About us

The Alliance Lincolnshire Service Hub offers a range of specialist early years services across the Lincolnshire area.

An established local early years service, we actively support Alliance members to deliver a choice of high quality, affordable local childcare including pre-schools, day nurseries, toddler groups, nursery schools and children’s centres.

We also offer specialist packages to meet the needs of early years professionals from bespoke training for local partners such as Lincolnshire Council to advice to early years professionals and students with an interest in the early years.

Some services we currently deliver include practical support and advice to local providers about how to successfully recruit volunteers, encourage parents to become engaged in their child's learning and development, support with set-up of new parent and toddler groups.

Specialist local training packages also include First Aid, Family Learning and Ofsted inspection preparation support.

We also create and deliver bespoke workshops to individual settings who may require assistance about more complicated issues.

Workshops and training courses in Lincolnshire — important update

Due to Covid-19 all our Alliance Connect events are now taking place online. We are also developing some bite-size CPD training sessions, more information about this will be coming out soon. We want to ensure you still receive that important face to face support and advice from us at this difficult time.

Virtual Classroom - Spring 2021

Our Virtual Classroom offers a flexible approach to learning and has been designed for people working in the early years to ensure providers, staff and volunteers have access to training.

The virtual classrooms can be accessed via, smartphone, tablet, lap top and desktop.

How long are the courses?

Courses comprise either 2 x 90 minutes or 3 x 90 minutes depending on the topic.

How do I book onto a course?

All Virtual Classroom workshops and packages, including the various pricing options for individuals and virtual In-House sessions can be found on our Virtual Classroom page.

Want In-house training to your whole team?  Contact us to discuss your training requirements lincolnshire@eyalliance.org.uk 

Virtual Family Sessions

Covid-19 has brought with it barriers to working on multiple levels. Social isolation can be distressing and difficult for many families. One area where we have seen a worrying gap is in the interpersonal and enriching face-to-face support that can be given to children and their families, promoting learning and sustaining the good level of development (GLD) that we all want to see children achieve by the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Our Virtual Family Sessions of Storysacks and Rhyme Time continue, with new sessions being added. We are introducing our Big Cook, Little Cook session with child friendly recipes to try at home, a new Yoga session, a Family Meditation session for some great calming and relaxing tips, and a new Adult Focused session showing free and found children's activities to try at home.

All are available to view and share on the Early Years Alliance YouTube page.



Bird Feeders
Join Cathy from the Early Years Alliance for a session on making easy bird feeders at home with your children, and how this can support your child's development. Find out more about birds, what they like to eat, and what is safe to feed them.

Chinese New Year
Join Cathy from the Early Years Alliance for a session all around the Chinese New Year festival, with some great activities you can do at home with your children. See if you can make a lantern with Cathy.


FREE Interactive Online Connect Sessions

Join us for our FREE interactive online Connect sessions. These 30-minute sessions have been designed to support you through these challenging times.
We are delighted that over 600 providers have already connected with us and enjoyed our interactive, informative events.
Places are limited, so please do register for a free place as soon as you can. 

For more information, and to book places, go to our Local Support page.


Let's Learn Together @ Home

A 5-week virtual FAMILY LEARNING course supporting children's learning and development in the home environment. This course focuses on activities and the development of children aged 0-24 months. Children are welcome to join these sessions to learn and engage alongside their parents. This is an online Family Learning programme delivered via Zoom, focusing on social-emotional wellbeing, early language skills, and physical development.

To check the dates of these sessions and to book places, please follow this link.

If you need any more information on Let's Learn Together @ Home, please contact eastmidlands@eyalliance.org.uk 


Healthy Minds Lincolnshire

As part of the virtual Best Start offer in Lincolnshire The Early Years Alliance have been working in partnership with Healthy Minds Lincolnshire, to deliver a series of online sessions to support families' wellbeing during the pandemic. These sessions are based around the '5 Ways to Wellbeing', and the recordings of the Webinars are available to view - just click on the title of the session below to view the recording.

Session One:  Connecting with Other People 
This session discusses the benefits and importance of having social connections to our physical and emotional health.

Session Two:  Be Active 
Session two explores the benefits of being active to our physical, social and emotional health. It concludes by getting you to think about how you can plan to slowly become more active and what this can involve.

Session Three:  Learning
How do we learn each day? This session will explore learning new skills and strategies, with a two-minute finger breathing exercise to finish. This is a skill you can use alone and with your children to help manage worry, to relax or distract.

Session Four:  Giving
Session Four discusses different ways we can give, e.g. micro volunteering from home, doing small acts of kindness. It ends with a five-minute progressive muscle relaxation exercise.

Session Five:  Take Notice
In the final session, we discuss how when we are busy or trying to manage challenges, it is easy to forget to take notice of the positive things that are happening, rather than focus on the things we find difficult. We end with a five-minute happy place breathing relaxation exercise.

Sessions are delivered by Sadie one of our Skills Development Officers and Laura from Healthy Minds Lincolnshire, and are an opportunity for parents to understand how they can support theirs and their child’s mental wellbeing not only during the current pandemic but in the future too.

The short bitesize sessions include simple exercises and ideas that can be used by families as well as ideas families can go on to use to further support their mental health and wellbeing.

There are a couple of handouts to go with the sessions:
Week One:  Circles of Support
Week Two:  Daily Planner

For more information about Healthy Minds Lincolnshire including some simple exercises to share with your families please see link below:


If you would like to know more about how  Families in your setting can access these sessions, or how our Skills Development Service can support Families please email: Julie.pearson@eyalliance.org.uk



Interested in finding out more?

