Playeum, Asia’s first dedicated creative space for children, launches its third hands-on exhibition, ‘A World Full of Stories’, on 15 November 2016 at Gillman Barracks, and this time we’ve combined the fundamental facets of stories with play. Our mission is to champion children through play and creativity, and what better way to see and to celebrate children’s amazing ability to create their own stories?
But first: what is story play?
As parents, we all know how much children love stories, happy to hear a favourite tale again and again. On that level alone, stories are rich and satisfying, but children hugely enjoy playing with stories too – what we at Playeum call ‘Story Play’. Specifically designed for children aged 1-12, ‘A World Full of Stories’ offers a series of interactive and open-ended spaces for young minds to feed their creative imagination through role play, story-making, illustration, writing, drama and puppetry. With a few prompts and careful facilitation, children’s imaginations can run wild and result in long-lasting legacy of stories and story play.
Here’s what you can enjoy at the new exhibit, and how you can continue the fun at home…
A series of cube-shaped structures provide multiple surfaces and opportunities for story-making, creating fantasy characters and new narratives. It also features a book corner, crammed full of the world’s best storybooks for children.
How to do it at home:
You can replicate the idea by wrapping anything flat and made of metal with fabric. Small magnets can be used to fix characters, setting and plot features on to the fabric. Children can cut these out from magazines, create their own, or cut out shapes if they want to be more abstract in their story-making. As for the book corner, this is probably at your home already, but placing some cushions nearby and a reading light makes it all the more cosy and inviting.
STORY RAFT – Fabricated by Dennis Tan
Featuring a nautical theme, children can imagine ‘being at sea’ by playing on a bamboo and rope raft, complete with a flag-flying mast and wheel for steering. They can also create a magical marine environment by crafting their own sea creature on the walls surrounding the raft, paint with chalk on the nearby glass doors, and experiment with kinetic sand.
How to do it at home:
We’ve included props to extend the role-play, but children actually need nothing tangible to imagine with a delicious thrill a sea and a shark lurking within it. Role-play at home is usually a spontaneous affair, but can be encouraged through parental involvement and hunting for props together. Hang sheets over chairs pushed together to create a cave, which in turn can prompt rich story-making opportunities. Try creating different environments with your child if they are not used to role-play. Over time, they will be initiating this themselves.
Crafting story environments such as ours is easily implemented if you have a supply of recycled materials. You also need to provide space and the permission to be messy! Chalk paint can also be made by grinding up chalk and mixing it with water. It looks beautiful when painted on glass, and is easily cleaned off.
PLAY MAKING SPACE
Using upcycled materials, children can create their own unique hand, finger and spoon puppets to bring to life in a puppet show. Fostering collaboration, there is also an opportunity for children to work together as a team to change the lighting and produce accompanying sounds for the show.
How to do it at home:
A range of found and recycled materials can create wonderful puppets, for sustained play at home. Puppets don’t need to consist of ice-lolly sticks and fabric. They can include twigs, seeds, clothes pegs, chopsticks, corks and more. The key is to have the materials readily accessible, including fixings such as glue and tape, and for children to feel that they have the time and permission to explore and create as they please. Extend the activity with your child by making your own puppet theatre!
STORY CAVES – Fabricated by Bartholomew Ting
Children can enjoy role-play in immersive, multi-sensory caves, from experimenting with sound tubes, speaking cups and voice-distortion mechanisms in the Listen and Speak cave, to playing with props and creating their own stories in the magical, luminous environment in the Look and Touch cave.
How to do it at home
Having fun with the voice through speaking and listening games is a core part of creative literacy and a great starting point for your child to get ‘warmed up’ for deeper play and sound investigations. You don’t need fancy equipment to do this at home: create sound cups by punching a hole in the bottom of two plastic cups and connecting them with string. The longer the string, the more exciting the result: if you pull the string taught, you can clearly hear your partner speaking into the cup, even when they whisper. You can also experiment with echoes by calling into funnels (metal funnels work best) and cylinders.
To create a luminous environment, you can buy glow-in-the-dark spray paint and have fun with your child selecting found and recycled materials to spray. Take them into a darkened environment, and you will find that the magical setting can be an effective start for story-making. You could start it off with a story start such as, ‘One fine night, there was something magical going on in the luminous cave. Someone was stirring something special in a pot…’ and then invite your child to continue the story…
A FILM FULL OF STORIES – Featuring Sheila Wee, Nancy Leopard Kamini Ramachandran, Karen Lee, Rosemarie Somaiah; directed by Roger Jenkins
Children can listen to some of Singapore’s finest storytellers through a specially commissioned film. Featuring five storytellers each orating a tale from a specific culture, children can enjoy 30 minutes of this rich, oral art form within a magical space, lit up with glowing story icons and motifs on the surrounding walls.
How to do it at home
Not to be confused with reading stories from a book, storytelling is a highly skilled oral art form. Search on the internet, and you will soon find wonderful examples that you can enjoy watching with your child. The stories are captivating, and always tell us something about ourselves as humans.
Other activities to enjoy at Playeum:
Additional installations include The Story Booth, where children can share their stories through photography and video, The Chalk Wall, by artist Clio Ding, where children can add their own chalk features to a landscape, Fantasy Dress Up, where with plenty of materials to choose from, the options for dress-up and fantasy play are open-ended and endless, and Story Writing, where older children can write their own story or poem and post it into the Story Mailbox to be potentially featured on Playeum’s website.
Book a session for two or more at Playeum for the special rate of $17.60 per person! Snap up this Playeum offer at HoneyKidsGo – your go-to site for finding Singapore’s coolest activities for kids.
‘A World Full of Stories’ is on until 30 April 2017. Visit Playeum at 47 Malan Road, #01-23 Gillman Barracks, S10944.