Igniting children’s creativity
Creativity… how would you define creativity? The dictionary explanation of creativity is ‘the imagination and use of original ideas’. But in dance, particularly associated with worship and faith, I believe it is much more than that. It’s the releasing, the growing, the development of dance and movement through various stimulus’s, and allowing people a safe place to express their emotions in any way that they want.
Where do you start?
Many people ask me how I devise my sessions, where I get my ideas and exercises from, and the simple answer is everywhere! Pretty cliché, but true, for instance, I was in the car today driving and noticed how much more autumnal it had suddenly become, leaves were being blown about in the air, clouds were grey and rain was imminent (pretty normal for this time of year). However, it was the way that the leaves moved in the air that made me think about the creation of swirly movements, or being gently carried along, just like the Holy Spirit.
The hardest bit is always getting your starting point, my suggestion for this is to brainstorm everything you know about what it is that you are considering doing your lesson/ workshop on. Whatever niggling feeling that you may have, but are not sure about, go with it, even if it is as random as ‘holding hands’. As this may lead you to explore the concept of God holding us in his hands, always carrying us and protecting us.
Imagination and Stories
Children love association as I mentioned in the post yesterday, they love to say ‘I’m floating like a fish’ or ‘I’m buzzing like a bee.’ Stories are perhaps the easiest starting point for devising sessions and exercises. There is the opportunity to tell the story in the literal sense, or you can delve deeper into the characters and their feelings, situations and other themes that come up. Just a small snippet of a story may provide you with the imagination for the setting of the rest of your time together.
Creating the Exercise/ session
It might be that you want to create a whole session or just one exercise or series of movements, whatever it is, it is still the same process. We’ll talk in terms of a ‘session’ but the same applies to an exercise/ series of movements.
· Generate the idea and the purpose/ aim of the session, how do you want the ‘story’ to flow
· Isolate the time scales and division with the programme – welcome, warm up/games, exercises, taught movements, improvisation/ creative tasks, round up and cool down (not elements always have to be included).
· Decide whether you want to use props or other tools to aid the session (see below)
· Devise the movements and exercises – learn in a mirror too!
Use of props/
These are invaluable with children; it keeps them engaged, explains scenarios and encourages their imagination. So whatever you think ‘could’ be a prop, can be a prop. These are just a few that I use regularly.
Scarfs/ small pieces of material – butterflies, birds, the wind, hide and seek. These are great for encouraging big expressive movements. Excellent for any age but particularly for under 8s who love to just to run and let the scarf or material flow after them.
Bubbles/ feathers and
all things floaty – brilliant for motor movements for the young ones, they
can catch them and chase them. Also great for demonstrating the motions of
life, the wind, how the light refracts, how the Holy Spirit can move in
Flags/ ribbons – little ribbons attached to curtain rings work best for under 5s, gives them something firm to grip onto, whilst for older children there are various size flags and ribbons/ streamers that work really well. Its good to emphasise that when using these there is more to moving with them than just waving about, they should think of them as an extension of their arm, so whatever movements they do usually can also be done when a flag or ribbon is in their hand. These types of props are good for children that may not have that much confidence as for them they feel that they can ‘hide’ behind the flag or ribbon, that that is where the focus is rather than on them and their body.
Parachutes/ big pieces material – so much fun! Not only to run under over or around, but to be wrapped up in, to hide in, to make giant shapes with. It encourages togetherness, and you can mimic things that smaller pieces of fabric don’t let you – storms, wind, the cross, a star etc.
Shapes/ spots – allow focus and attention of the children to be gained easily. I work with a series of 4 shapes – circle, triangle, square, and splat (a funny squiggly shape that children today decided looked like a – bone, bow, butterfly, a bird). These sorts of things are a bit of life saver, they provide an unending amount of games, can teach children to stand on the spot and in a space, you can assign specific movements to different shapes, they can be stepping stones, the basis of a dance and much more.
Finally… get in the role!!!
There’s nothing like a fully grown adult being excited, expressive, animated about the story, adventure, or task that the children are going to delve into. If you’re excited, they’ll be excited, their imaginations will start going, they’ll feel safe, they’ll start creating, you’ll be sharing and then you’ll all be dancing!
Watch out for over the coming weeks for a session example of
something you can do for the story of Noah’s Ark and more pictures regarding
resources that you can use both for adults and children.