Saturday, 20 March 2021

Going on an Adventure

It's light in the morning when I go to work and light when I come back, even from my later clubs. This makes everything that little bit easier. We're still covered in a hard layer of icy snow, but every day it melts back a tiny bit as we're hovering just around zero at the moment. Spring is coming, but we're still getting hit by blasts of takatalvi, a return to wintery weather that will last well into May. 

I'm hoping with the return of the light, the warming temps and my after-school clubs soon finishing, I will find a new burst of energy. My writing clubs were a bit of a disappointment to begin with. With Corona, they said we couldn't hold them inside and Finland January to March is too cold to take your gloves off to write. I tried rap and rhyming games and even verbal story-telling, but it's hard when you're in a dark park and the kids are hyper and tired after a long day. So we usually went sledging. 

Except my first graders. They were struggling with writing and sitting still indoors anyway, so with them I've been going on 'adventures'. It started out as a 'Going on a Bear Hunt' type walk around the school, but it has evolved into an elaborate game where each child takes turn leading us through some imaginary world that they hold in their heads, but never fully explain to us. Some bits we do over and over, going into the bushes which we treat like a house, hotel, tent and resting, sliding down the icy hills. Sometimes we're hunting things, other times we're being chased by monsters. We often are given super powers, weapons or vehicles. One little boy loves to organise the food, so is always making me cups of tea and fishing for dinner or making pizza. They love it and can now run their adventures on their own, so I just follow along and let their imaginations tell me what I should be doing. 

I introduced the second graders to it this week and they also loved it. One of the other club leaders only had one student, so they came along on our space adventure. We even got a chance to sit back and let them run about themselves while we had a chat. After a year of not having much social interaction, standing in a cold park to talk about something other than work for 10 minutes while watching kids runabout after polar bears is a real blessing.

I had fourth graders on Friday and on that day all the clubs have started going to the same park, so the teachers can have someone to talk to. My kids were officially bored of the park, so I had the girls create the basis of a space adventure for the younger kids. After a bit the the big kids, little kids and teachers separated to their own interests, joining up to share info or ideas. One little girls had made a map for me and whenever they were unfocussed I brought it out and sent them to a space station or to look for alien treasure. Everyone left tired and happy, ready for the weekend.

I wish I had tried it with all my groups sooner, but I thought it wouldn't be appreciated, but they all seemed to get into. Since next week is our last week and it should be warmer I think we will take some whiteboards out and see if we can actually do a bit of writing for the older kids, but the younger ones will still want an adventure. 

It absolutely exhausts me after working all day to run, climb and jump around for another hour, but I love the kids' enthusiasm and their imaginations just being let loose. Climbing frames become rockets, ice studied as an alien treasure, a wall becomes a black hole. I'm not going to offer another club next session, I'm just too tired, running home to feed and sort my own kids, but maybe next autumn?

On the writing side, I'm still getting some steady acceptances and few poems have been published recently:

My poem 'Graybeard' has been published by Horse Egg Literary Journal. 

A poem written in a great workshop with Anna Saunders and Clean Air Cheltenham was published last year online. I totally forgot about it and just found the page. Wild to be with the UK Poet Laureate Simon Armitage. 

And five! poems in a new issue of Tipping the Scales. It's rare to have so many accepted in one place, such an honour. 

Enjoy the weekend. 

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