Morris Playing Fields (Paddling Pool and Playground), London Colney, Hertfordshire

As the summer clutches on for one more burst of sunshine before autumn descends, I thought I would share some information and photos about Morris Playing Fields in London Colney, Hertfordshire. This is a popular summer destination amongst locals, mainly because it has a small outdoor paddling pool that is great for warmer days (or not so warm days too, if you are anything like us!) 

The paddling pool has a walk-in shallow end and steps for the deeper end, which is approx 1 metre (disclaimer: this is my own estimate so no idea on actually accuracy of this statement!)

The only downside is, because it is a very small local outdoor paddling pool in a confined space, that it can get extremely busy and this can be abit too overwhelming or overstimulating for some children, especially those with SEND. 
However, if the visit is timed right, during a quieter period, it is a lovely place to play!

The paddling pool is in a fenced off area behind the separately enclosed playground. 

There is a small carpark adjacent to the playground that serves this and the paddling pool, as well as sports facilities at the playing field itself.

The playground has a variety of equipment, suited to a range of ages in the younger age bracket. I believe there is another facility for older children/ teens at a different nearby site but I have not yet visited this. 

It has a slightly retro feel about it, it reminds me of the playgrounds I visited as a child. Very old style, but well loved all the same!

The helter skelter slide is a particular favourite…

For more information about Morris Playing Fields see pdf flyer

March Round-up

Here are our March highlights. I chose the song ‘Wonderful World’ because we went on several lovely nature walks and this song really echoes our appreciation of the world around us!

As well as the nature walks, a few of our other activities (as seen in the video) include a marine conservation workshop by Whale Fest, a playdate at the park, other parks and playgrounds, growing our own potatoes, reading, Aldenham SEN playground, a trip to Willows farm and a visit to Stockwood Discovery Centre.

Ruislip Lido

Ruislip Lido is a fantastic day out on the outskirts of Greater London, just outside of Hertfordshire. It has a man-made beach area on the edge of a huge lake (not suitable for paddling, swimming or boating), plus lovely nature walks through woodlands and around the lake. There is also a large range of children’s play equipment and a splash park, as well as a train ride. Near the free carpark is a family pub with pretty lakeside setting.

image
Lake and artificial beach.
image
Views from the pub garden.
image
Woodland nature walks.
image
Fantastic range of playground equipment.
image
Splash park area for the summer months. (Open April- end Sept).

Haven: Littlesea (Our trip to Weymouth, Dorset)

We had a brilliant short break at Littlesea Haven Holiday Park in Weymouth. We stayed in a lovely privately owned caravan in a well-situated spot and really enjoyed the facilities that this site had to offer. We have stayed on several Haven sites now but this one was a firm favourite! Nice pool, good layout, great entertainment, understanding staff, excellent location (with a car) and all-round enjoyable stay.

image
Indoor entertainment at Littlesea
image
Outdoor play area

Whilst we were at Weymouth, we also visited Sealife Adventure Park. We have been here several times before and absolutely love it! Well worth a visit, wonderful day out.

image
Lots to see, really fascinating
image
Seals are still her favourite! She was very happy to discover two more seals have come to join Sealife too.
image
Fun playing in the water park.
image
Lovely new sensory area- great addition!

We also went to the beach…

image
Reading the signs on the bridge. Some of them we didn't know so we all learned something new!
image
Scenic views
image
It was really quiet and very peaceful.
image
Beautiful sea views

Last but not least, we popped to the beach and the funfair at Bowleaze Cove…

image
Bowleaze Cove (and the marina we passed on the way there!)
image
Funfair at Bowleaze Cove

All in all, a fantastic short trip! Loved it!

