One of Northern Virginia’s newest indoor play centers, The Animated Child, is more than a place for children to get their energy out. In this era of video games and limited social interactions, it is a haven of exploration, discovery, and hands-on learning.
Owner Alejandra Hall created The Animated Child with Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences in mind because she saw a need in education that was not being met; the need of individualized learning.
“I specialize in early childhood education however I believe that The Animated Child curriculum would also benefit children in elementary school as well,” said Hall. “Animated Child practices differentiated curriculum, a term that is often used in gifted and special education but often left out of typical classrooms. Differentiated curriculum creates a tailored learning process for each child, requiring that the teacher meet each of her students unique learning needs.”
Open Exploration is offered from Monday-Saturday. During these times, families can enter the bright open space and engage in different centers based on the Multiple Intelligences theory. Little engineers can build and design, while the budding artist is able to use different mediums to create. The science-minded child will love exploring the natural and technology based exhibits, and imaginative play is encouraged throughout.
When asked the type of environment she hopes to create, Ms. Hall said “Our ultimate goal at Animated Child is to create sensory-friendly and engaging environments where each child’s learning outcomes are met. “
Besides drop in play, The Animated Child boasts an impressive children’s class schedule, including programs in art, STEM-based classes, three languages (Spanish, French and Korean.) and a before and afterschool program. Additionally, monthly Parents’ Night Out opportunities are available to members and non-members alike. These fun-filled evenings encompass different themes and include art, exploration, science activities, and more.
Families will also adore the unique birthday party packages. With themes such as Minecraft, STEM, Animated Idol and Painting Picasso, there is a party for every interest level. Parties include the exclusive use of the center and a private celebration room. Parents will love the assistants that lead the party, set up, clean up, and make the experience worry-free.
2014 brings some exciting changes and additions to The Animated Child. The open exploration area is getting ready to add several large structures to existing exhibits, and language program teachers are encompassing drama to their lesson plans. Plus, the center is introducing Kudo to teach gaming design to children ages 8-12 in early 2014. Ms. Hall also added, “I would encourage parents to keep an eye out for classes that are tailored to suit children on the autism spectrum, that is my main focus. Making sure that all children regardless of ability are able to experience everything that The Animated Child enrichment center has to offer.”
Micaela Williamson is a co-author of local travel guide, Kid Trips Northern Virginia, an extraordinary resource that provides descriptions, useful information and insider tips for hundreds of local destinations. Micaela is also an award winning blogger who enjoys supporting area businesses and scouting out family-friendly venues with her two young sons.