National Portrait Gallery with Kids

If you are looking for some days out and activities with kids in London, do consider the National Portait Gallery!!

We do love visiting Galleries with the kids - it is often a varied experience. Sometimes, we have a great day, where the kids are mesmerised. Other days it is a bit more so so. But, I feel it is ALWAYS worth going to a gallery with kids and just exploring and having a chance to look.

National Portrait Gallery for kidsThe key thing, is to be responsive to the kids’ moods (don’t push it, if they are not interested or tired), to have some breaks (they always love the coffee shop) and to help you along the way, maybe visit a gallery on a day, when they have events for families.

And so to the National Potrait Gallery. To my “shame”, I had never considered the National Potrait Gallery for my kids. I am not sure why, but maybe I thought it would be “dry and boring” looking at people. (Oops). So, when I went to the National Potrait Gallery “late evening opening” to the BP Portait Awards with fellow blogger friends and saw the portaits on display and also heard about all the fabulous kids’ activities they have on over the Summer, I knew we had to go these holidays.

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This time, I decided to go with “just us”. The last 2-3 gallery visits have been with friends and found that my son in particularly was disctracted by the friends and showed little interest in the art. So this time we went on our own. And planned to join the Family “3D Art” event that they gallery had organised on our chosen day.

It proved to be a good tactic – though reluctant at first, it was my son who got the most out of the visit this time, whilst my daughter, who usually LOVES going to the galleries, had a bit of a tired moment herself. But that is how it is – and so long as you accept it, no gallery visit is every a flop with kids. And I know on some level they will both have taken things away from our day.

I LOVED the 3D Map making workshop we attended. It was a simple workshop, where the kids created “pirate maps” of their bedrooms. It wasn’t so much the activity itself that I loved, but how the artists running the event, made portraits relevant to the kids. Before the workshop, we visited the BP Potraits awards and were encouraged to take a GOOD LOOK at the backgrounds of the portraits – what could we see? What rooms where they? What was in the rooms? And why did we think the artist added those items? What did the room tell us about the person?

For me it was a great way to talk to the children about artwork – other than the usual – “can you find x animal?” or “which picture do you like best” or “what do you think this picture is about?”. The workshop made the gallery relevant and fun to us!

Thank you so much for having us and we look forward to visiting again soon!

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Days at the Seaside: What to Wear and What to Take with You

As the summer sets in, and school holidays dawn upon us, now is an ideal time to sit down and make a list of days out that you can embark on with your little ones in tow. After all, there’s only so much staying indoors, watching films and painting pictures one family can take! At some point, something has to give, and a day out or two a week will help to prevent boredom setting in so that their break from school can be looked back on with glee.

Days out needn’t cost a fortune, either. It’s understandable that many people avoid them due to the cost incurred, but you don’t have to head to the country’s popular attractions that charge a fortune for stepping through their gates. Instead, opt for one of the free activities available across the country – all you need to pay for is your travel, and if you live closeby, even better! The seaside is a great option for a day out when the sun is shining – kids and adults alike will love the opportunity to relax, play and splash about and who wouldn’t take the opportunity to enjoy a portion of fish and chips, or a stick of rock, on the beach?

If you are heading to the seaside this summer, make sure you go prepared. Wear suitable clothes and make sure that you take all the right things with you in a good-sized beach bag. Here’s a quick breakdown that can help.

What to Wear

Your children should wear some casual summer clothes that will help to keep them cool, and protected from the sun. If you want to treat them to a new outfit, you can find some great value girl’s dresses and boy’s shorts at George, which won’t break your bank. Team shorts with a cotton short sleeved T shirt, and pop a pair of jellies, flip flops or sandals, onto their feet. Trainers may be tempting, but they’re not ideal when you’re on the beach and fancy a paddle – that’s where the jellies come in!

Wear sunhats and sunglasses too, even if it seems a little overcast. Protection from the sun is paramount, so cover up and smother in some suncream.

You may also wish for the kids to put their swimwear on underneath their clothing, so that they’re ready to go once you arrive. Make sure they go to the toilet first though!

What to Take

Take a beach bag that is big enough to hold all of your stuff, as well as theirs. Take a cover up, in case it gets a little chilly, as well as a bottle of suncream so that you can keep topping it up throughout the day.

Most seasides will have a selection of cafes and beachfront stalls where you can grab a drink or an ice cream, but you may wish to take a selection of snacks, too.

Also pack a couple of towels (to sit on, as well as dry off on), and a lightweight jacket for each of you, just in case the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Make the most out of the time that you have with the kids when they’re not in school – a day at the seaside doesn’t have to cost a penny, but will stay in your children’s minds for a long time to come.

