February 24, 2024

South West News

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A Forest-School Spin on Soft Play: At The Paintworks, New Kind of Indoor Play Space Opens Its Doors

 What if parents could take all the things their kids adore about forest school, but enjoy them in the warmth and dry with a hot cup of coffee in hand?
That’s the inspiration behind Bristol’s brand-new play space and cafe: Out There Indoors.
Created by Out There, Bristol’s first forest school kindergarten, it offers a calm, nature-inspired alternative to noisy soft play centres.
First developed in Scandinavia, “forest school” is about much more than being outdoors, according to the Bristol-based duo behind the new venue, Jenny Brough and Mika Georgelin.
“Forest school is about allowing children to explore — to take risks and challenge themselves, building their confidence and resilience in the process. Out There Inside brings that ethos inside to create a really unique play environment”, Jenny explains.
Located in Zone C of the Paintworks, the Scandinavian influence carries through to the space itself. The bright, airy play cafe is filled with natural materials and carefully chosen resources to promote self-directed play.
From sensory items to loose parts, role play to small world resources — even tree climbing has been given an indoor spin with a climbing wall to promote physical movement and exploration.
The different, nature-inspired approach applies to the cafe too. A familiar face in the Bristol restaurant scene, Co-Founder Mika wanted to focus on quality and simplicity.
Partnering with Matter Wholefoods, a local organic fruit and veg supplier, the cafe serves fairtrade, single-origin coffee alongside a seasonal range of toasties, soups and salads, with mini toasties and healthy tapas for little ones.
“Finding a place you can eat out as a family where kids are actually welcome and able to be themselves is hard. We wanted to create somewhere families can enjoy a simple, nutritious meal together as part of the Out There Indoor experience” Mika adds.
More than just a space, the husband-and-wife team hope that this forest-school spin-off could be the start of a whole new movement and approach to indoor play.
“I’ve had this idea of creating a soft-play-that’s-not-a-soft-play since 2017. Seeing it come to life, we kept joking that it was a ‘hard play’ and the idea has stuck.
“Hard not only because wood is the main material in the space, but also because play is a serious business for children, it’s hard work! We’re proud to have built a space that enables children to try hard things and prove to themselves just how resourceful, capable, and independent they are” Jenny wraps up.
Out There Indoors is now open. Sessions for 0-4 year olds and their siblings up to 7 years can be pre-booked on the website and the play cafe is also available for birthday parties.
About Out There Indoors 
  • Out There Indoors is located in Unit 389 in Zone C of the Paintworks, Bath Road, Bristol, BS4 3AR.
  • The space is mainly designed for 0-4 year olds. Open-ended play sessions run three times a day with an after-school session that’s also open to children up to age 7. Pre-booking is recommended, but it is possible to pay on the door if spaces are available.
  • Exclusive hire for birthday parties is also available
  • https://outthereindoors.co.uk/
About Out There Kindergartens 
  • https://outtherekindergartens.co.uk/
  • Bristol’s first forest-school-inspired kindergarten, Out There opened its first branch in September 2017.
  • It takes the preschool experience outside with a varied timetable including seasonal cooking sessions, forest school, beach trips, allotment visits, local trips and workshops.
  • Out There has now expanded to two locations: Brislington and Stapleton/Fishponds with plans to open a third location soon.
About the founders Jenny Brough & Mika Georgelin
  • Jenny combined her background in early years education with a passion for being outdoors, to create a unique kindergarten experience, Out There. Jenny believes in nurturing curiosity and confidence through exploration.
  • Mika’s background is in the restaurant industry, setting up Bristol-based ventures including The Cow Shed and Pizza Workshop. He also handmade much of the furniture in the Out There Indoor space.
  • Jenny and Mika are partners in life and business. They both run the Out There kindergartens and the new play space full-time and are parents to a brood of brilliantly curious girls.