The boys and I visited Rainbow Factory a few weeks ago, and it is safe to say all of us absolutely loved it. It really is like no place I’ve ever been to – it may sound cheesy, but the best way I can think to describe it is ‘a gift that keeps on giving’. There is just so much to keep children engaged and enthused, plus it’s educational too. I planned on staying for the morning, but we ended up staying until just shy of 3pm, and Win was still asking me why we had to leave. It is the only venture of its kind in the north of England and I was so happy when we were invited back to have another look around, and to test out mini Pilates one Thursday.
Rainbow Factory is the brainchild of two sisters and it aims to inspire a new generation with a love of reading by bringing classic and modern storybooks to life…and I would love to share with you exactly how they do it, because it really does, just that. Although, I don’t really know where to start.
The journey begins on the yellow brick road, and through the curtain you enter the magical storybook into a world of imagination and entertainment. The magical storybook takes you through six legendary tales that are brought to life by models. Each group is led by a member of staff who ask questions such as: What is happening? Were they unkind or kind?Who is it? Why do you think that happened? Do you know what they said to each other? What happened in the end? The models are incredible and so detailed, and I love the whimsical style they carry with them.
The boys also had to look out for fairies and collect pieces for crafting later on. I wish I had captured a picture of Win’s face when he helped the member of staff do some ‘magic’, he was utterly amazed by it – I honestly think it made his day.
After the real life storybooks you enter into the main area where there is Goldilocks’ craft kitchen, a wall full of books, a stage, dressing up, the story book tree, the Hansel and Gretel cafe and ‘The Rainbow Room’. On our first visit Win spent most of his time in the craft kitchen and dressing up, but on our second visit it was mostly spent reading books and watching a variety of shows. Goldilocks’ craft kitchen is always open so children can pop in and out, and a member of staff will ring a bell when there is a new activity about to start – it could be a play, a story book, a magic show, games, singing or dancing.
My personal favourite activity was watching members of staff act out Julia Donaldson’s ‘Room on the Broom’. It was really fantastic! I loved watching Win and Ru’s faces as they observed, and decided how involved they were going to get in the play. We also had the opportunity to watch a scene from ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ on the stage, which was equally brilliant. The children were asked questions about what happened and then had an opportunity to act it out for themselves.
Win really loved the magic show. He’s at the age when he really does think it’s magic and he was completely mesmerised. Story time happens frequently and the boys loved this too.
We also had the opportunity to experience mini Pilates – based around a book, of course. Our session was ‘Monkey Puzzle’ by Julia Donaldson. The boys were shown how to move like a snake, a monkey, a bat, a spider, a frog, a bird and an elephant. Concentration started off good, but it did start to wander and we completed the second half of the class with varying degrees of success. I was surprised they lasted even the first half – Ru is firmly in the copying and parrot stage, so I think he loved mirroring the movements and I think Win enjoyed moving his body in new ways.
The outdoor ‘Secret Garden’ is a rooftop space that has recently been opened to enjoy. Win played a game of Jenga, and to all of our surprise – he won!
My post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning how enthusiastic, talented and helpful the staff are. It is immediately apparent that they enjoy their jobs – they are so passionate and full of so many ideas. I have also been thinking it is the perfect location to host a birthday party – the party goers would have such a unique experience and one they wouldn’t forget easily.
I would also like to to mention a few little practical elements that I felt really enhanced our visits (aside from the truly wonderful staff):
- The open plan – although the areas are slightly separated it is really easy to keep track of your children if they are doing different things. It also means that if Win pops to the toilet I can watch him go right to the door and wait for him to come out without having to disturb Ru.
- There’s a toilet in the baby change. It honestly drives me bonkers when there is no toilet in a baby change. When you have a child that needs a nappy change, plus a parent and a three year old that need the toilet, it makes it a far bigger mission to get all three of you feeling ‘comfortable’ again.
- The cafe is situated in the middle of the space which I really love. Win didn’t want to sit down for lunch, but I wanted to make sure Ru ate something substantial. It means I can easily sit down with Ru and see exactly what Win is up to.
- The food is reasonably priced and there is a good variety. Lots of healthier options, as well as the usual cakes and biscuits.
Rainbow Factory is in Farsley, Leeds which is about a 35 minute drive for us. If we lived closer I would certainly be making the most of all the amazing weekly activities they have for children to enjoy. You can find admission prices here.
Rainbow Factory – we will be back soon!
Many thanks to Rainbow Factory for inviting for a free visit to their magical adventure in exchange for an honest review.