Two Can Learn Better than One!

Category: Days out



'Find My Child' Service

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting, Family, Days out, Kids Activities , Tags: alerts, find my child, lost children, mariella frostrup, social helpworking

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A new service has been launched to help parents and child carers who suddenly find that they have lost track of one of their children.  Find My Child offers an iPhone app, voiced by Mariella Frostrup, with which you register information about your children.  A subscription of just £3 per month allows you to raise an alert in the event of one of you losing sight of one of your children.  Raising an alert sends a message out to other Find My Child users in the vicinity, sharing a picture so that they can help look for the missing child.  Should they find them, they can then call the parent directly and work together to reunite the child.

Find My Child respects everyone's privacy, only sharing information on a 'need to know' basis.  Usually your registered photo of a child will remain completely private, it will only be shared when you need to source help in finding your missing child.

The app is aimed at covering the period immediately after your child goes missing, to the point where the police can be involved in a search.  Should you have to escalate to a police search, this 'window' typically lasts up to three hours, but obviously you are more likely to find your child within the first 30 minutes.  Find My Child uses 'social helpworking' to bring everyone in the area together to help you in your moment of panic - a perfect use for a smartphone app!

Download Find My Child from the app store, or find out more at the Find My Child website.



Winter Wonderland Arrives in Hyde Park

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Days out, Food, Drink and Eating , Tags: christmas, christmas market, circus, fairground, father christmas, hyde park, ice skating, london, rides, santa, santa land, winter wonderland

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Winter Wonderland has opened for the Christmas season in Hyde Park, London; take your little ones along for a festive spectacle of lights, sounds and the smells of Christmas foods!

Situated at Hyde Park Corner, Winter Wonderland offers a Christmas Market, Christmas themed fairground rides, a big wheel, ice skating and lots more!  Winter Wonderland is full of sights and sounds that will trigger your little one's senses and bring that magic sparkle to Christmas.

Entry to Wonderland is free but you will need to buy tokens to enjoy the rides which typically cost between £2 and £4 per person.  Babies and toddlers will love Santa Land where all the rides are suitable for even the youngest visitors and they can meet Santa for free.  Kids will love the carousels, a train ride and many other fairground attractions.

Plenty of food stalls are scattered throughout, selling hearty fare including hog roasts, fish and chips, bratwurst, potatoes, soups and Belgian chips.  For grown-ups, there's mulled wine and German beers.  Food is a little on the pricey side for a family because you won't find children's portions, each food is priced at around £5, and with so many stalls around, everyone can choose a different meal.

The large attractions include a giant wheel with rides lasting around 15 minutes and Zippo's Circus.  The ice rink isn't particularly good for younger children as there are no 'Penguins' to help children stay on their feet and build confidence on the ice.  Keep an eye out for the talking tree, that will keep children engaged for hours.  There are plenty of toilets on site, as well as baby changing facilities in two locations.

At the Angels Market you will find Christmas decorations, London memorabilia, traditional toys and craft, jewellery and other gifts.

Winter Wonderland is open daily now, from 10am to 10pm, until 3rd January 2012.  Check out more information from the Winter Wonderland website.

 



Did you Trick or Treat this Year?

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting, Days out, Food, Drink and Eating , Tags: counting games, halloween, sweets, trick or treat

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More children than ever took to the streets this year to 'trick or treat' their neighbours and friends.  Hoards of little witches and cute devils waved buckets at neighbours front doors in the hope of some lovely, bewitched sweeties being thrown in!

Going out trick or treating has become more and more popular over the years.  It used to be something they did in America, not here in England, but it has gradually become part of our annual festivities.  According to an ASDA survey reported in the Daily Telegraph, if you are dressed as a cute witch, skeleton or vampire you are likely to get more sweets than if you are dressed as someone like Freddie Kruger. Something to bear in mind!

Here are some other tips to bear in mind for next year:

  • Wear a good costume (nothing too scary)
  • Only go to doors with a pumpkin in the window or something that says a) they are in and b) the are getting involved in Halloween and that probably means c) they have treats to give away!
  • Take a cute child with you... you'll get more sweeties that way!
  • Be polite when the door is answered... you want to make friends not annoy people!
  • Go in small groups - its more fun!
  • Make sure you don't let the children eat all the sweets at once! Count them, colour sort them, build a tower with them, see how far they stretch end to end and eat them over a long period of time... along with plenty healthy foods along the way!


