Cloud Child flies into W.A! Artist in Residence at Como Children’s Centre

Rachel writes: From February 2014, I have been artist in residence at Como Childrens Centre, Perthcomo kids centre (3)Como Children is a unique early learning centre serving children aged 2-5 years in a beautiful home-style setting with the creative arts at the centre. The early years educators there, develop their practice from

como kids centre (1)many contemporary theorists and pedagogies, such as the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood and Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences influencing good practice. I visit there one day a week  to research and develop investigative journeys with the children and staff using puppetry, shadow play and story telling approaches. Every day there,  I come away feeling inspired!

Eva's drawingof Cloud Child age 4

Eva’s drawingof Cloud Child age 4

My initial plan was based on Imaginary Leaps tissue play and puppetry sessions, playing with white tissue moving through to exploring colours, encouraging imaginative play and  developing into story ideas.

2014-02-13 10.58.13In the early sessions, a pathway of white tissue paper was laid on the studio floor and I modelled to music-listening, moving and blowing the tissue. The children exclaimed joyfully and began to play with their tissue paper, this prompted visual symbolic references and making up rhymes.Exploring all things that fly, birds, fairies, butterflies and superheroes, the children offered their ideas.

2014-02-13 10.47.47Modelling how to form the tissue paper into a bird for one child, we very soon made a flock of white birds, and they began to talk to each other , the children instinctively developing story threads. Another child made ‘the tiniest bird ever’, a scrap of tissue on a straw, and it was what he believed it to be, showing original creative thinking.

term 2 ses 2 cloudsAfter the Imaginary Leaps session and morning tea, I tell the story of Cloud Child as a one woman show, which was a challenge, but with help from staff who attended my puppetry and storytelling professional development session at REMIDA, (see we were able to tell the essential story of Cloud Child with the original puppet and props. There were some emotional responses when Cloud Child had to fly away, and many questions asked. Every week the children asked for Cloud Child, again and again! some send messages to the sky in paper aeroplanes or call cloud Child on the telephone, so the sessions took another direction , led by the children.

shadows session 7 (23)We begin to explore Cloud child’s world, with tissue clouds, using the cotton sheets and moving into play with the Dacron clouds. exploring white light with torches and the overhead projector, I use shadow play in the sessions to explore colour, and guide the children into devising story threads about cloud childs adventures in all areas up in the air- night sky & stars, space, over mountains shadows. Some weeks, i tell nursery rhymes with shadow puppets, but the children always ask where Cloud Child is? and want the story again.   Como shadow session 1So the childrens ideas of Cloud child’s adventures are played with in the weekly sessions, every week I bring in a range of props and materials, often from their prompts to continue the play. We look at the clouds in the sky, and spend time discussing different kinds of clouds and then playing with different materials, red angry clouds, or cool snowy cloud, even a robot cloud! Como Aunties feedback -Ali ‘The shadows are so beautiful & magical’

session 6 (12)Retelling the Cloud Child story every week in storytelling and play is a fabulous opportunity to reply and repeat the key elements n the story which connect to the children and become embedded through the creative practice.After Easter, prompted by the children telling me, ‘we are cloud children!’ we move into another area of play, exploration and experiential learning in Cloud Child’s world.

session 6 (38)With staff , we make a set of small Cloud child dolls or poppets for the children to play with on large white cushions, with different white cloths and the dacron clouds. They instantly play families, making up new songs and stories, about the weather today, Cloud child going round the world and meeting astronauts in space!


At storytime I replay the children’s ideas and story threads , performing them back to them, improvising with whatever is at hand for story time. The children are really attentive and captured when I refer to the investigations they have experienced. Showing elements of their play work affirms their self esteem, confidence and sense of place in the world.

2014-03-06 10.42.33This in turn gives me a wealth of new creative ideas for future practice, our next investigation in development is an installation of many different kinds and sizes of clouds. Working title ‘Up in the air!’, this will be a cloud children world made and imagined by the incredible staff and children at Como Childrens Centre.


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Thurtinkles Telling Tales at W.A Festivals

Thurtinkle writes: This year, Ive had a wonderful time so far getting out and about to the Western Australian Festivals while im over here at the end of the world in Perth! Ive met lots of young & old story tellers at the WA Circus Festival in January, Nannup Music Festival in March and now Fairbridge Folk Festival, where with my new presenter Amity  accompanying me on her ukulele, we had a fun time!  Next up, I will be out and about touring to more regional towns but for now, Im putting my feet up and having a nice cup of tea! Heres some photies from me album :nannup best 2 nannup bestThurtinkle & the boy (2) Thurtinkle & the boy (1)fairbridge thurtinkle (3) fairbridge thurtinkle (1)thurtinkle Wa circus fest


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Chicken Licken – So Long and Thanks for all the Chooks!

