‘Play with LOTS of cars. Eat one biscuit,’ is Finn’s enthusiastic review of The Cookie Jar (he’d give it 5 stars if the biscuits were unlimited, but then I wouldn’t), a well-resourced parent and toddler playgroup at Bow Baptist Church.
I like The Cookie Jar too, for slightly different reasons. It’s definitely up there on my (new but growing) list of good places to take a toddler and a newborn… a safe, friendly space with lots to entertain Finn if I need to sit and breastfeed with only half an eye on him, and baby activities for when Little B is a bit older. What’s more, there’s tea, coffee (caffeine is a major priority for me at the moment) and biscuits on hand for adults. It’s also the kind of place where someone will offer to bring you a cup of tea if you have your hands full.
So, there really are LOTS of cars, both mini and ride-on; lots of other toys too, set out thoughtfully in areas to suit age and interest. There’s a baby area with soft matting, sensory activity toys and bouncer seats. There’s a big play kitchen area; a road mat with cars and toy farms; a table of construction toys; a reading corner…
As well as all the free play, there’s a different activity set up each week on the craft table, facilitated by one of the play workers and helpfully provided with child overalls and wet wipes. We’ve done painting, sticking, printing and Easter Egg decorating in recent weeks.
There’s also a small but brilliant outdoor space covered in astroturf (no muddy feet, open in all weathers), with a sandpit, balls, a mini slide etc
The format is play from 10-11.15. Then everyone tidies up and sits in a circle for a drink and biscuit (or raisins, if you have a child who is willing to choose raisins when biscuits are on offer), a bible-based story told by one of the organisers and a few nursery rhymes.
The playgroup has a real community feel as the organisers make the effort to get to know everyone. Likewise the mix of parents and carers who attend are very welcoming.
Playgroup for toddlers and parents/carers
Tuesdays 10-11.30, term time only.
Open Tuesday 22nd March then closed for Easter. New term starts Tuesday 12th April, half term break is Tuesday 31st May, last day of term is Tuesday 19th July.
Bow Baptist Church, 1 Payne Rd, London, E3 2SP
50p contribution to tea
Facilities and access
Excellent. Large indoor buggy park, step free access, toilets with changing facilities and potties provided.