New English Sing and Sign classes in Copenhagen

I was recently approached by a lady called Maya who is launching an English language Sing and Sign class in Vesterbro starting on September 7th. Sing and Sign is a baby signing course. I asked her to share a little bit about Sing and Sign here as I thought it would be really interesting to a lot of readers.

Learn baby signing with Sing and Sign

Both I and my children loved Sing and Sign! Because it teaches all the signs through songs and music, it makes learning them seem easy and lots of fun. Some of the songs are written especially for the course which makes it easy to include signs which relate to your everyday life with your baby, and that’s what makes it so useful; there’s a lovely song about changing your baby’s nappy, about bath time, about going to the park etc. The classes are themed, and the signs are introduced gradually. This way, by the end of the 10 week course, you have actually covered more than 100 signs without really thinking about it. However – and this really appealed to me at times – each week also focuses on just a couple of essential signs (such as ‘eat’, ‘drink’ or ‘help’) so that even frazzled parents who haven’t slept for two days feel they can walk away from class with something.

The S&S approach is that baby signing is meant to be simple, relaxed and fun, and each class always follows the same pattern so that your baby quickly feels comfortable with the format and start to anticipate what exciting thing happens next …..perhaps the instruments, the peek-a-boo box with Jessie Cat, the props bag or the picture board.After moving back to Copenhagen last year, I met several English speaking mums who said they would love to do a baby signing class if only classes were available in English. At home we were still listening to the Sing and Sign CD, and my three-year-old daughter would from time to time ask for the DVD, and as I still found myself singing along to the songs and throwing the odd sign in, I decided to look into buying the franchise. I am now the proud owner of Sing and Sign Copenhagen and will start classes in early September 2017. I’m so excited to be able to share my passion for baby signing with other parents this way, and hope to see lots of lovely mums, dads and babies in my classes!

First class: Thursday 7th September 2017 for 10 weeks (school term time only) at Idrætsfabrikken, Valdemarsgade 12, Copenhagen V.
All classes are taught in English.
Two classes available; Thursdays at 9.45am-10.45am and 11.00am-12pm. Age group 6-14 months.
Price; 950kr including a year’s membership of Sing and Sign Online.
Lovely small classes – only 10 mums/dads/guardians plus babies per class.

For more information please visit facebook.com/singandsigncopenhagen or www.singandsign.com then choose Copenhagen under Classes near you.

Guide to having a baby in Denmark

Having a baby is one of the most exciting and scary things we do in life and that is when we are in our own countries. Having a baby in a new country can be even more daunting as you are navigating a different languages, process and culture. This was one of the reasons I decided to write a ebook guide to having a baby in Denmark (and it covers the first year too).


For many expat parents to be in Denmark this may be your first baby and you need a lot of help, advice and support in the journey through pregnancy and into that first year. Equally you may have other children but had them in your home country or somewhere else completely.
Almost eight years ago I had my son Frederiksberg Hospital. He was one of the last babies born there before they closed the maternity unit. As he was my first child I had no idea about anything really, not having been a particularly  maternal young woman and being one of the last of my friends to have a baby. I muddled through in some parts of my pregnancy and in others I was led by the medical team around me and the rest of advice from books, the internet and friends and family. I enjoyed my pregnancy and despite a difficult birth, my experience in the hospital here was also excellent. I found the first year a little tough but then who doesn’t?

Things have moved on a lot from those days all those years ago, both in the consumer landscape of Denmark to the services that are offered to pregnant women and young families. In some ways this makes things a lot easier but in others there is more information to find and to know where to look.

In preparation for this guide I thought about all the things I learned when I was pregnant and a new mum but I also had a great focus group of expat mums and mums to be who really helped me out, both endorsing the information I was including but also sharing with me the things they had found tough or information they had wished they’d had. So a big thank you to those women.

If you are expecting a child here in Denmark or have just had a baby then this guide will be an enormous help to you, I wish I’d had something similar myself all those years ago. If you would like to get hold of the guide you can visit my secure shop here.

