Dragon Posts

July 2017


  From the Dragons’ Den

So, what is it about play dough?  What is it about play dough that is so fascinating, not only to Little Dragons, but to adults also?  It is interesting to observe at Little Dragons that alongside the children manipulating, rolling, shaping the pliable mass, there is usually an adult carer (or even Senior Dragon) experiencing the mysterious joy of the said medium. 

I suppose that many of you have ‘fond’ memories of the old-fashioned plasticine of younger days.  I can conjure up the vision of the muted colours; basic blue, red, yellow green, brown and not much else.  I can recall the peculiar odour and the rubbery feel as I was allowed, aged 4, to roll out on a little wooden board, with a little wooden rolling pin, the easy-to-manipulate substance. Easy to manipulate, that is, until it suddenly lost its stretch and elasticity, and began to flake off in lumps before being abandoned in the wicker waste paper basket in the corner of the classroom.

Today’s play dough, in a variety of bright shades, is much more pleasing both in texture and odour.  Easy to manipulate, easy to model into something wild and wonderful; apparently quite tasty to eat if our current Little Dragon users are to be believed. 

Psychologists would no doubt explain to us, if asked, that the act of submitting the play dough (or plasticine) to our will, by moulding, rolling, bashing, or even eating, can assist us in ridding the mind and body of the frustration met when obstacles or other people mar our comfortable journey through each day.  When happenings in our lives seem to be more than we can bear; when people or things cannot or will not bend to our will and we seem to meet opposition no matter into which direction we turn, then a few minutes suppressing and managing a handful of pliable material may relax us and enable us to manage the moment(s) with ease. 

Recently, someone gave me a recipe for home-made play dough – easy to make, cheap and so much longer lasting than that purchased for LDs.  Having lots of colourings amongst my cookery items I decided, in my wisdom, to add a gorgeous purple to the mix.  Good idea – however – greyish purple result!  Doesn’t look as vivid as I had imagined but a huge success as far as many, many pairs of hands (large and small) are finding.

So, if anyone is in need of a relaxing, healing means of recovering or retaining equilibrium – we are your people!  For a small favour (such as becoming a Senior Dragon) we are willing to share this wonderful means of helping each day to be a special time.

Every good wish, Val Butterworth





May 2017

From the Dragons’ Den

Now, who would have expected me to be quoting from a Shakespeare Sonnet (No 18 to be precise) in a Little Dragon’s Journal entry? Certainly, not me!


The sonnet is the one that begins – ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’ and goes on to speak ofthe darling buds of May’ , which are shaken by rough winds.

For some unknown reason, this phrase sprang into my head when I was watching several Little Dragons enjoying their time with us during a recent Tuesday morning session.

Those who know these things say, (and I quote) – ‘the phrase refers to the opening buds that point toward the warm summer season ahead and to the freshness and exuberance of youth as it turns towards adult maturity.’

 Wow, and I thought that these small children and babies were simply enjoying the moment as they skipped, hopped, rode the bicycles and the famous red car, crawled hither and thither, or simply sat happily smiling in the Children’s Corner!

And yet, and yet!  Yes, indeed, they are reaching forward to growing and developing into the adults they will eventually become.

If only we could see ourselves as we were when we were very young.  Many who are reading this article will have been babies well before the time of video cameras and smart phones.  We may have photographs (some of them possibly in shades of sepia) that give an idea of how we may have appeared to the rest of our small world, but a view of ourselves as living, moving, talking beings may have to be left entirely to the imagination.

I know that other Dragon helpers feel as I do in that we enjoy a tremendous privilege as we view the growth and development of our Little Dragon friends, as we may perhaps, indeed, see them as opening buds that point toward the warm summer season ahead.  It is my dearest wish that they, and all the other youngsters in our world, will grow to live in a safe and caring world; a world without strife, envy and inhumanity.  If we are prayerful, maybe we can pray for their future world and hope for a world where peace exists, where food and water is plentiful, where health issues are dealt with; a world where people of different races and cultures live together with love and respect for their fellow humans.

I know it can happen!                   Val Butterworth







April 2017

From the Dragons’ Den

This is the day – this is the day – this is the day when it doesn’t rain, the wind doesn’t blow, the sun peeps through the clouds and, at Little Dragons, one of our little people takes their first steps down through the West End Room, or down the centre aisle as they make a determined effort to reach the red car before anyone else manages it.

