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Indoor Play

Dinosaur Zoo: Sydney’s Best Shows For Kids

#Dinosaur Zoo at the #Sydney Opera House via christineknight.me

While Cheese and I often see shows together, it’s rare that Alec comes along too. He’s just not usually interested in princess shows (what a surprise) or shows based on cartoons. But when I mentioned the new show at the Sydney Opera House, Dinosaur Zoo, he was in. Finally a show he could enjoy as well as Cheese and I.

Because, who doesn’t love dinosaurs? Dinos are fascinating for people of all ages and gender. They make a great subject for this new show playing at the Sydney Opera House April 4 – 19, 2015.

#Dinosaur Zoo at the #Sydney Opera House via christineknight.me

Dinosaur Zoo is a fun blend of beautiful puppetry, impressive sound effects and comic humans driving the storyline.

The narrator, Graham, takes the audience on a an educational and fun journey where we learned about several dinosaurs that were discovered in Australia. None of the generic T-Rexes here. Only Aussie dinos, thank you very much. I found it refreshing to learn about these dinosaurs, none of whom I’d heard of before, and to see puppet replicas of them come to life before our eyes.

#Dinosaur Zoo at the #Sydney Opera House via christineknight.me

The show could very easily have been too scary for little kids had a different approach been taken. However, with the high level of interaction and frequent humour, the show was never going to freak out the littlies.

Graham introduced each dinosaur to the audience using the correct scientific terms the entire time. This is not a show that dumbs down science for kids. I was interested to see how the kids would respond to this, as there were a lot of younger kids in the audience, like Cheese. The kids, however, were rapped by the dinosaurs and there was very little fuss during the show that would indicate loss of interest. In fact it was the opposite, The kids were all hanging off Graham’s every word, desperate to be called down to the stage for their chance to pat a dinosaur.

The lesson here: never talk down to kids. Use big words. Kids will absorb them like the little sponges they are.

I was impressed by the quality of the puppets. They were incredibly done, and I found them to be very lifelike. I also liked the variety of dinosaurs used in the show. Babies, insects, carnivores and a big herbivore gave the show a good coverage of dinosaurs in general.

Cheese wasn’t selected to go up on stage, no matter how straight she stuck up her arm, but it didn’t matter as after the show two of the handlers brought out the babies to meet the audience in the foyer.

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If you arrive early, kids can enjoy the free creative play set up by the Sydney Opera House in the foyer, called “Echo Table”. By waving their arms over tables, kids can control the emerging patterns and reveal large pictures, like the Mona Lisa, hiding underneath.

School holidays at the Sydney Opera House

For a pre or post-show meal, if you’re after an option out of the theatre, downstairs is the newly-refurbished Opera Kitchen. The food is pricey ($17.50 for a small piece of quiche and fries, $22 for Alec’s OK burger and fries), and the choices for kids aren’t very healthy ($15.50 for a kids’ meal, all of which contain a small soft drink, chips and an ice cream).

Opera Kitchen at Sydney Opera House Opera Kitchen at Sydney Opera House

While the food was okay, it wasn’t spectacular, so unless you really want to sit and admire the view, I would suggest getting cheaper sandwiches (and a much healthier kids’ pack) from the theatre bar next to the drama studio in the Opera House instead. They offer a $7 Kids’ Box including: White bread cheese sandwich, brown bread vegemite sandwich, a banana or apple, Uncle Toby’s mango & passion fruit yoghurt bar, cheese stick, juice, and a party blower. Check out all the kids’ meal options at the Opera House here.

Dinosaur Zoo is playing at the Sydney Opera House April 4 – 19, 2015.
Suitable for children 5+
Tickets: $39 – $55
Run time: 50 minutes
Parking: If it’s a wet day and you need to drive, use the code “Opera” for discounted parking. Ours cost $9 instead of $15 on a Saturday.

Thank you to the Sydney Opera House for hosting us for this performance and for use of some of these images. All opinions are, as always, my own.

Hop Into Easter With A Toys”R”Us Virtual Easter Egg Hunt

If your family is anything like mine, Easter is a major event on the calendar. For us, Easter is a time for fun. The whole family gets together, and we all eat a LOT of chocolate bunnies.

