|Posted by Little Hands in the Hunter on May 6, 2013 at 4:45 AM||comments (2)|
As many of you know, I - along with many of you, have been crying out for a preschool sports program for the Maitland area for some time now.
I am so excited that Helen and John Mortimer of Sporty Kids in Newcastle heard our call and have now brought their wonderful program to Rutherford, Maitland and East Maitland!
Talking to John at the Maitland open day really reiterated for me not only the benefits of such a program for young children, but also my confidence in the Sporty Kids team being a great choice for my kids.
“We not only focus on developing skills, but also on building confidence, independence, team work & enjoyment. We also we strongly promote parent involvement by watching and cheering on their sporty Kid from the sideline. I love watching a kid do well and then look around and get the thumbs up from a parent just so that they know you’re engaged in them too, because it means so much to them!”
Helen and John are parents themselves and take turns coaching and taking their own little boy to his soccer games so they understand the drive of a parent wanting to give their little one the best start physically, mentally and socially that we can.
John shared “I was turned off soccer as a young bloke with a very nasty coach. I loved playing of a weekend, but I then refused to train. But I’ve always had a love for the sport itself and that’s why we emphasize on the encouragement, the high-5's and the ‘well dones’- to me these are so important for the kids, along with the parents support.”.
And encouragement there was! Watching the coaches engaging the kids at the open day was really heart warming to watch. These guys know kids! Watching coach Shannon hamming it up lunging to catch the soccer ball being kicked with more enthusiasm than power had my little boy in stitches. Throughout the 45 mins the kids stayed focussed and attentive and the smiles hardly left their faces. They even had my 2 & 3 year olds standing in a straight line and waiting their turn, believe me I was impressed!
So why should you enrol your child in Sporty Kids?
It’s hard to describe the feeling of pride that washes over you when you watch your baby (or in my case, babies) take to the group without their Mum constantly rounding them up and putting them back. To see them laughing and interacting with other children and the grin on their face when they master a new skill, it’s like ticking another milestone of the list. Happiness, confidence and good health - there’s not much more this mother could ask for and I believe that preschool sports programs such as Sporty Kids are the perfect foundation for this path in life.
Here are my reasons for choosing this program for my kids:
Developing Physical Skills:
We often focus on mental development and take for granted the development of balance, eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills. The immediate encouragement of simple physical successes can be extremely rewarding and beneficial to young children.
Encouraging a Healthy Lifestyle:
Exercise helps build strong bones and muscles, and it helps kids sleep well at night and stay alert during the day. Developing ‘healthy habits’ early in a child’s life can help right through to the hormonal changes and social influences of adolescence. It has also been proven that active children are more likely to become fit adults. This is something that I struggle with each day as an adult and so I hope to make health and fitness an everyday, normal part of my children’s lives.
Making Sport Fun:
Sporty Kids ensures that a child’s first sports experiences are positive and exposes them to many sports options. Children are more likely to be confident in themselves and ready to advance as they join their first organised team, or even as they choose up sides on the playground.
Understanding The Concept of Teamwork:
Team work is a phrase that our kids will hear all their life. And what is Teamwork essentially but sharing and working fairly with others?
Yet in many instances, such as that with my own children, children have been home only with Mum and Dad, possibly their siblings, and do not quite comprehend the concept of sharing, socialising and making friends.
Sporty Kids provides a non-competitive environment that encourages fun and excitement, and working together as a team.
There are still places available this term if you have not yet enrolled your child in Sporty kids in either Maitland or Newcastle and although the term has already started, you will not pay for any lessons you have missed out on.
Please contact Helen and John via their Facebook page here, or website here for more information or to view the program timetable and register online today.
And if you are unsure if Sporty Kids in the class for you, ask about their offer of a one off FREE trial and 'try before you buy'!
The decision to enrol your child in Sporty Kids is not one you’ll regret.
There is no better feeling than knowing you are giving your child the best start to a healthy life possible!
|Posted by Little Hands in the Hunter on April 19, 2013 at 10:15 AM||comments (0)|
Who doesn’t love a trip to the circus?
My boys were very excited, we had seen Cirque du Soleil last year with just Will so he knew what to expect. Oli is excited for anything, god love him. While this is no Cirque du Soleil, the performers do a great job.
