In this issue:
From your Editor… The festive season will soon be here and, hopefully, children are starting to feel a tingle of excitement at the prospect. Some may even be making a list for Santa, but there’s no need to panic just look at the Families top ten gift list for inspiration. Families spend a lot more time indoors during the winter and when the children are home during the Christmas holidays it is an opportunity to do some fun activities with them. Claire Winter has some creative ideas that will keep children happily occupied. Of course, there is life beyond Christmas and we also have two pieces looking at aspects of child development; one considers the relative benefits in the early years of learning through play versus structured learning and the second discusses ways parents can guide their child as they develop friendships and learn to negotiate relationships. As always, make sure that you keep our choc-a-bloc Christmas What’s On close to hand. Whatever festival you are celebrating – enjoy!
News & Views: 4 Winter Fun Indoors: 6 Christmas Gift Guide: 8 Child Development: 10 Christmas What’s On: 12 Next Issue: 84 - Jan/Feb Copy Deadline: 7th December Image credit: © verkoka
Find us in: Baldock, Borehamwood, Chorleywood, Harpenden, Hatfield, Hemel Hempstead, Hertford, Hitchin, Kings Langley, Knebworth, Letchworth, Radlett, St Albans, Stevenage, Ware, Welwyn GC. Pick it up from cafes, playgroups, nurseries, schools, activity groups, selected shops, surgeries, leisure centres and libraries. Email or call to request copies for your venue. 020 8428 6384 email@example.com www.familiesonline.co.uk
News & Views New Reception Test Criticised An excellent well established and reliable OFSTED registered childcare facility with friendly, enthusiastic, qualified and experienced staff. Re:Play provides a safe, stimulating, fun setting for all 4-11 year olds to play. A wide variety of exciting activities are on offer all day long. Plus, special extra visits and workshops. Children will enjoy free play, team games, sports, cooking, competitions, arts & crafts and much more. Re:Play is open daily from 8am-6pm every school holiday and on some INSET
days. Parents love the flexible booking, with morning sessions, afternoon sessions, full days, school days and extended days all possible. Location: St John Fisher School, Hazelmere Road, Marshalswick, St Albans, AL4 9RW Find out more at: replay5905@ntlworld. com or call 07913 323608
One Stop Doctors One Stop Doctors is a private clinic in Hemel Hempstead with a team of specialist paediatricians and child health experts. Dr Sharmishtha Sarkar, Consultant Paediatrician at One Stop Doctors, specializes in behavioural and neuro–developmental issues including Autism and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Here, Dr Sarkar explains what symptoms to look out for if you think your child may be displaying ADHD symptoms. ADHD is a group of behavioural symptoms that include hyperactivity, impulsivity and difficulty in focusing and paying attention. Awareness of the disorder has grown exponentially over recent years, but Dr Sarkar believes that diagnosis and treatment is still a problem for many parents and looks to shed some light on symptoms, advising when one should seek professional help. Sometimes, as a parent, it can be difficult to decide whether your child’s behaviour is within reasonable bounds. Dr Sarkar says. “If you have worries over your child’s behaviour or their school have advised concerns with behaviour or ability to access learning due to behavioural issues, then there are
Children who start Reception in September 2020 will be the first group to take the new Reception test, a baseline measure to track pupils’ progress during primary school. It is proposed that it will take place during the first 6 weeks of the autumn term. Guidelines recently released by the governments say the new reception baseline assessment will be short (about 20 minutes), interactive and practical. It will cover language and communication, early mathematics and social and behavioural skills. However, the proposed test has been criticised in a report written by an expert panel and published by the British Education Research Association. The report’s authors say that the assessment is highly likely to produce unreliable and invalid results, as it fails to recognise that young children develop at different paces and doesn't adjust for key factors, such as differences in ages and family background. Add to this the fact that teachers and practitioners are likely to become increasingly pressured to 'teach to the test', and it is difficult to see how baseline results will have any real value. More info at www.bera.ac.uk
things that you can look out for to help you identify whether you should seek professional advice for ADHD. For example, does your child find it difficult to keep friends, does he interrupt conversations, is he impulsive, does he have problems with anger, does he lose possessions and is forgetful, or does he find it difficult to complete a task even as mundane as getting dressed or tidying up a bedroom. If not diagnosed and managed timely, children with ADHD can experience persistent symptoms that can be carried through to their teenage and adult years. To find out more and book an appointment call 01442 331 900 or visit onestopdoctors.co.uk.
Language Speaks supports children and adults who experience social emotional learning challenges such as ASD, ADHD, social anxiety and social communication difficulties to develop the confidence to connect with others and the world in which they live. Following the Social Thinking® treatment framework and strategies, Language Speaks helps people to develop social thinking and social skills to meet their personal goals which may include play skills, working as part of a team, and developing relationships. Social thinking allows us to interpret the deeper meaning behind what others do in the world,
and affects our social skills, perspective taking, self-awareness, self-regulation, critical thinking, problem solving and organisational skills. One of the core concepts within Social Thinking® is the Social Emotional Chain Reaction. This is the idea that how we act affects how others feel, how we make others feel affects how they treat us, how we are treated affects how we feel about others and ultimately how we feel about ourselves. To find out more call Lesley Foley, Speech and Language Therapist on 0781 5889938 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. familiesonline.co.uk
Talking to Young Children About War this Remembrance Day
Louis Webb with his winning storyboard
Mental Health Campaign #JustTalk Two films to raise awareness of youth mental health have been made available on Youtube by Hertfordshire County Council as part of Hertfordshire’s #JustTalk campaign. The two films are the winning entries of a competition that invited pupils across Hertfordshire to submit a film storyboard to promote #JustTalk, which encourages young people to talk about what’s on their mind without fear of judgement or embarrassment. Winners, Alex Strazza, a 13-year-old student at Verulam School, and Louis Webb, a Year 8 student at Richard Hale School, had this to say: Alex said, “I think boys tend to keep problems inside, we want to stay strong and not look weak in a way. But there’s no need for that, if you share your problems then it will help everything. Louis said, “I entered the campaign because I thought it was important that everyone knew what mental health is and that it’s important to speak to people if you’re feeling a little bit down. Richard Roberts, Hertfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, said: “The films are brilliant! I’m really impressed with the creativity and maturity with which these young people have approached this project. For support or to find out more search 'JustTalk Hertfordshire' online.
