Tag Archives: sydney with kids

NSW Fire Station Open Day

Little Aussie, Sydney With Kids

A Visit To NSW Fire Station Open Day

Last year, I took Hushpuppy to her first movie – Fireman Sam: The Great Fire of Pontypandy (which, it must be said, was a lot like the other fires that infest Pontypandy on a daily basis, only longer and with popcorn). Ever since, she’s had a budding fireperson streak, conducting harrowing “rescues” and alerting about “emergencies” on the playground. So, when we heard about the New South Wales Fire Station Open Day, there was nowhere we would rather have been.

That time of year is coming up once again – this year on May 20, 2017 at participating fire stations across NSW – so I wanted to make sure that all of my fellow parents of Junior Fire and Rescuers had the skinny on one of our favorite events.

We found our local fire station in Crows Nest, and joined a few dozen other local families, most with young children who were generally fairly awed by the trucks, equipment, and the firemen and firewomen, who were making rounds of conversation, setting up demonstrations, and happily snapping photos.

Most important photo of the day. She’d be talking about this meeting for weeks…Fireman with child at NSW Fire Station Open Day

There were a few demonstrations while we were there, including the raising of the ladder truck (general aaaahs and amazement all around). And, they also put on a safety demo about preventing fires in your home, complete with a pretty impressive explosion that sent my 2 year old into tears, and the older kids into shrieking delight. (My girl will be 3 this year, so I’m sure she’ll handle any pyrotechnics like a professional). Fire Station Open Day Crane

We could walk inside the station and see the trucks, the uniforms, and the fire pole, which they wise had roped off to suggest, hey maybe don’t climb it, our insurance isn’t that good, alright? The station even got a call while we were there, so off one team went, sirens a-blaring, which was obviously the height of cool.

Not to worry, there were plenty of trained firefighters on hand, ready to take up a hose. Fire Station Open Day Mini Firepeople

The most popular attraction was the fire truck, which was open for the kids to climb on. Everyone displayed admirable order in queuing for their turn and keeping the pace moving, while parents snapped photos of their little heroes.Fire Station Open Day - Inside the Fire Truck

The line was only sightly shorter for the requisite sausage sizzle. It’s hungry work, keeping up with the awesome Fire and Rescue crew.Fire Station Open Day Sausage Sizzle

 

If you go…
New South Wales Fire and Rescue Open Day 2017
20 May 2016, 10a.m. – 2p.m. at participating fire stations
Full details on the website
Free entry. Bring a few gold coins for the sausage sizzle.
BYO firefighter costumes (highly recommended!)


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Sydney Expat Interview Series Part 11: A Sydney Weekend

Sydney, Sydney Expat Interviews, Sydney With Kids

Hey, Sydneysiders, what are you doing this weekend? For this month’s Sydney Expat Interview Series question, I asked the expats what they’d most likely be doing on a beautiful weekend day in Sydney. Let me tell you, none of them seem to have had any trouble getting into the groove of this city. Beaches, parks, cafes, BBQs and friends. It’s a tough life, but someone has to do it!

(This is the 11th in an 18 part interview series with expats living in Sydney. Please make sure to visit the fantastic websites of the participants linked below, and follow me on Facebook for much more on expat life in Sydney. )A Sydney Weekend



Question 11: It’s a beautiful weekend day. What are you up to, where are you going, and who are you spending the day with? 


Name: Debbie
Country of origin: England
Lived in Sydney: 10 years

I’m with my family and if I can roust them away from the X-box, then our first choice is always Fagan Park (Galston).


 

Name: Julia
Country of origin: UK
Lived in Sydney: 6 years

At Balmoral Beach – we’d normally get there early and have brunch with friends getting a take-away bacon and egg sandwich and coffee from The Boathouse, picnic blankets out near the kids playground so our kids can run about – and just enjoying the beautiful views.

Balmoral Beach

Balmoral Beach – photo by Julia



Name: Dido
Country of origin: India
Lived in Sydney: 1.5 years

With family or friends – playing lawn balls, or going for a beer, or on my bike, or going for a bush walk, or going to a beach, or having a family picnic, or going for a swim, or having a barbie in a park … or grocery shopping…


 

Name: Mollie
Country of origin: USA
Lived in Sydney: 4 years

In one of our many parks, with my husband and our dogs. Maybe Cafe Bones.


