Sadly, Play & Learn Cafe closed its doors permanently in 2016.
Play & Learn Cafe has 5558 square feet of eating, learning and playing space designed for infants- six-year-olds. The play area alone is 1200 of those feet.
Created by Sarah Bakkum, the Play & Learn Cafe offers your child has a plethora of options for playing--imaginatively or actively--and you the chance to catch your breath or join in the fun.
- Open Floor Space
- Digging corner
- Play kitchen
- Smaller toys like little people and toy castles
While playing, there is plenty of opportunity for learning.
- Math toys
- Literacy toys
- A Book corner with indestructible books
- Letters and numbers decorate the whole restaurant
- Manipulatives for the tables
While learning, there is space to create as well.
- Dry Erase Markers
- Chalkboard-paint painted walls for chalk
- Coloring sheets and crayons
- In the future there will monthly themed crafts
Here are some of his favorite aspects
- Everything (including the playtime and the muffins)
And here are some of my favorite aspects
- Sarah's attention to detail
- drinks weren't allowed in the play area because she wanted to keep it safe for the kids
- To keep as many germs away as possible (knowing that you can't do it all), a sink with soap sits at the entrance to the play area.
- There are cubbies and bins to put your things (although they filled up rather quickly)
- The number of toys was good--not too many to overwhelm the kids and not too few to bore them
Sarah's ideas for programming
- Monthly craft themes
- Fun entertainers for kids
- Math directives
- The cafe's big open feel
- Carefully place bright colors are scattered throughout the space.
- Lots of white space for not too much stimulation.
- The colors tie together around the room.
- 3 large family-style bathrooms
- Chairs for nursing mothers
- The fact that the cafe is on our side as parents
- Offer different sand timers to help with our kids' transitions
- They welcome the mess so we don't have to have it in our house
There is a large play area with mats and mirrors and toys for babies/early toddlers as well separate from the preschool section. Plenty of room for crawlers and scooters to get around apart from the "big kids."
Included in the restaurant part of the cafe are cubbies that are filled with more books and manipulatives. These books are special books since they are what the menu for the Learn and Play Cafe is derived. For instance, Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham inspired ham and eggs on the menu. Strega Nona by Tomi DePaolo inspired a noodle dish. The cafe will have a full menu which will be inspired completely by children's literature (Which is like a dream come true for FFTC).
Birthday parties are hosted in one of two party rooms Offering 15 different themes, parties last 1 1/2 hours and include treat bags, cupcakes, and playtime. Sometimes an art project or story is included, but Sarah wants to keep the parties as stress-free as possible as well by encouraging free play in the play room.
The Play and Learn Cafe is a great place for kids to play like crazy and enjoy themselves thoroughly (which inevitably includes creating a disaster). So it's perfect for young kids. It's also a place where parents can join in or sit back and breathe.
Whichever you choose, Sarah's goal for you is to leave feeling relaxed. Everything from eating to mess clean up is taken care of for you letting you just enjoy yourself and your children. It's really an oasis in a that sometimes-lonely, parenting desert.
That's exactly how I felt when I left.
Well done, Sarah! Well done.