The Discovery Centre….Meet the Gruffalo and all things Julia Donaldson.

Nestled more or less opposite Stratford Train station is a hidden gem of storybook fun. We visited the Discovery Centre on a Sunday and arrived at opening. We had prebooked admission (which is reasonable at £6.50 per person) as well as booking the much talked about Julia Donaldson exhibition. We started our trip there and found ourselves sat in Charlie Cook’s front room listening to a Julia Donaldson story being brought to life – Zog for us but I believe they read different stories each session. After the story we were whisked away to the world of Julia Donaldson books where her books are brought to life for the children to explore. Children can make spells in the Room on the Brooms cauldron as well as ride her broomstick, explore the jungle from the monkey puzzle, swim through the set of the Whale and the Snail (and even have a climb on the whale’s back), pretend to be the smartest giant in town and walk down his street, have a spot of tea in the Squash and a Squeeze house, meet and dress up as the Gruffalo – plus much more (spot Zog flying overhead, be the Highway Rat…the list goes on). The attention to detail is brilliant and there are so many photo opportunities as the stories are so wonderfully brought to life for the children. Grown-ups and adults will be enthralled.

The workshop is around 50 minutes and then we moved onto exploring the museum (or the Story World as it is known). Spread over two floors as well as an outside space (the story garden) there is plenty to do and areas to develop little ones’ imaginations. Upstairs children can slide down the indoor slide and explore Hootahs Observatron. The ground floor has an interactive floor to explore and many story book elements to make up your own story: a trip trap bridge, a boat, a river, a hill to climb, trees to hide behind. There was also an art and craft activity which was included – we create our own character using a wooden spoon and collage materials. The outside story garden was the favourite place for my two little ones... they explored a huge slide (or was it a dragon’s mouth?), made up stories on a giant pirate boat, explored sounds with various musical instruments dotted around the garden, rode a taxi to a magical land and clambered aboard a space ship. The outside space is a wonderful place to play and create stories with the children.

Our trip could not be complete without a trip to the shop to stock up on Julia Donaldson’s merchandise. We spent the morning at the Discover centre before hopping over to Westfields for a bite to eat and then walking to explore the parks at the Olympic park. We headed home around 6pm – a perfect, reasonably price (and educational) day out!