Remembrance Day this year will be on Sunday 11 November and will be especially significant as it will mark 100 years since the original agreement to end fighting during the First World War in 1918, also known as Armistice Day. Accordingly, you can expect that there will be a great deal of media coverage given to this significant commemoration and your child may be prompted to ask you questions. Discussing war with children can be quite difficult. Recognising this, CBeebies has produced a short animation, simply titled ‘Poppies’ to help convey the notion of remembrance in a way that resonates with a young audience. It is a really beautiful piece to watch and would be a great way to introduce any
discussion of Remembrance Day. The 2 minute film follows a bunny who starts off playing in a meadow, which then becomes a WW1 battlefield. The film can be viewed on the CBeebies website at www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies
Odd Socks Day for Anti-Bullying Week
Anti-Bullying Week runs from 12 to 16 November and the theme this year is choosing respect over bullying.
The aim of the week is to support schools to help children understand: The definition of respect That bullying is a behavioural choice That we can respectfully disagree with each other i.e. we don’t have to be best friends or always agree with each other but we do have to show each other respect That we all need to choose to respect each other, both face to face and online Students are being encouraged to wear odd socks to school on Monday 12 November to show their support and raise money for a good cause. To get involved, visit www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk
Winter Fun –
Indoors! By Claire Winter
During the winter months, there’s no avoiding spending much more time indoors. It’s tempting to allow the kids to while away the time on devices or playing on their Xbox. But there are ways of keeping your kids off their screens and still having fun, even within the four walls of your own home.
Here’s Families guide to some fun bad-weather-day activities. Make a Cardboard Town Get hold of a giant cardboard box or add lots of small ones together to make a town using large felt tips or paint. Let their imaginations run riot, and they can add cars and wooden/ plastic people to make it more realistic.
Set Up an Indoor Treasure Hunt Write some cryptic clues and hide a treasure trail of items for them to find. They may want to design one for you to do too!
Make Slime Batten down the hatches, get the aprons out and be prepared for a tsunami of a mess in your kitchen. This activity is satisfyingly messy and great fun. Get your children to research how to make the best slime or playdoh on YouTube (it’s for educational purposes after all).
Set up a Racing Track
Teach the kids the card games you used to play as a child. If you can’t get them interested in Patience or Gin Rummy, look up some cool card tricks for them to learn and show their friends.
Use masking tape to create a huge car-racing track around the house or living room, create a second track alongside it and get the toy cars out and race away!
Make Special Cards Get out the art supplies and card and make some Christmas and birthday cards. Why don’t you get creative with Origami? My kids love making butterflies and birds and sticking them onto cards.
Get Active You could make an indoor obstacle course or try hula hooping or skipping in the living room. To make it more interesting, do some timed challenges. You could also create indoor hopscotch with masking tape.
Make a Magazine
Try Balloon Ping Pong or Table Tennis
Set up a news desk in the house and decide what the magazine is going to be about. Think up a great name and get someone in the “team” to design the front cover. Send out some roving reporters to write some news stories and create some fun features. The whole family can get involved!
Blow up some balloons and use some table tennis bats or make your own with some sticks and paper plates. Alternatively, if you have a table tennis set, drag out the dining table, set up the net and hold a tournament. Hours of fun!
Get Cooking If you aren’t keen on the slime idea, get the kids to cook you a meal instead. This is satisfying for them but also a treat for you (hopefully!). Suggest they plan a three-course meal for dinner. Get them to design a menu and research how to make the dishes online or refer to some recipe books. I think getting them to look in the fridge and come up with some dishes with ingredients you already have teaches them a great a life skill too. A pasta sauce or an apple crumble are tasty, rewarding but simple dishes to make. If you have smaller children baking something simple like fairy cakes or biscuits would obviously be more appropriate.
Have a Kitchen Disco My favourite thing to do on a rainy day is to have a party in the kitchen. Choose the most appropriate room in your house and sort a great playlist of music that will get the whole family moving. Have a ‘dance off’ with your kids. 6
Pines and Needles Christmas isn't Christmas until you've chosen your tree. Our experts (wearing kilts!) will be on hand to give advice at our store in St Albans from the 24th November. So pay us a visit and let us get the festivities well and truly underway. It’s a great family day out and we even have a delivery service from our stores to local postcodes for an extra cost. It couldn’t be easier! Our stores are re-stocked every morning with dozens of trees, freshly cut and delivered straight from our plantations. You won't get fresher, fuller or more fabulous trees anywhere else! USE CODE : FESTIVE18 to get your free gift with purchase. More details: https://www.pinesandneedles. com/st-albans-christmas-tree-store Find us at Verumlamium Park, opposite Westminster Lodge, Holywell Hill, St Albans,
AL1 2DL from 24th Nov- 17th December. Check website for opening times. familiesonline.co.uk
This Year’s Must-Have Christmas Toy Guide Every year, desperate parents exhaust themselves searching high and low for the most wanted toys on their child’s Christmas list. To avoid last minute panic and possible disappointment, the key is to do your research and start shopping early. To help you get prepared, we’ve put together a guide to Families top ten favourite Christmas toys for 2018. 1. Dino Fingerling (£16.99)
3. Chow Crown Game (£24.99)
www.argos.co.uk Age: 6+ This year WowWee Toys' popular Fingerlings are all about dinosaurs (or mythical unicorns, if you fancy something a little less fierce). The dinos respond to motion and sound and are bound to be a massive hit.
www.argos.co.uk Age: 5+ A silly game for the whole family. The hat plays music, and while the beats are going, the crown spins round, and the wearer has to eat as many of the food items attached to the forks as possible. A game that’s most fun when hunger looms, you are in charge of loading the food items on to the forks. You can choose tasty treats like marshmallows and strawberries or items that might not be so palatable! Great fun for parties and sleepovers too.
