If your invitation to Meghan Markle’s wedding to some bloke called Harry hasn’t arrived in the post yet, it might be time to make alternative plans for Saturday 19th May 2018.
It turns out the real party is happening in Mile End park from 12 noon until 4pm, and it’s free.
With a coconut shy, arts and crafts activities, face paints and sports for kids, it sounds like a lot more fun that whatever’s going on in Windsor at the same time. So all you need to do is pack a right royal picnic, hope for clement weather, and get yourself and your little one(s) to Mile End park.
Events take place in the area of the park near Haverfield road (opposite the Victoria pub and behind the yummy fish and chip shop).
The RAF museum in Colindale is a vast indoor space that’s full of flying machines. They come in all shapes and sizes – from the terrifyingly fragile to the scarily powerful. Some are made of wood. Others of beautiful shiny silver panels. There are carefully camouflaged planes, bright yellow ones and one that’s decorated like a shark. The idea of taking to the skies in these amazing aeroplanes and helicopters is likely to spark the imaginations of most toddlers and pre-schoolers.
You don’t need to have a garden to get your toddler interested in the great outdoors. There are loads of beautiful parks and green opens spaces in east London – some of them have nature clubs and activities for pre-schoolers.
Here are a few you might like to try:
Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park
Bow Beasties – free monthly wildlife club for children aged 3-12 (usually the third Saturday of the month).
The next Bow Beasties is Saturday 19th May 2018 and sounds like a cracker. The activities are whittling and worm charming. This is definitely on my to do list
Look out for Seedlings – one and a half hour sessions enjoying the forest for toddlers aged 18 months to four years old. Free for adults, £5 for children.
Coming up soon is A Toddle in the Woods (Wednesday 30 May 2018, 10am-11.30am), which sounds lovely. Take a walk in woodland with your little ones.
If you can’t make it, there’s a whole programme of events including a 4-week course taking place on Tuesdays 26 June-17 July 2018, 10am-11.30am with a chance for your little one to get messy and muddy.
And on Thursday 2 August 2018, 10am-11.30am there’s a chance to search for butterflies.
There are regular free events for under 5s and families at Walthamstow Wetlands and some fantastic sessions are coming up soon…
Sunday 29th April, 10am-3pm Wild Weekend: Super Spiders: Spot webs and do some spider-themed art.
Monday 7th May, 10am-3pm Birdsong: storytelling, a walk listening to birds and bird-inspired arts and crafts.
Until I started researching this post, I didn’t know there was an East Ham Nature Reserve, but there is. There’s also an Urban Wilds Explorer Club with monthly activities including a bluebell walk coming up soon.
Now that Spring is here, birds are busy. They’re building nests, laying eggs and soon they’ll face the constant demands of squawking babies that are constantly demanding food.
I think I understand how they feel…
Last year, we put up a feeder for the first time and I was amazed at how captivated everyone in the household became by our small, feathered visitors. The (at the time) three-year-old was always the first to spot new birds and soon learned their names.
If you’re lucky enough to have a garden or a balcony, it’s easy enough to put up a feeder. Or you can stick one to your window (this was what we started with).
Not sure what kind of feeder to buy?
Here’s what I’ve learned.
These half coconuts are full of fat, nuts and grains. You can hang them on a branch, hook or washing line (just make sure it’s not anywhere the local cats can reach).
This kind sticks to your window. You don’t need a garden or a balcony, but you do need to be able to reach it regularly to refill it and wash it. You can put suet balls and sunflower hearts in it (just make sure squirrels can’t reach it).
At the start of the year, I wrote about free activities for under fives at the British Museum in large part because I was determined to finally go and try them out (with a little help from the one-year-old and four-year-old).
A few weeks ago, we went to a Little Feet session for the first time and that means I can now whole-heartedly recommend them to you. And flag up that the next ones are coming up soon:
On Friday 20 April 2018, Little Feet go disco dancing at 10.30am. The music and movement session is free and takes place in the studio.
On Thursday 3 May 2018, the session is called Exhibition Explorer and takes place in room 30 at 10.30am. It relates to the Rodin and the art of Greece exhibition.
And on Saturday 26 May 2018, Little Feet is all about animal sounds. Sounds Grrrrr-eat. There are hourly sessions in room 1 between 11am and 3.30pm.
The session we went to remains a high point of the last dreary weeks weather-wise. For a start, we were heading somewhere new. We went as a family and there was something for us all to enjoy.
For the one-year-old, there was a little ball pit to crawl in, as well as some interesting cuddly toys to play with.
For the four-year-old (who happened to be dressed as a unicorn) there was a lovely session that taught her the difference between ‘mythical animals’ and ones that exist on planet earth.
At the start, each of the children reached into a bag and pulled out a cuddly animal and they worked out if it was mythical or not. I don’t know what the chances were of this happening, but you guessed it, my DD pulled a unicorn out of the bag and she was utterly delighted although it didn’t entail admitting they aren’t actually real.
After that, armed with some photos of peculiar creatures (like half fish/half bear stone carvings) and a tablet, she got to search round the room until she found them all and photographed the evidence.
The organisers were really engaging and everyone aged between one and five seemed to enjoy themselves. The parents looked pretty pleased too.
We didn’t hang around for long afterwards because it was a Saturday and the museum was busy. But here are a few things to bear in mind.
It’s worth looking up which room you’re going to and where it is before you head to the museum – it’s not fun searching for the right place with kids in tow especially if you’re running late.
When we visited, there were bag searches outside, but you go in the members’ queue if you have a pushchair – nice touch.
The museum gets really crowded at weekends so it might be quite stressful to visit other rooms or galleries with toddlers.
There are cafes, toilets, baby changing rooms and all the facilities you need at the museum.
There are some other great reasons to make your way to the farm.
Crafts for kids Sunday 29 April 1-3.30pm: Free craft activities in the classroom – this happens every last Sunday of the month.
Yoga for families Saturday 5 May 11am-12noon: Yoga for parents and children – this happens every first Saturday of the month.
May Day festival Monday 7 May 10am-4pm Traditional music, dancing, crafts, food and drink all day. See the sheep take off their woolly coats ready for Summer and help George and Dustan, the donkeys, turn 20.
And don’t forget the Frog Prince holds baby music sessions every Friday 10-11am, and 11am-12noon. £5 per adult.