List of Outdoor Places to Go for Kids/Family (South Africa – Gauteng)

Are you always looking for places to take your kids over the school holidays? Or family outings for the weekend?

I have compiled a list of favourite outdoor places to visit in Gauteng.

  1. The Elephant Sanctuary (R104 road) Hartebeespoort Dam. (012)258-0423 / 0833063770 Elephant Sanctuary Website Programmes:feeding, petting, touching and elephant rides into the mountain
  2. Hartebeespoort Dam and zoo visit the cable way or have a picnic or braai. Restaurant on premises. Hartebeespoort Dam and Zoo Website
  3. Lion and Rhino Park this reserve has cheetahs, lions, rhino, and a number of other game species. Restaurant as well as picnic area and braai facilities. R28 Highway towards Krugersdorp Rhino and Lion Park Website
  4. Lion Park in Muldersdrift Lion Park Website
  5. Strawberry Farm picnics and strawberry picking (012)207-1116 Tangaroa Strawberry Farm Website
  6. Zoo Lake outdoor tea garden, lake to feed ducks and picnic and braai area.
  7. Garden World Garden World Website R28 Highway. Tea Garden, kids parties. Sunday arts and crafts.
  8. Willow Feather Farm Irene. Plant nursery, tea garden, animal farm, swings and play area for kids. Willow Feather Farm Website
  9. Wondercaves (011)957-0106
  10. Groenkloof Nature Reserve Pretoria biking trail, picnic area and fountains. Groenkloof Nature Reserve Website
  11. Acrobranch Pretoria and Johannesburg Acrobranch Website
  12. Pretoria Zoo Pretoria Zoo Website
  13. Johannesburg Zoo Johannesburg Zoo Website
  14. Lory Park Zoo Midrand Lory Park Zoo Website
  15. Montecasino Bird Gardens Johannesburg Montecasino Bird Gardens Website
  16. Cest la’ vie Centurion outdoor playpark. Area for babies and toddlers as well as an area fpr older kids C’est La Vie Website
  17. Irene Village Mall Outdoor Fountains (remember to carry costumes and towels) Irene Village Mall Website
  18. Quad Bikes R55 Laudium/Centurion Zwartkops Quad Rides Website
  19. Serendipity Rosebank. Outdoor play area, arts and crafts and tea garden Serendipity Website
  20. Rooihuiskraal Terrein Pretoria Centurion Rooihuiskraal Terrein Website
  21. Horseriding at Cornerstone Equestria (R55 Laudium/Centurion) 0843507238 or Peppermint Park (Raslouw) Peppermint Park Website
  22. Lasertag and Paintball at Crywolf Irene. Crywolf Website
  23. Zita Park 0724282408 MenloPark Pretoria wonderful paddle pool and slide, picnic and braai area as well as jungle gyms.
  24. Irene Dairy Farm see the cows and buy some freshly delivered milk. Play area. Tea garden Irene Dairy Farm Website
  25. Honeydew Mazes wonderful for kids aged 6+ a must visit. Honeydew Mazes Website
  26. Crocodile Farm Johannesburg Crocodile Farm Website
  27. Gold Reef City Theme Park Johannesburg theme park rides for all ages Gold Reef City Theme Park Website
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Baby On-the-Go Family Album 0-2 yrs

On-the-Go baby photo album joined by a key ring and some teething links

I made this sweet little baby family photo album when my now toddler was around 11 months old. She was absolutely fascinated to see pictures of herself. In fact she was simply fascinated to see pictures of all of us.

To make one of these (and i promise it is worth it) you will need:

  • Everyday Photo paper
  • Printer
  • Laminator and laminating pouch
  • Key ring
  • Some teething links

Select the pictures you would like to use and paste each one into a word document (preferrably each one on its own page). I used 3 pictures of my toddler and 1 of each of the other family members (mum, dad, grandma and siblings).

Add in a text box under the picture with each persons name and relationship e.g My Sister – Iman underneath Imans photo.

