Saturday, 19 July 2014

Week Review - Libraries, leisure centres, art, music and sculpture...

Every week me and the girls do something, go somewhere and I keep forgetting to take a photo grrrr!!! So I am have making a mid year new years resolution!!! One Evening a week up date the blog on where we've been regardless of photos.

The library is a lovely new library attached to Ralph Thoresby Secondary School.
I was so impressed by the staff there on Tuesday. Genuinely lovely and helpful!

This is more a post for The leisure centre provisions in general -I was really impressed by the 5 page handout available for all the holiday activities. However, there is hardly anything apart from the bouncy castle and big splash swim sessions available for under 4s. Trampolining is over 5s, arts and crafts over 4s. I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to tap in to the families that use the leisure centre during the week whilst big kids are at school. We still have our kids with us and the classes we normally do are off. So... a few more for the little 'uns please?! OK so there's also striker Tots for kids but we'd done that for 2 terms and she's footballed OUT!

We had our last Rhythm time session today and I was genuinely sad. This has been such a fantastic music class. Di and Barbara are so lovely. The group lesson itself is so well thought through and designed and it feels genuinely educational for the kids rather than just signing songs etc which I would do myself at home anyway. The toddler class is brilliant because you get a free CD for the start of every term. LOVE LOVE LOVE Rhythm time and recommend it wholeheartedly!

I finally made it to Fingertips! I had been recommended it loads and finally went. Fingertips is run by Steph and has been up and running at Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley since February this year. the studio is ofsted registered and not only can you drop in for sessions but you can book the kids in for a preschool session and go get some jobs done! 

The studio reminded me of a lovely early years classroom. Everything is set out at child height and the children can help themselves to whichever resources inspire them. 

We popped in for the stay and create session: Because it was the last session before the end of term, the children could free flow and play and create as they wish. Usually Steph will have a planned art activity initially and then the children can free flow.

There was cardboard out on the floor with a variety of paint colours and different mark making tools - obviously my 3 year old decided to paint her entire hand and arm. and use that to make marks. BRILLIANT!
It's great for kids to be free to explore and get messy in an environment without having to worry about getting things dirty! There was a massive box the girls enjoyed drawing on and a small table where my 3 year old enjoyed cutting and stamping out shapes. There's also a book corner and my little one bonded with another child over a picture book of Rapunzel with the soundtrack to Frozen in the background :-)

As I was chatting to Steph after the session she was setting up for her baby Sensory Group - the things she was getting ready looked ACE. There was cars in a tray of oats, powder paint and flour, spaghetti, jelly and a host of other sensory delights! Steph is absolutely lovely, really passionate about what she is doing and the different ways she can use fingertips as a platform for others. She has teamed up with a baby sling library. Mum's and their babies can come in for a session for £5 have a cup of tea, babies get arty and mum's can try on different slings and chat with each other in a space that the kids get benefit from. Better than a coffee shop!!! She is also running after school activities and does birthday parties which sound fantastic - check out her website!

Back to the studio... Sessions are £5 for an hour and siblings are £3. I would recommend you have a visit,especially if you don't 'do' messy at home. The children really love it!!

This month the session was led by Nichola Pemberton entitled paper people inspired by the  Thomas Houseago's sculpture outside the art gallery at the moment. There were massive rolls of paper that could be crawled through, crumpled and sculpted. I had my 14 month old with me and she just wanted to make some marks and generally 'ta' pencils to Nichola, then to me then back to Nichola repeat repeat repeat. 

I can't recommend the playground sessions enough! They are awesome. The only problems are that... they are sadly only once a month so it feels like ages if we miss one. And it's not that well advertised. Here's a link...

And that's all for now...
Another fabulous week in Leeds

Wednesday, 9 July 2014


Lister Park in Bradford is about a 6 mile drive from leeds - Half hour drive.

We arrived midweek for 10am. Easy drive, not much traffic and loads of parking. You can park on North Road or as you pass the hall  on your right you turn in to the park and can park along the road there. It's free and SO easy to park. 

I had no idea what to expect at the park so my first impression was 'wow, this is really lovely!' We walked round the side of Cartwright Hall up to the main entrance. GORGEOUS!

 Lovely manicured gardens and stunning sculptures at the front.

We were going to the SQUASH and a SQUEEZE Exhibition inside the gallery - if you have pushchairs, go round the back there is a lift. I will do the exhibition seperate.

