Daisy’s Days Youtube channel visited and reviewed our Dino Disco Adventure Challenge interactive children’s event that we held in Manchester in April 2018. See her review of the event here….
The school holidays are upon us again and unless you are travelling or holidaying away then there is the usual predicament of entertaining the kids, managing to still get work /house / errands done, making sure siblings don’t kill each other and trying to spend some quality time together too, without taking out a second mortgage!!
So here are our top tips for achieving all this and coming out the other side feeling like an Easter flower in bloom rather than a cracked Easter egg!
1/ It’s all in the planning.
As much as it might sound militant it actually helps everyone to know roughly what it happening and when. Not just for you as parents but it’s good for children to have an expectation of ‘we will have one day out at this point in the holiday’ so that they don’t start badgering half way through to spend every day at a different theme park!
2/ Balance; ratio of planned activities and free play.
It’s not realistic to have a day out every day of the holidays; but it is nice to have a couple of special trips or adventures planned! It’s a good idea to involve the kids in the planning of the days out. I ask each of my kids to come up with 3 ideas for a holiday activity that they would like to do and then I choose one from each of their lists.
3/ Don’t fear free play.
Free play is a critical part of childhood. Nowadays kids have less free-play than previous generations had as they have so many entertainment options. But encouraging them to just play with toys, be around the house and in the garden and make their own entertainment actually teaches them much more than any structured activity! They learn to be creative, imaginative, independent, problem solve. If they have siblings it also helps to reconnect them, as often siblings can lost that sense of play together as they are focused on their own activities, screens and friends. Unstructured time together helps them to reconnect and help with skills such as co-operation, leading and following. And if they argue that’s fine too – they are learning to co-operate (or not!) but it’s a critical part of child development!
4/ Set screen time rules on day one and stick to it!
Especially if you want them to get better at free play than you need to give the expectation and rule for screen time per day and be strict on it! We all know it’s far too easy to be busy and getting on and the kids are quiet because they are on their devices so not giving you any bother. But actually it’s not doing them any good and is of very little benefit to them in both the long and short term. However they don’t have the ability to understand this and are just engrossed in their device / game / video. So if you suddenly tell them to get off them because it’s been too long; that’s when the tantrums come! However, if you have set the perimeters at the start of the holidays of ‘one hour per day’ or whatever it is and make sure that is agreed at the time, then when they ask to go on their device you can remind them they have an hour max, make sure they understand and agree to this and set an alarm. It is far easier to get them off it then because they were expecting it. It’s when children are not expecting sudden rules to be enforced that they kick off! Generally if they know something is coming they are better at dealing with it!
5/ Use holiday clubs
There are all manner of school holiday clubs and activities and its worth utilising them if only for 1 or 2 days or when you are working. The children enjoy it, it gets them out, active and socialising. It’s also a good way to get them to meet new children and also try a new skill or activity that they may not have previously have tried as there are lots of specialist holiday camps, such as tennis, arts and crafts and drama.
6/ Make sure chocolate eggs are counteracted with activity!
We all love an Easter egg or two! But it’s a good opportunity to help children to understand the correlation between food choices, exercise and how your body and brain performs. Therefore if they are going to have some of their Easter egg ask them to counteract it with a run around the garden, bouncing on the trampoline or 100 skips with their skipping rope!!
7/ Involve the kids in jobs
Holidays are often a time when parents are off work and also want to get jobs done around the house; some spring cleaning, sorting out clothes and chucking old winter clothes that are too small or tidying the toy boxes! So get the children involved; you can make it fun by giving them an age appropriate objective (for the young ones find all the socks that pair together, find all the trains in the toy boxes, for the older ones, go through the clothes and put to the side the ones that don’t fit or organise the books into alphabetical order) Usually there is something fun that can made out of jobs and especially if you put a timer on, some music, sing while you sort and have fun! And then have a treat together at the end whilst surveying the job well done!
8/Explore the fun in your own square mile
It’s amazing how many things are happening in our own community that we don’t know about. We don’t always have to get in the car to find something fun to do for an hour with the kids. From exploring new areas of where we live, going to a different park or taking a bus to the next town; to finding small scale events happening on our doorsteps at schools, charities and libraries. Often these are free and can be a good way to while away an hour or so and be a change of scenery. And if you bump into friends and end up with an impromptu playdate for the kids even better!
