Today we went to the newly opened World of Play, Ixworth in Suffolk. It’s set in a beautiful building with wooden beams and lovely little features that make it feel more like a home than a play centre. It caters for children 7 and under offering a unique opportunity for completely immersive play.
I took my 3 year old to have a play. We opted for the monthly SEN session so that we could try it when quieter (my son has additional needs). However, after seeing the environment and meeting the owner I feel confident that we would enjoy the regular sessions too.
So, the centre is split into different area. As you go in you see the role play area with shops, cafe and home. Each little pod is full of accessories to truly feel you are in a new environment. Everything is touch friendly and the use of wooden toys just adds to the sensory feel. There’s also no judgement if your child is a transporter and likes to take toys everywhere and anywhere. It all gets tidied and reset between sessions.
There’s a playroom that’s set up with wooden toys (lots of cause and effect as well as open ended play resources), a comfy sofa with books and a ‘story of the week’ table with props to extend reading opportunities. It was all at a height and layout that the children could help themselves. This room is a lovely comfy area and also has seating for adults to enjoy a snack and a drink (I went for the millionaire brownie).
As you venture further in you’ll find the sensory room. It’s like a giant dark den with bubble tubes, sensory toys, light table and gentle music. It’s all set up safely so you don’t have to worry about your child pulling the tubes down or pulling at wires. It has a very calming feel.
Then you’ll find the messy play room. It is like walking into an art studio. There’s various painting opportunities (not just paper but boxes to decorate too), drawing table, playdough, tray play (todays was rice and dried peas). There are aprons available but my advice is to pack lots of spare clothes.
When you venture outside you’ll find a beautifully set up garden. It has a natural feel to it with flowers, stones and plants. It caters for all sorts of physical and sensory play. There were ride on toys, instruments, dress up, bubbles, balls and tubes. The highlight for my little one was the water and sand area as well as the mud kitchen.
The type of resources encourages risk taking and exploring freely without there being a ‘right or wrong’ way to do things. Children can be fully engaged and quite literally get stuck into everything using the whole body. There are waterproof coats and suits to borrow but as it was a sunny day I just left F to explore. After all clothes (and children) can soon be washed and dried.
The owner is an early years teacher and a Mum. She is very approachable and friendly with a good understanding of what it’s like to be out and about with your child. Nothing was too much to ask. It felt like going around for a play date.
Bit of details that I know people often want to know:
There is no parking directly at the play centre. However there is a free car park just up the road which has regular spaces and disabled spaces.
There were two toilet rooms which were clean and spacious.
There are a range of drinks and snacks for both the children and the adults. There are well priced and I can confirm the millionaire brownie is particularly delicious. Hot drinks are served in a cup with a lid for safety reasons and there are places to sit and put drinks out of reach.
Due to the building being rather old there are steps here and there. There is a ramp available to enable those with mobility aids to get in and add the various areas. Door ways are open and clear. Outside is an open space so plenty of room and as said previously you can take toys and resources from other areas if you want to take bits somewhere with more room.
The doors are kept locked and the owner opens as needed. There are padlocks on gates in the garden.
It cost £10 for 2 hours. There is a cap on the number of children to ensure adequate space to play. In my opinion it’s well worth the cost as there’s a lot of resources and play opportunities that you don’t get at other play centres or toddler groups.
If you are around Ixworth area (it’s easy to get to from Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket, Thetford, Diss etc) then it’s definitely worth the drive to come and visit. Check out the website to book and for more information.
Disclaimer: this is not an ad. I paid for our session and did not at any stage make it known I was reviewing (frankly we just went for a play but I was so happy with our visit that I wanted to share it). Views, as always, are my own.