2 weeks ago, myself, Ben, Jennie, Jayne and Jess went to St Elizabeth's School in Richmond to begin a series of workshops ready for the big event.
I had been in contact with the school for a while and they have been really enthusiastic throughout the whole process, which has been really encouraging and refreshing. I sent out a letter to the parents detailing the event and also whether the children wanted to take part. The response was great and at the first workshop we already had 13 children, with more that couldn't make it.
As it was the first workshop, we wanted to get to know the children and make sure that they were comfortable working with us. I was slightly apprehensive as the children different ages ranging from 6 to 11 and i knew that it was important to keep them all engaged. After doing Theatre in Education last year i did have an idea of how to work with the children but it was quite nerve wracking to have 13 children looking at you waiting for you to entertain them.
We began by playing some name games, such as, 'My name is...and if i was an animal i would be...' . We also played ABC where the children have to say ABC in a specific way, for example happy, sad and angry. These games were interesting for the children and also allowed us to see the different levels of the group. Who was confident, who would need a bit more encouragement etc. The children were great and we had a really good time with them, they were all asking lots of questions about the event and seemed very excited about it.
For the second workshop we wanted to work a bit more on the event. We had a lot of new children and so we did some name games again at the start. We decided that St Elizabeth's should be behind the pig in the parade, and so we worked with the children on how the pig might look, sound and move. We also told the children that there would be a story on the common, but we kept the story a secret so that it is a surprise on the day. We looked at storytelling with the children by asking them to make a story by saying a line each. The story had to be about a pig and it had to mention Happy Birthday. At first the children were quite tentative but as the story went on, they started to get more imaginative. By the end of the story the pig had wielded a light saber, left his wife and got lost in the woods!!
In the parade the children will be walking behind the pig and therefore in the next few workshops we will be making pig masks and also working on the big HAPPY BIRTHDAY banner that will be carried at the front of the parade.
I'm really looking forward to seeing the children again, and meeting any new ones that come along. This week should be great fun for them as they get to be really creative and get messy, which all children enjoy!