What’s on in May half term in West Essex: 30 May – 3 June 2016

It finally feels like summer is here,  at least most of the time, so let’s hope the warm weather sticks around for half term. Make the most of warmer days by taking the kids out and about to these local activities in Stratford, High Beech, Waltham Abbey and more as well as children’s events in London.

ALL WEEK: MONDAY – FRIDAY

MOVING MUSEUM, V&A MUSEUM OF CHILDHOOD BETHNAL GREEN

There are lots of free, daily drop-in activities available as well as a series of artist-led workshops. The focus for the week is on moving toys such as wind-up robots, toy cars and string puppets. At 1PM each day, the team from Primo Toys present Cubetto, a playful wooden robot for girls and boys aged 3 and up, powered by the first programming language you can touch. There’s a Crazy Jumping Jacks Workshop, four times a day with artist Laura X Carle who will help you turn your fantasy creature into a classic children’s moving toy – the jointed jumping jack! There are also daily Speaking Sculpture workshops with digital maker Paul Clifford, where you can see and learn how he makes your sculptures create noises with simple wires, circuits and tools.

Time: Open each day 10.30AM – 5.45PM, activity times vary.
Age: Various, depending on activity so check the V&A Museum website
Tickets & booking info: General admission free, some activities have a charge and require booking. See V&A museum website for further details.
Address: V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 9PA
Further information: V&A museum website

SPY KIDS, ROYAL GUNPOWDER MILLS WALTHAM ABBEY

A daily Spy Academy where you can learn the arts of espionage: fingerprinting, breaking codes, night v ision training, speed and agility, rocket launching and many other Secret Agent challenges!  Spy Kids go on secret missions and a bomb locating challenge and help Professor Nitrate keep top secret information hush hush!  The Mad Lab is the main Spy Academy training camp, so get ready for some surprises.

Along with the Spy Kids the usual activities will be open and include land-train tours around the historic site with guides, a Wildlife Tower, an Armoury, interactive exhibitions, Airsoft, crazy contraptions, family crafts and plentiful hard and grass playspace.

Time: Open daily 10AM – 5PM (last entry 3PM)
Age: All ages from 3 upwards
Tickets & booking info: Under 3s free, Children 3 – 15 years £7.75, adults £9.75. Book on the Gunpowder Mills website.
Address: Royal Gunpowder Mills, Beaulieu Drive, Waltham Abbey, Essex EN9 1JY
Further information: Royal Gunpowder Mills website

BRAINIAC LOVE! UDDERBELLY AT SOUTHBANK CENTRE

Brainiac Live at Southbank Centre

Strap on your safety goggles, boys and girls…Science’s most volatile live show is returning with a vengeance. Based on the multi-award winning TV show, Brainiac Live! is back in London. More mischievous than ever before, Brainiac Live! takes you on a breathless ride through the wild world of the weird and wonderful.

Time:  1PM & 3.30PM
Age: Suitable for children age 7 and over
Tickets & booking info: £17.50, Sirloin seats £22.50, Family ticket (for four people) £60 (available weekdays only). Book on the South Bank Centre website.
Address: Udderbelly, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX
Further information: South Bank Centre website

MONDAY 30th MAY

MAY FAYRE, ST MARY’S CHURCH HALL, THEYDON BOIS

A family fun day with a bouncy castle and children’s sideshows as well as stalls selling bric-a-brac, books and plants. There will also be a BBQ and refreshments.

Time: 11AM- 4PM
Age: All ages
Address: St Mary’s Church Hall, Piercing Hill. Theydon Bois
Further information: Call Phil or Amanda Simmance on 01992 813732

TUESDAY 31st MAY

THE NIGHT SKY FAMILY COURSE, HIGH BEECH

Over two hours children will look at models, visual demonstrations and activities to identify the difference between stars and planets, to learn our place in the universe, be able to identify useful stars and constellations and safely observe the Sun (weather permitting).

Time: 2PM- 4PM
Age: Children aged 7 and over
Tickets & booking info: £6 per person, booking required. To book call 020 8502 8500 or visit the Field Studies council website.
Address: Epping Forest Field Centre, Pauls Nursery Road, High Beech
Further information: Field Studies council website

HALF TERM HOLIDAY FUN, WOODFORD GREEN LIBRARY

Drop in for board games, puzzles and colouring with an under the sea theme.

Time: 2PM – 3PM
Age: 4 – 12 years
Tickets & booking info: Free, just turn up
Address: Woodford Green Library, Snakes Lane West, Woodford Green, Essex, IG8 0DX
Further information: Woodford Green Library website

WEDNESDAY 1st JUNE

FOREST SEEDLINGS: MINI BEAST WORLD, HIGH BEECH

Creepies, crawlies, buzzers, flappers and wigglies – explore the world of mini-beasts.  Make sure to bring appropriate clothing and footwear in case the ground is muddy, and plenty of enthusiasm.

Time: 10AM – 11.15AM
Age: Suitable for children aged 18 months to four years.
Tickets & booking info: £5 per child (adults free), booking required. To book call 020 8502 8500 or visit the Field Studies council website.
Address: Epping Forest Field Centre, Pauls Nursery Road, High Beech
Further information: Field Studies council website

HALF TERM HOLIDAY FUN, SOUTH WOODFORD LIBRARY

Drop in for board games, puzzles and colouring with an under the sea theme.

