Most organised toddler activities I go to leave me with a ringing in my ears and the urge to go and lie down in a darkened room. Often added to the woe is the knowledge that I’ve paid a small fortune for my children to either cower in the corner and if I’m lucky have chirped up about five minutes from the end of the 45 min session. And, guess what, we’re signed up for a whole term, so they will come back and they will enjoy it next week…
So, what an hour of bliss was Newcastle’s Dance City’s Dancing Babies. With no need to commit to every week, like you do at many pre-school classes, you are just told to get there early to make sure you get a place. We were about ten minutes early and that seemed fine.
The Dance instructor explained each week has a theme and he led us on a journey ‘e2’80ldblquote up to space this time ‘e2’80ldblquote and the children were encouraged to perform actions linked to the storytelling. The girls were captivated by his guitar playing ‘e2’80ldblquote a lovely change from loud dancing CDs of some classes. The instructor also wasn’t too strict, which is good, so if the younger ones preferred to be fascinated by looking out the window rather than what was going on inside, then that was fine. It wasn’t a class for learning dance moves, more about movement and physical expression. Although I still would have quite liked a lie down afterwards, it was more because the soothing singing and music was sending me off to sleep.
Facilities-wise, we called in to the cafe for a coffee and tea cake. With four kids and buggy it was pretty cramped and they only had two highchairs so there were none free as most of the other mums had the same idea. We didn’t try them, but they do kids lunchboxes for around ‘c2’a33.50.
Since we were in the city, we went crazy and did a dance-culture combo and crossed over the road for a quick round of the Discovery Museum. This was youngest daughter’s first visit to the water room, where they can splash in a child-size model of the River Tyne. There are aprons, but they can’t really keep them dry ‘e2’80ldblquote so bring a change of clothes.
We then headed to the under 5 soft play, just a small corner, but good for the younger ones. They spent longer at the gravity ball equipment ‘e2’80ldblquote where they spent ages placing the ball at the bottom then watching it shoot up and whizz all the way down. It’s a brilliant place for them to explore, with so many child height levers to pull and buttons to press.
If you were after a roomier cafe area, then I’d recommend saving lunch for the Discovery, as it’s much less cramped. And if you are tight (like us!) they have a new picnic area, right by the Science Maze, where you can dish out the cheese sandwiches in peace without having to be looking over your shoulder for an eagle eyed cafe attendant.
You could spend ages in the Discovery just letting them wander round, but they were running out of steam so we called it a day and headed back to the car. We parked in the Grainger Town multi-storey, which is 80p and hour and right next to Dance City.