The Early Years Foundation Stage, Theory and Practice - Out Now!

An essential guide to understanding the current EYFS in England.

After carrying out work on the ground-breaking Midas Touch project in St Helens, Merseyside in 2010, I was invited to co-author a chapter on young children's creative development within the English Early Years Foundation Stage. The Early Years Foundation Stage: Theory and Practice, Second Editionedited by Ioanna Palaiologou (Sage, 2013) has now been published and is available to buy online and in good book stores!

Chapter 22: Creative Development, focuses on developing creative practice in Early Years settings and provides an insight into what is needed to develop creativity within young children. It suggests that creativity should extend to all areas of learning (not just art and design). It also uses the Midas Touch project as a case study for collaborative practice between Early Years practitioners and artists, considering Reggio Emilia's ReMida approach in Italy as an inspiration to the project.

The book is fully recommended as 'an ideal resource for students and practitioners undertaking any Early Years or Early Childhood studies course'. It is also, I feel, essential reading for anyone working with young children in informal learning and cultural institutions.

 

Story Catching Project for Creativity Culture Education

As a way of celebrating continuing creative work with young children, I was asked to take part in the Story Catching project for Creativity Culture Education. Two recent Early Years projects were identified and a positive story or learning journey was captured in each, following the Story Catching framework. This involved identifying the main characters within each story, the setting, their mission and achievements.

Stories were captured for the monthly Mini Art Club I run at Manchester Art Gallery, and also for a positive learning journey of two boys - 'The Gunpowder Plot',  identified during the recent Midas Touch project for National Museums Liverpool in St Helens.

In both, time was given to capture images and sound recordings, interview participants, collate information and put together a story. The stories were originally designed to sit within two micro-sites designed by Rachael Kearney at Grassroots Creative. Unfortunately, time and web development restrictions on CCE's side, meant that it was sadly not possible to support the two beautiful micro-sites that were originally designed.... I am still hoping to find somewhere else to host these so watch this space!

In the mean time, content for the two stories can be viewed on the Creativity Culture Education website, although not as originally planned and created:

Mini Art Club at Manchester Art Gallery:  http://www.creativitycultureeducation.org/our-programmes/story-catching/mini-art-club,448,AR.html

The Gunpowder Plot at Midas Touch, St Helens: http://www.creativitycultureeducation.org/our-programmes/story-catching/gunpowder-plot-at-midas-touch,449,AR.html

 

You can also see the original microsites here by following these links:

http://www.grassrootscreative.co.uk/clients/cce/

http://www.rachaelkearney.co.uk/#workPg

http://www.grassrootscreative.co.uk/clients/manchester-art-gallery.html

 

For general information about Story Catching and to read one of the other 14 stories selected from across England go to: http://www.creativitycultureeducation.org/our-programmes/story-catching/

 

 

The 'Midas Touch' Project, St Helens 2009 - 2010

The 'Midas Touch' was a pilot project developed to run for four weeks in St. Helens, Merseyside throughout March 2010. It was inspired by the ReMida project, a creative recycling centre linked to the Reggio Emilia approach in northern Italy. Funded by the Find Your Talent programme, the Midas Touch project was initially piloted as a 'Tent of Objects' at the St. Helens festival by artist Claire Weetman. Along with Project Leader, Nick Owen, Claire went on to manage the second phase of the project which we developed as the Midas Touch and involved the collaboration between an Early Years Practitioner, Laura Grindley and a Collaborative Artist (myself).

The project took place in a former clothes boutique located in St. Helens town centre over the course of 4 weeks. The team worked closely with local businesses and organisations to source recycled and reusable materials. Support was also provided by National Museums Liverpool to ensure the venue was well-equipped and fit for use as a community workshop space. The Midas Touch team worked together to make the space their own and created a storage area for materials which were cleaned and made safe for use.

The aim was to use such recycled, 'ordinary' materials and objects in a way that was open-ended and participant-led. As opposed to the practice of 'junk modelling', the intention was to introduce materials and objects as tools of play, work and learning. The Midas Touch programme intended to uncover the extraordinary in the ordinary - to provoke a sense of curiosity, awe and wonder in the everyday lives of its participants.

In total, seven groups attended once a week for four weeks. Groups came from various children's/ community centres and primary schools across St. Helens. As part of a collaborative team, Laura, the Early Years Professional and I developed themes based on identified materials which we linked to learning goals within the Early Years Foundation Stage. Week 1 concentrated on 'Plastics', which involved introducing a number of objects and items made out of this material. The following week, the same materials were laid out, alongside new materials: 'Wood & Metal'. This continued so that in Week 3, we introduced 'Natural Materials' and finally in Week 4, 'Black and White' Materials.

Participants engaged with these materials in ways which were sometimes predictable and other times completely unexpected and wildly imaginative. From simply tipping, sorting, collecting and arranging to using real tools, creating musical instruments and using objects in different spaces as complex props for role-play and fantasy scenarios, the children took the adults on a learning journey and provided a valuable insight into their world of play.

Comments from adults were as follows:

"I loved the approach. I believe it's how children should learn in an ideal world - exploring their own ideas. We are there to scaffold that learning." (Reception Teacher)

"Why do we spend lots of money on expensive resources and things like dressing-up clothes when children have such vivid imaginations and are so creative? Practitioners and parents/carers need to see this project to see the importance of developing their children's skills in this way... Everyday materials + freedom = LEARNING." (Learning Development Officer)

"There was so much talking going on. Excellent way to promote language development... Great imagination." (Teacher)

What I noticed..

"The confidence - how it has grown... and the LANGUAGE." (Teacher)

"Given us lots of food for thought. We'll look to set up similar activities at the centre." (Community Group Leader)

What I would change..

"The group should be longer than 4 weeks." (Parent)

"To develop / continue at school, so more children can enjoy the experience." (Teaching Assistant)

Links:

http://web.me.com/aspiretrust/Main_SIte/LEARNING/Entries/2009/11/17_MIDAS_TOUCH_files/MIDASTOUCHASPIRETRUST.pdf

http://www.sthelens.gov.uk/news/article.htm?id=3184

http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/learning/findyourtalent/casestudies/midas_touch.aspx

http://www.earlyarts.co.uk/newsflash/newsflash/683-invite-engoldening-objects-the-midas-touch-pilot-programme-cpd-session-friday-23-april-st-helens-town-hall.html

http://www.findyourtalent.org/news/2010/04/boots-has-midas-touch

 

http://www.claireweetman.co.uk/