Now THIS is a Play Area!

We had friends staying with us over the weekend, bringing with them their 3 year old son Paul and their 10 month old daughter Kate. I was thrilled they were coming up. We don’t see them enough, seriously.

Since we had them all to ourselves in Columbus, and since all three kids were in a cranky mood Saturday morning, I suggested we pack up and go to COSI.

Our friends had not been there in a long, long time, so they were totally willing to go along with this plan, if for no other reason than letting the kids run out their energy.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, COSI has an awesome play area. I think it’s probably one of the best in the city, if not the state. Sure, it costs money to get in (we have a membership), but it’s worth the price of admission just to come visit this little piece of Childhood Paradise.

It’s cool for several reasons:

1. There’s only one exit, and it’s guarded by a staff member and has a locked gate. Children cannot escape. Sure, it sounds like a prison, but if I was a kid and had to go to a prison like that, I’d be committing whatever crime needed to get me locked away in there.

2. The gate guard is responsible for making sure you leave with the same number of kids you came in with. Upon entering, you are given a slip of paper with the number of adults and kids on it. You must show this paper to leave the area, and the numbers must match. So no snatching kids, unless you leave an equal number of kids behind. (I’m sure some might consider that a fair trade.)

3. “But, if I can’t leave, how can I get a drink, or a snack, or visit the restroom?” No fear, my dear readers, they thought of that as well. Inside the play area, there are vending machines with drinks and snacks, including yogurt, sandwiches, and fruit. They also have tables to eat at. And they have three restrooms – men, women, and family. Best of all? There’s a nursing room that is not a part of the restrooms!

4. Only children 5 and under are allowed in. This minimizes the little ones getting trampled by the big kids. If you have an older child, they are welcome to wait in a gated area just inside the main gate (the Big Kids room), which is stocked with board games, puzzles and video games.

5. It has some of the most creative play spaces. Inside, there is a treehouse climbing area with slide, tunnels and rope bridge. There is a building area with lots of large plastic building blocks and frames of homes showing the wiring and the plumbing.

For the future med students, there’s a clinic where they can look at x-rays, put on doctor’s coats, and examine and care for the dolls in the area. There are also bandages to fix up boo-boos.

For those who like to drive or fly, there is a helicopter with a kid-powered propeller, and an ambulance with flashing lights. A small, yet well stocked, kitchenette is available for the FHA wanna-bees, complete with pots, pans, serving dishes, fake food, and a dinette table.

But wait, there’s more! There’s also a mini-studio where kids can record themselves on video. There’s a room to play with electronics and sound. A window into a locked room provides a glimpse of certain animals – rats, spiders, snakes, etc. (They’re also brought out for demonstrations occasionally.) And there’s my daughter’s favorite part – the water tables.

Beyond that, there are also smaller areas with other playthings: bead puzzles, beanbag chairs, air jets that hold up foam balls. There are also soft mats to place younger babies on for safety.

Essentially, it’s half of the second floor of the building, and it’s a huge, safe funhouse. On a busy Saturday, it’s filled with tiny humans racing around the room from area to area. I’ve also been there during the week, when it’s not as busy, but there are still plenty of children to interact with.

Our day was glorious. The kids ran themselves silly (well, Kate mostly crawled), and then they collapsed into the strollers so we could look at some of the other exhibits before closing time.

Two of the three fell asleep on the way home – can you guess which child didn’t sleep? Yeah, ours. Of course.

But the exercise mellowed all three out, and Cordy and Kate later sat quietly on the floor and shared a bowl of Cheerios while watching Wiggles.

(OK, fine. It was actually Kate’s bowl of Cheerios, and, as usual, Cordy saw food and immediately claimed it for her own. Luckily, Kate recognized how large Cordy is and didn’t put up a fight.)

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  1. Daundelyon says:

    I got to fill in up in LittleKidsSpace one day, and I’m amazed I didn’t get into trouble for playing with all the neat stuff up there. :)

  2. I will have to check that out! Maybe Dan and I will head up there and meet some of our college friends with kids.

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