. The staff and helpers were really nice and my hat goes off to them for being so calm and helpful in the inevitable chaos of excited kids that filled the room.

All too soon it was time for the movie. But before it began, kids were invited up on stage to show the audience their works of art. We even sang happy birthday to a few surprised kids. And then the movie started. Now I'm not going to pretend that sitting in a cinema full of a squillion excitable kids is my idea of relaxation on a Saturday morning but everyone is in the same boat and it's a chance to just go with the flow and enjoy the riot.

E.T. didn't disappoint, even though it is nearly 28 years old now (I know!). You can't go wrong with a Spielberg movie when you have kids to entertain. That and Shrek maybe. After many laughs, a few tears and the inevitable trips to the loo, it was time to head back to our normal activity-mad Saturday. We'd loved to have stayed longer as the Barbican seems always to be crammed with little activates, hands-on music workshops, tours and cool stuff hanging from the ceiling (like the rhinestone encrusted bicycle my daughter fell in love with). Alas, a drama class for child number 1 beckoned.

The nice little goody bag full of stickers and knick-knacks made sure the tube journey went without a hitch. I did have to apologise to a few confused tourists after my two darling 'aliens' pointed and chanted the iconic "Eliiiiooooot..." in a surprisingly accurate E.T. voice.

Suffice to say we now have some MORE stickers on bedroom doors, the Paul Frank seat cap has been gainfully employed as a shower cap and we'll be back next year.

Loved Dino's review? Check out his blog at dino.co.uk

70% off Bowling and Bumper Cars at Namco Station in London

fairgroundWe're loving Groupon's Deal of the Day. Today they're offering you the chance to buy £30 worth of Namco tokens for only £9 - that's 70% off.

If you've never been to Namco Station at London's County Hall on the South Bank, it's a great option for families with school age kids, with everything from turbo bumper cars, air-hockey, video games, horse-riding and skiing simulators, and 10 pin bowling.

Click here to find out more about this offer

We earn a small commission from Groupon, at no extra cost to you. This helps us cover essential maintenance for our website and continue to develop it as a free resource for parents with young children. We handpick suitable promotions from a veritable sea of options, and never allow incentives or commissions to affect the integrity of our content.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

More great ideas for affordable half-term family activities

The half-term holiday is approaching, and keeping the kids occupied will be at the forefront of parents minds. But it doesn't have to cost you the earth to entertain them, and there are deals out there to help you to do more but pay less...

Laura Dutton from moneysupermarket.com shares her tips on how to entertain the kids on a budget this half term, with ideas for affordable days out, offers on theme park admission, 2-for-1 meal deals, and more.



You might also like:

Moshling Collector's Guide - Book signing this weekend

We're going to an extra special book signing this weekend for the launch of the first official Moshi Monsters book, Moshi Monsters: The Moshling Collector's Guide.

Mr Moshi will be there in person to sign books, and Poppet and Furi will be there in, erm, monster... to entertain the kids while they wait excitedly on the green monster carpet, dressed as their favourite monsters. There will also be face painting and we hear you might even get a chance to sample these cupcakes:


The book signing is from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday October 23rd, at the WH Smiths in Westfield Shopping Centre. Make sure you arrive super early - the first 150 kids to get their books signed will get a fantastic goody bag.

Last we checked, the book was sold out on Amazon, but you can click-here to order it, or pick up a copy from Play.com,Tesco.com , or try and nab a copy at WH Smith.


Looking forward to seeing you there!

Win tickets to Peppa Pig Live!

Peppa Pig makes her West End debut this Christmas at the Criterion Theatre, Piccadilly in her sell-out stage show Peppa Pig’s Party. To celebrate, ReallyKidFriendly.com and the show’s producers are offering one lucky winner a family ticket (for 4 people, minimum 1 adult) on Tuesday 30 November at 11 a.m. To enter, you'll need to answer to this skill-testing question before midnight on Tuesday, November 2nd 2010.

Q: What is Peppa’s favourite activity?

Post the answer on our Facebook wall, tweet your answer to kidfriendly_uk (use #peppapiglive), or leave a comment below - whatever suits. We'll draw a winner at random from all the correct answers.


About the show:
Peppa Pig’s Party, the lively puppet show based on the BAFTA award winning TV programme for toddlers and preschoolers has been a massive success, selling out venues across the UK since September 2009.

