Sunday, 15 July 2012

Mommy and Little Boos review of the Thinktank Birmingham

OK so I have never officially reviewed a place before but feel that this will be a working progress.    I  figured it is the Summer holidays and we always visit new places so why not tell people about them, especially about their suitability for preschool aged children.  I am open to any suggestions of what you would like to hear about so that I can gradually improve the review in an aim to make it reader friendly. Apologies again for the poor images I had loads to take (as you do when you go out for the day with a toddler) so just took pictures on my mobile. 

On Friday we wanted to have a girls day out Little Boos Nanny had two suggestions swings and slides if it was sunny or Thinktank in Birmingham if the weather was bad.  On Friday needless to say it was raining (again) so the Thinktank it was.  I had Googled the place and thought it looked OK but was wondering about its suitability for Little Boo nevertheless we always make the most of any day out. The Thinktank " has over 200 hands-on displays on science and technology from the past, present and future" (Thinktank events and activities May-Aug 2012).

I looked on-line for the prices and realised you could get 30% off entrance if using National Express.  This is great for us as we were using the Metro anyway (the car park fees in Birmingham and driving to and from Birmingham really did not appeal) all you need to do is fill in the details then you get a voucher e-mailed to you which you present (printed) with your travel ticket when paying at Thinktank (you do get your travel ticket back).   We paid £8.23, $12.81 each and Little Boo had free entrance as she is under three.  

When we went there were a lot of schools using the facility and it was quite noisy with them pushing to the front of the exhibits.  However, an hour into our visit about 11:00 o'clock they seemed to disperse which made for a more pleasant atmosphere.  The Think tank provide "Parent Packs" these contain activities and stories which relate to different sections within the Thinktank they are for children aged from 3-7.  There were (I think) four different packs including space and animals.  Due to being here for the first time I did not take one out as I realised that Little Boo would be too excited to concentrate on this, may be next time though when it is a bit quieter as well.  

Now for the best bits! Little Boo loved the hands on nature of the Thinktank even though a lot of the concepts covered were too difficult for her to understand she still enjoyed pressing all the buttons and seeing what would happen. 

Looking at the moving fingers.

The big tongue thinking about what was sweet, sour, bitter and salty

There are really some great sections for preschoolers in the Thinktank that have been specifically devised with children in mind.  The Kids City was amazing! this section is devoted to role play having a doctors, dentist, garden, water play area, garage and cafe. The area provides dress up clothes for the children to assist them with the role play. The telephones in the area work properly (providing children with numbers to call the different areas) so you can call your child from a neighbouring phone to make an appointment at the doctors.  This was really good as many of the parents were playing with this and probably enjoying it as much as their children (I know me and my Mom were).  

The indoor water play area is big, take a change of clothes! 

One of the play telephones with the numbers to call. 

The doctors, this also has a small soft play enclosed area which would be great if you had a preschooler and baby with you. 

Music area 

Looking at the x-rays at the doctors

The cafe area with play food 

The dinner made for me and Nanny. 

Needless to say we spent most of our time in this area Little Boo loved the telephone which other children kept calling.  At first she did not answer it then gained more confidence and started talking.  At one point Little Boo told me to answer it as she was " too busy" and it was another parent! how funny, I obviously asked her for her order.   

After this we had dinner and was surprised to see that none of the cafes inside the Thinktank were open.  There is a cafe inside but when looking on the Internet I have found out that this is open during school holidays 10:30-3:00pm.  When we were there if you wanted lunch you needed to go out the Thinktank to the cafe just outside the reception. This was not far though.  We were lucky as I had a packed lunch and lets face it the cafe space being closed was a bonus as this was an additional picnic area.  I really appreciate that the Thinktank has a picnic area as all to often places do not let you consume your own food and charge astronomical prices to purchase theirs.  At least this makes for a cheaper day out. 

We then decided to go outside to the new Science Garden.  This area contains some really fun outdoors activities for children (and adults).  Be warned that most the activities include water.  I was lucky as we are potty training at present so I have always got loads of spare clothes. I was really pleased as this meant I did not need to worry about Little Boo getting wet and believe me she did! I later found out that this Garden is free for people to access from 3pm -5pm.  This is just the outdoor area though and not the inside area of the Thinktank. The Science Garden is going to be free to access on the 1st August 2012 ALL DAY for National Playday

Duck race time.  This was her favourite and the first thing she told Daddy about her day out. 

Balancing the ball on the water

Experimenting with balancing the duck on the water.  
When thinking about facilities the Thinktank does have a baby change area and has plenty of areas inside that I would of felt comfortable breastfeeding/bottle feeding in.  I did not go in the baby change area so am unsure whether they provide bottle warming facilities.  If not I am sure that the cafe outside would cater for these requirements.  Apologies that I did not look for a specific feeding room  I will for the next review as I realise this may be helpful for some people. Disabled access would be good as lifts are provided and disabled toilets.  The exhibits had plenty of room for buggies and wheelchairs to access them and I feel that they would be at an appropriate height. 

All in all this was a fantastic day out I realise that it is expensive but we did spend all day there as there is plenty to do for young and not so young.  Little Boos comments about the day included "I liked the ducky bit Mommy" and "can we go back to the fishtank, I liked it in the cafe, I made you and Nanny dinner" hilarious that Little Boo called it the fishtank. 

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