Imagine a play space created by a kindergarten teacher, dance instructor, youth pastor, mom and dad. It would be filled with fun and engaging activities, cozy spots for parents and never-ending opportunities for kids to explore. Good news! With the recent opening of Odyssey Play Place, there’s no need to just imagine anymore. Read on to learn how Jario and Leena Gavin drew upon their experiences to create the ideal play space that justifies a trip to Palatine.
The Dynamic Duo behind Odyssey
Mr. Jario and Ms. Leena are a husband and wife team and parents to a preschooler and a baby. They’ve worn a variety of hats and drew from their experiences when they dreamed up Odyssey Play Space. Lucky for us, their vision is now a reality and we can visit the play place and kids can even take classes with each founder. When opening Odyssey Play Space, the couple achieved their passion of “working together, parenting together and helping others.” For the past two years, Mr. Jario was a full time stay-at-home dad. Prior to that, he was a youth pastor, caregiver for his mother-in-law with Parkinsons and child drama instructor, among other roles. Ms. Leena has worked as a kindergarten teacher in a variety of settings and as a dance instructor. She wants Odyssey to help kids develop a lifelong love of learning.
The Kids-and You-Won’t Want to Leave
The inviting atmosphere of Odyssey Play Place makes it somewhere you want to stay and a place you want to return. Whether the kids choose to dress up as a super hero, dance at the ballet bar, or slide into the pool filled with balls they’re sure to be having a fun time. The space is divided into different areas, much like centers in a classroom. There’s something for kids ages 0 through 6, including a colorful crawlers area, magical book tent, learning games, pretend play area and more. There’s a comfortable lounge with tables, a cozy sectional, and free Wi-Fi and coffee. You can sit back and relax as your kids play or join them in the fun in the play areas. There are kids’ tables with art and science supplies in the lounge as well. The cost of admission allows you to play for the whole day so you can pack a peanut-free lunch and hunker down. Even with all the choices, the space remains calm and nurturing.
Learn Something New
Kids are sure to soak up something while imagining and playing with the carefully selected toys and activities throughout Odyssey, but this hot spot takes things one step further by offering classes, including storytime and Move & Groove classes with Odyssey founders. Ms. Leena leads a daily story time and focuses on different skills based on a specified age group. It’s great preschool and kindergarten prep! Mr. Jario’s Move & Groove classes will get kids 2 and older active and having fun. Kids practice things like following directions, working as a team and acting. Curious what will be covered on your visit? Check out the Odyssey Play Space website for weekly classes and themes. Weekly learning themes are incorporated into lessons, games, crafts and more.
Celebrate Good Times
Odyssey Play Place makes it easy to throw a memorable birthday bash for your little one. A range of party packages are available, but all include help with set-up and clean-up, making it easy for you to enjoy the celebration too! Maybe you want to celebrate someone who’s not so little, but keep the kids entertained? You can host an adult party in the lounge and let the kids wander the free play area or splurge to have staff entertain the kids with some games.
If you and your little ones are pumped to play, put on your socks (required to enter) and head to Palatine. Odyssey is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m., and hours vary on Saturday based on private parties. Be sure to check out their website for daily class offerings and learning themes.
Odyssey Play Place
Cost: $12 first child, $8 siblings & crawlers, $6-crawlers without paying sibling, free for adults and non-crawlers with paying sibling
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; hours vary Sat., closed Sun.
395 W. Northwest Highway
Online at: odysseyplayplace.com
Have you had a chance to explore Odyssey Play Place? Tell us about it in the comments section below.
— Lisa Snart