We have moved!

In The Playroom has moved over to self hosting so you can now find everything over here

WWW.INTHEPLAYROOM.CO.UK

You may need to resubscribe via email, networked blogs, bloglovin as all of this won’t carry over.

(Of course for the purposes of the competitions currently running, any subscriptions you have done on the old version will still be counted! But in order to stay up to date with anything new I recommend going over and doing it again)

LoveTea Review

lovetea

LoveTea is a new service where you can have different Gourmet teas delivered every month. They kindly sent us a pack to try out and share our thoughts. I do enjoy relaxing with a nice cup of tea, and my husband is a real tea lover so I was interested to see whether we would be able to tell much difference from our usual tea.

The tea we were sent is Jun Chiyabari tea – a Himalayan Imperial Black. The tea comes with the full information about the tea estate on which it was grown, and tells that it is from a family owned estate and is certified as Organic, which is all great to know!

The tea is loose leaf, something I don’t normally make as I always think it might take more time or be more complicated but they provided some bags together with the tea, so that you can measure out the required amount of leafs and just place them into the net teabag and brew it as normal, so there is no straining required but you still get the effect and taste of having a loose leaf tea. I found this a great solution as its really convenient.

My husband and I both really enjoyed our cup of tea and could tell a difference from our regular teas. I found this has more of a stronger and fully developed flavour, and I will definitely drink it again. I would also be interested in trying out some of the other varieties they have available, including the green teas as I love green tea and find it really refreshing.

LoveTea is run by a husband and wife team with a real passion about tea. Many of the teas are Fair trade certified but all of them are bought from source for above the minimum Fair Trade prices. They don’t include herbal teas but do include black, green, white and oolong teas. There are gift subscriptions available so it could be a good one for any tea loving relative, as a thoughtful gift. Perhaps even for Father’s Day coming up – for any tea enthusiast dads!

LoveTea have offered me a great deal to share with my readers – for anyone who is feeling tempted to give it a try, I have an amazing 40% off to share with you. Simply use the code PLAYROOM40 and you will be able to redeem 40% off your first month of a tea subscription. Monthly packages start from only 4.50 a month which is very reasonable, working out at 30p a cup. Or for the insatiable tea drinkers you can get a much larger package to make sure you are in no danger of running out!

Sensory Play Round-Up

sensory

Over the last 3 weeks we have had some great discussions during #playfest on the topic of sensory play. Split into 0-3 years, 3-5 years and 5-10 years, there have been loads of suggestions shared for all ages.

For those who may not be familiar, #playfest is a community on facebook and twitter where we get together for weekly chat sessions to share play ideas or review toys. It’s run by Izziwizzi Kids and you can find out more about it on their website here.

master-playfest-logo-R-750

Sensory play is a topic that really interests me so I really enjoyed the last few weeks of chat and ideas. We had some brilliant guests, Anna from The Imagination Tree and Sue Gascoyne of Play to Z (Both of these websites are well worth checking out if you have some time to spare. You are likely leave with masses of ideas and loads of enthusiasm to get started with them all!)

Sensory play is often thought of just as messy play, and although lots of sensory play ideas can be messy – it is not just all about messy play but any play involving the senses

  • Touch which can be exploring textures
  • Taste
  • Sight which could be exploring colours and light
  • Sound
  • Smell

It helps with creativity, problem solving, and supports their brain development!

There were so many brilliant ideas shared, so in this round-up I thought I would just quickly list some of them, so anyone can refer back to it to get some inspiration at a glance, if stuck for something to do!

Ideas for 0-3

  • Treasure Baskets
  • Exploring textures with their hands – paint, shaving foam, jelly, spaghetti etc
  • Light boxes
  • Nature walk to feel the wind on their face and explore the grass and trees
  • Edible paint (recipe is on the imagination tree)
  • Playdo
  • Exploring different textured balls
  • Foam pieces stuck on a window with water
  • Nature hunts, and make a collage
  • Popping pom poms through holes in containers
  • Baby massage
  • Listening to music

Click here for more on our Izziwizzi kids collaborative pinterest board, or here for an amazing amount of great ideas for small babies from the Imagination tree.

Ideas for 3-5

  • Treasure Baskets
  • Making instruments from Pea shingles, Lentils or Dried rice to explore cause and effect
  • Burying treasure in a sand box
  • Exploring light with torches and different coloured cellophane
  • Gloop from soap flakes and boiled water – left to cool over night
  • Spagetti as paint brushes
  • Hands in paint or finger printing
  • Painting with frozen paint ice cubes
  • Bringing stories to life with props or musical instruments
  • Experimenting with different flavoured and coloured drinks
  • Mark making in sand (even better with shiny card underneath, exposed when marks are made)
  • Making crayons (from broken crayon pieces, shape them and then bake)
  • Removing objects from science putty
  • Experimenting with moving sand on a sheet
  • Colour spotting walk with paint cards – to find the matching colours in nature

Click here for more on our Izziwizzi kids collaborative pinterest board, or here for more great ideas from Play to Z.

