A Little Learning for my Messy Marker

“A messy baby is a happy baby”

How often do we hear this but recoil at the idea of cornflakes covered in purple poster paint being pebble dashed up your living room wall whilst externally smiling to build your small artist’s confidence but inside your patience gauge has just hit “chernobyl.”

I recently started taking River to Little Learners in Ormskirk after being made aware of it in a post looking for bloggers. I enquired about it and was invited along at a discount for an honest review if I could make it on a Tuesday morning. Just like any destination in life I had thoroughly researched everything I could about it before hand like fully examining a menu and choosing what to eat prior to even setting off and was excited. Lot’s of messy play activities that didn’t involve me power washing jelly out of the rug in the garden in the middle of February. Their whole motto is encouraging children to make their mark and learn at the same time through sensory enjoyment. Sound’s great. Just River’s bag – making a mess and marking things. And more importantly, marking things that weren’t my things.

The first time we got there he slammed his brakes on. Nope. Not happening. He wouldn’t even look at anything. I could see there was different tuff trays set up with various different activites like coloured foam, dyed rice and playdough. I knew he’d love it but he koala-ed up me and was not for letting go. Holly, the lady who runs the class, was amazing. She introduced herself and pointed River to the tray that had cheerios (and more excitingly for Riversaurus – Dinosaurs) to play in and said “a way to a mans heart is through his stomach” and sure enough as soon as Hercules saw the food on offer he unclamped from around my neck and sat merrily eating cereal that had been shaped lovingly into a rainbow for 35 of the 45 minutes. After he had his fill he realised there was more on offer and started to paint his jeans (and mine) whilst carefully observing what all the other kids were doing a la side eyes. It was amazing to see babies of all ages getting stuck in, some face first, into all the play.

Week 2 and he was still a little cautious (in fact the first thing he did when we got there is pick up his shoes and banged on the door shouting “go go go”) but he soon sniffed out the snacks again and his confidence just soared. He found more paint and more clean clothing to get filthy but honestly who cares. I’ve got a washing machine and his happy little face concentrating on making sure every toe had an even coating of luminous pink or green paint on is quite sweet.

One of his favourite things he came across (accidently, he was on his way back to the cereal) was lots of coloured grains of rice in a tuff tray with various tools to make patterns in or receptacles to pour it out it. He loved the sound of it crashing out of his chubby little paws and scattering all over the laminate a definitely not inside the tray. His eyes said “ah, mum, I’ve found something mischeivous to do” and I knew he’d found his new favourite thing to do. When throwing it across the room was exhausted he lay down flat and made “Rice Rivers” laughing his little head off.

He got stuck in and by the last week of the term we left head to toe in paint, playdough, foam and the stray cheerio stuck in his hair. We could have stayed and cleaned up, Holly brings out lots of warm water to dip the kids in but River is going through a very firm and loud “no” to getting undressed phase and didn’t want to inflict that on anyone’s ears. I’ve even taken some tips from the classes to do at home, dragging the tuff tray I convinced Frankie we just had to buy out of the garden and back in to action. As soon as it comes out he dances around on the spot.

My discounted offer is up now but I’ve signed up. I can’t wait for next term to start, whilst we’ve been on a break I’ve had to suffer nothing but Baby Shark on loop and honestly I can’t wait to get stuck back in myself away from that Pink bloody Fong.

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