 

Kreakassen – craft boxes for children

For those of you with crafty kids living in Denmark, then you will be, undoubtedly, interested in a relatively new concept here called Kreakassen.

Kreakassen is a monthly supply of  four creative projects a box including instructions and simple materials. The projects in the box are related to the season or time of the year. This means that Kreakassen has adapted the seasons and festivals and offers creative projects for those times that you and your child would like to do. Kreakassen delivers it all: the ideas, materials (although it does not contain every day crafting materials such as pens, pencils, scissors, glue and brushes – they do see boxes of these too) and instructions so that you can bypass the laborious preparations and jump directly to creating.dsc01814We were sent a box to try out (a Halloween themed one) and my son loved it. All children are different but Kreakassen is aimed at 4 – 8 years olds, although older children may enjoy the projects and younger ones with more help from an adult. There are four projects in the box – a couple longer projects and the rest quicker ones. All the instructions are pictorial and in Danish but pretty easy to grasp.dsc01824

You can take out a subscription or buy a box on a monthly basis. Their website (www.kreakassen.dk) has all the details. If they are oversubscribed you can add your name to a waiting list. The website is currently only in Danish but run it through Google Chrome and its all there.dsc01817 dsc01810 dsc01814

Anemone Teatret – family theatre

At the weekend my son and I went along, at the invitation of one of his class friends, to see a play at the Anemone Theatre called Frøken Ignora eksploderer. My Danish is up at this kind of entertainment but my son has quite limited Danish language skills at present. I was curious as to how much he would enjoy it. He was rapt all the way through, refusing my whispered offers to explain what was going on. It is only fifty minutes long so perfect for children. It runs until the beginning of November so it may be something to consider for  the autumn holidays as there are still tickets available. Don’t be put off if your child doesn’t understand much Danish as the play is very visual and fun (that said it is a bit bizarre so understanding the Danish still didn’t help me really get the whole thing).screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-17-05-36

The Anemone Theatre has been around for a long time, funnily enough I mentioned it to someone today who recalled going when they were a child when visiting relatives in Copenhagen decades ago. Like my son she didn’t understand much Danish at the time yet still enjoyed the performance she saw. They have an interesting programme of productions aimed at different ages of children so well worth keeping your eye out for other future performances.

Address: Suhmsgade 4, 1125 København K

Website and ticket sales

 

A guide to baby food

A few weeks ago I was commissioned to undertake some market research about baby food available in shops here and I thought I’d use the information to write a short guide for here. Like most things in Denmark the choice is relatively small and it would seem that it reflect the demand for preprepared baby foods with most parents preparing food at home. There was certainly a perception amongst Danish parents that premade baby food is expensive and they only use it as a supplement or an on-the-go solution.

img_5768

When you have a baby here the Health Visitor tells you to buy a guide from the Government health department about feeding you baby from birth to toddler age and the emphasis is very much on home cooked and family foods. It can be bought from the pharmacy for around 75dkk or you can download it here. I found it very useful.

All the types of food I mention below are available in most supermarkets and offered mainly by Semper but you can find Heinz and Ella’s Kitchen in some places (Helsemin carry the full range of this) and most supermarkets offer an own brand as well. There is a big emphasis on organic (øko) food too.

Pouch food

This is the predominant type of baby food available and it seems to be that sweet ones are the ones the supermarkets stock the largest selection of. There are pouches of the usual suspects of spaghetti Bolognese etc but nothing too exciting. There are also new flavours of sweet ones reflecting the current trend for green smoothies.

Jar food

The traditional type of baby food is, of course, jarred food and this can be found in all supermarkets with varied selections.

Powdered porridge or grød

This is something that is everywhere and a type of baby food that is popular with Danes. It is powdered smooth porridges with varieties of flavours from plain to fruit ones and can be mixed with water, formula, breast milk etc and are usually used to supplement homemade foods.

Snacks

Since I had my son, when there are no baby specific snacks available on the market here, I have noticed there are now corn snacks like crisps in some shops and also baby biscuits although these are still not very widely available.