Toys"R"Us Virtual Easter Egg Hunt

For a fun twist on a traditional Easter Egg hunt this year, we are trying the Toys“R”Us’ Augmented Reality Virtual Easter Egg Hunt. From Wednesday 1 – Sunday 12 April, families can pop into their localToys“R”Us store and use their smartphone or tablet to virtually interact withToys“R”Us mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe and his Easter bunny friends.

Toys"R"Us Virtual Easter Egg Hunt

The characters will lead kids on a virtual adventure through the store to find Geoffrey’s Playground and receive a free Easter treat. Once you reach the end kids can record themselves dancing at the playground with the virtual characters and share it on social media.

The Toys“R”Us’ Augmented Reality Virtual Easter Egg Hunt is a free event for kids of all ages (and the first of its kind in Australia!).

10-year-old, Steph Toys“R”Us’ Chief Toy Tester (um, excuse me, can I be chief toy tester please?!), explains the egg hunt further here:

To take part in the Toys”R”Us Virtual Easter Egg Hunt download the TRU Magic app and head into your closest store:

For IOS

For Android

The Toys“R”Us’ Augmented Reality Virtual Easter Egg Hunt is open for the entire Easter period, from Wednesday 1 – Sunday 12 April, at any of the 34 Toys“R”Us locations across Australia in ACT, NSW, QLD, SA, VIC and WA.

Summer Playground At The Sydney Opera House

Summer At The House #sydneyoperahouse via christineknight.me

The Sydney Opera House never ceases to surprise me with their wonderful programming for families.

Summer At The House #sydneyoperahouse via christineknight.me

Right now, kids can enjoy the fabulous free Creative Play available daily at the Sydney Opera House just inside the Western Foyer. Kids can take time out of the heat with free LEGO play, while contributing to a collaborative musical composition – using their LEGO creations. The shapes built by the kids is turned into music using a really cool technology (a scanner in the roof and some sophisticated software). Three very entertaining and energetic musical performers engage the kids and introduce the LEGO music every 15 minutes.

Summer At The House #sydneyoperahouse via christineknight.me

I’d previously thought Cheese was just not really into Lego, but she surprised me by wanting to build Lego towers for over an hour. I literally had to drag her out of the building, which was a shame considering how great the air conditioning was.

Creative Play operates daily until January 26. Free and suitable for any ages who enjoy building with regular sized LEGO (no Duplo here).

Summer At The House #sydneyoperahouse via christineknight.me

Out on the Western Forecourt is the Summer Playground. The Harbourside sandpit is a big hit, letting kids kick off their shoes and play with the provided sand toys while parents can sit around the sandpit under shade and enjoy a drink or lunch.

Hungry families can grab a bite at the Summer Playground’s House Eatery By George, Opera Bar or Opera Kitchen. Their kids’ menu features three meals, each $15 (tip: if the cafe inside the foyer is open, you can pick up a kids’ box for $7 which includes sandwiches, juice, a cheese stick, museli bar, lollypop and mini box of smarties. These boxes can be brought out into the Summer Playground area to eat).

Summer At The House #sydneyoperahouse via christineknight.me

When we stopped by, the Taronga Zoo’s Zoomobile was there, giving kids the chance to meet Australian wildlife like echidnas, snakes and shingleback lizards. Sadly the day we visited (Jan 15th) was the last day for the Zoomobile.

Summer At The House #sydneyoperahouse via christineknight.me Summer At The House #sydneyoperahouse via christineknight.me Summer At The House #sydneyoperahouse via christineknight.me

The Sydney Opera House Summer Playground is open until 01 Feb 2015, Sun-Thur 9am-11pm, Fri & Sat 9am-12am.

Public transport is the easiest way to get there (catch the train to Circular Quay), but if you need to drive, until 31 January Wilson are offering Opera House visitors a special Summerhouse deal. Pre-book a bay in the Opera House car park and quote Summer15 to receive $15 flat rate for weekday parking 9am-5pm and $9 flat rate for weekend parking 9am-5pm.

Get Bouncing At Sky Zone Little Leapers

Sky Zone Little Leapers #Sydney #Sydneykids via brunchwithmybaby.com

If your child loves bouncing like mine does, then check out the Little Leapers toddler sessions at Sky Zone Alexandria. Monday to Friday, from 10am-4pm, kids under the age of four (plus their parents) can bounce in a specially designated area just for them, creating a safe and less-scary environment for little ones to jump to their hearts’ content.

There’s no minimum age requirement either — any kid who wants to bounce under the age of four is welcome.