Going For Walks With Little Ones

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Health, Family, Days out, Kids Activities , Tags: adventure, exercise, healthy, outdoors, walks

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Going for walks is an ideal way to spend time with the family - it's free, it's healthy, it's outdoors, it's fun and educational and it's something you can all share together no matter your age or ability.  You can do it with other families, on your own or with other family members.  It can be a long, all day affair or just an hour trek. It can be in all sorts of different terrain: woodland, seashore, farm land or country paths.  Most of all, it's something to enjoy!

  • Getting the children out of the door: older children may have opinions on going for walks so do make sure you describe the walk as an adventure; an excursion or something exciting rather than just a walk.
  • Think of activities to do while on your adventure: collect things (feathers, pebbles, leaves) or spot things (acorns, birds, animal tracks).
  • Play "follow the arrow": take 3 sticks and arrange them in an arrow.  Send the children ahead and get them to make the arrow shape that will guide you all home.
  • Follow My Leader: get the children to decide on the route.  Ask them which paths to take or which way to turn.
  • Make a map: draw a map of the route as you go, marking on special land marks.
  • Snacks: take snacks to keep energy high and moral positive!  Offer snacks when they find things or spot something fun.
  • Play camouflage: send the children ahead and get them to hide.  When you are near get them to jump out and surprise you!
  • Do other things along the way: if you see logs, try and climb them, if you spot a brook try and cross it and any good climbing trees must be conquered!  Help the little ones to climb up - they will love it!
  • Be prepared for weather changes: take waterproofs as you don't want to be caught in a shower!
  • Take the right equipment: make sure everyone has wellies or walking shoes to avoid hearing moaning children (and adults!) if their feet get wet.
  • Listen to the children: if they get tired, try not to force them to go on... it may put them off for ever!


We're All Going On A Summer Holiday

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Days out, Kids Activities , Tags: car, games, journies, safety, travel

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Whether its some long distance driving in England to stay with family or friends or a full blown European motoring vacation, the thought of taking children on a long car journey can seem a great idea when costing out the family holiday, but as the day approaches it seems more and more daunting. 

The secret to a successful trip is to invest some time before you set off so you're prepared and ready to entertain, challenge and keep happy those delightful little passengers strapped in their cosy car seats in the back row.

  • Think kids: The most important thing is to remember that they are only kids.  They may not be interested in alpine skylines or breathtaking sea scape.  Think about how they see things and try to think like them.
  • Prepare the car: Before you go, have a good clear out of the car inside.  Get rid of old crayons and rubbish tucked in between the seats.  Throw away scrappy colouring books and freshen up the whole car.  Get the kids helping clear up and polish, wipe and scrub away the year's mess and rubbish that may have accumulated.  Give the car a good vacuum and clean the outside too.  This way you'll feel much more ready to hit the road!
  • Supplies: Make sure you have wipes, plasters, first aid kits etc on board just in case.  Plus emergency drinks, sucky sweets (in case of feeling a bit car sick).  Also you may wish to think about blankets, pillows, torch, fire extinguisher and jump leads... just in case!
  • Safety inside the car: Keep the back of the car clear of any baggage or things rolling around, if you can.  Get a good holder to keep all the supplies together and safe.
  • Treats: Ration the treats and entertainment you bring along.  Don't use up all your good ideas before you even hit the motorway.
  • Entertainment:
    1. Take some different coloured mega blocks and can see if the children can arrange them in order when you shout out the colours.  So, say, red, blue green and see how long it takes them to assemble accordingly. For babies, just getting them to play with a couple of block can easily amuse them
    2. Bubbles - blow bubbles (especially good for babies).
    3. Balls - to have a run about and play in the open air when you stop.
    4. Books - old favourites and perhaps a few new ones.  CDs of spoken books are great too.
    5. Post it notes - allow them to write notes and stick them everywhere!  Easily removed and their arms won't stretch too high to obscure the driver's view.
    6. Make up a story inspired by what you see outside.
    7. Wool, hole punch and old birthday cards - get the children to punch hold, then thread with the wool.


Playground Safety

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Days out , Tags: fun, outdoors, playgrounds, safey

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There are some great playgrounds and play parks all over the country ranging from marvelous gated parks such as the Princess Diana Memorial Play Park in Kensington Gardens, London where the huge Peter Pan pirate ship play ground is surrounded by sensory gardens and a musical maze, to the tiny play park at the end of the round. Whatever facilities you have nearby, it's great to get out and enjoy the parks with the children.

