A ‘Small World’ but big imaginations – A Clued in with kids review of Small World, Tarvin, Cheshire.
Small world is a brand new play facility located in Tarvin, Cheshire, which offers a fantastic space for children to harness the power of their imaginations, and to engage in role play scenarios to act out their own real life experiences. This colourful play hub consists of five key imaginative play environments plus a grassed outdoor space, all of which are safely enclosed, giving parents and carers peace of mind so they themselves can enjoy a good catch up with friends.
The children are free to explore as they wish in a ‘free play’ style set up so that play is guided by your child’s own imagination. Adults act as facilitators to learning, helping children to explore their own thoughts and get the most out of their session. We attended with two toddlers and two mummies who definitely put this new imaginative play centre to the test.
Someone enjoyed nursing the animals back to health…. and diagnosing mummy with a heart problem!
The main play areas come off Small Lane and include Armstrong’s animals, Clan construction, Rosies shop and cafe, Sue’s Clothes’ and Salon, a camping area, and an enclosed bright and colourful space for babies.
We visited Armstrong’s animals first. There were plenty of animals to nurse back to health, a range of toy medical equipment, and even a little phone for our little Vets to ring up their clients and tell them their doggy was ready for collection. Our little girl loved getting the stethoscope and checking the animals hearts. Apparently the animals are all ok but mummy is poorly….. Yes thanks for that!
Time for a little engineering?
Next up was Clan construction, personally my favourite space. There was a ride on yellow truck, plenty of foam bricks to build or lay out as desired, a cement mixer filled with grey and black balls, overalls for the kids to wear, wheelbarrows, workbench, workers cones and even ‘builders footprints’ on the floor to help set the scene and provide inspiration for play. The Clued in kid just kept nipping in to ‘steal’ the wheelbarrows but the other child spent a considerable amount of time in this well laid out and incredibly colourful room.
Right, I’ll lay the table. What are we cooking?
Next we headed to Rosies shop and café where there were several trolleys for our big spenders, with food neatly presented on a shelf and little Green grocers stand. There was a till to help teach our keen shoppers about the value of money and develop their communication skills. Children could then choose to dress up as little chefs and conjure up some amazing imaginary culinary creations in the two wooden kitchens, before serving it to their new friends and caregivers on the nearby table and chairs.
Someone couldn’t decide which model she wanted to give an 80’s hair do to.
We then explored Sue’s clothes and salon where there were three models for aspiring stylists to practice the latest toddler trends, apply pretend make up, and even sit down at a little chair themselves for a ‘pamper’. There is an extensive range of outfits to dress up in, all neatly organised. At the time of our visit these included a selection of dinosaurs, Gruffalo, snow white, tinker bell, spider man, astronaut, pirate and more. Again, attention to detail is high as hairdressers bibs were provided and there’s even a price list!
One of her favourite toys oddly enough was one of the pretend lanterns from the camping section. She would not put it down. The camping section is really cute and consists of two quaint tents, pretend soft logs, eating utensils, toy animals and pretend soft fire, all on a ‘grassed’ area with some colourful campers on the wall as a backdrop
For younger siblings, there is an ample sized, fully enclosed baby area which has been created to help stimulate the senses with lots of colours, sounds and the use of mirrors. There is a large musical keyboard and a range of age appropriate toys including rolling balls to encourage little legs to crawl. Both our testers spent quite some time in here much to our surprise so obviously the area was inviting with a good selection of toys.
All of the indoor play areas are flooded with natural light and the ‘main street’ they feed off provides ample seating for parents/ carers to be invited in to play by our children but also stand on the sidelines when required, to give our youngsters the freedom to play as they require and give us some much needed down time to enjoy a hot drink and a yummy home made cake. We also loved that most of the activities are designed to be gender neutral, and some of the key outfits came in both blue and pink so the kids could just pick whichever they felt like wearing. The outfits carefully selected to match each area is a cute concept.
