Christmas STAMP IT: Bears and mice and tardigrades, oh my!

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This December in Warwick Arts Centre, you might have noticed some never before seen wildlife roaming our venues… bears and mice and tardigrades, oh my! With Snow Mouse in the Helen Martin Studio and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt in the Goose Nest Theatre, the Creative Learning team designed a set of programme related STAMP IT activities running on each weekend in December. There is finger puppet making and finger painting in the Snow Mouse room, along with sensory play and bubbles for the really little visitors to engage with while in the Bear Hunt corner, there is an exciting real life Bear Hunt going on under the microscopes. In partnership with Life Sciences, audiences can hunt for tardigrades (also known as Water Bears) under the microscopes while discovering the up close world of nature. These activities have allowed audiences to connect with their visit to the Arts Centre on a deeper level and having wraparound activity like this is something that the Creative Learning department are keen to continue providing in the future, especially in partnership with university departments.

One of the highlights of the weekends has been the Bear Hunt down into Tocil Woods. Groups of up to 45 intrepid bear hunters have pulled on their wellies and braved the winter chill to venture into the woods led by Life Sciences students masquerading as ‘Professors of Bear Science’. Groups of parents and children are guided around Tocil Woods on a nature trail where they look for tracks, listen for sounds and keep an eye out for insects and other evidence that a bear might be living in the woods. As the groups gradually find large scratch marks in logs and dirt, along with huge paw prints and massive blobs of poo, it becomes increasingly likely that there is indeed a bear to be found in the woods. All that is left to do in order to confirm the suspicions is for the Professors to … taste the poo! With a lick, nibble and chew, the Professors declare it to be an American Brown Bear on his holidays to England. And just then, the group turn a corner and there, in the distance, is a huge den that unquestionably must have a bear inside. Our visiting bear is hibernating in this den and the group need to hang up a sign to warn passers-by to not wake the bear. So with one more round of ‘we’re going on a bear hunt, we’re going to catch a big one, what a beautiful day, we’re not scared, …’ the group make their way back to the Arts Centre to either see the stage show or take part in more activities.

Their bear hunt is over but the experience will stay with them because this is an activity that asks the children to use their imaginations. It’s filled with interesting bear and nature facts and by the end of the trail, most of the young people declare that they have found a bear in the woods. Making these connections between science, nature and the arts is an important step in opening up STEM subjects to include the arts and will help to create a more STEAM lined educational offer that truly embraces the wide range of academic and real world career paths that should be available to all.

If you’ve missed out on the activities so far, don’t worry, you have one last chance to take part this weekend with fun stuff to see and do from 10:30am – 2pm on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th. To book a place on a Bear Hunt, please click here. All activities are free but booking in advance for the Bear Hunt is advised.

The STAMP IT events allow audiences to take part in creative activities linked to the family shows. Families can collect stamps for each activity they take part in and once their STAMP IT books are full, they are rewarded with a free child’s ticket when booked with a full price adult to selected spring half term shows. You can pick up your STAMP IT book from Box Office or the Snow Mouse Activity room this weekend.

Finally, we would like to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has contributed to make these weekends so successful, the Creative Learning team simply couldn’t have pulled off these activities without the help from the Life Sciences staff and students who have given up time on their weekends to help out and especially the various departments in Warwick Arts Centre and wider university who offer never ending year round support to the team.

Merry Christmas!



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