The Mini-Apprentices and I were excited to secure invitations to the Children’s Preview of the latest Baltic exhibition, which is open now, and runs until the end of October. We’ll be back several times over the holidays, I’m certain.
Travelling to the Level 4 exhibition space was an adventure in itself for our two- the super-fast glass elevator with stunning views onto the Tyne was particularly exciting this evening, as the sun was glittering on the water in a spectacular way. Miss M-A was keen to hold my hand, lest we fell into the river, I think!
After arriving safely, we were warmly welcomed, and turned the corner into a riot of colour, vibrancy and excitement. As adults and children are equally welcome to participate I started with a go on the wobbly bridge climbing frame. The children were then delighted that I joined them in the long tunnel. It afforded our little ones (ages 4 and 6) with a lot of excitement and challenge. There were some pretty steep bits, so they had to develop strategies to avoid slipping back. There were some fun bits to slide down and lots of peepholes to be imaginative and escape through. The tunnel was wide enough for an adult, but narrow enough that the chidren had to negotiate and consider other chidren travelling the opposite way. Older children were daringly running along the top of the installation, balancing carefully and calculating risks.
A sand pit in the corner with bits of piping to construct your own designs caters for the smallest baby up to the biggest kids (like me!) A fun climbing frame made of old climbing ropes felt adventurous, but still accessible for little ones.
There was some junk modelling on offer, and a little boy proudly showed us a space rocket he had created. He’d also made a Ninjago, he told us, but that was already in his mum’s bag.
The drawing wall looked amazing- with pens to scribble with for the little ones, or the free-style creatives, but there were also pretty amazing contraptions to create different patterns and effects that will hold the attention of children aged 8+ indefinitely.
Some weird and wonderful musical instruments are also on display and just waiting to be played. Miss Mini-Apprentice had a go making music with a bit of old piping and a space hopper- wonderful! (The idea and the experience, rather than the sound!)
The film, playing on a loop in the darkened back room, got us pondering about the value of play, risk and adventure, and challenges the loss of these opportunities for many of today’s children. It’s food for thought!
As we left, we were given a ‘Play Book’ that has loads of great inspiration for play opportunities for everyone- a few more rainy days’ worth of activities are in that booklet, for sure!
And as we made our way back to the car, the children had a long scramble on some artful tree trunks, that extend the exhibition outside. The thick trunks and whittled steps and arches formed a ship, a rocket and a treetop hideout in their imaginations. As various children came and went, they played together and made new friends, and it was lovely!
I definitely recommend popping in to The Baltic during the holidays for some play and creativity. Wed- Sun from 2-4 different artists will be on hand to inspire and engage children with Play On. Guided tours suitable for children are available at certain times (check before you go) and children always have fun at Quay, the creative space on level 2. The café downstairs is perfect for a snack and a treat and the shop is full of so many delights (including amazing Gateshead t-shirts by our friends Since1982) it is undoubtedly my favourite shop.
The Baltic is open daily from 10am (10.30 on a Tuesday) until 6pm, and while donations are always welcome, there is no charge for the exhibition. Why not enjoy the gallery one morning, cross the bridge for lunch at Riley’s Fish Shack, then have a relax while you finish your coffee and the children play at the Quayside Seaside? That’s the best part of a day filled, all for the price of lunch (or even bring a picnic to make it a completely free day out!)
If you think this sounds like a fantastic way to keep the children entertained over the school break, please do share this blog with your friends- find our social media buttons below.
For other ideas of what to do over the holidays, check out just what we thought of the Staiths Food Market, on again Saturday 13th August.
What other events and activities do you recommend in our amazing region? Let us know in the comments section below.