When the school holidays roll around we have a few places we always seem to visit, the ones that we love and we go back to time and time again. One of these places is Calderstones Park in Liverpool, it has the best ice cream parlour and cafe, the gardens are beautiful; it’s our favourite park. The Reader organisation also opened The Storybarn – an interactive story-centre for children and this year they are running special The Storyhunter sessions for all the family to get involved in.
We were invited along to be Storyhunters ourselves – the whole experience was brilliant from start to finish and totally engaged my boys. There are several actors who walk you through as you learn to what it takes to become a storyhunter, then make your very own storyhunting objects and finally set off on your storyhunting adventure. Each character we came across was fantastic and interacted so well with the children as well as pointing the grown ups in the right direction!
We started off inside the Storybarn itself and had some time to explore and talk about stories. Everywhere you look there is something to see, everything is hands on and imaginative from the box of fancy dress clothes to the giant story robot. There are cushions and blankets covering the floor, lovely armchairs and even the basket of a hot air balloon to sit in. Every inch of the space is covered in something fun, I loved it in here. We got some time to go off and find an object and then created stories out of what we found. The characters kept the children on track and got them involved in every bit of the story.
Next it was time to create our storyhunting objects so we headed into the craft room where we could make a story finding thermometer, binoculars or design our own map. There was plenty on each table for the boys to get stuck into, all three boys made some colourful binoculars and the twins created two very fancy story finding thermometers while Lucas designed his map. This part was great, the activities were simple enough for everyone to have a go but still so full of creativity. I also liked that they could make something to take away with them and carry on the Storyhunting fun at home.
After that it was time to take this adventure outside so we stepped out into the park, armed with our binoculars and maps, to search for clues. This is what makes it a little different and the kids loved it – being able to have a run outdoors and work together to spot the clues. As we found each clue the children threw out ideas to build up a story, you’d be surprised what they came up with!
Finally we needed to come back and put our clues in the story machine which delivered We’re Going On A Bear Hunt for us to read. Everyone gathered round listening to the story, joining in with words and actions. They do a few different stories so if you want to visit a few times you won’t necessarily be searching for the same clues.
At the end you have a bit of time to explore to outdoor area, including the amazing slide and story trees. Even during this the characters stuck around with us and one had Lucas racing off on a Fantastic Mr Fox adventure. It was lovely that they took the time to talk to the children and they all worked so hard to make it enjoyable for them. Everything was thought of and they had a wonderful morning.
I loved pretty much everything about this whole experience, having never even been inside The Storybarn before I was seriously impressed with it all. It was brilliantly organised, timed just right to hold the children attention with a great mix of crafts, stories, songs and activities to suit everyone. It’s different to the usual kids activities and as there has a good bit of theatre mixed in it really helps to keep the adventure going. My boys were captivated all the way through and us grown ups had just as much fun, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. The experience lasted about an hour and a half and it costs £4 for each person, whether that’s a child or adult. It’s aimed at children aged 2-8 and was perfect for my boys and 3 and 5. It’s recommended you book online to guarantee your space as it only runs Friday, Saturday, Sunday and during school holidays.
Also, while you are there it it well worth visiting the rest of the park – the ice cream parlour serves Cheshire Farm Ice Cream and there is a great child-friendly area as well as a little bookshop. There is so much to see around the park and you can also visit the art gallery, playground, sweetshop (seasonal) and the cafe which sells the most amazing brownies! It’s a lovely way to support The Reader which works so hard developing these projects.
We were kindly asked to visit the Storybarn to see what we thought of The Storyhunters. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience, as always, all words and thoughts are my own.