Thursday, 10 August 2017

The International Fairy Tea Party 2017 - the thinking behind it.

The International Fairy Tea Party is more than just a bit of fun... it is fun, and it is meant to be a whole heap of fun... but there is more to it...

There are more and more articles lamenting the loss of play, about the lack of value imagination is given within the curriculum (despite people considering it important that we are creative), about a lack of connection with nature, about gender divides and stereotypes, the need to have empathy and understanding with other cultures,  and about the need for children to be valued citizens of today rather than tomorrow...

ALL of this is baked into the International Fairy Tea Party - and its not meant to be a slap in your facee look at what you are learning occasion for the children... it is supposed to be a fun way to see how we all connect, a way to open perspectives in a fun and natural way... and also a way for adults to join in children's play.

The celebration has been held on the Friday closest to the equinox - a day where the number of sunlight hours are the same no matter where you are in the world... suddenly we are united by light... and play... and our imaginations!
This year it will be three days... the Thursday, Friday and Saturday... in order to be as inclusive as possible... having spent time in Palestine this year I realised that Fridays are not the best day to be inclusive... so to be more respectful I decided that we could have a three day long celebration (as I had noticed some other places needed to have different days or more than one day, so that all the children that visited their settings could join in).

It is a chance for children (and adults) to see how other children (and adults) celebrate around the world... to see children in Pakistan, Australia, Sweden, UK, South Africa, Canada, USA, Costa Rica and more celebrate... are there differences? are there similarities... they get to find out that the children in Australia start first... because the day starts there and then spreads across the globe... so there is a chance to learn about time differences... also that some of celebrate in autumn and others in spring... while other countries have a different way of dividing the year than the four seasons!!!
We usually post photos after the celebrations... either of the children celebrating, or how the celebration was sett up, or the aftermath... (as not all feel comfortable sharing images of the children... and that is fine, we all share the way that suits us the best). This has been a great way to be inspired as a teacher, and also to share with the children that they are part of a whole world of play and not just the community they live in... its a fabulous way to learn about the world... new countries to discover and learn about...

It has been an amazing way to discover nature... as we have talked about fairies and where they live and what they are, the children I have worked with have come up with the idea that they are small... this has got them looking closely in nature for signs of fairies... suddenly they were noticing small details they would have missed... small holes, pine needles, holes in leaves, small markings, animal tracks etc etc etc...
Then their imaginations kick in and invent whole stories - making connections between fantasy and the real world and back again...

We have talked a lot about are fairies real... and most come to the conclusion that they are pretend real, but they are absolutely real within the imagination... and that we are invited into their imaginations to play there...
I know some educators and parents are wary of telling lies and will not want to say fairies are real... I will always reply that I believe in the magic of fairies, in the same way that I believe in the magic of Christmas... and the magic of love. It is the imagination... the play...
In a philosophical dialogue about fairies they children talked about flying as an important part of being a fairy. So what did fairies need to fly? Wings they all said? So I asked, if you have wings will you fly and be a fairy then? Yes, the answered. So we made wings from paper... we stood on the tables to launch ourselves (cushions and mattresses below for protection) and I waited for them to say... it does not work, we cannot fly... but they did not... they jumped as usual and exclaimed "we can fly". My attempts to bring reality in were thwarted by their imaginations... I did not correct them, but enjoyed watching their flying sessions...

It has also been a time to explore stereotypes... fairies are not just for girls... they are for boys too... there are big fairies, small fairies, young fairies, old fairies, boy and girl fairies, ugly and beautiful, all sort of colours, dainty and warrior like, kind and scary etc etc... we have exploded the idea that faries are creature in pink tutus for girls...  (please check out previous posts about fairies to learn more about these dialogues).

This year my focus, and I encourage other educators to have a focus too (not required) - is children in public spaces. So this year I hope to set up a pop up party in my local neighbourhood so that all can join in, so that children and play and imagination are made VISIBLE to everyone that passes...
It would be a great if others could share what the children are doing too... to make them visible, to show what children can do, and that they are a part of their community, a part of the world! And that they should be active participants.


exploring nature as we made potions

painting outside

finding magic in water and sunshine



fairies dance on rainbows apparently

making fairy houses in the snow

pretending to fly like fairies and make wands

more magic discoveries in nature

building fairy homes

There is a facebook page called International Fairy Tea Party... all information can be found there.

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