Family Play and Make Group
workshops or courses for parents with children - toddlers and early years

"Come with your child and learn how to playfully enjoy time by using simple materials and making traditional toys together."
This could be a slogan to invite parents to attend a number of single workshop or a course about parenting styles and play activity to benefit children's development and social interaction, improving their communication.

Generally, parents with really young children are easier to be involved into the play activity, overcoming their reluctant attitude toward the active and playful participation within the group setting.

This adult's stage of life can be the best one to reinforce the opportunity to become partner in play and make with his or her child.

toymaking setting
ant puppet balloon
two spiders
wormy the whelled sock
puppet fabric
balancing balloon toy
fabric knot doll
bottle skittles
These toys on display have been made during the workshops

Each session is based on the combined forms of physical play and make activities: the first slot of time is for enjoying playing together with simple material and the second slot of time is to make a toy using the same materials that have been previously explored.

During the play activity the leader's role will be useful to frame and to promote a variety of settings to largely and creatively explore the potential of accessible materials (things and items which are ordinary, low cost, easy to find around the home or in local shops, such as old newspaper, ribbons, balloons, over knees socks, elastic fabrics, etc...).
Keeping the playtime a pleasant experience, individual or dyads (parent and child) exploration will be led toward the more complex social interaction with the others, building up a positive atmosphere, allowing people to learn from each other, promoting a progessive child' detachment and confidence behind family ties.

Another essential task of the leader is to strictly addressed the adults-players: create a synergism of people that work-play like a team, attracting children within their "vortex of energy", no matter attention span of the children or the distractions brought or already present in the surrounding environment (like toys on display of a play children centre). Adults will be invited in supporting the child's activity and ideas, or to be a role model for them - especially toddlers love to imitate (overcoming language barrier), repeat what they can do well, and appreciate the presence of a responsive adult who observe, encourages, and offers praise.

Starting the session with the exerting of basic, familiar motor skills play activity allows to have a group of children more keen to sit, watch and patiently make or assist the adults' making.
During the making activity parents will be invited to follow the step by step demonstration, from the preparation of the different parts to their final assembling stage, using basic tools (like children's suitable scissors, string, and insulating tape). The adults' attention will be stressed on the many different ways to involve the child, making him or her the focus of a collaborative activity, pointing attention at the importance of the process rather than the result.

Participants will benefit from sitting around the same table, which is a setting that makes easier the sharing of information and of the different parenting styles, promoting those choices that will allow children's autonomy and curiosity.
Usually and as proof of the effectiveness of this setting, the sample of toys provided by the leader will always be overcome from some nicer one provided by participants, largely more sophisticated in the decoration and representative of the cultural diversity of the group.

At this stage, the activity can develop further more involving individuals or the group into a new play moment, using the completed toys made by the participants, exploring potentials of this handmade toys, celebrating the creative manual achievement.


at the end of the course parents will learn:

  1. to appreciate and experiment in many ways to playfully interact with simple materials (breaking down stereotypes with play activity and leasing about the value of commercial toys), and other participants (adults and children of the group)

  2. to learn how to make some simple and traditional toys using recyclables, everyday household materials, basic tools and basic techniques (aiming to independently reproduce at home later with your child)

  3. to develop creative and basic manual skills

  4. to complete the making of toys to play with children and the other participants

  5. to develop social interaction and friendships with the participants of the group

  6. to encourage, support the child's centred approach of the use of tools useful to transform materials, balancing risks and benefits

  7. to introduce the child to the role of “assistant” in the collaborative making of some traditional toys.

child cutting tape
child cutting a piece of tape
sticking small pieces of tape
spider balloon
This three year old child was properly and greatly instructed by the mother to safely cut and stick the insulating tape on the Spider Balloon toy - under adult supervision. A further step was introduced by me, giving the child the autonomy to properly cut pieces of tape, supporting her action with the use of the table's edge. The mother – in the background – was confident and relaxed to work in parallel to her child, making a different toy

CHILD-benefits - at the end of the course children will learn:

  1. to develop joyful and playful social interaction with the parent and the other participants

  2. to develop a creative interaction with the simple materials useful for play and make some traditional toys

  3. to improve basic manual skills to transform materials and to support the parent's making process of some traditional toys

  4. to improve basic fine and gross motor skills

  5. to improve language communication.

Toys to make in this setting are safe and suitable for the children's current level of development. The toys children will make and play with are learning tools, and mastering a toy or activity can give children feelings of confidence and competence, along with being fun.

Workshops and courses have been introduced during the last four years in collaboration with Westminster and Ealing Family Learning services - evidences can be provided on request.

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