Unexpected toys for new joys

playing in the park

Project Info

Project Description

Location: Tivoli park
Time of performance: august 2017 — july 2018
Performer: Pazi!park Association
Authors and contributors: Gaja Trbižan, Meta Petrič, Luka Vidic, Urška Kranjc, Sara Čok, Urška Škerl
Photography: Luka Vidic
The project is co-financed by the City of Ljubljana, neighbourhood community Rožnik

A little different toys is a series of creative workshops with children, through which we want to connect the Slovenian children’s tradition (rhymes, songs, stories and games) and the use of plants, parts of plants or other natural materials. Together with preschool children and children of the first triad, we test in workshops what can be done in nature with plants and a little imagination. In doing so, we are inspired by old stories, rhymes and games that were already played by our grandparents. In each of the workshops, we explore nature, Tivoli Park and our creativity on a specific topic: warriors and wizards, cave paintings, feathers and dream catchers. In addition to the workshop, we also take a walk in the park every time; we get to know its different parts and hidden corners, observe what image it has through different seasons, point out interesting trees and shrubs and present them to children. At the end, the workshops and walks are enriched with stories from Slovenian and foreign children’s literature. Each of the workshops takes place at a different time of year and reflects the characteristics and joys of a specific time of year: summer, early and late autumn, winter…

  1. Summer workshop: We met in Ljubljana’s Tivoli Park, from where we went for a walk along the forest slope of Rožnik. During the walk, we made and decorated tail hats, magic wands, blowers and bracelets. We found that tree roots could be more fun than climbing on playgrounds and learned about some new plants: pomegranate, elderberry and hawthorn, which we can play with, but can also be used to make teas, juices and jams. Among plants, it was by far the most fun plant untouchables, precisely because we happily touched it despite its name…
  2. Early Autumn Workshop: This time we rubbed, kneaded and mixed flowers, fruits, leaves and grass to get gentle natural watercolors from them. When we added clay and clay of different shades, the lubricating clay paint was ready. We met three trees with characteristic bark: white birch, gray beech and colorful plane tree. We painted their trunks, some with brushes, others with fingers and hands, getting dirty all the way to our elbows and faces… It was super fun!
  3. Late autumn workshop: We took advantage of late autumn and the last colorful colors worn by forests, parks and meadows. We created colorful feathers and African crowns from autumn leaves, weaved nets and hunted spiders, bugs and other autumn fruits in them. On a walk through the park, we realized that the most vivid and colorful colored foliage in the fall is foreign trees from Asia and North America, especially maples. We ended the walk with a real fight… with dry leaves, of course!
  4. Winter workshop: Grandma Winter kindly covered us with snow, she was joined by Santa Claus, and we played, created and had fun with snow and ice a little differently at the winter workshop Toys… We made ice colored eggs for which the children correctly guessed that they were dragons and made them an ice nest. We decorated the bare twigs of a nearby bush with ice ornaments, to which we added real winter flowers: hazel, yew, brook and yellow dogwood flowers. On a walk through the park, the children were also able to get to know this plant and discover for themselves why only anemones bloom in winter. Unfortunately, the snow was not suitable for creating snowmen, but there was no lack of a real throwing snow balls battle at the end of the workshop…
  5. Early spring workshop: Just like in April, we also decided between making and lowering boats (because if it is already raining, let’s just get wet to the end) and making bows. The sun was shining and the archers, the warriors, the Indians had won! We made bows, arrows and wooden necklaces. By the way, we found out why hazels are best suited for making bows and arrows – because they are firm and flexible at the same time, and their stems grow very properly and flat. We also found that elderberry is great for making wooden chains, as it has a soft core over which we can easily make a hole and thread a string. Each wood has its own characteristics.
  6. Late Spring Workshop: What do you know about fragrant plants, aromatherapy, herbalism, natural cosmetics and perfumery? We dedicated this workshop to smell detection; we smelled flowers and leaves of various aromatic plants. According to Ana Ličina, an aromatherapy expert, we learned about a wide range of fragrances – from sweet to bitter, sharp and mild, fruity and forest… With our eyes closed, some scents gave birth to colors, while others evoked memories. We also took the fragrances home with us, as we wrapped the selected plants in nice bouquets or pouches. The School of Aromatherapy helped us with the workshop.
  7. Early summer workshop: Oh, trees, these mighty giants! Listening to the story of conifers and deciduous trees, we realised that needles are just as important as deciduous leaves. Small tiny needles also clean and ennoble the air. We then drew lots to which tree we were going to change for one day. Someone became an oak, another a spruce, and a third a birch. We looked for our trees in Tivoli Park and tried to find out how we feel when a squirrel family jumps on us, and whether a hurricane can rip us off the ground! Finally, we drew serious face to the blue spruce and the eternal loner larch.

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