Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Sun and Shadows

Despite the horrendous damp weather I managed to have a lovely Saturday morning at Brambles Pre-School a couple of weeks ago. The drive down by the side of the Avon showed many fields where the river had burst its banks, the road into the village had been flooded and looked as if a giant biscuit cutter had cut chunks of the tarmac out of the surface.

The staff and children at Brambles spend 80% of their time outside in their large outdoor space with a small wood next door. The children are greeted in the village hall car park and have to walk across a footpath at the edge of a field to get to pre-school so everyone is dressed ready for the weather when they arrive.

I'd been asked to go and run a session to bring in a few new ideas. The weather looked quite rainy so I took a backpack of different options but we were really lucky and managed to create several ideas with an old sheet, some mud, clay and the sunshine!

I like to take the minimum of resources with me when I work outside as I want people to be able to use what they have locally without having to spend lots of money on new things. The costs for this session were the clay and I already had the old sheet.

The ladies made some beautiful boggle puppets...

I love the variety of  'faces' using just what could be picked up in the playground. I took some terracotta clay and they already had the grey.

I think the one above looked a bit 80s, could be the 'tache!

We strung up the old sheet with a lot of discussion about knots. Some of the staff have Forest School qualifications but had trouble remembering their knots, come on girls! They have a great outdoor shelter on site which we were able to use and tied the sheet quite high, we'd have put it lower for children. It would create a good talking point with them about where best to 'catch' the sun. There's an interesting video clip about shadows which would be good for older children.

I do like a playful team and they certainly were at Brambles!

As well as using the sheet for shadows on a sunny day it could also be used as a the 'stage' to hide the puppeteers on a cloudy day.

To complement the 'stage' we cut some triangles from the remaining sheet and made some bunting which the ladies decorated by using Hapa Zoma (leaf bashing!) and also made twig brushes with hazel sticks and then painted with mud. They were a really inventive group and made some very beautiful bunting.

We finished with a bit of brainstorming; going through books and pdfs to leave the setting with a bank of new ideas that they could do with resources that they already had. A windswept walk back across the field to the car and still no rain!

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