Reviewed by Lucy Knight
with Heidi (aged 4½) and Alara (aged 4)
I have spent the best part of today along with my friend and our 2 daughters taking part in the half term activities offered at Salford Quays, Manchester this half term.
We began our day by making our way towards the Lowry Outlet Mall to park in their multi-story car park. We did this with ease and walked the 5 minute walk to the Lowry Theatre, where we had been signed up for a ‘Little Actors’ class. The session was aimed at children ages 5-11 but there were a few who were under 5 there too. The male teacher began by introducing himself and asking the children to introduce themselves too. He did a number of warm up activities including ‘Simon says’ and pretending to be pirates scrubbing the deck. They then went on to act as animals and tell stories. My daughter pretended she was a giraffe, and some of the others were lions and tigers. The majority of the children got really involved and loved the role play. I found that the girls didn’t really know what was expected of them, as they weren’t listening properly to the instructions, and they were too shy to ask again. I feel that it would have been more inclusive and enjoyable for them if there were props or dressing up costumes for them to play with. I would suggest that the recommended age group is too wide of a gap and would be more suited to children 7-11. The girls did enjoy it and their best bit was pretending to be zombies. I would rate it 3/5.
We then exited the Lowry Theatre and walked across the path back to the Lowry Outlet Mall. Here, we picked up a ‘trick or treat hunt’ map from the customer service desk. The children had to use the map provided to find the participating store, in which you receive a stamp. Once you have collected all 8 stamps required, you take the form back to the customer service desk to receive a sweet cone and a money off voucher for SEALIFE Centre Manchester. In addition, if you complete your details on the form you are entered into a free prize draw to win tickets to see ‘The Book of Life’ at the Vue Cinema within the Lowry Outlet Mall. The children absolutely loved wandering around looking for the participating shops marked on their maps. They did need a lot of adult assistance, and we did realise half way through (and after going into many wrong shops) that the participating shops had a poster in the window. This is a good way to amuse the children whilst the adults shop. Normally it is a chore to get my daughter in a shop so it was a delight to have her freely want to shop with me. I would rate this activity 5/5.
Finally, we attended the Imperial war museum. The museum is a short walk or 10 minute drive around the Quays from the Outlet Mall. We parked in the car park at a cost of £4 for up to 3 hours. The museum is free to enter and they had set up free crafts for the visiting children to take part in (I did see lots of parents joining in too). The craft section was our first stop. My daughter Heidi and her best friend Alara headed straight to the supplies table to pick what they needed to help them create a spider. There were many models on display to inspire them, these included spiders, planes, flowers and tanks.
Once the girls had finished making their crafts we tidied up and made our way upstairs to view the exhibits. Our next stop was ‘From Street to Trench. A way that shaped a region’ the girls really enjoyed this exhibit as they got to dress up in old fashioned clothing such as a Girl Guides dress, a school uniform and Red Cross nurse’s dress. This exhibit shows over 200 personal objects, films, sound recordings, photographs, artworks and letters.
We then went next door to the main exhibition room here the girls loved looking at the planes, cars and ‘A big rusty metal thing’ as my daughter named one of the items on display. Our final stop was the viewing platform, which looks over the Quays. It was a stunning view, but we did have to cut it short as my friend was quite worried about how high up we were. I would rate this activity 4/5.
Overall, we had a fun packed day and the girls loved it. I would rate the experience 4/5.
For more information visit www.thequays.org.uk.