Wonderlab at the Science Museum

Oops, it’s been well over a week since my last post. I feel like sometimes I really get into the groove of blogging, and manage a post every few days, and then my mojo goes and I have to force myself to start typing. 

Earlier this week Frida and I visited the Wonderlab at the Science Museum, and I was so impressed that I wanted to write about it in case anyone was thinking of visiting. 

The Wonderlab is a hands-on zone for children to explore different scientific phenomena, such as energy and light. The museum states it’s designed for ages three upwards, but I think there was enough suitable for toddlers to make it well worth a trip.

Although the Science Museum is free, the Wonderlab costs around £7 for an adult – though it’s £14 for an annual pass, so I chose that option. Frida went in for free. 

Highlights for us included an amazing rotating model of the earth orbiting the sun which children can walk on, a light table (I really appreciated that this was at toddler height), a room with changing lights, and some very cool displays involving ice and steam. 

For older children there were so many amazing looking zones, including slides with differing levels of friction, pulley systems which raises them wholly into the air, and building materials. I think this is definitely a place we will be coming back to for years to come. 

We went during the week which meant there were a lot of school children visiting at the same time, which did feel a bit overwhelming and noisy. I think next time we go we’ll try to go late afternoon when hopefully the school trips will have left for the day. This is a “problem” in all the main London museums (though actually it’s fantastic – I’m so proud of our free, world-class museums and that they cater so well for children). 

The Science Museum also has a more toddler-focused space (“The Garden”) in the basement with water play, mirrors, instruments, and space for free play. It’s a brilliant place to visit with children, especially if you’re prepared for it to be a little busy. 

Frida was quite tired when we went as we had just come from the Natural History Museum, where we visited the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition (which was amazing but the photos were quite high up and not very big so I had to put Frida in the sling so she could see them properly, which wasn’t ideal), but she had a great time and I’m already looking forward to going back at a slightly less hectic time. 

I’ll leave you with a video I took of Frida enjoying the changing lights – so cool!


 

Shadow-matching cards 

I haven’t set up any specific matching work for Frida for a while, as I was struggling to think of something which would be suitably challenging (she’s tended to find colour matching and card to object / object to object matching work quite easy). 

To be honest, I’ve not set up a huge amount of Montessori-inspired work for Frida in the last few months full stop, as I’ve found she is strongly drawn to imaginative play instead and doesn’t have a huge appetite for it. However recently I have been making more of an effort to set up some appealing work for her. 

After seeing these shadow matching cards on This Merry Montessori I thought they would be a perfect activity for Frida at 22 months – familiar yet more challenging. 

I bought the PDF for the cards from the Montessori Print Shop online store, for around $2 which seems very reasonable! I then just had to print and laminate them. 

I would say they are a hit! I have been presenting all of the shadows together then giving her one animal at a time to match, as otherwise I thought it might be a bit overwhelming (there are 15 pairs). 

Here Frida is working on her cards after breakfast, still in pyjamas! I often find her concentration is best after breakfast when she hasn’t already thrown herself into other play. 

Some are harder than others – notably the snake as the shadow card just looks like a blob! – but mostly Frida can already do this activity with ease, and can complete the set of cards. I think the next step might be matching some shadow cards to animal figures, and I’m sure that would be more of a challenge.

These cards will also make a fun pair-matching memory game when Frida is older. 

Why we love Grimms wooden toys + GIVEAWAY! 

I wanted to talk a bit about why Frida (and our whole family!) loves Grimms wooden toys. You will often see these in my posts, or on my Instagram photos, as they are probably Frida’s most used toys, alongside her animals. 

I love how much these toys stimulate Frida’s imagination. Her rainbow alone is played with as beds, houses, bicycles, hats, scarves, trees, and towers! Building blocks become medicine, a blue semi-circle becomes a pond, boxes become caves and caves become islands. Because they are so open ended they become whatever Frida wants them to be. Watching her play is truly magical.

