Where to begin? Initiating children’s workshops has been part of my journey during my degree, trying things in the safety zone as a ‘student’ to work out which direction I want to take myself. Alongside school workshops and library projects, I singlehandedly ran some highly successful pop up workshops at Queens wood Countryside Centre in summer 2015, attended by over 700 children and their families. So when I was approached by the most supportive ex-tutor and now Festival team member about running workshops at Hay Festival I didn’t hesitate – I knew under her guidance I would be safe, protected, looked after, supported and free to make creative choices true to me. As I was embarking on final major project, I knew the only way to make this work was to integrate them. So at the back of my mind was Hay in everything that happened for FMP and how I could translate my project into tangible activities on a large scale.
I was given some overarching themes and then free reign to create activities. Based on my knowledge of family dynamics and my observations at previous workshops and previous attendance at the festival as a parent, I wanted to create a new environment where families could create together rather than adults socialising whilst the children ‘got on ‘ with the activities. The emphasis being on creative confidence (just like the creativity book for FMP), but by extending this to adults I hoped to offer a family creative space.
So for each of the themed days I devised loosly structured activities for older children, another for younger children and a messy activity. I also created a family area which deliberatly wasn’t supervised by the team of staff (who were designated to the structured areas instead). This family area was filled with boxes full of stuff, all recycled, nothing specific, just stuff to make stuff – no pressure on outcomes, no set activity – just the loose theme of the day if they needed a starting point. For those needing to warm up their creative juices I sent them to start on a structured activity first and soon witnessed them migrating back to the family area to work on new creations. The parents were free to play without judgement, the children were engrossed in their projects and seeing families working as a team was a joy.
Never was this more apparent than on Nature Day when we built Bug City.
We covered Journeys, Printing, Caputs, Listening Sticks, Birds, Book Arts, Nature, Music and ended on a Junk Modelling day. The feedback throughout the course of the week was overwhelming and the hugs and thank yous from the children at the end of the festival was just delightful.