Formula

This is available in all supermarkets and is either the powdered variety or premade cartons. Organic options are widely available now and it is easy to avoid Nestle if that is what your ethics demand (as mine do and here’s why, in case you are interested)

The best shops to go to for the widest selection of baby food are Kvickly and Føtex. If you are looking for the full selection of Ella’s Kitchen then Helsemin is the place to go.

 

Children’s birthday parties at Statens Museum for Kunst

We were delighted to be invited to two of my son’s classmates’ birthday party at the Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK) last weekend. I was aware of the children’s workshop area which we regularly go to but I didn’t know you could have a birthday party there.

img_5985As part of the birthday package up to 30 children and 6 adults take part of a tour of selected works in the museum and then head back to the private art workshop and create a masterpiece inspired by the art they have seen.

The party we went to was themed as Kings and Queens and we were shown two related paintings and two sculptures. The excellent guide really engaged with the children and they (and we) learnt a lot about art and also the historic context. Once in the workshop, there were already easels set up for the children to get painting.

As part of the package you also have used of a private lunch room where you can have party food and continue the celebration.

The guide spoke in English to our group (there is a slight supplement to have this) and was very good at containing the more lively elements. There is a lot of listening for the children but it is very interactive and engaging.

So if you are looking for a birthday party that is a little different and affordable, this is the perfect thing.

For more information check out the SMK’s website here.

On another note the SMK has ben gifted this iconic piece by the Danish artists’ group Superflex, first produced in 2002. Its message is even more relevant today. As part of its installation there are smaller, free posters for you to take away. img_5991

What to do with preschoolers in Copenhagen

I was asked a few weeks ago by a reader for some recommendations of some good places to visit and things to do with a four year old in Copenhagen. I thought that this might be information that would be interesting to many people so here they are. These recommendations are based on the things we have enjoyed doing since my son was three and we still love them. This is in no way a definitive guide and I am sure other people have other recommendations so please do leave a comment below if you do.

Museumssmk

First of all a big category for us is museums. Copenhagen is very well served with amazing museums that actively welcome children and families. The Workers’ Museum and the National Museum have dedicated children’s sections, which can offer hours of entertainment and repeated visits. The rest of these museums are also welcoming to children and presented in the right way, fascinating. They both offer a varied events calendar which is worth keeping an eye on. The plus point for the National Museum is that its free. The Workers’ Museum offers a Friends scheme, which after paying an annual fee, a named adult can get in for free (children are always free).

The Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK) is also very welcoming to families and also free to get in. They usually have an exhibition aimed at children and at the weekend and during school holidays they have a children’s workshop, where for 45kr per child, your child can built a creation from recycled materials, paint a picture on an easel or some other creation.

The Danish Architecture Centre also offers children’s activities in some of the school holidays so this is worth keeping an eye on.

Parks and playgroundsdad in parkI love the parks here in the city and there are many with great play areas such as Kongens Have and Ørsteds Parken, which are favourites of ours. Fælledparken raises the bar with the Traffic Playground, an enclosed area of small-sized roads with real traffic lights and street signs for children to practice safe cycling and also the Towers Playground, close to Rigshospital. Frederiksberg Have has the added bonus of spotting the elephants in the zoo from a public viewing spot.

A number of playgrounds are manned during the week by kommune employees and, at these times, offer more activities and things to play with, you can get the list here or from the personnel at one of the manned ones. In the summer months check out the playground Skydebanen in Vesterbro and the water playground in Fælledparken for large water play and paddling areas (known as soppesøer) very suitable for young children (there are others on the list linked above for playgrounds).

Swimming Pools

Again many of the pools here have facilities suitable for preschoolers, our favourite, although a little on the pricey side, is DGI Byen, where they have a great children’ pool for non swimmers with varying depths of areas and warm, clean changing rooms. For a full list of swimming pools check this out.

Botanical Gardens (Botanisk Have)CIMG7558

This place is the perfect place to explore and get lost in. My son loves running up and down the hills in the garden with twisty turny pathways and also exploring the hot houses. Some of the smaller glasshouses are open on holidays and special days in the week and are a great way to see some unusual and enormous plants. It is also a great place to observe the changes of seasons.

