It’s not just messy play

nicki smithby Nicki Smith, Owner and Inspirer at The Creation Station Bath

These days, as parents, we are constantly bombarded with terms like messy play, creative play, heuristic play or sensory play but what’s wrong with plain old play?
As a daily provider of creative play, I actually get a bit narked about others belittling the job I do. I have been doing it for over 3 years (which is a long time in kid years!) and I reckon I know the value of creative play in all its forms.

Nicole Norman babyChildren play. It’s what they are good at. It’s what comes naturally to them. Most of us parents know and appreciate that. Sometimes it may feel that the government, LEAs, OFSTED or other institutions like to ignore it but even they would admit (I hope) that children learn best through play in Early Years.

Creativity is the ability to challenge, question and explore. It involves taking risks, playing with ideas, keeping an open mind and making connections where none are obvious – Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood.

Creative play is just one way that young children learn and develop. My personal definition of creative play involves drawing, painting, glueing, cutting, collage, modelling, making but most of all, using their awesome imaginations as a natural starting point.

Okay, that’s quite an adult definition but creativity in early childhood has been proven to bring benefits to the child and help them to gain skills:

  • Maths skills – through involvement in arts and crafts, children will gain knowledge and familiarity of shapes, sizes, measuring, sorting and patterns. As they get older, they will begin to include problem-solving skills in their creations: ‘Is this too much paint?’; ‘Will this tool do what I want it to do?’; ‘If I cut this here, will it make the shape I want?’
  • Science skills – in art projects, children learn basic science skills: colour mixing; using different textures for different outcomes.
  • Physical skills – Creative play develops fine motor skills through cutting, drawing, painting, threading, colouring within the lines. One minute, they may be scribbling, but the next, that pencil is forming letters and numbers. ‘Mark making’ (the PC term for scribbling!) is a milestone for muscle control and hand-eye coordination.
  • Emotional and social skills – Art provides the child with an incredible opportunity to express themselves. It is accepted that emotionally healthy children are often those who have an outlet for their emotions and thoughts. Art classes and activities also allow little ones the chance to interact with others and experience group dynamics and the different thoughts and interests of others.

And creative play in babies can be even more important. Playing with materials such as sand, water or paint have been shown to develop thought and creativity in little ones. Encouraging curiosity and exploration is so beneficial for our babes.

The important thing to remember is that no end product is necessary for any age group, in fact the act of exploring and playing is where the learning and development are focused. Who cares what they make as long as they have had fun.

We shouldn’t underestimate how shared creative play strengthens the bond between parent and child. Having fun together creates memories. Allowing your child to explore whilst you are present instils a sense of security in the child to have fun, explore new things. A whole lot of thoughts and theory? True, but I have seen the truth in this too.

nicki blogI have seen the most shy, socially uncomfortable little boy (who used to try to escape during class!) blossom in confidence and stature as his ideas and imagination were noticed and valued. I have seen little ones living with autism, cerebral palsy and other disabilities thrive on the chance to join in activities on an equal footing and watched their individual talents soar. I have also noticed with pride as my own children’s imaginations have developed and their skills started to become obvious.

Creative play is accessible to all.

Shush, don’t tell anyone but I really don’t like doing lots of arts and crafts at home with my kids. I struggle enough to keep the house tidy without adding to the chaos. However, creative play doesn’t have to be messy. Creative play is story-telling, music, performance just as much as it is paint, glue, glitter and clay.

Some people are happy to strip their kids off and let them redecorate the bathroom with poster paints. Some people start to convulse at the idea of play-dough. Some people are more creative and inspirational everyday than I have the energy to even think about. Some people need the comfort of arty sessions like Messy Play at Children’s Centres or The Creation Station.

Whatever you choose give your little one’s creativity the wings to soar. It’s not just messy play, you know.

>> You can find out more about Nicki’s classes or your local Creation Station here.

Inspire your toddler with LEGO® DUPLO® and The Creation Station

We have been having some great fun this week exploring LEGO®DUPLO® in our sessions. If you haven’t had chance to pop along to a session there is still time to check with your local Creation Station for availability. (Find your local Creation Station here).

LEGO®DUPLO® is a fantastic product for developing creativity and imagination with your child. Why not download these themed activity sheets and see if your child can create a story around the characters.

man duplo                        lady duplo

Download Lego Duplo Activity Sheet Man                      Lego Duplo Activity Sheet Lady

chick duplo      cat duplo

Lego Duplo Activity Sheet Chicken                  Lego Duplo Activity Sheet Cat

ice cream duplo

Lego Duplo Activity Sheet Ice Cream

duplo comp for facebookTime to win

Want to build your own LEGO®DUPLO® collection? Enter our fab competition for a chance to win a lovely hamper full of products. The contents may vary from the image below but will be to the value of £50.