We have made a conscious decision to only provide Frida with open ended, beautiful toys, and we are so happy that we have been strict about it. Her space looks calm, our home isn’t filled with noisy plastic toys, and her imagination has flourished. I have also found at 22 months Frida’s concentration span is quite long, and I wonder if that is because her toys and materials are so engaging, and invite deep play. 

A vet surgery, using Playmobils


Grimms toys are sustainable and natural, making them perfect for families who are trying to avoid plastics. They are not cheap, but the quality is beautiful, and because they are open-ended I see them as an investment as I am sure they will last our family for years to come.

They also look beautiful displayed, doubling up as room decorations. There is something so pleasing about them, and I’ve found that adults and children alike are drawn to the velvety wood and bright colours. 

Frida’s current favourites include: 

We also have a conical stacker (my go-to gift), stacking cups (great for colour sorting!), rainbow friends in cups, and I have a gorgeous fraction puzzle put away too. 

And now, the part you’ve all been waiting for… 

GIVEAWAY!

I am very excited to have teamed up with one of my favourite small businesses, Little Acorns to Mighty Oaks, to bring you the chance to win an iconic Grimms 12 piece rainbow! 

Little Acorns to Mighty Oaks are a wonderful, ethical, online shop run by Warren and Melody Masters. They stock all our favourite products including a large range of Grimms wooden toys, our beloved Holztiger animals, Sarah’s Silks, Klean Kanteens (we have six for a family of three!), stainless steel lunchboxes (since ditching our plastic ones we have not looked back), and much, much more. They also maintain superb customer service and fast delivery whilst raising three lovely little acorns of their own.  

If you would like to enter for a chance to win a Grimms 12-piece rainbow from Little Acorns to Mighty Oaks, just head over to my Instagram account where you can find out how. 

Little Acorns to Mighty Oaks are also offering all Frida Be Mighty readers a very generous 10% off everything with the code FRIDA, valid until the 28th February.  

With Frida’s birthday coming up in a couple of months I’ve been eyeing up a few things including this Grimms Romanesque building set and a Grimms mobile home with a swing set, so I think I will be taking advantage of the code myself! 

Making simple Valentine’s cards 

This year Frida made a few simple Valentine’s cards to send. It was a very lovely activity to do together. 

Last week we prepared some paper to use. Frida made a glittery collage (crayons, glitter glue, pink hole-punch litter) and painted some water colours to use as a base for the cards. Whilst painting she spilled some watercolour, so I used that as an opportunity to show her basic printing – pat paper down onto the spill then lift it off and see the colour! 

I then prepared some very basic cards made of folded white card, and cut out backgrounds and hearts from her decorated paper. 

Frida applied the glue to the back of the cut-out paper and helped to stick them on. 

Frida then decided who each card would be sent to (a few friends her age she sees regularly, her daddy, her cousin, and her grandparents) and she “wrote” a message inside each one. 

Whilst Frida napped I made simple envelopes, and then she proudly carried her cards carefully to the post-box at the end of our street to post them.

We missed last post (oops) so our cards will arrive at least a day late, but I’m hoping that it’s the thought that counts! 

Her finished cards below (minus one which we hand-delivered). 

Life lately 

Life lately has been pancakes for breakfast. Baking, often. Long stretches of child-led play. Cold walks with mittens and hats, spotting the first signs of spring and road-testing a new balance bike. Planning. Piles of books snuggled under the duvet. Deliberations about naps – to drop, or not to drop? To wake, or not to wake? (I never wake). Bird spotting. Puddle jumping, mud squelching, searching through leaf litter for bugs. Wiped noses, wiped fingers. Tea. Bulbs on the tables. Slow decluttering. Slow mornings. Slow days. 

What we’re reading – February

I can’t quite believe we’re in February already! Although we’re making the most of winter with frosty walks, hot soup, candles at every meal, lots of baking, and generally snuggling up with books or playing slowly with toys at every opportunity, I must say I’m starting to yearn for a bit more sunshine. I enjoyed seeing shoots peeping out in the park this morning!