November: Part One

These are some of the things we have been doing so far this month…

character drawings 01.11.14
Drawing various characters she has created in a variety of outfits 01.11.14
fishing 01-11-14
Fishing for coins in the bath- a game she designed herself 01.11.14
water scales 01-11-14
Squiggle started off using her balance scales to compare volumes of water. This then led to a discussion about measurements of solids and liquids, and the units they are measured in. She then decided to experiment with comparing the ducks and water combined. She observed that when the water was the same volume each side and therefore balanced, that the two ducks did not weigh the same. This was not what she predicted because they look the same and are the same size, but she the concluded one of them must have water inside adding to the weight. She then tried to push the duck down into the water and was amused that it popped back up again so we discussed why this happens. She also noticed the water level rises as she did so, which also led to a discussion on water displacement. 01.11.14
white water rafting 01.11.14
We went to watch white water rafting at Lee Valley. 01.11.14
2014-11-02 13.44.48
Caldecotte lake 02.11.14
2014-11-02 13.47.30
Watching watersports on the lake 02.11.14
2014-11-02 13.52.01
02.11.14
2014-11-02 13.54.16
Photos at the lake 02.11.14
2014-11-02 13.45.40
One of my favourite photographs of Caldecotte lake 02.11.14
cuddly toy cat game 3-11-14
Cuddly toy cat game 03.11.14
paradise park play area 4-11-14
Paradise park 04.11.14 physical exercise and a spot of map reading too
paradise park animals 4-11-14
A few of the animals at Paradise park 04.11.14
paradise park monkey 4-11-14
We were lucky enough to spot a two day old newborn baby gibbon clinging to mum 04.11.14
sylvanian school game 5-11-14
Squiggle used her Sylvanian families to act out a day at school. This led to some very interesting questions, such as why do the children need to wear a school uniform, who decides what it should be etc… We then had a very balanced discussion about the differences between school and home education. She was able to articulate very well why she personally feels home ed is much better suited to her needs. 05.11.14
southend 6-11-14
Southend beach 06.11.14
2014-11-06 13.26.36
We found this great resource at the beach playground, it is simple explanation of the weather cycle. Squiggle enjoyed learning how clouds form and how it rains. This led to further discussion about weather, the sun and also how stars form too 06.11.14
southend boats 6-11-14
Boats at Southend 06.11.14
southend more photography 6-11-14
Some of my favourite photos from our trip to Southend 06.11.14
southend photography 6-11-14
Scenic photos of Southend 06.11.14
fireworks fleetville 7.11.14
Local fireworks display 07.11.14
fireworks crabtree 8.11.14
Watching fireworks with a friend 08.11.14
fashion garden 9.11.14
Playing in the garden 09.11.14
2014-11-09 09.55.11
Picnic in the garden 09.11.14
2014-11-09 16.09.04
Fun at Bopping Babes disco 09.11.14
sylvanian imagination 10.11.14
Small world imaginary play 10.11.14
sylvanian ayletts christmas display 11.11.14
Acting out Ayletts Christmas display from last year 11.11.14
wpid-1415793566765.jpg
We then visited Ayletts garden centre to see this year’s display 11.11.14
wpid-1415792247599.jpg
Notcutts garden centre 11.11.14
wpid-1415806031091.jpg
Squiggle made her own Christmas sticker book 12.11.14
2014-11-12 13.34.30
Sylvanian family decorating for Christmas (wearing clothes she made for them for winter) 12.11.14
duplo treehouse 13.11.14
Duplo construction (tree house playground) 13.11.14
clarence park 13.11.14
Clarence park 13.11.14
2014-11-14 11.43.58
Squiggle designed a multi pack of cat treats 14.11.14
cats 14.11.14
Squiggle then asked the next day to go to the pet shop to buy the cats a treat 15.11.14
2014-11-13 15.47.01
Chilling together
wpid-1416155078382.jpg
Van Hage garden centre 16.11.14
wpid-1416154368864.jpg
We popped to Stanborough lake briefly on the way home 16.11.14

 

In addition to these activities, we also practised estimating (time mainly) and discussed the difference between a guess and an estimate. We have also played a game several times that she invented whereby we try to recall what we were doing x number of days ago. This proved to be a fun memory game and we enjoyed talking about past events, as well as doing the maths to work out how many weeks, months and sometimes years ago the day was. I also discovered she didn’t know what a typewriter was when she found a miniature toy one (then again, why would she know!) So we discussed technology and how it has progressed, which she found very interesting.

 

Kensington Gardens

We love Kensington Gardens for a wander around the park and a play at Princess Diana Memorial Playground. This is a favourite of ours as it is a lovely natural playground with lots of sensory input opportunities.  And it has wooden boats to play on, as well as a huge pirate ship! Squiggle is very interested in boats at the moment so she was particularly excited on this visit…

 

Princess Diana Memorial Playground
Princess Diana Memorial Playground
Autumn leaves!
Fun with the autumn leaves!

 

Here are our pictures from our visit last month too…

Princess Diana Memorial Playground (27 September 2014)
Princess Diana Memorial Playground (27 September 2014)
Exploring chestnuts
Exploring chestnuts

 

More photos, from both visits combined….

Some of the local wildlife
Some of the local wildlife
Under the willow tree
Under the willow tree
Scenic snaps
Scenic snaps

 

I also blogged about it previously here.

The Importance of Playgrounds: Vestibular/ Proprioceptive Activities

Sometimes I think the importance of playgrounds are undervalued. I have often included in my posts photos and information about our trips to playgrounds and it strikes me that some parents may wonder why this is even noteworthy. Yet everything around us can be considered of educational value in some way. Other than the obvious health benefits of this physical exercise, a trip to a playground also has another clear purpose as well as ‘just’ being fun. Playgrounds are highly beneficial for a child with sensory processing disorder (or any child without!) because they provide plenty of opportunities to organise the nervous system, especially through vestibular and proprioceptive input, which helps to integrate and rebalance the senses. In short, it has a calming effect and helps the child to be more focused and ready to learn. A playground is almost like an informal sensory integration therapy session, with the added benefit of being readily available and often entirely free!

