Spotlight Christmas Toy Appeal

Please donate toys for 8-11 year old’s to bring a little happiness to local children!

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Review 2017: Little Play Town

Thank you VERY much to the NHM Secret Writer who wrote this review!!

Review 2017: Little Play Town

I was really excited when I saw that Little Play Town was opening in Odiham. We’ve been to Little Street in Frimley before and really enjoyed it. Little Play Town looked similar, focusing on role play with the play space divided into different themes, but it is much closer to us in Basingstoke – bonus! It opened early October and I visited with my 2 year old a few weeks later. We had a brilliant time!! There were serious tears from my little one when it was time to leave. We can’t wait to go again.

The play space is quite large and includes a building site, hairdressers, vets, firestation, race track, café, play kitchen and more. The space is immaculate and the toys are really high quality. As my friend said to me ‘the toys are the ones I would buy for my child if I had an unlimited budget’. It feels like a high quality, clean, safe place for little people to play. My son enjoyed exploring each play area and an hour and half seemed about the right amount of time for him to play with everything without getting bored.

Tips

Little Play Town run 4 x 1.5 hour sessions throughout the day 7 days a week so you book online (or just turn up and hope there’s space) for the session that you want to go to. At the end of the session everyone leaves giving the staff time to tidy everything up and get it ready for the next group. This means that at the start of each session everything is tidy and in the right place.

I wasn’t sure what age it would be appropriate for but I think I will take my 5 year old next time. I’m pretty sure he’d still really enjoy it. I would guess up to around age 7 would be ok.

There are no shoes allowed inside and adults and children all need to wear socks.

Little Play Town is upstairs and there’s no lift. You can store a pushchair upstairs but you’d need to be able to collapse it and carry it up.

Food

There’s a small café with a soft play space for pre-walkers. The café has good quality drinks and snacks, including some child-friendly healthier options. The café is next to the play space but you can’t see all of it from the café so with younger children you wouldn’t be able to sit in the café whilst they played.

Baby facilities

There are two toilets and a baby change area that is large and clean.

Parking

There are two pay and display carparks in Odiham that are within easy walking distance. Spaces on the street are free for 2 hours so if you can get one these are ideal. We went for the 9:30 session and on-street parking was easy. I can imagine it might be harder later on in the day or at the weekend.

It took me a while to find exactly where it is. The entrance is on the side of the building down the small driveway that goes down the side of the Bel and Dragon from the high street.

Prices

£5.95 for 1 child aged 1-7 years with one adult. £3.50 for an extra adult. £1 for a child under 1 year. If you only have a child under 1 you’d need to pay £1 for them and £3.50 for you.

Other info

Little Play Town also do children’s parties and are starting a children’s yoga class. More details on their webpage (www.littleplaytown.co.uk.

Rating

5 out of 5 – we loved it!!

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More about Treasure Baskets

Awesome post by Shona!!!!

More about Treasure Baskets

Why use treasure baskets?

Treasure baskets have been used for decades by parents and childcare workers for teaching babies about different sensory items. Babies learn through touching, tasting, smelling, hearing and seeing. As babies get older, they may start to combine objects too, for example, they may use a wooden spoon to bang on a bowl. As babies will put these things into their mouths to learn about them, you must ensure there are no parts that are too small for the age of your baby. Treasure baskets are really good for babies who are not yet on the move, because it offers a wide variety of items to explore safely within reach.

Physically, your child will be developing control of their arms and their arm strength. They will also be developing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills as they are holding and moving items around.

How to use your treasure basket 

Babies will need to be alert and there is enough time for them to be able to explore so don’t rush them. Sit them where they are comfortable and put the basket down near them. Sit close to them so you can deal with any issues but not so close that you are interfering, after all we want them to explore themselves. Don’t interrupt unless they want your attention or need your help. Check the contents of the basket regularly and remove any damaged items. Clean regularly, some items can be sterilised if you prefer. Remember your child is learning and so it’s important to almost leave them to it. They may play with very few items but this is because their concentration level is much higher than normal and they may be focussed on trying to do something specific.

When to begin using a treasure basket

Babies of all ages can use and appreciate a treasure basket, however it will need to contain items that are appropriate to their age. Babies that can’t sit could be placed on their tummy to explore items placed around them. Babies that can sit can be sat with the basket in front of them so they can reach for it themselves.

