Jump. Jump. Jump.

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Photo from zapspace.co.uk

The four-year-old and the one-year-old may be the most frequent visitors to the new trampoline park in Stratford, Zap Space, to date, but I’m late to the party and made my debut at the weekend.

So here’s what you need to know.

If you live a hop, skip or a jump away from Stratford and have a toddler who likes to bounce on a trampoline, it’s the place for you. Make your way to Zap Space in the knowledge that you’ll come away with a tired and happy toddler.

It’s actually designed for all age groups and is open 9am-9pm every day (way past a toddler’s bedtime). It’s the mornings that are devoted to Little Zappers aged five and under. Check the timetable here.

As far as I can tell, just the downstairs is open during the Little Zappers sessions, so that’s trampolines, a foam pit and a balance bar. For younger children, there’s a small soft play which kept my one-year-old very happy indeed. Better still, at the moment at least, the baby soft play area is free (they may start to charge at busier times).

For the trampoline park, you pay on the door (or book ahead online) and you get a one hour session. If your toddler is trampoline crazy, there is a multi-pass option that helps you make savings.

There’s a counter selling food and snacks in the main area (there are tables, chairs and high chairs), but there’s also a nicer, lighter cafe (with a wider menu, I think) that you can also access from Stratford High Street. It’s called The Old Town Bistro and is also run by Zap Space.

I enjoyed our trip to Zap Space because it was a really easy way to keep two little ones entertained on a rainy day and get some energy well and truly burnt off. On the plus side, there are lots of cheerful, friendly, polite and helpful staff making sure everyone is having safe fun.

I have a few gripes based on the fact my four-year-old wasn’t that keen on the trampoline and would have preferred the climbing area. Sometimes she’s been allowed to use it, but at the weekend she wasn’t as it was included in the bit that was closed. Only one child was allowed in the foam pit at once, which was terribly safe, but not much fun.

Like I said, if your child loves the trampoline, it’s for you. If they like soft play more generally, there are better places to go.

My favourite remains the East London Gymnasium, which you can read about here.

All the information about Zap Space is here, including entry costs which is currently £8 for a Little Zappers session.

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Walthamstow Wetlands – part 2

A few days ago, I wrote about a visit to the newly opened Walthamstow Wetlands. Did you know there are special activity days for children under fives and their adult companions on Mondays and Wednesdays, 10am-3pm?

There’s the promise of story-telling, crafts and wildlife activities – and it’s all free.

You can find the details here, where you’ll also find information about other sessions that the London Wildlife Trust offers at various sites.

 

Walthamstow Wetlands

If there’s a blue sky over London, I can’t think of a better place to be than the Walthamstow Wetlands – Europe’s largest urban wetland – which opened to the public only a few weeks ago. There’s something incredibly heartening about being encircled by huge skies, and seeing the sunlight cast reflections onto the reservoirs, rivers, channels and streams that run through the reserve.

And it’s not just for walkers, birders or fishing enthusiasts, it’s a fine place to be as a family with toddlers. The principle paths are stony, so although I’m sure they get muddy from time to time, they’re also a good bet for pushchairs and scooters. There was one section where we needed to carry the pushchair up some stairs to walk on the bund of the reservoir, but I noticed an accessible path has been constructed – it’s just not yet open.

Walthamstow Wetlands get the seal of approval from my four-year-old who passed her verdict (‘beautiful’) and is keen to return. So are the rest of us. We only walked round a small part and it will be interesting to see the whole reserve change through the seasons. On our first visit, we spotted a heron, but we’re already looking forward to next year’s ducklings, goslings and cygnets. If you have binoculars for your little one, be sure to bring them.

The old Engine House has been beautifully restored and there’s a nice-looking cafe inside as well as a viewing point and what looked like a spot to eat your own sandwiches. The cafe had a long queue when we visited, so I can’t tell you what the food tastes like, but it looked pretty appetising.

