Entertaining an active toddler in lockdown has been a unique test of both my resourcefulness and my patience. So thank goodness then for the wonderful ToddlerSense classes moving online whilst we are still unable to get together for classes in person.
My little boy (now 2yr 10m) and I had been ToddlerSense regulars for over a year by the time lockdown kicked in, and it was one of the things I was most gutted about being Covid-cancelled. In “normal life” it’s a very lively interactive class with lots of props and mini activities, so I initially wondered how it would translate into an online class with just Wilf and me in the living room. I needn’t have worried! The ToddlerSense franchise very quickly stepped up to the plate.
Each week has a different theme – think Animal Safari, Dinosaur Dig, World Party, Castles & Dragons – but every class follows the same sort of template: warm up activity, welcome song, a series of short activities around the theme, then the Goodbye song. In the last few weeks, we’ve enjoyed a teddy bear’s picnic; excavating dinosaurs from ice; going on a “safari” with a homemade cardboard box jeep and a cast of random safari animals plucked from the toy box; “beach volleyball” with a balloon; lounge discos; and making our own dragon puppet show.
Classes are run on Zoom, so you can see all the other families participating too. Danielle who runs the York classes does a great job at engaging the children through the screen, and her energy and enthusiasm is infectious. She has a preschooler of her own, who also participates like her mini assistant, which is great for my little boy to see what he’s supposed to be doing.
The classes are very interactive and do require parental involvement both prior to the class and during, as well as a little preparation. Don’t expect to be able to leave your child alone in front of Zoom for half an hour whilst you get on with other stuff! However, it’s lots of fun and the prep is not too onerous – a list of things you might need to hand during the class is emailed out a few days before the class, and it tends to be a mixture of items you can find in the average toddler household, or simple things that you can print and cut out from templates sent. The basics can be pulled together easily, and you can get your little one to assist in some of the prep as an extra activity in the days before the class – a scavenger hunt to find items around the house, or making a flag or simple puppet to wave.
ToddlerSense @ Home has been a real high point of our lockdown week, and helps us to shake off the Monday morning blues and kick off the week in energetic fashion.
Classes run live on Zoom 3 times a week (Monday, Thursday and Friday mid mornings), and you can choose to attend more than once a week if you wish for no extra cost (useful for rainy days!). Currently running in 4 week blocks, at £20 for 4 weeks, but you can start at any time for £5 a class. Contact Danielle Taylor via the links below for more details.
Guest Review by Local Mumbler, Tanya
Song Box is a long-established, local, independent provider of interactive, creative musical opportunities across the community. The “4G” (four generations) format brings together young families and Care Home residents to share musical fun and friendship.
I attended the session last Thursday morning at a care home in Fulford with my 16-month-old and we both had a lot of fun, singing, interacting with residents and playing.
The session is held in the unit for residents with dementia. The unit itself is so light, bright and homely with lots of stimulating things of interest for the children to look at. The session is run by Thea who provides everything needed during the hour-long session.
The Song Box session is made up of two parts. The first half is sharing songs and nursery rhymes with props or instruments to entertain the children and for the second half, the residents choose a selection of songs that they enjoy to sing. Song Box has a songbook with many well-known songs from the resident’s era to pick from, plus the words so everyone can join in, although I surprised myself by how many words I knew.
The session is fun for all and parents, carers and children are encouraged to get involved. It was lovely to see the interaction between the residents and children and the whole session was so happy and positive and seemed to give the residents a real boost.
🎵 If you would like to attend a 4G Songbox session please contact Thea Jacob via the contact form on her website
🎵 4G Songbox is weekly (term time only) and runs various care homes:
🎵 There is plenty of parking at Connaught Court plus on the road nearby. There is a toilet and private room for baby changing but no changing table.
🎵 The centre is kept quite warm for the residents so keep that in mind when dressing children and yourself!
🎵 Song Box is paid for by the term (inline with schools) and a trial session is available for £5.50 for the hour session. Half price sessions are available for families with low income.
