One of my all-time favourite children’s books is The Tiger Who Came To Tea. It’s a book I know off by heart and every word of it evokes memories.
It made a huge impression on me as a tot in the Seventies and I can still vividly remember sitting with the other children at story-time, listening intently as our nursery teacher read it out loud.
For those of you who have been deprived of this wonderful tale by author Judith Kerr in 1968, it’s the story of a tiger who invites himself to tea and eats and drinks all the food and water in a little girl’s house. He then leaves, never to return.
The great thing about the book is that it has spanned the generations and sparked the imaginations of children for decades, making it a real classic.
As a new mum over 40, who doesn’t have a clue about Peppa Pig or In The Night Garden (yet), stories like this are worth their weight in gold because it means I have something in common with younger mummies half my age.
Now this brings me on to the topic of my post and our first Baby ARTventurers class at Great Park Community Centre, Newcastle. I was delighted to find out that the story of one big, furry, stripey tiger would form the very theme of eight-month-old Cyrus’s first session.
Having never been to an ARTventurers class before, I wasn’t sure what to expect – although I knew messy play would be at the heart of it, so I made sure to wear an old shirt and jeans myself and ensure Master C wasn’t wearing any Ralph Lauren for the occasion.
As soon as we walked through the door, we were given a really warm and friendly welcome by our host, Elaine and an overview of the things Cyrus could get involved in.
There was a whole range of activities all based on the theme of The Tiger Who Came To Tea. There was a pit filled with porridge oats, kitchen utensils and tigers, a pool with plastic balls and watering cans, another area filled with spaghetti, a tiger sensory area and an area for paint exploration.
Now messy play provides so many benefits for babies like Cyrus and during the session, he got to hone his sense of touch, explore different textures and get covered in paint, porridge oats and spaghetti in the process!
I stripped him down to just his vest and nappy for the session and then just let him explore his surroundings. Cyrus did decide to explore with his mouth as well as his hands, so I had to keep a close eye on him. I also had a couple of baby wipes to hand to wipe off the excess paint and make this messy moment more manageable.
It proved a great sensory experience for him and I didn’t have to worry about the ‘messy’ part either as I’d come prepared.
TIP: It’s a good idea to bring a towel, a couple of spare plastic bags, as well as a change of clothes with you as it makes things much easier at the end of the session.
After a quick clean, getting rid of one wet, soggy nappy and a change of clothes, Cyrus was ready for a little sing-along session with sparkly pom-poms before we headed home. We will certainly be back to ARTventurers soon.
ARTventurers Newcastle is run by mum-of-two, Emily Miller. She initially took her daughter along to an ARTventurers class and loved it so much that she decided to join the team. For more information, contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit @ARTventurersNewcastle on Facebook.