Those first steps are so significant in our lives, be they the first steps we take as a baby, as we start school, further education, first job, and all the other important happenings in our lives.  New beginnings, new fears, new triumphs, new wonders and all the other new things that make up our daily lives over the years.

As our Little Dragon rolls and reels through the dance of the first steps, so we seem to roll and reel through the happenings of our lives.  From our perspective, descending from the standing position down to the hands and knees perhaps doesn’t appear to be very far for our toddler, although for him/her it is a big drop. For us, as we grow older, the times when we feel that we might be falling from the heights of success and achievement down to the disappointment of perceived failure or hardship, can be devastating.

However, for all of us, each day is a new beginning, be we a Little Dragon, a growing child, an adult or – possibly a time of greatest trepidation – old(er) age.  The older we get, the more experience we have, which should enable us to keep perspective within sensible bounds.  This doesn’t always happen as, at any age, we may feel that we have little control over what is happening in our lives.

As has been stated before in earlier epistles, we have to remember that we are not alone, although there are times when we may feel that this is the case.  There is always someone, human or divine, who will listen to us, will help to raise us up when we are failing, or falling – just as each one of us will help the toddler regain balance.  If we give others a chance they will be more than ready to support us in any way they can.

Val Butterworth





March 2017

From the Dragons’ Den

Little Dragons is rather like a Time Warp.  The weeks pass so quickly yet each Tuesday morning seems to be like the previous one, happening so rapidly. Always the heart is gladdened as our little people erupt through the main door, Registration and into the West End Room.  Each Little Dragon usually follows the same pattern each week, as if in-built. The pathway might go via the train set, or via the craft table, or straight to the main aisle where the ‘transport’ awaits but, invariably, each one travels the same pathway each week. This, I think, promotes stability in their lives and reminds me that the routine of ordinary life, although it may at times appear to be perhaps monotonous, or even boring, may possibly be what we all need to keep our thoughts on track, especially as we grow older and we might be feeling that existence is a bit tougher than it used to be.

I saw the first snowdrops of the year a few days ago. How they lift the spirits!  Their brave stance, so tiny, yet so proud, defying all that what is left of winter weather has to offer.  It is perhaps good to be reminded by the tiny snowdrop, the emerging daffodils, primroses and brave, bright crocus, that there is always the promise of something better when life seems to be tough.

For many people, life is tough and maybe increasingly so.  Young families, higher prices, static wages; or, many years having gone by, older people with fixed incomes, failing health, fear of loneliness or of what the future may bring.

But, here we are! It is spring! Skies are bluer! Days are longer!  The promise of days when we find it easier to get out and about, to meet people, to enjoy fun with friends.  Comparing our lot with others in the world who may be homeless, jobless, seemingly futureless – we are so lucky. Hopefully we can ally ourselves to the ‘Little Dragon’ Syndrome, where each day is a fresh start but secure in that we are with friends and in familiar situations – and we are loved!

Val Butterworth

February 2017

From the Dragons’ Den

George writing (interrupted regularly by Uncle Sam and Idris):-

I have just popped out of the Dragon Cupboard for a few moments in order to savour the peace of the church.  Uncle Sam and Idris have both fallen asleep, being rather exhausted after a hectic few days enjoying what they entitled ‘some jolly japes’.  It took time for all the people in the church to remove the candles and trees from the Christmas season and the special days that followed, so Uncle Sam and Idris made the most of the opportunities to experiment here and there.  It’s amazing what fun one can have with tinsel and glitter. Idris has been quite taken with the two dolls who live in the central aisle. They live on something called the Baptism stand and Idris loves to talk to them and learn about the lady who knits them for the babies and children who come to be baptised. Idris has told us all about what Baptism means and it sounds rather interesting.

Uncle Sam has been investigating further and he especially likes the place where the small candles are that people come to light now and again.  He has noticed that those who come to light the candles often sit quietly for a little while. Uncle Sam thinks that they perhaps feel a little happier when they leave than when they came into church.

It’s been rather busy during the last few hours as people have been in church tidying things and putting away most of the Christmas things until they are needed again.  I have been watching Frank and Val.  They came to pack away the Little Dragon Christmas tree and also had a go at mending the Little Dragon bus.

The bus is older than I am and it has been part of Little Dragons for ten years.  It was getting a bit worn out so Frank and Val were trying to patch it up.  It’s only a pretend bus. It doesn’t really go, but it is part of Little Dragons and needs to be there.  They were having a tricky time as the bus really needs taking apart and rebuilt to make it more secure.  Val is hoping that, if someone with nimble fingers notices the bus one of these days, he or she may feel inspired to offer to reconstruct it. That would be great.

