TRAVERSE CITY — Playing with new toys and new friends in a new space helped two-year-old Colten Beaver lay the bricks that build creativity and critical thinking.
Colten Beaver spent the morning on June 24 tottering around Bright Blooms KinderPlay, a new play space for kids. There was no organized lesson involved in his play, but Colten knew three new words by the time he went home: pirate, sword and castle.
“There are so many things to talk about,” said Colten’s mother Tamra Beaver, a speech pathologist. “There’s new vocabulary they can pick up and learn they might not get to at home.”
Bright Blooms is a new play space Melinda Pokorzynski and Justine Wirtjes opened June 29. They’re aiming to give kids a fun place to play without technology so they can develop their imaginations and skills like sharing and critical thinking.
“When you’re playing at mom’s house sometimes there are a lot of other dynamics going on,” Pokorzynski said. “This is a little more relaxed and we’re hoping their imaginations can just take off and they can be really creative.”
Bright Blooms has 10 rooms decorated with different themes, such as under the sea, fairy princess and western, and some of the room themes will change periodically. Some spaces are designated for toddlers and “big kids,” and others, such as the drama and dress-up room, appeal to children of all ages.
Rooms are decorated with hand-painted murals. They’re filled with hand-made toys, such as the felt strawberry patch Wirtjes made by hand, and repurposed furniture, such as an old entertainment center that serves as a pretend pantry and fridge. There is a larger play space for birthday parties and organized activities.
Wirtjes and Pokorzynski started planning Bright Blooms in February and opened it just four months later. It’s on the ground floor of Logan’s Landing beneath Pokorzynski’s other business, KinderMusik, a music and learning studio for children where Wirtjes also teaches.