5. The Poopsie Unicorn Surprise (£49.99) www.amazon.co.uk Age: 3+ Mums and dads across the country will be delighted to find this defecating unicorn on Christmas lists! The Poopsie Unicorn Surprise is a ‘cute’ toy that poops out glittery slime when you feed it special unicorn food. While I can hear parents visibly groaning, this is sure to be a hit with unicorn-lovers everywhere. Plus if you are worried about getting unicorn glitter poo all over your carpet on Christmas day, never fear, the toy comes with its own potty!
2. LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Set (£89.99) www.amazon.co.uk Age: 9-15 Lego and Harry Potter in the same box, what’s not to love? If you've got a wizard-mad child at home, this 878-piece set will allow them to recreate the magic of Hogwarts. This lovely set has lots of detail that will give Harry Potter fans hours of fun.
4. Pie Face Cannon (£26.99) www.amazon.co.uk Age: 5+ Pie Face continues to make the Christmas list year after year, and 2018 looks to be no different. This year you can buy a Pie Face Cannon. The cannon fires a pie every time, and it’s up to the contestant to use the red hand to stop getting “pied”. A great game to play after Christmas dinner! Pies away!
6. Densters (£19.99) www.firebox.com Age: 3+ All children love building a den! This great kit allows kids to set up their own hideaway in minutes. The set contains flexible toy monsters so you can create a magical den from everyday household items. It’s a great way to get your kids off a gadget!
9. Gravitrax (£48.29) 7. Ani-Mate Mini Movie Maker Kit (£14.99) www.findmeagift.co.uk Age: 8+ Create quirky little movies with your own phone and this ingenious Mini Movie Maker Kit. It includes modelling clay, modelling tools and googly eyes to make your own kooky characters, and backdrops so kids can create their own film. This is a great present or stocking filler for a budding animator or storyteller.
www.amazon.co.uk Age: 8+ A cool game that encourages kids to boost their STEM skills. Use your imagination to build superb tracks and set the Gravity Spheres rolling! The game combines physics, architecture, and engineering, to engage and improve young minds. You can also buy additional packs to extend the system. A great buy for kids that love building, marble runs and Lego.
10. My Rebounder Mini Rebounding Trampoline, £89.99
8. VTech Kiddizoom Smart Watch (£44.99) www.amazon.co.uk Age: 4+ This cool watch features a camera for photo and video taking, 3D style digital and analogue clock faces and eight great games. It also has a motion sensor for a pedometer so they can measure their steps. The watch also has a calculator, calendar, alarm, stopwatch and voice recorder. Plus the option to download more apps and games!
www.myrebounder.co.uk Age 4+ Classic fun, these rebounders (small trampolines) will keep kids active all year round and can be used inside and out. They help improve strength, balance, co-ordination and general fitness. They can also be folded, so they won’t take up too much room.
Child Development Play or Structured Learning in the Early Years? By Maxine Henderson In England, the current Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum stipulates a 50/50 balance between child-centred, play-based learning and adult-led learning. Over the years there have been individuals who question the system and look to introduce new ideas. For example Liz Truss, a past Education and Childcare Minister, championed the introduction of a French-style ‘structured learning’ approach, with a graduate-led workforce responsible for larger groups of children, and a reduced child-to-carer ratio. Whilst the benefits of a more highly qualified workforce are indisputable, there are other considerations. If teachers are responsible for larger groups then opportunities for vital playbased learning are reduced. Whilst the ‘structured learning’ model is hailed for its effectiveness in socialising children, teaching them manners, and creating a calm, organised atmosphere, it is not an environment in which young children learn best. And it definitely doesn’t encourage them to be inquisitive, self-motivated learners. Children need to practise negotiating with each other and experience problem solving situations, without the direct supervision of an adult. If they are unable to practise these skills in free play, they become too reliant on adults to both intervene for them in social situations and to motivate and inspire them to learn. A great example of the benefits of playbased learning happened in one of our nursery settings recently. I observed the children carrying large construction blocks, lengths of fabric, pegs and sticky tape out of the building and realised they were busy working together to construct a range of interestingly shaped homes in the garden, entirely from their own imaginations. Some children were making signs to indicate who lived where; others were adding connecting tunnels and others still were creating places for everyone to sit and a welcoming atmosphere. It wasn’t all smooth sailing. The children often disagreed about
Maxine Henderson is a Childcare Expert at Tinies Childcare, a leading childcare specialist with over 30 years’ experience helping families, nurseries and other childcare settings find the right childcare professionals to suit their needs. For more information, visit www.tinies.com
how to construct the dwellings and tempers flared when some children “borrowed” things from one den to improve their own, but the whole process was fascinating to observe. Our carers were on hand to support the children – making sure they were safe and allowing them to negotiate between themselves. When necessary, they offered suggestions to help the children make decisions, but they provided choices rather than answers. They also asked open questions throughout the process such as: How many pegs have you used? How is this staying up? What does your sign say? The learning that took place that afternoon was incredible – the children were selfmotivated, interested in the task and invested in a positive outcome. In adult-led learning, we often meet resistance, as a child does not want to complete the task in the way that we expect. However, this leads to other teaching opportunities and is equally as important as play-based learning. The two work well in tandem, giving the children opportunities to develop core skills, find their own strengths and become well-rounded individuals. Currently observations are made about a child’s development while they play, helping carers plan structured learning activities relevant to that child’s development. These observations include the individual interests, abilities and levels of assistance required by each child. This makes it possible to organise interesting, achievable but
challenging adult-led activities for each child, taking account of their preferred learning style and developmental level. During the den-building activity, carers were able to identify which children: • confidently led the action • preferred to watch • were interested in creating the tents and dens, • disappeared when all the building and mending was done • wanted to play in the dens when they were completed, delegating characters to each other and adding furniture to create narratives for their games. A mixture of adult-led and play-based learning is important for the development of every child. The individual child needs to learn structure and rules, and participate as part of group but they also need time to explore their own interests, likes and dislikes and see where they fit into the whole. When considering the introduction of new ways of learning for children, it’s important to consider the impact this can have on the individual development of a child, as well as the changes that will need to be made to group learning. For example, increasing the number of children each worker has in their care makes it more difficult for detailed observations to be made about each child and to organise adult-led activities which are appropriate for both the development of individual children and the group. Inevitably, this forces settings to move to a classroomstyle environment in which, sadly, children lose vital free-play learning and development opportunities.
