Tag Archives: children

Review: “Mrs. Armitage and the Big Wave” A Great Family Day at the Theatre

Mrs. Armitage and her faithful dog, Breakspear, are off to the seaside for a day of surfing; but what happens while they’re waiting for the big wave makes Quentin Blake’s story a sincere display of true companionship, trust, problem solving, and eternal optimism.

I recently had the privilege of experiencing the Ga Ga Theatre Company’s adaptation of this lovely story at the Abbey Theatre in St. Albans. We took the whole family to this hour-long production and it was a wonderful, interactive way of giving young children a taste for the theatre, as well as having a lovely morning together.


The entire play uses two clearly talented actors each portraying a handful of upbeat, amusing characters. Different voices and accents are used to give real variance and depth to the characters and certainly keep the audience, especially the children, interested.

The main characters endure many situations as they’re ‘waiting for the big wave;’ and with each comes the choice of either giving up or staying positive and finding a solution. These scenarios also made for some good discussion with the kids after the show.  mrs_armitage_0393

The combination of quality acting, funny lines, simple, yet clever, props, and animated, projected sketches make for a well-integrated way of interpreting Blake’s story. Well done to the Ga Ga Theatre Company for this fun production. Looking forward to your next project soon.

For more information on the Ga Ga Theatre Company and their coming productions, see the website, here: http://www.gagatheatre.co.uk

For more fun, check out Mumsnet Hertfordshire’s site: http://local.mumsnet.com/hertfordshire

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Follow us on Twitter: @MNHertfordshire




Top 10 Tips for the Primary to Secondary School Transition

The move to secondary school is a challenging and emotional time for both parents and children. Fear not – this useful guide from the National Teen Trust should help make the transition as painless as possible!


  • Be prepared (like a boy (or girl) scout!) – It’s so important. Get all the uniform, books, shoes, trainers, socks and stationery out of the way as early as you can. You don’t want any last minute stress the week your children start secondary school!
  • Start to have conversations about the differences between primary and secondary school. You’ll have done the tour so you can reassure your child that they’ve seen the layout and that lots of people will be there to help them settle in.
  • Talk about how many children will be there in comparison to their primary education years. Often, your child will be going from a network of 30, 60 or 90 peers to around 200. This can be a positive… think how many new friends this means.
  • If your child has struggled to fit in at primary school, it’s likely that there will be a similar peer who is also facing these odds! For example, is your child a tomboy who has struggled to strike a friendship with the girls at primary school? Transitioning to secondary school may be the key, as there are likely to be girls with similar hobbies and interests.
  • In the first week, establish a routine as quickly as you can – where your child is going to hang their blazer, put their locker key, bus pass, do their homework, etc.
  • Be prepared – again – for the change! Suddenly your son or daughter transitions from a child into a more independent being. They may want to walk to/from school, get the bus or pop into town after school with new friends. Think carefully about what parental controls you will implement for this new stage.
  • New friends, new environments to hang out and have sleepovers at. How is this going to make you feel? Think about how you will approach this, whether you will meet the new friend’s parents first or is it sufficient to have a phone/text conversation?
  • Do your research. Establish if your child is better getting the school bus or the local bus or parent taxi. You can always change this as the terms pass by. First thing in the morning, your son or daughter may prefer the local, public bus to a bus full of excited school children!


  • Make friends with other parents who are going to your tween’s new school. You may find that you lose a support network when your child’s friend’s move to different schools and this can be challenging.
  • As you can see, it’s not just about the effect this transition has on your tween, but also the effect that this may bear on you and the rest of your family. Be prepared for unsettling times as you all start to adjust to this new chapter in your family life. And remember, stay positive!

images     You may find your child’s move to secondary school a challenge in the first instance. However, the key is to be prepared and to stay positive. The National Teen Trust has been set up to create a support network for parents during these tween and teenage years.

If you’re struggling with parenting life, join the National Teen Trust Facebook group. The organisation also runs flexible programmes in St Albans that allow parents to come together and explore teen challenges, allowing you to develop practical parental approaches and skills.

Guest post written by Wendy Powell.


Little Chickie’s Top Five Baby Gift Ideas

              Are you looking for the perfect gift for a newborn or baby shower? It’s so tough to find that perfect baby gift, especially when you know that the new parents have been doing lots of new baby shopping!  

For some inspiration, here are our top 5 ideas for that perfect baby gift. They’re all from boutique brands, meaning they’ll be something unique, great quality and super gorgeous! At Little Chickie we believe that the perfect gift is something that not only looks great, is an essential item for any parent but also brings the baby joy!