Ideas of items to put into a treasure basket

  • Toothbrush
  • Spiral toast rack
  • Corks
  • Loofah
  • Lemon squeezer
  • Large wooden dice
  • Small rolling pin
  • Curtain rings
  • Leaves
  • Scent bags
  • Old keys
  • Funnell
  • Jar tops
  • Mirror
  • Metal bowl
  • Baby spoons / forks
  • Tea strainer
  • Leather purse
  • Tennis ball
  • Bath plug
  • Wooden spoon
  • Rubber ducks
  • Soft ball
  • Hair comb
  • Greaseproof paper
  • Tin foil
  • Rattles
  • Wooden dolly pegs
  • Bobbins / cotton reels
  • Feathers
  • Pastry brush
  • Soft baby brush
  • Mini bean bags
  • Napkin rings
  • Silicone spoon
  • Wool
  • Wooden egg cup
  • Ribbons
  • Old remote control or mobile phone
  • Grass
  • Shoe brush
  • House painting brush
  • Rocks
  • Seashells
  • Musical instruments
  • Wooden massager with roller balls
  • Beaded necklaces / bracelets
  • Bells
  • Hair rollers
  • Acorns
  • Kitchen roll tubes
  • Rubber glove
  • Whisk
  • Dish cloth
  • Laminated photos
  • Pine cones
  • Sponge
  • An old CD
  • Fluffy flannel
  • Cotton wool
  • Various different materials – silk, chiffon, net curtain
  • Various sizes cardboard boxes
  • Felt – either pieces or shapes made from felt

Empty bottles – what can you do with them?

You could also use margarine tubs or empty baby food jars and fill with assorted things but you must ensure they are sealed completely shut.

Dry items – rice, pasta, lentils, buttons, hard beans, spaghetti, beads

Wet items – water with food colouring, water with glitter, water with sequins, water with buttons, ice cubes.

These items will need to be checked regularly to ensure the lids are still shut firmly and not damaged.

Food treasure baskets

For a fresh idea for lunch/snack times you could do a treasure basket with foods. You could use a tupperware box and select different textures of food to put inside. This could be good for fussy eaters too as they are able to select things they want to try and eat. You could use:

  • Bread – a variety of types
  • Breadsticks
  • Rice cakes
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Different coloured cheeses
  • Raisins
  • Dried fruit
  • Banana
  • Citrus fruits
  • Biscuits
  • Cooked meats
  • Pretzels
  • Biscuits

Colour baskets

You could also have baskets filled with all different colours. You could create a basket full of red, green or blue items. Younger children will greatly enjoy contrasting objects so black and white would be great for young babies. Older children may really enjoy a large rainbow of colours.

Making scent bags

Babies will love smelling all different things. You could make scent bags of your own by buying organza bags or if you are able to sew, make little bags yourself and fill them with different herbs, wood shavings, lavender, potpourri or spices. You could also use essential oils and soak a drop or two onto hankies.

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Sponsored by NHM: Basingstoke Track Party – Saturday 26th November 2016!!!

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I am so excited to have been asked to sponsor this event again!!!!

The event is selling out fast, so be sure to book your tickets quickly to guarantee your childrens places!

!!Trains, cars and dinosaurs!!

Come and experience epic playtime at our Basingtoke Track Party
Saturday 26th November. Old Basing Village Hall
Book here ***http://bit.ly/2ewIzHp***

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Event details

When: November 26th, 10am till 5pm

Where: Old Basing Village Hall,The Street, Basingstoke, RG24 7DA

How Much: 6 per play session, Adults are free (free tea and coffee for all adults)

Play Sessions available: 6 hourly sessions, starting from 10am (see below for sessions:

  • Session 1 (10am till 11am) Trains, cars and dinosaurs!– A great big train track, car ramps and dinosaurs!
  • Session 2 (11.10am till 12.10pm) Trains, cars and dinosaurs!– A great big train track, car ramps and dinosaurs!
  • Session 3 ( 12.20pm till 1.20pm) Trains, cars and dinosaurs!– A great big train track, car ramps and dinosaurs!
  • Session 4 (1.30pm till 2.30pm) Trains, cars and dinosaurs!– A great big train track, car ramps and dinosaurs!
  • Session 5 (2.40pm till 3.40pm) Trains, cars and dinosaurs!– A great big train track, car ramps and dinosaurs!
  • Session Hire (4pm till 5pm) Trains, cars and dinosaurs!– Hire a whole session all for your party! More information HERE

15078630_10154253881834102_5725830727939950466_nweb: www.trackparty.co.uk

JOIN OUR MAILING LIST HERE
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Review 2016: Track Party

Miss NHM, Mr NHM and I went to a Track Party a few years ago that Richard and the team were running in the Popley Spotlight centre.

