Each week has a different theme, and organiser Claire Poutney fills the room with areas for children to play, paint, craft, and make a real mess.
Sessions last 45 mins, and aprons are provided. Pre-walkers are free and this does mean that there are quite a few extra babies and prams in the room.
Layla (almost 4 years old) and I visit during a baby-themed week. Layla loves the range of activities she can do with the dolls: she can paint them, she can wash their hair, or give them a bath, and feed them bright green spaghetti.
Next, she makes a beeline for the craft corner. Everything is set up at child height, and Layla picks lots of buttons out of a container and then calmly glues them to a table.
This is self-directed play, without any rules or instructions, and no one showing the kids what to do. Instead they’re free to explore everything for themselves.
The sessions are open to a wide age range, and different ages enjoy the activities in their own way. I spot toddlers very interested in games that use water or grains of rice, which Layla isn’t interested in.
Layla’s favourite activity is creating art on a large perspex wall. It takes me a while to realise she was actually painting with a toilet plunger! Definitely not something she gets to do at home.
Soon, our 45 minutes are up and it’s time to leave. Layla says, “Can we come again?”
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- Each session runs for 45 minutes;
- Session times are 9.15am, 10.30 and 11.45am, Monday – Friday;
- Sessions are $10 per child;
- You can book via Messy Shed – Balwyn’s Facebook page;
- Ages 18 months – 6 years old, pre-walkers are free;
- We visited on the busiest session, Fridays at 10.30am, and it did feel very full;
- Aprons are provided but best to pack a change of clothes for everyone;
- Dress your children in old clothes and shoes that they can get messy;
- There’s free parking nearby; and
- Delicious food and coffee at the Good Neighbours Cafe, 335 Balwyn Rd, Balwyn North VIC 3104