Baby Hand & Footprint Keepsake

Nobody can resist squidgy baby feet, so why not send this fabulous, great value hand and footprint kit. It is easy to use and comes in a lovely tin and gift box, a gorgeous keepsake to remember just how cute and tiny their baby’s hands and feet were!  

Take a closer look here: https://www.littlechickie.co.uk/product/baby-hand-and-foot-print-kit-3046/


Play time!

Visual stimulation is so important for a baby and what better way to do this than with these super cute rattles. The high contrasting colours of Mr Tiger Stick Rattle and Sir Panda Ring Rattle are eye-catching and great for baby! They are by Nature Zoo of Denmark who have a whole range of beautifully hand crocheted items from rattles to mobiles. They are all made from supersoft bamboo fibres, free from nasty chemicals and very high quality.

Find Mr Tiger and more of his friends here: https://www.littlechickie.co.uk/product/mr-tiger-rattle-stick-3074/


Cute & Cosy Bathrobe

Bath time is such a precious time with a little one. Once the fun of bathtime is over it’s time to wrap up and have lots of snuggles and cuddles. A robe and slipper set is the perfect thing to do just that… We love this cosy hooded bathrobe with a cute bear design with matching bear slippers from British brand Nature’s Purest. It’s made from soft organic cotton so is kind to baby’s skin and comes in a lovely gift box making it the perfect unisex baby gift. Click here to take a look: https://www.littlechickie.co.uk/product/hug-me-bear-baby-bathrobe-and-slippers-gift-box-3134/



Super Soft Baby Grow

You can never have enough baby grows and we love the brilliant range from Bob & Blossom.  They’re a great British brand with cool style, cute designs and slogans.This Sunshine Yellow Baby Grow has a gorgeous yellow bunting print running through it and comes in a matching gift pouch making it an adorable unisex gift for a new baby. https://www.littlechickie.co.uk/product/sunshine-yellow-baby-grow-with-matching-gift-pouch-3157/ 


The Must Have Baby Muslin

No mum can survive the first year without a good supply of muslin cloths. They don’t have to be boring either, many come in lots of fun and cute designs to make an ideal gift. Our favourite is Nature’s Purest Tiny Bunny and Muslin Gift Set. The gift box contains a super cute little bunny toy as well as a natural cotton muslin square, which is very gentle on the baby’s delicate skin. Alternatively, how about this fun, Cherry Swirl Muslin which looks good enough to eat! A great unique gift and affordable too. https://www.littlechickie.co.uk/product/gift-set-tiny-bunny-and-muslin-3045/


I hope we have provided you with some inspiration for the perfect baby gift. If you like the look of these items, have a look at www.littlechickie.co.uk for more gorgeous boutique gifts and clothes. Also, you can get 10% off of your first order by signing up to the newsletter on the website!





Herts Successful Designer Hosts Summer Children’s Jewellery Workshops

Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery began life in a spare room in Harriet’s home in 1998 and since then it has grown to be one of the most respected jewellery companies in the UK.

Harriet was originally taught to make jewellery by her father and made her first silver ring with him at the tender age of 4! Her crafting abilities flourished and by the time she was at primary school she was making and selling professional quality earrings to her classmates. At this time she was also giving the Covent Garden market traders a run for their money while selling her jewellery on a friend’s stall. Her love of design never waned and an Industrial Design degree at Brunel University was the perfect opportunity to pursue her three dimensional thinking skills. She achieved first class honours and the prestigious University Design Prize.



Although Harriet enjoyed her post-graduate job in the computer industry, she continued to feel a desire to follow her creative side and for many years she had been taking on jewellery commissions for friends in her spare time. In 1998 when she had a queue of 33 commissions she knew it was time to follow her heart and she founded Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery. Expansion was quick and by early 2000 the company moved into its first studio in the North Hertfordshire village of Weston. Award followed award and by 2002 the business received a special commendation from the judges at the National Jewellery Awards.

In May 2005 despite being heavily pregnant with her first child, Harriet cut the ribbon and opened the second branch of Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery in Cambridge city centre. Harriet has continued to juggle motherhood and her expanding business ever since. No easy task for any working parent.

jewellery making 1-2

2011 was an exciting milestone year as Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery was chosen as one of the first twenty jewellers worldwide to launch certified Fairtrade gold. Membership of the Responsible Jewellery Council soon followed and the business was the first independent to be certified by both organizations. The company has grown from strength to strength and has over 20 national and international awards to its name. Most recently Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery was awarded ‘Bridal Jewellery Retailer of the Year 2016’ at the Retail Jeweller UK Jewellery Awards, celebrated as the Oscars of jewellery retailing and what a glamorous night it was!


