This year we spent Easter Sunday at the beautiful, historic Vaucluse House, taking part in their Egg-cellent Easter Trail. The event is held on Easter Sunday each year, towards the back of the estate, on one of their huge lawn areas.
$17 per child gets you a trail map, four activities, and an Easter treat at the end. The activities are geared towards slightly older children than the Centennial Park Egg Hunt: a Hen Hunt (find the picture of the breed of chicken on the map and write it down), egg-rolling, which was kind of like egg croquet, an egg-and-spoon race with wooden spoons, and the hot cross bun station, where kids were given all the ingredients of a traditional hot cross bun to explore, and then write them down in the correct spot in the recipe in their book.
The Egg-cellent Easter Trail has three timed entries and the activities can be done in any order. There are only three timed groups, and each one has an hour to complete the activities before the next one begins. It’s more than enough time – but also really great to not have to rush, particularly with little kids.
This is an all-weather event – so bring gum boots, rain coat and umbrella if the forecast looks grim. It rained during our session which inspired us to do all the activities pretty quickly, but didn’t take away from the enjoyment.
As well as the Egg-cellent Easter Trail activities, Vaucluse House puts on free Easter colouring in near the animals, and also free traditional games on the front lawn for everyone to enjoy.
We all had a turn at croquet, quoits, skittles and hula hoops.
Ahhhhh Easter, the chocolate holiday is here again! In our household, we like to celebrate chocolate over the Easter long weekend, as well as spending as much time as we can with family and friends.
This year we finally made it to the Great Centennial Park Easter Egg Hunt. It’s a great, active day out for families in Sydney, and at $17 per participating child, it’s an affordable outing, too. That’s right, no fee for adults, or age requirements, just a $17 fee per child who wishes to have a map and collect chocolate eggs along the way.
The egg hunt is suitable for kids of all ages. More than an egg hunt, it’s a multi-stop engaging quest to follow the map along a specially designed course to it’s fabulous conclusion – the Easter bunny (and bilby!) and chocolate, of course!
To take part in the Easter egg hunt, you’ll need to choose your start time, 9am and 3pm, and buy tickets accordingly. Entry to the course is timed in 15 minutes increments to ensure that it’s never too crowded.
Registration for the course is at the start point, the Learning Centre, Education Precinct, Dickens Drive. Arrive right at the beginning of your time slot – you amy only collect your map and begin the course during your 15 minute time slot. You may, however, take all the time you need along the course to get to the end.
The course consists of five station, with an egg and spoon race (don’t worry, it’s a rubber egg!), hop scotch activity, ring toss and egg hunt for kids to complete at each station before the final stop, where they get a photo with the Easter bunny and bilby and collect their big chocolate prize.
Upon completing each station along the way, kids are given a stamp on their map and a little chocolate egg. The completed map must be presented at the last stop to receive the big chocolate prize – which, this year, was from sponsor Darrell Lea.
The information on the website suggests that the course will take between 30-45 minutes to complete. It took our kids a lot less time to finish, but they had a fantastic time. Each activity was very well suited to our group, with kids aged 2, 4 and 6.
At the beginning of the course, in the Learning Centre, was a large room with tables and chairs, and bilby colouring in sheets plus crayons for families to take a break out of the heat. Nearby, a Combi Van food truck was parked to provide refreshments, and public toilets just beyond.
I would suggest planning to make a big morning or afternoon of the event, by bringing a picnic lunch, bread to feed the ducks (watching the docks, eels, fish and turtles in the lake entertained our lot for minutes! Lots of them!), and anything else your family needs to spend a few hours enjoying the gorgeous Centennial Park.
Is there anything more fun than getting letters and packages in the mail? I thought not. While we love travel, we are not one of those nomadic families who travel year-round. We spend most of our year in Sydney, loving our life here but also dreaming of seeing every country under the sun.
Little Passports is a fantastic new find I made recently that fits perfectly into our lifestyle. It’s a monthly subscription box for kids designed to encourage a love of travel and teach them about the world.
The way it works is simple. Choose the monthly adventure best suited to your family, select your subscription plan, and then watch your kids’ faces light up when they receive their monthly packages filled with letters, souvenirs, activities & more.
There are three age brackets, or “adventures” to choose from – which means the packages delivered are very tailored to each age range.
Next, choose your plan. Each plan includes the Traveler Kit and subsequent monthly world theme kits. Note: prices are in US Dollars (USD). These prices are for the Early Explorers boxes.
