“It’s great for us, as Mordekai gets the chance to play with other toddlers and I get an opportunity to interact with other mums”
Thanks to a grant from Millennium Point Trust our monthly Under 5s play sessions The World Around Us started in September 2019 and will run until July 2020.
It’s Pay As You Feel by being supported by Millennium Point Small Grants scheme and each month has a different science-based theme to spark curiosity in little ones with varied high-quality play opportunities.
What is the World Around Us about?
We’ve had varied themes for under 5s and their caregivers to explore science, technology, maths and engineering (STEM) through play activities, stories and rhymes, including Ice, Autumn and Night Animals.
At Wolves Play Café, children are leaders of their learning. Our Early Years Specialist has over 20 years in Early Years settings and as Science Co-ordinator in EYFS and KS1. Using this experience, activities are designed to encourage curiosity and use children’s ideas to extend their own playing and learning.
Our aim is to engage with 100 under 5s in the World Around Us between September 2019 and July 2020 and it’s great that we’ve been able to welcome over 50 already in just 4 sessions! Lots of people have been to more than one session which is brilliant so little ones and their big ones can become familiar with the sessions, explore different themes each time they play and therefore build STEM experiences each time.
How does the World Around Us support STEM in Early Years?
The use of language, questioning and commenting by facilitators and caregivers develops an awareness of scientific and technical vocabulary from an early age. We do this in World Around Us sessions through stories and rhymes in a short group time gathered together.
Open ended resources are available throughout the sessions. These resources promote curiosity and creative thinking, for example loose parts, sensory trays and magnifying glasses.
At each session to show how play activities support under 5s development, there are ideas of questions to ask, posters with learning intentions and Take Home cards to carry on the playing at home.
Building Wolves Play Cafe
With a whole host of enthusiasm, excitement and support from the Midlands School of Social Entrepreneurs Start-Up Course, we approached two city spaces to host our pilot play sessions for Wolves Play Café in December 2018.
With massive thanks and partnership of Gatis Community Space and Light House Cinema and Café Bar, from February to July 2019 we delivered 18 pilot play sessions to talk and listen to caregivers of under 5s in our city, test out play ideas and see what children and their caregivers want! As these were our first ever play sessions, we decided to opt for Pay As You Feel pricing, with suggested donation of £2 or a purchase of a refreshment.
What did we do?
We delivered Play and Stay sessions from 10.00 -12.00 led by an Early Years Specialist with over twenty years of experience teaching and leading in Early Years settings in Wolverhampton. Each session having a theme linked to a short picture book, songs, rhymes and fun, play based activities.
Initially we planned to run sessions each week for 8 weeks, and we were so happy when our playmates wanted to come and join us for more! So we added some extra pilot sessions from April to July.
Gatis Community Space
We delivered 9 play sessions here from February to July 2019. It’s great that there is a Bump To Boob breastfeeding support group running at the same time. By the last three sessions we had between 10 and 16 children each time! Perfect for 1-1 interaction but also opportunities to make new playmate friends.
For my older son he’s nearly three so he loved the outdoor spaces here, so the water garden and the other adventure playground he really, really loved" Miranda
Light House Cinema and Cafe Bar
We delivered 9 play sessions here from February to July 2019, with over 80 caregivers and almost 100 under 5s attending in total. With the fantastic support and popularity of the venue they booked up quickly from the start.
I quite like that you’re relaxed and you have different ages"
By working with Gatis we were able to access a small seed fund from Power To Change. This enabled us to invest in more resources, extend our pilot sessions and deliver a consultation celebration session at the end.
We wanted to celebrate the close of the pilot and learn about refreshment choices that caregivers and little ones look for. More importantly we wanted to have a chat about why you would come to a Wolves Play Café play session.
We provided a voucher for each caregiver to redeem for refreshments and some pictoral large menus to put preferences. Love ‘n’ Peas, Gatis Community Space’s kitchen, developed a Toddler Menu to trial alongside the session.
We know that it’s not easy to sit down for long when you’ve got little ones to keep an eye on, so this meant we could easily chat. To find out why caregivers go to a play session and what they think of our pilot sessions, we decided to just have a good old natter!
Every caregiver who we had a chat with or gave some feedback was entered into a prize draw to win a family ticket to Thinktank.
Here is what we learnt from our playmates!