Arts Across Learning’s activity for Early Years saw us take Creative Learning’s recently piloted Geronimo project from the community and into the school nursery environment. Developed by Creative Learning, Geronimo is for Early Years children and their parents together, exploring play, creativity and risk. It is a child-led way of working which adults facilitate and support; this allows for the risk and the learning which takes place.
The priorities of parental engagement, outdoor learning, and literacy and numeracy were identified by Muirfield School, Cornhill School and Charleston School as areas to be explored within the school nursery environment. Geronimo dovetails with these priority areas and was able to offer an innovative approach which included learning for children, parents and also staff.
Geronimo capitalises on a low resource way of working, making use of found materials and what is already in the environment – as a child would do. This encourages sustainability, demonstrating to parents that creativity and quality play does not require specialist skills or expensive materials but is more about the way they approach it.
Two sessions were delivered in each participating school. Artists from The City of Play built on the community Geronimo model to meet the schools’ identified priorities and devised workshops around den building using cardboard boxes outdoors in the nursery gardens.
“It was refreshing for both the children and the adults to be using this material in the outdoor environment. The sheer volume of boxes of all shapes and sizes…was exciting and inspiring to them. Weather also didn’t prove to be a barrier on one of the days where the high winds only added to the excitement and unpredictability and saw much problem solving and team working to build structures that would hold!” – Nursery Staff
“The opportunity to practice in numeracy was employed throughout the workshops by way of counting out numbers of boxes, “rooms”, doors & windows in their dens as well as other materials which were available to them. Once structures were completed, the children were encouraged to customise their dens by writing their names and decorating them with crayons presenting an opportunity to practice their letters.” – Nursery Staff
Parents and families were invited to take part, and many were able to attend. The Festival worked with a total of 163 children over the 3 days who were excited to have their families join in on their school day. They were inspired by the huge range of boxes to play with and all the potential of what they could become: “I made a time machine” / “My den had chairs” / “I was pretending to be a robot” / “My mum and dad made a dinosaur den with me” / “All of my family can make a den” – Children
“Had an amazing time playing with the other kids and mums. Very, very enjoyable and definitely something that can be done at home. 10/10.” – Parent
“Excellent learning opportunities for both staff and children (and parents)…Allowed the children to experience something new and exciting” – Nursery Staff