As I’ve been finding out recently, indoor kids gyms are a God send. They provide my toddler with a spacious, indoor place to let loose some energy in a safe environment. But for parents of kids with special needs, kids gyms are often out of the question due to over stimulation, crowds, and equipment not built for them. This is no longer the case with the recent opening of the Sensory Playce in Boise.
Designed and operated specifically by a mom with two special needs boys, she knows exactly what to include to create a safe environment to suit every child’s needs. A variety of swings, a rock climbing wall, two different types of slides, a mini and large trampoline, and even a quiet room to help calm over stimulation, this “playce” has it all.
One of my favorite parts was how quiet it’s been when we visited in the morning. One day there were a couple other kids, another day we had the whole place to ourselves. (I almost wrote “playce.” I’m pretty sure I’ll struggle spelling that word for a while.)
We haven’t gone in the afternoons, evenings, or weekends, so I’m not sure about the traffic at those times. But the mornings seem to be very quiet.
All the Swings
While my son doesn’t have any special needs, he found the Sensory Playce a ton of fun and never wants to go. There’s at least 10 very different types of swings, each a little different, to suit a variety of sensory needs.
William’s favorite swing, of course, is the one that can bump into the wall. He finds his hilarious and makes a disappointed “tsk” sound every time the swing doesn’t go bonk. I’ve only managed to get him onto three of the many different swings so no first-hand experience from a kid for me to write about here.
But, as a girl who loves to swing, you can bet I’d be on every single one of those swings if I wasn’t the parent in this situation. Those things look fun!
There’s also a sensory table that kept William busy for over 45 minutes!!! Anything that can keep a toddler sitting still for that period of time is a darn good thing.
If you have no idea what in the world a sensory table is, it’s a large and shallow container filled with different shaped fillers (homemade versions have rice, beans, and so forth) and various tools to play in the fillers. Oftentimes this includes shovels, dump trucks, funnels, small buckets, anything to facilitate the movement of the fillers.
This provides the child with a sensory experience on his hands that is good for brain development. And it’s not just for kids with special needs. Kids of all ages and capabilities can benefit from sensory tables.
But I’m not here to talk about sensory tables. I’m here to talk about the Sensory Playce.
A rock climbing wall, a mini jungle gym, a wall adorned with a variety of novelties, buckets of puzzles and toys, there’s a lot to do in such a small area. And everything here is geared for learning in some form or fashion. For instance, hand-eye coordination, shape sorting, color matching, tactile experience, and bouncing balls. (They’ve got a ton of exercise balls, one of which was even bigger than my two-year old! He loved pushing that thing around!)
There’s also a small zipline which, while not necessarily a learning activity, it’s a lot of fun and generates a lot of fun zooming along before landing in a soft foam pad.
The Quiet Room
One thing that parents of kids with sensory processing disorders know is that sometimes too much of a good thing is really too much. Their brains can’t properly process excessive sensory inputs and so they don’t know what to do. It’s like when music is playing, the tv is on, kids are screaming, spouse is asking questions, dog barking, phone ringing, dinner burning, and you’re late for an activity.
Knowing the need for a quiet area, the Sensory Playce has a special room with dimmed lights, a soft crash pad and seating, and this large tube of perpetual bubbles and gently changing colors. (I have no idea what that thing is called, but it’s a tool I’ve seen used in a pediatric surgery recovery area so this thing can help induce calm in children.)
On top of all that the Sensory Playce offers in the way of things to do, they also have special times throughout the week for art classes and a social skills group both for kids 6 and up. There’s also monthly seminars for parents.
You can also rent the room or even the entire play place for a birthday party! An enclosed, padded area where kids can run around and have fun after eating a ton of cake sounds like a fabulous idea to me.
The only one potential lowlight I can think of is the cost. It’s a couple dollars more per visit than other indoor gyms in the area. BUT! The Sensory Playce offers a very specialized area to play that can’t be replicated at these bigger indoor gyms.
There is so much for kids to do here, so much to explore. There’s even a kid-sized bathroom. Plus, it’s super easy to get here. It’s next to the Overland Walmart right near the Cole highway exit. This place is all-around great!
Our Final Thoughts on the Sensory Playce
Here’s a quick tour of the Sensory Playce in case you’re like me and like to know everything about somewhere before going.
If you have a kid, she will love this indoor play gym. With so much to do, so many sensory experiences to explore, and so many opportunities to let off some of the insane amount of energy kids have, the Sensory Playce is a great place for kids to have an awesome time indoors.
Sometimes the weather isn’t always fabulous here in Boise and sometimes (okay, most of the time) I don’t want to go to a park when it’s below freezing. But inside at the Sensory Playce, the “weather” is always pleasant, the slides always dry, and the swings never full.
Have you ever been to the Sensory Playce? What are you other favorite indoor kid gyms?