Marshalswick Pre School and Nursery Marshalswick Pre School and Nursery has been serving the local community for over twenty-two years. The pre-school is set in a bright and spacious open space where the preschool children and nursery children benefit from two separate rooms where learning and development is encouraged in small groups. Because Marshalswick is a small pre-school and nursery the staff are able to be close to the children and can provide a secure environment where the children feel valued, encouraged and supported in all aspects of their development and well-being. The staff are highly qualified practitioners 10 Families Herts
who form a close-knit, friendly team. Their deep commitment to their roles as practitioners and teachers ensures that the children’s needs are at the centre of a warm and stimulating environment. Within the Early Years Statutory Framework the children are encouraged to explore the seven areas of learning through play. Daily activities are a combination of child led and adult led play. The children are provided with a range of activities that are creative, stimulating and challenging through which they can express themselves as individuals and discover the world around them.
To find out more call 07746 646011 or email email@example.com familiesonline.co.uk
Supporting your Child with Friendship Challenges By Lianna Champ
Life and relationships are not always easy and we learn our skills as children, watching the interactions of our parents and other adults in our lives. What we learn as children then sets our patterns of relating in adulthood. Falling out with friends is normal during childhood and it is through struggling with friendship challenges that our children learn about themselves, relationships and how best to interact with others. Through experience, children also learn how to set boundaries - what they will or will not accept in a friendship. We cannot make these decisions for our children but we can guide them gently and encourage them to use their instinct, intuition and intellect. The most important thing we can do when our children are struggling with friendship issues is to listen. Falling out with their friends can feel like the worse thing in the world. Saying anything negative about their friends at this point will only cause your child to withdraw and can create further emotional confusion for them. Gently encouraging your child to talk about their feelings can help to identify areas of conflict, disagreement or unfairness which may have led to the fall out. Ask what they think went wrong. Do they think they could have reacted differently? Do they feel that they did nothing wrong? When friends fall out, it doesn’t necessarily mean any of the children in the mix did anything wrong. Fall outs just happen and they can happen all the time! Girls especially can change friends quickly, moving from one to another in succession. There is an important lesson here too - that friendships grow and change and sometimes come to an end. Children are still developing and so must their friendships. As we grow up, it is healthy that our friendship groups grow and diversify. Our needs change and different people provide different things. Learning how to be a friend is like learning anything else. Sharing your own stories of your own friendship experiences can be helpful, showing your children that friendships can hit a rocky patch which has to be worked through. Help your children to understand the importance of sharing, taking someone else’s feelings into account and listening to each other. It’s important that children learn about allowing their friends the privilege of sharing their feelings without being judged. Teach your children that their friends should also allow them this privilege too. We can teach our children to decide whether a friendship is worth persevering with or whether it’s best to just walk away. Don’t be afraid to talk about the differences between healthy and toxic relationships. It’s important to help children understand that there are different kinds of friends too – best, great, good and casual friends - and that new people are constantly coming into our lives. As we navigate life we can’t expect to get everything we need from one friendship, which is why we need quite a few to fulfil our needs. Children have a tendency to think about things over and over again. Gently reflect back to them using clear language how they are feeling and what happened. Try a bit of role play around a friendship challenge which can help your child see what is happening more objectively. If you think your child’s behaviour was the catalyst for a fall out, role play can help them learn how to be a better friend in the future. It can also help them see more clearly whether they were at fault. Always take an interest in your child’s friendships and if you sense something out of the ordinary, be there as a buffer. But avoid taking sides, actively interfering or taking decisions for your child about their friendships. Working through their experiences is an extremely important part of growing up and a learning curve for adulthood and taking this away from them robs them of the chance to learn valuable life lessons. Equally, do not make them feel like victim in a relationship as this can prevent them from taking responsibility in relationships later in life. Encouraging new activities and providing arenas for new friendships can give your child confidence in their ability to make new friends and be a good friend. familiesonline.co.uk
Studies show that children who have healthy relationships with the adults in their lives are more likely to make sound decisions about friendship, because they understand things like empathy and mutual respect, and they have better problem-solving skills. So above all, nurture your own relationship with your children and others in your family. Lianna Champ has over 40 years’ experience in bereavement and grief recovery. Her new book How to Grieve Like a Champ is out now priced £9.99. More information at www.champfunerals.com