Peppa is a playful little pig who lives with her little brother George, Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig. Through everyday adventures she plays games, makes new friends and enjoys her absolutely favourite activity – jumping up and down in muddy puddles.

Peppa Pig’s Party is about a very special day. It’s Peppa Pig's birthday and a chance for all her young friends to join in the fun with Suzy Sheep, Danny Dog and Emily Elephant for her perfect party. This charming, original and imaginative show is full of brand new songs, muddy puddles, and lots of oinks.

“After a virtually sold out theatre tour to almost 80 theatres across the UK, Peppa Pig and her friends are now coming to the West End for Christmas! Encapsulating all the innocence and wonder of childhood, this charming and original show is the perfect Christmas treat for Peppa fans and their parents. It is perhaps the biggest birthday party ever seen with an estimated quarter of a million children and parents joining her birthday celebrations around the country. Her stage show features train rides, cake baking and plenty of games for everyone to take part. With lots of brand new Peppa Pig songs and plenty of muddy puddles this is the one party in Westminster that Peppa Pig wants us to join!”
- Edward Snape, co-producer of Peppa Pig’s Party


For further information on the show and its UK tour dates please go to www.peppapiglive.com

Peppa Pig © Astley Baker Davies Ltd / E1 Entertainment Ltd 2003.

Days out with Toddlers - without the tantrums!

What good is there in planning all these great days out and coffee mornings if your toddler won't even budge from the sofa, insists on going out in the cold wearing pyjamas, or has a meltdown every time you try and do something nice together? If you've ever felt like tearing your hair out thanks to a willful little toddler, then we dare say you'll appreciate these tips from Here2Maternity's Jay Marie.  If you haven't then you probably don't have kids!

The Terrible Twos:  A strategy that works! 
by Jay Marie (Here2Maternity.co.uk)


Is your toddler refusing to get dressed or refusing to leave somewhere when you want them to? Are you struggling to get them into the car or out of the car? What about their eating habits have they suddenly decided that eating is not on their agenda, even their favourite meal? These are just some of the common changes parents are suddenly faced with after their toddler turns two.

Does the sound of ‘the terrible twos’ make you quake in your boots? That dreadful time you’ve heard so many parents warn you about when your little angel becomes a little devil. The time when their favourite word becomes “No”, they hit, they stomp, they refuse everything and it seems as though they do everything they can to annoy you, especially at the most inopportune times.

3602 toddler in the middle of a tantrum
The infamous "I will lie here in the middle of the road til I get my way" tantrum
What if I told you that it’s easier than your you thought? That you can stop quaking in your boots and instead embrace it, knowing that it won’t be much different from the last two years.

The ‘terrible twos’ describes the passage that toddlers take (on average) between the ages of 2 to 3 years old. Some are earlier starters, some a little later and some head on into 4 and 5 years old with the same ‘label’.

The ‘terrible twos’ label is just that, a label. You see if you really think about it, the problem with the label 'the terrible twos' is that it’s saying - this whole year is going to be terrible and that your child's behaviour is terrible and awful. And yet, if you put your mind to it, that isn't really true because in reality its probably only a tiny fraction of that time in which their behaviour is less than what we would like.

Its not that it's the terrible twos, or that perhaps we should instead try and call it the happy twos, it's more about being able to experience our child's behaviour from their point of view. Why? Because this is what they are going through. It’s their world as they know it. Yet without realising it we expect them to view it as we see it. They are no longer little babies, they are little people and sometimes the transition between the two happens so fast that our expectations on them become too great, too quick. Limited though it is, its their world that they occupy where they don't have access to all that we as adults have learnt. They don't have the benefit of our years of experience, knowledge and social understanding and they are learning an incredible amount all in one year!

So what is it really? It most definitely isn’t them becoming terrible little people. According to Tessa Livingstone in Child Of Our Time: Early Learning, it is thought to be the biggest growth spurt of our lives: mentally, emotionally and physically.

To be an effective teacher and ensure we cope well through what some term as the most challenging year of our lives we need to step up the gears as our toddlers are becoming little people. Little people who now understand choice. They understand ‘yes’ and ‘no’. They know what they like and are learning more about what they don’t like.

When you understand the emotional growth toddlers experience during this phase of development you can see life through their eyes and respond more appropriately to what is going on. Emotions run hot at this age and they are learning lots of them. From happy and sad, to angry and even fear. It’s the same with their mental and physical growth.

