Snude story for Herslev kindergarten, Fjordbakke district - spring/summer 2022
What did we want to get out of the playful arts project?
- In Herslev, we, as adults, would like to become better at establishing learning environments that give us an opportunity to see the children as part of a larger community of children and where we are together on a common third.
- We want to become better at spotting children in vulnerable positions and help them into a community of children and give them an experience of being together with others about something, and in this case, together about a cultural activity.
The objectives for adults are
That the adult develops confidence in taking leadership of a group of children, in this case using flute/singing as a means.
To have/focus on a common third, as in this case the activity of flute playing.
That children get acquainted with music/ instruments (culture) in a safe way
To create a safe space to be together for both adults and children with a special focus on children in vulnerable positions and the pedagogical approach towards these children.
Getting good at spotting children's initiatives
We find that it can be difficult for us adults to take the lead on a group of children and create an activity that they can link up with. It can be flute playing, reading a fairy tale or other activities that are aimed at the whole group of children and that try to give all the children opportunities to participate in the community through the actions of the adult(s).
As adults, we are sometimes wary of giving something of ourselves and daring to show that we can be silly, crazy and playful. But if we show children that we dare, they dare too, and if we want to, then maybe we can make them want to too.
It's about having the courage to be right there, where we don't know what's going to happen" (Yasmin Elvira Steenholdt), i.e. to be able to act in a kind of chaos.
In this case, we had the opportunity to use the wing as a common third and as a cultural expression.
In Herslev, not many of our children are exposed to a particularly wide range of cultural activities for, with and by children.
We therefore also wanted to improve the quality of the children's cultural education based on a cultural activity, in this case the flute.
In the process itself, it is our experience that you have to spend many times practicing what you want to practice.
We found that it is important that we evaluate shortly after each time to learn what should happen next time. What worked and what didn't work. Did we spot anything that we hadn't thought about before? How good were the adults at connecting with the children and what did it take to do what we wanted to do?
We also constantly adjusted our groups of children in terms of age, number and the challenges they face.
Similarly, it was our experience that the children needed a visual framework. In this case, a mat/carpet to help them know where to sit.
When Maja arrived, she picked up the children who were to participate by going down to the group and playing her flute, and they would then follow her up to the motor skills room. The children gradually knew what was going to happen.
An owl was also used to create a common focus. The owl entered into a dialog with the children and they were very motivated about the start of the process.
We had to practice a bit to create a framework, or a context, so that it was clear to the children what we expected from them.
Only after a period of time did it become clear to the children what they had to do and what they could expect from the activity. However, there were occasionally children who distanced themselves from the community for various reasons.
It was these children that it was important to focus on and from time to time help them into the children's community with different methods such as giving them a helper role
It was also important that the adults involved had planned who did what and when. The planning has to be in order, otherwise the children will get lost.
During the process, we also realized that it would be good if the adult could evaluate themselves from time to time.
It was agreed that you should videotape each other and analyze your own role in relation to the goal. (I am actually unsure whether this has happened)
The main focus has been singing games.
Singing games are good because, for young children, learning generally happens through bodily experiences. The ability to understand and remember the content is much better when it has been played.
Whistles were bought for all the children and they had to practice whistling. It was actually harder than we thought and this also became a learning focus to be woven into the activity.
Other tools have also been used in the singing games.
The end of the project has been challenging as we have not been together as a group afterwards due to some special circumstances with new Ukrainian children that have demanded our time.
But we use the songs in everyday life.
But I (as a leader) experience that the dialog has become different and people talk about children's communities and participation opportunities from a more professionally based knowledge.
The project has helped to keep us focused on creating a learning space for the children.
As a small house, we must become better at structuring ourselves to make room for these processes/learning spaces, so that they are planned with a specific goal/challenge and not spontaneous, which is often what happens. Action learning is a good tool for this.
When you use longer periods of time in an activity, you can create space for reflection, evaluation and adjustments, and in this way also create more professional knowledge about yourself and about the well-being of the children in the community.
We need to talk much more about and practice much more child group management, so that we give children greater opportunities for well-being and participation in their interactions with other children.
We can do this by getting better at, among other things, evaluating each other and giving constructive feedback so that we can help each other to develop our professional skills in managing groups of children.