While you wait to enter you can have your face painted, well the kids can, but Oli chose the tiger face. Will isn’t a face painting kid so opted out of this one. This is a nice little free touch that gets the kids involved and a little more excited about it all.
As we entered with our VIP tickets, a man, wielding broccoli like a torch, escorted us to our seats. He then broke off a stalk and handed one each to the boys, which they promptly ate. They are nothing if not keen for food!
It was fairly warm in the tent but a breeze came through every now and then making it a bit more bearable. Oli’s tiger face didn’t last long, it got a bit sweaty and smeared across his forehead (and my clothes….) but my goodness it was cute while it lasted!
The one hour show included an amazing amount of performances, with juggling, the trapeze, the tissue (a super big ribbon hanging from the ceiling), the gymnastic style balancing of some lady bugs, an aerial ring and the hula hoops. Different people performed some of these twice, so there was plenty to watch and the Circus Rep I spoke to told me they have far more acts than they can possibly fit in a show so each show is slightly different. This means the performers are fresh and excited each time too!
My favorite was the tissue, Serena was so very strong and graceful and it’s pretty special to see everyday people do these amazing things. The mostly local performers are part time, they have other jobs and one is even a Captain Starlight, which is why some of the income from the Circus goes to the Starlight Foundation. Very worthy and considering they are an unfunded circus, their only income is from our tickets. Very dedicated people.
The kids loved the ladybugs and the hula hoop man, who, without giving anything away, was very tricky and was talked about in the car all the way home.
The performers did well at interacting with the audience, the ring master was funny, clever and also succinct, not too much carry on which suits the younger audience.
Our crowd was small but as the first show in the run this is expected and hopefully everyone will have a look see, because if we don’t support our local artists, they don’t thrive!
|Posted by Little Hands in the Hunter on April 15, 2013 at 7:05 PM||comments (0)|
Our events calendar is loaded with awesome school holiday events, but we can't forget the great family activities that are offered to us all year round!
Here's a list to get you started - feel free to add your own ideas.
A. Newcastle Museum - Free science shows, creative workshops making artworks out of marine debris and map making fun are all on offer this April school holidays.
B. Moonshadow Cruises has the perfect school holiday experience for you and your family. With a variety of affordable tours that will create memories that last a lifetime.
C. Fort Scratchley - Take a guided tour of the Fort and immerse yourself in over 200 years of local history. Book your family (2 adults and 2 children) on a guided tour of the amazing underground tunnels; only $30.00 per family.
D. Charlestown Square Entertainment Pass equals great value for a full day out of activities
E. Oakvale Farm and Fauna World - Come "Milk a Cow", "Pat a Koala" and have a family fun day out with our friendly native and farm animals. Hands on fun for all ages!!
F. Hunter Valley Zoo - Come feed our kangaroos, wallabies, birds and farmyard animals in the interactive walk through yards.
G. The Croods - Now showing at Glendale & Newcastle, Hoyts Charlestown, Reading Charlestown, Reading Maitland, Lake Cinema Boolaroo, Cessnock Cinema, Majestic Cinemas, Singleton (Check session times)
H. Dizzyland - $25- Unlimited Rides Armbands - All Riders All Ages, Parents may accompany their young child on the rides, No charge for Parent Entry. Fun park located at Salt Ash.
I. Megamania Playland Cafe and Family Restaurant - The School holidays are upon us. Megamania is Open 7 days, Open for Dinner (Wed to Sunday). Don’t forget we are BYO after 5pm.
J. Return to Nims Island - Now showing at Glendale & Newcastle, Hoyts Charlestown, Reading Charlestown, Reading Maitland, Lake Cinema Boolaroo, Cessnock Cinema, Majestic Cinemas, Singleton (Check session times)
K. Escape From Planet Earth - Now showing at Glendale & Newcastle, Hoyts Charlestown, Reading Charlestown, Reading Maitland, Lake Cinema Boolaroo (Check session times)
L. Strike Charlestown Square - These school holidays, kids and accompanying parents can enjoy UNLIMITED PLAY (Bowling & Laser Tag) Everyday until 5pm!
M. Super Strike Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland & Port Stephens - $15 for 2 games per person. All school holidays from 10am-5pm. Valid 13 April to 28 April 2013.