I then proceeded to print on some everyday photo paper. 

These sheets are A4 in size and i chose to print 4 pictures on each page. So basically each picture with caption resulted in being A6 in size perfect for little hands to hold comfortably. I laminated the pictures before cutting them. And then punched a single hole in the top left corner. Put them onto a key ring and then attached the teething links. I clipped the end onto her stroller while we were out and about.

This very same album can be made for older kids too by continually adding favourite photos to the key ring. 

What printer and paper do I use for my printable activities?

The reason for this blog post is to familiarise you with the type of printer, paper and laminator I use for our printable activities. I have had a number of people asking me the above and I thought I may as well put all the details together in one post. I hope this proves useful and the devices and materials are easily accessible to you all.

PRINTERS:

For as long as I can remember i have used HP as my choice of printer. The ink is reasonable and fairly economical. The printer setup is easy and user-friendly and troubleshooting is a breeze. I have changed my printer 3 times in the past 11 years. But i have always opted for HP each and every time I needed to replace my printer. 

The 1st model i purchased was the HP4500 Officejet series around 10 years ago, with multiple functions: print, copy, scan and fax. It worked wonderfully until the introduction of Windows 10. Unfortunately the software was not compatible for this HP printer. However i have still kept the unit and i use it to do all our photocopying.

The 2nd model i purchased in 2015 when i upgraded my version of windows to Windows 10 was the HP4624 Officejet. This model also offered printing, copying, scanning and faxing and in addition to that could be wifi enabled for wireless printing(i didnt use this feature much but on the odd occasion it was useful). This printer was by far an absolutely worth it investment for me. The print quality was great on both normal and photo paper. To my disadvantage i had forgotten to unplug my printer and it was struck by lightning causing the hardware to fry become useless. However i would definitely recommend this model to anyone for home use. (Please remember to turn off your main switch though and unplug if possible)

The most recent model i purchased (to replace my lightning-struck model) is the HP2135 which offers print, copy and scan features. I hardly ever used the fax in previous models so it wasn’t an absolute must for me. I have found this printer to be the most ink-economical and has printed a number of great quality prints exceeding the expected amount per cartridge. Wonderful for home use. The only downfall is that it does not have a number grid so only one photocopy can be made at a time and not multiple. For us this hasn’t been too much of a problem since we do have an alternate copier but for those of you who may need to make multiple copies, you will find yourself standing longer than normal in front of your machine and pressing the copy button each time you need a copy printed. It is also not wifi enabled for those of you preferring wireless printing or printing directly from tablet or smartphone. Otherwise a great purchase. I got ours from Dionwired. Also available from Game stores nationwide. HP ink is available at great deals from HP Shop

HP 2135

PAPER:
The paper / cardstock i use varies depending on what i am printing. There are 4 main thickness i use 80gsm, 160gsm, 200gsm and 240gsm as follows.

80gsm for general day-to-day printing i use Typek all purpose paper. Our day-to-day printing includes: essays, school assignments, speeches, origami patterns, coloring pages etc

160gsm for certificates, to print out cutting pictures for my toddler(this is normal everyday cardboard and offers easier handling for tiny hands to cut) and speech cards.

200gsm can also be used for certificates, printable playdough mats(which are then laminated, using a thicker cardstock will make it nice and sturdy), gift tags, painting esp for watercolours which tends to turn thinner cardboard or paper into mush.

 240gsm i started using this thuckness more recently for some of my toddler printable activities. After being laminated it is extremely sturdy and works really well for printed puzzles,wipe clean board activities, playdough mats, and generally anythin that requires a more sturdy board.

All the above paper types are available at Waltons

LAMINATOR:

My choice of laminator is the Fellowes Mars A4 Laminator. This brand also has the A3 Laminator and is best used with Fellowes Laminating Pouches.

   Fellowes Mars A4 Laminator

Fellowes Laminating Pouches Enhance 80gsm for everyday use

Both the laminator and pouches are available online Takealot or instore at PNA stores nationwide.

