Discover Book Swap 2018

Fed up of reading the same books to your toddler night after night? Need some new stories?

This Saturday, 10th February, you can take part in Discover’s annual book swap which takes place at locations across London (you can see them all on this Google map).

Here are just a few places you can go locally to swap books – The V & A building Victoria Park, the Childhood Museum, Stratford Library, and Discover Children’s Story Centre.

The Victoria Park event looks good. It also includes an art session. It’s free, so just turn up 11am-2pm.

Details here.

 

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Toddler-friendly swimming

In spite of the coughs, colds and runny noses, swimming is a reasonably frequent winter activity for us – mainly because it’s a good way of burning up energy when going outside is unappealing.

Leisure pools are a good option for toddlers as they have warm water, slides and shallow pools that little feet can walk into. That’s much more fun than relying on mum or dad or floats to take you where you want.

I know of two leisure pools in striking distance of east London. I wrote a post about the one at Woolwich, the Waterfront Leisure Centre, 18 months ago.

The details are here.

Re-reading the post, those first impressions still hold after a second, more recent, visit. There are just a few things to add:

1. The carpark has closed, but there are signs directing you to alternative carparks.

2. I did mention it last time, but I’m going to say it again, the changing rooms are really annoying. Whether you change in the family area or the regular changing rooms, you have to carry all your clothes to another area where the lockers are. If you manage to carry a not-yet-walking toddler, your clothes and theirs, on your way to get changed after your swim, and somehow manage to be anything other than cold, annoyed and wet, you are a better person than me. (I suggest taking a big bag with you – like an IKEA carrier if you’re to stand any chance of keeping your clothes dry through that process).

3. The area around the Waterfront Leisure Centre is undergoing a lot of development, which – on a sunny day – means there’s a chance to combine a swim with a walk along the river with a trip to a farmer’s market or a cafe at RARE (Royal Arsenal Riverside Explore). You may also want to check out the local museum, Greenwich Heritage Centre.

Coming up next – a post about Leyton Leisure Centre.

Diary dates

Did you know the British Museum has monthly activity sessions called Little Feet for under fives? I did, but I’ve never been despite being a big fan of the museum and having a membership I haven’t used for years.

My problem is I find it impossible to retain random dates in my sleep-deprived head and Little Feat seems to be held fairly randomly.

So, as much as for myself as for you, here are the Little Feet dates for the next three months. As the first date is four days away, it’s possible I might remember this one…

  • Friday 26 January 2018, 10.30am-12 noon – Little Feet: Celebrate China Room 33
  • Friday 9 February 2018, two sessions starting 10.30am and 12.30pm – Little Feet: Explore Your Senses. Studio, booking required (when I looked, it said it was all booked but it might be worth enquiring about returns).
  • Thursday 29 March 2018, 10.30-12 noon – Little Feet: Happy Feet. Studio, booking required.

All sessions are free.

To find out more, and keep track of other events at the British Museum, click 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.

 

 

 

Discover downstairs…

GRUFFALO_WEB_BANNER

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.

Free fun on Tuesdays…

Now that the days are getting colder and wetter, it’s time to find some indoor activities to keep little people busy, happy and occupied.

One Tuesday a month, Stratford Circus throws open its doors to under fives and their carers, between 10am and 12 noon. You can expect crafts, messy play and even music and dance.

There’s a tiny amount more information here – as well as a list of which Tuesdays to turn up. (The first session was today Tuesday 10 October 2017)

No need to book. And it’s free.

Even more things to do…

It never rains, but it pours (it certainly did today), and so hot on the heels of yesterday’s activities, here’s a further selection of things you can do imminently with your toddler. This time we’re heading to museums and galleries for some free fun.

Friday 4th August 2017 – Seaside stories, at the Geffrye Museum, Hoxton

Sessions running 10.30-11.30am, and 12 noon-1pm (16 places, first come first served)

Story-telling and crafts with a focus on animals at the seaside.

Find out more here.

Saturday 5th August 2017 – Explore the Tate, at Tate Britain

2-4pm

This is a special session for under fives and their grown ups. Meet in the Clore Centre, then enjoy the gallery with artist, Ania Bas.

Find out more here.

Monday 7th August 2017, Messy Mondays at the National Gallery

10.30am-12 noon

This is a regular session involving story-telling and crafts which takes a different colour each week as it’s theme. This time it’s purple. Come in your favourite purple clothes and accessories.

(The National Gallery also has activities for under fives on Tuesdays.

Find out more here.

Friday 11 August 2017, Little Feet at the British Museum

Sessions at 11am-1pm and 2-4pm

Come prepared for splashing about in water with a workshop for under 5s inspired by Hokusai’s Great Wave.

Meet in the Forecourt.

Find out more here.

Tate Modern, early years activities (any time)

If you’re heading to Tate Modern with your toddler, pick up a collection case from the information desk on level 0. The contents of your case are intended to help your explore the artworks in the Material Worlds display.

This activity is recommended for children aged 4 and up.

Find out more here (number 7 on the list).