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10 Simple Ideas for Days Out this Summer

Days out in the summertime don’t need to cost a fortune. Families can have a great time in their local area by enjoying outdoor activities, whether means heading to a nearby beach, exploring natural trails or camping out in your own back garden.

Here are ten simple ideas for family-friendly days out this summer:

Blue Flag Beaches

Blue Flag Beaches

We all love a day out at the beach, but how do you know which ones are best for your family? Blue Flag beaches are considered to be the cleanest, most well kept beaches with the highest water quality and safety services available. The UK has 178 Blue Flag beaches located all around the country. You can use this handy map to find your nearest Blue Flag beach.

Geocaching

How about taking the whole family on an outdoor treasure hunt? Geocaches are hidden boxes filled with unknown surprises that are dotted all around the country. All you need is a handheld GPS and you can download the coordinates for geocaches in your area. Geocaching is great for getting children active outdoors and their boosting map reading and problem solving skills. You can also try geocaching with the National Trust.

Woodland Walks

There are woodland walks and nature trails all around the UK, so no matter where you are you won’t need to go far for this activity. If your little ones are reluctant to get their trainers on and go out walking, encourage them by creating fun tasks such as collecting leaves which can be used for art projects at home, or spotting different kinds of wildlife. You can search for your nearest woodland walks on the Woodland Trust’s online map.

Fossil or Interesting Rock Hunting

Are your children born explorers? Fossil hunting could be the activity for them. There are a few spots across the UK which are famed for their fossils, including the Jurassic coast in the South West, the South Downs in West Sussex and the Yorkshire coast to name just a few. Fossil hunting is a great way for children to learn about rock formations and the environment. The National Trust has a full list of all the top fossil hunting spots in the UK. You may be surprised what is on your doorstep and if you can’t find a fossil you should be able to find some interesting rocks which will teach your children about the geography below their feet.

Pick Your Own!

Pick Your Own

Fruit picking is lots of fun for children, but make sure you know what fruits are in season before you go. Strawberries are usually ready June to August, while raspberries are only available for picking during July. The blackberry season is a bit longer, extending from July to early November. You can search for your nearest PYO farms here. Once you’ve got your berries, you can have making your own jam or just eating them straight from the basket!

Picnic in the Park

Putting together a picnic is a great way to encourage children to help out in the kitchen. Simply by making some sandwiches, blending some chickpeas to make hummus, and bringing along some chopped vegetables and fresh fruits, you can have an excellent healthy picnic basket in no time.

Castle Ruins

Visiting castles and ruins is not only an adventure, but also a great way for children to learn about history. The UK is home to some incredible stone castles, which you can look up on the CastleXplorer map. Many castles are owned and protected by heritage organisations and therefore have an entrance fee. You can save money by becoming an annual member.

Garden Camping

Garden Campin

You don’t to drive for miles to enjoy a camping trip. For young children, camping outside in your own back garden can be just as fun. Teach children how to set up a tent, using the poles to make the structure and pegging the strings into the ground. When evening rolls in, enjoy a small campfire and toast some marshmallows. Night time is the perfect opportunity for some stargazing too.

Kite Flying

Let’s go fly a kite, up to the highest height! Kite flying is a favourite pastime of young and old alike. If you don’t have a kite already, you can make one at home using sticks from the local woods, a spare rubbish bag and some string. Head on up to your nearest hill or a windy spot and watch your kite soar.

Local Conservation

The summer holidays gives families plenty of time to get involved with conservation projects in their local area. These will vary depending on the area in which you live but you can usually get involved with beach cleanups, wildlife spotting and monitoring animal population numbers. You can contact the National Trust, the RSPB and other local charities in your area to find out what programmes will be running during the summer months.

Don’t forget to see ideas from What’s On 4 Juniors too in our annual round-up of ‘Days Out & Getaways’ : http://www.whatson4littleones.co.uk/days-outgetaways.asp

Days Out & Getaways 2015 with What’s On 4 Juniors

About the Author: Sam Flatman is an Educational Consultant for Pentagon Sport. Pentagon have worked with over 5,000 settings to create innovative playgrounds and learning environments for young students. He has been designing playgrounds for the past 10 years and has a passion for outdoor education. Sam believes that outdoor learning is an essential part of child development, which can be integrated into the new school curriculum. He is currently based in Bristol with his two sons.

