Paddling Pools and Splash Parks (Herts and surrounding area)

Summer Fun: Parks and Paddling is one of my most popular blog posts and, rather unsurprisingly, has had alot of hits this past weekend! So here is the latest info for this season…

 

● Cassiobury Park paddling pool: closed for refurbishment

 

● Verulamium Splash Park: Now open 10-6pm daily until Sunday 11th September 2016  www.stalbans.gov.uk/community-and-living/communityleisure/play_areas/splashpark.aspx

 

● London colney (Morris Way) paddling pool: opens 28th May. No further info.

 

● Paradise Wildlife Park lagoon: Now open daily. This is part of the wildlife park (no separate entry)- admission costs apply www.pwpark.com

 

● Leighton Buzzard splash park and beach: Now open 10am-6pm daily www.leightonlinslade-tc.gov.uk

 

● Ruislip Lido: Now open daily until end of September www.hillingdon.gov.uk/ruisliplido

 

Of course there are many others in and around Hertfordshire, this is not a comprehensive list! Others I have heard of but never visited are Harpenden outdoor pool, Letchworth splash park/ paddling pool and Hitchin outdoor pool. Plus, of course, there is natural water play such as the stream at Wheathampstead, Stanborough or Cassiobury and plenty of beaches within an hour or two (driving or train) too!

Leighton Buzzard Splash Park

Leighton Buzzard Splash Park

 

Happy splashing!

Highfield, St Albans

We had a lovely time in Highfield, St Albans for a few hours this afternoon. We know this part of St Albans very well as we used to live there so we enjoy just generally wandering around the area. Highfield Park itself has lots of open space and a tree trail, details of which can be downloaded here A60148_Highfield_Park_Leaflet_P5. There are several small toddler play areas dotted around, mostly tucked away in quiet corners of the residential streets. The Trestle Arts Base and Charters Health Club are also situated in Highfield, both of these venues have various classes and activities for children and adults alike. We have many happy memories from community events that have been held in various locations within Highfield over the years, such as Larks in the Parks and an Olympic Themed Fun day to celebrate 2012, as well as various other fundraisers and of course the annual Highfield fete. There are also regular Health Walks that happen here too. More information about Highfield Park, including information on various events and activities that occur throughout the year, can be found on their website www.highfieldparktrust.co.uk

 

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This play area is on Russet Drive, opposite the main entrance to Highfield Park itself.
Squiggle enjoyed collected pine cones in this play area.
Squiggle enjoyed collected pine cones and playing in the ‘maze’ (as she calls it) in this play area.
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Quick stop off on the way past during our walk.
This play area is across the road from Highfield Park.
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Squiggle enjoyed ‘exploring’ to find this one furthest away, down one of the residential streets at the other end of Highfield.

 

Our Week in Pictures: Water Play

Water play is therapeutic and relaxing for Squiggle but it is so much more fun when it’s outdoors and on a large scale, so there is nothing like sunshine to brighten her mood, just for that reason alone!

 

 

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Embracing Unexpected Learning Opportunities

This morning Squiggle was awoken by the sound of a loud noise coming from outside. She was clearly anxious but I reassured her it was nothing to worry about and went to investigate so I could tell her more about it. It turned out our neighbours were having their trees cut back by some professional tree cutters. I realised this was something we could either try not to ignore, whilst Squiggle got more and more distressed by the noise, or I could see what I could do to turn it into a positive experience for her. So I excitedly called her to the window and enthusiastically explained what they were doing, then invited her to watch for as long as she wanted. Thankfully, this successfully turned it around and not only relieved her anxiety about the unexpected noise disruption but it sparked lots of interest and discussion about nature, uses for wood and recycling, then led to some lovely role-play with her toys too. It was great how something she was initially ‘on edge’ about and therefore could have caused alot of stress, ended up being a really positive learning experience.

