We headed to Brislington this morning to check out Sensory Space, a relatively new play space for children under five and older children with additional needs. It’s run by the lovely and helpful Jen, a trained sing and sign and Makaton teacher.
Sensory Space is one of the best equipped and thought out sensory play spaces I’ve seen. It’s fronted by a small, creative seating area, where adults and children can eat and drink their own stuff, or choose from Jen’s range of very reasonably priced snacks and drinks. Mr Tumble fans might particularly enjoy the ‘spotty bag’ theme in the large, bright windows. There’s also a gift area selling a well-chosen range of sensory toys, cards and fun things for children. After that it’s shoes off and into the gated play section.
The area is split into themes, with a colourful soft play area including a ball pit and climbers suitable for 0-5s, a nice big tray which contained shaving foam and pink hundreds and thousands when we looked round, and a great low-height, wooden ‘city set’ of travel and transport toys, with train track, buildings and bridges.
We absolutely loved the huge range of animal puppets to choose from, you can just pick some and start your own puppet show.
As you move towards the back of the space, the lighting gets dimmer and more relaxed and the sensory experience changes. You could almost feel the children in there changing their body language as they became really confident and exploratory, each one wanting to savour everything they were seeing. A large bubble tower sits in the corner, amongst some light cubes which change colour slowly and are the perfect height for a cruising baby to explore.
At the back are three small booths, each themed by different sensory experiences. A huge box piled high with lego hidden behind silver ribbons. A small tent filled with fibre optic pick-up toys attracted a lot of attention, and a neon and plastic area with ribbons, hi-vis jackets and clear objects was swathed in bright netting.
The remaining floor is given over to experimental toys and objects which encourage children to make their own textures, colours and patterns. Tibbs loved the large wooden colour filter blocks which you could hold up to the light, and the kaleidoscopic gel-filled packets. A couple of kids made their own costumes from the big pile of textured cloth. Parents have plenty of spaces to sit and play with their children, or watch them from comfy vantage points around the room.
The atmosphere was so relaxed. On a Friday morning there were around seven parents and their children in there, with ages ranging from 6 months to around 4yrs. What I loved was that almost everybody spoke to eachother and played with eachother’s children a little bit. Sensory Space isn’t huge, but there’s so much to join in with, it’s infectious. Brislington has a little gem, and with free parking behind it and pretty good bus links, it’s well worth a trip.
Sensory Space is £3.50 per adult with up to two children for any length session, and an extra pound if you have three kids with you. Buggies and ride-ons are left covered outside, in a securely locked area. Although it’s not open on weekends, aside from for private hire (it would be excellent for a small children’s party!) opening hours during the week are 9.30-2.30 with a growing range of classes and fun sessions available. These include story and sign and Makaton compatible sing and sign. There is also a Wednesday Creche, bookable in advance.