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baby and toddler activities

Oor Wullie’s Big Bucket Trail

What exactly is Oor Wullie’s Big Bucket Trail I hear you say?

Well it’s pretty self explanatory but for anyone outside of Scotland, Oor Wullie is a beloved character, part of The Broons, who appeared in the eponymous comics in newspapers for years. A household name in Scotland, Oor Wullie has his own annual and range of merchandise, and is undeniably recognised for his dungarees and bucket seat.

Oor-wullies-big-bucket-trail-glasgowThe Big Bucket Trail pays tribute to that iconic version of Wullie on his bucket, in the first ever national public trail. 200 sculptures have been created and spread throughout Scotland’s main cities; Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness, all in the name of charity. Each region has its own select charity which the statues are raising awareness and funds for. Local to us, it’s Glasgow’s Children’s Hospital charity.

The idea of the bucket trail is that it’s a free, mass participation event that anyone can take part in, whether you aim to collect them all, or just enjoy adventuring out to see which ones you happen upon. Conversely it’s also about art and communities, as many brilliant artists have designed a Wullie for the trail, as well as numerous nurseries, schools and community groups creating their own Wee Oor Wullie’s.

There are 56 of the main Wullie sculptures in Glasgow and the surrounding area, so needless to say we didn’t capture them all. However it’s a fun game to play with your toddler and absolutely free. You can pick up a free copy of the map at selected Wullie locations, or you can download the free app, which contains the app, counts your collection and also offers rewards for unlocking certain Wullie’s along the way.

We didn’t download the app, as with a toddler under 2 we weren’t sure that 1) he would even like the sculptures or 2) would want to walk all that far as some of them are spread out. We managed to see some of the little ones in Braehead Shopping Centre and the Riverside Museum, and had fun walking through Edinburgh during the Fringe trying to find some big and wee Wullie’s.

I would say that this is an ideal activity for the whole family, and that if you want to collect them, maybe take a buggy with you in case of tired little legs.
Given more time, and a little planning, we would have probably tried to do the trail purposefully rather than happening upon it. And maybe if Travis was a little older we would have visited further afield to try and find Wullies. (If he was older he may also have posed nicely for a photo rather than screaming no and running away, but that’s another story!).

The Oor Wullie’s Big Bucket Trail is highly recommended, as it ticks all the parent boxes. Firstly, kiddos are outside in the fresh air (mostly), burning off energy walking to find the sculptures. Secondly, each sculpture has a different design, many with things to spot and talk about with little ones. Thirdly, each sculpture comes with a backstory behind it, so you can learn more about the design, the artists and so on. Finally, the trail raises funds for a children’s charity, which you can’t really contest as a parent (why would you though).

Sadly, the trail comes to an end on 30th August, so you’ll need to be quick if you want to get out and spot some. However, there will be a big farewell weekend from 13th-17th September in each city, so you can see all the Wullie’s from that section of the trail at once. Tickets are free but there are limited numbers for certain time slots, see the Oor Wullie website for more on this.

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baby and toddler activities

Free Toddler Activities and Attractions

As a toddler mum, I’m always looking for new ways to keep my little man entertained. There’s only so many episodes of Hey Duggee or visits to the soft play one can take without contemplating spiking your own coffee – even if the wee fella is quite content to watch and do the same thing over and over again.

New activities are good for all – toddlers get to explore and expand their horizons, learning as they go, and us parents get to save our sanity for one more day. However, many activities come with a price tag, which means they aren’t always possible or accessible. So I’ve tried to explore a variety of different activities in a range of locations, both indoor and outdoor, which at least offer free toddler places, if not free for adults too.

It’s important that our kids get a range of experiences and that we have the opportunity to provide them with fresh ideas, games, things to explore and places to go. I’ve started with some of the places closest to home for me, but I am looking to expand locations as I go. On top of this, I’m looking for a variety of different experiences which stimulate different senses or get different parts of the brain working. So it won’t be a list of physical activities (playparks, outdoor adventure etc) and viewing activities (farms, aquariums etc) but also experiences and learning activities that encourage skills like reading, writing, counting etc.

The idea is that I will add a link below to a post about each activity or attraction. The posts will be a mixture between a review, our experience and what you can expect for free, plus any other information such as additional extras etc.

  1. Ardardan Estate – we visit here quite regularly, and they are currently improving the farm to include more animals and a children’s playpark by 2020. Read the post to see what’s currently on offer there.
  2. Loch Lomond Faerie Trail – Brilliant attraction and walk in a scenic area. Read the post to find out how to make the most of the trail.
  3. Briarlands Farm – this Stirlingshire farm contains more than your regular farm animals, with tractor rides, play areas, mazes, archery and even go-karts!
  4. Lamont Farm – a charity farm project based in Erskine. Dense city-farm which focuses on the welfare of animals and rehoming animals

 

Coming soon:

  • Loch Lomond Sealife Centre
  • Bookbug
  • Oor Wullie Big Bucket Trail
  • Riverside Museum
  • Tall Ship

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Baby M's firsts, Mother and Baby classes

Bookbug week 2018

Bookbug is one of the new things we tried this year (in our January firsts) and something which Travis completely loves going to each week. It’s also free (bonus) and something I mentioned in the top free things to do on maternity leave. It’s something I can’t advocate enough as something new parents should try, so I was delighted to learn that this week is Bookbug Week.

What is bookbug?
Bookbug is essentially a story and rhyme time class for babies and toddlers, usually held in the local library. It’s an initiative organised by the Scottish Book Trust, so I’m not sure if there are similar programs or events available elsewhere in the UK. The sessions are 45 minutes long and usually run in tandem with school term times. Each week parents and kids sing nursery rhymes, play some games with lycra on the floor and of course have one dedicated story read aloud. Travis particularly loves the “what’s in my bag” section and the nursery rhymes which follow.

Bookbug Week 2018
Bookbug Week runs from 14th to 20th May, and the theme this year is “Bookbug friends”. This involves bookbug bringing a friend to class, stories involving friends and spreading the word about bookbug to your friends.
Highlights for this year include a live online broadcast, where illustrator and writer Ross Collins talks through his latest book and illustrations, printable bookbug colouring sheets, special bookbug week books and more.

Bookbug-week-2018-scottish-book-trustIn our class on Tuesday, Bookbug brought along his teddy friend Alfie, and they read a story about a colourful elephant with lots of different lively animal friends. There were finger puppets and bookbug colouring sheets to play with in the library or take home, and there were special bookbug postcards which kids were encouraged to write about what they love about bookbug before sending the postcard to a relative or friend. Our bookbug teacher (not sure if that’s the right term?) also brought us in some yummy snacks for the kids (I didn’t eat any I swear…) so they could feel like they were having a little party, while the adults could get to chat a bit more to each other.

I think Bookbug is such a great concept and something which I think we are really lucky to have in Scotland for free. Bookbug Week is just one of the many reasons it’s great for both children and adults alike. Personally, I’ve learned nursery rhymes I never knew existed, and have rejoined a library – something I never thought I’d do after the maze of uni libraries! I’ve also met some great people and have enjoyed watching Travis grow while at bookbug; being able to sit up for story time, knowing what bit comes next, and getting excited for specific nursery rhymes he has learned at bookbug. I really can’t recommend it enough, and if you’re too early to book onto the next block in your area, I’d definitely give the Scottish Book Trust website a browse for great ideas and resources in the meantime.