AGWA Gently

small ideas for BIG IMAGINATIONS

AGWA Gently is a creative play project for young children
(and for all of us needing gentle ways of being with the world). 

s l o w   p l a y
s h a r e d   l a u g h t e r
d r a w i n g   b r e a t h
q u i e t   c o l l a b o r a t i o n s
d e e p   l i s t e n i n g
l e a r n i n g   s o f t l y

AGWA Gently Beginnings
Lilly Blue, Manager of Learning and Creativity Research at AGWA

AGWA Gently was born in a moment of overwhelm as an artist, educator and parent navigating the early days of COVID-19. In my role as Manager of Learning and Creativity Research at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, like many, I felt an enormous pressure to respond, to create online content and to transition much of what the gallery offers in immediate, face to face experiences to remote online resources and digital workshops. I found myself grappling with questions:

How do we now offer children opportunities for slow connected practice, embodied presence and contemplative moments without immediate live arts experiences in the Gallery’s shared communal spaces? How can we bring the sensorial open-ended explorations that are central to AGWA Learning into a digital world, while also offering a visual online pause that might provide a moment of rest in a fast-growing world of content, content, and ever more content?

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For Parents

AGWA Gently is an invitation to play next to children for a few quiet moments in the day. These small ideas invite being with children in gentle ways away from screens. Each idea can take a few moments of shared play or lead to days of exploration inspired by the simple prompts.

You could pose the questions beginning with What if which immediately invites open-ended explorations and makes room for children to layer their own ideas. For example, if the prompt is:

Quietly collect leaves, flowers dirt and twigs to create a new character you could suggest What if we collected some treasures from outside and created a character with them?

Or if the prompt is Run as fast as you can on the spot for a long time. Lie down and feel your heartbeat, you might ask Let’s see what happens if we run as fast as we can on the spot for a long time and then see what we notice when we lie down.

Breathe with twigs

Storytelling with rice

The other option is to quietly begin collecting treasures without saying anything at all. It doesn’t matter if children choose to collect the same things as you, or even if they create characters. They might create piles of leaves and dirt, or line petals up, or bury sticks, or make characters out of rubbish. The invitations are specific as this provides a frame for imagination, but the possibilities are endless. Creativity likes parameters. Sometimes allowing too much choice is limiting, and limitations make it possible to push against and through to unexpected discoveries. The more you focus on your own experience of presence, listening and slow play the more room there is for children to unfold in their own experience. You might just start running as fast as you can and then lie down. See what happens. Notice how children respond. Give no instructions. Be in an experience and notice how it shifts what is possible.

AGWA Gently offers creative inspirations and ideas that might spark children and families to leave their screens and play with the world for a while. The suggestions are heartfelt knowing that for some families this time might not be gentle, that there is enormous loss for some, and time to play is a luxury for many. Our hope is that in a time where social media feeds may feel relentless these thoughts and images might act as a breath of fresh air.

The activities are grouped loosely into themes that offer gentle explorations into elements and principles of art and design. Invitations to carve pockets of time in the day to slow down and tune in to sounds, textures, colours, shadows, collections of found objects, and tiny trails. There are no downloads or videos to watch. No links to follow, no worksheets to complete. Each idea draws on a simple invitation for genuine connection, presence, listening, and play.

Wherever it might take you. And even if the ideas don't lead to actual play, the images and words might allow for a moment of quiet wonder.

For Educators

Coming soon.

Research

Coming soon.

Share

Share your AGWA Gently creations by responding to the prompts that we will share to social media and the website over the coming weeks.

Use the hashtag #agwagently to connect with us. We will also share your work in a dedicated online gallery for this activity.

The prompts are featured below.

This work is born of many years research and practice, the methodologies drawn from an ongoing collaboration with Dr Jo Pollitt beginning with BIG Kids Magazine, and more recently a partnership with ECU School of Education, Conversations with Rain, exploring young children’s innate relationship with the environment as a way of revisioning climate futures.