9/ Set them a challenge
Give the kids a challenge that you want them to complete over the holidays. This could be a project that can be done across a number of days; such as an art or craft project (make a series of greeting cards or decorations for their room) or it could be getting them to practice their football skills (be able to do 10 ‘keepie-uppies’ by the end of the holidays) or it could be getting them to write a story or poem. Something that they can do a little bit on every few days and have as a focus for their down time whenever they moan “I’m bored!” Obviously it needs to be something of their choosing so they are motivated. But if you ca give them a platform for their achievement at the end (sending their greeting cards to family, performing their show to family, printing and binding their story)
10/ Appreciate the time
If you look at the big picture there are not that many periods of time that you will have with your kids to just enjoy being together in the holidays. Before long they will be teenagers and wanting to spend their school holidays with their friends or off doing their hobbies on their own! So make the most of the time, enjoy some Pyjama mornings and don’t worry about what you ‘should be doing’ do what you want to do!
Spring feels a long time coming but finally Easter is around the corner and with school holidays and family time to enjoy it’s time to get cracking and see a round-up of the Easter family activities in the North West; here’s our pick of the most egg-cellent children’s events!
Egg-citing Easter Fun at Tatton Park
Friday 30 March – 2 April
There’s entertaining egg-themed activities to enjoy in all the attractions, plus magic, puppetry and face painting for the kids in the Stableyard. Drop into our Easter Fair (Saturday – Monday) and Tatton shops to pick up last minute Easter gifts! Each child receives a bag of Nestlé Smarties chocolate eggs when they visit the Farm, Mansion or Gardens.
Easter Biscuit Decorating at Bents
Monday 9th April & Wednesday 11th April.
Let your children get creative this Easter! Learn how to decorate Easter shaped biscuits and take away two of their very own creations. Online booking is required, book online at bents.co.uk. Places are limited.
Egg-cellent Easter Fun at Greenwood Family Park
24th March – 15th April.
Make a splash on the UK’s only solar powered water ride, Jump aboard the world’s first people powered roller coaster or zoom down the longest sledge run in Wales! Children will love discovering the super bouncy and newly refurbished Giant Jumper, exploring the turrets of TreeTop Towers, taking their shoes and socks off for the BareFoot Trail or aiming for gold at Archery.
In the Forest Theatre, you’ll find extraordinary entertainment this Easter holiday, including Erwyd the Jester, Smarty Marty the Clown and Harley’s Showtime – they just can’t wait to make you laugh. Or get creative in the craft area where you can see local crafts people and make something unique to take home with you!
Keep a look out for the Easter bunny whilst they help you on the FREE Easter Egg Hunt and spot the giant Easter Eggs in the Trees.
Family Easter Egg Hunt at Cholmondeley Castle
April 1st 2018
Let the children run free in the gardens hunting for the hidden bunnies. Find the bunnies and collect your Easter Treat. With the extensive grounds, children’s play areas, lakeside walk, adventure Den, and Tea Room there are lots of things to keep the family occupied. Cheshire Wildlife Trust will also be in attendance with lots for children to enjoy. Easter Egg Hunt clue sheet will be available between 11.00 am and 3.00 pm whilst stocks last.
It’s Easter at Ness Garden’s
Easter Family Trail Saturday 24 March to Sunday 15 April – Who’s egg is it? Fun family trail to find out more about eggs, big and small with a few jokes or is that yolks! Complete with a chocolate treat. Trail takes about an hour. Daily 10am-4.30pm.
Look at Those Seeds Grow -Drop in to the Coach House 1-3pm and make a recycled paper pot, sow vegetable seeds, and prick out seedlings to take home and grow: 4th, 5th, 11th, 12th April
Easter art sessions for families at Manchester Art Gallery
This Easter join in the creative activities linked to the new mindfulness exhibition And Breathe…
In these artist led sessions you will create tactile taking notice tools to take home. And if you’d like too, learn how to practice fun mindfulness techniques together as a family.
There will be two studios open for you to explore, one for early years children and one with activities for older children.
All sessions are free. Drop in anytime between 1-3pm. Sessions run Wednesday – Saturday. April: 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th
Easter adventure quest at Beeston Castle
Calling all valiant adventurers! Go on a hunt for legendary dragon eggs. Set off on a quest to crack the clues, meeting characters from the past along the way, then claim your chocolate reward. Fri 30 Mar – Mon 2 Apr 11-5pm
Dino Disco Adventure Challenge
If you’re on the hunt for a fun-filled family activity this Easter then look no further, as the Dino Disco Adventure Challenge is stomping its way to The Great Northern in Manchester. Guaranteed to capture the imaginations of children aged between two and eight, this unique experience immerses them in a prehistoric playtime full of fun and games. Watch your child become a Dino hunter, and take part in energetic jurassic themed games with Gus, their dinosaur hunter host. This GRRRReat family activity will be available on Saturday 7th April and Sunday 8th April with sessions running from 10am – 3pm.
