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The Midas Touch

1st July 2009 - 31st March 2010

The approach

A creative recycling pilot project in St Helens will draw influence from the Reggio Emilia approach, where an artist and an educationalist work alongside each other in equal collaboration. The four week pilot will form part of Year Two (2009-10) Find Your Talent in St Helens and will most likely take place in March 2010. The internationally acclaimed approach uses unusual and ordinary recycled objects as stimulus for children's play, learning, physical, social and creative development.

The imaginative sourcing and use of found materials which are then recycled for open ended and creative play by children is considered innovative. The collaboration between artist and early years practitioner or educationalist to maximise the learning benefits for children is also recognised as groundbreaking.

In the UK a number of organisations have used this approach, creating dedicated spaces that can be utilised by children, early practitioners and parents. For more information on these organisations see North Tyneside Council and WEAVE.

During Year 1 of Find Your Talent (2008-09), early years practitioners in St Helens showed enthusiasm about the Reggio Emilia Approach through their attendance at CPD sessions and study trips.

The pilot

The creative recycling approach was also piloted at the St Helens Festival in July 2009. Normally a 'house of objects' is an interior setting, sometimes with access to an outdoor space alongside. However, at the festival a small tent was used to create a resource space for children, parents and families. Feedback from parents and children to the 'tent of objects' was universally positive and we want to build on this interest in the pilot project.

A further research phase is underway in the more conventional setting of children's centres in the Find Your Talent target areas. The evaluation of this action research will tell us what works most effectively for the creative recycling centre approach, which settings support it, and how the learning of the child is optimised. It will also help us to define the potential roles of the artist, early years practitioner and parents in the process and will inform the way in which the 4 week pilot project will work.

This pilot project is being managed by Aspire Trust. Thatto Heath Children's Centre have also been closely involved in driving this project forward. An early years practitioner from the centre will be working on the pilot.

For more information, or to get involved, please contact Nicola on 07827988474, or email Nicola Clarke.