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Glitter Glue and Sticky Stars

Well, the weather during the last Bank Holiday weekend left a lot to be desired. We had family visiting and wanted to share with them some of fantastic activities Edinburgh has to offer. So we invited them to peruse the Undercover section of Edinburgh for Under Fives and they decided that we should all go to Deep Sea World. Much fun was had by all, and many photographs were taken. I've started to make collages for my son Jack's nursery wall, documenting our adventures around the city and marking his 'firsts'. One of these features photographs of our first trip to Edinburgh Zoo and the first animal he laid eyes on, a gorilla. This week I created another one of the same ilk, about the sharks from our Bank Holiday adventure. Jack is nearly five months old and although he's not yet able to help with the cutting out and sticking, he seemed pretty excited about the colours, shapes and my chatter as I recounted the sea creatures we had seen.

I started doing a bit of reading about the positive impact of arts and crafts on under 5s. In her book about creativity and imagination, Bernadette Duffy writes:

By encouraging creativity and imagination, we are promoting children's ablility to explore and comprehend their world and increasing their opportunities to make new connections and reach new understandings."

Of course, as soon as a child puts crayon to paper or swirls his fingers to make a pattern in the sand, he is communicating. He is also honing his fine motor skills and beginning to solve problems like, "How did I make red? I thought I made orange?".

We're very lucky that we have so many creative groups and activities in Edinburgh and beyond that cater for little ones. On Mondays, Potter Around runs Craft 'n' a Story sessions for under 5s, which involve exactly what it says on the tin: a craft activity, a story, singing, juice for the kids and a cuppa for mum or dad. On the first Wednesday of every month, Honey Pot Ceramics is running create and play sessions. Kids aged 2 and above are helped to create a clay masterpiece and after adding the finishing touches with paint, there's an hour of softplay fun and a snack at Scrambles next door. On Wednesday 3rd June, children are encouraged to dress up as a super hero and they'll be helped to make a mini clay version in time to celebrate their "super hero dad" on Father's Day.

Combining sensory play and crafts, Mini-Zoomers at Summerhall promotes independence, imagination and creativity. They offer a safe and welcoming space every Monday and Friday for 0-3s to explore materials, try out new things and make new friends. Mini Zoomers’ Messy Mondays works around a different theme each week, encouraging children from 18 months to splash, scrape, sprinkle, slide, squish, scatter and scoop messy materials to make, create and explore.

Messy Munchkins runs messy play session for children age 8 months to 5 years. The sessions offer wee ones an opportunity to have fun in a messy and social way. They say:

"Children’s learning will be greatly reduced if they are worried about the mess they are making. It is therefore really important to avoid the idea that getting dirty is a bad thing and instead concentrate on ways to keep it within limits. We appreciate that this can be difficult in the home as many of us do not have a practical space for this and that is where Messy Munchkins can help.”

Slightly further affield, Doodle & Splat runs art and craft sessions in Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy – with new classes currently being launched - which encourage parent and child to spend precious time together creating works of art to take home. They're running free arts and crafts sessions on Saturday 20th June at the Mercat Shopping Centre in Kirkcaldy and from 20th - 24th July at the Kingsgate Shopping Centre in Dunfermline.

You know, as I start to encourage Jack to get a bit arty, I've realised that far too much time has passed since school art classes, without a paintbrush or pipe cleaner in sight. I've been missing so much in the intervening years. As far as I'm concerned, give me any excuse to get out the glitter glue and sticky stars and I'm there!