Right, back to the basket.  It is perhaps a good idea to make the most of the peace and quiet whilst there is chance.
      Every good wish, George the Little Dragon












January 2017

From the Dragons’ Den

I wonder if you remember the party game/antic, ‘Twister’ which, as far as I remember, came into play in the early 1970’s and has appeared from then on at regular intervals.  Great fun which involved stepping, balancing or falling over whilst trying to place, as directed, a hand or foot onto a given coloured circle.  In the 70’s, you may recall, there was the disadvantage of taking part in this activity whilst wearing a mini-skirt (and I have the photographs to prove it!)

Forty years on, one is reminded of this game when one is trying to attempt to manipulate climbing the stairs, getting in or out of a car, or perhaps ascending or descending a ladder.

Storytime at Little Dragons can be rather like playing Twister!  Ideally, the children sit on Dragon cushions and listen intently to the story before joining in with the singing.  However, given that the age range is several weeks to four-ish, there is obviously quite a range of developmental skill involved here.  The tiny babes are content to lie in their Carers’ arms, gurgling along quite passively (mostly); those who have reached the grand age of three or four, usually sit on the cushions, joining in as required according to storyline or song.  There is what we might call an in-between stage which usually involves each Little Dragon, at varying times, experimenting with this idea of sitting still when it is really much more fun and adventurous to investigate the Dragon basket and/or help the storyteller in her task.  This issue is sometimes easily resolved when the said toddler is invited to sit on the knee of the storyteller (who really needs three or four arms and associated hands in order to demonstrate various aspects of the tale).  When the ‘learner’ wishes to investigate the basket during the story, is the time when previous experience of ‘Twister’ can be an advantage.  Holding the basket closed with both knees, whilst actively demonstrating the actions of Three Billy Goats Gruff, Rapunzel or The Gingerbread Man, can involve one in extreme activity as the hands are already involved in manoeuvring the necessary props to make the story come alive.  Of course, this action can be beneficial to the muscle tone in the thighs but can put rather a strain on arthritic knees.  Occasionally, a gentle, “Would you like to sit on a cushion, Sweetie?” actually receives a positive response, much to the delight of the story-teller (and even more to the delight of a possibly embarrassed Carer). All good fun!

Big Dragons are well aware that all this goes along with the territory.  Babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers learn gradually – and until they do, we will continue to exercise the muscles and the ingenuity and, furthermore, praise the inventive soul who created ‘Twister’ never knowing that the game would be such a developmental tool for some who participated all those years ago.

Happy new Year from all at Little Dragons!

December 2016

From the Dragons’ Den   green_dragon_s-150x150

Lots of changes before us – leaves have changed colour and fallen, days are colder, summer wardrobes are packed away as we swathe ourselves in wool and warmth, we wear our winter faces; the changes that we know and expect as each year passes

Yet to the young child, such as those who belong to Little Dragons, changes are not so obvious – although they are huge.  Consider the changes between 3 weeks (the age of our current youngest LD) and 3 or 4 months and so on as our little person makes huge leaps in both physical, emotional and mental development and confidence as the months pass.  It is always very noticeable after a two-week break during school holidays how each child has grown and developed as a personality.  When we return after the summer break it is amazing when one views our members who are now six weeks older. That is when it is really brought home to us of the speed of change in little children.

What about the rest of us then? – Senior Dragons who, initially, took on this task for ‘a couple of years whilst we still have the energy’ – and who are now, ten years later, still turning up week by week and enjoying each moment with these elements of creation.  What changes are there in us?

Well, we have all slowed down somewhat, need to conserve energy a bit, appear to have lost a certain amount of muscle tone, and need to talk sternly to self at times to persuade one that confidence is at a premium and that brainpower is as sharp as it always was! Hmm!

As we approach Christmas, the time of year when Christians celebrate the happening that changed the world forever, it is good to remember that, despite changes that we are unable to control – the changes in ourselves that make us feel vulnerable and needy – we are never actually alone. We are supported in the knowledge of our faith and by the support and care of those around us.

I know that I don’t know all that I think I know.
I know that I may not see all of the places I want to someday go.
I know I’m not ready for everything that I won’t always understand
You don’t have to always hold me
But sometimes. . .Just let me touch your hand.  (Jherine N. Saine)

Know that we are never alone, despite all the changes. There is always someone nearby who will touch our hand and give us the lift we need – if we let them.

Val Butterworth