CHILDREN’S crafting group Messy Moos is the brainchild of two mothers. Reporter Hayley Mills decided to get elbow deep in paint to help children paint rainbows for the day.
I WAS apprehensive about my play date at Messy Moos as children are so unpredictable, but seeing the group leader’s Hazel Hitchins and Bronwen McDonnell set me at ease as they made interacting with them look easy.
They run two programmes at The Log Cabin in Woodlands Field, Pontypool.
The first is Mini Moos, for children aged between six months and two years, which aims to introduce them to the wonder of their senses using music, rhyme and movement along with messy play.
The second is Messy Moos, for two to four-year-olds, which offers a more structured approach that allows the children and parents to bond by creating artwork.
I opted to join Messy Moos, as a ‘structured approach’ sounded safer to me and hopefully the older the child, the less unpredictable they would be.
Mrs Hitchins and Mrs McDonnell were quick to introduce me to the parents and the children and usher me to the front.
Then my worse fear happened – singing. The children enthusiastically sang a welcome song, while I sat and smiled and waved hello to them, but I am sure that they could tell I was dying inside.
The group leaders were like something off Blue Peter as they started the painting session to colour in a giant rainbow.
But it wasn’t as structured as I thought, and soon children were sliding across a large sheet of paper using their feet to paint with, and pretty much any item that they could find.
I tried to help a girl paint, who had taken it upon herself to paint most of the rainbow purple, while another girl decided to see what the paint tasted like by inserting a paint-loaded brush into her mouth.
I had only been there 15 minutes but my leggings were looking more rainbow-like than the picture.
To add to this a child who had been painting with their hands decided to clap right next to me which sprayed my face and hair with flecks of paint.
Ten minutes in and the paint-covered children had a quick wash in a bowl of soapy water before being given the chance to make an individual rainbow to take home.
Again there was more paint on the children, floor and me, but they seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Some of the older ones got the grasp of it – painting their rainbow, helped by their mums, and sticking coloured crate paper streamers to the bottom of it.
Others though seemed to just enjoy being able to run riot with paint brushes.
Then came the messy play – as if the other activities had not been messy enough.
The kids dived into massive tubs of coloured cooked spaghetti and poured rice into tubs and watering cans.
One boy even got in the pit and let children pour rice over his head, which he found highly amusing.
One of the mothers also brought a young baby with her, who was finding the spaghetti fascinating.
But giving the youngsters no time to get bored, we then moved onto musical instruments.
The children were quick to pick their favourites ones and immediately starting shaking, banging and rattling them, ready to go on whatever song was thrown their way.
I took a maraca, as not even I could play that wrong.
But I didn’t recognise half of the songs that they sang, while the children belted out every word.
I did recognise Hickory Dickory Dock, but I continued with my mouthing of the words as I was no match for the children.
Next we took out a bag of coloured scarfs. The children grabbed them and waved them around.
Then came more singing. The Wheels on the Bus and The Rainbow Song followed, using the scarfs to act out actions.
I was impressed with the leaders, who still remained as energetic and enthusiastic as they did at the start.
They encouraged the children to get involved and sang the words aloud.
But if I had been there on my own, I would have had a bunch of bored looking children on my hands, as I couldn’t have got them interacting like they did.
With more activities still to do, we got out a giant parachute. The children either took an end or decided to crawl underneath, knowing what was about to happen.
More singing. Thankfully ones that I recognised.
The Grand Old Duke of York and Ring a Ring o’ Roses.
The parachute was lifted high up and then brought back down over the heads of the children who danced underneath.
Then I was given the task of being in charge of the bubble machine.
The children excitedly ran after the bubbles, clapping their hands together to pop them.
Then we sang a goodbye song and the children collected a sticker.
I spoke to Mrs Hitchins, 36, and Mrs McDonnell, 34, while they tidied up.
They said that they have children of similar ages and met at a baby group and instantly became friends.
Mrs McDonnell was a teacher who fancied a change while Mrs Hitchins was a creative writer.
Mrs Hitchins came up with the idea of a children’s craft group and the pair decided to start one together.
Mrs McDonnell said: “We wanted to offer a range of crafts to different age groups as children do not get the time do it in school anymore.
“I feel creativity is important for children and the classes provide a space for parents and children to bond over activities.”
Messy Moos will be running Easter holiday sessions for children age one up to 12-years-old.
These will take place on April 14 at The Log Cabin, Woodlands Field, Pontypool from 10.15am until 11.15am, April 15 at Llanyrafon Manor, Cwmbran from 10.15am until 11.15am and on April 16 at St Mary’s Church Hall, Llantony Close, Caldicot from 10.15am until 11.15am
For more details visit messymoos.co.uk, call Ms McDonnell on 07936 559285, Ms Hitchins on 07936 519951 or email firstname.lastname@example.org