N. Heddon Greta Drive In - One of only two Drive-In Cinemas in NSW we are located near the edge of the famous Hunter Valley Vinyards
O. Play4Kids - Play4Kids will be open EVERY day over the holidays from 9.30 - 4.00 from Monday 15 April to Tuesday 30 April (most schools have 2 pupil free days at the beginning of term 2).
Bring in the kids for a fun play and relax with a coffee or yummy meal from our café.
P. Lollipop's Playland & Cafe Newcastle - Lollipop's Playland & Cafe Newcastle is the areas only fully air-conditioned playland. We provide a relaxed, friendly and welcome playland for kids of all ages to have hours of fun.
Q. Divinity On Lambton - School Holiday Special. Kids massage therapy 30mins $25
R. Divinity On Lambton - Guided Meditation for Kids, 30mins, $10 each, Limit of 4 per group.
S. Toboggan Hill Park - Fun Park:
Toboggan Ride with 750m of downhill fun!
Tractor Train ride though Beautiful Bushland
Indoor Rock Climbing
Indoor Synthetic Ice Skating
19 Hole Mini Golf
Huge Fun Shed with remote controlled cars and boats, coin operated games and jumping castle
Splash Down Water Game
T. The Australian Reptile Park - The Australian Reptile Park is the hands-on zoo. Why not check out their Mini Kids to Keeper programs.
U. Blackbutt Reserve, Kotara - Blackbutt offers picnic spots, guided tours, wildlife exhibits, animal encounters, Blackbutt Reserve playground, spotlight adventures and school holiday programs
V. Hi-5 Some kind of Wonderful movie - presented by Hoyts Junior
W. Adventures in Zambezia - Now showing at Glendale & Newcastle, Hoyts Charlestown, Reading Charlestown, Reading Maitland, Lake Cinema Boolaroo, Cessnock Cinema, Majestic Cinemas, Singleton (Check session times)
X. Hunter Ice Skating Stadium - Come on down to HISS today for the Holiday Super Session - skate as long as you like from 11:00 to 3:30.. Mums and Dads, have a coffee or lunch in the newly renovated Starpucks Cafe!
Y. Little Hands in the Hunter - Why not check out one of the Hunter Valleys great parks and playgrounds? Here is a list for you to start on.
|Posted by Little Hands in the Hunter on April 10, 2013 at 7:25 PM||comments (1)|
Here's a list of picnic areas around the region - feel free to share some more in the comments below!
Blackbutt Reserve, Kotara
Playground, BBQs, Tables, Native Wildlife Exhibits, Cafe, Toilets
Speers Point Park, Speers Point
Playground, Tables, Kiosk, Toilets
Maitland Park, Maitland
Playground (gated), Tables, Toilets, Pool (fees apply)
Walka Water Works
Playground, BBQs, Gardens, Walking tracks, Ducks, Miniature Trains on Sundays
King Edward Park, Newcastle
Playground, BBQs, Tables, Toilets, Gardens, Rotunda
Chinamens Hollow, Westen
Playground, Ducks, Walkway BBQs, Toilets
Reids Reserve, Swansea Heads
Playground, BBQs, Tables, Toilets
Jesmond Park, Jesmond
Playground, BBQs, Tables, Toilets, Gardens
Centennial Park, Cooks Hill
Playground, Tables, Toilets
Nobbys Beach Reserve, Newcastle East
Hunter Wetlands Centre, Shortland
Playground, Canoeing, Tables, Native Wildlife, Cafe, Toilets
Lambton Park, Lambton
Playground, BBQs, Tables, Toilets, Gardens, Pool (fees apply)
Green Point Foreshore Reserve, Cardiff Point between Belmont and Valentine
BBQs, Toilets, Walking Tracks
Croudace Bay Park, Croudace Bay
Playground, BBQs, Tables, Toilets, Skate Park Cycle way, Boat Ramp
Warners Bay Foreshore, Warners Bay
BBQs, Cycleways, Tables
Telarah Lagoon, Telarah
Tables, Ducks to feed
Hunter Valley Gardens / Shopping Village Pokolbin
BBQs, Playground, Toilets, Tables, Open Space, Cafes & Kiosks, Shops to Explore (cost may apply)
Ducks, Playground, Tree shade (no tables)
Tucker park Paterson
Playground, Toilets, River, Open Space, Undercover Tables
Playground, BBQs, Undercover area, Lake, Toilets
Morpeth Boat Ramp
Toilets, Tables, Open Space, River
|Posted by Little Hands in the Hunter on April 10, 2013 at 9:05 AM||comments (0)|
One of my favourite market’s in the Hunter was held over the weekend. They’ve had a pretty unlucky run with the weather gods in 2013 so when the weather was clear on Saturday morning I packed up and pushed Little L and his Dad out the door. Not too hot and not too cold - perfect for The Olive Tree Market at The Junction Public School in Newcastle.