Ideas for 5-10

For this age group, the idea is more about adding a sensory focus to an idea or experience. I find my almost 5 year old often likes to use the textures or different sensory items as a background for his imaginary play rather than just experiencing the senses for its own sake. Sensory play can be incorporated into a lot of science and learning for this age group. Play can be linked to an idea or topic, or special interest of the child and then sensory elements incorporated into that.

  • Spellings in shaving foam
  • Fill containers with spices or herbs and identify the smells. You can make 2 of each and challenge them to find the pairs.
  • Make fossils by imprinting shells, bits of plant or plastic dinosaurs into Playdo. You can then bake and hide in sand.
  • Any form of cooking or baking
  • Making elf or fairy doors from wood or any natural items you can find
  • Building bridges with wood or bricks
  • Floating or sinking activities, with different items in water
  • Making a lego boat to float on water
  • Lay coloured paper on the floor outside and put objects on it to explore the shadows and silhouettes
  • Make a sensory car track, driving through mud, sand, leaves, dried rice, slime or any other texture
  • Blindfold taste test games
  • Making gloop or borax
  • Colour mixing with paint
  • Making dens
  • Cinnamon sticks for number bonds
  • Excavating frozen dinosaurs or other toys from blocks of ice
  • Growing crystals
  • Large scale junk play, or loose parts play

Click here for more on our Izziwizzi kids collaborative pinterest board, or here for a brilliant and extensive collection of ideas from Play to Z

For even more ideas, Sue Gascoyne of Play to Z does have a book out Treasure Baskets and Beyond – Realizing the Potential of Sensory-rich Play. One person was lucky enough to win this during Playfest, unfortunately it was not me! So I may have to buy it, it does look like an interesting resource.

izziwizzi

Ideas for things to use or explore

  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Ice
  • Pinecones
  • Conkers
  • Glass cubes or beads
  • Water beads (use with care these are dangerous to babies if put in their mouth)
  • Sticks
  • Torches
  • Underwater lights
  • Fairy lights
  • Natural Wood
  • Cotton Wool
  • Sand
  • Water
  • Playdo
  • Shells
  • Mud
  • Pea shingles, Lentils or Dried rice
  • Coloured foil or cellophane
  • Soap flakes
  • Shaving foam
  • Flowers
  • Leaves
  • Oats
  • Spices
  • Lemon or lime
  • Fabric
  • Silk
  • Glitter or sequins
  • Stones
  • Seedpods
  • Matchsticks
  • Metallic surfaces
  • Fibre optic lights
  • Pom Poms
  • Organza and streamers
  • Crazy Soap

The ideas and activities are endless really and this is just a taste, but hopefully it will help you out if you are ever stuck for a sensory activity to occupy your little ones! If anyone has any ideas that I have forgotten, which you would love to recommend – please share it in the comments, and feel free to tell me which ones you and your children enjoy!

Thanks so much to Izziwizzi Kids for hosting the playfest sessions and The Imagination Tree and Play to Z for coming along.

Win a Pass to Chessington World of Adventure

Win a One Day Family Pass to 

Chessington World of Adventure

One Lucky Winner will win a One Day Family Pass to Chessington World of Adventure (RRP £150)

This amazing giveaway has been brought to you by familiy favourites 

MuCheese and Merlin Entertainment

Open to UK residents

Ending on 26th May 2013 at 11.59pm EST 

Explore Chessington World of Adventures – a wild adventure for all the

family.

 It’s a whole world of Wild Adventures all in one place.

Discover the Serengeti in Surrey; go on the exciting new safari; or explore the ancient ruins of Wild Asia, a mythical land where families can take on the KOBRA, an awesome spinning disc ride! Go truly wild on an expedition through the Lorikeet Lagoon in amongst the exotic colourful birds. With exciting rides and rollercoasters, amazing animals and a SEA LIFE Centre – Chessington really is Britain’s wildest adventure!

Chessington’s amazing new ride for 2013

https://i0.wp.com/www.chessington.com/press/image-bank/images/zufari/fullsize/Zufari-Landscape.jpg
The amazing new safari ride is now open.

Initial investigations have unearthed a new land called “ZUFARI”. The only signs of civilisation are some mysterious African carvings that we believe are warnings. Journey through the extreme terrain in our off-road trucks and encounter many species including giraffes and white rhino.

About the Sponsors

MU CheeseMU’s delicious, rich flavour is a winner for the whole family, making it easier than ever for mums to get creative in the kitchen and keep everyone happy.  MU has been exclusively sourced from Ireland, from well fed cows to fully ensure a delicious taste that will soon have your family moo-ing for more.

