Yesterday and today I have been working in St Benedict’s Infant School on their Creative Partnership project which uses M6 Theatre in Education company’s recent show “Sunflowers and Sheds” (which was at Birmingham Rep before Christmas) as the basis of their Spring term work for Reception Classes. It is a 6 form entry school so I am working with 150 children and their teachers (three classes a day).
At our planning meeting it was decided that the children would meet another character who had recently acquired a plot on the allotment and need the children’s help to find out about the other people who she might meet and what to grow where.
Using the fiction of the M6 production which revolved round the characters of Frank (a Grandpa who grew vegetables and who was missing his family especially Max his Grandson who had moved to Australia) and Isabella (a new owner of a plot, who grew flowers and who missed her family who were back in the Ukraine) the teachers and myself developed the new character Betty Green who lived in a flat and had never had a garden before.
The theatre/ drama piece included elements of performance and participation and children we encouraged to share both what they had gleaned from the show and their prior knowledge of gardening. One boy for example told me all about the importance of worms for the soil to make the vegetables grow well.
In the original show, Isabella decorated her tree with things from her home (e.g. Russian dolls) she said ” My Grandmother she says remember to make your world beautiful, My mother she says remember to fill your world with love and my big sister, she says remember in your world make sure you always see the magic” so we bought a tree and the children drew on cards what made them happy. Each child at the end of the session showed where they wanted it to hang on the tree and shared with everyone what made them happy. There were drawings as varied as their family, the beach, football and spiderman!
We will be returning to the school in two weeks time when the garden will have grown (plants made by the children) and the children will help Betty prepare for the return of Frank (who has gone to Oz to visit his family).