Exploring materials in early years

Making Together is a programme of intergenerational making based activity initiated by Craftspace in partnership with organisations around Birmingham. The project provides an opportunity for children, parents, carers and grandparents to engage and connect through materials and making, using a wide range of accessible approaches and processes.

Open-ended play with materials can build skills, encourage communication and support relationships between very young children and their families. Craftspace have been researching and advocating the benefits of this approach within early year’s settings since 2004.

Working with very young children and the community they operate in is even more important now as we address the long term impact of the Covid pandemic. Craft provides an opportunity for families to connect differently, to see themselves in a new way, finding strengths or interests.  Skilled makers model how to communicate through play and introduce new vocabulary. Making together can encourage dialogue and supports healing.

Be inspired to bring this approach into your own early years practice by our activities and case studies. Read our 5 key things to consider.

Get involved

Craftspace are exploring ways to connect with other play and stays and to interrogate the impact of making and movement together.

In 2022 we are fundraising to deliver a large scale research project in Birmingham and are looking for play and stay partners. If you run a play and stay group and would be interested in participating in a materials focused research project, we would like to hear from you.  Please email Deirdre Buckley at [email protected].

Where Next?

Explore materials in your setting

5 key things we’ve learnt

Adult and very young hangs reach for clay spinning on a potters wheel.

Makers and Movers

Building physical strength and skills in early years.

A toddler concentrates as she spreads paint onto paper with her hand. She is messy and calm.

Making Together: Women living in refuge

2019: Exploring metal with Rita Patel and Melanie Tomlinson.

Various materials lie on the table with 3 hammers.

Making Together at Birmingham Settlement

2019: Discovering materials with young children and families.

An older man works with a young boy hammering a metal punch.


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