Animal journeys and sounds of favourite creatures

8 June 2021

It’s super exciting to be Artist Residence with Starcatchers & Scots Corner Early Learning and Childcare Center on Wee People Big Feelings, a year-long project exploring the relationship between children’s creativity and emotional literacy.

Scots Corner values creative practice, encouraging an environment where curiosity and play are supported in a myriad of inventive ways. Plenty of time is spent outside and we have access to a large hall – ideal for our moving bodies to take up space!

I’ve been enjoying movement as a way of introduction with both children and staff. Low level locomotion & animal journeys inspired by developmental movement patterns find us wriggling, rolling, sliding, crawling, resting, tunnelling, pushing and jumping – bringing us into contact with ourselves and each other in dynamic ways.

We’ve created an owl’s nest to accompany ‘book of the week,’ attaching coloured tape between furniture and walls to fly over, under, through; and we’ve embodied the shapes & sounds of our favourite creatures – wolves, dinosaurs, cats and a lynx.

Senior Early Years Practitioner Carol-Ann and myself have been exploring rough ‘n’ tumble with a group of children and a pile of soft mats, finding frameworks for safe play and communication cues for children to express their emotional needs. I’ve been getting amongst the action with 2 – 5yr olds, taking weight, becoming a tunnel or bridge and navigating physical & emotional dynamics expressed by energetic youngsters in fully embodied play! Many wonderful, spontaneous responses are non-verbal and we observe these in the children’s body language. We asked our rough ‘n’ tumblers to show us how they felt post-session and they expressed enthusiastic leaping & sound effects, co-ordinating flying and falling with eventual rest. How to enable children and carers to navigate the feelings and actions experienced during rough & tumble play is a resource we’ll be exploring and plan to make accessible during the project.

Musician Quee MacArthur and myself ran a What Moves You? workshop (in partnership with Dawn Hartley) facilitating indoor and outdoor sessions to enable all children and staff to participate. Atmospheres ranged from calm & delicate to energetic & wild, with a keen sense of attention maintained throughout! The collective response was wonderful, connecting a true diversity of age and ability within the nursery. One particular boy became an immediate convert, forming a band in the garden shed with a stick guitarist, bucket drummer and backing singers.

Summer is here and it’s good to feel how Wee People Big Feelings is evolving organically. As we find creative invitations to collaborate, I sense we’re learning to share impactful ways of working & lovely to see Amy Hall Gibson’s Storytelling ideas already inspiring our emotional play. As the year progresses and each practitioner develops their individual research project, I look forward to deepening my own understanding with a keener sense of how to support and perceive underlying relationships between children’s feelings, movement and creativity.

Stay tuned & keep dancing!