Its April which means the weather is like a premenstrual woman, sunny one minute and cold (and wet) the next. It makes deciding where to go and what to do with the kids that much harder as indoor play could work but equally, once the sun peeks through the clouds, outside play doesn’t seem like such a bad idea after all.
So having dismissed both soft play options and the park, we have decided to visit Discover Story Centre in Stratford and their exhibition on The tiger who came to tea. What a fantastic decision that turned out to be.
Storytelling is big business- books, Netflix shows, theatre productions and even journalism all start with an interesting story.
Arriving at the front entrance after several journeys via buses, trains and tubes I could already see the excitement on my little Young Londonist’s face. I paid for a day pass (which means I could leave and return as I pleased).
Discover Story Centreis spread over three floors. As my toddler had just awoken from a nap and was giving me a toothy grin I decided a light bite was in order so up to the first floor cafe we go.
I am impressed with how light and spacious the cafe is (a major pro for anyone with a pram and what seems like half of your house in tow – these babies may be small but their paraphinalia takes a lot of space).
As expected the cafe provides a variety of child friendly snacks, mini ham sandwiches, cheese sandwiches, various pasta dishes, crisps and cakes – all at very affordable prices. I opted for a mini ham sandwich and a packet of Pom Bear crisps for the youngest of the Young Londonist team. We found a seat by the window and settled down to eat our snacks whilst perusing various vehicles out the window on the busy high street below.
Once reinforcements arrive in the form of toddler extraordinarie, Milo, with his accompanying adult following closely behind, we all decide to start exploring the premises. A picture here, a stomp there, a giggle and of course lots of stair climbing.
Back to the Ground Floor where we place our prams into the very convenient buggy park (there are also free lockers for personal belongings) and we find ourselves surrounded by giant trees and into Story World. The children could not contain their excitement – cooing and running, skipping and hopping in all directions exploring this new environment although unsure of where to go first or what to look at.
They tread through the crocodile water creek and stomp on musical steps whilst admiring themselves in the mirrors. They clamber down through the caves venturing into ‘Hootah’s Hollow’ (a personal favourite) to find sensory delights consisting of multicoloured spot lights, which produce a creative assortment of musical sounds every time you step on them and they step on them again and again delighted by this discovery.
They attempt to climb the hill over the top of the caves (but both are a little too young to make it to the top) so they bum shuffle back down. There’s also arts and crafts at the spoon making station (but neither has patience to complete an artwork) and they take turns to turn the wheel of the special steam ship.
But wait there’s a great outdoor space and the sun has in classic British weather fashion managed to make an appearance so the boys decided it was time to explore the Story Time Garden and flew out the doors making their way to the gigantic pirate ship.
The garden is very well laid out, with both grassy areas as well as stone (for the adults who don’t fancy getting muddy), giant musical instruments (the xylophone was a real hit) and climbing frames. Nothing quite beats outdoor play, the boys where ecstatic and we could barely keep up with them (who needs the gym when you have a super active toddler?).
The rain has made a comeback so we head back indoors, this time to check out the current exhibition “The tiger who came to tea”. Unfortunately we had just missed the interactive story session (which can be booked and paid for at reception in addition to the day pass.) However, the staff kindly allowed us to visit and play in the set – the boys thoroughly enjoyed themselves, albeit a bit weary initially of the life size tiger sitting at the table…eek!
After much pretend tea making and cake munching we decide it is time to make our way home (also Discover Centre closes at 5pm)
Discover Story Centre have an amazing three floors of imaginative play & learning and helps develop a love of reading thorough their static play space as well as various exhibitions throughout the year.
We are pleased to say that we shall be returning to Discover Children’s Story Centre, come rain or shine, in the near future. We hope you shall join us too?
Discover Story Centre, 383-387 High St, London E15 4QZ