>> Enter here

Looking for more fun ideas? Become a follower of our blog for weekly top tips and creative ideas.

Is your child starting school this year?

back to school

Here are some top tips to help ease the transition for you and your child.

Before they start school…

  • Ask them what questions they have about school.
  • Let them know what to expect from the first few days.
  • Encourage them to talk to other children and to take all concerns to a grown up, they shouldn’t be worried about speaking up about anything no matter how small.
  • Teach them to recognise their own name, they may not be able to read or write but they will need to recognise their name to find their coat peg, tray etc. Write their name out and type it out, then stick those up for them to see so they can still recognise it in different styles. Ask them to find their name amongst lots of other words. Make it fun and turn it into a game.
  • In the build up for the first week try to practice the routine with bed times and mornings. Try doing a couple of sit down activities at the table to start to get them used to sitting in a classroom. This could be reading a book together or doing some drawings.

On the day…

  • Stay only as long is necessary, once they feel comfortable it is time to go. The quicker you leave the easier it will be for them to settle down and understand the environment without you.
  • Try not to cry in front of your child as this could upset and confuse them, especially as you’ve been telling them how great big school is and that they will love it! If needed, say goodbye and go and have a good cry outside with a friend!
  • Say hello to the other parents and arrange a meet up, you could maybe go for a coffee straight away. All the other parents are in the same boat as you and also feeling a little unsure, they will be looking to make friendships too. It’s just as important to build solid relationships with the other parents as it is for the kids to become friends, after all, you will probably be around each other for many years if the class moves through the school together.

Going forward…

  • Ask your child every day what they did at school, encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings and retell what they have learnt, this helps them to process information and embed it in their mind.
  • Keep some of the best drawings and photos of the projects your child completes, in a “My First Year of School” scrapbook, which both you and your child could write in together. They can add more of their own writing and drawing as their ability develops, which in itself will be a fantastic record of achievement! Be sure to add the photo of them on their first day and finish off with another on their last day. They will have grown so much and it will be a lovely memory keepsake of this very special time in their life!

We would love to hear all about your child’s first day. Share your stories on our Facebook page.

EYFS Creative Resources To Help Nurseries and Childcare Providers

eyfs resources 2The Creation Station are passionate about supporting proactive nurseries to now access extra resources to help inspire children. The Creation Station has developed EYFS linked art & craft resources and ideas to help inspire children and support staff in childcare settings.

Child care organisations can now benefit from the EYFS linked resources developed by the UK’s leading art & crafts experience provider, The Creation Station. With over 150,000 children and families inspired  the Creation Station have a  wealth of knowledge and experience to share.

Resources and activities are designed to engage children, support staff and help with time and cost management of arts & crafts based activities.

To find out more, simply complete this form and we will get back to you within 24 hours.

Do a Doodle a Day

Chris-RiddellDid you hear about the announcement of the new Children’s Laureate. The Children’s Laureate is a well known writer of children’s books who promotes and encourage children’s interest in books, reading and writing. This year the new Laureate has been named Chris Riddell, the illustrator and author.

He says his mission is to encourage creativity and “drawing every day”, he wants kids to doodle more.

“There comes a point where children decide that they can’t draw. I want to say, ‘don’t stop drawing – carry on, and do a sketch a day. I think stories can grow out of the visual. It can be an engine for literacy.” – Chris Riddell

Chris is documenting his role as the Laureate with a daily log with various sketches.

>> Check out Chris’s Laureate Log here

Do you or your child doodle each day? As adult art therapy and doodle books become more popular why don’t you have a go at doodling with your child and see what magical stories you can create together.

We would love to see some of your creations, please share them on our Facebook Page #creationstation

We have put together some special shop offers to help you on your way with your doodle a day.

>> Visit The Creation Station Store

5 Ways To Encourage Creativity In Your Child

Many people believe that creativity is an inborn talent that their kids either do or do not have, but this isn’t true creativity is actually more of a skill than a inborn talent. It is something that as parents we can help our child to develop.

happy kjidsHere at The Creation Station we are passionate about encouraging creativity in children and helping them to explore their imagination. We have put together a few top tips of some ways parents can help their child develop their creativity.