Understanding a fraction of what your toddler is going through is one of the most important coping strategies you can have. You need to see it from their eyes because you then have a new point of view, their point of view. Instead of seeing a tantrum you see the frustration of experiencing an emotion that can’t be communicated.

Once you understand the psychology behind what your toddler is experiencing during the ‘terrible twos', you understand what it is they are doing; you see that saying ‘no’ all the time in actual fact is sometimes ‘yes’ and sometimes said for the fun of it. Naturally you will have a greater chance in helping them respond to new behaviours and new experiences. It gives you the power to recognise what truly may be ‘bad’ behaviour or what is really simply them learning; trying to understand the natural course of action and reaction. This in turn helps you to respond in a much more appropriate way to get a much better result.

A great example of this is the following:

After two years of dressing my toddler it suddenly become a battle. Kicking, screaming and yelling. I was then constantly late to all our play dates. No amount of bribing her that we wouldn’t go to messy play or the local indoor play centre if she wouldn't get dressed worked. Even the threat of losing her favourite toy wouldn't work as she does not understand the concept. The worst was when we were running so late that I decided to it was pointless leaving and stayed home. Not only did she miss out, but I did too. However by seeing it from her point of view I learnt that it is was more about ‘sudden change’ than it was about getting out of her pajamas and putting clothes on; She did not like the sudden disruption in what she was doing. She felt annoyed unable to understand why she needed to get dressed. From her point of view she was happily watching Peppa Pig and was quite happy to turn up to messy play in her P.J’s. It’s a bit like you reading this now then all of sudden someone comes and snatches your laptop off you and tells you to go and sit at the dining table.

So what can you do next time your toddler refuses to get in the car or refuses to leave the play centre? Understanding what goes on behind the scenes of their behaviour and knowing what they are learning is your biggest strength however a little piece of advice...

Warn them. Disrupt their concentration and ‘plant a seed’.

I understood that I could no longer expect her to do things when I wanted her to do them, just because I wanted her to do them, now! She needed warming up to the idea so that the sudden change wasn’t such a shock. You may have heard other parents warning their children with things like “you're up to bed after this” or “one more book then it’s bed time”. I have even heard it when I am out and about at the local play centre - Mums, warning the little ones that they are ‘going soon’. This is a wonderful way of subtly breaking your toddler's concentration and ‘planting the seed’ of what they are about to do. You are in effect warning them that ‘this’ will happen after ‘that’. Then it isn’t such a shock when you come to do it. So next time you need to get your toddler in the car, let them know well before hand that your ‘going out to the shops soon’. And repeat it a few times, make up a great story about what your about to do. Distract them with the new thought.

So over the course of five or ten minutes before you plan to do what ever it is that is causing upset with your toddler let them know several times before hand. Warn them. Create a little story about what your about to do while you busy getting ready.

A little warning goes a long way.

Jay Marie is a 30-something mother of a two year old girl, and is passionate about early childhood development. Between them, she and her husband have 28 years of experience in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and believe that NLP can offer invaluable parenting tools.  

For more articles like this and for her musings on life with a toddler, read Jay Marie's blog at Here2Maternity.co.uk.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Best of London Museums for Half-Term with the Under Fives

by Laura Vogel

October half-term in London is one of my favourite times to enjoy free, high-quality hands-on workshops at the museums, especially for the under fives. The autumn school holidays are particularly well staffed and resourced, the museums pull out the stops this time of year and if you are around to take advantage of them, it’s well worth the effort.

Victoria and Albert MuseumVictoria and Albert Museum
The V and A is a can’t miss in the half-term. If you plan to go early in the week and arrive 10 – 15 minutes prior to opening, you can largely avoid the crowds and hassle. They turn the Sackler Centre into a workshop where children of all ages may create animal masks, capes and headdresses. We went last year with two three year olds, a two year old and a one year old and it worked out perfectly. The staff helped the older ones get on with their artwork while the mums chased after the little ones. The toilets are very family friendly and you can bring a picnic to eat outside in the courtyard.
Find out what parents said about the V&A

British MuseumBritish Museum
The British Museum is another fabulous place to take the kids over the school holidays. The theme is “Time Explorers”, and there are numerous events involving making replicas of famous artefacts, listening to storytelling, and creating artwork based on different periods, check the web site if you would like to know the focus for the day you plan to attend. Again, in the interest of saving money, you may bring a picnic and eat in the Great Court.
Read parents' reviews of the British Museum

