Creativity in the Foundation Phase

On Tuesday 5th November we gathered at Llancaiach Fawr for a course developed by Edau, the North Wales Arts & Education Network and delivered by four of North Wales’s best known artists, Mari Gwent, Leisa Mererid, Manon Llwyd and Mali Williams, all famous in the Welsh language arts scene. The course offers a series of teaching methods in different expressive arts, that can be taught to the youngest of school children.

Straight to it! We begin with a yoga class that can be used to bring calm and creativity to the the youngest schoolchildren in equal measure, the end of the hall was set with a colourful round mandala mat and bluetooth speaker. In a large circle are small round yoga mats, just big enough for our feet. After the all important warm-up that helps break the ice in the room, Leisa hands out a set of cards each containing a different yoga pose, Each card contains the name of the pose, including Majestic Mountain, Curious Cobra and Wiggly Worm and an adorable picture of Leisa’s son demonstrating how to get into the position. We take turns to demonstrate the pose on our card for the group to copy.

The yoga class is a great way to focus the attention and bring calm into the class, the cards promote literacy and the music we listen to while doing the yoga is also important. Manon has chosen the music for the course playing us recordings of Indian classical for the yoga class. The music we play to children when very young will come to influence their enjoyment of music throughout their lives, Manon recommends finding high quality music from around the world.

Having focussed our attention we move on to some making. We had all be asked to bring with us a a lonely sock that had lost it’s pair, Mari provides us with needles, buttons and a lots of scrap bits of wool and fabric. We make each ourself a new friend, christen him/her with a name and then regroup in the circle to introduce our new friend to the group.

Our resource packs contain a set of simple poems that can be used to inspire creative work. Mali has chosen a poem called Friends.

Give a high five and bid farewell,
Blow a kiss and wish them well,
Raise a thumb and share a smile,
That’s what good friends do all the while.

Splitting into pairs, we read each line in the poem one at a time and create a movement that illustrates what is happening, having come up with movements for each line of the poem we’ve made a small choreography with our partner. This is then grown to a group dance, half of the group are first to present, while the rest of us watch. Which some friendly music we walk around the space, performing our movement when we meet our partner. The other half for the group are second to perform this time with more ominous music.

The afternoon session commences with group singing led by Manon. Then we use paper plates and cups along with coloured paper to make houses for our sock friends, Mari recommends that we crumple and scrunch the paper to give our creations more texture. The session ended with a Kamishibai paper theatre performance by Leisa, with an explanation of how it can be used in the classroom.

Everyone had a fantastic day and found their inner child. Lesley Gwellian-Jones said, “Thank you for such excellent training in beautiful surroundings”, Claire Jones “Really enjoyed the emotional literacy aspect” and Nia Beynon had “A brilliant day’ and requested “please could we have many more!”

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