I’ve had a really fabulous day out with my 2 year old and her friend at the bi-monthly Toddler Takeover at At-Bristol. At-Bristol is an interactive science centre with over 300 hands on exhibits. The Toddler Takeover is a themed day targeted at the under 5’s. The theme for today was ‘Come Rain or Come Shine ‘. I’ve been impressed by the amount of exhibits that my 2 year old can enjoy when visiting with her older sister in the past. There are 2 under 8’s areas that are always available . A role play airport including a cockpit where the children can fly a plane, passport control, luggage and an x-ray machine and a hostess trolley. When my eldest was 4 we spent most of the session playing here. The other has an animal theme and includes a tunnel, dressing up, storytelling and a sticky spider’s web game where the aim is to throw bugs at it to try to make them stick in the web.
I once saw a superb storyteller in this area so was disappointed to have missed the storytelling session today.
As our children were under 3 we only had to pay for the adults therefore the day was good value for money. In addition to the usual exhibits, there were a number of theme based activities designed with the under 5’s in mind. These activities were on the whole well thought out and there was a mixture of child directed hands on activities and more structured adult directed activities. Some of the activities involved making an end product – a windmill or weather wheel and some were more exploratory such as musical instruments that made weather sounds, pretend snow and water play. These were suitable for even the youngest children and each of the exhibits included a list of suggested questions and discussion points .
There were a lot of staff helping the children to make the most of the exhibits including a number of volunteers. Some staff were better at engaging the children that others but in all I felt that the level of supervision was excellent.
For an extra 50p the children could watch a show in the planetarium. This was very interactive and visual and at about 15 minutes short enough to keep the children’s attention. It may have been better presented by someone with experience of working with large groups of under 5’s but he managed to keep the interest of most children.
My little one enjoyed running through the lights best of all and is looking forward to returning with her sister so that they can do it together.
We had a lost child incident whilst we were there and would just like to commend the staff for the efficient way that this was dealt with. The child had wandered from the cafe to the main exhibit area. When staff observed that he was without an adult, 4 members of staff kept in close contact without approaching him directly, so as not to alarm him. When reporting the lost child the reception staff immediately alerted all the other staff and the child was found .
On a practical level there are a number of baby change areas and buggy parks throughout and a picnic area where you can sit and eat your own food. The cafe has its own small play area so the children can play whilst you have a coffee break. Parking is on the expensive side but park and ride or public transport are an option.
As an added bonus to the day out, outside At-Bristol there are a number of water features that on sunny days become a great place for children to splash about in.
My only real suggestion for improvement is that there could have been better signage from outside that the event was going on . I’ll definitely be recommending this to my friends and am looking forward to the next one.
At-Bristol is also a great place to visit with older children too, my 7 year old wants to go tomorrow and is disappointed that she couldn’t come with us today. ‘I want to play with the fake snow’ she said when she found that it was only available for the toddler session.