Our creative arts and literacy project for Early Years and Families – For The Love Of Books – has finally reached its second year. Local artist Katy McCall led the initial pilot project before taking up the post of Family Learning Manager at Manchester Art Gallery. We then recruited local Early Years and Heritage Education expert Karl Harris to lead the project through its core two year programme.
Karl worked with a variety of Creative Practitioners well versed in Early Years practice to develop the pilot project into a thematically linked 10 session suite of activities. The sessions are designed to give young children the opportunity to strengthen their literacy skills and interests through new and familiar creative activities. The open-ended activities range from unusual mark-making techniques using equipment sourced from the natural world, simple and advanced level print-making, sun-print photography, music appreciation and music-making, circle games with songs and rhymes, shadow puppetry, light and colour play, 3-D construction, multi-sensory activities, Forest School sessions and more. The activities have been developed and delivered by artists Daisy Strang, Beth Bishop, Frances Walker and Margit van der Zwan with Karl providing strategic age-range specific support. Links were also forged with Alison Hill (DCC Community Engagement Officer and 0-5 Co-ordinator for High Peak and North Dales) to support with identifying new and varied settings to host the project across the district. A video showcasing one of the settings from Y1 was commissioned from Metromedia Communications Ltd.
Y1 saw the project return to the three settings that had been involved in the pilot project whilst Y2 branched out into pastures new. The first of these settings was Little Stars Glossop – a private day nursery in Hadfield – who hosted the project in the Autumn Term and our Ragdoll Foundation funding was enhanced and supported by a local crowdfunder campaign. A community event held at Lymefield Garden Centre and a donation from Tarmac (???) has provided further support. The final two settings for the project will be Buxton Nursery and Bradwell Pre-School where project delivery commences in the coming weeks. Many thanks to everyone who has funded, supported and worked on our first Early Years arts project.