Imaginary Communities

What is it?

Imaginary Communities (IC) is our creative learning methodology which we have developed alongside children, teachers, and community partners over the last 15 years. During this time IC has proven effective in engaging children in learning across the curriculum, improving engagement & skills in writing, nurturing positive well-being & relationships and further developing teacher confidence in arts based pedagogies.

The creative methodology

IC is a dramatic story-making process that enables every participant to co-create an imaginary narrative, taking on their own unique character and working in and out of role to explore their ideas through setting, characters, and plot. Each child, along with their teacher, is positioned as a capable playmaker and is directly involved in creating the IC process. Our collaborative story-making approach predominantly uses drama but we always reach for lots of different art forms and materials to ensure we are giving children many different ways to create and contribute ideas.

Learning 

IC can respond to any topic or theme which makes it extremely versatile to use as a creative process in education and community settings. In schools we often build the IC in response to a topic or theme that the class is learning about that half term. This might be inspired by a novel, an historical event or period, or a wider learning theme such as travel, rainforests, or space. The teacher can choose to use IC to inspire all of their lessons in one subject area (most often used in literacy) or use the children’s imaginary world to inspire learning across the curriculum. What is unique about this approach is that it is the children’s ideas that create the purpose and engagement for learning. The teacher’s SOW and plans are adapted and inspired by the drama itself. For example, the children will write letters to the Egyptian Queen who is threatening to execute the young thief, they will record the number of different treasures in the tomb on a tally chart and draw graphs, they will draw a map of their Egyptian land, creating a key and practising coordinates. The learning opportunities are endless (and more importantly fully responsive to the children’s creative ideas!).

Teachers & CPDL

Our approach to working with teachers and delivering CPDL in schools is rooted in the knowledge that teachers are creative and reflective practitioners who are the experts in teaching, learning and supporting their children. We approach every partnership with the aim to respect and nurture teacher autonomy and creativity. We believe that creative collaboration between teachers and artists inspires innovative teaching practice as well as providing caring, supportive spaces for teacher’s to push their own professional development.

We work with teachers in a variety of ways including through our partner Artist in Residence model, teacher training and CPD, one off creative workshops or days with children to launch a topic or explore a subject area.

Find out what teachers say about using Imaginary communities here.

To find out what opportunities that you and your school can get involved in please email lauren@wearechol.co.uk.

Watch our animation to find out about the Imaginary Communities process.

Click here for more guidance on the different stages of our Imaginary Communities model

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