 

Name: “Bushranger”
Country of Origin: Serbia
Lived in Sydney: 6.5 Years

With my wife and daughter at Cremorne Reserve. It’s astoundingly beautiful.

Cremorne Point

Cremorne Point


Name: Melissa
Country of origin: USA
Lived in Sydney: 1 year

Melissa blogs at Leche Love

As we’re still pretty new, we’re still exploring. However, we’ve been to Sydney Park quite a bit. Usually my husband, 6 year old son, and myself, enjoying the lovely weather, playing, and having a picnic.


Name: Ashley
Country of origin: United States
Lived in Sydney: 2 years (in Newcastle)
Visit Ashley on Instagram

There are so many stunning outdoor places in Sydney. I’d be with my husband and 2 kids (5 and 7) We’d probably grab lunch at a cafe, find a playground, and just chill out. I’ve found there tend to be a lot of art exhibitions going on so those are always fun to check out as well!


Name: Victoria
Country of origin: England
Lived in Sydney: 5 years
Victoria blogs at The Freedom Travellers

I’d be doing the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk with my girlfriend Elaina finishing up at The Hill Eatery in North Bondi for a late lunch and good coffee. North Bondi


Name: Caitlin
Country of origin: England
Lived in Sydney: 1 year
Caitlin blogs at Where’s Wallis

First I’d be going for a spin on my bike around Centennial park with the gang from Coogee Triathlon Club. This would be followed by relaxing in the sun on Bondi beach before an afternoon drink and snack at the Bucket List.


Name: Kirstie
Country of origin: United States
Lived in Sydney: Since September 2013
Kirstie blogs at Venga Vale Vamos

I’d love to be having a picnic and sipping wine in a spot in Kirribilli my friend used to live right by, overlooking the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, surrounded by my fantastic group of expat and Aussie friends.

Kirribilli


Name: Rachel
Country of origin: England
Lived in Sydney: 4 years

I would probably be with my boyfriend and group of friends, relaxing and enjoying the sun either with a few schooners at our local, or with an esky of beers at the beach or a perhaps enjoying a bike ride with a few laps around Centennial Park.


Name: Shane
Country of origin: USA
Lived in Sydney: 1 year
Shane blogs at Sea Salt Secrets

Strolling around the city, checking out the markets, street art and local beaches.
Don’t forget your sunscreen, there’s a hole in our ozone layer!


Sydneysiders, tell us, what are you doing this weekend?


Read Part 1: Expectations vs Reality
Read Part 2: The Most Memorable Sydney Day
Read Part 3: Your First Day in Sydney
Read Part 4: Drinking Like an Aussie
Read Part 5: The Birds of Sydney
Read Part 6: Australian Christmas
Read Part 7: Off the Beaten Path
Read Part 8: Questions About Your Home
Read Part 9: What People at Home Think of Australia
Read Part 10: Advice for Moving to Sydney

 

Apple Picking Near Sydney – Pine Crest Orchard, Bilpin

Sydney Weekend trips

Last Winter, I had my heart set on taking my kid apple picking, and romping through the orchard with smiles on our faces and jaunty scarves, warming our fingers on mugs of homemade apple cider from a farm stand crock pot. With fruit picking orchards in Bilpin, just a short drive from Sydney, it would be a picturesque day out.

Only one problem. Apple picking season is actually at the end of summer.
Right.
So, we went mandarin orange picking, instead, because that’s apparently what’s ripe in the Winter. But, I’ve had apples on the brain all this time. So, even though we wore shorts and would not suffer any chilled fingers, we thought it would still be a fun day out to pick apples in Bilpin, NSW.

There are a few “Pick Your Own” apple orchards in Bilpin, and we chose Pine Crest Orchard. It was late in the afternoon when we arrived (*y’all, don’t turn your GPS off for “just a few minutes” to save battery. A 90 minute drive could turn into a 3 hour excursion, with tears and familial angst. That is something that could happen. To someone.*). The good news was that it was very quiet that time of day, with only a couple of other families around, so we really could romp jauntily through the rows of trees.