London -  The National GalleryThe National Gallery
The National Gallery is having a really special treat this holiday. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, for ages 5 and under, there will be morning interactive storytelling sessions in the gallery. Tickets allocated on arrival, in the Education Centre; check the web site for details and times. If the weather is nice, you may eat your picnic just outside in Trafalgar Square or head over to Green or St. James’s Park.
Read reviews of the National Gallery by mums and dads

National Portrait Gallery
National Portrait Gallery
Across the road, at The National Portrait Gallery, all week long there will be twice daily Tour and Draw sessions for children ages 3+. The children will focus on a work of art through storytelling and then record their observations with drawing. The museum is filled with numerous tiny flights of stairs, all accessible by lift, but cumbersome nonetheless with a pushchair. There is a great view of Westminster from the top-floor café, but it is not particularly push chair or toddler-friendly.
More about the National Portrait Gallery

Tate Britain Tate Britain
The Tate Britain is putting on a day-long art extravaganza for residents of Westminster, Lambeth and Southwark. From 10 am – 3 pm families can make artwork to hang in the gallery, play in creative spaces, enjoy live music and dancing, play games and soak up the Pre-Raphaelites. The activities are for ages 5 and under, but older siblings are welcome to attend. If it is dry, you can eat a picnic outside in the gardens, or at the near-by Millbank Gardens or the Causton Street playground.
Be the first to review the Tate Britain

Laura Vogel writes about free and affordable activities for under 5s in London at London-Baby.com

Friday, 15 October 2010

You'll love this sweet little dress - and it's perfect for Halloween

We've just come across the sweetest little pinafore dress from I Love Bread and Jam - called "Señor Skull", it's perfect for Halloween, and any other time of year for that matter. There are only a small number of dresses in each design by mums Sofia Dyson and Lisa Swerling, so we can virtually guarantee you won't see anyone else wearing the same thing.  
Senor Skull, £29 from www.ilovebreadandjam.com

We are trying to get our hands on one of their dresses to give away in our next competition - we'll keep you posted!

PS - Sofia and Lisa have worked hard to produce their stunning range of vintage-inspired dresses while trying to balance family life. If you love their stuff, please leave a comment and make them smile!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Despicable Me in cinemas tomorrow!

Despicable Me (starring Steve Carell) is in the cinemas tomorrow, so it looks like it's going to be minion madness all over the UK. We chuckle at this trailer every single time, and thought you might like a little laugh too...



Are you going to see the film with your family? Stop by afterwards and tell us which parts you liked best!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Tasty News from Kids in Museums

Lots of families feel that a visit to the café is an important part of their museum experience and they want to feel welcome in the whole museum. So, Kids in Museums are going to help museums and galleries to extend their family friendly values to their cafés and restaurants. 

Please help to shape these guidelines by sharing your views in this short survey or by emailing yourview@yourmuseumcafe.org.uk 

You can also help promote Kids in Museums' important work by sharing the survey link (http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/6NRB73D) on Twitter and Facebook, commenting below, or by adding a comment or post to our Facebook page

Thank you for your support!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Paul Frank invites you and your family to the 10th Annual Bicycle Film Festival

Paul Frank and his super cool little friend Julius are coming along to the 10th annual Bicycle Film Festival this October. Along with the chance to meet Julius and nab some unique gifts and cool things to decorate your bike, there will be a 3D interactive art show, arts and crafts session, and a screening of Steven Spielberg's classic "bicycle film", E.T. The Extra Terrestrial.

When: Saturday, 16th October, 10 am - 2 pm (E.T. screening at 11 a.m.)

Where: Barbican Centre, London EC2Y 8DS

Ages: would best suit children aged 3 - 11

Tickets: Admission and family activities are free. Film screening £5 (click here to book tickets in advance)

Friday, 8 October 2010

Things to do This October - Fun For Children of All Ages!


by Harry Cloke

With Half-term and Halloween fast approaching, a lot of parents may be looking for some exciting ideas regarding days out and fun activities to keep children occupied during their time off school. Well, worry not! 

We've done our research and have collected together a few of a what we take to be the best options for your family's enjoyment this October. The list includes museums, art galleries, playgrounds, a famous toy store, castles, bus tours and much much more, so hopefully there's something for everybody. We've tried to be as indepth as possible and to provide opening times and admission fees, but you should always be aware that these are subject to change and that it is best to visit the website and/or phone ahead to check these details before you set off for your destination. We'd also love to hear any further ideas or recommendations that you might have for more fun family-days out - just scroll down to the comments section and let us know. 

