Ardagh Toddlers: A toddler group with a difference

Should you be looking for a relaxed and friendly local toddler group, Ardagh Toddlers will be just the ticket.

Held on Monday mornings 10 – 11.30am at the Ardagh Pavilion on Horfield Common, Ardagh Toddlers is for 0-4s and their parents/carers and runs in term-time on a drop-in basis.

Set up by a group of local volunteers in 2011, Ardagh Toddlers has proved popular ever since. The group has always felt friendly and welcoming and this is down to the lovely volunteers who run the group. There are also several male volunteers which I think encourages more dads of young children to come along.

As one local parent who regularly visits Ardagh Toddlers explains: ” I don’t think you get many groups that are as relaxed and chilled out as Ardagh Toddlers. It’s also very baby-friendly.”

Activities at Ardagh Toddlers are vast and varied. These include a craft table, jigsaw table, ball pool, a range of toys, cars, a mini trampoline, dolls, cradles, prams, a Wendy house, Mega Blocks, balloons, dressing-up costumes and walkers, not to mention some ride-on cars for toddlers to enjoy.

There is also a special corner especially for babies and their parents with lots of large soft cushions, plus toys especially for babies too.

The entry fee is £2.50 per family and this includes teas or coffees for parents, squash or water for the kids, plus plentiful biscuits.

Ardagh Toddlers differs from many other toddler groups which gives it a unique atmosphere and feel.

Here are some of the differences below but before I go on, I should say that I don’t think these differences make Ardagh Toddlers better or worse than other local toddler groups. I simply mention these differences because it is these which make Ardagh Toddlers the unique toddler group that it is!

1) The first difference is that Ardagh Toddlers is unstructured and has no set routine nor singing and storytime. Instead it offers simple free play with a great range of toys and activities.

Kay Thomson, a long-standing volunteer at Ardagh Toddlers, explains: “Ardagh Toddlers provides a good service for local parents. It’s not organised, children just play. Ardagh Toddlers is a great old-fashioned toddler group.”

2) Another way that Ardagh Toddlers differs from other local groups is that it is non-religious and is based at a bowling club rather than a church. This again gives the group quite a different feel from other local toddler groups.

3) Unlike some other groups, there is also no age limit at Ardagh Toddlers. So, if you have two children under the age of 4, it means that you can still continue to go to Ardagh Toddlers even when your older child turns 3, unlike some toddler groups.

I personally found this really useful when I used to take my children to Ardagh Toddlers when they were little. However, I know some parents prefer a toddler group with under-3s if they have very young children as they worry about the more boisterous older ones.

4) Ardagh Toddlers runs on a drop-in basis and there is no waiting list so parents can turn up on an ad hoc basis.

5) The last reason that Ardagh Toddlers is different from many other groups is that it has some outside space which is opened in the warmer, sunnier months which is obviously a bonus!

Although the Ardagh Toddlers regular meeting is every Monday in term-time, the volunteers who run the group also often hold organised one-off events for local children of all ages along with their families, such as treasure hunts,  Easter Egg Hunts and Summer Fairs.

The Ardagh is also available to hire for children’s parties and costs just £25 per hour to do so, plus you can hire all the toys for £10 extra.

At the same time you can also hire the Ardagh bar for an additional £25, plus the Ardagh volunteers can offer catering also if wished.

If you would like to find out more about this lovely toddler group, why not just pop in one Monday morning? You will receive a friendly welcome, enjoy good company and chat, plus your little ones will have fun too!

For details of all other local toddler groups please visit the Bishopston Mum Baby & Toddler Timetable.