Christmas What’s On Shows 96 SHENLEY ROAD Borehamwood, WD6 1EB 01442 454000 www.96shenleyroad.co.uk
Honk! 14-18, 20-24, 27-31 Dec Musical based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling. Cost: £15. Under 16s £10. Under 10s £5
Cinderella 15 Dec – 11.30am & 2pm Pantomime. Cost: £10. Child £7
Eastcheap, Letchworth Garden City, SG6 3DD 01462 681088 www.broadway-letchworth.com
Private Peaceful 20 Nov – 7.30pm 21 Nov – 1.30pm & 7.30pm Relives the life of Private Tommo Peaceful, a young soldier awaiting the firing squad at dawn. Based on Michael Morpurgo’s book. Ages 8+. Cost: £16. Concs £14
Westminster Lodge, Holywell Hill, St Albans, AL1 2DL 01727 857861 www.abbeytheatre.org.uk A Christmas Carol 15 & 16, 20-23, 27-29 Dec On a snowy Christmas Eve in Victorian London, three ghosts take Ebenezer Scrooge on a fantastic journey. By glimpsing his past, present and future, he learns to love Christmas and finally make friends with the kind people around him. A production for the whole family. Cost: £12. Concs £11. 13 yrs & under £6
THE ALBAN ARENA Civic Centre, St Albans, AL1 3LD 01727 844488 www.alban-arena.co.uk Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 6-10 Nov – 7.30 pm. Weds & Sat Matinee 2pm St Albans Musical Theatre Company present this Truly Scrumptious family-friendly show! Based on the beloved 1968 film version of Ian Fleming’s children’s book and featuring an unforgettable score. Cost: £12-£22.50. Some concessions available, see website The Nutcracker 24 Nov – 2.30pm Vienna Festival Ballet. Cost: £24. Concs £21, £16 Cinderella 6-9, 11-16, 18-24, 26-31 Dec, 2-6 Jan Fun-packed pantomime. starring Rachel Stevens (S Club 7) and Ben Faulks (CBeebies’ Mr Bloom). Cost: from £14.50
BARN THEATRE Handside Lane, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6ST 01707 324300 www.barntheatre.co.uk
12 Families Herts
Santa’s New Sleigh 9 Dec – 1.30 & 4.30pm 10 Dec – 10.30am & 1.30pm 11 Dec – 10.30am, 1.30 & 5pm Christmas is fast approaching and Santa’s Sleigh is nowhere to be found. Will Sprocket and Dibs be able to create a new sleigh in time? With audience participation, sing-alongs and a present from Santa for every child. Photo opportunity with Santa too. Ideal for pre-school to age 8. Cost: £13. Family £48
CW ENTERTAINMENT Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6BX 0300 3039 620 www.cwentertainment.co.uk Aladdin 15 & 16, 22-24, 26-31 Dec, 2-6 Jan Join Aladdin as he tries to win the hand of the beautiful Princess Yasmin and find out what happens when Aladdin becomes master of the Genie of the Lamp. Packed with lots of laughs, silliness a-plenty and oodles of family fun. Cost: From £17. Family from £62
GORDON CRAIG THEATRE Lytton Way, Stevenage, SG1 1LZ 01438 363200 www.gordon-craig.co.uk Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Various dates 30 Nov-27 Jan Pantomime. Cost: £14.50-£26
HARPENDEN PUBLIC HALLS Southdown Road, Harpenden, AL5 1TE 01582 767525 www.harpendenpublichalls.co.uk The Snowman 9 Dec – 10.30 & 11.30am Special screening of the timeless animated film with a live musical score performed by the Hitchin Band. Cost: £10. Under 14 £5. Under 3 FREE Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 8 & 9, 11-24, 27-30 Dec Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to panto we go! Cost: £14. Concs/Under 16 £12. Family £48
HERTFORD THEATRE The Wash, Hertford, SG14 1PS 01992 531500 www.hertfordtheatre.com The Astonishing Adventures of Pinocchio 1, 8 & 9, 15 & 16, 22-24, 26 Dec & 1 Jan Watch in wonder as that chip off the old block, Pinocchio, strives with all his puppet heart to become a real child. Chock full of sensational songs, beautifully turned dances and packed to the rafters with timber-splitting fun. No strings attached! Cost: Various, see website. Family from £76. The Santa Show 22-24 Dec Singalong, interactive show for ages 2-5 and their families. Children can meet Santa and receive a present. Cost: Child £11. Adult £8. Family £36
THE MARKET THEATRE 6a Sun Street, Hitchin, SG5 1AE 01462 433553 www.markettheatre.co.uk
24 Nov – 2.30pm Magic and silliness abound! Cost: £7. Dacorum Card £5.50 Let's Build a Planet! 8 Dec – 2.30pm Zoom through the weird and wonderful wormhole with Gill and Boo, a couple of crafty World Builders (and clowns) on a ground-breaking journey to make a brand new, fully-functioning planet! Cost: Cost: £7. Dacorum Card £5.50 Santa's Marvellous Magical Toyshop 21 Dec – 4pm 22 Dec – 11am, 1pm (Relaxed Performance) & 4pm 23 & 24 Dec – 11am & 1pm Christmas is coming, but after 164 years of service, Santa’s Chief Elf would like to retire. Who will make the toys for the good girls & boys? Trainee Elf required! What could possibly go wrong? Ages 3+. Cost: £8. Dacorum Card £6
THE RADLETT CENTRE 1 Aldenham Avenue, Radlett, WD7 8HL 01923 859291 www.radlettcentre.co.uk The Nutcracker 17 Nov – 2.30pm Vienna Festival Ballet. Cost: £22. Concs £20 Mark Thompson's Spectacular Science Show 18 Nov – 11am Explore the strange and magical properties of matter with fireballs, fire tornadoes & explosive chemical reactions. Ages 4-7. Cost: £12. Under 16s £10 Aladdin 8 Dec-3 Jan Traditional family pantomime. Cost: varies, see website
The Snow Queen 15 & 16, 19-23, 27-29 Dec Christmas show for ages 4-9. Cost: £10
High Street, Hoddesdon, EN11 8BE 01992 441946 www.broxbourne.gov.uk/ thespotlight
THE OLD TOWN HALL THEATRE
Big Fish Little Fish Family Rave 3 Nov – 2-4pm Dance, music, craft & play activities. Theme: Day of the Dead. Licensed bar, free parking and Wi-Fi. Cost: £10. Child £7. Pre-walking infants free but still require a ticket
High Street, Hemel Hempstead, HP1 3AE 01442 228091 www.oldtownhall.co.uk Morgan & West’s Utterly Spiffing Spectacular Magic Show for Kids (and Childish Grown-ups!)
