The best children’s play video ever?

In Annie and the Tree we see and hear everything from the point of view of a little girl utterly immersed in her play.
Annie aged seven has clearly forgotten she is wearing a small video camera on a chest harness. To the extent of completely ignoring low-flying helicopters with their rackety noise. The film gives us astonishing access to her play world as she explores and plays and whispers her extraordinary narrative to herself and to the tree.
When I say extraordinary, I mean in the sense of how rarely we as playworkers or even parents get anywhere as near  as this to the mind of a child in their play. What I powerfully felt when I first saw this was: ‘Yes that’s it! That’s exactly like what it was for me when I was that age!’
Phil Waters from the Eden Project who created the research project showed this clip to a captivated audience at the Explore Play Connect in the City conference last October. There were quite a few wet eyes in the house!
Many thanks to Phil for  this ground-breaking way of doing research. I think it doesn’t adulterate Annie’s play and helps us to inhabit an incredibly rich and meaningful world that lasts just ten minutes. But a ten minutes that will stay with me for ever.

Sand spirals – or play and art

On a beach in Devon 20 or so years ago I was a bit bored. I randomly started stirring the dry sand with my finger.  Then to one side I noticed a little girl stirring the sand  in a similar sort of way with a bit of driftwood. Her squirly shapes reminded me of the triple spirals at Newgrange and other ancient Irish sites. With a bit of help from her and a lovely avoidance of stepping on it by other people young and older this is what we made.
It means a lot to me.  A child taught me that sand could be a brilliant art medium. It made me think about why spirals like these were cut into rock 6,000 years ago. And what I liked best of all was that when we went back two days later it had completely disappeared.
And the big questions about this for me are: Why do most children under about  five years old just ‘do’ art? Why do most children a bit older think they can’t draw or paint or make art?

Sand spiral