Thinking inside the box

30th January 2009 at 00:00

Artsplay Scotland is a project which brings local artists together with nursery and playgroup staff to explore creative possibilities in a pre-school setting. Delivered last year under the auspices of Shetland Pre-School Play, it has led to some imaginative new resources.

A particular hit has been the Discovery Box - a six-foot cube made with six sheets of MDF covered in blackboard paint, with holes of varying sizes bored in the sides, through which Elwire light filaments could be woven.

Children went into the box through a trapdoor and worked together to feed the wires back and forth through the holes. The inside was lit with ultraviolet light, and they used UV chalks and acrylic light rods to make an installation.

"It was so simple yet so effective," says Rosemary Inkster, partnership officer for the childcare partnership at Shetland Islands Council. "It was good for motor skills and teamwork. I saw it in a youth-work setting with middle primary pupils who were difficult to involve in mainstream activities - they were there all night. There is potential to develop it: to link it to science and technology."

The Discovery Box was the idea of artists Anna Horne and Jo Jack, who were interested in weaving with light. "You can adapt it to any age," says Ms Jack. "We worked mostly with nursery children but also with a P1 class looking at light as a topic, a P2 class looking at under the sea, so we did bioluminescence in jellyfish, and secondary pupils.

"Anna worked with children on the sky at night. We also worked with children with additional support needs. When we finished, we dismantled it and wiped it clean to start again with another group. We are adapting it with a side that lifts so that wheelchairs can access it."

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