The Christmas Fair 25 Nov – 11am-3.30pm Seasonal crafts & gifts. Father Christmas in his grotto. Cost: £1.50. Children & over 63s £1
WYLLYOTTS THEATRE Wyllyotts Place, Darkes Lane, Potters Bar, EN6 2HN 01707 645005 www.wyllyottstheatre.co.uk
Dick Whittington 14-20, 22-24, 26-31 Dec Panto Starring Kid’s TV legend Dave Benson Phillips. Cost: From £15
The Nutcracker 25 Nov – 2pm Vienna Festival Ballet. Cost: £20. Child £15
RHODES BISHOPS STORTFORD 1-3 South Road, Bishop’s Stortford, CM23 3JG 01279 710200 www.rhodesbishopsstortford. org.uk Beauty and the Beast Various dates & times 8 Dec-5 Jan Pantomime. Cost: dependent on date, see website. Family tickets available
THE SANDPIT THEATRE The Ridgeway, St Albans, AL4 9NX 01727 799565 www.sandpittheatre.co.uk Butterflies 3 Nov – 11.30am & 2.30pm Uplifting tale of friendship, courage and facing your fears. Ages 3+. Cost: £7. Concs £5 Hansel & Gretel 15 Dec – 11.30am & 2.30pm The mischievous siblings are on the hunt for sweet treats in the heart of the forest – but might find more than they bargained for… Ages 3+ Cost: £8. Concs £6
Jack and the Beanstalk Various dates 15 Dec-6 Jan, generally 1 & 5pm Pantomime. Cost: dependent on date, see website. Family tickets available
ST ALBANS MUMMERS Various locations in St Albans City Centre starting in front of the Town Hall www.stalbansmummers.org.uk 26 Dec from 11.30am For over 40 years the Mummers have performed their unique adaptation of George & The Dragon on Boxing Day. FREE
PLANET ICE Jarmans Park, Hemel Hempstead, HP2 4JS 08458 725 799 www.planet-ice.co.uk Cinderella On Ice 4 Dec – 1 & 7pm 8 Dec – 5 & 7pm Christmas ice show. Cost: £9. Child/Concs £6. Family tickets available
Holiday Camps & Courses
THE WESTON AUDITORIUM
University of Hertfordshire, De Havilland Campus, Hatfield, AL10 9EU 01707 281127 www.herts.ac.uk/ artsandgalleries
All camps take place in Berkhamsted www.berkhamstedbasecamp. co.uk 17-21 Dec plus Tennis 2-4 Jan Multi activity camps for ages 3-11. Plus courses in Edible Christmas Gifts, Christmas Arts & Crafts, Tennis & Racquets, and Hockey. Cost: see website for details
The Nutcracker and the Mouse King 16 Dec – 2 & 4.30pm James Mayhew and the de Havilland Philharmonic Orchestra present everyone’s favourite Christmas music, with illustrations created live on stage during this performance of Tchaikovsky’s score. Cost: £15. Concs £13. Child £8. Family £36
Nearly New Sales NCT www.nct.org.uk/branches The Bishops Stortford High School, London Road, Bishops Stortford, CM23 3LU 11 Nov – 11am-1pm Preloved parent, children and baby goods. Kingshott School, Stevenage Road, Hitchin, SG4 7JX 17 Nov – 10.30am-12noon (10am for NCT members) Toy sale.
MUM2MUM MARKET Age Concern Hall, Priory Street, Ware, SG12 0DE www.mum2mummarket.co.uk 17 Nov – 10am-12noon Nearly new sale of baby & children's goods. Cost (2 for 1 voucher online): £2 entry, children free entry
Places To Go ALDENHAM COUNTRY PARK FARM Aldenham Road, Elstree, WD6 3BA 020 8953 9602 www,aldenhamcountrypark. co.uk Christmas Frost Fair 15, 16, 17, 18 Nov – 10am-5pm Imbibe the sights and sounds of the festive season. Browse fine foods, gifts and crafts. Father Christmas. Refreshments available all day. Free parking Cost: Adults £7 (£6 online in advance), Cons £6 (£5), Accompanied children under 16 yrs free. Go to www.battenburgevents.co.uk Christmas at the Farm 1-31 Dec See the Farm decorated in Christmas trees with an amazing light show. Meet Santa in his Grotto & the Elves in the Toy Shop where each child will receive a present. Visit the Christmas animals and refuel with drinks & goodies. Book online or at the venue. Cost: £4.50-£9.50
ST FRANCIS CHURCH Church Road, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6QJ www.stfranciswgc.org.uk Christmas Tree Festival 8 Dec – 12-6pm 9 Dec – 12-5pm Approx 70 decorated trees. Santa's Grotto. Family games. Hot food. Cost: £3. Accompanied under 12s FREE
CAMPUS WEST Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6BX 0300 3039 620 www.cwentertainment.co.uk Soft Play City Christmas Party 14 & 21 Dec – 4-6pm Ages 0-8. Meet Santa and his elves in his Grotto. Receive a gift & kid’s food box. Cost: Child £9. Adults free (2 per child)
KNEBWORTH HOUSE Knebworth, SG1 2AX 01438 812661 www.knebworthhouse.com 9-11 Nov Knebworth Winter Festival Find the perfect gift or festive trinket, walk the little ones through the enchanted garden to find Father Christmas’s Grotto or simply get into the Christmas spirit whilst sipping on mulled wine. Cost: See website Sunday Lunch with Santa 2, 9 & 16 Dec – 12.30pm Festive two-course lunch with a visit from Santa & gift for every child. Booking essential. Cost: £25. Child (age up to 13) £12
RYE MEADS NATURE RESERVE Rye Road, Stanstead Abbotts, SG12 8JS 01992 708384 www.rspb.org.uk Messy Wellies 21 Nov & 19 Dec – 10.3011.45am Spend a morning in nature, learning and playing with your under 5s. Booking essential. Cost: £4.50 per child (£3.50 if RSPB member). £4 parking for non-members
Christmas What’s On APPLECROFT SCHOOL
Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6JZ
Aylesbury, Bucks, HP18 0JH www.waddesdon.org.uk
Winter Bazaar 2 Dec – 11am-2.30pm Christmas fun plus Santa's Grotto & refreshments. Cost: £1 entry. Child/Senior FREE