Recommended age-range: Any.
Location: Royal Hospital Rd,
London, SW3 4HT
Opening times: 10.00 – 17.30
Admission: Free to all.


There’s plenty for kids to see and do in The National Army Museum which has its own designated ‘Kids Zone’. Expect a play space, an interactive learning centre, art activities, board games and group readings. This half term you can also take your children to meet the soldiers of Britain’s past dressed in their full military garb, talk to them about their experiences and get ‘hands-on’ with some of their equipment. You can also try your aim on the Swift rifle range and build a cotton reel tank! Don’t forget to pick up your free activity backpack from reception which is packed full with a range of activities geared at aiding young children develop a better understanding of the various galleries. The Kids Zone is recommended for children under 10 and there is a soft play area for babies.  For older children and parents there’s plenty to see in the main galleries which detail the numerous ways that the British Army has shaped Britain and the wider world throughout the years. This half-term, The National Army Museum is hosting ‘Invasion 1940’ (a free event) which offers a chance to learn about how British men and women prepared for the oncoming invasion during the Second World War.


Recommended age-range: Children 2-15 years old.
Location: Queenstown Road,
Battersea Park,
London SW11 4NJ
Opening times: 10.00 - 16.30/17.00
Admission: Adults: £7.50,
Children (2-15 years old): £6.00,
Family (2 adults, 2 Children): £25.


This half-term, the folks at Battersea Park Children’s Zoo are hosting a range of Halloween-themed events. From October 23rd-31st you can engage in a pumpkin hunt - simply pick-up your quiz sheet upon entry (an additional £1, but includes a prize) and follow the clues to find the pumpkins hidden about the zoo. On the same dates be sure to pop a Witches or Wizard’s hat upon your kid’s head and make your way to the Café to pick up a complimentary ‘spooky’ biscuit. Other events include ‘Make a Bat that Flaps’, which gives children an opportunity to do just that – drop-in sessions run on the 26th (Tuesday) and 28th (Thursday) 11am-1pm and 2pm-3.30pm. On Saturday the 30th the zoo offers an opportunity to get your face painted as a vampire or a ghost. Then of course there’s the main-attraction – the animals! Children are sure to be fascinated by the giant rabbits, the chimpanzees, the meerkats and other furry critters.

See also: London Zoo 
Recommended age-range: Children under 12 (who must be accompanied at all times by an adult).
Location: Kensington Gardens,
London
Opening times: 10.00 – 16.45
Admission: Free to all.

Picture taken by Jennifer Boyle
This fun and lively playground was built to reflect the contemporary values of Princess Diana. The oval stone fountain was built to give children and adults alike a chance to reflect and have a little wade about in the water. You may have heard in the news some years back that there were safety issues concerning the fountain. These issues have been dealt with by the introduction of a new fence to ensure that children cannot access dangerous areas. There are also six wardens on guard to ensure that there is nobody walking or running in the fountain. If you still have concerns regarding the safety of your children, please check here for more details. The playground itself is inspired by the adventures of Peter Pan and has a huge wooden ship as its centrepiece. Beyond this there is a sensory trail, teepees and play sculptures. Diana Memorial Playground gives kids a great opportunity to let their imaginations run amok.


Recommended age-range: Any.
Location: Hamleys,
188 - 196 Regent St.
London W1B 5BT
Opening times: Monday – Friday: 10.00 – 20.00,
Saturday: 9.30 – 21.00,
Sunday: 12.00 – 18.00
Admission: Free to all.

Picture taken by MuLan
Even when there’s nothing going on, Hamleys is still every youngster’s idea of heaven. There are five floors full of toys and various other goodies that are sure to fill your children’s eyes with a misty sense of wonder. The trouble with this option is that it’s difficult to take a little one into a toy store and manage to walk out without having made any purchases. You should bear in mind that Hamleys, as wonderful as is, isn’t always the cheapest option when it comes to gifts for your children. This October, Hamleys is teaming up with Warwick Castle to give its store a Medieval vibe, so look forward to seeing all kinds of characters, from Knights and Squires to Princesses. Even Warwick Castle’s premier falconer is expected to be there on certain dates to showcase his feathered friends. Every Saturday and Sunday throughout October, Sir Warwick, Warwick Castle’s most valiant Knight will make an appearance at the store and to help turn your loved ones into brave young warriors. There’s also the chance to win family passes to Warwick Castle, so don’t miss out. More details here.


