Kids can dive into a classic book at this immersive, wordplayful exhibition.
You know a book is part of popular culture when the Met Police starts referencing it. ‘We’re going on a bear hunt!’ tweeted the Kingston bobbies last month when they discovered a huge weed forest. Michael Rosen’s 26-year-old picture-book classic in which a family goes looking for a bear through a forest forms the basis for this immersive exhibition for babies to 11-year-olds – kids can feel the swishy-swashy grass, crouch down to inspect tiny ursine model scenes in floor-level glass boxes, and crawl through a tot-sized tunnel to the ‘narrow gloomy cave’ filled with a furry family of lolling bears. It’s a wonderfully atmospheric way to bring the rhythmic story to life.
The preschool and early primary school crowd were enthralled when we visited (cries of ‘There’s Michael Rosen!’ erupted with a giddiness usually reserved for One Direction). For older kids, there are gleefully silly word games to get creative with, inspired by Rosen’s comic rhymes. They can write a mad meals poem in a chocolate cake kitchen or play with word tiles in a recreation of the author’s classroom complete with the terrifyingly big cane that his teacher used on him.
The exhibition works brilliantly as a jumping-off point to inspire young minds to engage with the written word. Though child-sized, it’s packed with just enough to keep those with wandering attention spans rapt. Let the kids loose in Discover’s ace story garden when it’s time for their imaginations to get whirring in the fresh air.
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We went to the Oliver Jeffers exhibition last year and were blown away, so we weren't going to miss this. We were not disappointed this time either. A beautiful, immersive stunning space built to be interactive and send the children's imaginations into overdrive. Bravo discovery centre.
I've taken my daughters at a number of different ages - age 2 and above seemed to get the most out of it. However even my six month old was enjoying the space - it's a very visual experience. You are introduced into the space by a storyteller (a very good one - acting experience perhaps but certainly very committed to the cause - once we even got one that played the guitar as he told the story). After the intro, you are free to explore the space which gives the children the opportunity to touch, feel and experience everything in their own time.
With a ticket to the exhibition, you also get entry into the rest of the centre, which is a large creative play space. Very well put together with lots of activities, outdoor space and a little cafe.
Can't recommend it more, nothing else like it in London.