“Play builds the kind of free-and-easy, try-it-out, do-it-yourself character that our future needs” – James L. Hyme, Jr.
The Easter holidays has arrived so quickly this year I never had much time to plan ahead this year, aside from our trip to Bournemouth and Peppa Pig world for the first 5 days. After our holiday, we were left with a fair few days to fill! I am lucky enough to live quite close to the city of Birmingham and I am always on the hunt for new things to try with the kids such as Birminghams Sea Life Centre. When I saw an invite on Facebook to come along to some workshops called Playfest, I booked my kids on straight away!
Playfest – whats included?
Impact Hub Birmingham were the hosts of Birmingham’s first ever Playfest, produced by Birmingham City University graduates. It’s a safe space for little kids and big kids to play, explore and imagine. The PAYF (pay as you feel) event was suitable for children 6 months – 12 years old and the whole family, who were looking for a fun-filled day of messy and free play. Now for me, it can be hard to please all of my three kiddos as Baby K is just 13 months and B is nearly 8. So this was perfect!
6 creative workshops were on offer for different age ranges as well as open craft sessions, cosy discussion workshops and family playtime. We chose to attend the Playtopia session as it was suitable for ALL the family – bonus! We booked online, paid a donation and went along on Sunday 8th April.
Our afternoon at Playfest
We arrived at the Hub to find a lovely clean environment and welcoming staff. After each of the kids got a name sticker and we signed a consent form, the kids went off to explore. And there was lots to see! Many activities were scattered around the main building, with many chill out areas to read or quietly colour. There was a main room where there were lots of role play and craft items. What I found especially cool on offer for the kids was a huge pile of model building. This included boxes, bottles, tupperware – basically anything that you can model build with! Such a fabulous and basic craft activity but got the children all working together and building some pretty good models!
W quickly made a beeline for the role play and dress up. B took his time to figure out what he wanted to do but soon settled into some crafts and colouring. Baby K was straight in the ball pit!
What was so lovely about this particular Playfest family session was that it literally ticked all the boxes. It provided role play, crafts, colouring, dress up, quiet areas for reading, building, sensory play, messy play, community play, imaginative and free play – pretty much everything a kid would love! B particularly loved the pool table and table tennis and it didn’t take too long before he made a friend and they were playing a pool tournament!
There were several booths where the children could get involved in some quieter activities. One booth was all about nature and painting using leaves and sticks on a huge piece of paper – W was in her element. In an another booth was a HUGE tub of gel balls and water beads with figures from the sea. The kids loved this and quite literally got stuck in!
And for the babies…
Playfest’s Playtopia session was perfect for Baby K too and offered a jungle themed baby room – it was so impressive! With the sounds of the Amazon rainforest playing in the background, fake grass underfoot and vines and branches above us, it felt so themed and authentic – such an effect had been put in by the Birmingham Grads! Baby K enjoyed playing in the sandpit, baby toys and just having free roam of the room to crawl – he’s still not walking yet!
What else was on offer?
As well as Playtopia, Playfest had another 5 sessions during the day. These included Inside out, a self-care session suitable for 6-9 year olds, Stay Play….Go, suitable for babies and toddlers and Lets Talk About Play, a session aimed for the grown ups. Playfest is really all about encouraging all types of play for all ages, focusing on the support that play has to offer to our children. Play is so important as it not only supports our physical development but also our emotional and social development. This is why we were so keen to find out what Playfest was all about – and we were so happy we went along!
Overall, we were so grateful for the effort, time and diversity of play that Playfest had to offer. All three of my children as well as us grown ups had a lovely and fun time. We hope that Impact Hub Birmingham will host another Playfest real soon!