I’m not sure who enjoyed it more though, Miss NHM or Mr NHM ;-).

Mr NHM did find out that it takes Richard and his team four HOURS to set up and then the same to put away at the end of the day! That’s dedication for you!

Thank you very much to the “NHM Secret Reviewers”, Karen, who did a great job on today’s review of Track Party!

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Review 2016: Track Party

About

Small J, Mr J and I were very excited to attend our first track party at Old Basing Village Hall.

We arrived to a lot of excited children (and Dad’s) eagerly waiting to get playing.

The hall was full of train tracks and a huge array of Thomas and his friends waiting to play.

Later in the day cars and dinosaurs were added to the fun.

Richard and his team were on hand all the time replacing batteries in tired trains and lending a hand.

Also available on the day was face painting by Carin Shepherd (find her on facebook).

There was lots of colourful creatures running about, the perfect way to entertain siblings who were not so keen on the trains.

Lisa Healey was displaying her lovely collection of Usbourne books and I enjoyed a browse whilst the boys were playing with the trains.

Tips

Get there on time. Sessions start and finish promptly to allow the team to reset everything in between.

Bring some extra money for the face painting and books.

Track parties run all over the country, the next ones in this area are Reading July 9th, Wickham Sep 10th and Basingstoke Sep 24th. 

You can also book the trains for a private party, for more details see their website.

Food

At all track party events hot and cold drinks and snacks are available.

Facilities and parking

There were plenty of places to sit and watch the children have fun and good facilities for looking after your little ones.

There was plenty of parking available and a nearby park for afterwards.

Prices

Tickets for a track party are from £6 per child, face painting £3 per child.

You can book online at http://trackparty.co.uk or find them on facebook.

Rating out of 5

We thoroughly enjoyed the day and are planning to rebook for the next time they are in Basingstoke.

Small J (and the grownups) gave our experience 5/5.

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Toddler Games: Coloured water play

I found out about this great idea for sensory water play HERE.

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I first tried this with Miss NHM when she just turned three years old and she LOVED it!

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I don’t know if it was because it was “messy play” at home so it was a novelty or because she generally enjoyed it as it was something different! lol.

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 It kept her quiet for ages.
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What you need

  • different colours of food colouring
  • water
  • some bowls and/or cake baking tray
  • straws
  • bubble mixture or washing up liquid
  • We also used a syringe that was floating around (you could try this with the calpol ones for a fine motor skill challenge!)

The first time we played with coloured water I filled lots of bowls with water and then added one or two drops of food colouring to each bowl.

I then gently poured some of the coloured water into the baking tray, as you can see below.

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Miss NHM thoroughly enjoyed mixing all of the colours up and seeing what colours they turned in too (they all ended up green eventually!??!)
When Miss NHM got bored of mixing up the colours I added some bubble mixture and she blew bubbles into the water.
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She thought this was hilarious!
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We both really enjoyed blowing the bubbles into the bowls and making different coloured bubbles.

She loved spotting rainbows in the light refraction (Rainbows have always been one of her favourite things! lol)

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 There wasn’t too much mess at the end. I think she was amazed I let her create that much mess in the first place! lol (I may have a reputation for not enjoying too much mess <blush>)
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As you can see, she managed to get herself covered in blue spots by the end of the morning! lol
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Tips

Don’t use a white towel!

I recommend trying this activity on a hard floor, not on carpet!

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Stocking Fillers Ideas and 14 things you don’t want to forget for Christmas!

Today’s “Sunday re-post” is just for you if you are struggling with ideas of what to put in your little ones stockings:

Stocking Filler Ideas! (It seems that this post isn’t working, so I’ve updated this post with the original post below. Hope it helps!

and if you can’t think of all of those things you need to remember for Christmas, this is the post for you!:

14 things you don’t want to forget for Christmas

Stocking Filler Ideas 2014

I’ve mentioned before that I do my VERY best to avoid things that are going to end up in landfill.