Please contact Susan Hagan, Service Hub Manager on susan.hagan@eyalliance.org.uk or 01507 527500


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Privacy Notices: You can download our privacy notices here:   Children's Centre Sessions; Creche Services; Volunteers; Skills Development; Children's Centre Online Group Sessions; Teams Children's Centre Online Sessions

About us



Our Services

Children's services

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Our childcare services

We offer local families a range of ​high quality, affordable and flexible childcare...

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News and events

Home Learning to Support Children's Learning and Development - by Stephanie Robertson, Moorland Children's Centre


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Training and workshops

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Best Start

The Alliance delivers the Best Start contract within Lincolnshire County Council's...

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Alliance Connect

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Work with us

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Our vision

Our vision is a society where every child enjoys the opportunity to learn through play. We ...

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The Early Years Alliance is dedicated to giving every child, parent and practioner the best...

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Reduce the time and burden on your business or group by using the Early Years Alliance payslip service.

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Contact us

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Susan Hagan, Service Hub Manager


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Children's services

Girl with painty hands

Our childcare services

We offer local families a range of ​high quality, affordable and flexible childcare for children under five. Reflecting the needs of the local area, Lincolnshire Alliance-run childcare services are long-established, offering child-led, learning through play and fun activities for very young children. We actively encourage parents to become involved in their child's learning and development. We remain committed to ensuring every child receives focused support to best meet their individual needs. 

Parents are welcome to visit our settings and meet the team, simply contact the setting directly to arrange a suitable time.  

To go to the mini-site for any of the settings below, please click on the setting name.

Seashells Day Nursery 

Mablethorpe Children's Centre, Stanley Avenue, Mablethorpe LN12 1DP

Tel:  01507 479412

Happitots Community Pre-School

Amery Way, Chapel St Leondards, Skegness PE24 5LS

Tel:  01754 875186

News and events

Home Learning to Support Children's Learning and Development - by Stephanie Robertson, Moorland Children's Centre

During the sessions we deliver in the children’s centre, we would normally provide parents and children with home learning opportunities, for the families to try at home. This was in the form of verbal ideas often specific to a child’s interest, through the Facebook pages, and through handouts at the end of the session. Due to Covid-19 and the children’s centres being in lockdown, I have missed delivering my sessions in the centres and supporting the families. Therefore, to continue our support for parents and children’s development, I have on a weekly basis prepared new and exciting home learning ideas which we have not done before within the centres. I catered for different ages as a lot of families had older siblings at home, and parents regularly asked for ideas to also keep them entertained during lockdown. I have shared these home learning ideas via email, through phone calls, and also shared during the Zoom sessions I have delivered.

I have had fantastic engagement from my families from Moorland Children’s centre, who have regularly thanked me, and the parents have sent in feedback and pictures of their children exploring the home learning activities I have shared. They have also informed me of the learning that has taken place at home, which I have been able to evidence on impact statements on a weekly basis. Parents have been very surprised with the range of activities, and all the useful information on the sheets with regards to progressing their child’s learning and adapting the idea to meet their own individual child’s needs.

This has been a fantastic partnership for myself and the families and allowed me to stay in regular contact with them. Without seeing the children face-to-face like we would in the centre, I have seen their progression and development through photos and how much they have grown and changed during lockdown. Parents are keen to get involved and try out all the new ideas even if they think some are a little crazy, but they know that’s just what I like.

Despite the current situation, I am still able to do aspects of my job by providing fun and engaging activities that are inspiring to the families. This has really helped me during lockdown as I have struggled working from home, so we have all supported each other. Children get one shot at life, and within my sessions I aim to give them nothing but joy. As we haven’t had sessions, I have tried to provide a service which allows them to still have that opportunity within their home environment.


Parent Webinars on YouTube - by Natalie White

"As part of the virtual offer from the Lincolnshire Best Start team, in early April, I began to record activity webinars for families to join in with from home, for example, Playdough Fun and Ice Play. The recordings of the sessions were available on YouTube and these sessions were well visited. As live Zoom sessions gained momentum, the team felt that the need had shifted somewhat by May, and that what parents required most support with were ideas for activities to complete at home with their children, which they could fit around other family commitments. Parents were keen to receive the same support they would have received in a face to face ‘talk time’ – information on how activities support their child’s learning and development – which they could then draw upon when playing with their children at home.

Therefore, I began to produce a series of Parent Webinars to be made available on YouTube, meaning parents could, at their own pace, watch the videos to gain tips, ideas, and advice. Parents could also be signposted to the videos following participation in live Zoom sessions with a similar topic. This meant that Educators could maximise the interaction with children in the session itself, whilst ensuring that the key learning messages were still delivered. Through consultation with the wider Best Start team, I researched, planned and recorded videos on a wide range of topics, targeting key areas of learning, with the aim of supporting good levels of development during lockdown."


Starting a New Job in Difficult Times - by Kerrie Hobson

"2020 has certainly become a memorable start to a decade. As the coronavirus lockdown came into play, so too did my new opportunity with the Early Years Alliance when I became an Early Years Educator for the Lincoln and West Lindsey area. Being an Early Years Educator I was to deliver high quality learning and development opportunities for children and their families to experience in the children’s centres. But alas, due to Covid-19 the experience so far has been somewhat different! The world of Zoom and Teams has become the new normal and instead of delivering these experiences face to face they have been done virtually via the wonders of the internet.

Starting a new job always brings with it a time of uncertainty and nerves and this could still be said for the world of home working; getting to grips with the technology, paperwork and policies. The trepidation about getting it right has still been there, it has just come about in a different form. Support has come in the way of daily phone calls from a Senior Early Years Educator who has many hours of children’s centre experience under her hat! She has been just a phone call (or a few some days!) away to answer my questions and queries and to offer morale support and encouragement when it has been most needed. There have been opportunities for online learning and training to help refresh knowledge and keep up to date with all the latest changes and challenges that come with early years learning.

