As a blogger about activities for kids in the DC-metro, I make it my job to stay on top of the area’s best offerings for families to impart to readers. But every now and then something really awesome slips under my radar. (Busy mom of two under six — need I say more?) This was the case with Kidville, the child learning/development/entertainment center in Bethesda. It wasn’t that I hadn’t heard of Kidville before, I just wasn’t aware of what it was all about — nor how awesome it was — until I had an opportunity to check it out for myself.
I was invited to try out one of their classes with Sasha and take a tour of the facilities to learn more about the Kidville concept and their programs in Bethesda. And while the location isn’t exactly down the road from me, once there it’s quite convenient. It’s located on Bethesda Row, right across the street from Georgetown Cupcake (told you it was convenient), and there’s a garage on the same side of the block where you can easily park in metered spots. About 30 feet from there is where Kidville inhabits the lower level of the building, with access to it via both stairs and an elevator.
A delightful scene greeted us as we descended the stairs. It was then that I learned Kidville isn’t just about classes; it’s also a boutique and a salon. Clothes, toys, and other children’s items are organized neatly on racks and shelves along the walls. And in a corner of the lobby space are two cute airplane chairs, where children can get haircuts. And it’s all in a bright, cheerful, clean environment.
I took it in as we waited a minute to check in. The staff behind the counter were very pleasant as they greeted guests and helped get us started, explaining where to go for our class. We had opted for Little Maestros, a music session that received kudos from Nickelodeon’s Parents’ Pick and the New York Post at its NYC location. And, hey, if it’s tops in a city that is known for its gazillions of options for children’s classes, then it had to be something special.
From the moment we walk in, the class lived up to the hype. The theater room where the class is held isn’t huge, but it’s large enough for a small stage (which holds a band that provides the class music!), tables at the back for parents’ belongings and one on the side for class props. The class leaders welcomed us enthusiastically, noting Sasha’s name and inviting us to take a seat around the alphabet rug in the middle of the room. As soon as everyone was checked in, the class got started.
So, this wasn’t just a class. It was a concert, story time, puppet show, dance session, bubble fun, and even a rap show. All of these activities were incorporated into the session with lessons about shapes, colors, and letters, and bits that prompted movement and curiosity. It all progressed at a nice pace for the little participants. Each segment lasted a good few minutes, which gave the children time to get into it without losing their attention. And one of my favorite elements of the class was the leaders’ interaction with the kids — they knelt down to their level, looked them in the eye, sang to everyone individually (or held the puppets that did), and addressed them all by their names. I think this helped every child feel part of the group and encouraged them to participate. Sasha, along with most of the kids, had an absolute blast. And as far as I could tell, so did all the grown-ups. (I seriously had to hold back from getting up and doing a solo dance to their very impressive cover of Rapper’s Delight.)
When the 45-minute class was over, Kidville owner Anjali Varma gave us a tour of the rest of the space and a rundown of their programs. There’s the Big Muscle Gym with soft equipment, trampolines, balance beam, and more. There are also dance and art studios. And classes for ages up to age 6 are held in all of them.
Classes run in seasonal sessions, which last about eight weeks. And you have to be signed up for a class to go; they don’t offer a drop-in option, aside from a first-time trial class. Class registration gets you the basic Silver membership to Kidville, which includes benefits like guest passes and discounts on birthday parties, boutique merchandise, and haircuts. You can also opt for other memberships with more benefits at higher rates. And they currently have a special offer for a lifetime of classes.
In case it’s not evident already, I’m a fan. But here’s the whole scoop: Kidville classes cost more than many others in the area. However, the facilities may just be the cutest and cleanest I’ve seen yet, plus you get some perks along with the classes. And after class, you can grab lunch at one of many eateries right on the block (Sweetgreen, Nando’s, Bethesda Bagels, and more) and stop by the cute toy store next door. And, of course, head across the street for a cupcake.
Want a chance to experience Kidville gratis? One lucky KFDC reader can win a three-class sampler! All you have to do is like Kidville on Facebook and/or follow them on Twitter, then come back and leave a comment here to let me know did. The winner will be drawn at random and announced by the end of the week. Good luck!