Chicken Licken with Melvyn Rawlinson

Melvyn Rawlinson has performing DNA’s much loved golden egg of a show ‘Chicken Licken’ for the past few years and weve loved him taking the show out to new young audiences, in schools and theatres nation wide in the UK!

He writes:

‘There are some shows which may leave an audience pondering on the deeper meanings of life and then there’s others which make you laugh so much that you’re still smiling hours later. And perhaps that’s what I like so much about Chicken Licken, that although there’s elements of jeopardy and anticipation it’s the sound of laughter that is the most pervasive. Because I was running a puppet making workshop after the performance at Leominster Infant school I had plenty of opportunity to hear what was important to the children. Perhaps predictably, many said they liked the slap-stick element and the rather obvious gags like the chicken growing bigger or the fox burning his tail, but I was really surprised by was how much of the word play they had picked up on and wanted to repeat to me. But when you over-hear a teacher saying ‘ it was so funny, I could have sat there all day’ you’re left with a nice feeling which helps with the tedium of the 3 hour drive home.’

Thank you Melvyn for all wonderful storytelling and hard work for DNA, and our best wishes for the future!
Puppetry montages:
Chicken Licken
Pied Piper
Greek Theatre
Outdoor/Walkabouts Montages:
Performances for EVENTS
Farmer Jolly
Herbert the crab who went to sea – full show


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Imaginary Leaps at Meerilinga Childrens Centre , Coolbellup, WA

Session 2 round (2)For the past 8 weeks, Rachel has been playing with families with young children at Meerilinga Childrens Centre, on another early years creative engagement programme here in Coolbellup. Last year , I worked with families here on a CANWA funded project, and it was great to work with Jenny and the team, as well as reconnect with the family groups.

Session 2 round (9)Each week had a different play theme, from the circus, round & round, shadow play nursery rhymes,  tissue play animals, to natural elements – the sea & water, earth & nature play. The last session was Mrs Teapots puppet party, transforming everyday tea party pots and pans into puppets , and telling stories!

meerilinga session 8 mrs teapot 002Feedback from parents included -

San – ‘Excellent organised play’

natureplay 6Claire -‘ A fantastic, magical playtime! Heath still plays with the paper boat and little pipecleaner figure we made from water play. He fills up a bucket, and sails it around, always ending up with rough seas! Now everything becomes a puppet and has its own voice.’

meerilinga session 7 (6)Sharene -‘Thank you for a wonderful time! Millen takes the little pipe cleaner people to bed with her – they are Daddy & Millen’ – sailing on the sea. She talks about you all the time and every day asks if we are going to see Rachel and Bobby puppet.’

Me, bobby & millencircus 3circus 14meerilinga session 7

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Terry Jones Fairytales at Beaufort St Festival

TJ Tales Beaufort st fest 13 (7) TJ Tales Beaufort st fest 13 (9) TJ Tales Beaufort st fest 13 (13) TJ Tales Beaufort st fest 13 (18) TJ Tales Beaufort st fest 13 (23) TJ Tales Beaufort st fest 13 (30) TJ Tales Beaufort st fest 13 (57) TJ Tales Beaufort st fest 13 (63)

Thurtinkle and Rachel had a great time performing their last shows for the Beaufort St Festival in Perth, WA this year. Although a very hot, sunny day (unusual for Perth!) – we had an enthusiatic audience and a chance to work that microphone technique. Looking forward to further festival events next year, once the heat has worn off a little. Have to be careful Thurtinkles nose doesnt get too sun burnt!

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Imaginary Leaps at REmida,Perth WA

DSC_0986Last month, Rachel was artist in residence at REmida, a recycled resources centre in Perth. as part of her research, she invited her friend’s 3 year old to explore the building and all its contents. He was interested in all things ’round & round’, the rotation schema was evident in his interest in windmills, fans and rotary blade shapes around the centre. This formed the basis of my exploration in the use of recycled materials for early years installations. Focusing on simple but effective movement incorporating the flow of air throught the space with mobiles and hangings.