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We took Missy E trampolining on her birthday — a rainy cold day in August — and it was the perfect diversion for an active child like her. She was content to bounce for the entire hour, only wanting to briefly stop for a water break. We had to bribe her with ice cream to get her out of there.

Helpful tips:

  • Each jumping session starts on the hour and last for an hour.
  • Get the most out of your money by arriving 10 minutes early to get socks and prepare yourself and your child.
  • Wear tights or soft, comfy pants.
  • Bring lots of water for you and your child — jumping is thirsty work!

Sky Zone Little Leapers #Sydney #Sydneykids via brunchwithmybaby.com

Sky Zone Alexandria
75, O’Riordan Street,
Alexandria, Sydney
Hours: Mon-Thur 10am-10pm, Fri 10am-12am, Sat 9am-12am, Sun 9am-9pm (every day from 9am during school holidays.

Sky Zone Alexandria opening time toddler only areas
Little Leapers
Mon-Fri 10am-4pm excluding school holidays and public holidays.
$10 each per hour for you & your child (under 4) plus sock fee.
Walk ins only

Fluff: A Story Of Lost Toys {Children's Theatre Review}

Fluff: A Story Of Lost Toys {Review} via brunchwithmybaby.com

One of the best things about moving back to Sydney has been the discovery of the amazing Kids At The House program run by the Sydney Opera House. Throughout the year they put on a wide range of plays, musicals and baby proms for kids of all ages. I love theatre (particularly musicals and dance), and have loved taking Missy E to age-appropriate shows to introduce her to the theatre wherever possible.

On this fine sunny day, we were off to see Fluff, a new show about where lost toys end up. The quirky Gingham family travel around the world finding lost toys, bringing them home, and putting them to bed. When we sat down in our seats, E saw the stage set up with many, many toys, and exclaimed, “That’s the most toys I’ve ever seen!”. Attention won before the show even began.

Fluff: A Story Of Lost Toys {Review} via brunchwithmybaby.com

The star and writer of the show is Christine Johnston. With her towering height and elevated hairdo, combined with a vocal ability that needs to be heard to be believed, she is a formidable stage presence. Her co-star and choreographer, Lisa O’Neal, barely speaks a word, instead using her body to portray her story with skillful dance moves and wacky facial expressions. The pair perform the 55-minute production along with an onstage musician, Peter Nelson. The trio, it turns out, are masters of physical comedy, and put on a highly entertaining show for children and their accompanying adults alike.

Fluff: A Story Of Lost Toys {Review} via brunchwithmybaby.com

Fluff revolves around the latest batch of toys being rescued. The story is very simple: we find out their sad stories of becoming lost toys, and they are put to bed (which, it turns out, is like putting young children to bed).

With a simple story to follow, children as young as my daughter (who just turned 3) were able to keep up with what was happening. A big focus of the show is sound – the cast assigns noises and names to the toys, giving them a new identify as well as a home. They go from discarded objects to loved personalities. It’s a very sweet concept, and especially perfect for this audience of children, many of whose best friends at this age are their toys.

There is lots of singing (Christine Johnston has an amazing voice), music and dancing, plus multi-media displays on a giant screen. One of the most enjoyable parts of the show was the audience participation – something that usually makes me cringe and sink in my seat. In this show, Johnston’s character asks the audience for help to give two of the toys sounds. She takes her microphone all over the audience (even up the back) to ask children and adults to add their voices to the symphony she is creating with the sounds. The kids adored being part of the show, in a manner that made them feel like they were a part of something special. When they heard their own voices incorporated into the show’s soundtrack, gleeful laughter filled the auditorium. Very clever sound engineering, indeed.

This quirky show is upbeat, fun, and wonderfully creative. It was a joy to watch as an adult, and even more delightful to see the happiness on my daughter’s face as she followed along with the story. After the show ended, she literally danced out of the theatre, inspired by the music and movement.

Fluff: A Story Of Lost Toys {Review} via brunchwithmybaby.com

As we were leaving the theatre, the cast came back to greet the audience. They were delighted to speak with their young audience, and happy to pose for a photograph. We grabbed a quick picture with Christine Johnston, who asked little E what she thought of the show. When E (very ovewhelmed with the attention from the performer) replied that she wanted a fruit pouch and to see Nana and Pop Pop, Johnston replied “how wonderful!” just like her character. Bravo, and thank you for the wonderful show.