However, there are thousands of accidents in play parks each year ranging from broken bones to concussions and sprains.

The age group at the highest risk are those between 6 and 9.

Play it Safe

Obviously you don't want to ban them from going to the playground, because you're scared they will fall over and hurt themselves, because its healthy to be out in the fresh air, exercising, practising physical skills and developing their social skills. However, you don't want to end up in A&E with a broken limb! Yes, there are risks, yes they may fall,but here are some tips to reduce the chance of accidents.

  • Check the equipment: give a quick look round to check the apparatus looks sturdy and safe... especially if you are on holiday abroad in a new place that you don't know well.
  • Talk about playground rules before you go in. Ask the children what they know already and make sure they understand how to play safely. This should include: not going near moving swings, holding on tight to swings and climbing frames, keeping shoes on etc.
  • Make sure they don't touch anything they find that looks unusual or unfamiliar. Instead they should come and find you.
  • If they break a rule, warn them they will be removed from the park if they do it again and explain why the need to play safely... and stick to it if they do disobey you!
  • Report any breakages to the park authority.
  • Have fun!


Technology and Working with ICT

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Days out, Kids Activities , Tags: camera, colours, ict, letters, photography, photos, projects, technology

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Using technology to teach and inspire children is vital in this day where computers are commonplace, digital gadgets are all over the place and technology is so much more accessible.

Many children have their own toy cameras now, which is great to see the world through the eyes of the children.

However, you can try to give the camera usage a little more direction by setting the children photography projects such as:-

  • Things that make me happy (ice cream, friends)
  • Things that are brightly coloured (coat, bike)
  • Things that don't belong here (litter dropped on the pavement etc.)
  • Things that are beautiful (nature, trees)
  • Things featuring numbers (shop phone number, house number)
  • Things featuring letters (road names, signs)
  • Things we need (post boxes, front doors)
  • People I love... etc.

You could set the challenge of photographing things that begin with the alphabet letters.

  • Find an Apple, Bed, Cup, Desk, Egg, Fence etc.
  • Find various colours: find find 5 red items.
  • Find a certain number of things: find 3 socks, 2 teddies etc.

When the pictures are taken, show the children how to load the images onto the computer.  Describe what happens as you flick through the pictures and sort them.  Show them how you print them and trim to size etc.  You could then create a booklet displaying the images in order and writing the appropriate letter on each page.



Flying with Children

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting, Days out , Tags: flying, holiday, plane, tips, travel

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According to a recent study, one in five parents will not fly with their children on holiday purely because it is too stressful. Six out of ten said their children could not sit still for more than 30 minutes on a plane and nearly half are worried that their child might suffer from air-sickness.  Showing a concern for other travellers 46% feared their little ones would upset other passengers and 34% were worried that their babies would cry.

  • Comforters: pack them in your hand luggage and bring them out if you need to; favourite toys or story books, a bottle or drink may also help.
  • Don’t mislead children: tell them the truth about how ling the flight is so they are prepared for a long one if it is going to be a long one.
  • Try not to get stressed in front of them - even if you are delayed or there are problems.  They will pick up on it.
  • Tell them in advance what it might be like: ie. no walking around or jumping on the seats!
  • Stagger your entertainment: don't bring all the treats, toys, ideas for games out at once!  Stagger them if you can.
  • Snacks: bring lots of nice food (for you and the little ones!) to keep everyone happy, especially if the children might not like the look of the food available on the plane.
  • Timing: allow lots more time for things as it will take more time with little ones in tow.


Anger at Battersea Play Area Charges

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Health, Days out

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Children are signing a petition against Wandsworth Council's plan to introduce a £2.50 entrance fee to Battersea Park's adventure playground at the weekends. They argue that half of the children enjoying the facility at the weekends are from outside the borough, yet Wandsworth residents have to stump up the £200,000 annual maintenance fee.  Angry residents claim that the move is intended simply to keep Wandsworth's famously low council tax the cheapest in the country, using children's facilities to subsidise other services.

Luckily this is unlikely to set a precedent for other play areas across the country.  The adventure playground serves children aged 5 - 16 and is staffed during opening hours.  As most play facilities across the country are not permanently staffed, introducing an entrance fee would automatically require the introduction of additional cost simply to collect revenues and so makes the move less feasible.

An adjacent toddler play area is not earmarked for the pilot charging scheme, so Wandsworth's army of child carers can relax in the knowledge that they still have somewhere for their toddlers to play!



