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Little people, big fun


Abu Dhabi Week checks out what’s on offer for kiddies in the capital

From children’s play areas in malls to a child-only cinema, there’s always something new in town for little ones. For parents looking to provide their children with activities that sneak in hands-on learning with play, Little World Fun Discovery Center is just the ticket.

Located on the second floor of Nation Galleria, Little World is a mix between a fun house and mad scientist’s laboratory. Boasting an innovation station, an enchanted tree house, theatre room and sensory room, it’s clear this facility is serious about fun.

Discover and learn

Janee Johnson, the executive director of Little World, says, “Little World is an exciting new addition to Abu Dhabi because there is absolutely nothing else like it in the
UAE right now. It is created and designed by educators to bring a complete play-based experience to children in Abu Dhabi.

“So just like the hands-on children’s museums in the United States, Little World offers a range of learning zones that are meant to capture the different interests of children. There is something in here that children will be interested in, in a way that increases their focus, independence and creativity.”

The centre was set up as an open-ended play experience; Johnson explains that there is no one right way to play. “Children aged one to 12 can come in and participate in the same exhibits, but based on their age and development, they take those exhibits to different levels.”


As we tour the facility we see this idea at work. From toddlers crawling and playing in the soft play ‘tot spot’ to youngsters hosting a dress rehearsal for a play they’ll act out on stage minutes later, kids of all ages are having fun together.


The colourful Little Village, or dramatic play area, comes complete with a café, school, Baqala corner shop and schoolhouse. As we wander through the sets we spy a child ordering a pretend lunch from the café. The ‘waitress’ – a member of the staff – takes down notes seriously – extra cheese please – and we can’t help but be impressed at the attention to detail.

For budding scientists there are a handful of kinetic exhibits that teach kids about gravity and motion. The Amazing Airways exhibit features a series of moveable pipes that show how to move objects by channeling the gust of air running through them. New activities include science experiments such as making volcanoes, studying cells through microscopes and building rockets.

There’s also a storyteller as well as puppet shows, musical acts and theatrical plays.

Our favourite spot, however, is the Sensory Room – a room lit with fluorescent bubble tubes, glow-in-the-dark strands of plastic and shiny mirrors.


Jump for joy

For kids looking to get up and go, why not try out The Little Gym? The facility, which is next to Little World, offers physical fitness classes such as gymnastics, karate, dance and sports skills development for children aged four months to 12 years old.

Little Gym follows a curriculum that is designed in the US where children progress with a new set-up every week.

“Each week follows a well-thought out lesson plan to extend physical skills as well as social, emotional and cognitive skills.”

With a six-to-one student-teacher ratio, students receive plenty of individual attention. Johnson explains that this focus is important when trying to develop a child’s skills and help them progress to new levels.

“Little Gym is a total wellbeing programme for children,” says Johnson. After all the enjoyable educational activities we’ve glimpsed in both facilities, we’d have to agree with her.

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