Fluff runs at the Sydney Opera House September 26 t0 30, 2014, so get in quick. It’s suitable for children ages 3 and up.

I was provided with tickets to see the show for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own. Additional photography thanks to Sydney Opera House.

Wizzy World Chatswood – Sydney's Best Indoor Play Centres

We’re always in search of clean, big play centres to entertain our energetic kid in cold or wet weathers. We recently joined friends at Wizzy World Chatswood for a play date and were super impressed with the centre.

#Sydney's Best #Play Centres #WizzyWorld #Chatswood via brunchwithmybaby.com

Wizzy World caters for children up to age 12, with a dedicated area for kids three and under. The toddler room was filled with soft climbing blocks, a jumping castle, play house and junior climbing gym. It was still popular with our girls, who are almost three and 3.5.

#Sydney's Best #Play Centres #WizzyWorld #Chatswood via brunchwithmybaby.com

Wizzy World is absolutely huge. It lives in a 1600m² space and has one of the largest indoor play frames in Australia, plus a dedicated sports zone.

#Sydney's Best #Play Centres #WizzyWorld #Chatswood via brunchwithmybaby.com

 

The girls were entertained for over three hours at the play centre, dashing between the little and big kid areas and stopping occasionally to eat. The big kid area is recommended for kids aged four and up, but since there were few if any big kids when we visited, it was perfect for our toddler/preschool-aged kids.

#Sydney's Best #Play Centres #WizzyWorld #Chatswood via brunchwithmybaby.com

The Wizzy World play centre is not only huge, it’s extremely clean and new-looking. There was pretty much zero wear-and-tear on the equipment, with everything working perfectly and no marks/stains to be seen.

#Sydney's Best #Play Centres #WizzyWorld #Chatswood via brunchwithmybaby.com

The cafe has basic food and drinks. All very simple but decent food for families to enjoy while taking a break from playing. I really enjoyed the dual proximity of the seating to both play areas, so we could change seating depending on where the kids were playing. We ordered babyccinos (perfect temperature, huge amount of foam with a marshmallow) and a large bowl of chips ($9). It was piping hot and was enough to feed all of us.

#Sydney's Best #Play Centres #WizzyWorld #Chatswood via brunchwithmybaby.com

Wizzy World
Unit 9, 372 Eastern Valley Way
Chatswood NSW
Prices: Weekdays, over fours are $13.50, under 4s are $11.50, and under 1s are $5 (free with siblings). Adults free. Weekends, over fours are $16, under fours are $13.50. Mon-Thur disconted entry after 12:30pm of $8. Prices change during school holidays.
Hours: During school term: Mon-Thur 9:15am-2pm, Friday, Sat & Sun 9:15am-6pm
Get Directions

The Wiggles Exhibition at The Powerhouse Museum

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Having spent her entire life until recently in the US, Miss E had never experienced the phenomena that is The Wiggles until we took her to the new Wiggles exhibit at the Powerhouse Museum. It was a cold and miserable winter day and we were short on ideas to entertain her. I was hoping that it wouldn’t matter that she didn’t know The Wiggles, and, thankfully, the exhibit was so good that she didn’t even noticed that it was based on characters she wasn’t familiar with. She just thought the whole thing was a giant play space, which certainly says something about how well the exhibit was designed with little kids in mind.

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It was E’s first time at the Powerhouse Museum in general, and my first time visiting in years and years. A special mention goes to the huge steam train inside the entrance — equally fascinating for kids and adults-alike.

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While, as an adult, I’ve never been particularly fond of The Wiggles, I’ve always been interested in them as they studied early childhood education at my university (Macquarie Uni!). Part of their popularity I think can be attributed to the way in which The Wiggles structure their performances around how young children develop and learn.

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The Wiggles exhibition at Powerhouse Museum is carefully curated so that adults are (almost!) as entertained as children. While we spent most of our time in the exhibit chasing around our kid, I was still able to read a few panels on the amazing rise of The Wiggles. What we were there for, however, was to let little E play — and play she certainly did.

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I was super impressed with the exhibit. It had great high-tech interactive elements, such as what I can only call a life-sized game of Fruit Ninja (even Alec had a go!), a touch-screen coloring book, a holographic performance by The Wiggles, and iPads with The Wiggles games on them (sadly only two out of the four actually worked when we tried them however).