 

Personally we love going out alone to quiet playgrounds during school hours for some unrestricted and unhurried therapeutic play. When we meet up with friends at playgrounds it tends to be a very different experience compared to going alone, both beneficial for Squiggle but in different ways. Whilst one provides a lovely social opportunity, she gets less out of those trips in terms of sensory ‘therapy’ because she tends to play differently at playgrounds when with others, rather than spend as much time on the range of equipment. So she particularly enjoys the opportunity to focus on the environment itself sometimes too.

 

greenwood park zip wire 7 oct 14
Zip wire provides vestibular input.
greenwood park tyre swing 7 oct 14
The tyre swing provides a circular movement as well as backwards and forwards motion.
greenwood park swing 7 oct 14
Swinging can be very calming.
greenwood park seesaw 7 oct 14
Squiggle enjoyed walking along the see-saw so she could feel the movement through her whole body.
greenwood park roundabout 7 oct 14
More vestibular input on the roundabout.
greenwood park sensory mud 7 oct 14
Mud is also a fantastic sensory activity.
greenwood park running 7 oct 14
Space to run- up and down hills and over bridges as well as on flat land.
greenwood park climbing frame 7 oct 14
Climbing provides proprioceptive input.
greenwood park tactile maze 7 oct 14
These are lovely tactile activities. Squiggle had far more patience doing these mazes with her finger than she has for paper and pencil ones.
greenwood park different ways of using equipment 7 oct 14
Using the equipment in different ways (climbing over the tunnel and going down the steps like a crab).
greenwood park slide 7 oct 14
Slides are also great sensory input. She enjoyed using them in different ways too.
greenwood park chilling 7 oct 14
Of course taking time to relax is important too!

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

 

Balancing
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.
SAMSUNG
Quick stop off on the way past during our walk.
This play area is across the road from Highfield Park.
wpid-wp-1406839289346.jpeg
Squiggle enjoyed ‘exploring’ to find this one furthest away, down one of the residential streets at the other end of Highfield.

 

Haven: Allhallows, Kent

We spent a couple of days at Allhallows in Kent. Our favourite things about this site were the direct access to the beach, helpful staff, lovely play area and nice pool. I do think the layout could be improved- for a child with sensory processing difficulties it was very overstimulating to have to keep walking right through the arcade and restaurant to get to the outside play area and it was a shame that the soft play is not sectioned off abit too rather than in the centre of the noisy arcade. The entertainment venue felt abit cramped, it needs to be abit bigger or designed better to give a more spacious feel. Overall though we enjoyed our stay and would happily return.

haven beach july 2014
Beach (direct access from site)

 

Drawings in the sand
Drawings in the sand

 

haven play area july 2014
Onsite playground

 

haven characters 2014
Dancing along at the disco and meeting Bradley bear and Anxious elephant from ‘The Seaside Squad’.

 

 

Latest Highlights: Our Fortnight in Pictures

These are the highlights of our week fortnight in pictures…

image
Playing in the woods with friends
image
Whipsnade zoo.
Squiggle particularly enjoyed comparing her hand to an adult foot and elephant foot, driving along the ‘Passage through Asia’ and seeing baby Mara, as well as playing in the outdoor adventure play area ‘Hullabazoo’. She also loved the penguins and of course the sealions. One of the sealions spent much of the time sunbathing, which she found especially fascinating and hilarious. She was also able to view them underwater (for sealion cuddles!) and watched a member of staff carry out their health checks and enrichment activities, which she found both intriguing and entertaining. Later two of the sealions enjoyed playing under the spray of a water hose, which she was also lucky enough to observe.
image
Playing at home.
A few of her self- chosen activities recently include making outfits for her toys, drawing and writing, practising her letter formation, reading books to her toy baby, making mosaic pictures and hosting an imaginary bring and share lunch with toys. Lifting and carrying shopping is a fantastic sensory activity!
image
Making magnets using plaster in moulds
image
Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington has lots of sensory activities.
image
Art group/ Meet up and play
image
Local park (with friends, just not pictured!)
image
Woodside Farm.
Squiggle loved spending time with family members, playing inside and outside, feeding the rabbits and guinea pigs, and seeing other various animals including goats (including a baby kid less than a fortnight old). llamas, lemurs, ducks and geese.
image
This begun has Squiggle wanting to make a zip wire for her toys but turned into an excellent learning opportunity when the ribbon she used broke repeatedly because it rubbed against the other ribbon as it moved. This led to a discussion about friction, investigating how much friction different materials produce and then also a discussion about making fire by rubbing sticks together as well. She decided to use the smooth side of a belt to make the zip wire as it would create least friction out of the items she had available.
image
Playing in the garden
image
Longacres park