Harriet has always been a passionate campaigner for skills and education within her sector and has transformed the lives of countless design graduates and is also “Master” to a Worshipful Company of Goldsmith Apprentice. Closer to home, she organises competitions and events for children in her award-winning Hertfordshire Jewellery Centre, knowing from firsthand experience the importance of local events to keep children entertained. With our on-site coffee shop, parents have the added bonus of coffee, cake and a bit of time to themselves while the children are occupied. The Children’s Jewellery Making workshops are a wonderful opportunity for children to work with and learn from qualified jewellery designers. What could be better than unleashing a child’s creative side whilst keeping their hands and minds busy?

jewellery making 2-2

Workshops will be taking place at the Hertfordshire Jewellery Centre throughout the summer.

More information can be found at www.hkjewellery.co.uk/children-s-jewellery-making-workshops



A group of local residents has joined forces in a new fundraising initiative to turn a dilapidated playground in St Albans into a fantastic new play facility.

The Friends of Victoria Playing Field (FVPF), who organise the annual Larks in the Parks on the site, have launched a fundraising appeal via crowdfunding platform Spacehive to raise £20,000 to help fund a new playground for children of all ages.

FVPF are working in partnership with St Albans District Council who have already pledged £44,000 which will replace current equipment in the playground. The additional £20,000 will be used to improve the playground even more, including using sustainable materials on the playground.

The Friends’ aim is to extend the range and type of play equipment. This will include new features such as a multi-play activity circuit with tower, slide, climbing, balancing and interactive elements. There will also be the more traditional swings, seesaws and climbing frame.

Local dad and Friends’ member Tim Leicester says, “We are hugely enthusiastic about installing equipment which will help children develop their physical skills and fitness in a fun environment. We understand that raising this amount of money will require a major effort but we have had an excellent early response with pledges ranging from £2 to £50 in the first few days. There is a long way to go and we hope the people of St Albans and maybe further afield will support us by giving their contributions – small or large – and be part of providing an improved play facility for current and future generations.”

For more information and to donate to the project visit: http://spacehive.com/StAlbansPlayground.

Follow the activities of the Friends on Facebook: facebook.com/fvpfstalbans or on Twitter: @friendsvpf

Project contact details:

Tim Leicester

email tim.leicester@gknaerospace.com

mobile 07771811986

Six Tips to Being Confident with Outdoor Play

Philippa Statter, Environmental Education Officer for Groundwork Hertfordshire, has delivered a variety of outdoor play activities with parents and their children.

It’s taken me 10 years of working with children to fully realise that humans were born to play – whether young or old. When playing, some of the best learning happens. There’s pressure for parents to buy the best toys or electronic gadgets for their children but there is already a whole world of natural toys out there waiting to be explored. Children and adults love nothing better than to explore…

I grew up by the coast so was extremely lucky to have the beach on my doorstep but my fondest childhood memories are of being out in the garden. I was never happier than when I was outside in my little den in the compost heap, making mud pies. I was particularly proud of creating a red hair dye for my Cindy doll and I’m sure my parents got fed up of finding the leftovers of my flowery perfumes festering on the shelf! Things don’t change; I now work with parents and children to spread the word about outdoor play and its many benefits.

It’s hard for parents to find the balance between spending the time you would like to with your children and how much time you actually have. Outdoor play is free and you only need a little bit of time and a patch of green space. Most of us have access to the outdoors, whether that’s your own garden, a park or a grassy area with a bench! Of course the number one priority is that your children are safe and the best way of ensuring this is to make time to go out and play with them.

Okay, what do you do with just you and your children and some grass?

Using a cardboard tube as a telescope


Top tip 1: Let the children lead the way (but also lead by example yourself).

Observing what your child enjoys doing is the best way of tailoring the activities you do with them. Leading by example is also really important. My midwife friend told me, “A child is only born with two fears: a fear of falling and a fear of loud noises. All other fears are learnt.”

So when your child spots a spider scuttling away or a bee feeding on a flower, encourage them to enjoy the moment!


Top tip 2: Use simple everyday household items.

Free or low cost items make great toys. Empty yoghurt pots and sticks mean you can mix potions and kitchen roll tubes make great telescopes. If you have a pestle and mortar (or a bucket and a rolling pin!), you can make natural paint by crushing leaves or berries and adding water. (See top tip 4 for more info.)