Recommended age range: Should appeal to children of all ages - children under 7 must be accompanied by an adult.
Location: The London Pavillion,
1 Piccadilly Circus,
London W1J 0DA
Opening times: 10.00 -24.00 (last admission 22.30)
Admission: 10% off if you book online, otherwise: Adult - £25.95,
Child (4-15) - £19.95,
Under 4’s – free 

Picture taken by Avodrocc
For those with an interest in the weird and wonderful, head down to Ripley’s Believe It or Not London Attraction. Youngsters will love the Mirror Maze and attempting to walk through the spinning tunnel without stumbling once. The Attraction has over 500 exhibits, so there’s sure to be something to interest kids of all ages. Please also bear in mind that the attraction features some exhibitions that young children may find disturbing, such as shrunken heads and a gigantic shark’s jaw. But that shouldn’t stop you from seeing a replica of the Tower of London made from 264,345 matchsticks or from getting your picture taking next to a replica of the world’s tallest man (who stands at a vertigo inspiring 8’ 11”). As of yet no programme has been released for October half-term but there are sure to be Halloween festivities going on - check the site for further details.

Recommended age range: Appropriate for children of all ages – children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
Location: Marylebone Rd,
London NW1 5LR
Opening times: Half-term and normal weekends: 9.00 – 19.30 (last admission 18.00)
Normal weekday: 9.30 – 19.00 (last admission 17.30)
Admission: 10% off if you book online, otherwise: Adult - £28.00
Child (4-15) - £24.00
Under 4’s - free
Family (2 adults, 2 children) - £99.00



Whether they are participating in a glamorous photo shoot with Kate Moss, or discussing the ending of Inception with Leonardo DiCaprio, kids will love the opportunity to meet all their favourite stars. Where else can you consult with royalty at one moment and take on some of Britain’s sporting heroes the next? Madame Tussaud’s gives you an opportunity to meet everybody from Charlie Chaplin to Shrek. For the courageous members of your party there is ‘SCREAM’ (recommended for those who are 12 and above) a live-action maze, populated by escaped and dangerous inmates who will do their best to scare you out of your wits. For those too faint of heart, it’s recommended you check out the ‘Spirit of London’ (visitors must be under 1.2m and accompanied by an adult) – a taxi ride through London’s past where you can see Shakespeare at work, Christopher Wren redesigning the city and Queen Victoria holding the reigns against the backdrop of the industrial revolution. Madame Tussaud’s does not permit the use of buggies inside the attraction, but you can leave the buggy at the left luggage section and rent a baby carrier (subject to availability and a £10 refundable deposit). There are baby changing facilities on site, but no facilities to heat baby food. Finally, be sure to print off your free family pack from here which is packed full of games and activities geared towards supplementing your Madame Tussaud’s experience.

Recommended age-range: Any.
Location: Exhibition Road,
South Kensington,
London SW7 2DD
Opening times: 10.00 - 18.00 (last admission 17.15)
Admission: Free to all.


The Science Museum can be fantastic fun for children of any age. Feel free to head towards ‘The Garden’ an interactive play gallery recommended for children aged 3-6. It provides an area for curious children to explore whilst also familiarising them with simple but important scientific principles such as water, light and sound. The Launch Pad gallery is full of entertaining hands-on experiences for all ages. Daily science shows give kids a chance to see the more explosive side of science in a controlled environment. The Pattern Pod (recommended for children aged 5-8) is a multi-sensory exhibit exploring the prevalence of patterns throughout nature and can help children develop their predictive faculties through a proper understanding of the notions of cause and effect. There’s plenty more to see at the Science museum – whether you are discovering famous objects or taking in an IMAX film (adult: £8.00, child: £6.25). Moreover, this half-term (Monday 25th – Friday 29th at 12.00 and 14.00) kids can enjoy ‘Fake ID’ an enjoyable interactive trail designed to explain what makes us all different. 