One time payment of $167.40 USD
+ $36 shipping to USA/ $66 USD shipping to Australia
Auto renews after 12 months
Cancel renewal anytime
One time payment of $95.70 USD
+ $18 shipping to USA/$33 USD shipping to Australia
Auto renews after 6 months
Cancel renewal anytime
$15.95 + $3 shipping
to USA/$5.50 USD shipping
to Australia, billed monthly
Auto renews each month
Cancel renewal anytime
First Month: The Traveler Kit
The first month you will receive:
A fun orange suitcase
Wall-sized World Map
20-page activity booklet
Stickers and photo
Every month following, the kits will have a different world theme. Each kit will include:
20-page activity booklet
Letters, photos, stickers and luggage tags
What I love about Little Passports:
Little Passports has created three adorable characters called Max, Mia and their dog Toby, to guide children on their adventures. The characters are very age appropriate and super cute. Having characters make the adventures more relatable for little preschoolers, and each month when the kit arrives, kids can look forward to an update from Max, Mia and Toby’s new adventures like they are getting care packages from a friend.
The variety of themes:
There are so many! Rather than focusing on one location, the broader theme of “music” or “art” lends itself to different types of conversation, as well as being easier for a preschooler to grasp the concept of. Locations, distance, space – these concepts are tough for little kids to understand, so the themes encompassing a feature that numerous locations have in common makes learning easier for this age group. Cheese is able to tell me, for example, that the Eiffel Tower is in Paris, but she has no idea where Paris is.
Themes that the kits encompass:
Each kit has activities that kids can do on their own, like stickers, and adult-participation, like the activity books. This mix works well as we have items that Cheese can get out and enjoy on her own, but also ones that we can do together, leading to further discussions. There is a lot of detail in each pack with interesting facts about the world, so when we go through these pack together, I read the information to Cheese, then we chat about what it means, and what she thinks about it.
When I first opened the activity books I wasn’t sure how Cheese would go as she is typically more into physical games than those on paper. I was really surprised however, as she was really happy to sit and work through the whole book in one sitting. I did need to read the instructions to her, but she was then able to perform each activity entirely on her own (note: she is 4.5 yrs old).
I’m a big fan of learning through play, and these kits enable kids to do just that. The landmarks kit we received had the cutest mini figures of famous landmarks around the world like the Sphynx and Great Wall of China. After their introduction to Cheese, they are now being used in imaginary play with her other toys, and she’s dreaming up new and exciting geographic locations for her games. These kits, with bite-sized information and games that teach about the world, are an easy way for kids to absorb knowledge while playing.
We now have the world map on the wall of Cheese’s bedroom and talk about the different continents, what landmarks are on them, where we live, where we used to live in New York, and so on. I plan to write on the cities soon, where we have been and where we are going, so she can get a good picture of the world and dream up her own big adventures.
Thank you toLittle Passports for sending us these kits to check out. All opinions are my own.
This post contains affiliate links. This means if you buy a kit from Little Passports using these links I will receive a very small commission from the sale. Thank you for supporting me and my blog.
A few months ago, I entered a competition to win tickets to a Disney Summer Frozen Garden Party in Sydney. I didn’t think much of it again, until, amazingly, I received an email letting me know that I’d won two tickets to the party. What good luck!
Cheese chose her Anna Frozen Fever outfit after I persuaded her that it was too hot for anything else and promised I’d even do her hair like Anna’s. One YouTube tutorial later and a hairdo that kind-of passed for Anna’s we were walking into Kurzon Hall with the blaring Frozen soundtrack welcoming us.
Kurzon Hall in Sydney, where the party was held, kind of resembles a castle, making it the perfect choice for a royal garden party. While summer in Sydney can be anywhere from around 20 degree days to 40, the party day was a particularly scorchingly one, with temps of almost 40dC. It was one of the hottest summer days we’d had – quite ironic to be going a Frozen party in such mad heat!
Thankfully the Disney team were well prepared for the heat, with parasols at the entrance, umbrellas covering most of the seating, paper fans dispersed to guests, and free gelato.
As we chose a table for our special afternoon tea, a hostess greeted us and brought us a giant picnic basket full of delicious goodies. The generous serving could have fed another two of us! We received a vegetarian basket, with quiches, a wrap, a vege roll, brownies, fairy bread, a Frozen cupcake, blue lollies, juices, apples and bananas.