Website: http://www.pentagonsport.co.uk
Pentagon’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PentagonSportUK
Pentagon’s Twitter: @PentagonSportUK

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Why Children Should Play with Their Veggies

Struggling to get your little ones to eat their greens? A new study may have the answer.
In some areas of the UK, up to 40% of pre-school children refuse to eat their vegetables, and only one in five children consumes the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. Getting children to eat their apples and enjoy those sprouts isn’t always simple, but letting children play with them could help.Creative-craft-Using-vegetables-as-stamps-1

Children who are introduced to unfamiliar fruits and vegetables during play time are almost a third more likely to give those foods a try when it comes to mealtimes, according to the recent study. It is hoped familiarising children with healthy foods at an early age will also kick-start a healthier diet as they grow up.

As part of the study, children aged between 12 and 36 months were introduced to sweet potato, broad beans, rhubarb and pomegranates, during play time at nursery school every day for four weeks. Children chose to touch and taste the fruits and vegetables that they had played with earlier in the day, but were less keen to take on board the other vegetables that they didn’t know.

Dr Carmel Houston-Price, who led the study, said: “Our study showed that introducing new foods through fun familiarisation activities such as letting children poke their fingers inside foods, smelling them and drawing pictures of them, increased toddlers’ willingness to touch and taste them at mealtimes – especially the vegetables.” She added, that the “research could help parents to introduce more vegetables into children’s diets, and encourage children to make healthy food choices and actually enjoy eating healthily as they grow older.”fruitkebabs

Why not try out these fun, hands on activities with your children and see if it makes them more keen to eat green:

Edible Fruit Paints: These easy to make paints are great for littles ones who love licking their sticky fingers! Simply puree fruits to make the paints. Use fruits with strong colours to get better paints, such as pomegranates for red, blueberries for blue, and passionfruit for orange.

Veggie Stamps: Potato stamps are a childhood favourite for many of us, but we don’t need to just use potatoes. Try carving shapes into other root veg, such as butternut squash, swede and turnips, and cutting up unusual shaped veg such as okra and cauliflower. Once the stamps are made, children can create patterns using their coloured fruit paints.

Rainbow Lollies: Cut up a variety of fruits into cubes and let children enjoy threading them onto wooden lollipop sticks ready for eating later as delicious icy treats. Soft fruits are better for this; try using watermelon, cantaloupe, bananas and kiwi. The best part: everyone can eat them afterwards!

Author Bio: Sam Flatman is an Educational Consultant for Pentagon Sport. Pentagon have worked with over 5000 settings to create innovative playgrounds and learning environments for young students. He has been designing playgrounds for the past 10 years and has a passion for outdoor education. Sam believes that outdoor learning is an essential part of child development and can easily be integrated into the new school curriculum. He is currently based in Bristol with his two sons. He is also an uncle to a 2 year old niece, who loves playing with her vegetables!

Website: http://www.pentagonsport.co.uk
Pentagon’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PentagonSportUK
Pentagon’s Twitter: @PentagonSportUK

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Ticking All The Boxes For a Perfect Getaway…

We are proud to be working with The Hotel Nanny, one of our 2014 “What’s On 4 Junior Awards” Sponsors.Image

“I’m a mum of two and like many mothers I love spending time with my family as it’s the most rewarding job in the world. From the day I became a parent I knew that I would love my children unconditionally, I would never stop worrying about their well being and I would try my best to give them all of the opportunities and experiences that life has to offer. I’ve also learnt that I need some time to myself to re-energise and break away from the mummy mould in order to keep my own identity and make time for my husband. As parents, we have an awful lot of things to nurture and it can be an impressive circus act keeping all of those plates spinning in a consistent way.

Prior to having children, my husband and I enjoyed weekends away in exclusive hotels and with a good dual-income, we didn’t think twice about it. We still enjoy a get away but now choose special occasions to indulge as we take the whole family.