We’ve started adding a weekly library visit into our family rhythm, as we simply can’t buy enough books at the moment to keep up with Frida’s insatiable appetite for them! Going to the library is such a great activity for toddlers – we walk there (stopping to look at the fire engines in the fire station we pass), select some books to read, pick up those we’ve ordered, order more, return old books and borrow new ones with the self-service machines, and then walk home.

This month, Frida is particularly enjoying: 

Can You Say Peace? (Karen Katz)

This lovely book shows children from around the world and describes how they say the word “peace”. It’s a simple but beautiful book, and is a good starting point for conversations about diversity. With the state of politics both at home and abroad, I feel this is an important book to have in our home.

Peep Inside Space (Simona Dimitri)

A fun lift-the-flap book offering an introduction to space, rockets, and astronauts, recommended to us by my friend Rachael. I think the concept is still a little complex for Frida at 21 months but I don’t think it’s too early to introduce her to it.

Out and About: A First Book of Poems (Shirley Hughes)

Our current favourite Shirley Hughes is a collection of Olly and Me poems and illustrations (some of which are found in other books), starting in spring and ending in winter. Beautiful and very Montessori-friendly.

The Story Orchestra: Four Seasons in One Day (Jessica Courtney-Tickle)

The illustrations in this book are very lovely, and the snippets of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons make an interesting conversation prompt about music and weather and the seasons.

Lulu Loves the Library (Ann McQuinn)

A reality-based book about a little girl who goes to the library with her mum every week. As we’ve started going to the library more regularly I thought this would be a sweet book to introduce.

How to Catch a Mouse (Phillippa Leathers)

Not one for Montessori purists (as the cat reads a book and the mouse dresses up!) but Frida is loving this library find, requesting it over and over again. It tells the story of a cat who is not very good at catching mice, until a mouse gives him a cunning idea.

We are also still reading Frida’s winter books, though I’m looking forward to putting them away at the end of the month and getting out her spring ones.

And one for the grown ups… 

I’m feeling a need for a bit of self-care at the moment as my skin is looking a bit grey and sad as we near the end of winter, so I’m currently reading Pretty Honest by Sally Hughes to get some tips on what I can do about it! Next up is When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.

What are you reading this February?

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Snack station 

After putting it off for ages (we don’t have the space! It will be messy! The cat will eat the snacks!) I have finally sorted out a snack station for Frida. It’s important to me that she can get food for herself if she is hungry without having to rely on us, and I think it sends a message to her that we trust her and her ability to self-regulate her food intake – one of the reasons we chose to do Baby-Led Weaning. 

We live in a small house – I like to call it an ever evolving space! – and the only place which made sense for a snack station was the IKEA KALLAX unit next to her play kitchen. I have moved all of her play accessories into the play kitchen unit itself (apart from the big basket of play food which I have kept in the KALLAX).

I have explained to Frida that if she would like a snack, she is to put it on a plate and carry it over to the table. I imagine that at first I will have to supervise and prompt her, but I am hopeful that soon she will need little or no supervision.

I have included:

Snacks. I have put out fruit (I cut a small cross into the top of the tangerines to make them easier to peel, plain oat cakes in a container which Frida can open, and oat and fruit bars in a container which Frida can open (I snipped the top of the wrapped so she can open these by herself).

Water in a jug, drinking glass, and small flannels to use as a cloth for spills. I have only filled the jug around a third full to minimise spills. This jug is the one we have been using.

Plates, crinkle cutter, knife. As I’ve written before, we have chosen to trust Frida with real (breakable!) crockery. So far nothing has been broken. This is the crinkle cutter we use.

I need to add some hooks for her apron and a tea towel, and watch Frida to see if this space needs further changes, but for now I am hopeful that it will work well!