The party had a tight schedule of events that kids could choose to participate in: face painting, horse and carriage ride and meeting Anna, Elsa and Kristoff. In between these events the kids were free to play a variety of old fashioned games like giant naughts and crosses, Jenga and Connect Four. I have to say here, a huge props to the very professional Frozen crew who were decked out in winter costumes and barely looked like they were sweating.
I had thought the highlight event would be meeting the Frozen crew, who looked almost identical to the cast from the movie but then I looked down at the schedule of events and saw that the gorgeous Aussie singer, Ricki-Lee was scheduled to sing a selection of Disney songs. WHAAAAAAAT?!
Sure enough, Ricki-Lee turned up and, in sweltering conditions, put on an amazing show. She really has such a gorgeous voice, but, even more than that, she looked like she truly loved the songs, and engaging with the kids. The kids – oh my, they were in heaven. It was like a real life princess from a Disney movie was singing to them. They just couldn’t believe their eyes.
Ricki-Lee sang a few Frozen faves (Do You Want To Build A Snowman? and Let It Go) as well as other well-loved Disney songs, such as Beauty And The Beast, Part Of Your World and A Whole New World. Without a doubt, she made Cheese’s day by putting the microphone in front of her during one song so they could sing the song together. For a kid whose dream right now is to be a performer like Katy Perry, it was the most amazing gift to be given.
At the end of the party, we were sent home with a gorgeous present – a Disney snowflake necklace – as if all the amazing entertainment wasn’t enough of a gift! A huge thank you to Disney for putting on the Frozen Summer Garden Party. We really had the best afternoon – one that I don’t think my daughter and I are likely to ever forget.
I highly suggest keeping your eye out for future competitions like this, as, you never know, you might win tickets to the next one!
Children’s Creativity Museum is a hands-on, multimedia arts and technology museum for kids of all ages. It’s the kind of place that kids never want to leave as it’s full of open ended play opportunities that will literally keep them occupied for the entire day. The biggest challenge you’ll have is removing the kids to grab lunch when you’re desperate for a snack yourself.
The museum is broken up into several different levels and labs. Some of the areas, such as the Animation Studio, were best suited to older kids than our preschoolers, but we were still able to find more than enough to entertain two three year olds for an entire day.
Animation Studio Geared towards older kids, children will learn the basics of stop motion animation by creating their own clay characters and bringing them to life on screen.
Community Lab Until Jan 3 the Community Lab will feature Brain Teasers 2, an interactive exhibit featuring 21 hands-on puzzles.
Imagination Lab The area where we spent the majority of our time at the museum, the Imagination Lab is a hands-on environment encouraging building and creating with materials like blocks, Magna Tiles and craft. The dress up and puppet theatre was particularly popular with the preschoolers.
Innovation Lab Kids are given the Mystery Box Challenge – a box filled with materials and a brief to create an object using only those materials. It was a lot of fun for the kids to think about basic design concepts as well as letting their creativity reign.
Music Studio The girls’ favourite part of museum, no surprise. Pick a song from a selection of over 2,000 to sing in front of a green screen. The girls chose “Let It Go” (no surprises there) and sang it against an icy background reminiscent of Arendelle. They were in heaven.
Tech Lab A fun way to introduce kids to coding. A bit too old for our kids, I’d love to return another time to try this lab.
Before leaving the museum, take a spin on the hand-carved wooden carousel out the front. It’s the oldest operating carousel in San Francisco with a whimsical menagerie of animals to ride on. Be warned, it’s extremely fast!
Christmas is all about family for us (and present opening if you’re the little Cheese!;)). We had such a lovely day together. A quiet morning at home opening a few gifts with my parents, including Cheese’s first bike, and then a drive up north to a restaurant called Estuary, on the water in Brooklyn, where we had lunch with Alec’s dad and step mum.
After lunch we strolled along the water front, and found an injured duckling. After calling around and getting advice from vets, the duckling went home with my father-in-law. Another reason why I love my family – it was all hands on deck to help a sad little duck. Couldn’t think of a better way to spend the day.
Christmas in the Southern Hermisphere is a funny time of year. It’s gets crazy hot, and we have wintery decorations popping up all over the place. It never feels as festive as it did when we were living in New York, but it certainly has its own charm that I love.
In Sydney, this is what Christmas looks like around the city:
David Jones shop windows are usually a festive highlight. They were a bit of a let down this year however, so fingers crossed for a better display next time.
