Today I took my children along to Toddler Imps on the Green, an outdoor creativity and play session at the beautiful Fair Green in Diss, Norfolk.
Run by Rachel Baker, a former primary school teacher with a passion for learning through exploration and creativity, Imps provide creative play experiences for under 5s and their parents, as well training and workshops for early years practitioners and Big Days In for early years settings.
This morning’s session was aimed at Toddler Imps, 18 months to 3 years but as it was the school holidays there were older children at the session as well as babies and toddlers and every child I saw at the session was engaged, involved and having a wonderful time.
The activities ranged from a mud kitchen which invited children to ‘make’ mud pies, cakes and explore role play, witches potion mixing (with pots of food colouring, lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda and watching the reactions – my daughter then added her witches potion to her mud pie!), as well as water play with a bamboo water way and water wall, and making a knight’s sword and shield, fairy wands and crowns and more.
What I really liked about this morning’s session was the fact that many of the activities were open-ended, there didn’t need to be an end product and they used natural materials such as leaves, soil and flowers as well as household items such as wooden spoons, baking trays, plastic cartons and newspaper with added extras of glitter, googly eyes, sticky tape and crayons.
Eila loved making Witches Potions and spent a long time mixing the liquids and bicarb together, she made friends with another little boy as they set up a “cafe” in the mud kitchen and together we made a magic wand, a shield a sword and a princess hat but for her it was more the making than the doing, she took just as much pleasure in cutting up pieces of paper and wool as she did in making potions and pies as she was exploring and using different skills.
While talking to Rachel she told me how she had been doing a lot of work with settings, giving them the confidence to use found objects to inspire learning. Children are just as happy with a wooden spoon or a cardboard tube as they are with an expensive electronic toy and usually have more fun with it.
Having explored the activities on offer at festivals for children that the Imps on the Green session had some of the best I had come across, well thought out and so simple in materials required and execution. The activities were pitched so a range of ages were able to take part at different levels, something that can be so difficult to achieve.
Rachel mentioned there was a possibility that she could be taking her play and creativity workshops to a local festival next year, I really hope so because I am going to make sure I am there!
To find out more about the Imps Creativity sessions, visit www.impscreativity.co.uk