As I revealed a few weeks ago, I was recently appointed an ambassador for Kidzania London. It’s a venue my kids love because the experience gives them some independence and they love the idea of earning money.
Okay, they can’t earn hard currency, but they can earn Kidzos which can be spent in the gift shop. Helen and Izzy’s School was recently closed for an inset day and so I took the opportunity to spend time with them at Kidzania.
This was our third visit and this time I saw a completely different side to the Kidzania experience. I’ll come on to that in a moment. First of all, a little background.
Background to Kidzania
If you are familiar with Kidzania, feel free to skip the next two paragraphs. If you’ve not been before, here’s how it works.
Kidzania is designed for children aged from 4 to 14 years. Within the Kidzania complex, a small city has been created.
There’s an H&M clothes shop, a hospital, a Capital Radio studio, theatre, Metro newspaper and so on. Children can work in each of these places and earn Kidzos for their efforts. Everything is done under close adult supervision and the complex is secure.
What was different during this visit?
During this particular visit, I noticed some real educational benefits to the Kidzania experience. Until now, we’d always treated it as something fun to do. With the benefit of having visited a couple of times, plus trying out some new attractions, I could see Helen and Izzy learning something during their visit, albeit in a very soft way.
Once we had arrived and got checked in, a process that takes about 10 minutes, Helen and Izzy decided to make some Eat Natural cereal bars. They love cooking and this gave them a chance to make something nice to eat (you don’t by the way, get the bars on the day. They’re sent to you a few days later).
Using oats, honey and other ingredients, they both quickly made their cereal bars and re-appeared having earned some Kidzos for their efforts. This was the first thing I noticed: Helen and Izzy had finally worked out the more work they did at Kidzania, the more they could spend in the gift shop.
Helen was particularly focused on earning lots of Kidzos. With that mindset, she and her sister cleaned windows, worked as security guards and in a hotel. In fact, they earned so many Kidzos cleaning windows they went back and did the activity a second time!
Learning all about recycling
I do my best to encourage Helen and Izzy to reuse and recycle. I have had some successes, but it isn’t always easy.
This is where Kidzania gave them both a lesson and one that seems to have sunk in. Both girls went to work in the H&M Fashion Recycling Factory.
This is a separate attraction to the H&M store that is also in Kidzania. In the Fashion Recycling Factory, children get to learn about the materials used to make clothes, how they can be damaging to the environment and what we should all be doing to recycle our clothes and other items.
Izzy came away telling me all about how clothes can be recycled. The next day, she went further still. There was an empty plastic bottle on the work surface in the kitchen. Izzy insisted on inspecting it to see if it featured a small triangle showing it could be recycled.
When she found it, she gave a small cheer and ran off to put it in the recycling bin! To be clear, that is something she learned at Kidzania, it’s not something she has learned at home.
The gift shop and final thoughts
Helen and Izzy earned enough to buy themselves a headband each in the gift shop. Thankfully these are items they will use so they didn’t blow their Kidzos on anything that would sit unused in their bedrooms.
Just to manage expectations, you are handed 40 Kidzos when you arrive. The amount that can be earned varies from task to task but on average kids earn about 10 Kidzos for each job they complete and each task takes between 10 and 20 minutes (some do take a bit longer but this information is clearly side each task).
The items in the gift shop that can be bought with Kidzos include pencil cases, puzzles, just small items. Prices start at around 100 Kidzos.
As I say, previously it’s all been about fun. This time my girls had a more educational experience and there are tasks in there that have been designed with charities including Water Aid and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds so there is further potential for Helen and Izzy to have an even more educational experience in future. In addition to Eat Natural, there’s also a new attraction that’s been installed by Snacks Labz that enables kids to make healthy snacks, although we’ll be doing that next time.
Further information about Kidzania can be found online.