Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tai Po's best kept secret

This morning our friends the Sweeney family took us to a wonderful indoor play centre in Tai Po called "PlayScope". From their website:

In our PlayCircle, children love the physical challenge and excitement of weaving their way around a system of colourful and ingeniously designed PlayBoxes and clambering over our 3 m long SkyWeb. This physical freedom is further enhanced by the limitless creative possibilities of imagining fresh worlds, building new teams, and experimenting with different roles. PlayCircle also incorporates constantly changing themed play activities. While these are planned to reflect the worlds of work and leisure that children encounter, they also respect a central principle in playwork—the need for children to draw primarily on their own inspiration and their own interactions.

Besides their play area, PlayScope also offers workshops and classes for children and their carers, plus a toy library and resource centre.

We had a wonderful time. As my Great Aunt sent some money for Christmas I decided to sign us up for yearly membership. We intend to come back every week!

Jane and Jemilla

Keegan and Elliot played at being builders for nearly an hour

Lots of musical toys for Tirzah

Jemilla climbed the huge net

Xylophone time

Plenty of baby toys

Jemilla and Jane did a short puppet show

"I am a fine musician..."

Great home corner with wooden kitchen and a range of pretend play items

Numerous craft items up for grabs

Bob the builder...Can he fix it?

The girls loved drawing and pasting and creating

This was a fantastic wooden table with panels that made different sounds

English and Chinese books in the resource library

This is the toy library. We didn't borrow any toys today but will have a good look through them on our next visit.

I was reassured to find this treasure trove in Hong Kong. Up until now I have only seen parents pushing their young children to excel at academic or artistic pursuits. Messy or open-ended activities are generally frowned upon. Kids are expected to attend school from as young as two, and they often have extracurricular classes after school and on the weekend. I have been wondering what long-term effects it might have on a culture of children to have an early childhood devoid of time to just play.

At least here at PlayScope they have a chance to play and have fun. There are no flashcards or timetable charts in sight. It is about the enjoyment of being a child using your imagination, and it is a rare find indeed in this culture.


  1. wonderful! A little like Scitech but much better. Not too far away I presume? Who has to tidy up?

  2. I was thinking also that just the fact that you don't have to worry about the mess afterwards is reward in itself... it must cost a fortune!! I was just imagining if they had something like this in Niger how quickly it would be trashed and filthy!! Just Can Not Imagine it!! It would be worth the trip to Hong Kong!! HA HA! ENjoy often, Renée!!