See also: The Natural History Museum 
Victoria and Albert Museum

Recommended age-range: 5 and above
Location: Buckingham Palace, SW1A 1AA 
Opening times for The Royal Mews: Until the 31st October: Open daily (except Fridays) 11.00 – 16.00 (last admission 15.15)
November 1st – December 23rd: Open Monday – Friday 11.00 – 16.00 (last admission 15.15)
Opening times for The Queen’s Gallery: Open daily, 10:00-17:30 (last admission 16:30)
Admission for The Royal Mews: Adult - £7.75
Child (5-16) - £5
Under 5’s – free
Family - £20.50 (2 adults, 3 children)
Admission for The Queen’s Gallery: Adult - £8.75
Child (5-16) – £4.50
Under 5’s – free
Family – £22.00 (2 adults, 3 children)

Picture taken by Kyle Simourd
Unfortunately the State Rooms are only open from August to September, but you still have the opportunity to visit the Royal Mews (open until October 31st) and The Queen’s Gallery. In fact, we recommend that you make a day of it and grab combination tickets which grant you access to both The Royal Mews and The Queens Gallery (adult - £15, child - £8.75, family - £38.50). It’s suggested that you spend an hour in The Royal Mews and about one and a half hours in The Queen’s Gallery, so make sure your child or children have the stamina to do both before committing to a combo-ticket. These prices include an audio-guide for both attractions. Tickets are available on the door, but it’s strongly recommended that you book tickets for The Queens Gallery in advance. You won’t want to miss the changing of the guard which occurs in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace at 11.30 on even number dates in October (2nd, 4th, 16th, etc). Please be aware that the changing of the guard is subject to change or cancellation.

The Royal Mews is both the garage and stables of the Royal family. It offers visitors a chance to see a number of ‘Royal’ vehicles, including the Gold State Coach last used during The Queen’s Golden Jubilee. There’s also an opportunity to see the work horses that play a vital role in The Queen’s ceremonial duties. Please be aware that the horses may be on duty or resting and thus not available for viewing. There’s an interactive audio tour, so children can learn what it’s like to work as a driver for The Queen or to train The Queen’s horses. This half-term on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th kids can be a part of their own Horse-Drawn Procession. Pick up drawing materials from the Education Room, create the best horse-and-carriage that you possibly can and add it to the special display, where it will become part of a Royal Procession!

The Queen’s Gallery is home to an ever changing collection of items from the Royal Collection. Running until December 5th is Victoria & Albert: Art & Love which focuses on Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s love of art. Children are encouraged to follow the exhibition trail and learn about Queen Victoria’s children – download your trail guide here. Wednesday 27th is ‘Conservation Day’ and offers drop-in demonstrations regarding how these works of art are made and maintained. Conservation Day is recommended for all ages and will include additional activities for children.

See also: Windsor Castle 

Eat Popcorn and Take in a Family Friendly Film:
Recommended age-range: Varies – check the BBFC website for in-depth classification details regarding every new film.
Location: Your local cinema.
Opening times: Varies.
Admission: Varies.

Heading into town for your entertainment can be taxing. Why not take in a movie instead? During half-term your local multiplex will be full of kid-friendly-fare, so why not stock up on popcorn and various sugary treats and head on down? You could take your children to see Legend of the Guardians - The Owls Of Ga'hoole (PG). Despite having something of a mouthful for a title, it’s really a simple story concerning a group of owls on a journey to discover ‘The Great Tree’ in order to save the Owl Kingdom. There’s also Alpha and Omega (U) an animated story about a burgeoning relationship between two foxes. However, our recommendation is that you take your little ones to see Despicable Me (U) a Pixar-influenced comedy in which the villain of the piece takes the centre stage – don’t worry there’s a happy ending. If you can, be sure to seek out The Secret of Kells (PG) an Oscar-nominated animated picture featuring enchanted forests, mythical quests, Vikings and a Serpent God.

It is worth doing research to see if you can dig up any special offers. For instance, Vue Cinemas offers a 25% discount off of its ticket prices if you see a movie Monday – Thursday before 5pm. Selective Vue cinemas also offer Kid’s screenings on Saturday and Sunday mornings where children and accompanying adults only have to shell out 95p per ticket. Odeon cinemas offer a 15% discount off of ticket prices Monday – Thursday before 5pm. If you are 13-17 years old you will receive a 20% discount off of your ticket price. Furthermore, Odeon offers family discount tickets which could save you some small change. Be sure to do your research and check that these discounts apply to your local cinema. Finally, if you’re on the Orange mobile phone network take advantage of Orange Wednesdays and grab your 2-for-1 tickets.

See also: Go to the theatre! Check out the London Theatre Guide here.