The woman who greeted us was so friendly, and gave us a hand-drawn map of the four types of apples, two types of pears, and the plums that were available for picking … “go to the scarecrow, and turn right.” 

All of the fruit was $4 per kilo, so we were able to put it all in one bag. If you go, bring your own bag, or buy one of theirs for $2. 

We decided to try a few of each type of apple, as well as some plums, which will still need to ripen a bit. We let Hushpuppy do the picking, and she was so excited and proud of her selections. “I like apples! I like plums!,” she chanted up and down row after row of fruit trees.

Satisfied with our haul, we went inside to pay. Partner-in-Crime took note of the little contraption on the counter, which our host was nice enough to demonstrate for our astonished 3 year old. Her “slinky apple” was her treasured takeaway, and we were happy to munch on some apples of our own on the drive home. 

On the way out, we made an impromptu stop at The Pines Orchard cafe, lured in by their signs for fresh apple pie. It seemed in the spirit of the day, and we shared a quarter pie with ice cream for $6. Money well spent!

For the rest of the evening, Hushpuppy instructed us that she was “a farmer” – very proud of her day’s work.

 

 

Pluma

Pears

If you go…

Bilpin is approximately 90 minutes from Sydney CBD.
Pine Crest Orchard is located at 2549 Bells Line of Rd.
Website. Facebook.
Apples are $4 per kilo. Bring your own bag or buy one for $2.
Public toilets available. 
We found this article from Ella’s List helpful in finding Pick-Your-Own orchards

 

Things To Do In Sydney With a Toddler During School Holidays

Little Aussie, Sydney

Things to do in Sydney with toddlers during the school holidays

Toddlers get the short shrift during school holidays, at least in my biased opinion. As a toddler parent, nothing fills my heart with dread like an impending school holiday. All of Hushpuppy’s regular classes go on break. Playgroups are closed. The parks and play centres are absolutely overrun with bigger kids, many who don’t yet have the self awareness to not completely plow over an awestruck 2 year old. Take all of these things out of the equation, and our weeks are frightfully wide open. For school aged children, there’s no shortage of activities and camps to fill their days, but most of these start at Kindergarten age, so bored toddlers are left out of the mix.

And, don’t you dare suggest crafts at home unless you’re coming over here with some rags and buckets to clean up the aftermath of two weeks of glitter and finger paint.

So, with yet another round of school holidays nipping at our heels, I wanted to let the toddler parents of Sydney know – there is hope for getting out of the house. These toddler-friendly activities are available all through the school holidays, and should save you from fending off threats of purple marker on your sofa and roving gangs of 8 year olds on razor scooters.

 

The Australian Museum

The Australian Museum really caters to young children. They have an gated play area for under-5s, which includes several play pods and interactive stations, as well as a change station and crawling baby area. There is also an exploration room, which is more suited to older children, but Hushpuppy still had a fun time touching and exploring some of the items in there. Of course, the biggest (literally) draw is the dinosaurs. My toddler walked around in absolute awe, saying “Big! Big!”. She’s still talking about it months later.

All children are free.

australian museum

 

The Powerhouse Museum

I’d been to The Powerhouse once in my pre-child days, but wasn’t sure if my toddler would have any use for the arts and science museum. Two words convinced me that she’d love it. The. Wiggles.

The Powerhouse hosts a permanent display all about The Wiggles. It’s quite large and very interactive, including sitting in the Big Red Car, making fruit salad, exploring Captain Feathersword’s pirate ship, and visiting Dorothy The Dinosaur’s house. We spent at least an hour there, and then I was pleasantly surprised how much of the rest of the museum interested Hushpuppy. She was quite taken with the Steampunk section and loved the transportation area, particularly the train and the airplanes.

