I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published March 25th 2016
Perth's Best Fun The Very Young
When my daughter was very young she often reminded me of an inquisitive scientist or intrepid explorer as she endeavoured to understand the world. The early years, when children begin to learn new skills and tentatively explore their surroundings, is a magical time. Naturally creative and imaginative, little ones learn through play and benefit from being exposed to a wide range of stimulating experiences and activities. Such experiences, shared with others, also provide the opportunity for social development and often spark an interest in topics that can later become cherished hobbies.
Here in Perth we're fortunate to have access to an immense assortment of fun activities, tailor-made for very young children so that they can get a great head-start in life – educationally, physically and creatively - ultimately inspiring them to become enthusiastic lifelong learners. The following paragraphs contain a few suggestions that you and your children may enjoy.
Image courtesy of Ian Armstrong / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license
One of my favourite places to take very young children is The Place, on the mezzanine level of the State Library in Perth Cultural Centre. This vibrant children's activity space is full of shelves crammed with wonderful picture books, indoor play equipment, bright quirky sculptures and lots of other cool stuff. Throughout the year it also serves as a venue for children's literacy and craft programs, with special ones being held for littlies during school term, when the older kids are at school. Some of these programs include Baby Rhyme Time, Big Stories for Little People, an international story-time series and Activity Time. All these programs and activities are free, making them easily accessible for everyone.
In addition to the State Library, most other Perth libraries also hold programs that encourage early childhood literacy. Coming under the umbrella of the wonderful Better Beginnings programs, these include baby rhyme times (0 – 24 months) and story times (2 – 5 years), and help littlies to build the basic literacy skills that will help them thrive when they start school. These wonderful free programs are suitable for all children, from birth to five years, and are based on sharing books and stories in a fun dynamic environment. Ask your local library for more details or visit the Better Beginnings websitee.
Water Parks As we're all aware, Perth can get incredibly hot during the summer months and therefore it's a good idea to become familiar with the various water parks and playgrounds located around the city. Fortunately there are more popping up all the time, so hopefully you'll be able to find one, not too far from where you live. Perth's water playgrounds range from those which are totally free of charge, to popular but pricey spots such as Adventure World and Kalamunda Water Park. Most of these places cater to children of all ages, with shallow paddling pools and water spouts (often protected by shade cloth) that are perfect even for babies and very small children.
For those of us who need to watch our budget, Perth's free water parks are great affordable fun that will keep littlies happy for hours. These include the water playground at Forrest Place in Perth City, Hyde Park Water Playground (on the Vincent Street side, not far from the intersection with Throssell Street), and Ellenbrook Waterpark, out in the Swan Valley. Another personal favourite is Maylands Waterland on Clarkson Road in Maylands - although this one does charge an entry fee. Situated in an extremely beautiful natural setting, right next to the Swan River, this wonderful water playground features a series of shallow pools, plenty of shade, kiosk, picnic tables and play equipment, making it a great spot to linger on those super-hot summer days.
Nature-based Fun Do you love nature and the great outdoors? If so, the chances are, you'll want to share this passion with your children, as soon as they're old enough. Fortunately, there are some great local spots where youngsters – even those who are very little – can experience fun and fabulous hands-on activities related to our unique Western Australian environment, sustainability and gardening.
Possibly the largest and best-known of these programs would be Nearer to Nature, an incentive of Western Australian Parks and Wildlife. Based at the Perth Hills Centre in Beelu National Park, near Mundaring, Nearer to Nature holds a plethora of awesome events and activities all around Perth for kids of all ages. Those that have been designed for preschoolers usually consist of a combination of story, song, nature presentation and craft activity. To find out more, take a look here.
Another website that environmentally aware parents may want to check out is Eco Faeries, a Perth-based company that holds magical eco-themed educational activities throughout the metro area and regional WA. The fun dynamic events that they host include stage shows, storytelling, library events, parties, garden displays and much more – all starring and hosted by a beautiful bevy of, you've guessed it – eco-fairies. Check out the Eco Faeries website to learn more.
Scitech A perennial favourite with Perth families, Scitech has loads of exciting things to see and do for very young children and their parents. The puppet theatre, Lotterywest Science Theatre, planetarium and many of the displays are certain to be popular with littlies, providing them a fascinating insight into the wonderful world of science. While you're visiting, be sure to check out the Scitech shop as it's one of the best places in Perth to purchase high-quality educational toys.
Scitech is situated at the City West Centre at the corner of Railway and Sutherland Streets in West Perth. For more information go to their website or give them a call on 08 9215 0700.