Recommended Age-range: 5+
Location: Varies – there are departure points from Picadilly Circus, Victoria and the Visitor Centre (17-19 Cockspur Street, Trafalgar Square, London, SW1Y 5BL)
Opening times: Red Routeevery ten minutes from 8.30 – 5.20pm
On the day Admission: Adult - £25.00, Child (5-15) - £12.00, Family (2 adults, 3 children) - £86.00
Online Discount: Adult - £22.50, Child (5-15) - £10.00, Family (2 adults, 3 children) - £70.00

Picture taken by Damien Everett
There’s nothing more magical to a kid than an open-top bus. The worry for parents may be that the on board commentary won’t keep their little ones interested. But fear not: The Original London Sightseeing Tour offers kid’s commentaries on their red and blue routes. This is a commentary designed for children by children. Every child also gets a ‘London passport’ and a quiz/activity pack to help keep the little nippers interested. Of course the accompanying parent can just stick to the normal commentary and perhaps discover a few things they didn’t know about our beloved Capital. The tour duration is about 2 hours and 15 minutes but you are free to hop on and off at any stop and go visit any attraction that catches your eye.

See also: Citysightseeing bus tour York
Citysightseeing Belfast 
Citysightseeing Glasgow 
And more than 30 more UK based bus tours

Recommended age-range: Any
Location: There are studios in Fulham, Richmond and the Isle of Wight
Opening times: Please check each individual studio for opening times and be sure to call in advance to book a table
Admission: Prices vary according to what you want to create - have a look at the menu here.



If you have a burning desire to exercise some of your more creative juices why not pop down to the Pottery Cafe and try your hand at designing your own mugs, cups, plates and various other pottery shapes? The process is simple enough, select a piece of handmade pottery, grab some paint and some sponges and imprint your design. You can return a week later to pick up items which will have been fired and glazed – the perfect memento of a nice day out. All paints are water-based and non-toxic meaning they are completely safe for your children to use. They’ll also wash out of clothes with the minimum of fuss. Baby Wednesdays, is a weekly event offering a complimentary cappuccino or tea for mums and dads painting their baby’s feet to add to the design of their pottery. This October half-term (Monday 24th- Friday 29th) get seasonal with a variety of autumnal designs – cover your pottery with leaves, acorns, blueberries and the like.

See also: Ceramics Cafe – locations in Basingstoke, Farnham, Ripley, Kew and West Ealing.

Recommended age-range: Any
Location: Millbank,
London, SW1P 4RG
Opening times: Open every day 10.00 – 18.00 (last admission 17.15)
Admission: Free entry, but there may be a charge for major exhibitions

Picture taken by Elliot Brown
If the prospect of your little nippers growing up to be artistic and inventive types fills you with an inexorable glee, why not aid their development by taking them to the Tate? Don’t worry, you won’t have to drag them kicking and screaming around the galleries as there are plenty of family friendly activities for you to indulge in instead. There are a couple of exciting family trails aimed at children under 5. The POST IT! Trail offers a chance for children to explore the Tate Britain and post their various discoveries into their post box as they move along. The JOIN UP! Trail offers a chance to make your own sculptures, seek out shapes and patterns and take part in a fun listening game. There are also free family resources which provide quizzes and activities to encourage children to explore the art works and hopefully develop an interest in art. If you visit on a weekend (between 11.00 and 17.00) children will be able to unleash their creativity by visiting the ‘Art Trolley’. This offers children a chance to get involved with a number of ‘paper activities’ and create their own work of art.


Easy Options – Find Something to do Closer to Home, or Make Your Own Fun!

Picture taken by Peter Dutton
Not wishing to prove too regional I thought I’d throw out some suggestions that you can get involved with pretty much anywhere. Perhaps you could take the family out for some Bowling or Ice Skating? Why not get some food together, head to the park and have a picnic - whilst you’re there you could also feed the ducks. As it’s approaching Halloween you’ll also have to go fancy-dress shopping for your little nippers and be prepared for a trek around the neighbourhood for some trick-or-treating. In addition to this, you can have a bunch of fun doing some pumpkin carving and creating a jack-o-lantern. 

So there it is - I hope you are able to find something fun to do with your family this Half-Term. We'd love to know if you've been to any of these places recently and enjoyed yourself (or not) and if you think we've missed anything! Feel free to leave a comment and let us know!


This article was written by Harry Cloke.