We started off in Kid's Town, which is a huge area with a shopping center, bank, shipping store, library, dry cleaner, as well as a quiet area.
Tyler enjoyed the grocery store play area the most! He was able to choose whatever items he wanted from the shelves (which were labeled with pictures and words so you could easily return them) to put in his cart or hand basket. In true toddler style, Ty wanted pretty much everything, so we had to sneak things back when he wasn't looking! When he was done, Ty then put the items up on the belt where another child was playing the role of cashier. The groceries bagged by other kiddos as well. It was so cute! We've actually done something similar to this a couple times at home, and after this he's doing it on his own.
His second favorite area was the bank, where they had things like calculators, play money, magnetic numbers on a cookie sheet, and this old fashioned phone.
Are you sure this is a "phone" Mom? Really?
Hey Mom, it's the 1980's calling. I think it's for you.
Ty seemed to be the only one to discover this quiet room tucked away in a corner, which was nice for a bit. We played with puppets, made faces in the mirror and he really enjoyed this low, colorful window.
Then there was a whole group activity to enjoy. On our first visit we went there was a magician and the second time we went, a violinist. The two days that we missed they had yoga and dance classes.
After this the children chose a wooden block from a box and we were spit-up into groups according to our block shape to visit four different areas: A braille room, a sensory room, a computer room and a music room.
We ended up in the computer room first both times. The computers were touch screen and had fun games to play. I'm not too into Tyler playing computer games, but they did work on eye-hand coordination and finger isolation. He really enjoyed this!
The sensory room was his absolute favorite, which made sense seeing he has quite a few sensory quirks. He could have stayed here all morning and was quite upset when we had to switch rooms. Below is a bubble machine with buttons used for changing the color. The room was kept very dark to get the full visual effect of the equipment.
This is a swinging leaf chair, hung from the ceiling with strands of color changing tubes to lay on your lap. A truly amazing sensory experience and one that Tyler did not give up easily.
My flash accidentally went off here (I was trying to not distract anyone), but I'm glad because you can really see how amazing this sensory wall is! Unbelievable! Ty enjoyed putting balls in the hole and watching them go through the tubes then back out a hole in the bottom.
This was a huge pit full of clear balls with color changing lights underneath. Just brilliant.
We were so busy in the braille room that I didn't think to take photos. The children could watch as someone typed their names onto a braille name tag for them to take home, there were popular children's books with a clear page overlays in braille, braille blocks, and my favorite, alphabet bags! Each letter of the alphabet had a bag containing objects beginning with that letter. Ty really got into these, and he also got some curious looks as he made letter sounds just upon seeing the letter printed on the bags. A proud moment! One of the teachers I spoke with in this room said that her three year old daughter is a Montessori program and that she incorporates as much Montessori into her classroom as possible. It was wonderful to talk Montessori for a bit!
The music room was what you would expect. They had a large carpeted area for music time and many, many instruments to play. Ty and another toddler even played cooperatively for a moment, sharing this drum.
At the end the kids were brought outside to play with bubbles, have a drink, and enjoy the sensory garden. I learned here with the fountain rocks that Tyler is one of those kids that other parents may not always like unfortunately. Everyone was playing nicely until Tyler realized that the water was coming from a hose in the rocks, and that sticking your finger in the middle of the stream of water (as he learned from playing with the hose at home) makes the water squirt everywhere! He quickly soaked himself, a couple nearby others, and even after I felt I had to distract him with something else, the older kids had picked-up on what he was doing and started to do it too...and hence got drenched themselves. I wasn't embarrassed and was proud that he was experimenting, as kids should in my opinion, but sorry for the kids who ended up getting "in trouble". At least they got cooled of on a brutally hot and humid day. :)
While the whole thing was quite anti-Montessori due to shuffling kids around room to room on a set schedule, it couldn't have run well any other way. The exposure to so many different materials that we would never encounter anywhere else, as well as the huge socialization piece, made it such a wonderful experience for all of us!