Home working and balancing home teaching has had its challenges, a temporary office space set up, a quiet area needed for Zoom session delivery, all alongside trying to get to grips with KS3 Maths and English, has definitely been a new experience for me (and for many) but I’m still standing… on the verge of the children returning to school with a smile on my face (most days!). The benefits of having never delivered a session in a children’s centre is that you cannot miss a job that you have never done, as this is the only way of working I have yet known with the Early Years Alliance, and despite having just got to grips with the perils of Zoom session delivery, I look forward to the new learning curve coming my way in the future – it will be like starting a new job all over again!"


Big Cook, Little Cook Webinars - by Laura Gratrick

"Hi, my name is Laura and I am an Early Years Educator for Lincoln / West Lindsey area. I live in Lincoln with my family having two children of my own, a daughter who is 10 and a son who is 3. As a family we love going on mini breaks in our caravan exploring the areas that we visit. It’s a welcome break for us all as when I am not working, I’m studying for a Masters in Professional Studies which keeps me busy. I also enjoy playing darts for a local ladies team or making different craft items for my children and for the children in the centres

One of my favourite sessions that I deliver within the Children’s centre is Big Cook Little Cook where the children get to cook or bake different recipes with mum or dad being their helper when they need a little assistance to cut vegetables or grate a piece of cheese. During lockdown, I have missed delivering these sessions, so I put forward the idea of recording a webinar for families to watch and make the recipes at home. Now, each week I record a sweet and a savoury recipe webinar making two of each dish so there is a ‘Blue Peter’ moment where I can say ‘Here’s one I made earlier’ and this is usually our lunch for the day. I started doing these on my own but just recently my son has been joining in too. He has thoroughly enjoyed helping mummy make the recipes and enjoyed eating the foods that we produced together. This has been a fantastic opportunity for us to do things together during lockdown, and a chance for him to have new experiences and gain new knowledge.

The webinars have been published on YouTube on a weekly basis with all being viewed, some more than others. The video with the most views so far was fruit crumble which has had 57 views in total. It does appear that the sweeter recordings are viewed more than the savoury; the viewers must be similar to myself and have a sweet tooth! Knowing that so many people have been watching the recording gives me a sense of pride that, despite the current situation, I can still do aspects of my work that I love to do and that others can also have the pleasure of replicating this in their own homes."


Child Mental Health Week at Tattershall Children's Centre

Awareness was raised for Child Mental Health week (3rd to 9th February 2020) during Learning Together Toddlers and Learning Through Play sessions at Tattershall Children’s Centre. The Early Years Educator created the tuff tray to support children and parents with their emotions. Parents and carers were encouraged to talk to their children about the photographs, modelling the faces and words. The playdough was then used as a ‘dough disco’ using the traditional song ,‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’, but putting a ‘feelings’ twist on it. For example: If You’re Happy and You Know It...pat the dough; Cross...squeeze the dough; Shy...hide the dough; Tired...stroke the dough. The EYE spoke about how this exercise can really help support children and their emotions, and how being able to squeeze something and let out the frustration or the calming touch of stroke, would help.
A mini yoga session was delivered during Learning Through Play to support Child Mental Health Week, which the children really engaged in, following the EYE’s demonstrations. The EYE signposted to a suitable yoga site, so children could repeat the exercises with their parent/carer at home.  She also shared research on how yoga and meditation has a positive effect on children.
The EYE put the photo on two reputable Early Years pages on Facebook to support other early years practitioners and families.  Between the two pages the post received 886 likes/loves with 376 positive comments, some of which tagged other families and professionals. Staff from one of the local nurseries had also seen the post and told the EYE they were going to be using the idea in their setting.


Festive Home Corner at St Giles Children's Centre, Lincoln






Autumn Activites at Sutton-on-Sea Children's Centre

We are always very happy to include our parents in suggesting ideas for activities at our sessions, and one mum had the wonderful idea of creating art and collage from natural objects. She said she would go out and about with her daughter and collect lots of lovely natural items to bring into our Learning through Play session the following week. Sure enough, mum and daughter came in with a bag load of leaves, pinecones, twigs, conkers, sycamore 'helicopters', and pine needles. She told me they had had a lovely time collecting everything and talking about what they had found. We had a large craft table set up with glue, glitter, and paints and brushes, and encouraged everyone to create their very own masterpiece. The children and adults worked together, and there was lots of chatter about what they were making and using. the children were encouraged to create freely and make choices. One little boy had found a leaf on his walk to the session, and had brought it in to include in his picture. He was very proud of what he had made.


Learning Through Play... Halloween Hullaballoo

On Friday 25th October, Learning through Play at Tattershall Children's Centre took on a Halloween twist, with pumpkin carving, Halloween exploration, and a Halloween song session to finish. Five families attended the session, with ten children. Five of these children were from priority military families. Two vulnerable children also attended, being handheld into the session by their Early Help Worker. This was a huge success as the family have previously not engaged with the Early Years sessions.


'The Curiosity Approach' at Horncastle Children's Centre by Aimee Dixon - Early Years Educator

I have been following 'The Curiosity Approach' for some time, and was inspired to make some changes to our home corner environment. The Curiosity Approach is a modern-day approach to Early Childhood, taking parts from Reggio, Steiner, Te Whariki, with a sprinkle of Montessori. It is about moving away from plastic toys, and the aim is to nourish the senses whilst promoting awe and wonder.

