REGION: Southern Denmark

Short story: GAIA (2021)

Can we find new ways to play in our playground? Can we do it with inspiration from storytelling? And can we do it in a way that creates space for children to be creative in the development of the stories?

In short, what does it take to make it happen and, most importantly, can it work with a group of the youngest children? That is, the oldest nursery school children and the youngest kindergarten children.

- How have you experienced the co-creation between artist/cultural educator/cultural school teacher, educators and children and possibly researcher?

Our collaboration has also gone well. The artists knew the daycare center and were able to quickly offer ideas and establish a good ongoing dialogue about what we should do.

As in the first play art program, our ongoing evaluation was really good and exciting. We took the time to discuss the experiences, especially about how we could minimize teacher control and about how little it actually took for a child to feel like they were part of a story.

We also found that the children really enjoyed the process and especially the fact that we chose some characters the children knew helped the children feel that it was their story we were playing with.

- How have children's perspectives been expressed/included?

This was expressed in the same way as the first play art project. Partly by playing with characters based on what the children wanted. Here we played with the characters Hasse Harer and Buldretrolden, and we also mixed Big Thief and Little Thief. Both concrete physical dolls and teddy bears, as well as from the children's play universe.

Partly because the characters were interpreted through the children's own input. There was very little that was agreed in advance and we were not locked in by the framework if something unexpected were to happen.

So in practice, we were working with a story that wasn't pre-written.

At the evaluation meetings after each workshop, we reflected a lot on the children and their experiences along the way, including what we could do to follow up on the things the children were interested in along the way.

- Do children play different games and with different people than usual?

As in the other LegeKunst project, there has been a large positive community afterwards about the groups and not least about the use of Big Thief and Little Thief. So everything that is played around Big Thief and Little Thief has spread to the entire daycare center.

This has been very important and has resulted in us using the story of the Big Thief and Little Thief as a creative focal point and a way to involve the children in what the adults are doing during a planned staff/study trip.

- How do pedagogical staff act differently than they did before PlayArt?

We have a tradition of working across rooms in our daycare centers, but this and the other course has given us a community around some "educational play figures" that can be brought into play in all sorts of situations. These are figures that the children naturally find fun to play with, and this has influenced the way we sometimes think about our activities. Now some of the activities are thought of in a narrative framework that also stems from the children's own play.

- What has it been like to work with action learning?

It has been very exciting. We are generally happy to experiment and the subsequent evaluations have added a lot to our daily work.

- To the artist/cultural mediator/cultural school teacher, if present: What have you gained from participating in PlayArt?

The artist has benefited greatly from participating in the program. It has provided new knowledge about the target group through play, but also through the good pedagogical discussions in connection with each workshop.

- What are the pedagogical staff still/now curious about?

As in the first PlayArt project: How long can a story be kept going. How can it be kept going without doing much.

Do you want something new to keep happening? Something that adds energy to the stories?

And in what new educational contexts can grades be used as a focal point.

- How will you use art, culture and aesthetic processes in the further process?

As in the other LegeKunst project, we will continue to work with the narrative concepts that have emerged. We will continue to work with new stuffed animals/characters. And contribute to the development of a small book about playing with Big Thief and Little Thief.

- What points for attention should we take forward?

How do we keep our shared play stories going? How do we keep the kids having fun and how do we keep the teachers enthusiastic?