The Lego Store

I am sure that every parent has visited this place on Strøget many times but did you know that from 4pm – 6pm on the first Thursday of the month they offer a free mini build at the back of the store? You need to build it there but it is free to take home on completion.

Eating out

I find that despite the fact there are very few specifically family friendly restaurants in the city most are. However our favourites are Hache Burger for lunch as they do a great lunch special and offer two sliders for the kids at a very reasonable price; The Laundromat Cafe; Sticks and Sushi, who also offer great children’s meals; and also Copenhagen Street Food (next to the Experimentarium) as there is something for everyone.

Out of townCIMG7323

Finally heading out-of-town is a great way to have a day out with kids and explore something new. We regularly go to Louisiana and have since my son was three. The children’s wing is outstanding and the activities there are truly integrated with the current exhibitions. The buffet lunch price for children is affordable but the food is perhaps a little adult for some tastes. A good tip is to buy an integrated travel and entrance ticket from DSB (at the 7-11 at the stations but be prepared for the staff to not know about it straight away) it is 200Kr for an adult as children travel and get into Louisiana for free, saves you up to 50%. You can buy it on the day of travel.

The Frilands Museum  is another amazing free day out (once you get there) and takes a short train ride from the city centre to immerse yourself in the Denmark of old and wander around a beautiful countryside area.

Saving Money

As mentioned above in some of the points, it is definitely worth exploring season passes for places you think you are likely to visit more than three times in a year as you will be saving a significant amount compared to paying each time. Also buying blocks of swimming tickets saves money.

All the bigger libraries (and some smaller) offer great free indoor play areas for children and can eat up a morning of activity for young preschools.

Also why not jump on one of the yellow harbour buses and enjoy an amazing view of the harbour for the usual price of your travel ticket or pass? It takes about an hour to go from the stop at Toldboden to Sluseholmen.


 

So they are my recommendations of places we enjoy, I am sure I have forgotten many other places. I haven’t mentioned some of the more obvious choices such as Tivoli (which we love), the Zoo and beaches such as Svanemollen and Amager. Or places we haven’t been but I hear great things about such as Byoasen (a small city farm in Nørrebro) and also the Nature Centre at Vestamager. I also love spending time in the quieter parts of Christiania.

Do add your recommendations below too!

Other resources

Top ten kid friendly restaurants in Copenhagen (Visit Copenhagen)

Top ten attractions for kids in Copenhagen

Playgrounds in Copenhagen

Børn i byen (in Danish) for events etc

Mini CPH city guide

Meet a museum family (some repetition here but still interesting, I hope)

Six reasons why it’s great to be a mum/parent in Copenhagen

 

 

Paddling Pools in Copenhagen

Now we are into the real summer months here in Copenhagen the Kommune run paddling pools (or soppebassin or soppesøer) will now be filled on hot days. Here is the main link to all the locations.fælledparken

Here is a rundown of some of the best in the city.

Skydebanehaven – this large paddling pool in this fantastic playground in Vesterbro is filled by spring water. {Free}

Bermuda Triangle in Nørrebroparken – again a large paddling pool in an interesting playground. It is close to the trendy Stefansgade and Jægersborggade in Nørrebro. {Free}

Soppesøen in Fælledparken – this is probably the best one in the city with a water maze and water cannons that shoot for 5 metres. This one is not supervised {Free}

Enghaveparken also has an unmanned paddling pool. {Free}

All four of these may be filled from the 1 June. Check on this Facebook page to see which ones are open on any given day.

Lindevangsparken in Frederiksberg has quite a deep paddling pool but it is only filled during the school holidays.

There are, of course, some rules for using these pools:
Paddling pool is only to paddle in
Take drinking water from the nearest tap
Children should wear swimwear or swim nappies
Keep dogs out of the water.

There are also some outdoor swimming pools offering play sections:

Bellahøj Open Air Swimming Pool and Bavnehøj Open Air Swimming Pools both have a play sections with water slides and a grassy area to sit in the sun. {Paid}

The perfect place to cool off with your kids this summer!