  • Bubbles
  • Satsuma
  • crayons
  • modeling clay or play dough
  • a Slinky
  • miniature Lego kits
  • travel games
  • decks of cards
  • mini jigsaw puzzles
  • wind-up toys
  • squirt guns
  • balloons
  • beach balls
  • high bounce balls
  • small stuffed animals
  • toy cars
  • fancy shoelaces.
  • Gift vouchers (clothing, restaurants, groceries, music download cards, new experiences).
  • Pocket or desktop calendars.
  • Pens
  • pencils
  • erasers
  • highlighters
  • color pens
  • notepads
  • Wristwatches or small alarm clocks
  • Torch
  • kitchen utensils
  • Try a favorite candy, jam, mustard, or ice cream sauce
  • Orange
  • Candy canes
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste (travel sized)
  • Pretty stones or minerals
  • Music CDs.
  • New hairbrush
  • jewellry
  • hair clips, hair bands, hair toggles
  • hot chocolate
  • bar of chocolate
  • Christmas chocolate
  • Novelty chocolate
  • key rings
  • fun showergels
  • Bubble Bath
  • Colouring or Activity Books/Pencils
  • Post It Notes
  • Bubble Wands
  • Socks
  • Large Chocolate Coin
  • Travel Bag
  • Cookies in Christmas shapes, such as Santa or Reindeer.
  • Mince pies
  • Toy cars
  • Silly putty
  • Army Men or small action figures or dolls
  • Clothing for Barbie dolls or other dolls
  • School supplies
  • Books
  • Art supplies
  • a note promising a special activity that day
  • permission to download a new app to their ipads

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Toy Safety

Snuggly Sockimals

It always amazes me how little people seem to know about the safety aspect of the toys their children play with.

Do you look for the CE mark on toys? Do you know what it means? Can you tell if something will be safe or not?

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I make soft toys, mostly from socks but also from plush fabrics. Before I began making anything back in 2011, I researched the rules about selling, the trading standards I would need to comply with and what terms and conditions I would need to follow. Those rules have changed over the years and so keeping up to date has become as much a part of my business as making the toys.

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The European Toy Safety Standards set out a number of guidelines that should be followed when making soft toys by hand. Yet I continually see toys for sale at craft fairs and markets that do not comply. It’s not just toys as you may consider them either, anything with play value should also follow the guidelines. A cushion shaped like a cloud, a doorstop like a duck or a taggie blanket.

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So before I make a toy what do I need to have done? Firstly, I need a certificate from the supplier of any materials used to show that they have been tested for toxicity etc. This means certificates for the main fabrics, stuffing, threads, felt, ribbons, buttons, tags and any other embellishments.

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Whilst making the toy I need to count in and out any pins and needles I use.

Once the toy has been completed it needs to be tested as a completed piece as the materials may react differently to when they were individual pieces.

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Tests include washing, strength of sewn joins and burning. Yes burning. A burn test is needed to ensure that any flame either extinguishes itself or burns slow enough to enable a child to be removed from harm.

A record of compliance is kept for each model of toy which can then be cross referenced to any new make of the same design. All these tests and gathering of certificates goes towards being able to add the CE mark to a toy or item which is appealing to a child.

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A label showing the CE symbol, washing instructions, a contact address and a unique batch number must also be attached. Even this label needs all the above testing.

A new design can mean repeating all the certificate gathering and testing.

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So next time you see a handmade toy for sale check if it conforms to the EU toy safety standards and carries the CE mark. Also, understand why that toy may cost a little more than you had expected. Crafters rarely get paid for the time they spend preparing and making their items but we appreciate it when people understand why our items cost a little more than those that could end up harming a child.

Elaine Thorpe

Snuggly Sockimals

www.snugglysockimals.co.uk

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Top Tip 30: Reviews and Age Ratings of Movies, Games, TV, Apps, Books, Music…

I’ve always been really worried about exposing Miss NHM to technology stuff that isn’t age appropriate.

I mentioned this to a fabulous friend of mine recently and she sent me the link to this FANTASTIC website.

If you are looking for suggestions of age appropriate Apps to download or which films are suitable, etc. I recommend checking this website out.

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/

Thanks very much fab friend :-D.