Getting creative without the clearing up

The Creation Station, St Albans

The Creation Station, St Albans - Credit: Archant

ON a miserable rainy Monday morning it was a relief to dive into the Inn on the Park, Verulamiam Park, St Albans, for the launch of The Creation Station, an arts and crafts class run by Maria Blake. Aimed at 1 to 5 year olds and run during term time, it’s designed to offer a 50 minute structured session encompassing art, music and craft.

First task of the day is to dress the little-ones in some rather fetching all-in-one overalls, available in different sizes to suit varying ages. Nothing is provided for the adults though, so don’t wear your Sunday best, and the all-in-ones are quite warm for the children so they won’t need to be wearing heavy layers underneath.

The classes are based on the Early Years Foundation Stage and are designed to improve concentration (we could do with that!), speech, language, confidence, dexterity and also give parents ideas for art activities at home. Each term is based on a different theme, such as texture, shape or colours. The room had been decorated to be bright, inspiring and cosy.

The theme for this term is texture, so after we had sung an introduction song, we moved to the important business of what was inside ‘The Magic Ideas Box’. Different types of paper were handed round for touching and feeling, and the experience was underlined by a song about different senses.

Then it was time to get messy and we were let loose with finger paint and a wide variety of brushes and sponges. Theo wasn’t terribly keen on sitting down at the table so he sat on my lap, which is how I got messy too, and really, he was more interested in eating the sponges than painting with his fingers, but I managed to channel a bit of Van Gogh and together we created a picture.

Theo wasn’t very happy to sit down for long and I think this is a symptom of his desire to be constantly on the move at the moment. The older children were much happier to sit and concentrate on the matter in hand, and really enjoyed the creative tasks as well as being very proud of what they had produced.

There was a brief pause for hand washing, which Theo decided was “splash time”, and then we were back at the tables, this time making and decorating a shaker. Again there were lots of options for filling and decorating, all non-toxic and thus child safe. Theo consumed more Cheerios than went in the shaker but we did manage to create something that rattled. We abandoned the decoration though, as he wanted to get up and run about again, and after a brief tidying up session we gathered around in a circle to sing a final song and say our goodbyes.

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I think this class offers a great opportunity to get creative and messy without having to do major clearing up at home.

The materials are all there for you, as are the ideas and it’s a safe environment and a structured time in which to be creative with your child. I am not sure how much Theo really got out of the creative side of the class because he just wants to run around all day and isn’t great at sitting still, so I would say if your child is like this you might struggle to get them to engage with the task in hand.

However, when he is a bit older I think he will get a lot more out of this class and I will find it great for creative inspiration too.