Busy Einstein Cognitive Play Center

Christine Verduzco created a baby station for children 18 months old and younger, at Busy Einstein Cognitive Play Center.

Parents searching for ways to entertain their younger children during the cold, wintry months might want to try out a fun and educational play space in northern Arnold.

The Busy Einstein Cognitive Play Center opened earlier this year at 521 Jeffco Blvd. in the shopping plaza that also houses a Dollar General store.

Inside the approximately 1,000-square-foot storefront are a dozen or so stations set up with various toys and activities to help children learn and encourage families to play together, owner Christine Verduzco said.

“It is a place to get kids out of the house, have fun, socialize and learn,” she said. “The kids don’t know they are learning, but they are.”

Verduzco, a 1988 Fox High School graduate, opened the indoor play area after she finished a career in teaching.

She had been the director of Lutheran High School South’s International Exchange Student Program before opening the business. She said because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school was struggling to bring in exchange students, and she decided to go into business for herself.

“I have enjoyed being self-employed in the past, and I thought, what if I made a teacher-designed indoor playroom, children would be able to learn through playing and have specific areas to learn with a free play area,” Verduzco said. “I jotted down my ideas for a year. I thought if I’m ever going to do this, I would have a plan in place.”

Verduzco of Oakville has a bachelor’s degree in education from Fontbonne University and a master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has taught English language learning and worked in early childhood education at the Lindbergh School District. She also taught in the Special School District and Affton School District.

While education has long been Verduzco’s passion, she became interested in creating an indoor activity center after taking her 2-year-old godson to similar businesses in St. Louis County.

“I thought it was a neat concept,” Verduzco said. “I looked around and thought about where I grew up. There is really nothing like this in Jefferson County, except for the recently opened (Little Owl’s Nest at Windsor Elementary in Kimmswick).”

At Busy Einstein, there are printouts posted above a table at each learning station that describe the lessons and how parents can interact with their children.

Verduzco created a seasonal station, which highlights cultural holidays through the end of this year. There also is a baby station geared toward children 18 months and younger, as well as puzzle, paleontology (dinosaurs), entomology (bugs) and life skills stations.

She said a station that has grown in popularity is the “Back in the Day” station, which has vintage toys from the 70s and 80s

“The kids are fascinated by it,” Verduzco said. “They are amazed by these older toys.”

Admission is $8 for children between 7 and 23 months old and $10 for children 2 years and older.

Verduzco said there is no set time limit for a session at the play center, but most families stay for about two hours.

She said the play center is mainly geared toward children between the ages of 1 and 5, but she also has activities for children as old as 11.

Since beginning the venture, Verduzco said one of the hardest parts has been explaining to parents what the indoor playcenter is.

“An indoor playroom is a little bit of a hard sell,” Verduzco said. “They are still relatively new in the area. I would say they started popping up in the Midwest in the last two years after being prevalent on the West Coast for a number of years. I have had to do a lot of educating of what this is and why it is beneficial.”

Customers are asked to reserve a spot in advance to prevent overcrowding at the center, Verduzco said.

Reservations can be made online at busyeinstein.com or by calling 314-736-9909.