Mummy Mondays – Getting Crafty with Little Learners

A couple of months ago, the lovely Alex from my local branch of Little Learners, educational messy play, got in touch asking if Benjamin and I would like to go along to her weekly sessions for a term and see what we thought as they had only recently started up in our area.Having registered as self employed back at the start of the year, and working from home around Benjamin’s nap times, I hadn’t been great at getting him out of the house or involved in any classes so I decided it would be good to give Little Learners a go, and see how we got on.Little Learners is a franchised business, with Alex running local sessions in Branksome, Christchurch and Moordown, which is where Benjamin and I had our sessions. Alex used to be a teacher, and her patience and understanding of what encourages children to explore really pays off in the sessions.Benjamin has become quite clingy lately, and will generally only go to a few close family members, but a few sessions in and he was besotted with Alex, never far from her side and always trying to get her attention when she was with the other children.Each session has a theme, which is clearly marked out and centres around four fun characters – The Mark Makers. The level of thought and creativity that goes into each session is amazing, and I have a lot of respect for Alex – putting together and then cleaning up the different sections must take a lot of time and patience.The effort is worth it though, each section is fun, engaging, and offers different sights, sounds and smells to stimulate the senses. Although the theme changes, much of the materials used stay the same each week, which is brilliant for young children, who perhaps crave a bit of familiarity.Benjamin didn’t like the foam area, and avoided it every week, but he enjoyed playing with the rice, and making his mark with the painting, play dough and chalks. The materials used are non-toxic and safe for little ones to put in their mouth (or even eat if they felt like it, which sometimes they do).Alex also provided snacks on a couple of occasions, including the session during National Picnic Week, where Benjamin ate all of the rich tea biscuits (I am not even exaggerating, you can witness it in the video I filmed that week, he really loved those biscuits)!The Little Learners classes are priced at a reasonable £39.75 per term, which breaks down to under £8 per session. What’s great is that Alex offers flexibility that most classes won’t, and if you miss a session, you are able to roll it over to the next term if you want.If you have more than one child under school age wanting to go along to the sessions, Alex offers a sibling discount of 50%, which makes the sessions very affordable.Sessions are really laid back, with small numbers enabling Alex to provide one on one interaction with each child throughout the hour. Sessions are mainly unstructured, with a simple introduction to each week’s theme at the start, and then the chance to clean your child up at the end using the handy buckets of water with flannels at the side of the room.Although laid back and informal, the principles behind the classes aim to encourage young children to ‘make their mark’, and start to express themselves through the different mediums on offer.Using a variety of tools available to them, children are prompted to explore, experiment and express. The Mark Maker characters represent the main marks that eventually help form letters, numbers, shapes and patterns – circle, curve, zig zag and a straight line.With this educational aspect of the class in mind, although hugely beneficial for younger children like Benjamin who are just beginning to become interested in drawing and mark making, they would be fantastic for pre-schoolers, to help prepare them for starting school.Venue wise, the Moordown classes are easy to get to, with parking on-site and plenty of on road parking as well – as the car park is quite tight when busy, and with our big car, I preferred parking on the road for peace of mind. The staff at the centre are friendly and accommodating, the man on the front desk would talk to Benjamin on our way in and out, and always had a smile and a wave for him.If you are looking for a fun, educational and hands on art and crafts class, I would recommend Little Learners. Although we were provided with the first term complimentary on the basis of reviewing, Benjamin and I loved it so much, we will be back for the next term in September.Alex’s classes are fantastic if you are based in the Bournemouth area, but if not there are plenty of franchises across the UK, so you’re sure to find a class near you. As well as the classes, Little Learners also offer parties and events, as well as a dedicated online shop providing the opportunity to recreate classes yourself at home for your little ones.The next Little Learners term for Bournemouth and Poole isn’t until September, but Alex is offering drop in sessions over the summer in Kings Park at a discounted price (and older siblings are welcome to go along too).We were provided with one term complimentary for the purpose of this review, however all opinions and images are my own.

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