Having observed the children over a period of time in the home corner, I had noticed very little interaction with others during their play, and a decrease in the number of children that chose to access the area, and time spent there. I needed to make changes with a limited budget. The units were upcycled using donated paint, and all of the resources were either found at car boot sales, or were surplus items from the kitchen. The only items purchased were wooden crates. The small wooden table had seen better days, so I sanded the top down and painted it with chalk board paint, adding another mark making opportunity. All the items were 'real', either metal, wooden or ceramic. When these were first introduced, parents were a little anxious that children might break them. However, we shared the benefits of children using 'real' items and how the adults could model play and interact to support how these items were used safely. We then observed the children and how they played. It was noticed that one child, who usually spent lots of time outside exploring gross motor skills using bikes and ride-ons and climbing on crates, instead chose to explore the home corner. He spent time with the small ceramic jugs pretending to pour between them. He then took one to the small sink, filled it with water, returned to the home corner and poured the water between different pots and jugs.

Overall, we have noticed that the home corner is now accessed more than ever before, and that the children are benefitting from experiencing the different textures and weights of the real items, as well as interacting with their peers. (None of the items have been thrown, and we have had minimal breakages.)


'Look for a Book Lincolnshire'

This is a new initiative in Lincolnshire which is being promoted and shared through Facebook. Books are hidden in the local community, and families are encouraged to search for the books, take them home to read, then re-hide for someone else to find and enjoy. If they really like the book, they can keep it and maybe hide a book that they have grown out of or do not read any more. At the Lincoln North Children's Centre, the Early Years Practitioner has put together some books and hidden them around the Lincoln North cluster area. To further promote this, the Senior Early Years Educator, Janet Risebrow, and her team have been busy making packs of books and information sheets for each family attending the Best Start Learning Together Toddler sessions, to take home and read/share/re-hide. The children were very excited to receive their own book packs. In sessions during the following week, parents gave feedback on this. Some had hidden their packs for other children to find in the local area, and some had enjoyed the books and decided to keep them as part of their own book collection.


New Outdoor Role Play Area at Bracebridge Children's Centre

National Volunteers Week 2019

National Volunteers Week 2019 coincided with a very special birthday for Louth Children's Centre volunteer Polly Smith.

Polly is in her third year of volunteering at the Louth Children's Centre. Pictured here with her gifts and one of her mentors, Amy Noble, who, along with Laura Thompson, supports Polly in her volunteer placement. They are members of the East Lindsey Early Years Alliance delivery team which is headed by Lesley Raynor.

During Polly's volunteering role, she has, with Skills Development Officer support, completed various training courses including First Aid and Food Hygiene. She is now attending the local learning centre to complete IT courses, and will be moving on to functional English, which all support her pathway and life journey.

Polly's confidence has grown during her role, and she now even volunteers for her local church events, and is always keen to support others. Polly says "I enjoy my volunteering, and I am very happy helping. I look forward to going to the centre, and enjoy the children and parents. I feel part of the team."

Laura Thompson has noticed Polly's personal development: "Polly has grown massively in confidence since starting her volunteering with us at Louth. She has made some lovely professional relationships with families and children that regularly attend, and is a big help to the staff, helping to set up and tidy up."

Thanks to all our volunteers, and a very happy birthday to Polly!


Veg Train

This amazing Veg Train featured at a Learning Together Baby session in Gainsborough recently. Senior Early Years Educator, Clare Brightman, commented that the "Little ones loved exploring and tasting".





Outdoor Role Play - Bracebridge Children's Centre

Early Years Educator, Katie Munro, has recently implemented some changes to the outdoor role play area at Bracebridge Children's Centre, and reports that "The children have been very generous in delivering flowers, and have enjoyed using the tools in the garden."


The Sugar Game

The Sugar Game, created at Mablethorpe Children’s Centre, by Julie Stirling (Senior Early Years Educator), was distributed to all Children’s Centres in East Lindsey for Early Years Alliance staff to use in sessions, during Obesity Awareness Week.  Alongside the game itself, other visual aids were provided, such as local and National Childhood Obesity facts and figures, hidden names for sugar, and sample food labels. The game was a simple one, pictures of popular food and drinks were placed on display, and a question was asked, “How many sugar cubes are in each product?”  The parents were provided with a bowl of sugar cubes and they had to place as many cubes on each picture as they thought the product contained. The game initiated many conversations amongst the parents about the food and drink we eat and give to our children.  Parents were most shocked by the sugar content in fruit smoothies and breakfast cereals.  This in turn, gave way to conversations about food labelling and ‘hidden sugar’ and the many different names used for sugar on packaging. The game worked well in raising awareness of the amount of sugar in foods in a fun way, and certainly brought the subject to the fore, for discussion. During the week’s activities, families were encouraged to visit the Change 4 Life website to find ways to ensure their children are having a healthy diet and lifestyle.  On the website families can also download the Change 4 Life Scanner App, which scans barcodes for sugar and fat content. Many of the activities took place on 18th January, which had been renamed as Fruity Friday.  All families attending groups on Fruity Friday were given fruit as a snack or to take home to eat.  Some groups used fruit during play, to explore the textures and smells…as well as the taste. All groups were linked to children’s physical development, focusing particularly on gross motor skills and being active.

'Fruity Friday'

In order to recognise National Obesity Awareness Week, we held 'Fruity Friday' on Friday 18th January in Children's Centres across the county. Other healthy lifestyle activities were promoted during the week, with us all celebrating on 'Fruity Friday'.