BRITISH SCHOOLS MUSEUM 41/42 Queen Street, Hitchin, SG4 9TS 01462 429245 www.britishschoolsmuseum. co.uk Christmas Fayre 8 Dec – 10am-2pm Enjoy a Victorian Christmas experience in the festively decorated Headmaster's House, with stalls, children's activities, games and food & drink to keep you feeling merry. FREE ENTRY
SKATE VAN HAGE Great Amwell, Pepper Hill, SG12 9RP 01920 870811 www.vanhage.co.uk 15 Nov-7 Jan Real ice rink. Cost: varies, see website
ASHRIDGE ESTATE Visitor Centre, Moneybury Hill, Ringshall, Berkhamsted, HP4 1LT 01442 851227 www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ ashridge-estate Children’s Christmas Trail 1 & 2, 8 & 9, 15 & 16, 22 & 23, 26-30 Dec – 10am-3pm With a special Christmas gift for every little helper. Cost: Child £3 Christmas Pudding Walk 3 Dec-7 Jan – 10am-4pm Self-led walk, following the puddings on this way-marked route through the woodland. FREE Santa Paws Walk 9 Dec – 11am-12noon Bring your dog and join Father Christmas on a walk around the meadow. Put on a Christmas hat & hang a bauble from your pet's lead. Prizes for the best Christmas theme. Cost: £1 per dog Post-Christmas Walk 27 Dec – 10am-12noon A gentle, scenic guided walk to see Ashridge in all its wintery beauty. Book in advance. Cost: £5. Child £3 14 Families Herts
Christmas Carnival 10 Nov-2 Jan. Closed 24-26 Dec (11am-6pm, Weds-Sun) Explore the fantastical displays & unique decorations that bring Waddesdon Manor to sparkling festive life. Away from the Manor’s lavish interiors, enjoy state-of-the-art animations and light installations on an enchanted journey through the grounds. Christmas Fair 10 Nov-16 Dec A festive shopping experience with 86 wooden chalets, set against the backdrop of the floodlit Manor, with 20ft Christmas trees and a magical light & sound show. Cost: See website
JINGLE BELL JOG & FUN RUN Around the streets of St Albans 01442 820717 www.renniegrove.org/ jinglebelljog 2 Dec Fun family dash. 1.5km for all ages. 5km for adults/over 10s. Cost: Fun Run £10, under 16s £6 (includes reindeer antlers & medal). Jog £12, 10-15 yrs £6 (includes Santa hat)
ARTSHED ARTS Westmill Farm, Westmill Road, Ware, SG12 0ES 01920 466446 www.artshedarts.co.uk Pottery Throwing Taster Sessions Christmas Special 17 Nov – 30 min slots 10am-2pm 8yrs +. Learn to throw a Christmas tree on the potters wheel. Two people can throw at the same time. Booking essential. Cost: £20 including clay, glazing & firing Christmas Decorations (clay & papercraft) 18 Nov – 10am-1pm Create personalised clay hanging decorations & learn papercraft techniques to create beautiful handmade paper decorations, embellished with beads & glitter. Ages 3+. Drop in, first come first served, possible wait approx 15 mins. Cost: £4 per decoration, pay on the day
Fused Glass Christmas Decorations 1 Dec – 10am-3pm Ages 3+. Drop in, first come first served, possible wait approx 15 mins. Cost: £5 per decoration, pay on the day
LOWEWOOD MUSEUM High Street, Hoddesdon, EN11 8BH 01992 445596 www.broxbourne.gov.uk Father Christmas 15 Dec – 11am-4pm Have a go at Christmas craft & visit Father Christmas in his grotto. Cost: £6 per visit to Father Christmas (includes gift)
THE BISHOP’S STORTFORD MUSEUM 1-3 South Road, Bishop’s Stortford, CM23 3JG 01279 710200 www.rhodesbishopsstortford. org.uk Story Time 14 Nov – 1.30pm Perfect for toddlers & pre-school. After the story telling join in with an activity - a sing song, small craft session or trail around the museum. Cost: £1 Christmas Trail 1 Dec-5 Jan Some of the petals have fallen from the Beast's magic rose. Find them all and claim a sweet treat as your reward. Suitable for under 10s. FREE Make Your Own Christmas Decoration 1 Dec. Drop in 11am-3pm Ages 5+. Cost: £2
HERTFORD MUSEUM 18 Bull Plain, Hertford, SG14 1DT 01992 582686 www.hertfordmuseum.org Let There Be Light 13 Nov-9 Mar. Tues-Sat 10am-5pm Exhibition. Discover how we seek out and utilize sources of light and why we’re afraid of the dark. Includes collections from around the world – from Ancient Greek oil lamps to 1950s illuminated advertisements. FREE. Donations welcome
Christmas Extravaganza! 23 Nov – 4-8pm Celebrate the Christmas lights switch on. Craft activity, storytelling, carol singing & Father Christmas in his magical grotto! FREE. Donations welcome. Small charge to visit Father Christmas (includes gift)
MILL GREEN MUSEUM and MILL Mill Green, Hatfield, AL9 5PD 01707 357850 www.welhat.gov.uk/museum Toddler Workshop 29 Nov & 20 Dec – 10-11.30am Art & craft, story time, visit the mill & museum. Drink & biscuit provided. Cost: £3.50 per toddler (includes entrance to mill/museum)
ROYSTON MUSEUM 5 Lower King Street, Royston, SG8 5AL 01763 242587 www.roystonmuseum.org.uk Handy Handprints! 1 Nov. Drop in 10.30am-12noon Be like prehistoric people who drew around their hands to make pictures. Create your own – animals, monsters, trees, aliens, dinosaurs and more! Age 4+. Cost: £3 per child Fabulous Fireworks! 3 Nov. Drop in 10.30am-12noon Create dazzling firework paintings & snazzy firework sparklers. Ages 4+. Cost: £3 per child Toddler Music & Dance 9 & 12 Nov, 10 & 14 Dec 10.30-11.30am Toddler music & dance workshop themed around the museum’s collections. Booking essential. FREE Crafty Kids: Poppies & Soldiers 10 Nov. Drop-in 10.30am-12noon Marking 100 years since the end of the First World War. Make wooden peg yarn soldiers and poppies. Ages 4+. Cost: £3 per child
