Posted by: Poems For Fun | July 6, 2017

Themes for Dreams

This term (summer), I offered a range of themes for my workshops, as usual, but every school chose the same one – Sea and Sand. And no wonder! It’s a wonderful theme – fun, beautiful and refreshing for a hot day, and relevant to the many children will be heading off to the seaside this summer, some with their schools. I welcomed their choice, too, having a particular fascination with the theme. But on my school visits, we didn’t just focus on the obvious – lovely blue sea and soft, golden sand. Not just those.

In schools as far apart as Devon, Wiltshire and the Rhondda Valleys, on sunny days and dull ones, the children were happy to squelch, barefoot (in their imagination, at least) in gooey mud, and to slide on smelly seaweed and battle with stinging sandstorms and treacherous waves.  In fact, some of them relished the mucky and the monstrous most of all! I remember one boy’s warm-up  sea-words sheet being littered with words like ‘treacherous’, ‘merciless’ and ‘dark’ within seconds of picking up his pencil.  As for ‘blue’, we found, on looking at photos and thinking back through past experiences, that the sea was seldom just blue. Children reported sightings of candlelight golden sunset seas, blood-red horizons and black night-time harbours, speckled with reflected lights, not to mention all the bluish shades to be found within that famous baby-blue – turquoise, indigo, silver and frothy white. They told me of extraordinary flora and fauna they’d spotted and strange mixes of deep and shallow, freezing and warm, and spooky caves their brave parents had steered them around in boats of different kinds.

I’m sorry to say, they told of sandy sandwiches, drizzle and drifting sunhats. There were alarming stories, too, of how they’d sand-buried their siblings, who, I’m glad to say, had miraculously escaped alive. So, what with pirates, ship wrecks, mermaids and sea monsters, and all the funny rhymes they thought up on the last, there was seldom time to do it all justice, meaning for some keen kids, that they had to hurry home to get all the rest written down!

I’m not sure how aware the children were of the creative talents and ingenuity they revealed, but I was, every time.

Sea and Sand made a great theme, but the others on my list, like Creepy-Crawlies and Sun and Storm, would have been equally versatile and captivating, once we started looking around and above and below, and zooming in and out. A theme is what you make of it, and with a few assorted approaches and plenty of individual freedom, children can create marvels out of just about anything you throw at them, with the help of their own dreams, experiences and gifts.

Next term, I’ll be offering Migrating Birds as one of my themes, another personal favourite, re-ignited today by a fascinating radio programme, Bird Migration, in Melvyn Bragg’s series ‘In Our Time’, Radio 4.

Other themes will include perennial school favourites of the season, Autumn Leaves and Fireworks.

Meanwhile, the summer holidays are in sight – and even here for a few of you. Time for real sea and sand!



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