The Swarovski tree in the Queen Victoria Building is one of the most beautiful trees I have ever seen.
Post a letter to Santa on the top floor – he actually writes back, too!
The best Santa photo in Sydney in the Queen Victoria Building.
The free Christmas kick off concert in Hyde Park. The City of Sydney has a whole series of these free concerts at the beginning of the season. Despite the rain we had a wonderful time singing Christmas carols and dancing with friends.
Life-sized gingerbread House at the Shangri La Hotel by master pastry chef Anna Polyviou. The Christmas Tree in Martin Place runs digital messages all over it, so you can SMS a personal message to loved ones and see it on the tree.
Circular Quay Customs House tree is a tree with an amazing view of Sydney Harbour.
Merry Christmas friends! What does Christmas look like in your city?
The last of our wonderful theatre outings for the year was the brand new Storytime Ballet The Sleeping Beauty by The Australian Ballet.
The Storytime Ballets are a new initiative born out of a growing demand for ballets suitable for children to enjoy from an early age. According to The Australian Ballet’s Executive Director Libby Christie, over 420,000 children participate in dance activities across Australia every week (including little Cheese!). Designed for children aged three and up, the Storytime Ballet has been created from start to finish with young theatre-goers in mind.
Last week we were lucky enough to see another version of The Sleeping Beauty, the Once Upon A Time version also by The Australian Ballet. I wasn’t sure how the two performances would differ, and was really happy to see that this brand new Storytime Ballet show was actually a completely different performance in every way. Unlike the Once Upon A Time ballets, which are almost the same as the original performances with a few tweaks, the Storytime Ballets are built from scratch to engage children with an interactive performance.
It’s really the perfect way to introduce very young children to the ballet. A narrator, who is also part of the cast of characters, talks through the performance as it is happening to make it easier for little kids to understand the story (I get it, ballet mime can take a bit of getting used to!). The kids felt like part of the show instead of just observers thanks to interactive moments where they were asked to use their magic to drive the story forward. I particularly appreciated the acknowledgment of parents too, when it was suggested that, instead of magic, we “use the force”.
A smaller cast and set allows the show to travel nationally – and also made the show a lot less overwhelming for children. It’s much easier to focus on what’s happening when there is less to take in. I did notice that the kids, even little toddlers who looked to be under the recommended age of 3, were highly engaged throughout the show, and I think that this, as well as the addition of the narrator, certainly helped to make this ballet a success. At just under an hour, the ballet is also the perfect length to entertain kids before they lose attention.
In the foyer outside the Drama Theatre are a range of free activities for kids to enjoy before and after the show. iPads set up with ballet-themed drawing activities that can be sent to parents’ phones, there are ballet costumes for kids to dress up in and also an irresistible store stocked with ballet-themed gifts such as clothes, wands, tiaras and The Sleeping Beauty music on CD. The proceeds from sales all to back to The Australian Ballet and supporting their amazing work.
While we saw The Sleeping Beauty at the Sydney Opera House, kids around the country will be able to enjoy the same show as it tours nationally over the summer.
Arts Centre Melbourne 16 – 20 December 2015 Sydney Opera House 23 – 27 December 2015 The Concourse Chatswood, Sydney, 30 December 2015 – 3 January 2016 The Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, Wollongong, 7 – 9 January 2016 Evan Theatre Penrith, Sydney, 12 – 16 January 2016 The Playhouse Canberra, 20 – 23 January 2016 The Arts Centre Gold Coast, 29 – 30 March 2016 Brisbane Powerhouse, 1 – 2 April 2016 Further dates and venues will be announced early in 2016.
The annual Wiggles Big Show is a monumental event that travels across the country every December. In Sydney, the show is at the Allphones Arena, Homebush. While the Wiggles do a lot of regional touring all year round at smaller venues, their Big Show is their most popular as they go all out with staging, cast and props.
This was our second Big Show, and the first year that the Big Show included a second short show added on, called “Cinder Emma”, a fairytale story with some traditional Wiggles songs woven into the old Cinderella story, but told with typical Wiggles humour. Expect men in drag and lots of jokes for the parents.
Going to a Wiggles show is a full-on experience somewhat akin to rock show, with very tiny groupies. I find the shows overwhelming so I’ve jotted down a few helpful tips for anyone considering attending a Wiggles show in the future.