Lino Printing 1 Dec – 10.30am-12noon & 2-3.30pm Use the printing press in the museum that’s been printing in the town since 1855! Print Christmas cards & scenes. Ages 4+. Cost: £5 per person for printing activity
Santa Spectacular 21 Nov-24 Dec Indoor and outdoor fun. Meet Santa and receive a golden key to his Toy Shop, attend Elf Academy, say hello to Santa’s reindeer and much more. Cost: £12.50-£38, see details online
Winter Wonders 8 Dec. Drop-in 10.30am-12noon Create snowflakes, paper snowmen & wreaths. Ages 4+. Cost: £3 per child
LEE VALLEY BOATS
Victorian Christmas 15 Dec. Drop in 10.30am-3.30pm Celebrate a warming, traditional Victorian Christmas. With crafty fun & dressing up. Cost: £3 per child
Broxbourne Riverside Moorings, Nazeing Road, Broxbourne, EN10 6QT 01992 462085 leevalleyboats.co.uk
WITHIN THE WALLS GARDEN PROJECT
Santa Cruise 21-23 Dec – 11am, 12.45 & 2.30pm One-hour cruise. Mulled wine & mince pie for adults. Visit from Santa for children (presents not suitable for under 2 yrs). Book in advance. £10 per person
St Paul's Walden, Nr Hitchin, SG4 8BT www.downthewoods.org
REDBOURN CHRISTMAS MARKET
Garden Gang Tuesdays 10am-12 noon Outdoor session for under 5s with parent/carer. Book online. Cost: £5 per child. Siblings under 18 mths free
PARADISE WILDLIFE PARK White Stubbs Lane, Broxbourne, EN10 7QA 01992 470490 www.pwpark.com Christmas Fayre 17 Nov from 10am Festive stalls. Reindeers. Santa arrives in his horse & carriage at 10.30am. Santa’s Grotto Every weekend from 17 Nov. Then daily until 24 Dec, 10am-4pm
SHEPRETH WILDLIFE PARK Station Road, Shepreth, SG8 6PZ www.sheprethwildlifepark.co.uk Santa’s Grotto 8 & 9, 15 & 16, 22-24 Dec Experience includes a personal greeting from Santa, Christmas gift and entrance into the wildlife park. Cost: £5 per child, when accompanied by a full paying adult. Proceeds in aid of the SWCC Hedgehog Hospital
WILLOWS ACTIVITY FARM Coursers Road, London Colney, St Albans, AL2 1BB 0870 129 9718 www.willowsactivityfarm.com familiesonline.co.uk
Redbourn High Street, AL3 7LW www.redbournchristmasmarket. com 2 Dec – 11am-5pm Over 100 stalls. Local crafts & gift ideas, food, music and Santa Claus.
ST ELIZABETH'S CENTRE Perry Green, Much Hadham, SG10 6EW 01279 843451 www.stelizabeths.org.uk
SANTA DASH Riverside Shopping Centre Hemel Hempstead, HP1 1BT www.stfrancis.org.uk 9 Dec – 10am-12noon Register online to join a jolly sea of Santas on a 2.5-mile route around Hemel in aid of the Hospice of St Francis. Dash across the finish line and you’ll be awarded a medal, well-deserved mince pie & hot drink, plus treats for your dashing dog.
HATFIELD’S CHRISTMAS WINTER WONDER Hatfield Town Centre, AL10 0AA 01707 357104 www.hatfieldtown.co.uk 24 Nov – 11am-5pm With improvement works underway in White Lion Square, the usual Christmas lights switch-on will be replaced with a Winter Wonder event this year. Stalls; Santa in his grotto with his reindeer & stage entertainment. FREE. Some paid for activities such as funfair
MERAKI CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL Westminster Lodge Meadow, Holywell Hill, St Albans, AL1 2DL www.merakichristmas.com 30 Nov-22 Dec (not Mondays) Includes St Albans Christmas Market. Plus rides, a virtual reality Santa’s grotto experience, skating, ice bar & more. FREE ENTRY
Christmas Bazaar 24 Nov – 12-4pm Family fun, live music, craft stalls & food. Plus Father Christmas & his reindeer!
Christmas Light Switch Ons
BERKHAMSTED COURT HOUSE
WELWYN GARDEN CITY
Church Lane, HP4 2AX 3, 10 & 17 Nov – 9am-1pm Charity Christmas cards, gifts & stocking fillers on sale.
Howardsgate www.welwyngarden.co.uk 17 Nov – 12-6pm Celebrate the start of the festive season.
Hemel Hempstead, HP2 4TU themarlowes.co.uk
St Peter's Street www.enjoystalbans.com 18 Nov – 12-6pm An afternoon of entertainment throughout the city followed by the lights switch-on at 5pm.
Advent of Events 1-24 Dec - Times vary Enjoy festive fun every day in December with The Marlowes Advent of Events! Share a story with Santa every weekend from 11am-4pm, with free festive crafts throughout the week. See website for more details.
STEVENAGE Town Centre 22 Nov
HERTFORD CHRISTMAS GALA Town Centre 01992 552885 www.hertford.gov.uk 23 Nov – 3.30-8pm Street entertainment, performance stage, petting reindeer, stalls, Christmas grotto and Christmas tree light switch on.
SAWBRIDGEWORTH Bell Street Car Park www.sawbridgeworth-tc.gov.uk 24 Nov from 4.30pm. Switch on 6.30pm With stalls, funfair & stage entertainment.
HODDESDON LOVES CHRISTMAS High Street 01992 785655 www.broxbourne.gov.uk 24 Nov – 10am-6pm Stalls, entertainment & activities. Animal nativity scene & reindeers. Brass band & local choirs. Fairground rides. Event concludes with the Father Christmas Parade and at 5.45pm a countdown to the switch-on of the Christmas Tree lights followed by a short fireworks display.
HARPENDEN CHRISTMAS CARNIVAL High Street, Harpenden 25 Nov. Lights switched on 5pm Carnival & Christmas Market. Father Christmas and his Elves.
WHEATHAMPSTEAD www.wheathampstead-pc.gov.uk 29 Nov Santa, fairground rides, mulled wine & mince pies!
SOUTHDOWN Southdown shopping area www.harpenden.gov.uk 30 Nov – 5-7.30pm
BATFORD www.harpenden.gov.uk 2 Dec
LONDON COLNEY High Street www.londoncolney-pc.gov.uk 2 Dec – 3.30-6.30pm With entertainment, Father Christmas, stalls & rides.
Christmas Whatâ€™s On
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