Stretching little minds at the Playhouse

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Children attending the Playhouse Activity Centre Playgroup in Coleraine have been learning thanks to a new programme called ‘Mindstretchers’

The programme uses multi sensory and the creative environment to help children learn.

Playgroup leader Anthea Ridley says that the new learning experience is not just about education and following the curriculum, she says its about lifeskills.

Anthea believes that her playgroup, at the Coleraine West Community Centre, is the only group in the Province using the learning programme - so what’s it all about?

“Mindstretchers is about learning by using natural materials,” explained Anthea. “I first heard about the programme a few years ago. It’s really about hands-on learning using natural equipment and the most important part is that it is child led.

“If the leaders here aren’t excited about a topic or theme that we are exploring then how can the kids be? If wee see that there is an area that the children aren’t interested we adapt that.”

To help the Playhouse kids to develop, a new mud kitchen has been introduced. The outdoor kitchen takes the children back to basics - using mud and trowels - allowing them to build, to feel different textures and most of all to have great fun outdoors!

“We can start the week on one topic and by the end of the week we could be learning about something completely different, “ explained Anthea. “During St Patrick’s week we were talking about the colour green - our theme was ‘40 shades of green’, this then carried on into a visit to the forest last week, where we were able to pick out the many different shades of green in the natural environment.”

Parent Geri Martin explained: “Children lucky enough to secure a place at Playhouse find themselves in a stimulating environment, encouraged to develop skills at their own pace, to lead and drive play and learning activities and to grow in confidence ready to begin primary education.”