On our mama and me days Miss Marnie and I regularly hit the library, go to soft play and we even do baby gymnastics. But, I love nothing better than finding something new and fun to do with our days together.
So, I was really excited (OK, very excited) to discover Little Street
Little Street is a scaled down village for … well for the little’s. A realistic town centre with all the usual shops – a supermarket, cafe, hairdressers, fire service and even medical centre – for kids to run themselves and aiming to encourage learning through role play.
Based in Frimley, Surrey it’s set in a converted train station ticket office. The building is beautiful and with ample parking (at just £1 a day and free at weekends) its the perfect alternative to the usual play centres. It’s also a stones throw from the village of Frimley – so perfect for a spot of lunch afterwards.
Whereas we’d normally just turn up to play centres and soft play – Little Street has 4-timed sessions each day (of an hour and a half each). This means you can pre-book and not worry that you won’t get in. Which has happened to us on many an occasion…
I have to say I was blown away by the concept.
It’s beautifully painted and mixed with simple graphics to ensure it looks like every high street. A selection of miniature cars are parked up ready for a spin round the town, the stores are stocked with everyday essentials and the construction site – complete with diggers, bricks and cones is every little builders dream site.
Everything has been thought out down to the last detail – there’s tills, credit card machines, shopping lists, trolleys and bags for life in the Little Savers supermarket, a computer and medical supplies in the doctors surgery and towels, brushes and hair accessories in Belle & Beau Hair salon.
Centre stage in town is the amazing red wooden fire engine. Large enough for around 8-10 kids – and just perfect for budding firefighters. Watch them all want to drive it though (thankfully it doesn’t move!)
Ideal for kids from walking to around age 6 to interact and and take in the world around them. I literally had to stop myself from joining in (OK, I did have a whizz around the supermarket and a spot of lunch in the cafe!)
I especially loved the little post boxes on each store. The main post box in the town centre is armed with a uniform and a letter bag for the post to be delivered to each shop. Each postbox is a different colour and the letter colour matches (each are addressed and stamped too!) – making role play a colour matching game too.
One of the popular areas was the dressing up room. Full of every outfit you can think of – and a child sized stage for any budding starlets, rock stars or actors. In fact there is appropriate dressing-up outfits hanging up in every room – I could only get Miss M into the mini apron in Chicco’s cafe (she isn’t into full on dressing up yet!)
Miss Marnie and her buddies from Running in Lavender had such fun and really didn’t want to leave.
I can’t wait to go take Miss M again!
Q&A With Little Street owners: Shay and Hannah Elbaum
Tell me a little about yourselves..
Hannah: Before, setting up Little Street I worked in HR and project management. Shay worked in catering and hospitably. We have 2 children aged 4 and 2.
How did the idea for Little Street come about?
Shay: We saw a similar concept on holiday in Israel and knew there was nothing like it back home in the UK.
What does Little Street offer compared to other play centres/areas?
Hannah: The pre-booked sessions guarantees your space and limits numbers so, it’s never too busy even if it’s raining. The unique role play rooms are linked to the early years curriculum and we had input from early years practitioners to ensure maximum learning opportunities.
Why did you choose the current location?
Hannah: We were actually looking for a bigger premises but fell in love with this building here at Frimley. It has such character and great natural light. The public transport links are good too and there is plenty of parking making it accessible to all.
How long did it take to do from idea to opening?
Shey: From idea to opening it has taken just over 2 years – the longest parts was the planning and general ‘red tape’. I did most of the design and building myself too.
You’ve only been open since June this year – how have you spread the word?
Hannah: Facebook has been amazing for us. Just getting our idea out there – we updated our page regularly as we were building it. We have also discovered it has been a lot of ‘word of mouth’ too.
You offer birthday parties – tell me about that?
Hannah: Yes, we offer exclusive party hire every day of the week in the last play session only (from 3.45pm). Although, we’re fully booked until mid-Jan 2015 and are not taking further bookings at present.
Whats’ been the best and worst thing about opening/running Little Street?
Hannah: The best part is seeing our dream become a reality and then watching the children enjoying the facility. The hardest thing has been the amount of damages, especially the vandalism to our buggy shelter. It’s been an expensive few early months in repairs and replacements.
It’s already proving a great success – any plans to expand?
Hannah: Yes, eventually. We’d would like to open a larger one as per our original design and then maybe franchise. It’s early days but were enjoying every moment.
Little Street Notes for Parents:
* There is 4-timed play sessions every day lasting 90 minutes each and booking can easily be done online (if you don’t want to book online each slot will state how many places are left – worth checking before arriving.)
* It costs £5.50/£6 per child (includes entrance for one adult, additional adults need to pay a fee of £3.50/£3.75)
* There is a small cafe selling hot and cold drinks and snacks for adults (and kids too).
* The reception area has a small play area for pre-walkers, and bench style seating for leaving coats, shoes and bags.
* Socks must be worn at all times.
* There is a secure pram shelter outsides – as no prams can be accommodated inside.
* Baby change facilities and toilets with kids seats also.
For more information visit Little Street