 

 

 

Things to do over the winter school holiday

So the Vinterferie (winter school holiday) starts this weekend and we are heading to Hamburg for the week (any tips of places to go there gratefully received, just leave me a comment below). For those of you with children spending the week in the city, here are my picks for things to do (of course there are many other things happening – make sure you check out your local library as many are offering holiday programmes).

Danish Architecture Centre – BUILD FOR CHILDREN – INDIA ARCHITECTURE IN KAPLABuild for children - Kapla m. TextWe really enjoy the workshops here and this holiday they are running a building workshop inspired by Indian architectural firm Studio Mumbai. The building materials are wood and mini brick and children can build either a town-dwelling or a countryside one. Below is the translated information about the workshop. Please note you need to visit the website to book a slot and you need to book a place for all participates (adults and children).

How to build houses to withstand the strong monsoon rains or screens for the strong sun? Or how about a house out when inspired by Indian temples and beautiful craftsmanship?

Participants can seek inspiration in the exhibition of Studio Mumbai and Danish Architecture Centre guides are ready with knowledge and advice.

Participants are allocated a plot of land in the city or in the country in the different regions of India.  Finally you can take a photo of your building and participate in an Instagram competition.

The workshop will be held both in the morning from 10: 00-13: 00 and in the afternoon from 13: 30-16: 30 throughout the winter holidays from 14 to 21 February.

Tickets cost 95dkk for both children and adults. For 125dkk you can buy a package ticket for the workshop as well as coffee / chai tea / cocoa and ginger cookies afterwards.

To book click here.

 


 

Statens Museum for Kunst – Children’s workshop

The SMK will be opening up their brilliant children’s workshop for the whole of the week from 10.30am until 4.30pm. They say “Get inspired with clay, paper, cloth, paint, pencils, glue guns and paint brushes and create your own painting or sculpture in our workshops.” Workshops cost 45dkk per child (no need to book, just turn up and pay at the ticket desk) and more information can be found here.


 

Tycho Brahe Planetarium

Over the break the IMAX cinema here is offering a great selection of films including Fly me to the Moon 3D and Arctic – The Polar Bear’s Home. Click here for more information about the films and also the Planetarium.


 

Workers Museum

As well as the fascinating exhibitions and children’s section, the Worker’s Museum will be running a banner workshop where you create your own banner using fabric clippings, stamps, paint and text to show what you think is important stand up for. (This is related to their current exhibition *Uhørt Unge (Unheard Youth)). The workshop lasts an hour and aprons are provided.

There is limited seating and tickets (50dkk) must  be purchased in advance on their website here. You will also need to pay general admission to the museum.


 

Politimuseum 

The Police Museum will be running special activities over the week. For more information about times etc visit their website here. I think organised activities will require Danish language knowledge.Every day, children and adults can test their skills as investigators when a murder case must be solved. See who the best investigator in the family when you must solve “murder mystery – the case reopened.” For children aged 8-13 years.

For younger children, there are also activities including daily tours for children. Here, the children in collaboration with one of the museum’s employees find out who the perpetrator is in “The Mystery of dog thief”. For children aged 6-10 years

Admission throughout the winter holidays: Adults 40ddk / Children 15ddk


National MuseumWinter holidayThe National Museum is running a dragon taming activity everyday except Monday (as they are closed that day). They say “Are you afraid of dragons? Come on a magic dragon adventure – if you dare – and learn how to take control of dragons. If you manage it, you get your own dragon to take home.”

It is 50dkk per child (under 3s are free) and it is aimed at children between 4-10 years old. You can buy the ticket on the day. More information here.


Legoworld

Legoworld comes to the Bella Center again this winter holiday and is not to be missed if your children are Lego fans. Word from the wise the queues for lunch are long and sadly you can’t bring in packed lunches, this year they have introduced a ticket that includes the choice to order and pay for lunch in advance. I have no idea how this will work but I would say it is worth trying – we waited over an hour last year for lunch. For more information and to book a ticket click here.