Some years ago, when my eldest daughter was crawling, we decided to treat ourselves and booked a beautiful hotel in Devon for the weekend. During the day we had a ball. Molly was able to crawl the length of the grounds without us having to redirect her every five minutes, the sun was shining so we could enjoy our lunch outside and let her play with her toys on the lawn. We took her for a dip in the pool and she enjoyed watching the other guests riding horses in a nearby field. In the evening it was slightly trickier. The Michelin star restaurant was fantastic and we decided to have an early dinner and take Molly with us. The staff were exceptional in terms of services and also their ability to keep our daughter entertained so that we could enjoy our meal but it was a bit of a strain Imageand we decided to eat our dessert in the room.   The meal was on the pricier side and, with hindsight, room services would’ve been a better option.

A friend had a similar experience and it led her to launch a brilliant new business venture – The Hotel Nanny. They’re the only agency in the UK to provide a bespoke nanny service for exclusive hotels.

The owner, Angela Roach, only works with the very best of child practitioners. All nannies are formally trained in childcare and have a wealth of nanny experience, many have also trained as primary school teachers, teaching assistants or nursery nurses before they took a break and had their own children. They’re all CRB checked and paediatric first aiders, the nannies also need at least four years of experience to be considered. Once they have been selected and join the team, there is in-house training and the nannies are constantly assessed. Angela knows that it can be a daunting prospect leaving your child with a nanny, especially when you are on holiday and away from home. Therefore, she has responded to this by building a framework that offers the parent absolute reassurance that The Hotel Nanny team will deliver only the best care for the children and the best service for the parents, to put the family at total ease while maximising on all the wonderful hotel facilities.

Quite a few of my friends have had children before they decided to tie the knot. This is another situation when The Hotel Nanny comes into it’s own as the agency provides a team of nannies for the bride and groom, and also guests with children.

My kids are now 7 and 4 which means that I’ve been able to take up work again and so we can justify a weekend away with nanny services. For us, it’s about giving everyone in the family a mini break. We entertain the children in the day time and then my husband and I enjoy a late afternoon spa session followed by dinner. Everyone’s a winner!”

Vicki Cheadle (mum of 2)

 

Notes

Visit The Hotel Nanny online www.thehotelnanny.co.uk.

Enquiries: +44 (0)1666 504562 or email enquiries@thehotelnanny.co.uk

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Now anyone can get their dancing shoes on with babyballet …and ‘Big Ballet’ on Channel 4

Thousands of British babies and youngsters have fallen in love with dance – and exercise – over the past eight yeaImagers thanks to Yorkshire mum-of-four Claire O’Connor.

The 40-year-old set up her own song and dance academy, babyballet in Halifax in 2005 and can now lay claim to running the UK’s leading pre-school dance concept.  She has 58 franchisees across the country with over 10,000 youngsters attending 996 classes, and has won numerous awards for her work, including ITV’s Mumpreneur and Best Business Parent.

These days, babyballet is a recognised children’s brand. Alongside classes it has a thriving gift shop selling branded goods, its own distinctive babyballet car for franchisees, and loveable characters Twinkle and Teddy and Fluttery the Fairy who take part in numerous children’s festivals across the country.

Claire, who started theImage company with no capital investment and only a handful of staff, spotted a gap in the market for non-competitive dance classes that not only accepted the best, and has spent the last nine years spreading the word that ballet can be enjoyed by everyone, not just the elite. This year has got off to a great start for her.  She was handpicked to take part in a new three-part documentary, Big Ballet which follows a troupe of plus-size dancers as they realise their dream of dancing Swan Lake.  The Channel 4 series started on Thursday, February 6 and has attracted media attention from across the globe, along with a great deal of controversy.

Here Claire tells us about her involvement in the series and why she believes dance is good for all of us – no matter what our shape or size.

“I think it would be fair to say that taking part in Big Ballet has been the most uplifting and inspiring experience of my life.  My feet literally haven’t touched the ground since word broke about the life-affirming new documentary series, and it feels like the country has gone ballet mad.

I’ve appeared on The One Show, This Morning and ITV’s Yorkshire regional news programme Calendar, along with numImageerous newspapers and magazines.  What’s thrilled me most of all however is the reviews the programme has had from critics. They have called it sweet, heart-warming and a triumph over adversity. It’s certainly been a personal triumph for me.

I was picked to take part in the series because of my painful experiences with ballet. I attended classes ran by my mum, Barbra Peters, but discovered ballet and I didn’t fit because I was the wrong shape. I gave up at 14 and it left me with a lack of self-confidence and poor body image.