Spare Parts Puppet Theatre
Situated in beautiful breezy Fremantle, Spare Parts Puppet Theatre is an awesome spot for creative youngsters – not just for its colourful imaginatively-conceived puppet performances, but also for the puppet-making workshops that take place there each school holiday. Children aged between 4 and 6 years can learn all about puppetry and make their own puppet. They also get to watch the theatre's current puppet show, and meet the cast and crew afterwards.
Image courtesy of the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre website
Spare Parts Puppet Theatre is situated at 1 Short Street in Fremantle. To find out more visit their website.
Discovery Centre - Western Australian Museum
The world we live in is a fascinating place, and a great way to introduce young children to its wonders is through a visit to the Western Australian Museum's Discovery Centre, on the ground floor of its Perth campus. With loads of interactive displays, educational books, games, tanks with real live reptiles and insects inside, educational books and games, craft activities and more, young families can easily spend a few hours looking and learning together.
Most children's activities are free at the Discovery Centre, although some crafts may incur a small charge. The Perth campus of the Western Australian Museum is situated on James Street in the Perth Cultural Centre. To find out more take a peek at the museum's website.
Wanneroo Museum – Toddler Tuesdays
Another local museum which is particularly child-friendly is the Wanneroo Museum, way up in Perth's northern suburbs. On the first Tuesday of most months, the museum hosts Toddler Tuesday, a special short program that introduces young children to Wanneroo's history through stories, songs and hands-on craft activities.
Toddler Tuesday costs $5.00 per child and is suitable for children two to five years old. To find out more take a look at the City of Wanneroo website or call 08 9405 5000. Bookings are essential for this program.
WASO Cushion Concerts
The West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO) is the state's largest and busiest performing arts organisation and each year it entertains the youngest members of our community with its fabulous cushion concert programs - specially created for children aged 0 to 6 years. Comprising of catchy tunes and well-known instrumentals and hosted by a lively presenter, the concert is a 50 minute musical odyssey performed by the Education Chamber Orchestra – a fifteen-piece ensemble featuring one of each of the orchestra's instruments. Although very young children are a notoriously difficult audience to entertain, the presenter encourages audience participation, with sing-alongs and dancing, making it a fun enjoyable experience for all. At the end of the show the children even get to have a go at playing the instruments.
Image courtesy of the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra website
Most WASO Cushion Concerts are held at Perth Concert Hall on St George's Terrace, but from time to time free community concerts are also held at other locations. Keep an eye on the WASO website for information about upcoming events or call 08 9326 0000.
Music is powerful and can enrich our lives in so many ways. From birth, children can reap the benefits of a musically-rich environment, and a great way for them to cultivate such an appreciation is through special children's music classes. Throughout Perth there are quite a lot of interactive music, singing and movement classes for very young children. Not only are these loads of fun, but they're also great foundations for later lessons in musical instruments, dance and other performing arts.
If you want to introduce your child to the wonderful world of music from their very early years a good place to begin mightbe LaLeLu, a fabulous multilingual music and dance school catering mainly to preschoolers. There are programs to suit various age groups – Rattles (0 – 1), Drums (2 – 3) and Tambourines (4 – 5), designed to stimulate their developmental capacities, in a creative dynamic way. The languages that are included in the program are English, German, Mandarin, Polish and Spanish, and at the time of writing this article, programs are held in four locations around Perth – Bayswater, Belmont, Hillarys and Myaree. Take a look at the LaLeLu website to find out more.
Are you the parent of an active boisterous child? If so, perhaps they'd enjoy the Tiny Tumbers classes held at Circus WA in Fremantle, during which they'll have the opportunity to explore, discover and play, utilising traditional circus skills. Especially created for children aged 2 to 4, these one-hour classes begin with playful games and stretches, and continue with activities using hoops, scarfs and other circus objects. They'll also learn some tricks on a trampoline and tight-wire.
It's a safe environment where children can swing, roll and climb to their heart's content. Parents, grandparents and carers are encouraged to join in the fun. To learn more, go to the Circus WA website.
Mums and Bubs Yoga classes
Another way for young parents to bond with their baby in a soothing nurturing way is to take a yoga class especially created for their needs. If this sounds like something that would interest you, a few yoga studios around the Perth metro area offer such classes. The Home of Yoga in Mosman Park is one such centre, offering a variety of classes especially created for very young children as well as pregnancy classes.
Other places to check out include Big Little Yoga in North Perth (which offers Baby Yoga and Yoga for Children classes) and Small Blessings in Fremantle, where you can take Pregnancy Yoga or Mama Baba postnatal classes. Take a look at their websites to find out more.
CirQuest at City Farm do a great toddler Circus class various days & at satellite locations around the metro area, and Rainbow Yogis also do fantastic toddler yoga. Not to forget Signing Hands, which is toddler sign language.