  • Lister Park is a lovely sized public park that can easily be covered in a day visit. 
  • There is a lovely Art Gallery with super nice and helpful staff - Toilets at the front entrance. Lifts available at the back of the building.
  • An adventure Play area - although the playground is obviously not brand new, there have been repairs and the play area itself was very clean.
  • A Boating Pavillion and Coffee Shop - next door to the adventure playground. Toilet available there. We went on a pedal boat ride - £5 for 2 people and a £1 for each extra person - sits up to 5 adults.
  • Mughal Water Gardens is a very peaceful area right next to the Art Gallery with water fountains and streams flowing into each other. There are ramps which the kids really enjoyed walking over.
  • The whole park is 100% pushchair accesible.
  • After the Boating Lake there is an absolutely gorgeous Botanical Gardens with lovely secret paths to excite my 3 year old. A geological trail and lots of informative signs.
  • A sensory Garden within the Botanical Garden was lots of fun trying to find all the different plants to touch and smell.
The gardens are so well kept and there was hardly any litter, really lovely place to spend the day. This was an amazing adventure friday destination which, doesn't need to cost very much at all!

5/5 for this lovely park and ART Gallery!


Here are a few photo's of our adventure...

Mughal Water Gardens

Children's Play Park

 On a peddalo on the Boating Pond
 Botanical Garden Trail

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Adventure Friday - National Media Museum

For this adventure, we got the train to National Media Museum in Bradford. Easy! Quick train from Leeds station and a 5 minute walk to the museum. The underpass makes it super easy with kids and buggies.

  • Awesome child friendly museum. 
  • Loads for kids to touch and play with. I went with 2 year olds and they were able to engage with quite a few exhibits.
  • The cafe is nice and spacious with delicious smelling pizza on offer. They do children's boxes for about £4.50. There is also a picnic area if you have packed lunches. 
  • The national film archive on the top floor is fantastic. We watched the snowman! It was nice for the kids to have a bit of a chill out before gettong the train home.

Totally recommended and worth what might feel like a trek but actually turns out to be a happy adventure! So go on!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Adventure Friday 2 - Hawksworth Woods

So... If you go down to the woods today.... you're sure for a big surprise...
LOADS OF FUN that's what!!! 

If you have a look on the  Woodland Trust website
You can search for woodlands near you. I am aiming to go to most of the woods around leeds so will update all here.

WHERE:  Hawksworth Woods - Horsforth, Kirkstall  - 3 miles from leeds town hall.
WHO: 6 mommas, 7 2-and-3-year-olds, 2 9-month-olds

PARKING: You can park free on Hawksworth Road, there are entrances to the woods on both new road side and butcher hill.
Buses go passed both sides of the woods - 50, 33

The woods are long and narrow but really kid friendly. They're about a mile long so an easy one for walking and the paths are compact so you can take pushchairs in if you have really little ones. we like to go off piste a little so there was a lot of log and stone climbing.
Finding a den

Which way?

So... there was loads to do in the woods, we jumped in muddy puddles, I took empty plastic pots from the recycling with spoons and we scooped and emptied and scooped and emptied! 

It's difficult as a parent taking when you have good ideas that you want to share with your children, to step back and allow the journey that they need to have happen. So, armed with my massive folder of ideas I had to file them all away for this outing and played hide and seek and pretend cafes - pretending to eat steaks and pizzas. It was awesome!

 OK so... round up if we're giving stars:

Accessibility - 3 stars, FREE roadside parking, train about a mile and a half walk, loads of busses. Accessibility in the woods - great! pathways can travel with buggy.
Suitability for under 5s - 5 stars - obviously! It's nature!!!
Staff  - that'd be me... so I'm going 5 stars :-)

Happy adventuring!!!

Adventure Friday 1 - Eureka

So... I'm hugely behind on adventure Fridays reports and I've only just started but this was our first adventure Friday this year a few weeks back.

WHERE: Eureka -National Children's Museum - Halifax - 17 miles from Leeds Town Hall.

WHO:  About 6 mums with their respective 2 / 3 year-olds and a 9 month old.

£10.95 an adult and children over 3. 
£3.75 for under 3s. 
You can then come back as many times within a year on the old ticket.
PARKING: £3 for 4 hours

Not really much to say on this one, their website is really clear and obviously being a children's museum it is perfect! Spacious and great to explore.

The staff are super friendly and overall a great feel to the whole museum.

Outside there is a fantastic outdoor play area with sand pit, and fun sensory path at the back of the museum.

Indoors for under 2s there are 2 small soft play areas and an under 5s creative play room which looks like a small early years classroom, so I quite like it there. There are fancy dress clothes, a reading corner,  water tray, light box and generally a craft going on on the main table.

