It’s fair to say that we are pretty spoilt for choice for kids activities in Ealing – and West London in general. Tennis, horse riding, Cubs, Guides, music classes, tennis, football, cricket, any other sport you can think of pretty much, drama, dance – you name it – and West London will provide it! Not only is there the choice of dozens of different after-school, weekend and holiday clubs – but often a choice of multiple suppliers too.
Then every now and again you come across an activity you never even knew existed, let alone thought about your child doing! This is where Inventors and Makers comes in. Just before Easter this year, I came across a post in the Hanwell and Ealing Friends Facebook group. I got speaking to Laura Cross, Founder of the holiday and after-school club, Inventors and Makers and she offered my children a free place on her brand new two day – inventing and film making course in exchange for some marketing consultancy and a bit of help in getting the word out to West London parents (I also run Amazing Futures, a marketing agency, specialising in children’s activity providers).
Laura taught in primary schools for many years, including Ealing but to see how quickly she has developed her business, you might be mistaken in thinking she was from a business or marketing background! She clearly has a natural aptitude towards running a business and shows all the diligence, multi-tasking skills and resourcefulness you’d expect from an experienced teacher with no corner left unturned when it comes to the children’s safety and provision of high quality holiday workshops.
To say I was massively impressed by the standard of the two day inventing and film-making course my 7 year old son and 9 year daughter did during the Easter holidays would be a massive understatement. Laura invited me to view some of the class and it was amazing how she managed to organise and motivate a group of nine KS2 aged kids. They started of with some team work exercises and moved on to play some games which involved a combination of partner trust, collaboration with other children and using their own initiative. It was really lovely to see.
Each child gets a colourful, hard-backed notepad to jot ideas and thoughts down during the course. I really enjoyed reading my children’s notes at the end and seeing how their thought processes developed during the two days.
Laura uses the ClassDojo system which is fantastic. I have rarely had so much feedback on my children during a holiday camp. You get a login and see notes Laura has written about how they have got on, along with some photographs. The children also loved reading the reports and seeing the pictures.
A bit about the current holiday workshop venue – Hobbayne Primary School is based in North Hanwell and about five minutes walk from Hanwell mainline station (direct trains from Paddington, Ealing Broadway) and right on the route for the E1 and E3 buses, with the E11 stopping very close too. Parking is easier than most areas of West London too (for now at least!) with several adjacent streets being out of the Ealing parking restrictions zone so it’s accessible to children coming from further afield.
The beauty of the venue is that the hall the workshops take place in, offers loads of space for the children to spread out when working in small groups and playing the innovative games that Laura comes up with to get them collaborating and using their imagination. The room spills out into a junior playground with lots of space for the children to get outside in break times. Some of the filming exercises took part outside too which was nice as the children got used to filming in different conditions.
At the end of the two days, both my children and the new friends they had made (the classes are kept small so the children get to know each other well over the duration of the workshop. As a self-employed parent I found the hours perfect – 9.30 am to 4.30 pm but even better, Laura also offers wrap around care so you can drop off half an hour earlier and pick up half an hour later at a very small additional cost should you need a bit more time.
Make no mistake though – Inventors and Makers isn’t your Cheap as Chips holiday childcare solution. It’s absolutely fantastic value for what it is. It’s a premium activity which your child will benefit from in so many ways – building confidence and social skills, collaboration and team work, verbal and written skills (they write reports and plans for their projects), presentation skills, but also expanding their inner resourcefulness, unleashing their inner innovation and creativity and equipping them with essential 21st century skills. So don’t think of it as holiday childcare – that would be to insult what Inventors and Makers offers, it is so, so much more than that!
As 21st century parents we can’t ignore technology and there is no point banning it as our kids are growing up with it being a staple part of their lives, both in and out of school. So why not embrace it in a really constructive way?
As well as running holiday courses and after school clubs in Ealing, Inventors and Makers also offers bespoke classes and home education workshops in West London. The holiday workshops have already become very popular and spaces are strictly limited to ensure children get the most out of the course. Different workshops cater for different age groups from age 5 to 11, but with interest coming in from teenagers there may be classes and workshops for older kids soon too.
The main thing to warn you is that your children will want to return to these workshops again and again. Mine were actually quite annoyed that we were away during May half-term as they wanted to do the robot or machine making course. App making is high on their list too. They are booked up to do one of them this summer and I think Inventors and Makers is now a regular feature of our school holidays.
There are a few places left for this summer on some of the courses if you are quick – find out more here –
https://www.inventorsandmakers.com/holiday-classes If you are out of luck this time, get in on the act quick in time for October half-term by signing up to Laura’s mailing list.
As mentioned above, I did not take payment for this blog, but I did receive a free place on the first workshop my children did during the Easter holidays in return for writing this review and helping to spread the word about one of the newest children’s activities in Ealing. I do not review products or services that I do not firmly recommend however and I will only include activities that fall well inline with the West London Kids ethos of finding high quality and inspirational activities for children and families.