There are varieties of pouches available in different brands and thickness depending on the use you require it for. Because i adjust the thickness of my paper/cardboard i have come to notice that i can use the 80gsm pouches to do all my laminating . If however you print on everyday 80gsm paper only then i suggest using a thicker laminating pouch to increase sturdiness.

I also have tested a number of brands of pouches and i still prefer Fellowes.

The A4 size laminator accepts all sizes of pouches A4 and smaller. 



Giant Perler Bead Fine Motor Activity

Giant Perler Beads and Design Plate

I absolutely love the creativity sparked from Perler Beads. We bought some pretty designs for my older kids. Although i found the beads to be too little in size for my toddler until i came accross what i refer to as Giant Perler Beads available from Dischem, smaller bead sets for older kids available at PerlerBeads.co.za

I chose the heart design specifically because i assumed my toddler wouldn’t necessarily want to fill the design plate according to the pattern card that is underneath. Toddlers are rather random little characters. The other patterns were: puppy, kitty and pony and i thought that they would deserve some conformity to the pattern guide.

So anyway we went with the heart.

Set up as an activity tray for my toddler

This is the design plate with blunt spikes to hold the allocated beads. This particular one is for the smaller Perler Beads

Basically the design plate is made up of little blunt spikes on top of which u place the beads. It is necessary to fill the entire plate with beads. However for older kids who want to create smaller different patterns(which can be googled for some very interesting designs and ideas) it would be necessary to make sure that all the beads are adjacent to each other-the reason for this is that the final step is to infact iron over the design. This causes the beads to melt on contact with the heat from the iron and join to the adjacent bead thereby forming a single unit. If however there are any gaps the bead will not have anything to stick to.

Randomly placing beads on the heart shaped design plate

So basically once your little ones design is complete, turn on your iron, place the ironing sheet(or some wax or baking paper) over to cover the entire plate and rub the warm iron over. You may want to gently lift the baking paper to peek underneath and see that the beads have infact joined each other. If they haven’t then turn up the heat and stroke over with the iron again. Repeating the step until the entire design is one unit.

This is how the beads look once they start melting. I may have added too much heat to the lower part of this as you can see they have melted a bit too much

It is now safe to lift the design off the plate so that u can iron the other side. Remeber to again place the ironing sheet over the design otherwise the beads will end up melting and sticking to the iron. 
We have kept our designs to use as suncatchers(by threading a string through and hanging it in an area that gets a good amount of sun, u can put them outside too) and other designs saved as little creations in the girls trinket boxes. You can also thread them onto a string so the girls could wear them as necklaces.

Completed Perler Bead Mermaid design

Purchased in themed sets or available as a bucket of beads which can be used creatively or by following designs that can be found on the internet

Yellow Tinker Tray and Playdough Invitation to Play

Yellow Tinker Tray and Playdough

After learning a particular concept like colours, shapes, animals etc i like to reinforce my tots knowledge and understanding by setting up trays that combine a number of learnt concepts into one. Today we focussed on the colour yellow, the square, rectangle and circle shapes and of course our little duck which she is all too familiar with but since its yellow i thought it gave me the opportunity to question her about its colour.

The playdough (like playdough always is) was a fun fine motor exercise. The suction beads also offered a good workout on the little hand muscles and the rectangular links worked great for some hand eye coordination. We are paving the way for some handwriting to come.

Tiny little finger muscles getting a workout

Wise Words

​Socrates was one of the most influential philosophers of all time. His writings are not only inspirational, but they will make you question life in a very unique way.

Here are 24 Socrates quotes that will make you question life:

1) “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

2) “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

3) “There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.”

4) “I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think”

5) “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

6) “Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people.”

7) “By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.”

8) “He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.”

9) “If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change. Free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is law and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.”

10) “Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.”

11) “Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.”

12) “To find yourself, think for yourself.”