  • Provide your child with the resources for creative expression. The key things here are time and space. Children need lots of time for unstructured imaginative play without adult direction and without relying on commercial toys and modern technology. Space is also important, set aside a specific space where they can make a mess so that it is contained to one area and allows them to be free to explore without restrictions.
  • Promote a creative atmosphere. Encourage your child to share their ideas but resist the urge to point out what is not possible and don’t decide which ideas are best. Focus on the generating of new ideas rather than evaluating the suggestions. Help your child to not be afraid of failure and making mistakes, by sharing mistakes you have made which will give them scope to be more creative as they are not afraid of making mistakes..
  • Cover your walls with art and evidence of creative expression. Tell your child about your favourite artists, musicians and scientists. Share your creative passions, be it photography, architecture or even cake decorating. Encourage them to explore your hobbies with you as you share theirs with them.
  • Encourage your child to read for pleasure and take part in the arts. Limit TV and other screen time in order to make room for creative activities like rehearsing a play, learning to draw, reading every book written by a favourite author.
  • Try to stop worrying about what your child achieves. Emphasise the process rather than the final outcome. One way you can do this is by asking questions about the creative journey – Did you have fun? How did you do that? What did you like about that activity?

How do you encourage your child’s creativity? We would love to hear what you think is important. Please share your ideas on our Facebook page.

Designer Trade Marks

Don’t forget when you design or create amazing work it is important to protect your ideas from being copied and to be able to show that your inventions and creations are unique to you. The Intellectual Property Office is doing a great job at educating young people about the importance of patents, copyright and trademarks with their Shaun the Sheep Cracking Ideas Challenge. (Find out more here)

We have been delighted to have been working in collaboration with the IP office to deliver some fantastic workshops across the country this week, designing fantastic forms of transport to help Shaun get back to the farm. (See some of the fantastic creations here)

We have been asking the children to think how would they protect their designs.

A Trade Mark protects the words, names, symbols, sounds or colours that symbolise products or services.

If you were to design a logo to be trademarked what symbols, words, colours etc. would you use to represent yourself and your designs?

Design your own Trademark_edited-1

Don’t forget to enter our Cracking Ideas Competition by sharing a photo of your trademark or creation on The Creation Station Facebook Page with the hashtag #CrackingIdeasCreation

Want to draw Shaun the Sheep?

Join the Creation Station as we work in collaboration with the Intellectual Property Office exploring Aardman Animations’ Shaun the Sheep in our creative sessions this week.

Learn How to Draw Shaun_edited-1

>> Download your Learn How to Draw Shaun Activity Sheet

Design your own Shaun_edited-1

>> Download your Design your own Shaun Activity Sheet

We would love to see your Baaa-rilliant artwork so please share on The Creation Station Facebook Page with the hashtag #CrackingIdeasCreation

Cracking Shaun the Sheep Creative Sessions

logo-cracking-challenge (1)We are delighted to have teamed up with the Intellectual Property Office and the Aardman Animations – ‘Wallace and Gromit Cracking Ideas Challenge’, to run hands on ‘Shaun the Sheep’ themed creative sessions. These will take place across the country during the week commencing the 4th May 2015.

The fun sessions will inspire children from aged 6 months – 11 years as they come up with their own inventions and explore their imagination whilst learning about the importance of protecting designs, trade marks and inventions. You and your child will create a own Shaun the Sheep character as well as designing and making a form of transport to help Shaun and his friends get back to the farm. Your contraption could take the flock by road, rail, sea or air, using innovative materials, or ways to power your contraption. The sessions will be jam packed with lots of creative activities plus fun themed ideas to take home and continue to inspire imaginations and nurture each child’s creativity.

All the children have the fantastic opportunity to enter their inventions into a national competition to win a selection of brilliant prizes. To enter simply upload an image of your creation to the The Creation Station Facebook Page with the hashtag #CrackingIdeasCreation. Children can enter the competition even if they haven’t being able to attend the workshops.

Come along and join the fun, places are limited for these fun hands on workshops so visit for details of local venues and don’t miss out on your place.

Teach your child to use scissors

It is sometimes a daunting thought allowing your child to use scissors for the first time, so we have put together some tops tips for helping you to guide your child to safely use scissors and have some fun at the same time.

cutting stationLooking for a way to control the mess? – How about setting up your cutting activity like this. Fancy a pair of loop scissors or spring scissors to help your child learn how to cut? >>Pop over to our online store.