Book tickets early and quickly
Book them literally as soon as they go on sale. The front sections sell out within minutes, I kid you not.
Book seats up the front
This is important particularly in the Big Show as the areas are massive – if you’re too far from the action kids can’t focus on the show.
Book seats on the aisle
We accidentally booked aisle seats this year and they were wonderful. Putting your kid in an aisle seat means not only can they see the action for the entire show even if there is a large adult in the seat in front of them, but they can also jump out of their seat and dance in the aisle.
Allow plenty of time for parking or public transport, slowly walking to the arena, picking up tickets, re-printing tickets once you’ve lost them (oops!), going through security, lining up for merchandise, getting snacks, going to the bathroom, and then finally finding your seats. We were an hour early and it flew by.
We live a long way from the Allphones so drove and parked in the very pricey car park. You can book a spot online for $25 for all day parking, or pre-pay when you get there for the same. They do have hourly rates that are a bit cheaper, but if you are planning on making a quick getaway after the show, I’d advise prepaying parking as the lines at the parking stations get very long.
It’s impossible to get into the show without buying some kind of Wiggles merchandise. I can never say no, and I always regret the purchase as whatever we buy always breaks the same day. This time we bought a bow set that lights up. It was too small for my four-year-old’s head. Annoyingly another $22 down the drain. Last time it was a Dorothy the Dinosaur fairy outfit – the wings and skirt elastic BOTH broke before we got the outfits home. No more Wiggles merch for us!
You can take water bottles and prepackaged snacks into the arena. I did try taking a Subway sandwich in last year and they wouldn’t let me, so it appears the rule is no food bought fresh nearby as they want you to buy the burgers and chips the have on sale inside the area instead. The show was on a crazy hot day so we did splurge on ice creams ($4.50 for a Golden Gaytime and it was totally worth every cent).
During the show
I was unprepared for the amount of parents and children who did not stay in their seats. Children were set loose in the aisle to dance and run around while the parents either stayed in their seats or got up and down chasing their kids. Being in aisle seats the people next to us drive me nuts getting up and down the entire first half while they rotated who chased their kids up the aisle and who got to sit down and check their Facebook page. The normal theatre etiquette rules do not apply here!
If your child wants to meet a Wiggle, make a bow, dog bone, sign or rose for Dorothy and hold them up during the show. The Wiggles personally run around and collect these, so have your camera ready.
The majority of the kids wear Wiggles costumes or colours that are similar to the Wiggles. There’s no need to buy one, they’re pretty easy to make.
The Wiggles show was the highlight of my daughter’s week. Possibly life thus far. While Hot Potato isn’t personally my favorite song (sorry Wiggles!) my daughter loves it, and seeing her dance and sing with a big smile plastered on her face was just the best thing ever.
Once a year, the Australian Ballet puts on a special performance for children called Once Upon a Time. Last year’s ballet was The Nutcracker, and this year’s was The Sleeping Beauty. The show runs parallel to the major full-length ballet being performed, so while adults have been enjoying the full version of The Sleeping Beauty this month, for this one special day, kids were treated to a child-friendly version of the famous ballet in the Joan Sutherland Theatre.
The Once Upon a Time performance is special because it’s the one show of the year where a child-friendly show is staged in the big theatre, using all the same props, performers and costumes as in the full-length version. Much of the choreography the children see is from the full-length performance too, so the children watch a first-class ballet company, performing exquisite dancing, in a world-famous theatre. Pretty amazing, right?
The main differences between the Once Upon a Time and full-length The Sleeping Beauty are the narrator and the show length. The narrator is a character within the ballet who explains to the children the story that is taking place, engages them by asking questions, and reminds kids of the characters’ names and plot points. The full-length ballet runs about 2.5 hours, and the Once Upon A Time version ran for about an hour and 10 minutes.
The Once Upon a Time series is aimed at children aged four and up, but there were plenty of younger kids (and older children aged up to 10) in the audience enjoying the performance.
Taking Cheese to this special ballet is a highlight of the year for me. I loved sitting with her in the auditorium and watching her face light up as she saw Aurora pirouetting across the stage in her stunning pink tutu. I believe kids are never to young to experience culture, particularly when it’s as breathtakingly beautiful as this ballet is.
“Once Upon a Time: The Sleeping Beauty“ is a performance designed for children aged four and above, adapted from David McAllister’s The Sleeping Beauty, with an original script.
Sydney Opera House