Under 4s are free. photo 1 (9)

 

The Botanic Garden Train

All toddlers love trains, right? Well, mine certainly does, so she is excited to no end when I take her on the Choo Choo Express around the Botanic Garden. The red “train” leaves every half hour from the gates near the Opera House and makes four stops around the garden. If you live in Sydney, you’ll probably find the tour information very elementary, but it’s of no consequence to kids. The views are some of the best in the city, and the half hour ride is just about the right length for a toddler.

Under 3s ride for free on the Choo Choo Express, and if you bring a pram, you can park it at the ticket table while you ride. More information on their site.photo 3 (12)

 

Creative Play at the Opera House

The first time we did the Botanic Garden train, we combined it with a stop by Creative Play at the Opera House’s Western foyer. Each school holidays, the Opera House presents a different Creative Play exhibit that’s suitable for children of various ages, free of charge. When we went, it was an installation of a light display that the children could manipulate. I don’t think it’s worth a special trip in just to do Creative Play, but if you’re nearby, it’s a great way to spend 30 minutes or an hour.

You can see more about Creative Play here. (I should warn you that I found the page a little confusing the first time I looked at it, and I heard other people complaining, so I know I’m not the only one. Creative Play offers one installation per session, and the site shows a range of examples). creativeplay

 

See a Play

Of course, while you’re at the Opera House, you could just stay and see a show. The Opera House has a full schedule of child-friendly performances, some of whose suitability begins at age 2. The full schedule is on their website, and you can narrow your search by age group and “school holidays.” Many communities also have their own performing arts centres with dynamic family performances. In my neck of the woods, The Councourse in Chatswood keeps a busy schedule of plays for children. I’m trying to decide if I’m relieved or disappointed that we didn’t go in for tickets to Mister Maker there this school holidays.

 

Go to a Toddler Friendly Movie

My toddler loves going to the movies – mostly for the popcorn, I think – and it’s perfect if you can find a family-friendly cinema with daytime screenings. Ours offers booster seats, a child’s sized popcorn (which Hushpuppy refuses to share with me), and 10a.m. showings of children’s movies. People are generally pretty understanding of toddler antics at that hour. Depending on the age of your toddler, they may be able to sit through a full -length children’s movie, but at 2-1/2 that’s a pretty questionable proposition for my kid. I don’t mind leaving early as needed, but as an alternative, Hoyts Cinemas offer a series called Hoyts Junior, which are generally a bit shorter (45 minutes or so) and aimed at the tastes of younger children. We’ve see The Wiggles, Fireman Sam, and Octonautshoytsjnr

 

See Some Fish at an Aquarium

We’re lucky to have not one, but two aquariums in Sydney. We had a fish-fabulous morning at the Sea Life Aquarium in Darling Harbour. I think aquariums are super for toddlers because they can get close up to the aquatic life and much of it is friendly to their height level. There is a touch pool, as well, which toddler parents will know is a big win (as long as you’re nearby to ensure they don’t pull a toddler and squash anything!). The coolest part, however, is the huge arched ceiling aquarium where sharks and rays swim above and next to you. Massively impressive.

I can’t personally vouch for the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary, but have heard from multiple sources that it’s possibly even better for toddlers than the one at Darling Harbour. Something for our list this school holidays.aquarium

 

Darling Harbour

If you’re making a morning of the Sea Life Aquarium or The Powerhouse Museum, stay on at Darling Harbour for lunch. There’s a huge playground and, in season, a water play park. And, if you’re so inclined, even a carousel and tourist train. The playground does get busy during school holidays, so if it’s too manic, grab a Happy Meal at McDonalds – if you’re into that kind of thing, which we are – and take a seat on the lawn. Even just walking the promenade and looking at the Harbour are an interesting way to wile away a toddler afternoon. Yes, it’s terribly touristy, but if you think of it from a little person’s perspective, it’s a very exciting place to explore. photo 2 (16)

 

Public Transportation

Have I mentioned that my kid likes trains? Sometimes all we need for an afternoon adventure is a ride on one of Sydney’s trains. A hop onto the North Shore line takes us over the Harbour Bridge, which gives us the chance to look at boats, cars, buildings, and other trains, as well as the sweeping Bridge, itself.  Or, the ultimate in public transport is a ferry ride. How exciting it is to be on a boat! The whole process of getting on and off, viewing the scenery from one of the outdoor benches, spotting seagulls, waving at other boats, looking at the equipment, and just being on the water is epic. It doesn’t even matter where we end up. Just be sure to avoid peak times on public transport when people are commuting to and from work. IMG_3704