Garden Improvements at Wainfleet Children's Centre (by Kim Kirk - Early Years Educator)

During the autumn of 2018, we upgraded our hexagonal planter at the Children's Centre, to help improve the resources available for the children outdoors. The planter was intended for growing vegetables, but wasn't deep enough to grow anything properly, so we decided to have a re-vamp. Local builder's merchants were emailed asking if they could spare any bags of gravel, slate or pebbles for us to convert the planter into a senory play area. We had a reply from one company who offered several bags of aggregates for us to use, free of charge. They kindly offered to deliver the material directly to the garden, so all we needed to do was empty the planter and refill it with the new materials. The children have enjoyed exploring the new textures and selecting their own resources from the shed to use with the different ypes of pebbles and slate. It has proved very popular, particularly with some of our older children, as they enjoy using the construction vehicles to make their own building site. It is perfect for scooping and pouring as well as being versatile enough to be used during any themed session in the centre.


Winter Wonderland Event at Caistor Children's Centre








The recent Winter Wonderland Event at Caistor Children's Centre proved to be very popular, with 31 families attending:

  • The ice scene was touched, igloos built, and wow moments as animals appeared as the ice melted.
  • The baby area was well explored, with texture, colour and sensory options.
  • The sensory bottle making stand was a great hit, with children taking them home to show older siblings.
  • The salt dough decorations were individually painted and taken home for the Christmas tree or for presents for Grandparents.
  • The card making craft table was modelled well by parents, and the children enjoyed sticking and cutting.
  • The treasure hunt not only excited the little hands delving in, but also became a blue and white snow shower experience for many, resulting in numerous smiles.
  • The white tipi hosted a den area for reading the sharing books 'Snowman' and 'That's Not My Snowman'. Adults read, Early Years Practitioners read, and children read to themselves.
  • The coconut conditioner, cornflour, sticks, and googly eyes table made for lots of nice smelling snowmen.

The large room was filled with seasonal smiles.

Book Themed Sessions at Market Rasen Children's Centre

A number of book themed sessions have taken place at Market Rasen Children's Centre recently, including 'Gruffalo Child Learn Through Play Book Session' and 'Going on a Bear Hunt Little Explorers Session'. These, together with other initiatives such as signposting to the health visitor, and the setting up of a safe area in the community room, have had a positive impact on the numbers attending sessions. In the words of Early Years Educator, Nicola Jones: "We have had a definite increase in age range and mums comfortable using other sessions with the aim to get their sitters on the move, and to come to experience different Best Start sessions at Market Rasen, growing their confidence and stretching comfort zones."


'Going on A Bear Hunt' at Lincoln Abbey Children's Centre

Children were excited to explore different textures through play at the recent 'Going on a Bear Hunt' themed book week at Lincoln Abbey Children's Centre:



Winter Wonderland at Lincoln Central Children's Centre

Children were able to enjoy a Winter Wonderland event at Lincoln Central Children's Centre recently. Senior Early Years Educator, Sharon Hurt, created a den for the event with lots of lovely resources for the children to engage with.


'Room on the Broom' at Children's Centres in Lincoln

This event was themed around the book 'Room on the Broom' in the half term at Lincoln Abbey, Witham and Lincoln St Giles Children's Centres. There were a variety of activities from the book, to encourage families to engage with, including: Mud and the Dragon, Making Wands and Broom Sticks, Autumn Tuff Spot, Potion Making Station, Making Bird's Nests to Take Home to Eat, and Role Play Area. The feedback from families was that they loved the sessions.


Story Stones at Mablethorpe Children's Centre (by Frankie Lindsay - Early Years Educator)

I created the story stones at home after seeing something similar on the internet, and I'm so glad I did! They turned out really well, and the children love them. I made them with my daughter's paints and a black whiteboard pen. I used non-toxic glue to varnish them, to ensure the pictures would not come off. They are so simple and effective. When using the story stones, I placed them in a story/sensory domed basked. When I lifted the lid, I chose a child to pick a stone so we could begin our story. I then asked another child to pick another stone, and so on. This is the fun bit for the children as they are required to use their imagination to create the story. Therefore, the story is always different, and sometimes silly, which makes it so much fun. You can ask questions throughout to encourage the children, such as "What happened next?" and "What did they see?" The stones are great for helping to promote language, listening and attention, imagination, and making storytime fun. They can be used for a range of ages. I used them in Learning Together Toddlers with four children aged two years plus. One one occasion, after using the story stones for a moment, I asked "What happened next?", to which one young girl joined in and said "The witch had an ice cream... it was yummy". When we finished the story, the children clapped and another girl said "The end!" The parents in the group were impressed by how well their children reacted to the stones, and engaged in storytime. Two of them said they are going to have a go and make some story stones at home to use with their child. The stones have also been used by a senior early years educator in a Growing Talk session, and proved to be a valuable and exciting resource to support a session. I have also had to make some at home for my little girl, and she loves them. We take it in turns to read a story, using the stones, and have to do this most nights.


Barefoot Walk at Skegness Children's Centre

To satisfy one particular child's love of sensory experiences and give an alternative way to explore through her sense of touch, the early years educator, Lisa, prepared a Barefoot Walk of pebbles, logs, leaves, mud and water, in the long grass of the garden area at Skegness Children's Centre. Lisa took off her sandals and initially led the children over the natural resources. This encouraged all the children in the group to safely negotiate the different levels and textures, so promoting physical development and become in tune with the natural environment. The experience enabled positive interactions between parents and children, as parents took off their shoes and had a go too!


