Walking into the light-filled space of the Village Playhouse is entering an enchanted place. Wooden play stands draped with blue swaths of fabric form a pillow-lined playhouse in one corner. A waist-high kitchen sink and stove create another cozy alcove with a tea-party-ready knee-high table set with tiny cups and plates. Bamboo wind chimes rustle, and a silvery spiral mobile hanging almost low enough for a child to touch twirls in the breeze of a ceiling fan. Every diminuitive element of this new indoor play park is thoughtfully arranged specifically for the under-three crowd.
“I kept hearing parents saying, ‘Charlottesville doesn’t have a playground for my preschooler,’” says Playhouse founder Cynthia Jordan Fisher, a child development specialist whose Montessori Open Mornings (MOMs) program has developed a significant following over the past five years. It was these parents with young children whom she had in mind for this new, more extensive venture, which she hopes will become a community resource for all families.
Village Playhouse offers a delightful mix of both Montessori manipulative play experiences and Waldorf imagination and wonder. Families can bring their children to the Playhouse anytime for an outing that’s just right for pre-walkers and young toddlers. Older pre-school siblings can also enjoy imaginative play or lend a hand as helpers.
Coffee and snacks next to garden-style benches invite adults to sit and chat while their wee ones romp on the wooden play structures or dig through the basket of hats and capes in the dress-up basket.
“Liam loves it,” says one mother who, frustrated by her 16-month-old’s inability to nap on this particular day, has brought him to the Playhouse to use all that excess energy creatively.
That’s exactly the sort of help I could have used when my kids were babies. In fact, being at Village Playhouse almost made me wish my kids were babies again.
Village Playhouse is located in the former Cavalier Beverage building on the corner of 2nd St. SE and Garrett St. Hours are 9am to 4pm daily except Sunday. Cost for a child and parent is $5. Extended passes and a Founding Family program are available. 296-9390