IVE are pleased to announce the launch of our new Creative Families Award to an audience of museum and gallery education representatives from across Yorkshire and beyond!
The Creative Families Award is an exciting framework and set of resources for offering and celebrating meaningful and engaging arts and cultural experiences for very young children (1-4 years) and their grown-ups in museum spaces.
The Creative Families Award was developed by IVE back in 2016 working in partnership with academic researchers Dr Abi Hackett and Dr Dylan Yamada-Rice in association with the Centre for the Study of Childhood and Youth at the University of Sheffield and museum partners at East Riding Museums Service, Heritage Learning Hull, North Lincolnshire Museums and Rotherham Museums Service.
The pilot project aimed to research and develop a resource that could be used by museum practitioners, parents and carers ‘as a tool for identifying, recognising, valuing and celebrating the arts and creative experiences of very young children in museums’. The resource itself has been beautifully designed by Susan Cairns, illustrator and Cultural Education Manager at IVE.
Using the frameworks of Arts Award Discover and Explore, the resource is focussed on documenting childrens’ engagement with arts and arts activities, and designed around four distinct elements:
This design allows individual practitioners to implement the Award in different ways, and indeed the four museum partners did just that. In doing so, the researchers were able to investigate very varied findings and feed this back into the facilitator’s guidebook and their own research. What this pilot uncovered was that Creative Families Award’s adaptability is the key to delivering it.
The pilot research also found that delivering to an early years age group is not necessarily more simple than delivering to older children, but it is very different. There is a much stronger emphasis on doing arts, rather than just on the end product. Linked to this is the clear need to think differently about time when planning sessions with this age group – ‘a more flexible and child centred approach’.
The Creative Families Award launch event featured talks and workshops from Dr Hackett, two of the pilot museums and the Fitzwilliam museum. The talks discussed how the award was piloted and developed, what lessons were learned along the way and what benefits the settings saw. They each featured practical advice for any museum or gallery setting aiming to engage early years. We’ve summarised each of the talks below along with the slides used.
Dr Abigail Hackett was the first to speak. As a Research Fellow at the Education and Social Research Institute at Manchester Metropolitan University, currently focusing on method and theory connected with the lived, embodied everyday experiences of very young children, Abi is perfectly placed to introduce the significance of Creative Families Award. Dr Hackett began by explaining how the experience of early years children in museums is different – their sense of place is experienced through movement and their bodies. She stressed the idea of ‘the child is a wayfarer in the museum’ – how they encounter new ideas and experience their surroundings, including the arts. When thinking about introducing the Creative Families Award in museum or gallery settings,, she suggested five starting points: the incidental – which may make the adults nervous; diversity of spaces to move through; repetition (repeated visits to museums brings lots of benefits); movement (and learning – because it can be running through a gallery hallway, that allows a child to connect to the space), and sharing a vision. Abi also shared the online resource https://underfivesinmuseums.com/ as a great place to start when thinking about Creative Families Award in your setting.
Sarah Hammond and Rob Chester from East Riding Museums Servicespoke about using the framework of Creative Families Award to structure their under fives activity. Rob kindly stepped in for Lucy Cooke, the Under fives Learning Coordinator who had prepared the presentation but was unable to attend. Lucy’s role had been created as part of Arts Council funding to Humber Museums Partnership, and she began taking a thematic approach to the museums’ collections to plan early years sessions. For example, with their Amy Johnson exhibition, Lucy led activities and story sessions focused on flight. During our coffee and cake break, we all experimented with making the paper helicopters that young children can use to explore this theme…with great success! The Creative Families Award themes of discovering arts all around, making and creating, experiencing artists’ work and sharing experiences have informed the Tiny Treasures under 5s sessions at Treasure House. Each session includes an exploration-based element (Discover), something different to the norm and immersive (for participants to Experience), a craft to Make, and a Shared story at the end.
Sarah went on to tell us how the Creative Families Award sessions had led to a continuing working relationship with the local Children’s Centre, and had proven to the whole team that they can meaningfully engage under 5s with museum collections.
Sarah and Rob finished by showing this fantastic video about what under 5s can do at the East Riding Museums Service museums.
Nicola Wallis from Fitzwilliam Museum at the University of Cambridge was next up. The Fitzwilliam Museum was not one of the pilot Creative Families Award museums but had heard about the programme in 2017 and decided to use it as they developed their offer for under 5s. Nicola explained how she used Creative Families Award with their ‘Invited’ programme for families who may not access the museum through their public programme of activity. The Award placed emphasis on the children’s sense of belonging and ownership of the museum collection, which had not previously been a focus. This meant that personal connections and relationships were made, and families’ ideas and observations were truly valued in shaping the course of activities.
Following the success of their first course, Nicola went on to plan a Creative Families Award course for young families whose parents had completed the Bronze Arts Award through their partnership with a local Children’s Centre and close relationships with Family Workers. Whilst ‘life got in the way’, the Fitzwilliam Museum is planning a third run of the Creative Families Award, in light of the project Talking Together in Cambridgeshire which aims to boost communication, language and literacy.
Esther Hallberg from Heritage Learning Hull had led the Creative Families Award pilot activity, partnering up with a couple of local artists and delivering the four elements across two sessions (a storytelling and then an assemblage session) with a nursery school and Foundation Unit in a local school. They decided to send the teachers back to school with a workbook they had created to get comments from the children’s parents, rather than give each child a log book to start with.
Esther has since embedded Creative Families Award in the Mini Masterpieces programme of activity at the Ferens Art Gallery. Here, the messy art activities (Making and creating) are combined with the children taking their parent or carer on a tour of the gallery (Discovering arts all around), finding their favourite artwork (Experiencing artists’ work) and telling someone at home (Share). Esther told us that there were a great deal of unexpected outcomes, including that they are now accessing families and groups in new postcodes – including an increase of 16% in the hard-to-reach areas. She also led the group in an activity she runs with the early years groups: we each drew a portrait of ourselves from memory on a piece of paper, and then another onto a sheet of acetate over a mirror to explore the different ways of looking at portraiture in the gallery. Needless to say all adults got stuck in, comparing each other’s drawing skills!
Each of the speakers at the launch described different benefits of the Creative Families Award in their setting. The Award presents a proven successful framework for planning early years offer in a supported, focussed way. It also provides an opportunity for museums to use their collections in a different way, for example from an arts point of view as demonstrated by several of the pilot museums. Creative Families Award can act as a medium for families to communicate about their children’s’ experiences, with emphasis on recognising the many ways that young children communicate. The process of this also helps adults value and take notice of how young children make sense of museums and the arts more broadly. The log books themselves are a tangible, meaningful – and beautiful! – record of a shared family experience that can be showed to other family members, nursery and even primary schools when that time comes around.
The Creative Families Award is now available for any museum or gallery setting to deliver. It consists of the Log Book, certificate and Facilitator’s Guide (which is key to delivering the Award most successfully) The Facilitator’s Guide is available as a downloadable PDF here, as is the lovely certificate for children who have completed their log books.
Log books are available to purchase from the IVE website. Simply complete an order form stating how many log books you would like and we will send you an invoice for the cost of the order.
When you place an order for log books, we will be in touch to confirm whether you are happy for us to hold your details to follow-up about your Creative Families Award experience. This is an excellent opportunity to connect with other settings who are running or planning to use the Award with their early years’ and families audience and nurture a burgeoning Creative Families Award network of museum and gallery practitioners working with early years. We would also love to be able to share success stories, case studies and any advice with other organisations running the Creative Families Award.
If you have any questions or thoughts you’d like to share with IVE, please bob an email to Caroline@WeareIVE.org.
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