Sunday, 18 September 2016

The Lead up to The International Fairy Tea Party 2016

Time flies by... pun intended with my fairy wings!!

The equinox will be upon us during this week... that time of year where no matter where you are on this planet of ours we all have the same number of daylight hours...
It is by no accident that the fairy tea party is held during this week.
Around the world there are many differences... cultural, religious and also what resources we have access to... even how much play children have access to...

So the fairy tea party is about celebrating play... it is about celebrating imagination and creativity... and it is about doing this despite all of our differences on a day that unites us with daylight hours...

As of now there are over 70 celebrations that will occur around the world... USA, Canada, UK, Sweden, Germany, Bermuda, Pakistan, Australia, Costa Rica, New Zealand, The Bahamas, Spain, Egypt, South Africa and others... all will celebrate in their own unique way...

This is a chance for adults to immerse themselves in the world of imagination together with the children... to play.
For some this can be a challenge. Pretend play does not always come easy to everyone.

the magic of finding a leaf with a message on it... I told the children that I could not read it, as it seemed to be written in some other language, maybe fairy language... and asked if they could translate it... they could... and their imaginations kicked in big time... amazing wonderful translations about shy fairies, and how noisy we were and how we could get to fairyland
What I have found with fairies is that it allows children and adults to mix reality and imagination... to explore many areas... this year my preschoolers have been looking for evidence of fairies... a scientific approach... looking for clues and analysing them...

I held a workshop in Ontario... held by York Region Nature Collaborative with the aim to enable the educators to see the forest from a new perspective. The educators were sent out with the task to find evidence that fairies existed... they were then to present this at a dialogue circle and to decide together which piece of evidence could prove that fairies existed.
There were many wonderful ideas presented... a rich imagination of possibilities...
There was also a consensus that they had indeed been given a new perspective of the forest ( I had not revealed that this was my aim)... this did not surprise me at all as it is what I have observed with my preschoolers over the last four years..
Looking for fairies has allowed them to see things they would have missed... they see small details... they have used their imagination... and we have also learned a great deal about nature.

The children also have learned about taking care of nature... not just for the animals but for the fairies too...

bags filled with rubbish that we had collected in the forest.

I have also seen how it has been a great way to challenge gender stereotypes... that fairies are not just cutesie pink things... but can be warrior fairies, sea fairies, with wings, man fairies, baby fairies, scary fairies... with wings without wings, pretty, cute, ugly, old, skinny, beautiful, fat, mean, kind... there are so many different kinds of fairies...

During the last week my group of 5 year olds ordered a series of c.20 images of fairies from most fairy like to least fairy like... my motives are not just to see about gender and how the children think, but also to see their aesthetic and understand that... to allow them to explore the terms more, less, most, least, as well as to work on their reasoning.
At first some of the children had difficulties distinguishing between most beautiful and most fairy-like... so we talked about whether beautiful and being a fairy was the same thing... it was not according to the children... so we could move on... and after that there was a greater freedom of how the fairies were being placed.
In the end three fairies we placed as MOST fairy like
see the image below... where you see the top four most like a fairy

As you see two of the most fairy like are male fairies... I had not really expected this... but I knew my group enough to feel that male fairies would be in the top ten... in fact male fairies were spread out amongst the line of fairies...
My aim is to normalise everything... that male fairies are just as normal as female fairies, that old is as normal as young, that fat is as normal as thin... and that beauty is not just one kind.
Exploring fairies in this way empowers the children to accept differences.
It also empowers girls... in the sense that vey often fairies are seen as a girl thing... and therefore not at all suitable for boys... but I have found boys just as interested with the magic, with the flying, with the imagination, with the search for is this real, as the girls... it opens up a new world for the boys too.
Suddenly fairies is not just about pink... where often the phrase pink stinks is used as a girlie thing as if we should avoid it.
I believe we should embrace it... celebrate it, empower it... so that it is available for boys and girls.

here is the line of fairy images... the least like a fairy is a skeleton... because it is dead... because it might not be real... and the next least is a girl dressed up as a fairy, that many thought was beautiful, but came to the conclusion that it was not a real fairy.


My group of 3-4 year olds have often made decisions as to which (of 4 images) was most like a fairy based on "it is beautiful". I did this exercise three times with them over the last 3 weeks... each time different images... the last one being a focus on scary or ugly fairies. Even then the fairy they chose as the most fairy like was often because it was "beautiful".
When I asked what they meant by "beautiful" I was given the answer... "beautiful is that what I like"
Which opens up a whole new way of understanding children's concept of beauty...
I am now eager to explore...
is it beautiful because they like it
or do they like it because it is beautiful?
I am leaning towards the first option, due to how the children have been reacting to the images... But will stay open to see what happens...

This coming Friday we will celebrate... and the weather looks like it will be on our side... and we will be out in the forest... with wand making, potion making, painting on a plastic easel between trees, dancing, drinking fairy tea, fairy face painting (we let the children paint themselves)...

If you want to join in the fun and imagination... and a way to explore the world in a new way... what is real, what is pretend
"It is real by pretend" one of my children once said...
Then join up by using this link
International Fairy Tea Party
and sign up by writing your name (setting name, school name, family name or fairy tea party name) and your location... it is enough with the town, street etc is not necessary... then I will add you to the fairy map...
Then after you have celebrated please add a photo or two of your celebration... if you do not want to share images of your children, then please share an image of the set up or the aftermath... this is so that children can look at the images afterwards and se similarities and differences in their play around the world... it allows the children to come closer to other children in the world...

Of course I realise that a Friday might not be the best day for everyone... so if Thursday or Saturday is a better day, then please do play and imagine then instead... the idea is we share our play during the week of the equinox.








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