 

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Lowering down a large log with their rope pulley.
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Chopping the logs using chainsaws
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The wood chipper
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Squiggle role playing using her toys
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She enjoyed recreating the events she observed

Our Week in Pictures

We started this week back in Weymouth to revisit the Sealife Centre as we found it so relaxing and therapeutic last month. We often find it helpful to return to places of interest quite soon after the previous visit, especially when something specific has captured her attention, because subsequent visits often add a new dimension to the place visited. We find the familiarity of the environment provides her with security and confidence (but yet at this stage the place is still ‘new’ enough that her expectations aren’t too rigid) so she is able to build on the previous experience and add even more value to it, by allowing her to extend her interests further and encouraging new interests at the same time.

Highlights of this visit were playing in the water (yes, even at this time of year!), going on the seal ride, watching and discussing the various fish, different types of turtles, studying the corals and anenomes, observing the seals again and alot of laughter!

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Sealife Centre at Weymouth

Later in the week we visited a local park on Thursday, attended a home education group visit to KIDS playground on Friday, went to a home education information session on Saturday (which mainly turned into an excuse to play in another local park with her friend most of time!) and then finished the week by going to a family- friendly disco with another friend on Sunday. She also enjoyed time at home drawing, playing and caring for her pet bunnies.

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Playing at a local park
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KIDS playground home ed group
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Home ed info session/ playing in a local park
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Bopping Babes disco
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Drawing
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Feeding her pet bunnies

Science Experiment: Egg in Vinegar

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Cover the egg in vinegar.
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Cover and leave in the fridge for one week (change vinegar after the first 24 hours)
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Carefully remove the egg from the vinegar.
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Gently wipe off the shell with a tissue.
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I am not entirely sure if this is supposed to happen, especially since it then dripped slightly from this bit. Perhaps we weren’t careful enough. Squiggle said the shell looked and felt like sand as it rubbed off.
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The egg is now quite squishy and rubbery!
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Squiggle enjoyed bouncing it around the table.
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Of course it is still an egg so therefore not entirely indestructible! When it finally broke from all the (over-enthusiastic) bouncing, the shell felt like latex but gritty and was almost whole. Squiggle found this very interesting.

Our Week in Pictures

Here is a snippet of some of this week’s activities…

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Writing
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Art group
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Being creative at home.
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Playdough
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We even found some unexpected educational fun in Asda looking at life cycles. She also got to meet a character, which she loves doing!
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Other activities at home.

Following Interests: Seals

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)

Seals acting out Christmas 19.11.13
Seals acting out Christmas 19.11.13

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)

Seal returns from Germany 26.11.13
Seal returns from Germany 26.11.13

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)

'That's Not My Seal' book she made herself 02.12.13
‘That’s Not My Seal’ book she made herself 02.12.13

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)

Using a number line to add and subtract 04.12.13
Using a number line to add and subtract 04.12.13

Design and Technology: She did some baking with her daddy and tried to make the mixture into seal shapes. (15th December 2013)

She tried to make her baking into seal shapes (with daddy) 15.12.13
She tried to make her baking into seal shapes (with daddy) 15.12.13

Maths: She used scales to compare weights of seals, using mathematical language. (25th December 2013)

Comparing weight 25.12.13
Comparing weight 25.12.13

More maths: She also used her toy seals for counting and calculating within her games several times.

Counting and calculating within her game of seals on the bus 27.12.13
Counting and calculating within her game of seals on the bus 27.12.13

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)

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Samples of Learning- Science 2013

Here is a small selection of some of the learning opportunities for Science last year:

 

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Eco Science Toys- Gravity Robot

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Squiggle really enjoyed this science activity and it was of educational value in various ways. I think possibly on average it may be more beneficial for younger children than it states on the box (it says ages 8 plus, my daughter is 5), although this is for safety reasons rather than the age it is aimed at for educational purposes. In other words supervision may be required.

My main gripe was the possible promotion of fizzy drinks to children but it might have worked with a substitute item such as a cardboard roll, we didn’t try this because Squiggle wanted hers to be similar to the picture on this occasion. Other than that it was a simple but fun activity that she got alot out of doing.