Moms and tots will love Storyville in Baltimore County — Mommy Daze

Storyville01There are so many great places in our area that promote learning through play, and I will be reviewing a couple of these in the upcoming weeks. The first one on my list is Storyville.

I seriously can't say enough wonderful things about this amazing place! According to the website, "Storyville is an interactive early literacy and learning center for children ages birth to 5 and their caregivers," but a more accurate description would be, "A parent's dream come true!" It's like a giant playhouse with awesome educational toys and books, and no mess for you to clean up afterward.

There are two Storyville locations — in the Rosedale and Woodlawn branches of the Baltimore County Public Library. We've only been to the one in the Woodlawn Branch, which has a pretty fantastic children's area outside of Storyville as well.

As you walk into Storyville, there's a desk at the entrance for you to sign in. Admission is free, and they only allow children younger than 5 years old to enter. They're pretty strict about the capacity, so if you go during a busy time you might have to wait to get in. They give you a pager so you can go to the library while you wait. Near the front desk there are the bathrooms and a room to store coats, strollers and diaper bags.

You enter through a gate (little one's can't escape!) and it feels like you're walking into a storybook. The scenery and decorations are top-notch and whimsical.

There's a giant "tree" with a spiral staircase leading to the top, a hollowed out log for children to climb through with stuffed forest-animals to play with, and a couple nooks for kids to climb into and hibernate like the bears.

The middle of the room has a train car, complete with a conductor's seat, shelves of puzzles and a magnetic wall filled with gears and PVC-pipe pieces that can be arranged to create tracks for balls to travel through. Next to it is a little area with building blocks and Legos.Storyville03

There's a room designed as a mini grocery store with cash registers, aprons, baskets and produce scales, and a little post office with various-sized cardboard letters and corresponding sized slots.

Another little room offers a puppet-theatre and chest full of puppets. There's a giant backdrop of scenes that can be interchanged for putting on a show, as well as an assortment of instruments and dress-up clothes.

A playhouse is equipped with a fully stocked kitchen with a dining table, mini washer and dryer and a staircase leading to an upstairs room with a dollhouse.

In the very back, Storyville has a little library all its own with giant cushions and walls stocked full of books.

For the littlest visitors, a specific fenced off Baby Garden is only accessible to infants who aren't walking yet. This is definitely one of the best baby play areas I've seen, filled with developmental baby toys, various textures and colorful garden themed decorations for little hands to touch and pull-up on.

The entire place is always very clean and the staff is extremely friendly. Maybe one of my favorite parts of Storyville is the sign at the entrance requesting that cell phones be put away so that parents can interact and enjoy the experience of just playing with their child.

For details visit the Woodlawn Branch website.

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Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 3-year-old James and 1-year-old Luke.

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