Available in six exciting varieties from Tesco, MU’s eye catching packaging will be loved by kids and adults alike.

Why is Mu good for you?

  • Vitamin A
    Plays a vital role in vision, bone growth, cell division and the immune system.
  • Vitamin B12
    Crucial for blood and cell formation, maintaining the nervous system and protein metabolism.
  • Calcium
    Helps build strong bones and teeth. Eating 20g of cheddar cheese is the equivalent to a 200ml glass of milk.
  • Vitamin D
    Needed to facilitate the absorption of calcium and assist in the formation of strong bones.
  • Protein
    Protein – Essential for forming the building blocks of the body.

The No 1 visitor attraction operator in Europe, No 2 in the world, Merlin Entertainments’ (Merlin) headquarters are in Poole, Dorset (UK). Merlin operates an international portfolio of 94 global and local attractions, among them many of the world’s best known brand names – Madame Tussauds, The Dungeons, Alton Towers Resort, LEGOLAND, SEA LIFE, Gardaland, The EDF Energy London Eye and many more as well as 7 hotels and 2 holiday villages!

ARE YOUR READY FOR A FANTASTIC DAY OUT?

ENTER TO WIN BELOW AND GOOD LUCK !!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 The family pass consists of 2 adults and 2 children under 12 and is valid for any one day

of the season to 7th November 2013 excluding special events and concerts. The pass is for entry into the theme park only and does not include
food or drink. Tickets are non transferable.

ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions

Peppa Pig World & Paulton’s Park

On the weekend, we decided to take the kids to Peppa Pig World. We don’t normally go to theme parks without planning in advance and getting our tesco club card rewards ready, but the boys have really got into Peppa Pig lately and we really fancied a family day out so we decided to just go for it! It comes to £98.00 for a family ticket which is quite expensive! This is for 4 people, our youngest was free as he is under 90cm. Booking online would have saved £12 from that so would definitely be the better option, but unfortunately we didn’t plan in advance this time! This admission covers the whole of Paultons Park, not just the Peppa Pig World.

I don’t know whether there is any concession price for children receiving DLA and their carers, as some other theme parks do have. We didn’t ask and the website only mentions that wheelchair & Mobility Scooter dependent guests are admitted free of charge – so whether they do take other disabilities and conditions into account, I am not sure. I would be interested to know, if anyone has asked them let me know in the comments! I am also not sure whether they operate a Qbot system like some of the Merlin Parks but the queues were very short on the day we went, so it really wouldn’t have been needed at all. We did not have to wait more than 5 minutes for any ride.

When we arrived at Paultons, we went straight to Peppa Pig World. The first ride the children chose to go on was the Windy Castle which you can see in the background below. It’s actually a little scarier than it looks, it goes quite high! My 4 year old was a little scared while riding on it, but the little ones were fine. It gives you a good view of the whole Peppa Pig World so it is a good choice to go on this first. All 5 of us were able to sit together in the carriage and there was no restrictions of height or age.

IMG_6016

The children also went on the following rides:

Grandpa Pig’s Boat Trip – this is a very gentle and calm ride, not scary at all for any more sensitive little ones. They go round and round in a boat on real water, with a slight up and down motion. Only 4 were allowed in each boat, so we had to split up and have one parent per boat to take all the children. Again there is no restriction on height or age on this ride, just a recommendation that it may not be suitable for under 12 months. All 3 of my children enjoyed this ride.

Grandpa Pig’s Little Train – Again there is only 4 allowed in each carriage, so we had to split up for this ride, and there is no restrictions so all of the children were able to go on this ride and they all enjoyed it. My boys are mad about trains so this was very popular with them. You can see my 3 year old below, excited to go on this train ride!

IMG_6006

Daddy Pig’s Car Ride – Only the 3 and 4 year old went on this ride, with their dad. I never went on it as I was keeping an eye on the little one sleeping in the buggy, but my 4 year old tells me it was one of his favourites!

George’s Dinosaur Adventure – This was the other definite favourite. Again only my 4 and 3 year olds went onto this, the 4 year old riding alone and 3 year old together with Dad. They really enjoyed this one.

There are 2 other rides in Peppa Pig world – Peppa’s Big Balloon Ride and Miss Rabbit’s Helicopter Flight (which you can see here in the background below), which they didn’t chose to go on. There are also loads more in the main Paulton’s Park, including some much more advanced and thrilling rides for the slightly older children. My husband did try to persuade the 4 year old onto the Cobra ride, but he didn’t go for it (which I was glad – I would be so nervous seeing my little boy on such a big ride!)

IMG_5998

Some of the other rides that were suitable for my 4 year old in the main park were the Flying Frog, the Astroglide slides, the Raving River and the Wave Runner. There are also plenty more, if you have time.

