Snood story: Hanstholm Nature Nursery and Kindergarten (2022)
For our LegeKunst fall project, we were lucky to have Lars Ditlev and agreed on the style: Drama/storytelling/improvisation. We had an idea in the staff group to learn and play more with dramatic stories and end the whole project with a PlayArt festival, where we could invite parents to play along and end the day with coffee.
We started with an artistic workshop and kick-off the same evening and invited Lars (Artist), Heidi (Supervisor) and Christian (Rope Holder) to participate. The evening was buzzing with good energy and many new ideas emerged together.
We asked questions like:
- What would we like to explore in our pedagogical practice in relation to play, education, art, culture, co-creation and aesthetic processes?
Some of the answers were:
- Interesting to be an actor from morning to night
- Use drama as a way to build relationships, let go, shift focus on difficult days.
- Emotions, moods, who am I - who are you?
- Focus on the emotional - look at your peers, when are they happy, angry, sad?
- Silent games - creating space for listening
- What good experiences or challenges do we have that we would like to work on?
- Is there anything in particular in our daily lives that we would like to develop or change?
Together we created a plan for the play art days, which for us is just outside in our beautiful nature.
We started the day with a morning sing-along in the front yard, all children and adults from the kindergarten and the oldest and their adults from the nursery. Often we sang "Æ go a walk we æ haw" and then we hoisted the flag together.
After the sing-along, the nursery went to "Our forest", which is close to the kindergarten. A wonderful little oasis, hilly, uphill and downhill, withered grass, green grass, prickly blackberry branches and a small gathering spot in the middle of the big trees. The first time we met, we had visions of playing along:
- Working with emotions
- Name songs
- Working with a framework
- Happy, angry and sad. Yes/No play.
- Play/tell the story of the 3 bucks. Both children and adults can participate in the story. How much do children need to understand the concepts to play/play with emotions?
- Possibly replace the buck trousers with a mythical creature.
We experienced and learned along the way that it was the bucking bronco game we were going to work with. We started with the nursery's adults playing along, but found that the children became unsafe. Then we made the characters/roles visual and used them so that they became more and more comfortable with the roles in the story. The last few times, all the children participated in different roles and together we created a wonderful story. After the buck shower, we played with emotions; angry, happy, sad, furious, etc. After they got comfortable with this game, everyone joined in as well. Lars taught us the art of capturing the children's movements and actions to create a shared story and experience. And once again, we felt what it does for the living story when adults play along at child height.
The next group, which was the youngest and middle group of the kindergarten - Foresters and Forest Trolls, were to meet Lars at the Troll Forest and let the story create through the Troll Forest to the cave in the middle, a "walking story". The first time we met, we had visions of playing along:
- The history of walking. Physically get around the story.
- The adults start by setting a framework for the children. Adults play roles that guide. Character building - developing.
- Encourage children to further develop stories.
- In the magical forest, a walking story is created through the forest. There are stops along the way where stories are told.
- There may be an invisible item that needs to be transported to the cave. Every child should have one.
We experienced and learned along the way that children we had not expected to be co-creators were involved and others needed to be on the sidelines/observers. The children were drawn to Lars, his movements and stories, his imagination and compassionate stories. We experienced magic and together we sent 3 things to Santa Claus that he needed for his workshop. Namely his antenna, a small item for his Christmas computer and some power for his toilet. The children had to close their eyes and count to 3 to be able to send the items up to him. Lars taught us how to use the children's input, sounds and movements in the stories.
Then it was on to the last and oldest group of the day - the Nature Patrol, which was in Fyrhaven or on the slopes of the National Park. The first time we met, we had the idea of playing along:
- Story about The Lighthouse - Santa has been (funny/sad/dangerous) doing something last night. Story about finding out what it is that Santa has been doing and finding it. It could be in the cupboard in the lighthouse or it could be hanging out of the holes on the lighthouse tower.
- You need to find 3 items. - The items must be saved in advance.
- Children can co-create stories.
- Mood, friendships and social settings. Working with our inner feelings - horror, drama or funny story
- Possibly set rules for the game - now you can only whisper, shout, list etc.
- Starting ritual. Name game, yoga, heart mouse
Along the way, we experienced and learned how to co-create the stories in the community, between children and adults. We also learned how to use motoric anxiety in the stories and thereby create positive experiences for all children and adults. Lars showed us how we could turn the negative attention from a restless child and use it constructively as part of the story, e.g. a sound that then became part of the story. Here, stories were created about dragons, the Hulk, princes and princesses on the edge of the large national park. The children contributed and created a wonderful story together.
Overall, it has been a wonderful process, fun for young and old. Great to feel the energy of a live story and how everyone can contribute with their free imagination. We have learned a lot about how to use stories to alternate between high and low arousal, feel and see emotions and include them in the stories. There were days when the weather turned harsh and the location was chosen wrong by us, we had to change the plans and that the idea of hosting a play art festival requires a fine tuning. But only experiences that give us new ideas on how we want to do it for the next project. It has been a very educational PlayArt project with Lars Ditlev, who is now called LEGE LARS with us.