Archive for London

Riots Across London – We’d Rather Make Playdough!

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Riots in London and Making Playdough with Children

It’s been a while since I last posted here at Olives Childcare and a lot has happened since!  We’ve moved house and then been surrounded by some of the worst rioting the UK has ever seen.

Our overseas partner agencies have been wonderful with some of their words of support which we are extremely grateful for.  In return, we’ve been in constant contact with all of our nannies, au pairs, maternity nurses and mother’s helpers that we supply to make sure that they’re safe and secure along with the children they look after.  Fortunately, no one has experienced anything first hand and we hope it stays that way.

It is such a shame what is happening, especially with the Olympics around the corner (which incidentally we’re very excited about here at Olives Childcare).

Anyway, I won’t linger on the shameful behaviour of a small minority of young people.  We have more important things to cover.

How to Make Playdough

Making playdough is not only great fun, but you can also play with it afterwards!  What’s not to like?

As any playdough connoisseur will know, there are two main varieties of playdough:  Cooked and uncooked.  Why?  I hear you ask.  What is the difference?  As with most things, it is a personal preference.  I, as a more mature playdough user prefer cooked, however for some of the younger children we may look after both the danger of cooking and attention span needed may prove too much, so we shall begin with uncooked playdough.

Uncooked Playdough
Ingredients:
1/2 a cup of salt
1/2 a cup of water
1 cup of flower
Food dye (the more garish the better!)

1 – First, find a good space to work on, preferably the floor.  Cover the area with newspaper to save a huge cleanup operation.  Also, get a medium to large sized bowl to mix the playdough in.  It can be fun for the older kids to be each tasked with finding the items themselves.
2 – Ask the little ones to measure out for you a cup of flower and add it to the bowl.  Next, ask them to measure out half a cup of salt and put it into the bowl followed by (lastly) half a cup of water.
3 – Give the child/children a spoon and ask them to mix the ingredients until it’s no longer too watery or floury.  We’re going for a nice and even mushy mix!
4 – Next is my personal favourite – adding the food dye.  I usually pick luminous lime greens, pinks and oranges, but then I have terrible taste and love bright colours.  Just add a few drops (don’t over do it or things will get messy when it comes to play time!) then have the children knead the dough until it has a uniform colour.

That’s it!  You’ve now got some playdough and here’s where the fun starts.  Your creations are only limited by your imagination!

I’ll do a future blog on the connoisseur’s playdough – the cooked variety.  Slightly more tricky, more ingredients, however more elastic.

One last thing – Keep the playdough away from pets!  It smells like food but has a high salt content.  Children usually notice after the first taste, but I hear that pets can ignore it to ill effect.

Have fun!

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Things to do in London with kids

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Something I regularly get asked by nannies and especially au pairs who are new to the country is ‘where are the best places to take children for a day out’.  I’ve discovered some wonderful places in London for children since I’ve worked in the childcare industry and had some pretty fun days out at them myself! 

Below are my three absolute favourite places to go – I hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

The Horniman Museum
A personal favourite of mine is the fantastic Horniman Museum.  This absolute gem was founded by the Victorian tea trader Frederick Horniman, in 1901. 
There is a library with a grass roof, a free aquarium with tropical coral reefs and a British Pond life display, a fantastic taxidermy collection, display of antique musical instruments, masks, along with the absolutely delightful garden. 
On top of all this, there is an animal farmyard along with concerts in the band stand!  If you intend to go – please invite me!
Transport: 13 minutes train from London Bridge, Buses – 176, 185, 197, 356, P4
http://www.horniman.ac.uk/
100 London Road,
Forest Hill
London SE23 3PQ

The Kids Zone at the National Army Museum
Whenever I’ve taken children I’ve been looking after to the Kids Zone at the National Army Museum the hardest thing has always been getting them to leave!  Nannies and au pairs love taking advantage of the Kids Zone as it’s a wonderful safe environment where the children can go completely wild!
There’s a great castle fortress, a rock climbing wall, slides and tunnels, and you can dress up in solidier’s uniforms. 
For children that aren’t feeling quite so energetic, there is a reading tree and tables where you can draw, as well as a kitchen play set.  There’s even a soft play area for babies, so there’s plenty of fun for all ages!
Nearest Tube Stations: Sloane Square, Victoria
http://www.nam.ac.uk/kids/kids-zone
National Army Museum
Royal Hospital Road,
Chelsea,
London SW3 4HT

The Diana Memorial Playground
Completely free, inspired by the story of Peter Pan by J.M.Barrie and a great play area with a huge wooden pirate ship, what’s not to like?
Children can ‘walk the plank’ and child carers can find their inner child too.  The pirate ship is fantastic and the children can climb all over it,  there are teepees, sculptures, sensory tunnels, swings, slides, climbing frames, a story telling and music area, all surrounded by lovely plants and trees.
Unaccompanied adults are not allowed in Neverland and the gate is locked for everyone’s safety.
For those who can’t quite keep up all day with the little ‘Lost Boys and Girls’, there is an open air cafe selling fresh sandwiches, salads, tea and coffee along with a small selection of hot meals.  There are nappy changing facilites in the toilet area too.
Nearest Tube Stations: High Street Kensington, Notting Hill Gate
http://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/kensington_gardens/diana_playground.cfm
Kensington Gardens
London W2