Back in Peppa Pig World, there are quite a few attractions to see other than just the rides. One of the main favourites with all 3 boys was the George’s SpaceShip Playzone. It is an indoor soft play area. There are loads of slides, and different sections for different age groups (baby, toddler and slightly older). I can imagine this would get packed out if it rains!

The playground in Peppa Pig World is also really nice. It’s very spacious and really well designed. We did this at the end of the day and the children would have been happy to spend much longer in it, if the park was not closing. Because it is so big and spread out, I don’t think it would get too over crowded so is fine for even little ones newly toddling around. Some pics below to show just a little bit of what there is!

IMG_6022IMG_6012IMG_6035IMG_6018IMG_6028

(excuse the lack of shoes, he threw them out of the buggy half way through the day and we never found them! This child is a nightmare for always chucking his shoes!!)

In Peppa Pig land you can also go inside Peppa Pig’s house (shown below, outside and inside!) – just note there is no buggy or wheelchair access for this. The characters inside the house move and speak.

IMG_6000IMG_6002

IMG_6010You can also see the camper van, but not go in it. Still, the boys enjoyed looking.

Other attractions in the main Paulton’s park, which we had not known about before but enjoyed, were all the animal attractions.

Throughout the park, as you walk around there are various exotic birds you will see – flamingos , cranes, emus and even more. Apparently there is a meerkat section too, which I have now seen on the website but did not spot while we were there.

IMG_5969

There is also a penguin section which is located inside Peppa Pig World and you can see the penguins at their feeding time. There is a ramp which allows access for pushchairs, and there they have windows to see underneath the water so you can see many penguins coming past and diving to eat the fish.

Going through the gardens and the birds section was really peaceful and quiet. I found this brilliant, for my 3 year old. He has ASD and although he really enjoys these type of theme parks, after a little while I felt like it was starting to get a bit much for him and he was starting to melt down a bit. Lucky that I was able to put him back into the buggy and take him to spend some time quietly looking here.

My favourite bird was definitely the Toucan – so beautiful!

IMG_5996
Another nice and quiet area in Paultons is the Dinosaur Land. You go through the path and there are so many models of different dinosaur species which you can see, among the real trees and mud. This would be great for any dinosaur enthusiasts, and is quite educational too. My younger two really enjoyed looking and pointing at these dinosaurs. 4 year old was busy on the astro slide, but I know he is scared of dinosaurs so maybe its better he missed out!
IMG_5992

At the end of the day, tired out but enjoyed themselves!

IMG_6039

IMG_6040
My 3 yr old loving his new mr Dinosaur!

Overall I would say it was a good day. It’s a shame we didn’t plan and get the slightly cheaper tickets as I’m not sure its the best value at the full price but there is lots to do and the children definitely enjoyed it. The next day my 4 year old came home with a note he had written in school: “Mum, I like you. Can we go to peppa pig land again one day” So I’m sure we will be back – after all how can I say no to that? 🙂

Choc Soreen!

I was really happy to be chosen by Mum Panel to help out in their campaign to spread the word for Soreen’s 75 birthday! I loved Soreen Malt Loaf as a child, and have to admit I still do, so was quite intrigued at the sound of their new limited edition item – Chocolate Soreen!

My boys are very keen on chocolate, so I knew they would be eager to try it out too. It looks just like chocolate cake, so they viewed it as a treat and enjoyed eating it up. It is really squidgy and you can taste the choc chips in it, it has plenty of flavour. Sometimes there might be ideas that you think sound good but when you try it they are disappointing. This is not one of them, it is really nice!

This chocolate malt loaf is limited edition so if you want to give it a try, you better get in quick!

If you are tempted to give it a try there is a fab competition up here with a chance to win one of 75 loaves of choc Soreen. It ends on Wednesday so be quick!! And if you don’t get lucky then don’t worry – you can still pick it up from supermarkets:

Chocolate Loaf is available from the following stores, for just £1 and when it’s gone it’s gone!

  • Asda (in most main stores, about half of all Adsa stores) for 6 weeks,
  • Morrisons from 20th May for 3 weeks
  • Sainsbury’s from 23rd May for 3 weeks

As well as the special chocolate loaves, we were also sent some packs of the lunch box loaves in original and banana flavours. I hadn’t seen these before but they are so convenient! I think I would buy these rather than the full sized loaf in the future, as I’m always trying to get more variety for my boy’s pack lunches and these are really handy to have in, so you could put one in the pack lunch now and again. It will give them plenty of energy! They are a really ideal size, and all individually wrapped. I have a couple of banana lovers, my 3 and 1 year old, so they have really enjoyed the banana flavour, and my 4 year old would definitely go for the chocolate as his favourite.

I have been handing out Soreen to all my friends and family and still have lots more to give out. So far it seems to be going down well! It’s a shame the chocolate loaf is only around for such a short time – but we will just have to enjoy it while we get the chance!