Recently in the Imagination Lab, we have partnered with innovative educators Curiouser and Co. to facilitate a pilot learning space for home educating families.

Working with a home education group from the south west of London, Curiouser and Co. brought together 40 children in the Lab (from babies through to 12 year olds) to co-create a self-directed space, inspired by the iOi’s theme ‘Recode’.

Who are Curiouser and Co.?

Curiouser and Co. is the dream of Nikki O’Rourke, in collaboration with Amy Doust, both of whom are self-professed education geeks, creative educators and former teachers. Nikki and Amy believe passionately that children’s innate curiosity fuels their drive to learn and that this curiosity should lie at the heart of education. Their ultimate aim is to set up a multi-generational learning space with a personalised curriculum that ensures each child reaches their full potential.

What did the pilot learning space involve?

The first day of the pilot saw children choosing to participate in an open art workshop using a range of materials, papers, charcoal and other medium on large paper on the floor. This ran in tandem with a science workshop during which children beaded bracelets to represent the genetic coding of various animals and insects. Young children enjoyed stacking and playing with the wibbly-wobbly bright floor ‘seats’ and older children let off steam in the Engine Room.

The playdough table was a hit with all age groups. For younger children, it was about modelling and playing with the playdough, whereas for older children it provided the chance to chat and get to know each other. It’s always easier to talk and get to know someone while creating and making with your hands! It was a good equaliser: a space where children of all ages gathered together.

Throughout the five-day pilot, the Lab space was populated by activities ranging from code making using stamps and symbols; to heraldry research; board game making; and a relaxed poetry workshop, which provided a welcome change in tempo. Curiouser and Co. was also joined by the talented Karl from Movement Warriors, who ran a dance workshop that investigated the idea of code through representing the growth of plants in movement. This workshop was an opportunity for the whole group to come together in a shared activity that fully engaged all of the children.

What skills did the children develop over the five days?

We were particularly interested to observe how the play, investigation and learning of the children developed over the duration of the pilot. The first few days focussed on relationship building, as children were discovering and exploring the space itself and becoming used to being a cohesive group in that space. Early in the pilot, the activities chosen by the children were dominated by physical games in the large space, during which children collaborated to decide on rules but were happy to adapt these guidelines if necessary. Towards the end of the pilot, there was a move towards games which included more role playing and character building, as children started to create codes and become spies. Children used the Lab’s moveable seating to make dens and build secret spaces. This activity seemed to reflect the development of trust between children, as they felt able to explore through different types of play – inclusive of all age groups.

How has the pilot learning space had an impact on home education?

Giving children this space and time, not only to discover their own interests but also to get to know each other as a group, was a privilege. Parents involved in the pilot were enthusiastic about the Imagination Lab’s superb space and resources; they enjoyed the time this gave to develop creatively and socially in a shared space. The children, even those who were reluctant to commit to a full five days in the space, were always pleased when they came into the Lab space and relished having a variety of tools, games, apparatus and stimuli from which to self direct and co-create games and learning.

Want to experience the Imagination Lab for yourself? Take a look at our upcoming events for schools and families.

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