Mumbler reviews Crafternauts Arts and Crafts sessions at PlayLab
Helen from our sister site South Leeds Mumbler took her toddler-aged mini Mumbler to the launch of Crafternauts Juniors – a new weekly crafts and sensory fun session for under 5s and their grown-ups at PlayLab. Find out what they thought here.
The sessions take place at PlayLab in the St John’s Centre and are run by our very own “ambassadors of fun” for Leeds: the Playful Leeds team. The same people who bring Playbox to Briggate (and many other places).
I thought it would be fab, because it is brought to life by Len Laird and Caroline Barrett artists from Playful Leeds who have a unique skill for making magic happen. And it really was (more on this below). But we so nearly didn’t go…
My little one is really finding her sassy personality at the moment, which includes all the usual boundary testing and adamant refusals to accommodate any kind of compliance when getting ready in the mornings.
There was a point during our battle of wills in which the thought of fighting our way into town in the p*ssing rain to go to a (potentially hectic, messy, noisy) playgroup felt all a bit too much. But I’d arranged to meet a friend there with her two little ones, so we went for it. At 11.30am I parked up in St Johns Centre car multi-story and looked over my shoulder to see she had fallen asleep.
Do I sit here and let her take an expensive nap?
Do I give up and go home?
Do I wake her up and risk all hell breaking loose on arrival at Crafternauts?
I went for option three. We’d made it this far; I wasn’t turning around now!
I arrived with a very sleepy and slightly grumpy one year old on my shoulder. Emma gave us a warm welcome, instantly read the mood and directed us to a beautiful cosy but spacious area under a tepee-style dome, with cushions and dim lighting perfect for snoozing and lounging.
The whole of PlayLab was bathed in ambient lighting with a lovely chilled vibe – exactly what we needed right then! No chaos in sight.
There were tons of different crafts activities set up all around the venue. Care had clearly been taken to cater for all ages within the 0-5 years range, with tailored activities at different levels on tables and on the floor – all with plenty of space to walk around, sit, chat or lie down as you wanted.
My friend and I also had space to sit with coffee and cake on a table out of the way of the play, but close enough to keep an eye on things.
There were a number of helpers on hand throughout to chat with and guide the crafts; all incredible friendly without ever being intrusive.
The “all hell breaking loose” never happened. My little one settled quickly in the relaxed environment and soon forgot her woes as she settled quickly into creative play and art-making.
Along with her friends she immersed herself in working on a large bonfire night themed painting. The “paints” were in non-messy glue-stick-style chunky pens, so the paint didn’t get everywhere. My friend’s older daughter crafted a hanging ornament from string and paper plates with coloured pens and glitter, which she was rightly very proud of. Both of which we were able to take home. Also a big hit were the foam-filled “bounce pit” and tuff trays with lego and other toys.
This was genuinely one of the best creative play sessions we’ve been to. It was high quality in every aspect. When Emma asked for feedback on pricing, I considered the value in all the time, people and equipment resources that had clearly gone into creating such a wonderful space.
I note that the session price of £5 is less than I had suggested, reflecting the fact (I’m sure) that the PlayfulLeeds team wants these high quality sessions to be as accessible as possible.
I know for sure that we used twice that amount just in paints and craft supplies!
I want to give a huge thank you to everyone involved for completely transforming our morning. Anyone who has parented a toddler will be familiar with the extreme highs and lows that every hour can bring. This lovely relaxed session really set us up for a happy day.
There will also be a Crafternaut Club for ages 8+ launching weekly on Saturdays from 16th November.