Monday, December 19, 2011

Polar Express


On Saturday we visited the steam railway at Bo'ness again, this time for 'Santa Steam Trains'. We arrived at 10.00 to a very cold station with a frozen carriage in the process of being defrosted


We boarded Santa's Polar Express and found our table with our name on it. Within a short time the carriage was warmer and the windows demisted so we could see out. After seeing Santa walk up the platform to the front of the train, we were off!

Santa walked up and down the train a few times waving to everyone and all the children were given an Orange to eat. Ethan enjoyed his!

The train travelled very slowly during the short hop to Birkhill during which we sang Christmas Carols and enjoyed a carnival type atmosphere onboard! We were interrupted with the guard announcing we'd soon be stopping at the North Pole (South) station???


Birkhill had been renamed for the day and there were cups of warm punch and skewers of marshmallows and strawberries drizzled with chocolate for sale. We bought some and climbed back aboard for the journey back to Bo'ness.

During this leg Santa stopped to speak to all the children in our carriage and gave them each a present.


On arrival back at Bo'ness there were tea and warm mince pies offered for all the grown ups. We managed to get another photo with Santa and watched the next train leave!

We all enjoyed the day out - and even spotted one of Santa's trunk of toys.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Santa Sleigh Ride!

So today we went on this at Pollok Park:

Santa Sleigh Ride Pollok House

Glasgow City Council own Clydesdale Horses stabled in Pollok park and Glasgow Green which are sometimes used to offer dray rides to the public (we were on another one a few months back at Hogganfield Park).

What a great morning out! Ethan got to meet Santa (again) who specifically cancelled his snowboarding and snow mobile practice to see Ethan for the 3rd Saturday in a row. We then rode around Pollok park in a 'santa sleigh' dray driven by two of Santas many elves and Clydesdale Horses with santa hats. We sang christmas carols and listen to christmas music whilst enjoying a cloudy, but rare dry and calm December day in Glasgow! The dray ride lasted around 20 minutes (though I didn't check) and afterwards in the visitor centre there were activities put on to make bird feeders, christmas decorations and colour in pictures of local wildlife.

Ethan really enjoyed himself, but unfortunately took a bit of a tumble on the walk out of the park and scraped his forehead pretty bad on the tarmac. We took him to the A&E at Yorkhill just in case as the bump looked quite large. Thankfully he was given a clean bill of health and was out after a short waiting time. The tumble didn't seem to bother Ethan anywhere near as much as it effected Mum and Dad! He is very well now and we gave him one of his Christmas presents 2 weeks early which he was chuffed to bits with - a woollen dinosaur we've named 'Stompy' - roar!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Initial Thoughts on an iPad 2 for Toddlers

I'm a bit late to the game here, but I've been swithering over the iPad 2 as an educational device for my son.

Whilst I've been an Apple Mac OS X user since 2005, the iPhone and subsequent iOS devices have never appealed and I prefer the Android ecosystem. However in terms of applications - specifically educational ones - nothing can beat iOS, in fact, I wouldn't even consider purchasing an Android tablet.

A combination of my son soon being two and the recent black friday sales at the Apple store I felt the time was right to go ahead and purchase one. So I purchased a white iPad 2 with the green smart cover.

We've had it in the house now for 1 week and I think it is a great device. I have a few issues, for example why can't the keyboard keys show capitalisation so you see what case you have? There is no haptic feedback unlike HTC when pressing an active part of the screen which means sometimes you don't know if that is really a button or not. Also my son loves pressing that home button - an option to disable it would be useful.

Quickly overcoming these I searched the app store to see what apps I could purchase for my toddler.

At this point things became a bit more difficult as Apple's app store doesn't appear to be well laid out for finding applications targeted for specific preschool age groups. The 'popular' apps were all aimed at spelling and maths which Ethan is a bit young for. So the point of the next few posts is to highlight iPad applications which my 19 month old son has shown a positive interest in. Some initial applications are below, but over the next few posts I'll go into them in a bit more detail with direct links to the iTunes store once I work that bit out!
  • Abby's Magic Laptop for Preschool and Toddlers
  • Shapes Toddler Preschool (Toy Box function)
  • Toddler's Seek & Find: My Animals
  • Toddler's Seek & Find: My Little Town
  • Zoo Train (for building trains and recognising objects)
  • Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Range

We've had the iPad now for 2 weeks and it is spooky how quickly he has adapted to it. He knows to press the home button and how to swipe to choose a different app. Some apps have further subsections (Zoo train) and he hovers over each icon to choose which activity to do. Then when he gets bored has worked out where the 'back' arrow is to choose another activity.

Ethan seems to prefer the musical section of Zoo Train at the moment and will dance along to the rhymes.

A few more recommended apps:
  • Ladybird: First Words (British accent too a major plus)
  • ClickySticky
  • JukeBox (Americanised nursery songs, Ethan likes it)