‘In collaboration with ASDA George

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50 things to do before you are 11 3/4

So… you may have seen some of our Nature Play ideas over at Red Ted Art.. I am a great fan of getting the family outdoors and experiencing childhood classic with them. To me “all those little” things, with a couple of big ones thrown in, are what make childhood special.. from playing poo sticks, to catching crabs, to watching butterflies grow, to cooking on a campfire (even if it is just toast or some choc button bananas), these are the things I want my children to EXPERIENCE as they grow up. These are the things I want them to have happy memories of and do time and time again as they grow up and when one day they too  have children.

I am pleased to share this FANTASTIC list of childhood classics from the National Trust – 50 things to do before you are 11 3/4 . LOVE IT.  I have it as a great list below (with some links to National Trust places), as well as a handy little download for you to download and print, keep and tick off…. go on. I challenge you, can you do ALL 50 before your child is 11 and 3/4?!

50 Things to do before you are 11 and three quarters!

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

  • 11.Go on a really long bike ride
  • 12.Make a trail with sticks
  • 13.Make a mud pie
  • 14.Dam a stream
  • 15.Play in the snow
  • 16.Make a daisy chain
  • 17.Set up a snail race
  • 18.Create some wild art
  • 19.Play pooh sticks
  • 20.Jump over waves
  • 21.Pick blackberries growing in the wild
  • 22.Explore inside a tree
  • 23.Visit a farm
  • 24.Go on a walk barefoot
  • 25.Make-a-grass-trumpet
  • 26.Hunt for fossils and bones
  • 27.Go star gazing
  • 28.Climb a huge hill
  • 29.Explore a cave
  • 30.Hold a scary beast
  • 31.Hunt-for-bugs
  • 32.Find some frogspawn
  • 33.Catch a falling leaf
  • 34.Track wild animals
  • 35.Discover what’s in a pond
  • 36.Make a home for a wild animal
  • 37.Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
  • 38.Bring up a butterfly
  • 39.Catch a crab
  • 40.Go on a nature walk at night
  • 41.Plant it, grow it, eat it
  • 42.Go swimming in the sea
  • 43.Build a raft
  • 44.Go bird watching
  • 45.Find your way with a map and compass
  • 46.Try rock climbing
  • 47.Cook on a campfire
  • 48.Learn to ride a horse
  • 49.Find a geocache
  • 50.Canoe down a river

Click here for more info!

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Teddy Bear’s Picnic

Teddy Bear's Picnic

Awwwww well, what else do you need to say when you say the word’s Teddy Bear’s Picnic. Clearly, it speaks for itself. Take a favourite cuddly. Pack a bbackpack with some goodies, grab a blanket and HEAD TO THE PARK. We were lucky enough to have an “extra” day at home today, so instead of moping around complaining about the drizzly weather we decided to embrace Teddy Bear’s Picnic Day and head out to the park. And what a lovely day we had. We got our neighbours to come along and it was lovely watching in the interaction across the age groups. Seeing the bigger kids encourage the smaller ones to have “a go”, having the smaller kids look up to their role models.

We found the perfect picnic spot, ate yummy food, played and then went for a walk. The weather didn’t stop us and the kids had a great time. When we come home, there was still plenty of space for a hot chocolate and time for some colouring and drawing sharing their day out on paper.

Thank you to the lovely peeps at House of Fraser for sending our new Monchhichi friends (Cutie and Monty) and for providing us with a lovely picnic. It would have been so tempting to stay in and lament the wet day and instead we embraced our free day and had a great day out!

So the moral of the story is: DO IT! Just go out and have fun with the kids. Don’t worry about the weather, don’t worry about whether you have the energy or not. Don’t worry about what it will be like. Just do it. And enjoy!

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DIY Fruit Ice Lollies

My kids LOVE ice lollies and come the Summer season, they are always asking for some. Though I do believe the kids should have treats, I also believe in healthy treats. Yes, chocolate and gummi bears are fine once in a while, but not on a daily basis. Ditto ice cream. When on holiday, maybe, when at home no. So I decided to make them some fruit ice lollies. And I have to say, they are DELICIOUS. My mouth is watering just thinking about them now. They are healthy AND relatively inexpensive to make, as we used frozen fruit! Though you can experiment and use whatever  fruit you fancy. We made Elderberry, Blueberry and Raspberry lollies. Delicious.

DIY Fruit Ice Lollies

Ice Lolly Recipe Ingredients:

* small portion of frozen berries per lollie – frozen fruit are a lot cheaper to buy and also means we “always have some” to hand

* some waterdown elderflower cordial (probably less than 1/4 of a cup per lollie)

You can substitue the cordial with lemonade or apple juice or even a yoghurt/milk mixture. Experiment to suit your tastes!

Ice Lolly How To

1) Pack some fruit into your lolly moulds

2) Pour in some cordial or other liquid – do not fill to the top, as you still need to get your lolly stick in

3) Gently ease you stick in and place in the freezer.

Leave overnight and done. I am telling you, these are seriously delicious ice lolly treats!!!

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