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Life as a London Mum

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Have you heard about Kidzania? It launched last year in London and we finally managed to take our four-year-old over the bank holiday weekend.

It was unplanned. At 8am after an early morning start, I shoved husband and child out the door early to miss the Bank Holiday ‘madness’ at the Westfield Mall.

Kidzania recreates adult workplaces such as operating theatres, plane cockpits, TV studios and banks — all at two-thirds of lifesize — where children will play at carrying out jobs. Kidzania decribes itself as “Designed to empower kids, KidZania gives them the confidence to challenge themselves and inspire them to explore the world of opportunities. KidZania is a real life role play experience for 4-14 year olds,  blending learning and reality with entertainment. For younger siblings visiting KidZania, we have a dedicated Early Years area which includes three main activities in our: Science Lab, RightZKeepers Residence and the Kindergarten.”

Kidzania Firefighting practice

When you arrive, parent and child are given a wrist monitor to follow their whereabouts in case they get lost, and presumably to track the most popular attractions and habits of families. Children older than seven don’t have to be accompanied by an adult so some parents may be free to shop and leave their children there for a few hours. It’s a bit pricey – on weekends and bank holidays the cost for a child’s ticket is £32.00 and the required parent for under-7s is £16.50. Under 3s cost £10.00 and children under one year are free. You and your child are given 50 ‘kidzania’ dollars, currency that is needed for each attraction.

Some of the opportunities, like practicing being a police constable or an artist, are ‘paid’ where your child earns eight Kidzania dollars. For others, like being a firefighter or face painting, you pay your Kidzania dollars for your child’s engagement in the activity.

For children under three, the options are a bit limited. A shopping market where they learn how far their Kidzania dollars will go and other safe activities are available.

For a four-year-old it was great fun, although he did take up more of the ‘instructors’ time than some of the other children. He learned to be a police constable, a firefighter, and a drummer – as well as getting his face painted – in the two hours we were there. He didn’t want to leave but the tiredness and sudden crowds prompted us to go ahead of the four hour limit.

I would suggest checking it out, with managed expectations if your child is under the age of four, and bring your stamina with you. For what it is worth, I wish they had something like this for grown-ups, its such a fun opportunity to explore what life has to offer.

Pop-up performance

I have always loved the V&A in South Kensington (not least for the fabulous gift shop) but I never thought of bringing my young son. But yes, fun V&A Museum activities for children abound!

When we visited on Saturday I was delighted to discover the V&A’s free drop-in pop-up performances at 11am, 1pm and 3pm every Saturday. And it was really entertaining. Set in the enchanting Cast Courts on the ground floor (thankfully not too far to walk for little people) the far corner became a small theatre complete with cushion seats for children and parents, with the opera Aida piped through the sound system.

 V&A Cast Court

Il Marzocco pop-up performance

Led by Louisa, self-proclaimed assistant to sculptor Donatello in Florence, the 30-minute act had the children ‘sculpting’ with toy tools, to help Louisa finish Donatello’s masterpiece ‘Il Marzocco’ the lion. But there is a twist. Il Marzocco talks and leads the children on a journey to complete him, complaining that he’s been unfinished under a drop cloth for too long. My favourite part was when they have to furnish him with the seal of Florence, but it breaks. Louisa asked the children what to do, to which my son yelled out, ‘hide it!’ (Note to self: search the house for hidden, broken items later). When they’ve finished Il Marzocco ends with a terrific ROAR!

There were about 10 children in our group, aged 2-8 years old. It seemed to be engaging for all of them as they learned through play. Parents can join in to help the littlest children. The pop-up performances change, but based on the quality of Il Marzocco, I’d highly recommend dropping in.

V&A activities for children

Other Activities

If you are keen to spend more time at the V&A, not far away is a ‘secret’ staircase leading to the third floor Learning Centre which may also entertain children but requires much more parental effort! And just across Cromwell Road are many child-friendly restaurants like Byron and Carluccios, which you can find of course on your Gobaby App. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

#SilentSunday18.10.15

#SilentSunday

October 18, 2015

#SilentSunday One photo, no words

Tiddler.FrontLeicesterSquareTheatre

We’ve loved Julia Donaldson books since our son was born, so after seeing an ad in a tube station last week, I ordered tickets immediately for us to see  Tiddler And Other Terrific Tales.

Tiddler.LeicesterSquareTheatre

It was amazing. The one hour show was creative and had our son mesmerised. Using puppets, instruments, clever costumes and a set hidden with theatrical gems, they performed the stories Monkey Puzzle, A Squash and A Squeeze, The Smartest Giant in Town and Tiddler. It was really entertaining and the performers were true professionals, so the adults weren’t bored. My son was a bit frightened of the backlit puppetry sea scene when Tiddler was chased by a shark, but for the rest of the show he had a broad grin, was dancing in his seat and clapped like mad when it finished (no, are they going home now?)

Tiddler.LobbyLeicesterSquareTheatre

Leicester Square Theatre is a great location, as afterwards there was a street party in Chinatown with face-painting, free balloons, Mickey and Minnie Mouse mascots, and performing Elvis, amongst other things. And with Haagen Daaz ice cream shop next door, it’s a perfect day out for your littles.

My only warning would be to try to book the tickets directly through the theatre as it seemed I paid quite a bit more using Ticketmaster to book our tickets. (Listed in the theatre as £15 adults and £10 children under 14.) Leicester Square tube is a five minute walk from the Theatre but unfortunately there are 50 steps from platform to street level, so best to allow plenty of time for travel.

Next stop, the Gruffalo! Enjoy.

#SilentSunday.12.7.15

#SilentSunday

July 12, 2015

It’s #SilentSunday One photo, no words