Days out to liven up dreary January

Fill the long, grey stretch of January with art, creativity, family fun and loads of colour says Nifa McLaughlin

Tea time mayhem

The doorbell rings just as Sophie and her mummy are sitting down to tea – who could it be? Relive your favourite childhood book The Tiger Who Came To Tea through this delightful play with magic, songs and chaos as the big stripy guest creates mayhem! Perfect for ages three and up. Touring the UK from 20 January.

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Old MacDonald Had A Farm

E-I-E-I-O... but he's in trouble because all the animals have gone missing! Can you help the friendly scientist with a time machine get them back? This charming production tells the tale through action, puppetry and animation, and is designed for parents to enjoy with their kids. Touring throughout February.

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Say cheese!

The Mouse House at the Great North Museum is a Gallery aimed at under-fives. They can dress up, look at books, and go down a mouse tunnel to a soft-play 'cheese'. And at Saturday storytime the Great North Mouse, who lives in there and explores the museum at night, talks about his adventures.

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Horsing around

Based on the wildly imaginative book By Russell Hoban, illustrated By Quentin Blake, Rosie's Magic Horse is a play where magic and dreams collide. Follow the adventures of Rosie and her horse Stickerino as they search for treasure. Perfect for children aged three and up. Touring through 2015.

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Brilliant ballet

Children often love the magical atmosphere of ballet, but most productions are too long. Birmingham Royal Ballet has adapted the ballet Coppelia for children aged three to seven, with a storyteller, and a full company of dancers and orchestra. It lasts a child-friendly one hour. 6 February, Edinburgh Festival Theatre.

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Start them on art

Lead by artists Hannah Fox and Rachel Kelly, the Friday Crawl at the Hall sessions at Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Cumbria involve a range of thinking and making processes including mark-making, construction techniques, storytelling and role play. Sessions are inspired by current exhibitions, to encourage a love of art.

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What a curious cake

Curious is a laugh-out-loud play for the under-threes combining kitchens, gardens and cake – and guaranteeing giggles. What's more, little ones are invited onto the stage at the end to create their own messy recipes, and the show lasts no more than 25 minutes. 13-14 February, Polka Theatre, Wimbledon.

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Arctic adventure

Calling brave explorers! Join two friendly (and naughty) polar bears on their adventure. What will they get up to next? Have they got enough sandwiches – polar bears love sandwiches! With music, laughter and cheekiness, The Polar Bears Go Wild is a treat for two-year-olds up. Until 25 January, Unicorn Theatre, London.

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And baby made this

Oooh, we love it when little ones get all creative! If you're near Gateshead, take your younger children to Shipley Scamps sessions at Shipley Art Gallery, where they can get messy with arty activities and stories linked to the exhibitions running in the gallery. Sessions are suitable for two- to four-year-olds.

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Free family fun

Grab an explorer bag full of games and bright ideas from the reception desk at the Nottingham contemporary and head to the free weekend creative drop-in sessions, where the play and learn team are on hand to help. there are always loads of imaginative family activities, especially at half term.

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Magic museums

In their popular Museum Monkeys programme, Museum Baby sessions for the under-twos at the Yorkshire Museum and the York Castle Museum are linked to exhibitions, mix free-flow and adult-led activities, and all relate to the Early Years curriculum. There are also Early Years Explorer sessions for two- to five-year-olds.

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For mini football fans

This Manchester Museum has brilliant activities for under-fives throughout January and February, including Storytime, Let's Play Toddler and Baby Moves. The Let's Play Toddler sessions are suitable for toddlers who are confident at walking. Booking for all these events is definitely recommended to avoid disappointment.

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