I love Fridays – Friday is Mummy day! After waking ourselves up with the fantastic Musical Beginnings we often find ourselves at Gallery Oldham’s – Go Explorers, which has a deserving slot in our fabulous Fridays.
This session provides such a rich environment for exploration and that is why we love it. Often our classes are structured and there is benefit from this, but child-led learning is what we get from Go Explorers. The little one chooses her own way, building curiosity and confidence – the foundations of problem-solving.
A large room on the ground floor of the gallery is dedicated to Go Explorers and each week it’s filled with gooey, bumpy, squishy, crunchy, shiny stations of delight all put thoughtfully together by a community artist. I immediately knew it would be great for our 2-year-old because I was straight in, shoes off and ferreting around the artistic creations that are laid out so beautifully, the temptation is irresistible to all!
This session elevates the little one to play a central role in her own decision making. We live busy lives and opportunities for this freedom of exploration are limited but so important in early development.
We need to give our children lots of opportunities to think, puzzle and work things out on their own and with others. At times in their development they will need a lot of scaffolding and support for their thinking, but at others they will need to opportunity to think for themselves.’
Sometimes we spend our sessions exploring just the one station (often it involves bubble wrap) and where I see a play opportunity she may not consider I make adult suggestions but regardless of this Go Explorers is her space to enjoy.
We’ve played with translucent blocks on lightboxes, mixed cornflour and food colouring – we were making a cake but the boy next to us a potion! We’ve rolled balls down tubes laid at varying angles and felt different textures under our feet on a floor stuck with different materials (this was the all-time favourite.) Sometimes we eat the art, other times we get it all over ourselves but we always have a good time exploring.
Go Explorers provides a good opportunity to meet others but when you’re not in the mood there’s less pressure to interact and I feel like I, and we, can just ‘be’ in this space. Sometimes I chat with adults, sometimes less so, sometimes the little one plays with others, sometimes she plays on her own. As with the play, she is in charge of her emotional choices, she navigates her time in response to how she feels. Again, I feel there’s often little space for toddlers to do this in day to day life. Regardless of how we play we are polite and courteous and share the space – a great community learning experience.
And of course, you can leave the mess there! Having said that Go Explorers has given us plenty of ideas to bring home so if you want to brave your own messy, sensory and artistic play this B&Q cement mixing tray means we can mess (a bit) at home. Try dry materials and cooking utensils; cornflower water, food coloring and brushes; cars in paint; straw, cereal and farmyard animals – a quick Pinterest search will provide lots of ideas.
GO Explorers takes place at The Oldham Gallery, 10.30 -11.30 am every Friday during term time but is currently closed due to the Coronavirus. Keep your eye out here for future events, booking and details.