 

Tea for Two

My little lady would have been about 18 months old the first time we had a tea and scones date at Alice’s Tea Cafe in Chatswood Westfield. There’s something about letting toddlers participate in adult activities that makes them sit up a little straighter and show a sense of pride across their little faces. Of course, that all may last no more than 40 seconds, but we all have to start somewhere! Full lunches or dinners are long for toddlers, but a little tea break is a more realistic option for young ones. Alice’s is nothing particularly special, but they have kid sized tables, teddy bears and colorful Alice in Wonderland themed decorations. Honestly, though, any cafe that is friendly to children will do the trick. (Edited: Alice’s is now closed). Any place that serves a babyccino is a winner in my kid’s book.

tea

Alice’s Tea Cafe

I’m intrigued to take Hushpuppy to The Tea Cosy in the Rocks for the Kid’s Devonshire Tea after reading this review on Adventure, Baby. Have a wander around the Adventure, Baby blog for more ideas, as she and her daughter have tested out many restaurants in Sydney.

 

Amazement Park

Another activity that’s on our list and comes highly recommended is a day trip to Amazement Park in Wyong Falls, about 1 hour and 15 minutes drive from Sydney CBD. They open every day during school holidays (weekend only outside of school holidays), and they have attractions including mazes, farm animals, a playground, and an “enchanted” forest walk. I’ve had several people vouch for it’s toddler friendliness, so I think we’ll venture a drive out this break. Watch this space.

More about all the amazing Amazements on their website here.

 

Taronga Zoo

I have written before about the toddler-playground that is Taronga Zoo (AKA – “our home away from home”). There are so many places for toddlers to climb, play, explore, and of course, see animals. It’s pram friendly. You can bring your own picnic or buy food there. It does get a lot busier than usual during school holidays, but I have always found that they layout is so well designed that the crowds flow freely and are never much of a hassle. Though I’m quite crowd averse, I don’t mind Taronga on its busy days.

If you’ll go more than twice during the year, it’s worth purchasing an annual pass.
Under 4s are free. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Featherdale Wildlife Park

More animals! Featherdale Wildlife Park in Doonside is brilliant for toddlers. It’s very casual and some animals like kangaroos and birds even roam free in the park. You can purchase food to feed the very docile kangaroos, pet a koala, and see an incredible range of Australian animals. It’s so family friendly and easygoing. It feels almost like stepping back in time to a park from the 1950s (in the nicest, most wholesome way). Watch out for the gift shop – it’s massive, and hard to get out without buying something.

Under 3s are free.featherdale

 

Swim at an Indoor Pool

Sydney is full of aquatic and community centres with indoor pools, and don’t all Sydney kids love to swim? Wherever you live in Sydney, you most likely have a pool that’s open to the public for a reasonable fee nearby. I find that at our centre, school holidays can be a great time for a toddler visit. While there are frequent swim lessons and school groups taking classes at the pool during term, it’s often quite quiet during the holidays, particularly outside of the summer season. My kid will easily spend two hours at the pool and, bonus, she’s guaranteed to sleep after all of that wet and wild rumpus.swimming

 

Feed the Ducks

Thanks, I’m fairly certain, to a Peppa Pig episode, Hushpuppy began obsessing one day on feeding ducks. We had a free afternoon and decided to humor her, and ended up at Berry Reserve in Narrabeen on the Northern Beaches. It’s a beautiful park with a promenade and fenced in playground, and absolutely teeming with friendly ducks. We brought a container of oats, which the ducks were more than happy to eat from our hands. (Don’t bring bread – it’s “junk food” for ducks. Oats, rice, or leafy vegetables are better options). Peppa would have been proud, and my toddler was delighted.ducks

 

Please leave a comment if you have any other ideas for great activities for toddlers to do during the school holidays. And, join me on Facebook for more on what my toddler and I get up to around town this school holidays and throughout the rest of the year. 

