On Monday 19th October we were privileged to be invited to Stratford, London to attend the opening of the Discover Children’s Story Centre’s latest exhibition – Michael Rosen’s Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake and Bad Things.
We’re Going On A Bear Hunt is a firm favourite in our household. I have many fond memories of using the story with several classes when I was a teacher. I couldn’t wait to introduce the book to Adam. He instantly fell in love with the repetitive storyline. Take a look at Adam reading the story:
So you can imagine our excitement in travelling to London to be one of the first people to see the new exhibition and to also meet Michael Rosen.
The exhibition is housed in the basement of the Discover Children’s Story Centre in Stratford. The interactive family exhibition is a chance to go on your own bear hunt – through the swishy swashy grass, splash splosh through the river and come face to face with the bear in the cave.
Initially I was sceptical as to whether Adam would even walk through the door. Part of his Sensory Processing Disorder is a dislike of dark enclosed spaces.
However, he took one look at the grass and the bear prints on the floor and was immediately immersed in the storyline, acting out each section of the story as he came to the different settings.
His favourite section of the Bear Hunt exhibition was the river. The holographic lights on the floor made it seem as if you were really standing in a river. Adam kept saying “my toes not wet”.
Beyond the thick oozy mud we encountered the deep dark forest. This area was magical. With green tyre shavings on the floor representing leaves we were surrounded by intricately designed artificial trees. It felt like we had been transported to the forest. Within the trees tiny owls were hiding, each with a letter of the alphabet displayed on their stomach. Adam enjoyed looking for different owl letters and sounding them out. A circle of tree stumps in one cosy corner of the forest had a collection of books so that we could sit and enjoy story time within the exhibition.
My favourite section of the exhibition was the snowstorm. This area was covered in white artificial snow and occasionally cold air was blown through vents. As I was quite warm walking around the exhibition the snowstorm provided a chance to cool off.
Finally we found ourselves at the cave which we were not disappointed with. It was just tall enough for Adam to stand up inside and he found himself surrounded by different sized furry brown bears. However, as soon as Adam saw a bear he would scream and run away shouting “it’s the bear!” just as in the story. He re-enacted his bear hunt several times although the bears did occasionally get a cuddle as well.
Although the bear hunt was the main focus of the exhibition there were also several other delights to discover. We stepped inside a huge chocolate cake, explored a secret larder and discovered Bad Things in the Dread Shed. The exhibition gave insight into what inspired Michael Rosen’s writing. His Grandparents’ sitting room and Michael’s primary school classroom were also featured.
The exhibition has managed to cater for all ages. Whilst younger children will love the Bear Hunt, older children can go on a Michael Rosen fact finding mission and be inspired to create their own poems. The attention to detail was amazing. There were numerous hidden caves at floor level that added another dimension to the exhibition as the children could peer into them much more easily than the adults. Each tiny cave depicted different bear scenes. Adam’s favourite was at the edge of the river featuring a mother bear and a tiny duckling.
Adam’s delight in the exhibition was obvious. He didn’t want to leave – an unusual occurrence for Adam. In fact we were the last people to exit having been politely told our visit was over. Luckily we were able to access the rest of the Discover Children’s Story Centre which was an equally exciting space.
What an amazing venue it is – both the inside and outside play areas are inspiring. Adam loved the trip trap bridge and jumping on the interactive letters on the sparkly river. We met up with Play and Learn Everyday and our three children had a wonderful time exploring the magic tower on the Story Trail.
However, Adam was most captivated by the Story Garden.
He loved the outside adventure playground and garden. The children spent ages exploring the Pirate Ship, Monster Slide, Alien Spaceship and Taxi. They even created their own music within the garden.
The children were reluctant to leave the Discover Children’s Story Centre. We did manage to get Michael Rosen to sign Adam’s book before we left. The day created wonderful memories for all of us.
Michael Rosen’s Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake and Bad Things is open at the Discover Children’s Story Centre until April 2016. Exhibition session times are restricted so take a look at their website for more information.
The exhibition captivated Adam’s imagination and really brought the story to life for him. It is testament to how good the exhibition is that Adam has repeatedly asked if he can go back on the train to see the Bear Hunt again.
Disclaimer: We were invited to the opening of Michael Rosen’s Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake and Bad Things at the Discover Children’s Story Center. All thoughts and opinions are our own.
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