Imagine children playing at an indoor playground. Imagine that there are very little crawlers, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged big kids. There are also children with special needs, physical restrictions, and every level of developmental delay. And all of these children are there for the same reason - to have fun and learn and grow through play. What would this place look like? Would it even be possible to build such a boundless indoor play space? We know that such a place is not only possible, but we have seen it with our own eyes!
Kids at Play is a new indoor play facility in Philadelphia that specializes in professional speech, physical, and occupational therapy services as well as ABA services while centering their programs around the idea that every child should be able to just play and have fun being a kid. Research has shown that a person will achieve more in "natural environments" or places where they feel comfortable, and Kids at Play is the only pediatric therapy location in the Greater Philadelphia area that meets the federal guidelines for a "natural environment". The facilities are designed so children who are in need of therapy will have a place that the whole family can look forward to coming to and playing in. Rather than the usual set aside sterile locations for therapy services, at Kids at Play all children (whether they are there to work on sensory, social, language, or motor needs or to accompany a sibling) can just be children going to have fun.
Kids at Play has professional therapists for private services as well as classes and open play for every child. They make the most out of every inch of their facility using both cutting edge and common sense play equipment and spaces. Right in the middle of the sensory gym is a large sturdy playground set with lots of places to climb, crawl, and slide (we loved the extra mats at the end of the fast slides!). Underneath are numerous colorful ball pits (which are cleaned weekly by a cool machine). Kids at Play also boasts indoor swings with various weight requirements and ways to sit or lie down. We really liked the red ship swing as well as the large net swing that easily holds multiple people including adults.
Though it would be hard to pick out our favorites with so many fun things to choose from, our play testers were big fans of the zip line chair, the race car ramp (we really wish we were small enough for that one!), and the interactive floor projector. Even with all of these fascinating things to play with and around, Kids at Play maintains a quieter and calm environment. It even has a separate soft play area for the very smallest children to enjoy, complete with riding toys, balls and cars, an interactive felt wall, and lots of books.
Upstairs the fun continues with an arts and crafts room stocked with toys that encourage fine motor skills. With large tables for activities like coloring and Play-Doh and a chalkboard wall, the room doubles as the party room for birthday parties. Next door is an area put together specifically to give children with sensory issues a place to relax and recharge. It's quieter and darker than the other spaces with less traditional seating options including a hanging seat, pillows, and a tented chair. Down the hall, older children will enjoy trying their hand at the indoor archery (yes, seriously). The SAFE Archery equipment is specifically geared toward teaching young ones the art of archery, which is actually teaching them patience, awareness, and a bit of real life math when factoring in weights, distance, and angles. We tried it ourselves and can guarantee that it takes practice and will keep a kid entertained for a long time trying to perfect their skill.
One of the things that we enjoyed most at Kids at Play was that the design caters not only to the needs of the visiting children, but also their parents and caretakers. We don't think we've ever been to a children's play place that did such a good job making it convenient for an adult to be there too. The parent lounge near the front door had very comfortable seating with a view of almost the entire main room. We also noted the clean and thoughtful family bathrooms (a garbage NEXT to the changing station - how rare!), as well as the free Wi-Fi. There was also plenty of seating in the food area (with high chairs available), and we were delighted to discover a vending machine stocked with all healthier snack options. Kids at Play makes it easy and convenient for families to come and just concentrate on everyone having a good time.
The Kids at Play facilities can be rented out for parties, and they have a few different birthday packages to choose from. (TIP: Book your party well in advance as their schedule fills up very fast!) They also offer a wide variety of awesome classes such as Fun with Food, Astronaut Training, Mommy and Me, Early Language and Play, and so many more! Each class is geared toward teaching a certain set of skills whether it's physical development, social interaction, or an awareness of good health choices.
The location is open every week for any kid during Open Play hours Sunday through Friday. Memberships can be purchased on a monthly basis for each child or for a whole family for an entire year. Memberships include discounts on therapy, classes, and birthday packages, as well as special hours for Open Play. Contact Kids at Play to book a consultation for physical, speech, or occupational therapy. It's definitely THE best location in Greater Philadelphia for kids to grow and learn just like a kid.
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