Children love collecting things don’t they? Give them an empty egg box, yogurt pot or plastic bag and see what interesting things you can collect together… Encourage them to look for nature’s rubbish – things that nature doesn’t need any more, like fallen leaves, seed cases and berries. The best bit is that at the end, everything that’s been collected can just be thrown back into nature!

Father and son get stuck into creative play with sticks and string


Top tip 3: Let your children get dirty!

If they can relax into playing and exploring without needing to worry about mud or grass stains, it’ll be a lot more rewarding for everyone. If you need more convincing, read this interesting article from the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ben-greenfield/germs-kids_b_4951388.html


Top tip 4: Focus on what is safe rather than what’s not!

When you’re in a public space it’s always worth giving the area a quick sweep with your eyes and feet to check for any hidden undesirables.

Once you’ve done that, you can concentrate on having fun. If you’re worried about what is safe to pick, here are some pointers:

Berries that are red, orange or yellow are a natural warning sign. Only pick berries if you definitely know what they are. Blackberries, hawthorns, elderberries and rose hips are all good. Keep your eyes open for prickly leaves. If your child does get stung by a stinging nettle, it’s not the end of the world.

Nature’s rubbish on the ground indicates what nature does not need any more so that’s a safe bet – you can pick it up without damaging the plant or animal that shed it!

Of course, this is all with the caveat of taking the necessary precautions to avoid triggering any specific allergies that your child has.

Top tip 5: Be risky in play.

If your child wants to climb a tree, roll down a hill or jump from one rock to another, then reward their courage and support them with the challenge! We have to deal with risk in life and, as a parent, you can manage this best for your child. Children grow up fast and being more adventurous with choice is an advantageous skill for later in life.

 Climbing - a bit of risky play

Top tip 6: Be prepared for all weather.

We are naturally more engaged with the outdoors when it’s warm and sunny (a rare occurrence in this country, I know!) Remember the expression, “There’s no such thing as bad weather; only bad clothes.”

Your child will be happy out in the cold air if they are wrapped up warmly or out in the rain splashing in puddles if wearing wellies and a waterproof. For more fantastic ideas as to what to do in wintery weather check out the Wild Weather Book by Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield.

Now, I hope you feel inspired to grab your coats and wellies and explore the outdoors through your child’s eyes!

Groundwork Hertfordshire is the community charity with a green heart. We are committed to changing places and changing lives. We work to improve people’s prospects, create better places, and encourage greener living and working. Visit www.groundwork.org.uk/east for more information.


Big Wooden Horse and Nick Brooke Limited present:
Aliens Love Underpants


Laugh your pants off with this number one bestselling children’s story, brought to life on stage for the very first time.
Hold on to your bloomers and prepare for a pant-abulous, knicker-tastic adventure.

This national bestseller and much-loved family favourite is reimagined for the stage for the very first
time, with special effects, original music, lots of aliens and many, many pants.
Created by children’s theatre company Big Wooden Horse and produced by Nick Brooke, this must-see production comes to Hertford Theatre as part of its nationwide tour.
Aliens Love Underpants tells the story of a gang of mischievous aliens on a visit to earth, travelling not to visit to the earthlings, but simply to steal their underpants!

Silly, quirky and irresistibly fun, the show follows the aliens as they ransack the washing line on their search for pants–big and small, red or green. They love Grandma’s spotted bloomers, while Grandad’s long johns make for the perfect slide!
The book, written by Claire Freedman and illustrated by Ben Cort, was selected for Richard and Judy’s Children’s Book Club with the help of pupils from schools around the UK, and has been hugely popular since it was first published in 2007.
Director Adam Bampton-Smith said, “This funny and colourful book makes a wonderful stage show, which is just right for a family audience. It’s simply pantastic!”

Big Wooden Horse strive to present high quality theatre to younger audiences across the United Kingdom. They believe that young people deserve the highest quality that a professional theatre company can offer. The company’s productions aim to both entertain and inform young people, drawing from different cultures and traditions.

Nick Brooke Ltd, established in 2002, is a West End-based entertainment production company, specialising in children’s theatre. In 2005, the company presented its first children’s production, The Gruffalo, a stage adaptation of Julia Donaldson’s award-winning children’s picture book. This production has toured the UK extensively since then and has enjoyed six successful West End Christmas seasons. The company’s other children’s productions include We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and The Tiger Who Came To Tea.

Tickets can be booked via www.hertfordtheatre.com or 01992 531500 and cost £11 each or £42 for a family ticket.