This review of the Little City mobile role play village is of the North Herts and North Beds franchise. There are different franchises across the country and whilst the set-up will be very similar, the actual equipment at each franchise may vary. In order to keep things fresh they also rotate some of the props that they have out as well.
Little City has just launched a brand new franchise locally this week and we were very kindly invited along to check it out. Kris at Little City North Herts and North Beds had no input into the content of this review and did not see its contents prior to publication.
I’m a big fan of role play centres like the Children’s Play Village in Warwick but there’s limited options locally. Most of them seem to be tagged onto soft play areas. This is something really unique. Little City is a fully mobile role play village that can be set up anywhere indoors that has the space. They actually do birthday party hires which I think would be pretty cool.
We visited the Ampthill Parkside Community Hall session. There are also sessions at; Great Barford, Hitchin, Knebworth, Arlesey, Baldock, Sandy, Landford, Buntingford, Gamlingay, Letchworth, Beford, Stevenage, Shefford, Royston and Biggleswade. These are all run by Little City North Herts and North Beds: he’s going to be one busy guy!
The sessions are at 09:30 – 10:45 or 11:00 – 12:15 (plus sometimes 13:00 – 14:15). Sessions are aimed at under 5’s. They must all be pre-booked in advance and there’s a maximum of 25 children per session. The session we visited was fully booked and it was busy, but not rammed. There was enough space for everyone to have a turn and minimal squabbling.
The role play areas
There are ten main role play areas set up, plus some ride on vehicles and a separate household area. Firstly, I have to say I wanted to buy pretty much every toy they had! Yes, it is all brand new but there are some really lovely and well thought out props. We attended only the fourth session Little City North Herts and North Beds had run so I knew it would all be sparkly and new, but it’s good quality stuff that will last. Most of the toys were wooden. In addition to being better for the environment, I always find wood lasts longer than plastic stuff.
The ten areas they have set up are;
- Doctor’s Surgery
- Post Office
- Police Station
- Cafe / Bakery
- Hair Salon
- Construction area
They’re all set up from the kind of partitions you might find in an office to separate individual cubicles. That makes it sound a bit more pants than it actually is though. As you can see from the pics each of the boards has been printed to make it into the shops and businesses. They’re really vibrant and beautifully done. They’re also pretty robust. Whilst I’m sure they’re not indestructible, I saw one kid ram one with a ride-on dumper truck and an adult nearly fall into one of the boards and it was all fine.
In addition to the decorations on the walls there’s also a decent range of props to bring the role play to life. The supermarket was a big hit with everyone and there was tons of food. They even had shopping lists, baskets, trolleys, branded bags for life, decent tills, credit cards and money. Obviously the kids move all of the props around as they play with them, but Kris kept going around and moving things back to where they should be whenever a section was empty. That way there was always at least some of the right props in the right place when kids went to play with them.
The cafe was another very popular shop. It took me ages to be able to get this photo without any kids in it! This had possibly my favourite prop in it – a barista style coffee machine! I WANT ONE OF THESE FOR SMALLEST CHILD! Some of the areas had more props than others, but there’s lots of cute little details like the tea bags, velcro stamps for the letters etc. There’s also at least one costume for each section. There’s overalls in the garage, aprons in the bakery, high-vis jacket at the building site etc.
Smallest Child had a brilliant time. She really enjoyed all of the props and costumes. At one stage we had Sleeping Beauty driving a dumper truck loaded with bricks. Typical building site attire surely? There were a couple of areas that she didn’t really play in at all. That just means she can go back and play in them another time!
I did wonder if the sessions would be a bit short, but it seemed to be just about right. There were some children who left after around an hour, but most stayed until the end. I had to “actively encourage” her to go home, but Kris had promised her (and every other child) a sticker so she was more than happy to go in the end.
May vary by location but typically £6.50 / £6.25 per session. Non-walking babies are free when accompanied by an older sibling. Save 10% when booking 3 or more children onto a session.
Parking / How to get there
The sites all have parking, but some sites are better than others.
We visited the Ampthill session – Parkside Community Hall, Woburn St, Ampthill, Bedford MK45 2HX.
On-site, including baby change
No food or drink is allowed in the city itself. There are drinks and snacks for sale that you can consume around the edges of the hall though.
Our Little City Review
I think this is such a lovely idea, I wish we had something like this in Aylesbury because I’d be there all the time. The fact it’s mobile means you’re more likely to have one of their sessions on your doorstep. Yes, there are less props than the permanent places, but the sessions are much smaller and the kids still loved it. It feels like a really good playgroup type atmosphere and the adults get chance to chat with each other as well which I liked.
After we finished our review of Little City we had lunch at Houghton House and then visited Ampthill Great Park to make a full day of it.
Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with out three children; a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I (mostly) love spending time together as a family. We visit all kinds of places and we’re quite happy to drive a fair distance for a decent day out. A few years ago I decided to set up Free Time with the Kids as a way to share our experiences of these family days out. You know, the essential information you need to know before your visit that can be surprisingly hard to find out. Where do I park? How much will it cost me to get in? Are there any discounts available? Are there loos? Can I take a picnic or get food? My aim is to be your go-to guide for all your free and cheap family days out across Bucks, Beds, Oxon, Herts & slightly beyond. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch email@example.com or get in touch via Facebook