It was busy from early on in the day; perhaps other people had the same idea as me - get in quick in case the weather turned unfriendly.
Little L striding off purposely into the crowd
The Olive Tree Markets are an eclectic mix of fashion, home wares, jewellery, printmaking, repurposed vintage goods, design, photography, textiles, art, ceramics, wood and metal work, painting, and handmade clothing for children and adults alike, handmade toys plus a host of other products. There is yummy food to eat (The Sweet Boutique are my favourite stall thanks to their Red Velvet cupcakes), musicians playing and other activities to keep you, and any accompanying little people, happy, fed, hydrated and entertained.
Activities for the kids
Little L was transfixed by the Prospero’s Players “Momo”
This trip to The Olive Tree Market had more purpose than my usual wandering through the stalls. I am at the start of a process to redesign the interiors of our home but can’t commit to the idea of smashing through walls. I’ve decided to go down a less scary path of looking for simple ways to make change through decor and design. The main areas of focus are the living room, main bedroom and Little L’s room - now that he has most definitely moved from baby to toddler status.
My visit to The Olive Tree Market on Saturday was about finding inspiration. I like the idea of buying local so my aim is to use unique pieces from around the Hunter to mix in with what I currently have. I found some great ideas on Saturday. The lampshades and cushion covers below from Hause of Glassborow were among my favourite. The colours schemes and designs can all be done individually so that you can get unique pieces.
Sketch & Jones also gave me some good food for thought about easy ways to update both the main bedroom and Little L’s room without spending a fortune.
Their brightly printed pillow cases and cushion covers in a variety of prints and colours, set against a plain white linen, will give the pop of colour I am looking for in these rooms. Simple, effective and won’t break the budget!
The Olive Tree Market is held on the first Saturday of the month at ‘The Junction Public School’. Regardless of the weather, except of course if any of the crazy weather experienced earlier this year comes back - gale force winds and market stalls don’t go together. The next market will be held on Saturday 4th May, the weekend before Mother’s Day in case anyone has some present buyers looking for inspiration…..
What is your favourite market in the Hunter?
|Posted by Little Hands in the Hunter on April 10, 2013 at 8:50 AM||comments (1)|
Do you love taking pictures of your children? Do you wish you could get better images of them? Whether your using a point and shoot or a DSLR I can help you change your thoughts or just a few tips to help you take better photos of your children.
1# Get down to their level...
Getting down to your child's height means getting down on your knees or even sitting on the ground. This will help you see the world the way they do and makes for a more interesting photo and you will find it makes them more comfortable than standing above them. Don't be afraid to step right in and take an image of what they are holding. Be it their toy car, their doll or even their favourite book. This will bring back memories for them when they are older.
2# Forget traditional, always smiling, always facing the camera photo.
Try to not let yourself say "look at mummy/daddy, say cheese" as often. I think the main reason that people think that photographing children is hard is because they have expectations of photographs of their children perfectly posing and looking into the camera. This is not always going to happen. Have them act goofy make funny faces and even scream, this is what children do best. Remember to capture the everyday moments, reading a story, bath play and even the moods... Tears! They are the ones you will look back on and still be moved by. You will be surprised how much of their personality you can capture.
With capturing your children together, if you let your children play and have fun you will be able to capture some beautiful moments of them together. Be relaxed and don't worry if they aren't looking at the camera, it is more important that they are looking at each other and creating a moment that will last as long as the image you capture. They will be sure to enjoy the experience more!
4# Try fill flash
If you want to try something a little different, try using your flash even during the daylight. The light from your pop up flash will help you brighten the shadows under their eyes and give you a well lit image.