The Easter Bunny Hunt at Norton Priory Walled Garden.
2nd & 3rd April
Catch the Easter Bunny on a fun Easter hunt around the Norton Priory Walled Garden.
Family fun stories, trails and activities!
11am – 4pm.
Bluebells and Butterflies at Quarry Bank
3rd – 13th April 2018
Quarry Bank comes to life with the arrival of spring. Enjoy being outdoors with lots of activities and wild adventures this Easter holiday. Look out for the signs of spring!
Bluebell Family Walks At Rode Hall
28th April – 7th May 2018
Experience one of the finest Bluebell Walks in the North West at Rode Hall & Gardens in Cheshire. Families can enjoy Rode’s carpets of ancient bluebells as well as daffodils and azaleas.
Easter Classical Family Concerts at Heaton Hall
1st & 2nd April
The Classical Concerts feature graduate singing stars from the Royal Northern College of Music; Jenny Carson (soprano), Thomas D Hopkinson (bass), Dan McDwyer (tenor) and the Vine Quartet conducted by Alex Robinson. The Classical Concerts will reveal the story of the Egerton family’s musical past at Heaton.
St Ann’s Hospice – Easter Egg Hunt
Wythenshawe Park and Heaton Park, Manchester
St Ann’s Hospice is holding Easter Egg Hunts at Wythenshawe Park and Heaton Park.
As well as an Easter Egg Hunt there will be a range of stalls, crafts and activities.
Tickets are £3.50 per child and each child receives an Easter egg.
Plus there will be a very special guest – the Easter Bunny.
All the proceeds from the event go to St Ann’s Hospice.
Half term is upon us and although it is still chilly outside, the weather is getting brighter (slowly!) and as long as we have appropriate clothing we are enjoying getting out and getting some fresh air again! As ever the North West is abundant with activities to keep the kids (and the parents!) busy; so here is our round up of our favourites; both free and paid and for and indoor and outdoor; so there is something for everyone!
The first weekend of half term is Chinese new year, which we love; a feast not only for the stomach but for all the senses; colourful sights, sounds and smells means its a sensory treat for all the family! And Manchester city centre always comes up trumps with its celebrations. So head into Manchester on Sunday 18th February for The Dragon Parade, Traditional Lion dancing, martial arts, music and acrobatics, as well as amazing street food and funfair and fantastic fireworks finales.
Staying in the city centre, at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry you can travel back to the Victorian era to find out how steam, sweat and spinners created our modern world, and how Manchester was at the start of it all.
With fun shows and workshops, Steam, Sweat and Spinners is the annual celebration of all things Victorian and beyond.
Red House Farm is one of my children’s favourite attractions and the cake in the tea room is one of mine! This half term head there for pizza making at the farm. Children can get the apron, chef’s hat, ingredients and the guidance to make the pizza from scratch – firstly making the dough before applying the tomato base and then choosing their own ingredients to make the pizza perfect! While the pizza is cooking the children can go and play on the big slide, barrel train and bouncy castle!
Pizza making costs £12.95 per child and the sessions run 10am-12pm or 2pm-4pm. Booking is essential!
MAC Multi-activity Centre in Macclesfield is a hidden gem; East Cheshire’s premier Roller Skating and Bouldering centre, it is a community interest company which means it can keep its prices low and use profits to further improve the centre. Over half term there are regular roller skating sessions, bouldering as well as sessions for toddlers like the new Toddle Wheels.
Jodrell Bank has will unravel the mysteries of space this half term; learn all about dark matter in a brand new live science show packed full of experiments and demonstrations. You can also quiz a resident astronomer in the Meet the Expert sessions, learn all about the giant Lovell Telescope in a special walking tour, and under 5s can explore the solar system in a fun interactive session in the Clockwork Orrery.
One of the things we love about this time of year is the Spring Flowers as they begin to bloom! And you can’t beat a Snow Drop walk to banish the winter blues! Two of the best are at
One of our favourite holiday activities is going to WWT Martin Mere Wetlands; we always have a great time there; and if you can get there before Sunday 18th February you can take park in the Puddle Jumping championships! Bring your friends and family and see who can make the biggest splash with the special ‘splashometer’! As well as splashing about in puddles there’s lots of other fun activities to have a go at including all the birds, otters, creative activities and of course a fantastic playground!
Lastly, a real gem to share – very low cost and great family fun; a Treasure Trail is an imaginative way to explore towns, cities & villages across the UK with a self-guided themed walk.
An easy to follow route will enable you to crack the clues whilst taking in some of the most fascinating sights along the way.
With over 1,200 Trails across the UK, whether you do it in your own town or where you are visiting for the first time, you are sure to have some family fun!