Thursday, 17 April 2014

Our Butlin's Break- Non Stop Entertainment

When we first joined the team of Butlin's Ambassadors there were are few of us that had been before. It's was lovely to read reviews of their previous visits and find out more about the three Butlin's resorts. Some thing that stood out to me was the 'non stop entertainment'. Many people told me that the children would have a fantastic time and that they would never get bored. I did a bit of further research before booking and decided that Bognor Regis would be the best site for our family. I was told that you could even look at the activities available to help plan in advance but I decided this was a little over the top for me and we would wait until we got there. 

We arrived at the resort at 9.30pm on the Friday night as I had work that day and the children I look after would not be collected until 6pm. From this point on wards the holiday was full of indeed  non stop entertainment. That evening we had some dinner at the Papa Johns restaurant, it was the only restaurant open this time of night so we didn't have much choice but the food was good and to be honest we just wanted to eat quickly and look around to see what the resort had to offer.  

The resort was buzzing and as we walked around the skyline pavilion it felt like a little village with a party in full swing. The area surrounding the pavilion was made up of little shops to buy gifts, a convince store and the restaurants.  We all had a play on the arcades before returning to our hotel to unpack  get the kiddies in bed ready for a day promising to be busy and pack with fun. 

The following day we woke up bight and early for breakfast and went to find the Splash pool. While walking through the skyline pavilion we spotted a show on the main stage. Angelina Ballerina was showing all the children how to do a ballet routine and Little Man was straight over to give it a go. The whole way through he had a great big beaming smile.

After an hours swim we went back to the hotel to drop our stuff off, ate our lunch and went to join in a pantomine. P sat down the front while Little Man sat with us as he was a little bit scared of the 'bad lady'. I do love a panto and I try when possible to take the children each year so it was lovely to watch one while on holiday. I was really impressed by this panto. It's was well put together and the staff were fantastic. 

Over the whole weekend I think we had an hour where we were stuck for something to do due to the weather so we explored the computer room at the bottom of our hotel. The children loved this and it was a good opportunity for them the have some wind down time and play games with their dad. 

I would suggest it is worth downloading the free Butlins app to keep up with what is going on on the park so you do not miss any thing. 

The picture are not great I'm afraid but the highlight for all of us during our stay was the Circus. The show was simply amazing. The clowns had us laughing all the way through the performance especially with their paper plane air planes and the rope act was simply unbelievable. We have been to few circus' in the UK and this has to be the best we have ever seen. I would definitely recommend that you take this extra cost into consideration when planning your holiday because you wont want to miss it.  

On our last day the children enjoyed watching the sesame Street show. A performance that had all the children up and dancing. Little Man was in awe that he had met the real elmo. I think it's things like this that set Butlins a part from other holiday parks. There is always some thing to do even if it's raining or your children are a range of ages no one will miss out. 

This show's change through out the year so you will not find you have to sit through the same show's every year that you go. I believe the current show is Thomas the Tank Engine.

The street entertainers always found my husband. The poor thing was desperately trying to avoid them by the end of the holiday but Little Man would always run up to say hello. They added a nice little touch to the holiday.

Before we left we took the children to the FREE fair. This may not be the most exciting photo but I wanted to mention the staff because for me they made the holiday what it was. The staff at Butlins go above and beyond to keep the families happy. The gentleman went on a ride with P so that both of the children could go on at the same time as they needed to be accompanied by an adult. As you walk around the park Red coats are every where talking to the children and their parents. The restaurant staff  help you to your table and get the children sat down. They even helped the children get their food and drinks when I had my hands full with Tinne. The whole hoilday my husband and I were commenting on how brilliant the staff were, they clearly enjoy what they do and this shines through. 

By the end of the holiday I could have done with another holiday to get over Butlins. To me this is a good this and what family holidays are all about. Butlin's will always be our holiday destination in the UK now. I thinks its great value for money and will make some beautiful memories for the children.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Making memories: The best creative activities for your little ones across the UK

Some of the best bonding experiences you can have with your children come from making things at home, mixing and decorating cakes, collecting leaves and creating a collage or putting down newspaper and getting out the poster paints.  But, there are times when you simply can’t face clearing up the mess afterwards. That’s why incorporating a creative session into a day out or a holiday can be so much fun for everyone. Here are just a few of the best workshops taking place this spring and summer around the UK.

Make your own

While it can sometimes be tricky to enthuse children about helping you in the kitchen, signing up for a cookery course together can instil them with a love of cooking along with giving them the confidence to create their own dishes. Jamie Oliver has a clutch of cookery schools across the country. At Jamie’s two London and one Brighton school, there is a an option, for 12 to 16-year-olds, to make pizza dough from scratch before rolling it out, topping it and putting it into the wood-fire oven to eat at the lesson. Or for younger children, you could join the Focaccia-making course, learning to knead and prove the bread before topping it and taking it home with you. Jamie’s Ministry of Food in the grounds of Alnwick Garden is a good option for those living or holidaying in the north as you could combine a family cookery session with a trip to the child-friendly gardens with their ride-on tractors and fountains.