Finally, there is also an outdoor space. The owners have already confirmed that the outdoor space will continue to be developed as the business moves forwards. In the meantime, children can enjoy a play house, toddler slide, hula hoops, little tikes cars, and other equipment such as cricket bats. Our little girl absolutely loved playing with the little BBQ, pretending that she was cooking us sausages and beans for our lunch. Our toddler friend loved the cars, using his imagination as he played with the gardening tools, and of course both loved playing peek a boo in the play house. We love that staff provide picnic blankets if you fancy them serving your food outside, and they even provide blankets in Winter to help keep you warm whilst the kiddies run around.
In terms of the food, there isn’t an extensive choice but the menu suits most tastes as you can pick up a range of sandwiches and paninis, tea cakes, beans on toast, a selection of cakes and crisps, and of course a range of hot and cold refreshments. All were very reasonably priced. For £18 we had two beans on toast, a hot chocolate, milk, squash, ham and cheese panini with salad and crisps, pom bears, and a children’s lunch box consisting of two sandwich squares, mini cheddars, drink, yogurt squeeze and piece of fruit. Portions were very generous and we were served promptly. It was also handy having books nearby as we enjoyed more snuggle time reading a story whilst we ate our brunch. High chairs come with optional tray, great for baby led weaning.
The venue is clean and well spaced to allow freedom to move. Admission is capped so it doesn’t get too busy and take away from our toddlers experience. To help our children get the most out of their play, staff re-set the scenes roughly every 30 to 45 minutes without interfering with play.
Completely re-set whilst we were entertained elsewhere and we didn’t even realise! Staff do not interfere with play.
Cost of admission on a weekend is £5.50 per child and £4.50 on a weekday. Kids under 12 months play for free. You can reserve your place by pre-booking online to guarantee entry but drop ins are normally welcome provided the cap isn’t reached. You can not prebook of a weekend so simply check the website which will make it clear if they are closed for a private event and if not, just show up. There is no time limit on play…. Once you’re in you’re in. Of a weekday there is normally a class running e.g. The Play Dough Lady, Boogie Beats, Super Little Scientists and many more. These are booked with the external provider and if you wish to stay for play afterwards, you will receive a discount on admission.
The owners passion really stood out for us. With a background in education, combined with a love for her community, Rachel has worked tirelessly to create a stimulating, bright, colourful, and inspirational play facility for pre-schoolers. She has clearly done her research regarding the types of activities that can help nurture our toddlers development as each ‘shop/business’ focuses on life skills in a real life play environment. We were able to facilitate play and take our toddlers to the next level, and it was really sweet to have proper little conversations with our little people. We were constantly surprised and impressed with regards to what they were saying, showing that they just need a few opportunities here and there to help kick start their imaginations, something Small World excels at. We were also impressed that Rachel took the time to get to know her customers. We saw her spark up a conversation with every adult who came in, which really helped make Small world feel like a nurturing and caring place to be.
We were also impressed by the toilets believe it or not. There are custom made facilities designed for little ones and are bright and spacious, with toilets the perfect height for little bottoms to feel comfortable. They are arranged in colourful cubicles and the sinks were also perfectly designed so that our toddlers could almost wash their hands unaided. There’s a separate toilet for the adults if required.
Thank you Small World for inviting us in to feedback to our members. We had a fantastic time experiencing a range of different sensory environments and it was fascinating to hear what goes on in our little ones heads. They both had an amazing time and this was evident when we had difficulties getting one out and into the car! The venue is completely secure. We loved that the gate was adult proof as we have two little escape artists but we felt completely relaxed that they could not go anywhere. We will definitely be back in the not too distant future and we can’t wait to see how you will continue to build on your hard work so far.
Additional information and terms and conditions.
*Parties are available.
*Ample parking on site.
*SAT NAV sends you to the wrong place so its best to come off By-pass road and head down high street until you see an industrial area called Pool Bank and Small World is located just in there.
*We were kindly invited in by the owner in exchange for a review. We are confident that this article represents our honest experience and is unbiased.
*This article is based on our own experiences and given that we are not affiliated with this business, the business reserves the right to change any aspect of its services and so clued in with kids can not guarantee your experience will be the same as ours.
*Days out with kids, Tarvin, Cheshire
*Baby and toddler groups Cheshire
*Kids parties Cheshire