Reviewed by Gemma Ingham
I attended two Creation Station Little Explorer sessions in Ossett, West Yorkshire. I had never heard of the Creation Station but at the time I was looking for toddler classes to take my 22 month old daughter to. I am a crafty person by nature and love my sewing machine, but when it comes to glitter, glue, paint, and a toddler I don’t really know what to do and I cringe at the thought of the inevitable mess! So I was thrilled with the idea of my daughter being able to be creative in a structured environment without me having to deal with the mess.
Upon contacting my local Creation Station class leader, Lois, there were quite a few venues in different locations on different days to choose from. I chose the day that was most suitable for me which is held in a scout hut. It was a lovely small building with a secure front garden, substantial front and interior doors which a toddler wouldn’t be capable of opening themselves, so from a safety point of view I give it top marks. The inside is a large hall with wooden floors set out into two sections, one half had craft tables with chairs, and the other half was an open space with mats to sit on the floor. My daughter called this the ‘party’ space as the children could run around and interact with the other children.
Lois, the session leader was warm, friendly, and approachable. It can sometimes be uncomfortable joining an already established group but I immediately felt welcomed. Lois seems to have a natural way with children, and my daughter who can be wary of strangers warmed to her immediately.
Before the session started we were given overalls. I did know protective clothing would be provided but I expected an apron, so had packed a spare change of clothes for my daughter. There was no need! The lightweight overalls cover the children completely so there is minimal chance of any of their clothing getting messy.
The first part of the session involves everyone sitting in a circle on mats on the floor and singing the ‘Hello’ song. As with most baby and toddler sessions it incorporates an element of sign language, but unlike other groups I have attended it is really simple and very easy to pick up. We went around the circle and said hello to each of the children by incorporating their name into the song, which was a lovely touch. My daughter was beaming at being sung to and it’s a fabulous way to learn everyone’s name.
Next is the Creation Station box, a wooden chest that holds the materials for this weeks theme. Lois really engages all the children by shaking the box and asking them to listen to what’s inside. My daughter jumped from my lap to go and join in with the excitement by listening to the box, knocking on it, and peering inside it. The focus on this term was shapes, so on our first session we focused on triangles, and the second session was semi-circles. After discovering what is in the box, we moved over to the craft tables. They are large enough to accommodate 4-6 children per table, and each one is covered with a bright themed cover. On both sessions my daughter chose to sit on the strawberry table.
On our first session the children painted triangles, and decorated them with buttons, foil shapes and googly eyes. We also made a boat bottom out of clay and the children were encouraged to explore the clay, the sounds it could make when thrown onto the table, and the texture of it. My daughter was obsessed with the PVA glue and wanted to spread it everywhere, which Lois explained was a normal phase at her age and that it was perfectly fine for her to do. The triangles were turned into masts and we took home a boat that my daughter is very proud of.
In our second session we made hats out of our semi circles. The children draw on them with chalks and experimented with the different marks they could make on the paper, and decorated the semi circles with foil, fabric, buttons, feathers and ribbons.
After the craft part of the session is finished the children go and wash their hands and we go back to the hall area to sit down and sing the ‘goodbye’ song to signal the end of the session to the children.
Throughout our two sessions there was no pressure for my daughter to sit quietly and complete the crafts. If she wanted to move from the table and run around or dance that was fine, if she wanted to only play with the glue then that was fine also. The children and parents are encouraged to just go with the child’s interests and it is certainly not a quiet session.
The sessions have great educational value. Children learn so much through play, and after the first session my daughter could tell me what a triangle was and say the word perfectly. She also got to try things that she’s never done before, and that we probably wouldn’t do at home. I would never have thought to decorate triangles and turn them into a boat.
Children of course, get to take their creations home to continue the learning. They can be proud of their creations and show them off.
The Creation Station run Baby Discover classes from 5-14 months, and Little Explorer sessions from 15 months to 5 years as well as parties and school holiday activities.
We loved the sessions so much that I have signed up for the rest of the term and we will be attending Creation Station on a weekly basis.
For more information or to book sessions:
Telephone: 0844 874 7352