Transformational object workshop, Toihaus

September 29, 2009

After a brief introduction, by Helga and then myself, working with a translator, I discussed about my practice with early years and how i have developed these methodologies of interactive theatre play with objects and materials to facilitate imaginative learning. The group was about 14 women and we first began with a simple warm up to stretch out our shoulders and loosen up, as they had all come from work.

We played a game I call ‘primal animals’ where each person creates a being with their hand and explores the world. They pretty quickly need to interact usually by communicating the need to eat, fight or be loved.  Our hand then developed into a bird like creature with stick on eyes and we practised the three simple rules of puppetry – focus, movement and voice/sound. This act of creating a character from only our hands, emphasises the simplicity of this play and its effectiveness.

the soul of the puppet is in the hand

the soul of the puppet is in the hand

Toihaus wshop (9)Creatures communicating

These creatures continued their exploration in the same world as small children do and investigated the bags of objects. Finding points of play and spontaneous action, the practitioners developed their confidence.

Toihaus wshop (2)

Toihaus wshop (6)

Toihaus EY practitioners

Toihaus EY practitioners

We then played with the three uses of an object – functional, symbolic and transformational, the group then developed object play scenarios around the theme ‘the bridge’. Assembling objects with a different, unique aesthetic to them, and learning puppetry skills, they ask me questions and we discuss how this situation is possible in the EY setting. But it seems easy, as they are all open to the possibilities of this play especially when child led.

Transformational Object Play

Transformational Object Play

the bridge - two puppets communicating

the bridge - two puppets communicating

Mr Coffee Pot

Mr Coffee Pot

Helga took some of these photos and is writing a full documentation of the workshop, she will send in english and i will add to, as she was scribing and translating questions and answers as we went along.



  1. hi Rachel,
    looks like you have had an amazing and productive time in Salzburg. the pictures give such a clear account of the workshop which looks great – how are people planning to use what they’ve learnt in their early years settings?
    much love tash x

    • hi Tash,
      The general idea is that the Ey practioners can take away this skill set to develop imaginative play with objects in their settings, and use for developing emotional literacy, family engagement etc and build their own simple kits for this activity.I hope that Helga will be able to give examples of the Saltzburg practioners experiences and feedback at a later date.

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