When our friends at Ark Castledown School invited us to join their first ever Community Fayre event, we wasted no time in signing our Community Manager — Steph and Designer whiz kid Stefano up! With three clicks of our EasyPeasy slippers we arrived in the beautiful coastal town of Hastings, decked out in our EasyPeasy t-shirts and ready to learn through play!
Steph — Community Manager & Stefano — Designer Photo credit: Steph’s Community archive
We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the Ark schools in the Hastings area and come together to promote our shared vision around Children’s learning and development. The event hosted by Ark Castledown was a perfect opportunity to meet Families, have fun through play and join forces with other local agencies and partners who want to have a positive impact on the Community.
These sessions were really fantastic as they provided a great opportunity to directly connect with Families and Children who had either signed up to EasyPeasy or were new to the experience. Having the opportunity to share more around the purpose of the 20 week intervention, how it works and some of the benefits of including us in the home learning environment allowed us to answer questions, share tips and importantly provide a space to play.
"All of the EasyPeasy games develop key skills such as language, communication, self-regulation, resilience and concentration, and align with the Early Years Foundation Stage early learning goals"
Play is a universal language that we all learn to speak from a very young age. Play underpins human behaviour and is crucial in aiding development, especially within the earlier years. The Department For Education is currently working with businesses and academics to help support Families to Chat, Play and Read to help foster a home learning environment where their Children can thrive and this is something we passionately promote via our service. All of the EasyPeasy games develop key skills such as language, communication, self-regulation, resilience and concentration, and align with the Early Years Foundation Stage early learning goals. With EasyPeasy you are quite literally learning through play!
And then the magic begins - there is nothing quite like exploring a jungle with binoculars, building a tower made from hands or sharpening fine motor skills and concentration with flicking cotton wool balls into goals! We managed to do all of this from the comfort of the classroom and the power of imagination.
In our first Family session of the day we rounded up our EasyPeasy experience by kneeling on the carpet and getting ready to spot the amazing animals and creatures that awaited us in our imaginary jungle. As we placed our binoculars to our eyes, we were instantly transported to a land where pink tigers, blue lizards, purple penguins and huge flapping birds exist. The Children would shout out the animals they could see and then the rest of the group would try to locate the animal! By the end of Imaginary Safari everyone left the room with big smiles on their face, ready to tackle a roaming crocodile if needed!
Next up we met with a family who worked together to build tall towers made of hands that at one point almost reached the classroom ceiling! While sat together, the Children took it in turns to count, listen to instructions and reach new heights. It was amazing to see the focus on everyone’s faces, including the grown-up’s but also the enjoyment and desire to play again. These observations link back to our evidence base and how playing a game such as Tower Of Hands where Children need to focus and listen to instructions can pave the way towards the development of self regulation. This area of development is currently being piloted as a potential new Early Learning Goal for next year. Read more about the announcementhere
In our final session we welcomed our biggest turn out of the day! We had a full house with Families and their Children who took part in not 1, not 2 but 3 game play sessions. Once we had shared more around EasyPeasy the room was raring to go. 1st up was Fingerball — we arranged the chairs and tables and everyone took their positions ready to reign supreme. This activity certainly turned up the learning volume — excitement, near misses and success could be heard all around the room. Ultimately the Children took home gold as they artfully scored multiple goals by expertly flicking their cotton wool balls across the table and into the areas that their grown-ups were trying hard to block.
It was wonderful to observe the impact that play had on our Families and their Children. Firstly, we are very honoured to be included in these moments and secondly because it highlighted how playing together shifted behaviour of the Grown Up’s and their Child. We observed the Children wanting to play the developmental games again and again meaning the impact of EasyPeasy continues beyond the app experience and into the real world around them. This leads to positive change.
Game play can take place anywhere and often without the need of props or extras to ensure success. EasyPeasy can be played outside — maybe try Stepping Stones in your local park, or play Tower Of Hands before bedtime and perhaps you could invite other Families from your Pod to join the fun as well.
After our Family workshops, we had the opportunity to join other local businesses and organisations in the main school hall where the fayre was taking place. We were in great company alongside the local Police, The National Literacy Trust and the NSPCC to name a few. This event provided a wonderful space to bring together Communities and promote services to help support the school network. Thanks to everyone that stopped by for a chat, a t-shirt takeaway or a watch of our animated video content.
Community Fayre ready, set, go! Photo credit: Steph’s Community archive
We would like to give a special thanks to all the Families and Children who joined in the fun and to Sam Bowe — EYFS and Phonics Regional Lead and Simon Hawthorne — Regional Inclusion & Safeguarding Lead for their continued support and invitation to join the fun.
If this has inspired you to host your own Community event, EasyPeasy workshops or a Pod launch event then please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’ll be happy to get involved. You can reach out to Steph Coleman — Community Manager directly: firstname.lastname@example.org more information and support.