It has been a super interesting and educational process to participate in. We chose to work with our SNIP wonder through music, movement, imagination and storytelling. This became the focal point of both the aesthetic and co-creative processes.
Two groups of children were worked with, one consisting of the youngest children from the kindergarten and one consisting of the oldest children from the nursery. During the process, the size of the two groups fluctuated, both unintentionally due to children taking time off, but also intentionally by the artist and staff, as they experienced a big difference in the group dynamics and the way the children engaged in play. The smaller the group, the better the children's (and adults') engagement and immersion in the play.
'Games are interesting when we don't know what's going to happen - for example, it's not motivating to know who wins the game. We make it possible to think and act differently in interaction with the children. The things we usually do, we say yes to - the things we don't usually do, we say no to'. (Lars Geer Hammershøj, presentation at the beginning of the course, not directly quoted, but remembered as such.)
We have focused on a playful approach to transition, transitions, outdoors and indoors.
"We can use everyday space, turn it into a space of opportunity. So more fun in everyday life, where there are nodes. When Yasmin (the artist) visits, we might do things with Pippi that we're not allowed to do otherwise. We follow the children's tracks and therefore something can constantly be transformed because we infect with inventions and discoveries".
The mood and motivation were high. Staff experienced the difference between trying to control a game and on to let go and play with. In the last one, the experience of being in flow with the children was a strong feeling, where staff expressed forgetting time and place, it was like being on discovery with themselves and the children.
In the reflection room, the whole action group put into words their personal experiences. They experienced both situations where they felt challenged, for example by a sense of loss of control, and they identified new personal competences. Music, rhythm, spontaneity and movement proved to be surprising elements in the work with the children.
"I had more of an expectation to guide the children through the game, but as it became more lively I dropped my role and played along." (SNAP quote, Allan)
Along the way, we discussed whether our original "Snip story" still matched what we were interested in learning more about? We judged that it did, with the particular focus of reflecting on what happens when changes in adult behaviour occur.
"A morning in flow, especially the curiosity of the children and our adult community delights me.
When I come, you can sit on the table, you can make noise, you can leave the table when you are waiting for the food." (SNAP quote, Yasmin)
We saw a change in the children's behaviour immediately after an action - for example, at lunchtime when someone just jumped down and finished their fencing match, where they would otherwise be sitting and waiting. In doing so, they managed to stretch the playtime. This was possible because the staff's perception of the importance of play in the given situation had shifted to a stronger child perspective.
"When I look with my old eyes - it's chaos - but it's not anymore - now I just see play" (SNAP quote, Tatiana)
"There were no expectations for the development of play today and everything was 100 percent on the children's terms. I had no preconceptions before the play started and the only thing that was decided beforehand was the music. It was easy this time to go "all in" and just flow with where the play was taking us. There was more empathy among the children in the smaller group and they were good at giving space to each other. All play is in the moment and both children and adults are co-creators of the play." (SNAP quote, Allan)
The big question now is how the lessons learned by the participants can become an integral part of everyday life throughout the institution. We have learned that the interaction has a great impact on the dynamics of the space. The children take different participatory positions, they can be observant, innovative, etc. Another factor influencing the development of play is the size and composition of the group of children. This can be taken into account and planned for. Children's centres already work with small groups, this practice may need to be extended to more aspects of the day's routines.
Part of what made the programme a success was the adults' own bodily participation, supported by creative voicing and empathy. In addition, being able to seize on the spontaneous and allow imagination and creativity to play a greater role.
Allan described a spontaneous game in the woods where he had an idea for a magic forest and got his colleague to join in. The children quickly caught on and together they created an imaginative playful learning environment in the middle of the forest.
We educators are very different as people and therefore questions arise that we must address together if we want to continue the playful approach from the project.
When do you withdraw from a game? And do we? How do we work with the framework and rules that are usually in place? And when can play go beyond the boundaries?
The good chaos versus the destructive chaos, attention to the children who are not functioning well in the situation. When we are brave, we are also a little vulnerable, so what happens? What is expected of me as an educator? What is my play profile?
Allan has brought music into everyday routines, the thunderstorm makes the children "stop" and Gang´nam´style (music track) is used for the transition from activity to hand washing - now the children ask for the music if it is not put on.
When Tatiana says "LegeKunst" in the living room, a joy is awakened in the children who know what it means. Music has played and plays a big role. The children know the framework, they know that different rules apply than "normally". They explore and experiment with materials and instruments.
"When I look with my old glasses I see chaos - when I look now I see play". (Tatiana)
You have to be part of the game to understand it - otherwise it's chaos.
Through play, we create courageous, open and curious children - when we dare to play.
It takes staging to get the other employees on board - there is no right and wrong
way to be playful - but it requires you to try and let go of your norms.