5 minutes with … Spark Sensory

Spark Sensory is a brand new business in Nottingham, we were excited to find out more about it.

Tell us a little more about yourself and the inspiration behind Spark Sensory

Hi, I’m Helen Fores and alongside Hannah, my business partner, we developed the concept of Spark Sensory based on our joint experiences as Primary School Teachers, Special Needs Coordinators and mummies. We have 4 children under 5 between us!

Between us we have over 25 years of teaching experience with children of all ages and having had 2 babies each in fairly quick succession, we like to think we’ve got a good understanding of motherhood too!

We wanted to create a business that served a number of purposes; to deliver high quality, fun and inspiring sensory play to parents and their under 4’s, to support families of children with additional needs in providing a safe, stimulating and secure environment to play together in and to work alongside nurseries and schools in delivering immersive and exciting learning experiences to support learning and development of all children. Spark Sensory is fun, exciting and completely unique. Our bespoke dome looks like a spaceship on the outside and a big fluffy cloud on the inside.

Can you tell us what a Spark Babies and Spark Stories session is all about?

Spark Sensory sessions are fun and interactive and last up to an hour. Each session begins in our dome, which comfortably fits around 12 adults and their child/children inside. In a Spark Babies session we start with a simple bonding exercise, usually hand or foot massage and sing some songs to stimulate and awaken the babies senses. Our sessions then always involve sensory play, themed around a different concept or experience. Messy play activities are set up outside the dome and we always have interactive baby toys and play mats for some chill out time if needed. Parents have time to rotate around the activities and play with their babies. We then meet back in the dome for light play and relaxation to finish. Our fibre optic lights and ranges of light toys are always really popular with grown ups and babies alike!

Parents are then able to stay for a cuppa and biscuit if they so wish whilst their babies revisit any of the activities from earlier in the session. Spark Stories is similar but we add a story element into the session; this is usually at the start and always within the dome. We will use images, smells, sounds and toys or puppets to bring the stories to life. These sessions are great if you have two little ones as we can provide sensory bags for your youngest child to engage with whilst your older child enjoys the story experience.

What makes Spark Sensory so unique?

So many aspects of our sessions are unique. Our dome is one of a kind, bespoke made for us. The exciting balance of nurturing and bonding activities, alongside fun, inspiring messy and imaginative play means that no session is the same. Our light play is hugely engaging for little ones and we always make sure there’s a song or two to get wiggly with, or shake our instruments and pom poms to. We draw on our knowledge and experiences of working with children in all our sessions and will spend time chatting with you about the benefits of sensory play and exploration so you will always know the ‘why’ behind an activity too.

What has been the best thing about developing Spark Sensory?

Gosh, that’s a hard one to answer… having the freedom to work around my children has been an amazing development for us as a family. I will now be able to do the school run, which is something I would have always missed out on if I’d have continued in my traditional teaching role. On a professional level, it has been amazing being able to design a concept based around my passions as an educator and then be successful in following this through t full business development. I’ve learnt so many new skills and made so many new friends along the way; quite he rollercoaster ride!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received as a mum?

Trust your instincts… you know more than you give yourself credit for! And don’t sweat the small stuff (my kitchen sink is always full of pots!).

What’s next for Spark Sensory?

We are super excited about starting our Spark Babies and Spark Stories classes this month in West Bridgford and Lady Bay. We are also working alongside local soft play centres to support with Autism friendly events and Spark Social drop in sessions for parents and under 4’s. We are busy identifying locations in and around Nottingham to deliver further sessions and we are hoping to support community playgroups with bespoke sessions for families of children with specific sensory needs. We are also looking for private nursery settings to take our sessions to, so please do get in touch if any of these developments are of interest or if you think we could support your company or organisation in any other way.

Huge thanks to Helen for chatting with us and telling us all about the Spark Sensory experience.

For updates & info on Spark Sensory-

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Tel — 07760 663 689

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