🎵 All adults and children must wash their hands before and after the session to help with infection control.
🎵 Song Box ask you don’t attend the session if you or a child are unwell as this can quickly spread between residents and if you have been ill with anything infectious, please be clear for 48 hours before attending.
🎵 Please do not take any photos during the session
For more Mumbler reviews of the shows, attractions and classes in and around York visit the Mumbler Review section here.
Disclaimer: Tanya paid for her Song Box session and was kind enough to provide the York Mumbler community with an honest and helpful review.
The images used in this review have been approved for publication by Song Box.
Guest Review by Local Mumbler, Amy of the Awesome Books Club
Here at Awesome Books Club we never need an excuse to go to a book shop! I was really excited when asked by York Mumbler to go and visit the newest independent bookshop in town. The Blue House Bookshop at 10 Bootham in the centre of York specialises in children’s books from birth up to young adults. From the outside, it looks incredibly inviting to any children’s book lover with a beautiful display of children’s books and gorgeous coloured lights.
On entering the shop Karen, the owner of the shop was instantly lovely and welcomed us with a warm smile. The shop was easily accessible with a pushchair from the street to the downstairs. My two mini Mumbler’s aged (1 and 4) soon made themselves at home finding some books and taking them off the shelves and Karen was more than happy for them to sit and look at the books on the child-sized colourful chairs available for them.
There was a huge variety of children’s books on offer for every age range both fiction and non-fiction. There were some classics such as Peter Rabbit and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt to some less well known. Karen informed me that she really enjoys finding new books to stock the shelves with and encouraging young children to come into the shop and get excited about reading. It was apparent that it had been Karen’s lifelong dream to own a book shop and this became clear as you started to browse what is on offer.
You can tell the shop is stocked by someone with a good knowledge of children’s books and with an understanding of the importance of reading for children. When you continue upstairs there are books for older children to young adult age again you a greeted by more wonderful books and there are more chairs to sit on and read! What a lovely way to encourage children to pick a book and delve straight in!
It was no wonder finding out from Karen that some of her working background was in retail and window dressing. It really showed, how she displayed the books with such love and care. Karen also shared that she has lots of exciting ideas in store such as weekly story sessions (possibly going to be on a Tuesday morning so watch this space). Karen also shared that she is hoping to get local authors in to share their latest books and carry out signings. If you are looking for a new book or want a gift of a book for a child, you know I really would recommend a trip to Blue House Bookshop as there are a great variety of books to choose from and plenty of help with recommendations. Karen mentioned that if they don’t have a book you would like in the shop they are more than happy to find it for you.
The fact that my mini Mumbler’s didn’t want to leave all the wonderful books on offer at The Blue House Bookshop means it was a hit for my children (we might have stayed all afternoon if we didn’t have a party to get to!). At Awesome Books Club we love children’s books and we are so excited to find anywhere that helps spread the joy of reading to children.
The Blue House Bookshop would be a great place to visit if you have children who love to read already or if you want to encourage more reading. There are so many different books on offer in this absolute treasure of a book shop that it would be hard for them not to find one they would like! The fact that children are welcomed to look at the books and you don’t have to worry about them touching anything is always a plus when you have little ones.
Don’t miss Awesome Books Club post on the Top 10 Children’s Books for Christmas.
Guest Review by Local Mumbler, Nikki
Hoglets Theatre Company runs storytelling and drama classes aimed at young children and their parents and carers.
With their unique way of bringing stories to life, Fairietold was always destined to be a success, offering by their own admissions a ‘dark, hilarious and imaginative new production, turning fairytales on their heads’.
We went along to their first production at Acomb Library and were met with approximately 20 children ranging from babies up to about 8 years old. The production is recommended for children from 5 to 11 years old but my 4-year-old sat through it enthralled, as were most of the children in the room apart from a few screaming babies which incidentally didn’t phase the actors in the slightest.
