One recent Monday I took my little girl along to Ardagh Toddlers, a playgroup held at the Ardagh Pavilion on Horfield Common. Ardagh Toddlers was launched in September 2011 due to a demand for another local playgroup by families living in and around Horfield and has been popular ever since.
Ardagh Toddlers is aimed at babies and young children aged 0 – 3 years and is open every Monday from 10 – 11.30am. It runs on a drop-in basis in term-time, though is sometimes open at half-term when older siblings are also welcomed. I always liked Ardagh Toddlers since it was always a very friendly and welcoming group.
Ardagh Toddlers is a little different from other playgroups for several reasons. Please see this post to find out why!
My children and I used to be regular visitors to Ardagh Toddlers, but we haven’t been for over a year due to my son starting school and my daughter pre-school. When we arrived, there was a volunteer at the door, greeting everyone and who was super-friendly.
Entry to Ardagh Toddlers is £2.50 and along with all other parents, carers and volunteers, I was given a sticker with my name on; a great idea as it helps to break the nice and makes it easier to approach other people.
A couple of other volunteers came over, greeting us and asking if we were new. The friendliness of volunteers always makes such a difference to a parent or carer’s experience of a playgroup and today the Ardagh volunteers’ friendliness certainly helped because I didn’t recognise any mums that I knew at first.
The main room at Ardagh Toddlers has a book corner, complete with some comfy floor cushions to read the books on, toy cookers, pretend food, plenty of toys for various ages and a dressing up costume rail. There is a corner with soft blankets and cushions which is for babies.
My little girl found the costume rail at once and quickly selected her outfit. We then found the book corner and we sat down to read a few books.
Attached to the main room used for Ardagh Toddlers, there is also a bowling alley which is also used. As you can see from the above photos, this section has lots of ride-on cars – always a favourite with toddlers – plus a couple of little tables with puzzles on. The bowling alley is a bright and sunny space which also has seats for parents/carers.
In the year since my last visit to Ardagh Toddlers, an additional adjoining room is now used along with the main room and bowling alley. This room is aimed at older kids, which had a table with puzzles and paper and wax crayons.
Refreshments are served half-way through the toddler session, with tea or coffee for grown-ups and juice or water for the little ones. Plus lots of biscuits!
Ardagh Toddlers has outdoor space; something that most other playgroups lack. Today this wasn’t opened up as being the first day back of a new term the volunteers thought that there might not have been enough children.
The outdoor area has barriers up and kids can use the ride-on cars to ride around in or play.
The location of Ardagh Toddlers is fantastic as Ardagh Pavilion is situated away from the main roads and surrounded by green space. Being located next to the new play area on Horfield Common is also handy if you want to pop over for a play following visiting the toddler group.
Because Ardagh Toddlers is such a relaxed and unstructured playgroup, it helps make new people feel quite comfortable. And because the venue is smaller than some of the larger playgroups, I think it feels a little less overwhelming for new faces.
I must also mention that Ardagh Toddlers are currently looking for new volunteers who could help for a few hours every week or two weeks; please phone Kay on 0117 9426580 if you are interested!
Ardagh Toddlers is definitely worth a visit; it is a pleasant and friendly group which both parents and young children will enjoy.