I started babyballet because I didn’t want this to happen to others, and while it has been a huge success, I’ve never really laid my personal ghosts to rest – until I took part in the show.  I feel like my life has now gone full circle. I loved ballet, I fell out with it and now thanks to the series not only do I love it again but I have finally accepted my body shape and ability and am happy to be me.

Best of all, the programme echoes the ethos of babyballet, that ballet and dance isn’t just for the super skinny, it’s for everyone, and the benefits are truly amazing.  Whether it’s ballet or ballroom, modern or tap, dancing is a great way for people of all ages and physical abilities to get and stay in shape.  Simply put, dancing just doesn’t feel like exercise but the truth is, dance offers a total body workout using all the major muscles groups and provides heart-healthy benefits.

ImageBabies develop through being active and exploring the environment so moving and grooving activities helps them develop key skills in all areas of their development such as coordination, balance, flexibility and strength.  Being physical in a creative way also helps their self-esteem and self-confidence and encourages them to explore the world around them. babyballet is all about self-awareness and inspiring confidence. Learning to move to dance is quite an advanced skill. It helps develop children’s bodies and brains. Research shows babies are born to dance and really enjoy it.

Dancing is great for other things too as you age, including reducing stress, and because it increases serotonin levels, your general sense of well-being improves. But by far the best news is that dancing makes you smarter.  Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that stimulating one’s mind by dancing improves your memory and cognitive function and can help ward off Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia.  It says that more is better and the sooner you start the better too.

I have seen first-hand how dancing keeps you fit and young thanks to my mum.  She started dancing at the age of two and at 76 is still dancing now.  After Big Ballet I decided I wanted to encourage women to put their dancing shoes back on and I have recently started adult classes, which are proving really popular.

Big Ballet currently goes out at 9pm on a Thursday and stars former Royal Ballet principal Wayne Sleep and ballerina Monica Loughman.  I hope you will tune in to the frank and refreshing glimpse into a world obsessed with size and make up your own minds.”

Click here to find out more about babyballet >>>

Visit What’s On 4 Little Ones to search for babyballet classes in your region >>>

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What Makes A Winner?

What makes a winner?! Suzanne and Family from What’s On 4 found out during their visit to ‘Fishers Farm Park’ Image– winners of the What’s On 4 Junior award ‘Best Family Day Out’ in 2013!

The Farm Park is well signposted and easily found, surrounded by acres of Sussex countryside and very accessible from surrounding counties Surrey and Hampshire.  We received a very warm welcome at the ticket desk and lots of information on all there was to do plus the special timetabled extra activities. It was then I realised we should have arrived earlier!

ImageFisher’s Farm Park is just full to bursting with attractions, activities, features and fun. We visited with Ruby (aged 4) and George (aged 8) and they were non-stop all day – horse riding, climbing walls, small animal petting, zip wires (with a handy toddler version!), water-play, paddle boats, trampolines, tractor rides, squirrel scrambles, galleons, mini fairground rides, play areas, massive jumping pillows, mini golf – the list goes on and on. The excitement of the sheep racing will stay with me for some time! Inside was a fab, spacious soft play area with comfy chairs alongside and a great little café for grown-ups needing a sit down!

We visited on an August Sunday but because there’s so much to do and the park is on such big site we hardly had to queue for any activities – unlike other attractions we had visited previously where you can spend the best part of the day in line! There was great picnic areas and cafes and a really nice shop with lots of ‘pocket money’ prices. One element which really made the visit was the atImagetitude of the many staff who were so friendly, helpful and smiley all day – even when it was raining! I don’t know how they did it!

My over-riding impression of Fishers Farm Park is that it’s an attraction run by a very committed, focused team. Secondly that it offers excellent value for money – we didn’t manage to do everything and so my son went back less than a week later to celebrate his birthday!  We are really not surprised that they won the award therefore – it’s an excellent place for all the family – just make sure you go for the whole day – you won’t regret it!

You can see Imagemore at their website here – www.fishersfarmpark.co.uk and they are building even more attractions soon and we’ll be back at half-term for the Halloween special!

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September 9, 2013 · 10:29 am