Otherwise there are fantastic exhibitions both up and downstairs. 'A' loved the 'Our body' area and especially a robot tucked away in the corner very unassumingly (if that's a word?!).... IT talks! who knew! At one point there were 5 2 and 3 year olds singing baa baa black sheep to the robot. Definitely look out for that one. 

The cafe / restaurant does really good food. About £2.50 for a coffee, £4.50 for a kids lunch box, £5 for a sandwich, £6 for soup and a sandwich. As there are picnic areas here we tend to stick to that otherwise adventure days become quite expensive!!

I think if we were coming back - which we definitely will now that it's free entry for the next year, I won't try and rush round for 'A' to see different bits and just let her go wherever, she could quite happily have stayed in the pretend M&S store for an hour.

OK so... round up if we're giving stars:

Accessibility - 4 stars, parking right outside, train to the front door.
Suitability for under 5s - 5 stars - obviously! It's a kids museum!
Staff  - 4 stars, super friendly, helpful, could be found relatively easily.

Don't quite know what else to include? If anyone ever reads this maybe they could suggest what else would be helpful to know about these places.

Any done!

Sunday, 26 January 2014


So, my mum has loads of alpaca fleece which I have accumulated in the craft room.
Saw this on pinterest which inspired me...

We used just natural colours and some coloured thread. 

For the 1st felt square A just grabbed as much fleece as she wanted and crammed it in to an Ikea freezer bag. She then put in some coloured thread.
We then filled the bag with warm soapy water until the fleece was completely soaked. We let out excess water then rolled the bag up as tight as possible to squeeze all remaining water. A then jumped and squeezed and rubbed at the bag for as long as she wanted, about 6 minutes, which I thought was impressive!

Then we took it out and dried it on the radiator. Eh Voila...
We made another one, but we used a roll of fleece as a background, like a piece of paper then put patches of other coloured fleece on top with some thread. It was easier to design that way, then slip in to the freezer bag.
Because we just did it for as long as she could be bothered the felt isn't as 'felty' as it might with longer bashing and rolling. After speaking to my mum about it, she recommended rewetting and then rolling the bag with a rolling pin 200 times either side. I reckon A would like to roll with a rolling pin so we will do that another time. Also mum is sending some white fleece which we might try and dye then do a piece a bit more colourful , they might then make a nice gift. Also I thought about doing the squares in a triangle instead and making felt bunting! 

Saturday, 25 January 2014

So far in January:

SatARTday at Leeds Art Gallery - Free activity - 11 - 4pm on Saturdays in the ARTspace at the back of Leeds ART Gallery. 
This was from a couple of weeks ago,they were painting plastic bottles and writing messages to go inside then hanging the bottles up. The theme I think was 'the sea'. Generally, really good activity, staff really friendly and happy to help little ones as well as the older children. A participated more than she normally would. Sat for a good while painting her bottle blue. Then her hands and her arms. Washing her hands made the acrylic paint stick and she was a smurf for about 5 days! Hahaha.
H was more than happy to sit in the middle of the bottles and try to catch them.
We then played for ages in ARTspace whicgh is a terrific resource. Every few months the theme is changed and is linked in to the current themes of the exhibition. When we went though the exhibit was a bit tired, I think it's due to be changed imminently. There was plasticine modelling but plasticine had run out, paper flower making, water colour painting and theyan area with boats made out of cardboard boxes which A loved pretending to sail in.

I would definitely replicate this activity at home if I had more space. You could make the bottles in to discovery bottles and fill with different coloured liquids etc. This would be fun to crawl around in and explore from below.

OK so from the craft room... USING PLASTIC CONTAINERS:
I have so many number 5 plastic pots that aren't recyclable in the home recycling bins so I keep them in the 'craft' room. I will find at least 20 things to do with these bad boys!  So use No. 1 for plastic pots and containers... CONSTRUCTION!!! A enjoyed seeing how high a tower she could make but after about 20 minutes she preferred taking the pots to her toys and filling them full of pretend food and basically anything that would fit .
From the craft room...STICKY BACK PLASTIC / Contact Paper

So, we just did big dollops of paint on to half a sheet of contact paper then loosely folded it over so there were air bubbles. Then A pushed the paint around making worms that worked their way into around. It was a good mixing activity because the colours slowly mixed together. Also a good activity to really get her pressing down hard and moving her fingers round pushing the paint. Good for prewriting skills. Makes a nice window light catcher piece.

Lovely! So that's that for now.