Ouch! It's a bee sting!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Health, Days out , Tags: bees, outdoors, stings, summer, wasps

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At this time of year, its lovely to be outside in the warm weather but there are also some unwelcome bugs and insects that are beginning to show up too. Children are often afraid of wasps or bees as they buzz around and its hard for them to enjoy themselves sometimes for fear of being stung.

Try to explain that:

  • on the whole, not many people are stung by bees and wasps when you think how many people are outside over the summer months.
  • they should try to stay calm and still if one comes buzzing around
  • wipe up after eating chocolate or ice lollies as the sugary smell will attract wasps
  • don't wear perfumed sun cream
  • always wear shoes outside even on the grass as bees and wasps do settle on the ground
  • use non-perfumed shampoo and soap as the sweet smell is attractive
  • use unfragranced baby wipes to wipe up spills/faces rather than the fragranced sort

If your child is stung:

  • try to stay calm.  Stings are painful but are rarely dangerous.  Deal with the shock first so give plenty of support and comfort.
  • elevate the stung area to reduce swelling and apply an ice pack or cold compress.   A wet tissue soaked in water is good as the children can hold this to the sting themselves.
  • if symptoms persist go to the doctor.
  • if it was a bee sting, try to find it and remove it.  Scrape the sting away side ways so no more poison is injected.  Wasps don't leave a sting behind.  The advice is not to use tweezers as if not done expertly, it can mean the sting goes further in and can be even more painful.
  • if the sting is somewhere dangerous (mouth or throat) act quickly and get the child to the hospital as swelling could block their airway.  Sucking on an ice cub or drinking ice cold water can help in the short term.


Photoshoot

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Days out, Kids Activities , Tags: camera, nature, ourdoors, photography, photos, pictures

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Now that the warm weather is here - hopefully to stay - it's a great chance to get outside and capture the pretty things that appear in spring.  If you have a digital camera, a phone with a camera on it or a kiddie digital camera why not go out on a photo shoot.

  • Discuss where you want to go... the local park, a pond or river nearby or the garden.
  • Plan together what you should take: snacks, drink, sun hat, blanket for resting on or note book to draw things.
  • Talk about when to go (morning time when the birds are singing, lunchtime when the sun is brightest and highest, or evening when things are covered in the glow of the setting sun.

Allow your little one access to the camera - with supervision.  See what they are attracted to and help them take photos. You could focus on different things:

  • Colours: Take photos of different coloured things line green grass, brown bark, pink blossom, white daisies. See how many you collect.
  • Texture: take photos of different textures like rough tree, smooth leaf, bumpy path, silky flowers.
  • Size: take pictures of small, medium and large and super-large things such as tiny ants, medium shrubby bushes, large fallen trunks and massive towering trees.
  • Mini beasts: find and photograph as many mini beasts and animals you can find: insects, squirrels, butterflies, spiders and webs, birds etc.

Have a happy, snappy time!



Happy Twitching!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Family, Days out, Kids Activities , Tags: bird watching, birds, counting, garden, park, rspb, survey

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This weekend is dedicated to our garden birds - the country’s biggest survey takes place with families all over the country grabbing pens and paper to record what birds come to their gardens.  Teach your children about the different birds to be seen in your garden, talk about the different colours and how to identify each type of bird.

To participate in the bird survey, simply go out into your garden or to a local park and sit for an hour (quietly!) and watch for birds. Note down what species you see and count them as you spot them. They must land in the garden or park rather than fly over.

When you have observed for an hour, and have your results, simply log your findings on the RSPB website (www.rspb.org.uk). There is a handy print out sheet on the site too to help identify the birds and, you can get a copy of last year’s results too.  Why not have your little ones draw a picture of your garden or the park with the different birds they have seen too?  Try making a map to show where you spotted each bird.

This event has been taking place for some thirty years. There have been results from nearly 280,000 gardens which gives experts an idea of how bird numbers are diminishing.

It is also great fun, good number practice and you'll feel part of a great effort to keep our local birds.  Happy Twitching!



Travel Games on London Underground

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, Preschool Children, Days out , Tags: bus, colours, letters, london underground, numbers, plane, shapes, train, tube, underground

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Getting young toddlers to sit still on the London Underground can be slightly tricky because it's such an exciting place to be, and lots of other tube passengers are standing, so why shouldn't your little one?!