Orange Picking Near Sydney

Sydney Weekend trips

Orange Picking Near Sydney at Watkins Family Farm

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that we’d gotten an idea of our head about going apple picking. I don’t know why we thought of it, as fruit picking is not a thing we’ve ever done, but once the idea was seeded, Partner-in-Crime and I were both running with it, pastoral fantasies dancing in our head. It turned out that we were too late for apples, but right in time for oranges … which seems weird because … winter… but, we were happy to make the adjustment in our city slicker dreamscape from apples to oranges (all the same to us). And so it was that we found ourselves heading out of town yesterday afternoon towards Watkins Family Farm.

Located about an hour and a half outside of Sydney, we were promised “pick your own mandarins,” we’d conjured in our minds. Their website warned about following our new-fangled GPS, as it was going to send us down a treacherous dirt road, and I trust you won’t be surprised to learn that’s exactly what we did. By the time we decided to turn around, we’d already discussed the plot of Deliverance and a recent case of a man lost in the bush for months until it was discovered he’d been bitten by a snake and died meters from his bogged in truck – because that’s where our city minds go to when confronted by the Great Unpaved. Well, we tried to turn around, but were promptly met with a pair of equally inappropriate vehicles going the other direction, and as it was decidedly a one-way path on which cars are theoretically allowed to go both ways, we had to back all the way up to the curve we’d just come from to let them pass. We then decided that if we followed the Kia and the Holden closely enough, we probably wouldn’t die alone this day.

Thankfully, that was our only snag, and it wasn’t long before we found our way to the mandarins.

It was exactly what we’d imagined – rows and rows and overflowing orange trees, friendly farm animals, port-a-potties, and even a rusting bathtub on its side. This, indeed, was what we’d come all this way for.

It was $10 for as many mandarins as you could fill into a bucket. We let Hushpuppy take on the picking duties, which she did with as much glee as we’d hoped for. She would have been happy to fill at least two or three more buckets if we’d found it suitable to walk away with 20 or 30 kilos of oranges. As we’re just a family of three, we thought one bucket would be more than enough to suit all of our citrus needs for some days to come.

We brought a picnic lunch, and I bought a $3 cup of instant coffee from the Watkin’s coffee cart. I ordered a flat white, and the woman at the cart laughed and said, “that’s about all we have!” before pouring the kettle water over the Nescafe and pointing me in the direction of the packets of milk and sugar. This was a moment where being American came in handy.

We spent another half hour or so hanging out with the sheep, goat, horse, and chickens. Hushpuppy was too afraid to feed the friendly sheep and goat, all of which seemed happy to eat a continuous stream of oranges, but she was happy to stand by while P-i-C and I did it on her behalf.

On the way home, we took the (paved) road by the lovely Hawkesbury River and to the town of Wiseman’s Ferry, where we found a nice park for Hushpuppy to get out a little extra energy while we enjoyed the glowing mountains, just before sunset. 

We had all of our city slicker fantasies fulfilled, and I’d happily make mandarin picking an annual tradition.

Postscript: Staring down two salad bowls full of oranges this morning, I picked up some suggestions for things to do with them. One was this “30 second orange cake” recipe for the Thermomix/Bellini (though you could easily do it in a food processor). Taking a recommendation, I turned the cake into muffins, instead, and the result was decadent and delicious – even worth the dirt road.

Favorite Playgroups on the Lower North Shore

Little Aussie, Sydney

photo 3 (1)

Hushpuppy and I like to get out and about. Ever since she’s been mobile, she’s shown the spirit of an explorer. She’s a climber, always looking for new heights to conquer, she’s insatiably curious, and has a wellspring of energy. The park and our classes are great, but one of our best discoveries is the adventurous world of Playgroup.