We arrived a few minutes early so waited in the onsite coffee shop for the doors of the library’s side room to open. Whilst waiting we overheard a very enthusiastic lady talking to one of the cast members explaining she had seen their last show and loved it so much that she had come on her own with no children in tow today, especially to watch the production.
After a quick register of the pre-booked ticket holders, we entered the room to the sound of softly playing banjo music and sat on the row of chairs. Most children sat on the mats at the front although my little one sat on my knee throughout the entire performance.
Within the first few minutes, we were introduced to the three cloaked storytellers who explained mysteriously things are not always as they seem. Their sudden entrance onto the stage floor from behind a pre-lit theatre screen made some of the smallest children jump in fright which is why I think their age advisory of 5 years and over is just about right.
Throughout the production, the storytellers invited some of the children from the audience to exchange a silver coin (given to them when entering the room) for a story tale. The first tale was Hansel & Grettel and without wanting to give too much away, it’s not Hansel & Grettel who meet an untimely end!
With another exchange of a silver coin, we swiftly moved onto a very modern twist to the age-old tale of Little Red Riding Hood.
This, I felt, was where the three actresses really got into the swing of it and absolutely shone. With numerous one-liners and references to the modern age (Red Riding Hood’s attitude and love of Instagram would resonate with the parents of most older children!) this story had a strong underlying message, that greed and deceit are not good traits to have.
The final story was all about Rumpelstiltskin and portrayed him as a misunderstood and lost soul who simply wanted a friend. After his friendship was spurned by the newly appointed queen that he had helped into power, he took his revenge.
The whole production lasted around 45 minutes which was just right for young children. It certainly kept them captivated and with some real laugh out loud moments, including a hilarious rendition of ‘You’ve got a friend’ sang by Rumpelstiltskin himself. Our banjo playing friend who was in charge of the sound effects did a great job too, helping to bring the stories to life.
“This was a fabulous production and one that I feel hasn’t really got the coverage it deserves. You should really aim to see it before it’s too late, especially as it is their last production this year.”
For more information on Hoglets classes see the details on York Mumbler.
A review of a previous Hoglets production can be read here.
For more Mumbler reviews of the attractions in and around York visit the Mumbler Review section here.
Further showings of Fairietold are scheduled for:
Disclaimer: York Mumbler was given free tickets for Fairietold by Hoglets in exchange for an honest review.
Guest Review by Local Mumbler, Tanya
What could be more fun for a train-loving toddler than a Trainmaster session? My three-year-old was so excited to walk into a room full of toy train tracks and couldn’t wait to get stuck into the session. Although we have train track at home, that’s nothing compared to the amount provided by Trainmaster.
There was lots of train track already set up plus extra to add on and more than enough trains to go round everyone. There are also bridges and tunnels on various parts of the track for added interest. The Holgate session at Poppleton Memorial Hall was mainly busy with toddlers, however, children (and babies) of all ages are welcome at the sessions. What makes Trainmaster York even more fun is the two mini ride on trains that go round their own track – these were a big hit with everyone. My little boy waited patiently for his turn and loved being a train driver for a few minutes. A craft table is also available with things to colour in if anyone wants a break from the trains.
Trainmaster is currently running every month until December offering two timed slots for hourly session at Poppleton Memorial Hall and Pocklington Scout Hut. It costs £6.50 for children and adults go free. Trainmaster also offer a saver ticket for four sessions priced at £20. Plus siblings, multiples and group discounts are available.
The Trainmaster York session was a really enjoyable way to spend an hour with my little boy and it was nice to walk away knowing I didn’t need to tidy away all the train track! My little train enthusiast can’t wait for the Trainmaster session next month.
Review by Helen Goodwill
Fast forward eighteen years and we’re off to another rave, this time accompanied by our 7 and 5-year-old daughters. This family friendly event, hosted by Ravin’ Rascals, promised bubbles, face painting and glow sticks and did not let us down.
The free ice cream halfway through the two-hour session went down a treat as did the bubbles which came on intermittently throughout the afternoon. I had a slight concern about how slippery the floor was becoming, but as soon as the bubbles stopped a member of the team could be seen mopping up the residue to ensure no slips or falls.