Where the art is

On a rainy day, nothing beats getting out the paint pots and creating a mini masterpiece. But rather than staying at home, many of the country’s top art galleries hold workshops where you can create your own works of art in the shadow of some of the world’s greatest masterpieces. London’s National Portrait Gallery has a series of portrait workshops in the pipeline, including creating a shadow portrait of your family or you can make animated characters of yourselves. Or try Gateshead’s Shipley Art Gallery where sessions include kite-making workshops.

Good clean fun

Wales’ Margam Country Park has some 850 acres of parkland, ancient monuments and wildlife havens to explore. Throughout the year, the park has a packed calendar of events and the Easter holidays are no exception. Activity sessions include making soap socks to fit in your soap so you can tie it to the tap or to use up all those little pieces of soap that you would usually throw out. Or you could join in the Easter Monday Family Fun Day, taking part in circus workshops and stocking up on materials to take home in the craft and gift fair. Parkdean’s Trecco Bay caravan park is just a 15-minute drive away so you could combine a day out at the country park with a holiday exploring the beautiful coastline at Porthcawl, keeping any crafty bits and bobs you buy for any rainy days in the caravan.

Studio time

One of Northumberland’s most unique holiday sites, Pot a Doodle Do, offers the chance to combine a stay in a wigwam with a day of crafting. You can try your hand at painting personalised ceramics, creating a mosaic or glass painting before lighting your campfire for an al fresco dinner, then bedding down for the night in a wooden wigwam. It usually takes a couple of days for your artwork to be ready to take home, so it’s an excuse to enjoy a longer holiday, taking in some of the sights of the breathtaking Northumberland coastline.

A glass act

One of the world’s best glass-making centres, the National Glass Centre in Sunderland showcases incredible creations and you can watch some of the most talented craftsmen and women in the industry giving glass blowing demonstrations. But, there’s also plenty of hands-on entertainment. Drop-in activities include creating an Easter-themed masterpiece, glass painting or creating a butterfly mobile. Sunderland sits near some of the North East’s breathtaking stretches of beach, so you could combine a city trip with some bucket-and-spade fun. For little train fans, The Pullman lodge, with its centrepiece of three original Pullman carriages from the Orient Express, makes for an unusual accommodation option.

Whichever activity you choose with your little ones, you’ll be able to enjoy some quality time together, making something which will adorn your mantelpiece or wall for years to come. 

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Monday, 14 April 2014

10 Fun Activities To Support Children's Mark Making

It can be an exciting time when your child starts to describe their own drawing as having a meaning. This is known as 'mark making' some thing that I have found Little Man is reluctant to do. This stage in children's development is all about starting the journey towards being able to write.

Mark making is a wonderful way of giving children an outlet for expressing their ideas, feelings and creative side. By providing your child with a variety of mark-making opportunities you can help them in perfecting these skills. 

Here are ten of our favourite play activities which have worked wonders to encourage Little man to give mark making a try.

Starting with larger movement helps children develop their gross motor skills and control, gaining confidence before trying to master fine motor skills. Activities such as using side walk paints can make a good start. Allowing children to make marks on a big scale and tell stories through their art.

Using large washing up brushes and paint brushes children can make large movements and marks through brushing the floor or cleaning toys.

Malleable play is another way you can encourage mark making. Little man loves play dough we usually have a new batch every week for him to play with and this tends to be his way of being creative as his not crazy about drawing or using paints.

If your preschooler is keen on painting or drawing this can be a fantastic way to encourage children to make marks. Simply using a variety to tools can make a range of different marks for them to explore pattern and the affects they can make.

Mono printing is one of my favourite activities for mark making. If you do not want too much mess or would like to leave this out for children to explore for them selves you can put the paint down and cover it with cling film which is tapped down. I prefer the messier version as you can create some beautiful prints together.

Last summer we had fun testing out crazy soap as a play material. The children had an amazing time playing with it and the activity ended with a great opportunity for drawing pictures and words in what was left.

This activity was always one of P's favourite as she was learning to draw and I must admit it's one I really should dig out again for Little Man to try. Making marks in a sand or salt try like this great one from Nurture Store makes an exciting change to pens and paper.

Need to do a spot of shopping? While writing your shopping list encourage your child to write their own for the trip. When you get to the shop have a look at the different labels and words surrounding them. Children will start to recognise words such as the name of the supermarket through your discussions and the patterns and colour's in the shop's branding.

Creating your own treasure maps is a nice way to stretch children's imagination and encouraging them to make their own sketches and observe the environment around them.

Whether they are indoors or outside children love to use clip boards and paper. It's an instant invitation for mark making and a great tool for any role play activity.

So there you go 10 different ways to encourage mark making in your home or setting. I hope you have fun discovering all the little drawings your preschool will be leaving you and feel free to share them with me on Facebook or Instagram
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