Like most mums, at about 4pm I start counting down those hours until I can run the bath for my boys. I’m tired, they’re tired and I can see the exhaustion kicking in all round. The minute the clock strikes 6.30pm and Ant walks through the door, the bath is running and this is always followed by a snuggly story at 7pm before bedtime, which really helps set Louis up for a good night sleep.
From a very early age we introduced Louis to books. We started with simple stories and big pictures, but it wasn’t until around his 1st Birthday that we introduced a book at bedtime, while he had his evening bottle of milk. At 4.5yrs old, books are still top priority for Louis, he’s learning to read and it’s been amazing to see him progress from stories together such as The Hungry Caterpillar, through to rhyming Julia Donaldson picture books (which we all know off by heart) and we’re now over half way through the Roal Dahl collection together. At 9 months old, Henry has started to enjoy looking at interactive and flap books too, and I can’t wait until he’s ready to start joining in at story time, without wanting to rip the pages out the book first!
On Friday 22nd February, we went along to Story School at Chessington World of Adventures Hotel to meet master storyteller Kevin Graal and celebrity mum Binky Felstead. With the Julia Donaldson Gruffalo Ride, now 2 years old, the park are this Spring opening their brand new attraction based on the same author’s much-loved story ‘Room On The Broom’. It was so lovely to be invited and to share the experience with some of my favourite Surrey Mums, and their families, from Instagram, that I’ve got to know so well over the past year.
In a survey carried out by Chessington, it is stated that 36% of UK parents feel nervous about reading stories to their children at bedtime. Shocking! During our Storytelling Workshop, Kevin Graal gave us tips and ideas to help keep children engaged with story time as well ideas to make books more magical. In the digital age we live in, he encouraged us to switch off our phones, leave them out of the story setting and allow the pages to come to life. He gave us confidence to become the characters, finding voices we feel comfortable with and involving the children in the tale.
“Treat books like a treasure each time you pick it up”. Kevin Graal
I often find with Louis that after we’ve read a story together numerous times he starts to remember the words, so to keep him engaged I will often point to the word in the text and get him to read some of the story, especially where there are words that require emphasis and actions, such as ‘boom’, ‘splash’ and ‘zoom’.
After the workshop we were treated to a tour of the park, a couple of rides, including the Gruffalo Ride (which used to be The Bubbleworks) and a look in the Aquarium, Zoo and play areas. So much fun was had for all! Chessington World of Adventures appears to now be aimed at young children, with most rides suitable for those under 1m high. For guests staying, the hotel offers a view of Zufari, which features African animals including Giraffes, Zebras and Rhino, as well as a splash pool, restaurant and bar. Inside the park there are a variety of places to eat and snack, including a brand new Vegetarian/Vegan restaurant.
The new Room On The Broom attraction will bring the story to life, retold for parents and children through an immersive story attraction. When it opens March 10th, visitors will be tasked with searching among the trees, fields and reeds for the witch’s lost belongings alongside Dog, Bird and Frog. Isn’t it amazing to see stories lead the way at one of Surrey’s much loved family theme parks.
With so many happy childhood memories of Chessington, where we spent summer days out as a family, I can’t wait to take Louis back when the new attraction opens next month. If you’re interested in finding out more head to their website.
We’ll see you on March 10th Chessington, for the opening day of Room On The Broom – A magical adventure.
Chessington World of Adventures gifted us a visit to Story School and the Park, there was no obligation to share the day on my social media or blog, but it was too fun not to! Photos featured are credited to Chessington World Of Adventures and TheSun.Com