Playing smart

Colourful play centres that combine learning with fun are popping up everywhere in the UAE, Emer O’Doherty discovers

Edutainment is a relatively new way of looking at kids’ leisure time, incorporating a whole lot of learning and a shedload of fun at the same time, making education all the more attractive. The term was first used to describe CD-ROM programmes that were designed for education purposes with an entertainment component. But, since those days, it’s managed to capture the imaginations and minds of many leisure practitioners, who invest hugely in getting the relationship between learning and play just right. In Dubai, in the past year, we have seen a growth in children’s edutainment with the opening of a slew of new venues that incorporate learning through play. All with slightly different remits, each of these new enterprises have child engagement at their core, from mini builders honing their spatial awareness skills to build towers and houses to children getting messy as they measure and pour in the kitchen.

Striking the balance perfectly is Little Explorers, which has just expanded to include a brand-new branch at Dubai Marina Mall. With three interactive areas – Water, Space and Play – the centre is specifically designed to fully enhance the learning experience through hands-on play. Mini boffins can access tools to build a variety of skillsets, including hand-eye coordination, memory, speed, critical thinking and much more. It’s certainly a long way from the traditional “jungle gym” style play centre.

As the kids get busy at Little Explorers, joining in the workshops and hands-on fun, because of its convenient location, parents can either choose to join in or leave them to it while they get some shopping done.

This is the kind of learning we can get on board with.
Dhs140 (day pass), Dhs160 (day pass, plus 30-minute workshop). Open Sun-Thu 10am-10pm, Fri-Sat 10am-12am. Dubai Marina Mall, Dubai Marina (056 676 2057).

Three MOre Ways to be edutained
The Journey

Featuring wooden climbing frames, walkways and a messy kitchen, this is outdoor fun with a sprinkling of learning for good measure.
Dhs30 (two hours of play). Fazza Beach Club (055 527 8931).

Mattel Play! town

Favourite Mattel characters help you build a house and make friends with a big purple dinosaur.
Dhs95 per child, Dhs55 per adult, free for kids under two. CITY WALK, Al Safa Street (04 317 3999).


Bring your child’s imagination to life in a safe and healthy environment, with creative learning at this mall-based play area.
Dhs50 per hour. Town Centre, Jumeirah (04 344 5030).

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