Baby/Toddler stuff, Playtime

Our favourite books

We love books! We always have, from bedtime stories to using them in play activities or discovery baskets. From when Dot was little we attended ‘Story Imaginory’ classes run by the wonderful Freya. These classes are themed around a letter and a book- with the class leader reading the story and guiding you through related songs/dances (with signing) and some amazing play activities- all linked to the original story.

Story imaginory

Since lockdown Story imaginory have gone virtual- with stories being read- and play activities given on a sheet to recreate at home- it’s amazing and Freya (and the other class leaders are awesome story readers).

Attending the Story Imaginory classes have inspired me with how we read and use books at home. As well as just reading stories to Dot, I try to get her more involved by encouraging her to point things out in the book, linking play activities to the book or finding books that are more interactive.

Here are some of our favourites.

The Jolly Postman– this is one I remember from my childhood- and we bought her the Festive one for Christmas. She loved it so we recently added this to our collection.

It’s wonderful as it’s really interactive; with envelopes with postcards, letters and puzzles for little ones to open and explore. It’s written in a way that it’s super easy to read and you can be really expressive too.

Play activities we’ve tried linked to this book.

  • Used it to guide writing postcards to friends and family on lockdown.
  • Made a quick postbox (out of a shoe box) and posted letters which we then delivered to her teddies and friends.

Who’s hiding on the farm. We bought this from one of our not so recent trips to a National Trust property; I find they always stock awesome books. This isn’t a story book; but a great interactive ‘lift the flap’ book, which toddlers tend to love.

We love creating ‘farm’ themed play trays with dry foods/sand/moon sand and our farm animal toys.

Why do we need a potty? Together with the book ‘what is poo?’ We are using this to help our potty training mission. It’s not going well, to be fair; but Dot does have full understanding of the toileting process, and loves to play with her babies on her potty.

Me and Daddy think these are the most bizarre books ever; but she seems to love them.

Read with Fred- local Usborne book lady

Questions and answers about plastic. Another great Usborne book; and if you follow me on insta, you’ll know I’m on an eco mission. Another lift the flap book so entertaining enough for a toddler; but I think Dot will really enjoy this book as she gets older too.

To use this book in play I encourage Dot to sort (clean) rubbish into groups- recyclable and not or plastic/paper/cardboard etc.

Zog – well we love all Julia Donaldson books; and they mostly make up our favourite bedtime books. Zog is our most recent Donaldson purchase; it’s a bit more difficult to read than others (in my opinion) but I think it’s a great story which shows Princesses aren’t just there to be pretty.

We recently read this book and made our own crafty crowns.

Rabbits Nap- another Julia Donaldson book, but definitely lesser well known. It’s a cute short, lift the flap book (so ideal for younger toddlers). We find this one links very nicely with the ‘hop little bunny’ song and dance.

First facts BUGS- a great factual book to get little ones interested in bugs. I didn’t want Dot to be scared or bugs and beasties- so bought this book and some play resources recently to help her understand their importance. She’s now loving butterflies, bees and spiders- and saying hello to them instead of running away.

For a range of awesome play resources check out The future image and use ‘ivfninja’ for discount.

I hope you’ve liked my recommendations of books and simple play ideas follow me on insta for more My insta and drop me a comment with what you think.

Family time, Playtime

West Lodge Farm Park

Today we had a wonderful day at West Lodge farm park, near Desborough Northants. It was breezy and post storm; but that didn’t put us off, in fact it had made some wonderful muddy puddles.

As it’s lambing season the main focus of our visit was to see some new borns and feed the babies with bottles. Dorothea loved this. We didn’t managed to see any lambs actually be born, but we certainly got to view some very fresh ones. They do the bottle feeding of lambs x4 a day during this season, with plenty of opportunity for your little ones to have this wonderful experience.

Although it was pretty cool and blustery Dorothea enjoyed some fresh air playtime; her and her friends loved the abundance of tractors, exploring the castle on the hill, playing on the roundabout and swings and even in the sand pit!!!! (Unsurprisingly hands in cold sand meant they wanted to return inside.)

Each and every day there’s plenty of activities for the kids; these obviously change with the season. Today’s were:

  • Lambing talks
  • Bottle feeding the lambs
  • Small animal petting
  • Piglet racing
  • Pony grooming
  • Pony rides
  • Barrel rides
  • Den building

Most of my photos of Dorothea are blurry or of her laughing! This says a lot about the farm park; she really loved it and was absolutely exhausted following 4 hours there!

The old grain adventure barn is pretty epic, with a multitude of slides, (for difference levels of thrill seeker), plenty of climbing opportunities and many places to hide and jump out at your friends! There’s a separate play area for the little ones; which Dorothea loved; with a smaller ‘hen house’, slide, toadstool seating and a mesmerising sensory ‘fish pond’.

And the best thing of all??? At the side of this play area there’s a cafe with does great coffee and cakes.
There’s also a more formal ‘Rickyard restaurant’ and ‘the udder place’ ice cream/snack/hot drink bar. On a nice sunny day there’s plenty of spots and benches for a family picnic.

There’s a lovely little shop at West lodge with some great quality toys and great wellies. Our favourites were the Lanka Kade farm animals/ characters and the hobby horses (now in Dorotheas possession).

Costs:

Varies per season but around £7-9 per person.

Under twos are free

They also have a reduced price late entrance fee (ideal for post school energy burn off)

Annual membership is also available from £42 per person (family of 4 £150)

Parking is free and plentiful

There’s plenty more of the farm to explore than we did in a few hours; and we can’t wait to go again. What we didn’t know until recently is that they allow dogs
So we can’t wait to go back with Woody and explore their many nature trails and walks. The only places you can’t take dogs are the indoor place area and the fenced off outside play park.

We did go in half term, on our arrival at 9.30 the park was quiet but by the time we left at 13.00 it was packed, and the indoor play barn had no tables left- so I certainly can’t wait to go back in term time.

West Lodge website

West lodge Instagram