Today Lev and I got to visit a fantastic new place for kids to learn and play, The Wonder Room, located at 896 Saratoga Road in Ballston Lake. Started by Lauren and Chris, two moms who met when their kids were in preschool together (those two kids are now about to turn fifteen!) this space has been carefully designed to be an informal, home-like indoor/outdoor space where children will have the freedom to play and explore at their own pace and on their own time. The Wonder Room also offers a host of enrichment programs in cooking and crafting that encourage children to invent and explore using both new and familiar materials.
Levy and I both couldn't wait to explore the bright, airy space as soon as we walked in the door. Set us as a series of interconnected rooms, the first space we saw was the kitchen space which opened onto an area where kids can get messy with fun stuff like clay, paint, shaving cream and get their hands dirty. The kitchen is going to be the spot for cooking classes where kids can learn how to make some yummy creations like their own travel snacks, learning something new and building some independence in the kitchen at the same time.
Moving on into the next play space, Chris and Lauren told me about their themes, which will change quarterly. The toys and program themes will also change along with the quarterly theme, bringing in new stuff and new ideas for the kids to explore with each change. Kicking things off with the "Going Places" theme, the play room was filled with boats, planes, trains and other hands on toys and activities for kids to explore. This theme was also in play in the imaginative play room which had a little "train" area set up alongside a "train station cafe" kitchen area for kids to try out.
The creative art room is where kids will really get down to making stuff. A little group of tables sit in the middle of the sun filled room and the walls are lined with shelves full of creative art supplies. They have everything from regular crafty type fare like stamps and markers to an incredible idea Lauren said was inspired by The Boston Children's Museum's "Recycle Shop", a large shelf filled with recycled and recyclable materials like cardboard tubes and sheets and a wide assortment of fun items you don't usually see in a kids craft area.
Each of the well thought out spaces really gives you the feel of letting kids explore and create at their own pace, following their own ideas. There is also an outdoor space, a large fenced in area that will be less like a typical playground and more of an exploration space with movable pieces where kids can again create their own play.
One of my favorite parts of The Wonder Room is their Lending Center. Members will be able to borrow items from the lending center, including books, toys, learning materials and more. They have both traditional toys and more specialized items for individual interests as well as a growing selection of handmade toys and curriculum materials. In addition to that wide selection they also have a large collection full of adult resource books you can't find in the library. They have little catalogs you can flip through with pictures of the toys and items in the lending library so you and your child can browse through what's on offer, as well as homemade books designed to help guide scavenger hunts throughout the local area. This idea is fabulous because what parent hasn't been to a play space or even a friend's house without having their child find a toy that just HAVE to take home with them? This way you actually CAN take it home and try it out!
Their programs offer something for everyone, including parents, caregivers and teachers. The kids programs include creative constructing, favorite author programs, social Saturdays, cooking classes, school vacation programs, messy Mondays and so much more. The crafty kids programs offer fun projects like duck tape design and simple sewing, and school vacations offer up collage making and weaving as just a couple of the different things to explore. Their grown up programs include stuff like Make it and Take it Programs where adults can create a fun learning activity for kids to use to promote growth and development.
In addition to all of this (yes, believe it or not there IS more at The Wonder Room!) they also have their Wondergarten Program which is starting on March 7th. Great for kids who have a half day kindergarten program, home schoolers or parents who have kids right on the school age cut off this drop off enrichment program runs from 1-2:30 for kids 4-6. Also, starting in September they will be opening the Wonder Room School, a preschool serving kids 3-5 years old in a mixed age groping with a small (12 kids or less) class size with a themed, experiential, inquiry based curriculum in a literature based environment. The home-like atmosphere will have an emphasis on social skills and community building taught be experienced, certified educators.
For more on the Wonder Room, their membership options, prices and all that they have to offer check out their website here, and check them out at the grand opening on Saturday, January 28th from 9:30-noon! You AND your kids are going to love this creative new space to learn, grow and explore!