Gardening Project at Lincoln St Giles Children's Centre

On Friday 13th April, a gardening event was held at the children's centre. The children started a vegetable patch, planting lettuce and chantenay carrots from plug plants, and seed potatoes. They also began work on a flower garden, planting some lavender and also some sunflowers from seed. The children were encouraged to water the flower garden during group sessions. The children had a lot of fun pulling the carrots and potatoes, and the early years educators were able to incorporate lots of language regarding size and shape. Parents said they couldn't believe how easy it was to grow vegetables, and were going to try it at home. Lots of produce was grown, and was then used in 'Little Explorers' sessions. The children enjoyed giving the vegetables a wash and using the special (pampered chef) safety knives to chop up the potatoes and carrots. A lot of the carrots were eaten raw during the process as they looked so delicious! Some of the vegetables were saved for the 'Learning Through Play' session in the hall, to promote the outdoor area and encourage parents to attend different groups.


Shop Role Play at Lincoln Birchwood Children's Centre

The Early Years Educators at Birchwood Children's Centre recently changed their home corner into a shop which has led to the children developing in all prime areas of the EYFS, and has proved to be a great way for parents and carers to engage with their children.

Communication and Language: The toddlers have been using a wide range of vocabulary and people skills within the shop, and it has supported turn-taking and listening and attention skills. "...it has been great to see the children take turns and understanding their roles as workers/customers. The strength of conversation skills have really come on since we made the shop, and new relationships have been formed. It has also been great to see parents engaging in their children's learning as they have been using role play with their children."

Maths:  A till was added to the shop to encourage early maths recognition. The Early Years Educators created and laminated coins and notes with numbers on to prompt the children's number recognition. "It was clear to see the children's understanding of how a shop worked, and it encouraged children to work alongside one another, taking it in turns. Language of 'more' and 'a lot' showed the children were understanding quantities."

Physical Development:  In keeping with the shop theme, the Early Years Educators provided tinned fruit for the children's sensory exploration, and tweezers to pick the fruit up with, strengthening their fine motor skills. "We also used the shop by having playdoh cakes. The children really enjoyed being creative with this activity; developing their fine motor skills by squeezing, pinching and rolling the dough."

Personal, Social and Emotional Development:  With the shop being a popular change to the centre, the children were encouraged to take turns fairly with the support of a sand timer. By the end of the first week, the children understood and were patient waiting for their turn. The shop has also promoted friendships amongst the children, and increased their self-confidence. "Children have played alongside one another, acting out roles as customers and shop workers. It has been great to see the progress of children's self-confidence within their acted out roles. It has been clear to see the children enjoying the responsibilities in carrying out small tasks around the area, with children even adding other toys/objects to enhance the area. For example, dinosaurs from a different area are now on sale in the shop!"

Home Learning:  To extend learning further, the Early Years Educators asked the children to use a picture shopping list when they go shopping with their families. "Feedback from parents said it was a great distraction whilst out shopping and got the children engaged and excited in a task that normally feels like a chore!"


Construction Site at Horncastle Children's Centre

Claire, Early Years Educator at Horncastle Children's Centre, recently changed the role play area from a kitchen to a construction site. The reason for this was the children were not interacting with each other or playing appropriately with the resources, which had a negative effect on the behaviour of some of them during the sessions. Claire had observed children with a keen interest in stacking and rolling different types of equipment, but was mindful of ensuring the area was inviting for all when enhancing it. Claire visited local merchants to source equipment which was extremely successful as they were willing to donate valuable resources such as pipes, tape, orange temporary fencing and leaflets.

The area is proving to be very popular, especially with the more tactile children. They have had fun using the pipes to balance on and post items through. The construction site also provides opportunities to support children's learning and development in all areas, but in particular Literacy as the environment is rich in print, so the children can learn about words using names, signs, posters etc. Parents have commented on how inviting the area now looks, and how much enjoyment their children are getting from the new construction site.


Music Wall at Bracebridge Children's Centre

The Early Years Educators have made a music wall at Bracebridge Children's Centre, and the children contributed by making sun catchers out of CDs and sequins.


National Gardening Week at Cherry Willingham Children's Centre

Gardening Week is a national scheme that took place from 30th April to 6th May 2018. At Cherry Willingham Children's Centre, we planned lots of fun things to celebrate this. We painted stones, made lard bird feeders, planted seeds, dug in the mud and looked at insects. We also created a mini beast area in our garden.

Lots of learning took place through this event:

  • Children developed their physical skills and hand/eye co-ordination through using the tools for digging and by using the brushes to paint the stones.
  • Children also developed their communication and language skills as parents talked to them about the process of making the bird feeders and planting the seeds, as well as talking about the different coloured paints.
  • Understanding of the world was also covered as families talked about seeds and how plants grow.
  • Children's imaginations were developed as we changed the home corner into a garden centre, enabling them to do lots of pretend play.
  • Children were provided with problem solving activities too, as the plastic insects were placed in ice and they had to work out how they could get them out.

Feedback from parents and children:

  • One of the grandparents commented that there were lots of lovely activities on offer and said he enjoyed the fact that there were lots of things to take home.
  • One of the girls sat for a long time painting the stones - she painted four in total!
  • Two boys sat and throught about how they could get the insects out. They worked out if they picked one up and dropped it, the ice broke. They were very excited to tell the practitioner of their success.
  • The following week, a parent told the practitioner that the cress they had set had grown really well.

We will continue to further develop the garden, adding to the mini beast area. The following week's session, we also continued with the gardening theme by making Cheerio bird feeders to take home.


