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About icky sticky kids

At Icky Sticky, children play with and explore a variety of art and craft activities in their own time and own way. Icky Sticky provides the venue and materials and the chance for parents and carers to enter their child's world of imagination. It is about the journey children take rather than what they actually make. We like children to be curious, imaginative and creative.
​We offer 8 free-flow activity stations and 1 structured art activity. 
Our activity stations are:


1. Icky Sticky trays – these change every week and can contain anything from baked beans, cornflakes and custard to rice pudding, jelly and cornflour. All ingredients are edible and harmless. Children are encouraged to taste, touch, stir, mix or even walk in the trays should they feel the need.

2. Water table – water is sometimes coloured, bubbly or glittery and has different objects in it every week e.g. various sized containers for pouring and filling, whisks to whip up a few more bubbles, funnels, bottles, floating blocks, magnetic fishing rods to catch sea creatures. Sometimes there is shaving foam and ice blocks or soap flakes and dinosuars.

3. Sandpit – sand with buckets and spades of course, as well as a few diggers. At the moment the sand is pink!

4. Craft table – glue, glue sticks and a big tin of pictures to create a fantastic collage. All the cut out pictures are of familiar objects/people/Cbeebies characters etc. As well as a different craft box every week – pom poms, tissue paper, sticks, googly eyes etc.

5. Play dough table – homemade playdough is the best! One week it’s green, next it has rice in it. Maybe next week it will sparkle and smell of lavender. Always with cutters, shapes, and those totally fab things that make wriggly worms or spaghetti.

6. Floor art – rows of paper on the floor begging to be splattered with paint…how this is done is totally up to the child. They can use sponges, brushes, hands, feet and sometimes there are toy cars/diggers to make paint tracks. Bounce a balloon in the paint or roll a ball through it. Use a welly boot to make prints or an old potato. Or just sit and paint rainbows on stones.

7. Floor rubbings – hidden underneath this paper could be stars, coins, leaves, stencils. Rub with crayons and discover what lies beneath. There is also chalk and pencils to scribble with.

8. Tent/tunnel – crawl into the tunnel into a tent full of…hay or shredded paper or wood shavings or feathers.
Our structured art/craft activity is led by Nichola Cortese. It can be anything from creating an abstract piece of art using pipettes on a mini canvas, a print taken from shaving foam and paint or a butterfly made from coffee filter papers! Something different every week and sometimes themed to special occasions such as new seasons, Easter, Halloween, and Christmas.

There is also a cupcake/biscuit decorating station which pops up on special occasions like halloween or Christmas. Children are let loose to embellish their cupcakes with icing and fancies in any way they wish. The messier it looks, the better it tastes!

About the founder

Icky Sticky was set up by full-time mum, Nichola Cortese in 2012. Nichola is mum to two young children, Luca and Poppy.

Nichola found that her youngest, Poppy then aged 2 ½ was bored at baby playgroups. The local children’s centre began running a weekly messy play group and Poppy eagerly attended every week. One of Poppy’s first words was ‘messy play’ and she would sing ‘excited!’ at the top of her voice on the way to the centre. Poppy was so heartbroken when the classes stopped, that Nichola felt she had to step in and fill the gap.

A big advocate of creative messy play, Nichola regularly encourages her children to get messy – Luca’s favourite activity when he was 3 years old was to split used teabags and scoop the soggy tealeaves up with his diggers. Poppy will now glue anything if it stands still long enough.

It made sense for Nichola to share her enthusiasm for creative messy play with other children. And so ickystickykids was born...

About your child's creativity
“When children have opportunities to play with ideas in different situations and with a variety of resources, they discover connections and come to new and better understandings and ways of doing things. Adult support in this process enhances their ability to think critically and ask questions” (The Early Years Foundation Stage).

Icky Sticky Kids helps:
• develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills
• to encourage creative thinking
• your child express their emotions and the satisfaction of producing something can boost their self-esteem
• to encourage children to make choices as they decide what to play with
• to improve social skills through sharing, taking turns, engaging with other children and having fun together
• to develop language as they will learn new words for how things feel, taste and smell.
So what looks like a mess on the surface is truly a learning experience for your child! There's no right or wrong when playing with art. It’s about letting your child explore, try different things and find their way. It’s good old fashioned mucky fun!



Do I leave my child on their own at Icky Sticky Kids?
No, all children are expected to be accompanied by a parent or carer. We would like you to help your child play with art and explore different activities. We are there to answer any questions and keep the paint flowing but we also have our 2 year olds present every week too so we have our hands full!

How much does a class cost and can I just drop-in?
Classes cost £3.00 per child and there is a sliding scale for siblings. 2 children cost £5, 3 children or more £8. Childminders are very welcome! Yes, do just drop in. We will revise this system if we feel it is getting rather crowded but the Arts Centre is a large space and we use half for activities and the other half for children who simply want to run about and let off steam.

What shall I get my child to wear?
Don’t bring them in their Sunday best! We do provide aprons but appreciate some children don’t like to wear them! Just bring them in old clothes and sling it in the wash when you get home! It’s also a good idea for parents/carers to dress down as ickiness can spread.

How long will my child spend playing with art?
Sessions last 1 ½ hours. Children ‘free-flow’ around the art activities, deciding for themselves what they would like to do.



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