Storytime Sounds

We love love love to stories in our house. We love reading stories, we love watching stories, we love telling stories. My son (7) also likes to write stories. Sometimes however, we you need a little Story Time inspiration and help. We have two favourite go to things when we have a bit of a “story stuck day”..

Some days we turn towards our homemade Story Cubes

Story Cubes

These are great for creating character and “things” prompts for our stories.

Other times we like to turn to our newly discovered Storytime Sounds App by the people from notonthehighstreet.com.

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I confess to not knowing about this (free) app before.. We were recently invited to a Story Telling session at Godstone Farm to see first hand for ourselves how fun and interactive this simple little App can be. My kids adored it. (Well the story tellers were rather good). But I have to say that good story tellers or not, I love the different themse you can explore (e.g. pirates, Christmas, The Farm etc) and how each theme comes with 9 different character “noises”! These 9 Characters serve as great story prompts. I find that my kids want to build them into our story as often as possible, so that they get to have a go to press all the buttons.

Really fun and interesting to see how attractive my kids found this. Though pitched at slightly younger children, my 7yrs old in particularly LOVED the app and stories and asked me to download it “as soon as possible”.

So.. as it is free and as it is cute and as it is well designed… I highly recommend taking a peak and then having lots of story time fun with the kids – whenever – wherever… great for bedtime/ on the bus or by the seaside! Also have a peak at the Storytime Hub over on notonthehighstreet.com – they have LOTS of additionally themed resources, as well as sample stories for you check out and print if you wish!

Godstone Farm - Days out with kids

We had a brilliant day at Godstone Farm – not only where the story sessions great fun, but we really enjoyed getting into the “Farm Yard Mood” (the story themes chosen for our story telling), by exploring all the animals and going on a tractor ride.

A great family day out. And a great Story Telling Prop!

Disclosure: Not On The High Street invited us along to Godstone Farm for some interactive story telling sessions to introduce us to this App.

London for Kids: Kew Gardens

Soooo, we have literally just finished our two week Easter holidays and living in London, we have been busy busy busy with the kids. London has SO MUCH to offer for kids – with its many galleries, museums, fountains and parks. It really is an amazing city for green spaces in particular! As my kids go to a space tight local London school, it is important for us to go out and about in the holidays and enjoy nature – whatever the weather. Luckily for us, we were blessed with fine weather, which made it even more enjoyable.

One great destination for Kids in London is, Kew Gardens in Surrey. Yes, technically it isn’t London anymore, but it is certainly is part of the “Londoner’s to do list”. The great thing about Kew Gardens is, that kids go free! Also, like many London venues and destinations, Kew Gardens has been working hard over the last few years to make it a place to go with kids all year round. It is a wonderful place to visit as an adult interested in plants and fauna, but now it is also a great place to go with kids.

Over Easter, they had a fun Timmy Trail going…

Kew Gardens for Kids - Timmy TrailThe kids had maps and had to find Timmy Stations all around the gardens. It is a great way to keep them moving and exploring, as well as learn about the gardens themselves – each station not only provides the much coveted Shaun the Sheep stamp, but also information about plants in the immediate area. We particularly enjoyed discovering the “Snake Heads” flowers.

There was also a big “attraction” tent with activities (such as wellie throwing and cabbage rolling), which looked great fun and were busy indeed, BUT we were actually so busy with the rest of the park, that we did not end up having a go.

London for Kids -  Kew Gardens in Spring

We spent a total of 5 hours at the park and visited the Tree Top walk way (be sure to go to the little “bug tunnel” at the foot of the stairs, for info on creepy crawlies.

We went to the glass houses and searched for cocoa beans and unusual flowers. We LOVED all the beautiful Spring tulips on display, as well as the stunning blossom trees. Aaaaah Spring. A truly wonderful time to visit Kew Gardens.

Having said that, there is always something to see and do at Kew Gardens – there is a play ground and soft play area if you need some “classic” child distractions. There are plenty of grassy little verges for the children to do some rolly pollies down (nothing better than rolling down a grassy hills). There are always some flowers in bloom and of course the glass houses to explore.

I am looking forward to Winter, when they have a special magical light trail on too (new last year and we missed it!!! But it looked amazing).

And whilst we enjoyed a “day out in the park”, the kids did actually get to appreciate and discover some beautiful plants too.

Disclaimer: Kew Gardens invites us to spend the day with them and write about our experiences… BUT as it happened, we had already planned to visit these holidays already! It just meant that I took more photos than usual!! 😉

 

A visit to Build-A-Bear

A couple of weeks I ago, I first mentioned that we were planning a trip to Build-A-Bear. The kids have been SO EXCITED about going ever since I told them and they  have been counting down the sleeps to the BIG DAY. And the wait and the count down was totally worth it. The kids loved it.

The staff were super friendly. Fabulous with kids. So so so patient and made it a truly lovely experience.

I both kids – my just turned 5yrs old  girl and almost 7yrs old son. Well, what was so lovely about the experience? The whole thing – just how it is all set up, how well trained the staff are and how cute the process… here is the process:

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1st You choose an “empty bear”. There were loads to choose from and this can almost be the hardest part of the process!. The lady who was looking after us was terribly nice and let them take as much time as they wanted/ needed to.

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They also currently have a lovely Spots of Fun Pup at the moment, which helps raise much needed cash for Children in Need until the end of the year! LOVE the seasonal toys they have too, like this Rudolph!

Changing of minds was fine and finally they both settled on their chosen toys (Elsa Bear and Camo bear!).

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Then you get to test all the buttons to decide what “sound effects” your bear is going to make. The children started to warm up a little and to loose some of their shyness. Lucky for me, the kids picked a rendition of Let it Go.. and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles… hahaha. I will never hear the end of it!

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Having been introduced to the amazing “filling machine”, they got to fill their cuddly toys… giving them a good test cuddle to see if they were full enough! Then add some more stuffing.

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Then comes the REALLY cute bit – you each take a heart and you wake it up. Rubbing. Kissing. Blowing… and then you stuff in it your teddy to wake it up!DSC_1553

There are also some optional “scents” if you want your bear to smell of strawberries or gingerbread!

You then get to take them to the “bath station” for a blow dry and comb!

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Next they get dressed and get to choose an outfit, hats and shoes. Else got a funky onesie and bunny slippers, Camo Bear got a football outfit.. oh how my kids are predictable!!!

And THEN we got a  certificate and they got have a go at playing on the computers!!!

Thank you Build-A-Bear for a truly lovely day out.

Wonderful bears. Wonderful staff. Wonderful experience!

Disclaimer – we were invited along to visit the Build a Bear workshop free of charge!

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!

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