The wonderful thing about children, is that children are wonderful things. Why? Simple really. They have an innate ability to turn on their creativity without having to think about it. Play comes very easily to them. When we get older and we are 'educated', and bent and shaped by forces beyond our control into knuckle dragging boring adults, it's often very hard to get back into the swing of our creativity.
Pablo Picasso famously conveyed: All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. And I think it's true of all of us. All to often our children's play is inundated with 'resources', that dictate and shape the children's creativity, preventing what I see as 'true' creativity from coming to the fore. And the same can be said for now. As adults we are inundated with stimulus everywhere we go. Whether it be mobile/tablet technology in our pockets, our TVs or computers - they all link to the internet, games, and media, all designed to deflect that horrible notion of: B O R E D O M
I'm bored! The words a parent dreads to hear as they try to go about their tasks, only to have little Billy nipping at their ankles for something to do. Boredom, though is an excellent catalyst to kick starting our creativity. But it takes discipline, to not pick up your phone, or turn on the TV; "unplug" yourselves so to speak. This week on Forest School, my own creativity was tested to the max. Since I started my journey into Education my creativity has seen a steep rise and I'm rarely bored on Forest School as your children have me running ragged around the paddock at the best of times, but this week was special.
The premise was simple. On the way up to the cabin for snack, the children would ask what we would be doing today. I would reply: I am going to give you something amazing to play with! That was usually enough to get their imaginations whirring on their own. I purposely made a song and dance about these mystery objects I was about to present to them, to get them really fired up and excited. When I revealed a handful of sticks of different shapes and sizes, I'm happy to report their excitement failed to change. They could already see the possibilities that lay in wait. If, after a Forest School session has run its course, and there is time to spare, I will give the children 'Free Play' where they can do anything they want, whilst we tidy up and get ready to head indoors. Very often they revert to grabbing sticks or twigs off the floor, and this is where my idea for these session came about.
THESE are the most amazing sticks in the world! I would tell them. Do you know why? Because they are MAGIC sticks, and you can turn these sticks into ANYTHING you want. All the children needed to do was find their imaginations. Where does your imagination live? In your feet? I asked the children. No! In our heads! and with that they would switch them on by poking their fingers into their ears and saying: BOOOP! Next we discussed what our sticks could be. I would take cue from the children: It's a wand! And with that, I would turn myself into Herbert the Wizard, with his funny, knobbly wand and high pitched squeaky voice. And did you know Herbert can cast silly spells with his wand? Abra-Ca-Dabra, Diddly Doddage, I've turned 'Billy' into a Sausage! The stick would then return to my collection turning back into a stick, and then...It's a sword! and with that I would turn myself into Esmeralda the Brave Princess. And did you know she has the sharpest sword in all the land? Girls don't have swords! Some of our boys would wryly add. OH Yes they can! And Esmerelda is the bravest! braver than all the knights too! BUT be careful of her sword as it's very sharp. Don't touch the wrong end! and with that the sword would return to the pile, only to turn then into Tree Beards Finger, or Red Beard the Pirate's Treasure Telescope, or Arna/Elsa's magic wand, or a horse, or octopus arms, or a trumpet...
We explored the sticks as sticks too before we let the children choose, looking at shapes, sizes, lengths, as well as which one was the most magic? Which one was the strongest? Then the children chose which ever stick they likes the look of, and we departed in search of high adventure. The children had free reign over the direction of the play, where we ventured and what we did. My job was to help embellish their stories, by playing what ever character they turned me into, be it a troll, horse, or my favourite of the week: A Lightsaber wielding T-Rex. Amazing.
We saw new friendships form through the most complex of roleplaying scenarios, and some solid teamwork as they helped each other explore and share in their surrounds. The physicality of the week saw the children burn some serious energy too, climbing, jumping, balancing, running and crawling. It truly was a brilliant week for Forest School and creativity. Go team! I'd better make next week pretty special...
Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend.