Toddlertastic! at Whitworth Art Gallery

Summer is just around the corner…can’t wait for more creative fun in the sunshine!


In September 2013, the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, closed its doors to enable the completion of a major development project designed to transform and extend the building and, in particular, to celebrate and renew the relationship between the gallery and the park in which it stands.

In summer 2013, before the Gallery closed, the Institute of Cultural Practices at University of Manchester came along and filmed at a number of our Toddlertastic sessions (weekly workshops for under 5s and their parents/ carers). The footage captured would form part of a research project called ‘Researching the New’ which would explore how our children and parents engage with and respond to the process of change at Whitworth asking the question, what does the temporary closure of the gallery mean to the Toddlertastic regulars, prior to its reopening in the Autumn of 2014?

This film shows the importance of the gallery as…

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Im sticking with you


Sticking high, sticking low, sticking in patterns, sticking in circles,sticking with friends or alone; Sticking is a wonderfully simple and effective way of children to express themselves creatively without grown up assistance…and really when your creating a masterpiece like the ones pictured, a big old grown up would just get in the way!!

Keep on moving…


Grown ups like to sit, take the weight off, perhaps put our feet up, under fives have a different agenda all together.

They LOVE to move; rolling, crawling, shuffling, climbing walking, running, and everything inbetween. Their body is something that takes them on great adventures up staircases, thrilling trips down ramps, and important quests under tables and over chairs.

Im a big believer in embracing that need to move, creating workshops which not only allow movement but encourage it…for grown ups too!

This is the essence of child lead play; observe a childs natural desires, and embracing it and enjoying the sheer joy toddlers get from the simple act of moving.

A little bit of this, a little bit of that…

I feel lucky to be able to be creative in my job, and use my imagination when putting objects and materials for my creative play workshops. They are different everytime and I love that.

Tiny bells and marbles sound lovely but to small to be given directly to children…put them in a soft little bag and it becomes a sensory safe object that sounds, feels and looks interesting!

Crayons all feel the same..wrapped in twine and grouped together they are easier to grip, textured and great for mark making.

This collection may be my favourite;light, heavy, soft, hard, smooth, rough, warm, cold, sounds and smells. What a joy it is to create these experiences for babies.


Out and about

I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work across many different early years settings, its something I really love about the work I do.

More recently I have been offered work through Barnardos, including nursaries, sure start centres, and most recently Gabriel Court in Rochdale.

Heres a little film to illustrate what they do:

I have delivered two baby play sessions, met some lovely parents and babies.

We had a one year old who loved our heuristic objects and a two week old girl in the soft area where baby enjoyed the feathers, fabric leaves, sparkly fabric and shiny plastic for a wonderful half an hour.