Heritage and other early years play sessions

We revisited St Pauls Family centre yesterday with Bristol Old Vic to continue experimenting with outreach session for early years/stay and play.

Repeating the session, with some alterations had a very positive impact. We led a less structured workshop and created play stations around the room to investigate ‘hat making’; ticket stamping; set building; object exploration and then later a stage- with curtain. We kept an element of the ‘storytelling’ – the context of theatre, the olden days and what happened in theatres but allowed much more time, and space to react, allowing the flow and rhythm to be child led.

Our clearest discoveries were that a mixture of:

  • historic objects
  • loose parts
  • physical storyteling
  • craft

which allowed for

  • group play
  • individual play
  • performance – both by facilitators and children
  • intergenerational craft activities (and conversation/new relationships as a result)
  • questioning and exploration

Going forward I would like to take this model into public heritage spaces- perhaps the foyer/cafe of Bristol Old Vic after refurbishment.


(pictures to come)

The workshop led me back to thinking about a session I ran recently with my son’s school. It led on from my ‘playscape’ experiments, but took a storytelling format. We kept a pirate theme, but used only one sheet of A4 each as a ‘prop’. The sheet turned from telescope to treasure map, seagull to the waves. The workshop began with a loose structure but was improvised by reacting to input from the children:

“and the ship was named_____” ; “and it sailed to _____” ;  “but they forgot ______” ;  “so had to decide what to do next….”

Although we used some language based storytelling, most of the play was physical- climbing through a jungle, tying the rigging, searching the horizon. This allowed for an unplanned outcome- that EAL (English as additional language) children were able to connect in a far deeper way than in other activities. This week I noticed a poster advertising a drama club for parents at St Pauls Family Centre ran by ACTA. The tag line was ‘want to improve your English?’ I would like to follow this train further next year and develop theatrical play workshops with EAL children- not specifically to improve English, but to explore storytelling without vocal English as the main format.

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  1. Pingback: Bristol Old Vic Families Project | MUFTI GAMES

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