National Gardening Week at Market Rasen Children's Centre














National Gardening Week at Spilsby Children's Centre

Soil Tray for National Gardening WeekNational Gardening week was celebrated at Little Explorers and Learning Together Toddler groups held at Spilsby Children's Centre recently. ActivitiesBug hotel for national gardening week, such as planting, building bug hotels and making bird feeders, were provided for inside and outside, supporting children in all prime areas of learning, with a particular focus on physical development, and communication and language. Children, aged from nine months to three and a half years, explored the soil with their hands, picking it up with their fingers and sprinkling it back into the tray. Some chose to use trowels, scoops and spades to fill and empty different containers. Children were supported by their parents/carers to make bird feeders. They mixed melted lard and added it to the bird seed, using different sized spoons and other utensils. Some used teaspoons to scrape the mixture off, when adding it to empty yoghurt pots. One child struggled a little with this, so used her problem solving skills to find a different way to achieve the task - she used her finger instead! Children were very engaged during the activities. They shared items such as twigs and pine cones to put in the 'hotel', labelling them "acorns". The children placed the items on the shelves, as we chatted about the different bugs that might come and stay: ladybirds, beetles and ants. One child became very excited when we saw a beetle. He shouted to his mum, "We can see a beetle!" A parent commented that her son loved building the bug hotel with Steph in Learning Together Toddlers. He even went home and told his daddy how he had given sticks, acorns and pine cones to Steph for the "ladybird" house. A wonderful time was had by all.


Outdoor Water Play at Lincoln North Children's Centre

Water play is not only incredibly fun for small children, but it also enhances their physical, cognitive and social skills. When children pour water, they are improving their physical dexterity and hand-eye coordination. They extend their vocabulary as they learn new words and talk about what they are experiencing. Here at North Children's Centre, water play is a big part of our children's learning and development, and it is a provision that we provide in the majority of our sessions. In fact, we found that on the occasions that we did not provide water play, the children would access water from other means, such as taking a bucket from the sand pit and filling it at the indoor sink, or using puddle water to fill, transfer and empty small containers. We wanted to provide a resource that would give our children a continuous provision to explore water in the outdoor environment. So, we asked around, and found someone who was willing to donate all their old guttering, and transformed it into a water station for the children... and then the fun really began!



Easter Event at Lincoln Birchwood Children's Centre

An Easter Event was held at Birchwood Children's Centre, with a focus on fine motor skills, linking in with targets to get all children to be confident and use their hands in a variety of ways, building their muscles up ready for early writing.

Cereal was provided for the young children to explore, helping them to build their hand-eye coordination by sitting in it and feeling the texture. They also watched the cereal being dropped from a height, which helps them to focus and builds their eye muscles, helping them with concentration, and in the future with following a line as they write.

The children played with shredded paper, grasping it, throwing it away from them, and watching it fall. Children need to develop the large muscles in their arms before they can hold a pencil and write, and activities such as this can help.


Playdoh was provided for the children to poke, squeeze and mould into a variety of shapes. This helps to build up the small muscles in their hands, preparing them for school age when they will have to hold writing equipment to create marks on paper.

At the end of the session, the children took home a rabbit book each, to 'read', turning the pages from left to right and looking at the pictures. The children were also given playdoh recipes so they could have a go at home to make their own. The different sessions of the day were all aimed at one focus, and hopefully will give parents ideas of the kind of activities they can provide for their children which are simple, inexpensive, and have lots of benefits.

Training and workshops

Training workshop


Due to Covid-19 and the impact of lock-down, all our Alliance Connect events are now taking place online. We are also developing some bite-size CPD training sessions, more information about this will be coming out soon. We want to ensure you still receive that important face to face support and advice from us at this difficult time.

You can find out more about planned online events happening locally over the coming weeks under Events here and also in our new monthly News Updates.

The Alliance is a leading early years training provider in England, supporting over 2,000 learners every year.

The 2016 Ofsted report stated that 'Excellent strategic and operational management resulted in achievement of good outcomes for learners'.

Virtual Classroom - Spring 2021

Our Virtual Classroom offers a flexible approach to learning and has been designed for people working in the early years to ensure providers, staff and volunteers have access to training.

The virtual classrooms can be accessed via, smartphone, tablet, lap top and desktop.

How long are the courses?

Courses comprise either 2 x 90 minutes or 3 x 90 minutes depending on the topic.

How do I book onto a course?

All Virtual Classroom workshops and packages, including the various pricing options for individuals and virtual In-House sessions can be found on our Virtual Classroom page.

Want In-house training to your whole team?  Contact us to discuss your training requirements lincolnshire@eyalliance.org.uk 

Workshop plus+

Enhance your training experience!  

 We all know the huge benefits that high-quality training can bring… 

What if you and your whole team could now learn together as part of tailored CPD professional package of support – created especially for your setting?  

Workshop plus brings together early years teams and training specialists to create an enhanced experience for everyone involved. 

If you already enjoy participating in our extensive range of local workshops, Workshop Plus will take your learning a step higher. 

Workshop plus gives you and your whole team an enhanced training experience. It brings together expertise and experience to raise overall knowledge and practice, so any learning is more effectively shared across the whole team.  

 Workshop plus offers: 

  • Focused 1:1 professional support with individual learners 
  • Specialist delivery of tailored training for whole teams 
  • New opportunities to explore and aid reflective practice 
  • Support to produce CPD plans 
  • Professional facilitators to promote improved team cohesion 

…all for as little as £70.00. 

To enquire please email lincolnshire@eyalliance.org.uk or call 01507 527500



Education Inspection Framework Package

The Education Inspection Framework (EIF) came into place in September 2019. Ofsted says the EIF has been amended to include greater emphasis on the needs of younger children.

It replaces its “quality of teaching, learning and assessment” with a new “quality of education” judgement. The Early Years Alliance has developed a package of support to help early years practitioners navigate the changes and can be delivered on-site direct to you and your team. 

The package includes two specialist workshops Exploring the EIF and Cultural Capital  plus our new publication Exploring the Education Inspection Framework.