Luckily there is so much distinct iconography inside tube trains that can inspire even the youngest traveller to play fun games.  Look for different colours, shapes and letters.  Look around a tube carriage and you'll see yellow warning triangles, red circles for London Underground's logo and no entry signs on doors between carriages, blue rectangles and squares with notices inside.

You'll see the tube maps with lots of coloured lines on - ask your little one what colours they see.

Look for letters in the signs and adverts stuck all over the carriage, look for the letters that your children's names begin with.  Look for numbers - especially the number of how old they are.

Play I-Spy looking for items of different colours ('I-Spy, with my little eye, something that is red').

Older children can look around and spot all the different warning signs and instructions littered around the carriage - have you ever noticed just how many rules there are when you embark on an Underground journey?!

Of course most of these games will adapt to any train ride, and even journeys on buses or planes too.

You'll be amazed at just how quickly your journey goes, no matter how long it is.  Just take care that you don't have so much fun that you miss your stop!



Travelling with Children

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toys and Games, Days out , Tags: car, games, journey, travel games, travelling

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During the Christmas holiday, there is every chance that you will be taking a long car journey with your little ones to visit family or friends away from home.  We nearly all dread this element of time away from home, but with a little help it needn't be a total nightmare.  Here are some tips!

Travelling with a new or tiny baby. Pack up the car and then feed well and then leave quickly.  Hopefully they will be lulled to sleep by the motion of the car, and you'll have a nice, quiet journey.  When the next feed is due, try and stop around this time and feed in a service stop or somewhere calm and warm.  Then head back on the road, and they are likely to nod off again.  Keep some favourite toys nearby so you can clip them to the car seat if they wake and need amusement.

Travelling with toddlers. This may be a bit more of a challenge as they get tired and bored and restless sitting in one position in a car for too long.  It's understandable, really!

  • Leave really early before the morning rush hour.  Transport your toddler to the car whilst still asleep and get most of the journey under-way before the traffic gets busy and before the little one wakes up!
  • Have a sun shade in case low winter sun streams in through the window.  It can be very irritating and cause lots of trouble for a toddler if the sun is directly in their eyes.
  • Get a rear seat mirror especially if you are the only driver so you can see what's going on without worrying too much and turning round in traffic.
  • Plan stops so you can all get out and have a run about to stretch legs and get some fresh air.  Every 2 hours is probably best.  Change nappies and have a toilet stop even if you don't need it.
  • Attach a box on the seat next to the toddler with a few toys, colouring and crayons etc. so they can go through the box and help themselves rather than you trying to pass over things during the journey.
  • Play games: the old ones are the best!  I-Spy, Spot a Red/Green/Yellow car, First to see a... (lorry, telephone box etc).
  • Have all you will need in the change bag including bottles, milk etc and all changing things.  Searching through the suitcase to find a clean pair of trousers can be very frustrating and time consuming.
  • Have lots of dry snacks for the journey to keep hungry tummies full and active fingers happy!

Bon voyage!



Remember, Remember!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting, Days out , Tags: bon fire, danger, fire, fireworks, sparklers

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Remember, remember the 5th of November: we all know the rhyme, but still each year there are so many accidents when it comes to fireworks, sparklers and Bonfire night.  The number of accidents from fireworks has been decreasing over recent years, but there are still important lessons to learn from previous years.

Here is a quick reminder of some basic rules when it comes to fireworks night.

  1. Don't throw used fireworks onto bonfires to burn them.  Instead always put used fireworks in a bucket of cold water.
  2. Don't get too close to fireworks.  Keep children and pets far away, and indeed any other adults not involved in lighting the fireworks themselves.
  3. Don't play around with fireworks or bonfires.  They are dangerous even when not lit!
  4. Don't approach a firework once it has been lit
  5. Store fireworks in a closed metal box if possible
  6. Transport fireworks in their original boxes and not in your pocket
  7. Do not give sparklers to children under 8
  8. Supervise all children closely on fireworks night just in case they wander over to where they should not be
  9. Light sparklers one at a time
  10. To use sparklers, wear gloves and hold sparklers at arms length, do not touch the end when it goes out,  place in a bucket of water.

Try and visit an organised firework display rather than putting on your own event, as much as anything the fireworks will be bigger and better than ones you can buy in the shops!

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Hi! I'm Tikal the Toucan, the mascot for ToucanLearn. Follow my blog to find out interesting things relating to babies, toddlers and preschool children!

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