‘How to catch a moonbeam and pin it down’ – Moonbeams – is Arts Connect’s early years programme which focusses on arts and creativity with, by and for babies and children aged five and under.

We believe that babies and children express themselves in ‘a hundred different ways’ and that adults – parents/carers, educators, artists – have a key role in enabling children to develop their capabilities and potentials through arts and creativity. Young children’s creative learning is complex and evolving and just like a moonbeam can be challenging ‘‘to catch and pin it down’. Our Moonbeams programme helps by bringing people together to share ways of capturing, reflecting and understanding the complexities of creative learning through the arts. In doing so we can illuminate our own thinking and so create our own reflective ‘Moonbeams Moments’ that challenge and develop our practice.

Moonbeams provides a programme of action research, training and professional development, conferences and seminars, resources, interactive social networks including a Facebook community, and Podcasts to support creative and reflective practice in early years arts and creativity.


Moonbeams has existed in many forms since its beginnings in 2002 when artists from different fields worked alongside educators in a wide range of settings where young children could explore creative and arts based provocations. Each pairing of educator and artist would co-document and reflect upon the creative arts based experiences offered, learning to understand what they were observing and participating in alongside of the children. This reflective space enabled the paring to then plan accordingly to meet with the children’s own creative processes and approaches to learning.


2002 – 2004

How to Catch a Moonbeam and Pin it Down

Two year Action Research programme, developed by Pepita Hanna, Head of Arts Education, and Cynthia Knight, Early Years Adviser, as part of Birmingham City Council’s Children’s Services. The first national Moonbeams conference took place in 2004.


2005 – 2006

Moonbeams 2

This paired artists with early year’s settings, exploring and developing creativity within aspects of everyday practice through a range of art forms, focusing on engaging parents and carers.


2005 – 2006

Moonbeams Too

Artists and teachers worked over two academic years with the same children to track the outcomes and impact of the Moonbeams approach from early years/reception to Key Stage 1.


2005 – 2009

Musical Moonbeams

Musicians and early year’s practitioners were paired to develop musical provocations and learning opportunities in early year’s settings.



Moonbeams Three – Engaging Arts Organisations

Arts Organisations collaborated with early year’s settings and practitioners to explore and develop early years practice leading to a national Conference hosted by MAC.


2015 – 2018

How to Catch a Moonbeam and Pin it Down – New phase

Arts Connect, with Birmingham Nursery School Teaching School Alliance and CREC mapped early years arts activity across the West Midlands which informed the development of a programme which included: workshops, a round-table event for arts/cultural/heritage sectors, an action research programme and an international conference.


2018 – Present

Moonbeams – into the new decade

The Arts Connect programme for 2018–2022 includes: social meets, a seminar series, roundtable discussions, a new action research programme including libraries, early years settings and artists/arts organisations, a new digital platform, Facebook group, podcasts, and a conference scheduled for 2022.


Moonbeams@Home is a creative invitation to see, listen and move with your child in a co-adventure, together. Each digital postcard offers starting points to spark shared curiosity, imagination, and joy.



Join our Facebook Group

We welcome artists, educators, parents/carers, and all interested in the importance of arts and cultural creative engagement for babies, children and their families. Join our community so that we can support each other, to stimulate deep thinking, interesting discussion and the sharing of quality discussion of the arts and creativity in early years.


Listen to our Podcasts

Moonbeams is commissioning and launching a series of podcasts that will be available in 2021. These podcasts aim to stimulate debate around subjects related to creativity, the arts and culture in the early years.

Watch this space


Over the course of various Moonbeams projects, different printed booklets were produced. Digital copies are not available. Several research papers and journal articles were commissioned and published and can be found below.


Arts Connects’ Moonbeams Mapping research that informed the whole
Moonbeams developments


Early Hurley Burly Report


Refocus Journal


How to Catch a Moonbeam and Pin It Down


Join the Arts Connect mailing list and keep in touch about all Moonbeams events.


We are a development agency connecting and supporting communities across the West Midlands, to enable children and young people (from 0–25) to enjoy a rich and meaningful arts and cultural life.

We achieve this by working with partners in education, arts and cultural organisations, local government and others to lead change and improve opportunity of access and engagement.

We are actively connected to over 500 schools, 1700 teachers, 300 arts and cultural organisations and 150 individual artists and through them the children and young people of our region.

We work across the West Midlands, including the metropolitan local authorities of Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Stoke on Trent, Telford and Wrekin, Walsall and Wolverhampton, as well as the shire counties of Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.

Moonbeams is one of our programmes, find out about our other programmes here.