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The exhibit also featured free-form play elements, such as Dorothy’s house with a tea party inside, a shape-sorting and fruit cutting table, and a pirate ship with telescopes, steering wheel and raft. There were also a few arts and crafts stations, where kids could make a rose for Dorothy’s house, or write Dorothy a letter and post it to her.

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#Wiggles #Exhibition at the #PowerhouseMuseum #Sydney #australia via brunchwithmybaby.com

#Wiggles #Exhibition at the #PowerhouseMuseum #Sydney #australia via brunchwithmybaby.com

#Wiggles #Exhibition at the #PowerhouseMuseum #Sydney #australia via brunchwithmybaby.com

#Wiggles #Exhibition at the #PowerhouseMuseum #Sydney #australia via brunchwithmybaby.com

Kids who were clearly fans were delighted to see the life-size Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog and Henry the Octopus. Since she was new to The Wiggles, E thought these huge creatures looked like a lot of fun and tried to hug them, which sadly wasn’t possible. She did however enjoy yelling “wake up Jeff!” to waken a sleeping Jeff character projected onto a screen. I guess it’s time for us to start watching The Wiggles!

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#Wiggles #Exhibition at the #PowerhouseMuseum #Sydney #australia via brunchwithmybaby.com

#Wiggles #Exhibition at the #PowerhouseMuseum #Sydney #australia via brunchwithmybaby.com

#Wiggles #Exhibition at the #PowerhouseMuseum #Sydney #australia via brunchwithmybaby.com

#Wiggles #Exhibition at the #PowerhouseMuseum #Sydney #australia via brunchwithmybaby.com

#Wiggles #Exhibition at the #PowerhouseMuseum #Sydney #australia via brunchwithmybaby.com

#Wiggles #Exhibition at the #PowerhouseMuseum #Sydney #australia via brunchwithmybaby.com

The last stop in the exhibit is the famous Wiggles red car, which kids can climb into and watch some Wiggles action on a screen in front of the car. It’s a great photo op and was in hot demand when we visited.

The Wiggles exhibition was a great cold weather outing.

Entry to the Powerhouse Museum is $12 for adults and free for kids under four. 

The Wiggles at Powerhouse Museum
500 Harris St,
Ultimo NSW

Phone: (02) 9217 0111
Hours: Daily 10am-5pm
Get Directions

A Date With The Fish at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

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On a hot summer’s day, E and I were invited to take a day trip to SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium with some friends. Yes, yes, yes thank you. What a great way to spend a steamy Sydney day – in decent air conditioning, watching fish.

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SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium has been around since 1988 in various incarnations. While it used to be a stand alone attraction, these days the aquarium is part of a large group of Sydney attractions, including SEA LIFE Manly, Madam Tussauds, WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo (not Taronga Zoo) and Sydney Tower Eye. If you buy your ticket at the aquarium, expect to pay $40 for an adult and $25 for children aged 4 and up. Buy your tickets at least 24 hours in advance from the website and you’ll save up to 30%. Buy passes to multiple attraction online at the same time and you will save even more.

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The aquarium is broken up into various exhibits. The first few aren’t terribly interesting for little kids so we raced right through (if you’re interested in our rivers and so forth, then these are for you!). The big hits with the kids were the little sting rays, the glowing jelly fish, the rockpool where they could touch shells and starfish, and the tanks of tropical fish with the floor to ceiling glass.

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#sealife #sydney #aquarium #australia via brunchwithmybaby.com

The kids also enjoyed running like lunatics up the tunnels that run under the tanks with the water and animals swimming over head. Sharks were a popular spotting, as were the giant rays and the dugong. This particular section has a step and rails on the sides so kids can climb up for a closer look. Watching the giant animals float overhead in particular was thoughtfully entertaining for our bunch of toddlers.

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The aquarium is on the small side, but does have a few kind of sad looking penguins (yes, I’ve seen Happy Feet a few too many times), which oddly our kids weren’t interested in at all. They have shark feedings (which we missed) and a dugong talk (which was interesting for adults but not kids). There is a cute shark treasure hunt throughout the aquarium for older kids. Given a map at the entrance they have to find each station along the way and stamp their map, and get a little prize at the end when they hand it in at the gift shop.

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Bring lunch if possible to save a bit of money. There is a large cafe area inside the front of the aquarium with plenty of tables and space to eat.

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium
1-5 Wheat Rd,
Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: 02 8251 7800
Prices: $$$$
Hours: Daily 9am-8pm
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