Playgroups are gatherings in which babies and kids up to about school age can come to play with toys, crafts, and equipment in a community environment. Near where we live, most areas seem to have at least one Playgroup. They vary in size and how often they meet, and some even have a particular focus, like language or other specialty. They can take place in community halls, churches, or other public spaces and usually cost a few dollars or a small annual membership. When I first heard about Playgroups, I was a little confused, trying to figure out how to find one that was age appropriate for my child, but actually, the way that they are structured means that there are activities suitable for babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers, and they all play together, or at least in the same space. There are volunteers or staff on site keeping things running, but parents are still required to fully supervise their kids.I often meet up with or run into mums I know from my mother’s group, and they’re nice places to catch up, albeit in fits and starts while chasing toddlers.

We are so lucky to have two pretty amazing Playgroups in our area, and Hushpuppy and I have become regular attendees. The first is the Crows Nest TAFE playgroup (Edit: Please see Comments Section for 2017 dates, time, pricing, and contact information).

It’s a magical place. It’s run by the students studying for degrees in daycare, so as part of their study, they set up play areas and observe how the children interact with them. They’re wonderfully creative and open to letting the kids play naturally.

On any given day at Crows Nest TAFE Playgroup, you’ll enter a huge fenced in yard full of kids. On one end, there are about half a dozen stations set up, which might include sensory play, books, a play post office or doll hospital, instruments, a “race track” full of tricycles, among others. There are two sandpits, which might have dinosaurs, or cars, or a pit of water (Hushpuppy’s favorite, so I’ve learned to always bring a change of clothes).  On the other side of the yard is a large amount of playground equipment – jungle gyms, slides, swings, and an area that usually has softer play for smaller kids. If all that’s not enough, there’s an area for crafts, usually some painting and collage stations. And, finally, a big room inside with toys for smaller babies, a quiet library nook, a toy kitchen, blocks, puzzles, and trains. Hushpuppy usually wanders around from one activity to another, checking a lot of different things out, though when she gets to the kitchen or tea party, she usually sticks around for a long time.

Here’s a few of the things she’s gotten up to at Crows Nest TAFE Playgroup.

playgroup

This was taken about 30 seconds before she decided she needed to be IN that bucket of water.

photo 1 (1) photo 2 (1) photo 4 (1) photo 5 (1)

IMG_1913 IMG_1554 IMG_1553 IMG_1552 IMG_1827

 

 

When Crows Nest is closed due to the students being on work assignment or break, we have a fantastic second option at the North Sydney Community Centre Explorers Playgroup. It runs Mon – Thurs 10 – 12:30 during school term. It’s $6 for under 18 months and $12 for over 18 months. My favorite thing about North Sydney Playgroup is that they sell coffee during the session, so I always try to bring a few extra dollars for that.

Like Crows Nest, they have an expansive fenced in yard. They don’t have nearly as many stations set up, but the kids never get bored. They have big blocks, painting, sandcastles, a playhouse, and a great jungle gym. Far and away Hushpuppy’s favorite thing is that they have bunches of Cozy Coupe cars and other ride on toys. Mostly she’s in it for the Cozy Coupes, though. She makes a beeline for an empty one as soon as we arrive and pushes herself around for ages (mostly backwards, she hasn’t worked out forward, yet). There are also three indoor rooms, one for smaller babies, one for imaginative play (doll hospital, house, etc, depending on the day), and another with a library corner and some blocks. During the session, the staff also offer singing and story time, though Hushpuppy hasn’t shown any interest in those, just yet. It has a very friendly feel to it, and it seems a bit more relaxed than Crows Nest, with more open space.

Cozy Coupes and more, here’s a few images of Hushpuppy’s adventures at North Sydney Playgroup.

She prefers to go in Dukes of Hazard style.

She prefers to go in Dukes of Hazard style.

photo 4

Making lunch. Another favorite pastime.

photo 5

Seriously, look how helpful she is learning to be. Worth every penny.

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In our weekly schedule I’ve set aside at least one day for Playgroup because I think it’s such a wonderful experience for her, and I have a blast watching her engage with so many new adventures. I know if she were enrolled in daycare, she’d be getting a lot of this type of play there, but staying at home with me, there’s only so much I can offer in terms of new experiences. I love that she has a place to try, feel, and work on new things, test her physical abilities, and be around other children. It’s wholesome, healthy and nurturing play, and as a bonus she’s always exhausted and ready for a great nap after. We both adore our Playgroup days.

 

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