We have been to various fetes, fun days and dog shows this year. We really enjoy going to these events, not only as a fun family day out, but because they are educational and excellent social opportunities too.
For example, dog shows might seem like an odd place to hang out if (like us) you are not a dog owner but we find they are a brilliant way for Squiggle to initiate social interactions in a relaxed, spontaneous situation. She loves dogs but she knows not to stroke them without first checking with the owner, so she has been learning to judge the situation to decide if it seems a sensible time, then asks the owner’s permission before petting the dog. She sometimes then chats to the owner further, asking questions such as the name of the dog, breed, age etc… Great for building her confidence!
Oaklands Summer Fete in July had a huge range of activities and events going on. This one was a big hit!
St Albans Country Show relocated at the last minute from Aldenham to Highfield Park. This was another lovely event with plenty to do.
These events also inspire her, capture her imagination, bring out her creativeness and motivate her to write. Her are some of the activities she has chosen to do at home after our days out…
Squiggle designed her own dog activity worksheets.
Squiggle really enjoyed the opportunity to watch dog agility at a local fete yesterday. She then had fun doing her own agility practice on the inflatable obstacle course and the agility course that were also at the fete. Today she had fun in the garden with her dad acting out the dog agility race with plastic toy dogs and some garden equipment.
Having always found Mead Open Farm to be relatively quiet, even at weekends and holidays, and having found Willows somewhat less crowded than we had expected last weekend (previously we have always found Willows to be the busier of these two farms), we found we were in for a HUGE shock when we arrived at Mead Open Farm this afternoon. The car park was literally covering most of a massive field, one that we had never even experienced the need to ever use for parking on any previous visit, it looked PACKED. Caught in the unenviable position of choosing a meltdown over change of plans or meltdown from over-stimulation we decided the latter was preferable and proceeded as planned.
Luckily we had not been here during their Easter event specifically before so Squiggle held absolutely no expectation as to what it might be like, which did make the unexpected volume of people abit easier to manage. We decided to totally ignore the schedule of events and go with the flow, but we did manage to find the Easter Bunny for a cuddle and wandered over to the marquee to do an Easter hunt, which Squiggle really enjoyed. I did have a look at the schedule of activities earlier this evening, after we got home, and there seemed to be some nice Easter activities going on (more real animal encounter type activities than Willows but less in the way of shows) although I think at least some of the activities are regular ones, not exclusively for Easter, so I don’t feel we missed out on much.
The new natural play area has just opened so was very popular, both with Squiggle and clearly also with the majority of other children there today too. It has a great selection of equipment and is well designed to cater for a range of ages. Squiggle was happy she got to play for a while and was clearly very impressed with it but it was much too busy for her to fully make the most of it. We look forward to returning soon in term time though for a quieter play, as it is certainly worth revisiting.
Here are some photos of today…
The aim of the Easter hunt was to find 5 letters hidden in ‘Hoppy’s Hamlet’ and work out what Easter-related word they make (which Squiggle worked out independently) to claim a prize (a chocolate bunny lolly)…
The brand new natural play area…
A few of the animals we saw today…
All things considered we are glad we went, it was worth the crowds for, and Squiggle had an absolutely wonderful time. A good Easter day out!
For more information about Mead Open Farm in general (although I have noticed that they don’t detail event schedules/ specific timings of activities on their website, which is a shame) see their website www.meadopenfarm.co.uk
Today we went to Willows Farm for their Easter event. We were hesitant to go over the weekend in the middle of the Easter holidays as we know how busy it gets on weekdays during this popular event but Squiggle loves Willows (especially at Easter!) so we braved it anyway. And actually it wasn’t quite as packed as we might have imagined and all went smoothly so we are very glad we did, it was a lovely afternoon.
There were various Easter events and activities going on, as well as the usual facilities they have available, so a family could certainly easily fill an entire day there. There was far more to do than is possible to fit in just a few hours but we were prepared for that and prioritised the Easter events, having been a few weeks ago to enjoy the regular facilities anyway. They do however schedule shows and activities to be on twice a day, once in the morning and again in the afternoon, so it is entirely possible to only go for half a day and still make the most of what is on offer for Easter. The schedule is well organised to provide a natural flow to the visit at a reasonable pace for a young child without it becoming too much. We left just before closing feeling very happy with our visit indeed!
The farm itself is decorated in a spring/ Easter theme with lots of pretty displays throughout…
There was an Easter egg hunt in the Easter Gardens….
There were several different shows, including ‘Scarecrow and Friends’ (a lovely introduction to some of the farm animals via a simple game of guess the clues with some basic information about the animals and an action song at the end), ‘Bunny Hop’ (action songs with the Easter bunny on stage) and ‘Singalong with Curly’ (action songs with Curly the pig on stage)…
There was even sheep racing…
And Squiggles favourite, cuddles from the characters…
We also found time to fit in a couple of the regular activities including looking at the animals (there are lots of newborns and young babies to see at this time of year of course!), holding a guinea pig, sand and funfair rides…
A couple of months ago Squiggle developed a keen interest in seals. Therefore some of her recent learning experiences have been related to seals in some way. Below are some examples of how we have followed this interest in various ways and covered several subjects doing so.
Drama (and imaginative play): Squiggle acted out Christmas day with her seals. (19th November 2013)
Geography: Her lost seal ‘returned’ from Germany, which sparked a discussion about countries and travelling. We also looked it up on the globe. (26th November 2013)
ICT (and research skills): She wanted to know the difference between seal lions and seals, so we researched on the internet (2nd December 2013)
Literacy: She made herself a seal book (2nd December 2013)
Maths: She realised Maths Seeds has a walrus in, which is a similar enough to a seal for her liking, so she played this for several hours over the course of a couple of days. (3rd and 4th December 2013)
Design and Technology: She did some baking with her daddy and tried to make the mixture into seal shapes. (15th December 2013)
Maths: She used scales to compare weights of seals, using mathematical language. (25th December 2013)
More maths: She also used her toy seals for counting and calculating within her games several times.
We then visited the Sea life Centre in Weymouth to see real seals close up and observe their behaviour. She really loved this, especially as she was able to watch them peacefully for long periods so we spent several hours watching them, over the space of a few days. (13th- 15th January 2014)
Last week we visited Butterfly World again. We have been here a number of times both on our own and with friends, as well as this we have attended a lovely toddler birthday party here a few years ago and organised two home education trips also. It has a very chilled out vibe and there is more to see and do than people might assume. Points of interest in addition to the butterfly house includes natural playgrounds, designer gardens, an ant colony and other insects. There are also handling sessions and talks during school holidays and at weekends. Butterfly World is now closed for the season but re-opens next March. For more information visit the website http://www.butterflyworldproject.com/