REmida pd nov13 (49) REmida pd nov13 (54) REmida pd nov13 (58)Rachel also ran two Professional Development workshops in the final week of her residency, focusing on:

Early years Installations for Free Play- Introduction to Imaginary Leaps

  • Making connections – Theatre & Play
  • Tools of storytelling in action,
  • Making an imaginative child friendly space
  • Confidence building techniques in play and performance.
  • Linking to children’s literature, traditional tales and multi cultural myths

REmida pd nov13 (1) REmida pd nov13 (2) REmida pd nov13 (3) REmida pd nov13 (4) REmida pd nov13 (15)With over 40 Perth early years educators , we discussed where play meets theatre techniques, in our human need to tell stories and explore environments. I introduced the key communication puppet Bobby from Imaginary Leaps and illustrated its role in providing non verbal points of interaction. A brief introduction to simple puppet making techniques to aid play and confidence, then we played with the movement of tissue, sculpting scrunchy puppets developing into simple storytelling scenarios.

REmida pd nov13 (20) REmida pd nov13 (24) REmida pd nov13 (27) REmida pd nov13 (35) REmida pd nov13 (41) We also looked at shadow play in a further installation Id created, cutting polystyrene animal shapes to project onto, playing with different colours, shapes and textures to make an animated artwork.

Feedback from participants included –


‘Thanks a lot for the great skills of making puppets and shadow theatre. Really enjoyed it.’ Jane UWA ELC

‘I am new to Early Learning and will leave with plenty of great ideas’ Stacey

‘Thank you for ‘do-able’ creative ideas.’ Helene

‘Fantastic creative ideas that enable children to think ‘outside the box’ Elle


‘Excellent PD, loved the ‘hands on’ & creative ideas’

Imaginary Leaps will be holding further professional development sessions in February 2014, please email for further information.

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Kampung Kids – Jakarta

Kampung kids (5)During my time in Jakarta in September, I was fortunate to go and volunteer my Imaginary Leaps theatre play sessions with Kampung Kids. Kampung kids runs programmes in Pejaten (South Jakarta), Bekasi and Bogor in West java to educate families on health and hygiene, and provides education a well as nutrition for needy children. Sponsoring over 1,112 students, they provide a healthy daily meal relying on many volunteers who contribute not only with money donations, but also with time spent teaching , supporting and nurturing pre school and junior Kampung kids.

kampungkidsAs soon as I arrived, I was warmly welcomed in a haven of calm, away from the busy city,by the staff , families and children – all eager to see what I had brought to play with. We had a small IT room to play in, so we pushed back the chairs and computers, and i got to know the 4-5 year old children, breaking the ice and making them feel comfortable with me, not by talking,I dont speak indonesian yet! but by callingon old mime and street theatre skills, to make them laugh. Then, we find Bobby, asleep and he makes a shy entrance, my most important puppet tool of communication. There were screams of joy and delight, gradually Bobby met each child and they communicated back to the puppet in their individual own way.

kampungkids (1)kampungkids (3)Bobby is a puppet where characteristic gestures and features are only gently suggested so the children’s own imaginations can imprint what they want to see. The puppet helps reinforce the child’s own identity, sharing joy and emotions in the moment. Often children respond in the primal 3 ways – to nurture, to love, or to fight. I model with the puppet treating it with respect, if a child punches or hits the puppet, I give the puppet a cuddle and then the child , Ive found through use of no oral language, after repeating these actions once or twice, the child will model back to the puppet. Puppets and people alike need positive, tender care. Bobby puppet changes its expression in the eyes of the child, depending on the child’s emotional needs, and can be any gender or culture. Together we all sing and play ‘Ring a Roses’, somehow the children pick this up very quickly and love the actions.

kampungkids (8)Bobby models playing with coloured sheets of Tissue paper – the tissue transforms to a butterfly, fish, bird, different animals – the children shout out the names in Indonesian. Then to original music from DNA’s early years shows, we dance and play with the movement of tissue in the air, blowing, juggling, scrunching, making bows in the hair or superhero capes. After this play has been exhausted, they scrunch and form the tissue into whatever they see, in this play they seem to want fish and once formed, these swim in our imaginary sea. The nursery rhyme is repeated, ‘With fishes in the ocean, fishes  in the sea’ illustrated with the puppet fish. A completely different game then began, using the swivel wheeled chairs as cars and getting stuck in traffic jams, totally reenacting the traffic situation in Jakarta!

Bobby said goodbye aftera great time playing and donated crayons, shdow puppet materials and as much craft activity supplies as I could carry over in my luggage!

Thank you to Julia and the staff & families at Kampung Kids -

Thank you so much for your time in running the puppet play with our children yesterday, I am sure they enjoyed it. We hope all the best with your career as I think it is great idea to play with.”

To make a donation to kampung kids please contact

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