13) “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”

14) “Know thyself.”

15) “Let him who would move the world first move himself.”

16) “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”

17) “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

18) “I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.”

19) “Prefer knowledge to wealth, for the one is transitory, the other perpetual.”

20) “understanding a question is half an answer”

21) “True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us”

22) “He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.”

23) “To be is to do”

24) “The mind is everything; what you think you become” 

Chinese Stirfry and Noodles

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Ingredients:
Crunchy stifry mix from Woolworths
(Or u can julienne the following vegetables: red onion, cabbage, spinach, red pepper, carrots and add in aome tenderstem baby broccoli)
Egg noodles (ready and refridgerated or prepacked both from Woolworths)
Coarse sea salt in a grinder
While black peppercorns in a grinder
Soya sauce
Sweet indonesian stirfry soya sauce

Method:
Simmer the prepacked noodles with water and some salt and drain
Seperately melt a spoonful of butter and coconut oil in a wok. Add the vegetables, some freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, a spkash of soya sauce and a drizzle of the sweet indonesian stirfry sauce.
Toss for 2-3 minutes.
Add in your drained noodles and another splash of soya sauce. Toss and serve.

Sealife and Playdough Invitation to Play

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Sea animals, seashells and pebbles cpupled with playdough make the perfect invitation to play

I love the vibrance and educational benefit that Invitation trays offer toddlers. It gives them a constructive opportunity to explore, create and play.

♡It is a wonderful tool to build their imagination.
♡Playdough offers a great fine motor workout for their tiny fingers
♡They are given the opportunity to explore new ‘little’ worlds through themed trays (like the seaworld one above)
♡Great vocabulary builders (i love the opportunity to talk to my little tot about sealife and introduce her to new sea animals like the octopus, seahorse and turtle)
♡Builds concentration span

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Homemade playdough recipe can be found under search item ‘playdough’.

School Lunch Organiser

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School Lunch Organiser
How do you plan your kids school lunches? Is it impromptu, planned a day in advance? A week? Or monthly?
Ive put up a wipe-clean board for each school-going child on my fridge with a list of their preferences: main, fruit and snack. Under each ive written in what they like and i try to make sure they get 1xmain 2xfruit and 2xsnack or 3xsnack. There arent that many preferences that are common to all 3 of them. So having this list makes it easier to prepare their lunches without asking them each day what they would like and without confusing the one who likes pasta arrabiata with the other 2 who prefer pasta and cheese.
I also aim to pack snacks and fruit portions the night before. And main portion in the morning (unless of course it is somethin that will stay well if packed the night before too)
In an effort to pack a rainbow lunch for them i have kept a pie chart with the food groups right next to lunch menu. I sometimes fail but try to make it up by offering them those foods for after-school lunch or dinner.

Mains:
Pasta arrabiata
Mac and cheese
Baked baby potatoes with cheese
Chicken pita with cheese and lettuce
Chicken sandwhiches or rolls
Buttered bread
Peanut butter sandwhich
Toast with jam and butter
Creamy spaghetti with brocolli and corn
Chicken nuggets
Fish fingers
Kebabs
Cut corn with butter
Chicken salad
Cottage pie

Fruits:
Melon
Pineapple
Grapes
Clementines
Banana
Apple
Kiwi
Strawberries
Mango

Snacks:
Cereal bar
Cream crackers
Muesli/granola
Yoghurt
Macadamia nuts
Pretzels
Cashews
Peanuts
Pistachios
Crunchy corn
Popcorn
Dried mango
Dried apple
Dried banana
Cranberries
Raisins

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Food Group Plate / Pie Chart

Flower Planter Sensory Activity

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I set up this sensory planter for my toddler today. I placed the big flower water sprinkler into a pot plant filled with riversand. I then invited her to come and plant the other little flowers. I am sure you can tell that we are trying to soak up as much of summer as we can before winter sets in. I am now going to attach the waterhose to the flower sprinkler for some fun in the sun.