The UV paints and accessories all added an element of fun that the adults could get involved with and the entertainers interacted with the children enthusiastically, providing energy and dance moves for the children to copy!
The event was well organised and the mix of entertainment, bubbles, ice-cream and competitions ensured that the two-hours flew by and we all had a great time!
For more information about Ravin’ Racals visit their facebook page HERE
Guest Review by Local Mumbler, Jo Neill
We went on a great adventure into ‘the deep dark woods’ with the Woodland Adventure Company recently. We booked onto the Gruffalo’s Child session which is aimed at 2 -6-year-olds. It is set in beautiful woodland just outside Stamford Bridge and this 90-minute session includes craft making, a hunt through the woods, marshmallow toasting and free play.
The session began with each child making their own stick man out of whatever they could forage from the woodland floor and the results were brilliant. The children then took the stickmen on an adventure through the woods to find the characters from the Gruffalo storybook series. The group included children ranging from 2 to 6 years and the session leader skillfully involved all of them. They made sure they each got to take part in the hunt, find the clues and stroke the animals when they found them if they wanted to.
The hunt through the woods was great fun, with clues that were carefully strewn about and some lovely special effects. The idea of walking through the deep dark woods and actually finding the familiar creatures from the stories worked so well – for Gruffalo fans and newbies to the story alike, it was lovely to see the children’s imaginations really fired up. I won’t spoil the surprise but the ending of the trail is an absolute highlight and safe to say something I’m sure they will all be talking about for a long time to come.
The route through the wood was pram friendly and not too far a walk for little legs to manage.
Back at base, the campfire was lit and the children got the chance to watch popcorn being popped over the fire, toast their own marshmallows and wash it all down with hot chocolate. The base itself is a great area with dens, seating around the fire, a self-service café and woodland toilet.
For a magical experience, a great way to get kids enjoying the outdoors and a picturesque walk I would highly recommend booking up. We will definitely be back.
Review by local York Mumbler Mum – Claire Marchment
This week I popped along to Lingotots with my youngest Mini Mumbler Harry (23 months). We both enjoyed it and wanted to share our experience with our fellow Mumblers.
Louise, a mum from York, runs Lingotots and spends most of her time teaching languages in local schools and nurseries. However, on a Tuesday morning she holds sessions with parents and their babies, toddlers or pre-schoolers. We went to the 10am Spanish group but there’s also a French group at 11am.
The group is held in the Community Space of the Tesco store at Askham Bryan. You can find it upstairs through the clothing section next to the lift. It’s a lovely little room with a separate toilet and small kitchen facilities.
Louise lays out mats and fabulous cushions to keep parents and children comfortable. There are lots of activities using props, songs, actions and even some crafts to suit those short attention spans. All while listening to and joining in with the words and songs in Spanish or French. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere, so little ones can join in as much or as little as they like.
Harry, normally quite reserved, was easily engaged in every activity. We pegged clothes on a washing line, Harry’s favourite item were the pantalones (trousers). We played with different vehicles, el bus being held onto tightly for fear of losing!
We sang the wheels on the bus, twinkle twinkle little star and head, shoulders, knees and toes amongst others…or I should say we joined in with the actions! We enjoyed playing with musical instruments, always a winner, and particularly enjoyed the craft activity to make our own picture of el tren (the train). There was even time for a snack!
It’s a lovely group with plenty of interesting activities to engage children of a range of ages with a different language thrown in for good measure. It’s also a great opportunity to expose young children to another language at such an early age given the inclusion of languages now in most primary schools. I’d also recommend it for any parents looking for an activity with more than one child due to the size and security of the room and the nature of the activities.
What’s more, when you’re finished you can pop into the café or pick up a few groceries. I only needed milk, but I came home with two bags of shopping, oops!
You can find details of the Lingotots sessions HERE
Muchas Gracias to Lingotots for having Mumbler along for a free taster session to sample your class.