5# Know when to stop.
I know with my own children I want to take photos of them all the time, unfortunately this has become a drama for my two young ladies. I don't get the result I was hoping for. I have learnt to quickly recognise the signs. If your children and or yourself star to get upset it's time to put the camera away and try another time. This will work in your favour when they quickly learn that you just want a few shots!
On a closing note, I'd like to add one more thing for you to remember... PRINT!
Don't forget to print your photos. Having a tonne of photos on your camera or on your computer is great but there is still something magical about putting your images into an album and frames. Kids love looking through albums to see their younger selves.
|Posted by Little Hands in the Hunter on April 10, 2013 at 8:40 AM||comments (0)|
Oli was so excited about doing a soccer class he was ready and waiting at 7am. The class didn’t start till 9.30.
He was pottering around home with his joggers on, all ready, Will kept asking when we were leaving, balls were being kicked around, it was a long morning.
We had a trial session at the Junction with Coach Freya and Coach Jay, 9.30 on a Friday morning. The session was held indoors at the school hall which meant rain, hail or shine we played. Our coaches were confident, patient and genuinely involved with the kids. Oli was welcomed and they made sure he participated and knew what was coming up. They worked one on one with the kids that fell behind and didn’t leave anyone out in the process.
There was a mini warm up session, a stretch and some stomping like a dinosaur to warm up those little muscles.
Some games like What’s the time Mrs Coach, running races, building a tower of soccer cones on Coach Jays head, but also the soccer style activities. These included free kicking, running around cones and scoring goals and dribbling and learning other ball skills.
Even though we were only there for one session we were included in all the activities and had a lot of fun with it.
I think it’s a great option for teaching kids teamwork, sharing, taking turns and other social skills, all while moving their bodies. Soccer skills and learning control and coordination are an added bonus!
The programs start for kids as young as 18 months all the way up to 7 years. A once off $55 registration fee gives you a football strip and priority re-registration. Classes are $90 for 6 or $180 for 12, which works out to be $15 a lesson.
|Posted by Little Hands in the Hunter on April 10, 2013 at 8:20 AM||comments (0)|
Ask any parent what they want most for their children and I’m sure you will get the same top 3 answers. Good health, good friends and a good self esteem.
So it’s no surprise that many parents these days are enrolling their young children in sport programs. Team sports not only have a significant health benefit, but also develop social and other cognitive skills.
But while there is nothing cuter than a bunch of preschoolers out in a field playing soccer, you may ask is it really the best way to engage young minds with such short attention spans?
Enter specialised preschool programs such as Little Kickers and Little Rugby.
Little Kickers / Little Rugby is a program specifically designed for the needs and learning abilities of young children and is magnificent mixture of fun, learning and imagination. With the sessions based in a group play setting all children can feel successful from the moment they join a group.
I asked Naomi, Owner and Director of Little Kickers Newcastle and Little Kickers/ Little Rugby Maitland and the Great Lakes what inspired her to introduce the program to the Hunter region and her answer was “When I saw the program for the first time I was so impressed to see such young children accessing physical activity in a confident and independent manner. They were just having the best time I wanted to be a part of it!”
Naomi is no stranger to working along with and recognising the needs of younger children - with a background as a special education teacher behind her, she has been running Little Kickers classes in Newcastle since it’s launch October 2011.
She says “The biggest rewards that are often discussed between myself and my team of coaches is the personal growth we and the parents see in the children. Even the shyest child has trouble resisting the fun environment and encouragement of the coaches. The children learn those vital social skills, gain self confidence, coordination and a love for being active. Lessons that last a life time.”
And so it is with great excitement that we share with you today the news that along with their current Little Kickers classes in Newcastle, Little Kickers and Little Rugby Classes will kick off in the Maitland area in June!
There will be classes from Monday the 3rd June at the Pat Hughes Centre in Thornton and from Wednesday the 5th June and Saturday the 8th June at Maitland PCYC.
And even more exciting is that Little Hands in the Hunter Followers will receive 50% off membership ($22.50 instead of $55, still including the uniform) and a free drink bottle when they sign up before 10th May!
Sessions are purchased in blocks of 6 - $90 or 12 (13th free) - $180. These sessions run consecutively.
