REGION: Southern Denmark

Snow story: Troll Hill (2022)

How can we become better at including the artistic in our pedagogical work with the target group of 3-4 year olds and do it in a way where the children become more co-creative - and not least how can we become good at starting with what the children are interested in and then build on it.

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

For us, it was exciting to see if we could succeed in allowing the children to be co-creators in the game and the story of the two teddy bears telling stories and if we could let the game run free along the way.

We think we have succeeded in this. Partly because we became better at letting go and letting the children's imaginations run wild. Partly because we created a space where everyone could contribute to the content. In this way, it became a fun and different process, where we started with a bit of a tight rein, but along the way we let go.

We had to adjust our original plan to let the teddy bears tell the story of the three teddy bears as a starting point, as the story may not have had exciting enough roles for the children and did not appeal enough to the children's own imagination. But then we tried Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf instead, which suddenly opened up more possibilities.

We then approached the story in different ways and became looser and looser in how we played with the original story. We let the children change roles as they wanted to and became better at creating a framework where we can make room for the children's initiatives. Including where there was a need for some overall recognizable structure

In that way, it evolved from something that was scripted to something that was more of a free-form drama.

One of the great discoveries along the way has been how few props are really needed to create a game. Anything can be a prop - as long as you have the imagination.

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

We had a frame where two teddy bears told a story about first Bucky and later Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. But within that framework, we created a free play space inspired by educational drama games.

In the beginning, the framework was a bit fixed, but after switching to a new story, we found out to play in a way that it wasn't a kind of theater performance they were playing, but more about exploring the different characters in Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf.

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

It's still too early to tell, just as we're currently themed around Christmas, which has its own set and recurring traditions.

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

Whether we do anything differently, we don't know yet. Right now we are doing Christmas activities and they are a bit similar to what we usually do. But during the process, we think we got better at not preparing everything, but instead playing in the moment.

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

We think it has been great to experiment and we think we will do a lot more of that. So we think that in the future we will do activities that are a little less planned and a little more improvisational, where we explore together with the children.

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

For the artist, it has been very exciting to involve the drama pedagogy as much as we did along the way - and to gain a lot of experience with how it can be done with children aged 3-4 years without a tight control in the style of what is usually done with hat theater and the like. It has also been instructive to work with the skilled and experienced educators, who were both open and quick to respond when ideas were suggested.

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

We are still curious to play with theater and music in different ways.

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

We don't know exactly what we want to do next, but we are curious to extend the methods to other topics. For example, if we're going to talk about Science, how can playfulness and experimentation be included.

- What points for attention should we take forward?

That we remember to shake things up when addressing recurring themes.