As the website advises, the car park is small. If you can, you’re better off coming by train, tube or even by bike up the Lea/Lee valley.

It’s free to visit and open 9.30am-4pm (October-March)

All the details you need to plan a visit are here.

 

Set sail for a mini maritime festival

This weekend – Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 – from 12 noon the Museum of London Docklands is the place to be for free songs and stories that, despite being terribly nautical, are entirely suitable for families.

Together with your toddler(s), you’ll have the chance to sing a sea shanty or two,  hear stories from the sea in your shell-like, and try your hand at craft activities including making a pirate hat.

All the details are here. Simply drop in and enjoy.

 

 

 

Word!

Newham Word Festival starts today and there are quite a few toddler-friendly activities – and they are almost all free (although you do need to book).

The festival lasts a generous 12 days, so if you’re looking for something to do between Monday 6th and Friday 19th November 2017, it’s worth investigating the options.

You’ll find the details here. (Click on ‘families’ for toddler-friendly events)

Here are a few things I picked out:

Story Builders from the Discover Children’s Story Centre will be bringing ‘So much’ by Trish Cooke to life – a lovely story about a family gathering. It’s doing a tour of Newham libraries and community centres. It’s at Stratford library on Friday 17th November, 12.30pm, for example, and it lasts 20 minutes.

There are various music events that sound fun starting on Monday 6th November at Custom House and Canning Town CTC 10-11am – TIMTAM toddlers’ music group. Or on Saturday 11th November, there’s a song building session at Custom House Library at 10.30am.

Anyway, time for you to take a look and see what tickles your fancy.

Click here.

Discover downstairs…

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Who likes Julia Donaldson stories?

Why everyone, of course!

That’s why the latest installation downstairs at the Discover Children’s Story Centre is bound to be a big hit. We went to check it out earlier this week.

I think this is the fourth thing I’ve been to like this at Discover – the others having been based of the writings of:

  1. Oliver Jeffers
  2. Michael Rosen
  3. Dr Seuss

Until now, the Oliver Jeffers one was my favourite. Not because – at the time, anyway – I knew the stories particularly well, but more because the activities  kept a toddler busy, happy and stimulated.

The good news is, ‘A World Inside a Book: Gruffalos, Dragons and Other Creatures’ is just as good.

You assemble in a room with your storyteller who asks everyone whether they agree with Charlie Cook – that a world can contain a book. Whatever the answer, there’s a chance to find out because (in our case) she then read us a Julia Donaldson story. We got Room on the Broom. I won’t spoil it for you by telling you what happens at the end. Okay, so it’s a fabulous broom. I mean, I won’t spoil it for you by telling you what happens after the end of the story, but let’s just say there is a little world for toddlers and their companions to explore for the following half hour or so.

Inspired by some of Julia Donaldson’s most popular books, there’s a row of tiny houses that makes you feel like the smartest giant in town. There’s a room that’s a squash and a squeeze. There’s a chance to sit on the fabulous broom, paddle with a whale and dress as a monkey.

Oh and have I mentioned the Gruffalo yet?

If you’ve been to Discover before, you’ll know how it works…

You can pitch up on the day and, when you buy your ticket, book a slot in ‘A world inside a book’.

All the details are here.

If it’s the weekend or a holiday, you might be better off booking ahead online.

Whatever you decide, there’s plenty more to do at Discover on two other floors and outdoors in the garden. There’s also a cafe with plenty of high chairs and toddler suitable food.

It’s on until September 2018, so you’ve got ample opportunity to enjoy it again and again.

Prices for Discover are here.

Something to do with your little pumpkin…

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From diy.sndimg.com/

This Saturday morning (21st October), get yourself down to Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park for Bow Beasties – it’s a Halloween special.

This month’s activity is pumpkin carving. Weirdly, this is something I’ve never done before. Tools are provided, so you just need to bring along your pumpkin (and your kid/s, of course).

See here for all the details.

Make sure you’re there in good time for a 10.30am start because this is the busiest Bow Beasties of the year!