Classes will be open for sign ups in the next few weeks. In the mean time contact Naomi for more information:
Or call: 40091545
|Posted by Little Hands in the Hunter on April 10, 2013 at 8:15 AM||comments (0)|
My foolproof banana bread
I have strange tastebuds. I hate bananas but love banana bread. Is this a common thing? I don’t think it’s a healthy thing, though I love to bake and shouldn’t eat half of what I make. I have made this banana bread about four times in the last couple of weeks (excess bananas, back to school treats and a need to bake)
I got this off taste.com.au and so far have not had any failures with it, even when not following the recipe to the letter. I am not overly concerned with exact amounts (although written here they are straight from the recipe) and have changed the directions to make it a little simpler.
1¾ self raising flour
¼ plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
½ cup of milk
50g melted butter
2 overripe bananas
Preheat oven to 180 degrees and grease and line a loaf tin.
Mix wet ingredients, add dry ingredients and mix well but don’t over mix.
Pour into the prepared tin and knock out any bubbles.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.
It’s that easy. As I said I am not too careful with amounts and will normally put a little less sugar, more banana, add walnuts or choc chips. The last time I made this I ran out of SR flour and had to make some (1 cup of plain and 2 tsp baking powder) and it still turned out ok!
Have fun and happy eating.
|Posted by Little Hands in the Hunter on March 28, 2013 at 6:00 PM||comments (0)|
I aspire to be crafty but I’m not. I know this and in many ways have reveled in my lack of crafty ability, up until now. When Little L came home with his first painting from daycare, outwardly, I was proud as punch but inwardly I thought “oh god, are we up to that already!” So this Easter I thought I would give it a go. What could go wrong?
Pinterest was a handy tool for searching for easy Easter craft. A fluffy chicken and bunny whiskers looked the easiest. Surely I could do that without incident…..
This is how “craft time” ended up for a very uncrafty mum.
After a trip to the local OfficeWorks, the dollar shop and the supermarket, I assembled all the required materials. A note for anyone thinking about being crafty the dollar shop had all the materials required.
The shopping list was quite simple. White pipe cleaners x 3, pink pompoms x 1, wooden stick x 1, glue stick x 1 (more on the kind of glue later), googly eyes x 2, orange felt and 2 x yellow pompoms.
As there was glue involved I thought it safer to do this outside. I didn’t factor on the wind blowing all the pompoms everywhere or Little L thinking that they made great balls to be thrown about the place. Queue running after flying pompoms before we’d even started.
After collecting all the runaway pompoms my second discovery was that the glue didn’t dry very fast. Years of super gluing broken objects back together had made me forget that normal glue doesn’t instantly bond. Rookie error.
Bunny whiskers were first. I found this idea at Daily Leisure . It was meant to be a quick and easy activity to get us started but as an uncrafty mum, my lack of skills and error in buying the wrong type of glue, created boredom for Little L and frustration for me. We both wanted it done instantly so he could play with it. That didn’t happen so Little L abandoned craft time for his trampoline. I however was determined to finish craft time and eventually the bunny whiskers were fashioned.
I later realized I’d made the mistake of not reading the instructions properly and the reason it took so long for me to finish the whiskers was because I tried to do it my own way. The easy way to make the bunny whiskers was to wrap the pipe cleaners around the stick first and then just glue the pink pompom on. I tried to glue it all together individually. Check out the instructions for a step by step guide. It was far more successful when I did as instructed and didn’t try to freestyle. Lesson learnt!
Our second attempt at Easter craftiness was the Easter chicken discovered at
Mamapeapod. The instructions were quite easy. Stick the two pompoms together, stick the googly eyes on the top pompom and then cut out feet and a nose from the felt and stick on. Once again, it was the glue that let me down but it worked out in the end.
Regardless of my frustration and Little L’s lack of interest he seemed to enjoy the final product. So a successful first leap into the craft world.
The moral of the story is that your kids don’t care how bad you think you are at being crafty. Little L had fun watching me get frustrated by a task that for kids is more about how much mess they can make and not how the chicken or the bunny whiskers turned out. I am still not even sure if Little L has worked out he now has a set of bunny whiskers…..
Do you have an easy Easter craft activity to share with the Little Hands community?