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!