One of the toughest struggles I think for parents and teachers with this age group is getting children at home up and moving when everything is through a screen and still have them engaged and learning. It was the reason why I decided to film the first story for Wonderland, the home package. Despite actually being in the film industry, as a writer and director, it was a big struggle to decide to film this story. The reason being that the whole point for me creating these Wonderland stories was to get children away from the screen, to get them to imagine things for themselves and to engage with the teacher and other children. However, now having filmed the first story, there were some major things that stood out for me and plenty of ways how Wonderland can be helpful with Remote Learning.
1) Even though the Wonderland story, Taken by the Pirates, is now done through the screen and the level of interactiveness is therefore unfortunately lost, I discovered there are still so many benefits as unlike most screen entertainment, the children are still actively engaged when watching it. They are up and doing it with me, not just sitting and listening. They climb the mountain with me, sneak past the pirates, ask dolphins for direction and sing the songs. Through this active engagement the children practice using their voice, body and facial expression. Through the questions asked children also practice reflecting on issues and thinking about possible solutions. So even though the big step of working together and thinking of their own ideas as they interact with the teacher is now gone, the benefits are still massive and the level of fun definitely still there.
2) As the children still get to make their own puppet, the continuous learning and engagement happening after the story is just as present. This is a wonderful way to keep them occupied longer while also have them use their imagination.
3) If parents do want to get involved, it is possible to bring back levels of interactiveness. Throughout the story I ask specific questions on what a child might choose to do, how they may solve the problem or what they think a certain place might look like. Parents can either stop the story to engage with their child on what they think, or use these questions later as inspiration to retell the story differently.
4) A teacher from the USA contacted me as she discovered that these stories were actually a great way for her to do them via an online platform. As soon as she said this, I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it. While like anything else it is more fun when doing it in person, Wonderland can so easily be done via zoom or another online platform. The children watch and actively go with the teacher on the adventure. And what's even better, all the questions I asked, can be asked by the teacher, which the children get to answer straight away. This means the interactive element is once again back and the lesson is planned for you, with the story, active learning and communication training being covered. Ending the session of course with the puppet. Once the puppet has been made, children can also use the online platforms to create stories together or retell the adventure they had just been on or create and introduce their new character that they have made.
The stories all come with a bonus game as well. While these have been designed for the classroom, I am happy to quickly send ideas on how to make them possible for remote teaching.
It's a strange time that we are in, but it is also amazing just how much we are able to adapt to with the use of the internet. If anyone would like to discuss anything regarding the possibilities of Wonderland and remote teaching, please feel free to contact me.