Time: 2PM – 3PM
Age: 4 – 12 years
Tickets & booking info: Free, just turn up
Address: South Woodford Library, 124C High Road, South Woodford, London, E18 2QS
Further information: South Woodford Library website

THURSDAY 2nd JUNE

FOREST FAMILIES: SHIPWRECKED!, HIGH BEECH

You’re stranded on the island of Epping Forest – find the things you need to survive and follow a pirates map to escape! Make sure to bring appropriate clothing and footwear in case the ground is muddy, and plenty of enthusiasm.

Time: 10AM – MIDDAY
Age: Suitable for children aged 5-11 years
Tickets & booking info: £5 per child (adults £2 each), booking required. To book call 020 8502 8500 or visit the Field Studies council website.
Address: Epping Forest Field Centre, Pauls Nursery Road, High Beech
Further information: Field Studies council website

MEET THE GRUFFLO, WANSTEAD LIBRARY

Get set to meet the terrifying Gruffly in this fun filled workshop designed to develop literacy skills through rhyme and description.

Time: 1.30PM – 2.30PM
Age: 5 – 7 years
Tickets & booking info: Book in advance at the library
Address: Wanstead Library, Spratt Hall Road, Wanstead, London, E11 2RQ
Further information: Wanstead Library website

ASTROSAURS, WANSTEAD LIBRARY

Design your own alien and help the characters complete their mission.

Time: 3.30PM – 4.30PM
Age: 6 – 9 years
Tickets & booking info: Book in advance at the library
Address: Wanstead Library, Spratt Hall Road, Wanstead, London, E11 2RQ
Further information: Wanstead Library website

FRIDAY 3rd JUNE

MEET THE GRUFFLO, SOUTH WOODFORD LIBRARY

Get set to meet the terrifying Gruffly in this fun filled workshop designed to develop literacy skills through rhyme and description.

Time: 1.30PM – 2.30PM
Age: 5 – 7 years
Tickets & booking info: Book in advance at the library
Address: South Woodford Library, 124C High Road, South Woodford, London, E18 2QS
Further information: South Woodford Library website

ASTROSAURS, SOUTH WOODFORD LIBRARY

Design your own alien and help the characters complete their mission.

Time: 3.30PM – 4.30PM
Age: 6 – 9 years
Tickets & booking info: Book in advance at the library
Address: South Woodford Library, 124C High Road, South Woodford, London, E18 2QS
Further information: South Woodford Library website

WATER FUN FESTIVAL, VICTORIA PARK

To celebrate the reopening of the Pools Playground for the summer, join the Community Park Rangers for an afternoon of water filled fun.

Time: MIDDAY – 3PM
Age: All ages
Tickets & booking info: No need to book, just turn up
Address: Pools Playground, Victoria Park, Grove Road, London E3 5TB
Further information: Tower Hamlets website

KIDS COOKERY DEMO, LEVI ROOTS CARIBBEAN SMOKEHOUSE, WESTFIELD STRATFORD

Levi Roots is opening his kitchen to share the joys of Caribbean cooking. This special event will take them on a cookery adventure through the Caribbean, discovering the local fruit and vegetables and showing them how simple ingredients can be turned into something really FABULICIOUS! The session will involve a tour of Levi’s kitchen and a cookery demonstration. The children will be able to sample the delights of Levi’s cooking and will receive a signed picture and goody bag.

Time: 9.30AM – 11AM
Age: Suitable for children aged 7-11 years
Tickets & booking info: £5 per child (accompanying adults free), booking required. Tickets are non-refundable. Book tickets via the Eventbrite website.
Address: Levi Roots Caribbean Smokehouse, Westfield Shopping Centre, 103 The Street, Westfield Stratford City, E20 1EJ
Further information: Westfield website

Review: Pelican Playground, Chigwell

boy on wooden pirate ship, Pelican Playground Chigwell Essex

I almost don’t want to review this playground because I love it and I don’t want it to become too busy! But I realise that is selfish and not in the spirit of why this blog was set up. So if you haven’t been before the Pelican playground in Chigwell, or ‘pirate ship playground’ as we call it, is a lovely spot for young children and really comes into its own now that the weather is warming up. It’s also excellent for parents as it is relatively small and enclosed so you can relax knowing that they can’t run off too far!

boy on wooden, Pelican Playground Chigwell Essex

The kids playground is basically a giant sandpit so perfect when the weather is good (best avoided when it is wet and squelchy though). Even without all the great equipment a bucket and spade or digger toy for the sand usually keeps the little ones occupied for a while. The equipment is lovely though, beautifully built wooden structures  – a pirate ship with ropes and a slide, small wooden houses, swings, springers, stepping stone logs and some beautiful living willow tunnels which my son loves. There’s a fence running around the outside which is very useful and means you don’t have to panic about the children escaping. There’s a grassy area around the edge of the equipment for running about with benches and picnic benches for a packed lunch or mums to relax on. There isn’t a cafe on site so you will need to bring any food and drink with you.

wooden playhouse, Pelican Playground Chigwell Essex

The small car park is right next to the play area and is free. A short walk away is the Grange Farm Centre where you can find the nearest toilet and they also hold regular baby and toddler classes there. These include Creative Monkeys and Sing and Sign on Fridays (See my Local Friday Baby and Toddler classes page for more details). And across the lane is Chigwell Meadows, a lovely parkland walk which has hard pavements so it’s perfect for a buggy in all weathers or little ones on a bike or scooter. I’d definitely recommend it for a little walk.

Pelican Playground Chigwell Essex

Address: Grange Farm Lane (off High Rd), Chigwell, IG7 6DP

More information: Pelican Playground websiteGrange Farm Centre website