If you have been reading the blog for a while, you’ll know that I am a huge fan of the Rainbow Factory in Leeds (Rainbow Factory posts can be found here) and as I was planning a day trip to London, I kept on hearing about a similar venue, called “Discover” and as it seemed such a unique attraction in London, it felt like the right place to go.
It is located a 5 minute walk out of Stratford Underground (which is 20 minute tube ride from Kings Cross) and it is easily found if you go the opposite way to the Westfield shopping centre, and aim for the strange palm tree on the roadside!!
It is best to book in advance, as you have to book the individual activities as part of the day and a couple of the time slots were sold out when we arrived.
Our day was a Dr Seuss themed day and we made it just in time for the reading of “The Cat in the Hat”. However, it was no ordinary reading as the reading took place in a Dr Seuss themed play area where there were activities for the children to play with. The session lasted 45 minutes and the first half of the story was read to the children sat on the carpet before a 15 minute break allowed them to play with their surroundings, before the story was finished off.
The younger children (under 3) understandably struggled to maintain concentration, but they were not disruptive as they were happy to play in the play area. However, Heidi loved it and at the end, was full of beans telling the story teller all about her boots and everything else! (UPDATE: I have been tipped off by the good people on the Discover Twitter page that it was Megan – thank you!) The way Megan interacted with Heidi was so wonderful to see and actually, not be part of, if that makes sense!
We had about an hour before our next session and so we explored the indoor and outdoor story garden play areas. These were lovely, creative areas for children to run and climb and use their imagination. These shouldn’t be confused with soft play areas, but they allowed children to be creative, possibly with adult interaction and support, depending on age. We, for instance, acted out the Three Little Pigs, as well as Three Billy Goats Gruff, simply by using the play area, which lends itself to this. As it was the end of January, the outdoor area was a bit wet, but in summer it would be stunning!!
Our final activity was an intimate “reading” of Dr Seuss’s Scrambled Eggs Super – which was really interactive with the story teller acting as the various types of birds (with various voices!) leaving different eggs with the children to hand around before putting them in the cooking pot.
It was intimate as there were probably 20 people sat on floor cushions in a curtained off room and you felt in touch with the story without being on show. Jonathan, the story teller, was excellent in keeping the children entertained with the story and given that the story lasted 30 minutes, and the children were generally aged 4 or below, that was no mean feat.
After that, we decided to make our move as we wanted to take in Central London as part of our day trip, but we were there for 2 ½ hours and it flew by and would love to come back. Heidi was a perfect age (3) for the activities on the day but they do change on a regular basis, so I guess that every visit is slightly different.
It was really good to see that there was space in a huge city like London for a child focused unique attraction, where you feel as though you could be anywhere your imagination takes you.
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