For further information on the EIF package please contact us at lincolnshire@eyalliance.org.uk or call 01507 527500



Best Start

The Alliance delivers the Best Start contract within Lincolnshire County Council's children's centres and in some outreach locations.

This service has two elements:  the Early Years Service; and the Skills Development Service.

The Early Years Service has a team of highly trained and motivated early years educators who deliver high quality early years sessions across all Lincolnshire children's centres, for children aged 0-5 (siblings aged up to 8), including 'Big Cook, Little Cook', 'Learning Together', and 'Growing Talk'.

Our early years team also deliver ante natal sessions alongside our Health partners.

These sessions are all underpinned by the EYFS principles and are designed to support children's early development and school readiness.

The Skills Development Service have a team of experienced skills development officers who support families with children aged 0-19.

The skills development officers work with parents to help them to understand their skills and identify any gaps, supporting them into volunteering, adult learning and/or employment.

For more information about our sessions and services offered at your local children's centre, please visit:  https://www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/childcare-and-family-support/find-a-childrens-centre/


Virtual Early Years Sessions

The Early Years Alliance are currently running over 100 virtual Early Years sessions a week, via Zoom, for families across Lincolnshire to access. Families join an Early Years Educator, and participate in a session such as 'Let's Get Active' and  'Learning Through Play'. The virtual sessions are planned to mirror as closely as possible what we would be delivering in the children’s centres through our Best Start service. To access the sessions, please select the appropriate link below for your area of the county which will take you to the timetable of sessions for that area:

April sessions from the 19th onwards

To view a video giving more information on the virtual Early Years sessions, CLICK HERE.


For guidance on how to access the Zoom sessions, please click on the links below (the first is a written guide, and the second is a video):

As part of the booking process for these Zoom sessions, it is required that you complete a consent form and return it to:  beststart@eyalliance.org.uk
Please click here to download the consent form.


Lincolnshire Parent Connect Events

These Parent Connect events provide an opportunity to connect with other parents and carers, learn about topics relevant to families in Lincolnshire, and share ideas on how to support each other.

Full list of Parent Connects available in February and March 2021 together with booking details.

Skills Development Service - How Can We Help?

  • Are you looking for a new direction or for something to occupy your mind?
  • Struggling to find work or needing a change?
  • Want to develop new skills or gain experience but don't know where to begin?
  • Love to do a course or volunteer, but need it to fit around the children?

Find out how we can help by joining us on a free Tuesday morning Zoom session.

CLICK HERE to find out more.

Alliance Connect

Coffee morning

Due to Covid-19 and the impact of lock-down, all our Alliance Connect events are now taking place online. We are also developing some bite-size CPD training sessions, more information about this will be coming out soon. We want to ensure you still receive that important face to face support and advice from us at this difficult time.

You can find out more about planned online events happening locally over the coming weeks under Events here and also in our new monthly News Updates.


Alliance Connect events offer an opportunity to meet other childcare practitioners, to explore the particular issues facing volunteers and managers involved in managing a childcare setting.  There will be opportunities to share good practice and to obtain mutual support.  We provide the vital, up to date information necessary for the effective management of your setting.

Alliance Connect events are also your chance to get your thoughts and concerns shared right up to government level and to help shape national policies. We can pass on your feedback to Alliance managers and to Neil Leitch, our Chief Executive, who regularly meets with government ministers to help shape early years policy.


FREE Interactive Online Connect Sessions

Join us for our FREE interactive online Connect sessions. These 30-minute sessions have been designed to support you through these challenging times.
We are delighted that over 600 providers have already connected with us and enjoyed our interactive, informative events.
Places are limited, so please do register for a free place as soon as you can. 

For more information, and to book places, go to our Local Support page.



Work with us

Circle of hands

Our vision

Our vision is a society where every child enjoys the opportunity to learn through play. We believe families should be at the centre of policy-making and empowered and supported to become fully involved with their child's learning, development, health and well-being.

The way we work

We champion childhood and children’s right to play and want to ensure that all children, regardless of background, are given the best possible start in life and an opportunity to thrive and develop to their maximum potential.

We work to support families and early years providers to enhance children’s life chances, by raising standards and quality of childcare, encouraging safeguard-led practice and providing high quality training, support and advice.

Please browse this website to see the programmes and services we provide.

For further details about any of these, or to explore how we might work together with you in your area, please contact Susan Hagan, Service Hub Manager on susan.hagan@eyalliance.org.uk or 01507 527500.

Become an Alliance Member

Children playing at water table

The Early Years Alliance is dedicated to giving every child, parent and practioner the best experience in the early years.

Our membership packages combine the best support, training and information for member settings to help you in turn support the children and families you work with.

  • More than 20 free Cache-endorsed online training courses for your team via EduCare
  • Access to 24hr legal helpline Law-Call 
  • 10 issues of Under 5 magazine a year — each issue is packed with sector news, policy updates and activity ideas
  • 'EY Instant Update' emails to alert you of any policy, legislation or funding changes
  • Access to our specialist and competitively-priced insurance 
  • On-call support from our expert advisers
  • 20% off our extensive range of books and publications
  • Free mini guides on various aspects of running an early years setting


Find out more about membership

Payslip service

Baby at computer

Reduce the time and burden on your business or group by using the Early Years Alliance payslip service.

We offer a comprehensive, secure payslip service for pre‑schools, full daycare nurseries, out of school clubs and other community groups across England and Wales.

The service includes:


Enquire about our payslip service


Contact us

Toy phones

Susan Hagan, Service Hub Manager


01507 527500.


Lincolnshire Service Hub
8 Church Lane
United Kingdom
Tel: 01507 527500
Fax: 01507 527600