All posts by Artpad

A free information and consultation event in the UK

Achieving Resilience Through Play And Drama – Wednesday 29th March @ University Of Gloucestershire

The event will introduce the newly developed Best Practice Guide for teachers and youth workers that was developed within the ARTPAD project, through the active collaboration of the partnership, and is a result of a year long research process. The methods introduced are intended to have an impact on the well-being of children and young people, developing a mind-set that helps them to face adversity and overcome challenges – resulting in greater engagement in learning.

The aim of the project through the Best Practice Guide and subsequent training is to highlight the importance of introducing drama and play in institutional programs. It is intended to support practitioners, teachers who want to learn about the possibilities and impact of drama and play on the development of themselves as teachers and the development of the children they teach.

During the first year of the project, the partnership has visited several organisations and institutions, best practices, in the five partner countries (Austria, Poland, Hungary, Germany and the United Kingdom), who work with play and/or drama methods with children and young people. The visited organisations – schools, youth centres, professionals, NGO-s, and more – all covered different aspects of play and drama. Through these visits, the partnership was able to conclude what are the core elements of these practices, what are the factors that ‘make them work’. These elements then were turned into central principles, fundamental suggestions for practices to consider when building up their program. These principles are the heart of this guide and the event, summarising all the experiences the partnership has gained throughout the research.

Using drama techniques and play for learning is not a new or even recent idea. There are examples within early Jesuit education of using play as a tool for learning. Comenius, a Czech philosopher from the 1500’s, emphasized the importance of demonstration, and promoted the use of drama and play in order to support learning. During his work in Sárospatak in Hungary, he wrote down this idea in Schola Ludus (“Playful school” 1654). Other philosophers, including Rousseau, also recognised the importance of inner motivation, freedom and spontaneity within a child. Froebel too believed in a holistic approach to education built on ‘first-hand experience, collective play, talk and reflection’. Thus throughout history drama and theatre have been used to inform, educate and stimulate learning, whilst play is the natural activity of humans and higher brained mammals.

This event will provide you with an insight in to what has been learned so far and presented in the Best Practice Guide and will be an opportunity to find out about the up and coming training and development opportunities and how you might get involved both on an individual level or if you are fact finding on behalf of your School, Youth Setting or Academy.

Find out more about the event visit:


”The starting point for Research phase”

ARTPAD visit in St. Pölten; Written by Paul Schober

St. Pölten was the starting point for the research activities of the ARTPAD project. The aim was to get to know good practice in the field of drama and play. For this purpose three projects were presented in St. Pölten:

”Füreinander Miteinander” is a educational drama group led by Emina Eppensteiner. Children and adolescents from different cultures, with different languages and religions often live side by side and not together: The project named “For each other – together” overcomes the everyday distances in the common theatre play. All children and young people are welcome. In groups of max. 14 children or young people, games are developed together and rehearsed. Everyone finds space for his creativity and imagination.

The drama-educational project of “dream catchers”, led by Christoph Rabl, addresses the question of how bullying and other forms of violence affect children and what can be done about it.

In the narrative form of the fairy tale, “dream catcher” takes up motifs of the Grimm fairy tale figures and joins them in a dramaturgical arc. It tells how children and adolescents are gradually gaining social competency and finding themselves out of the wake of their despair and developing new life perspectives.

Finally Margot Cammerlander and Paul Schober presented their Symbolwork. With the help of symbols they are able to provide children and adolescents with an additional language, when they cannot find the right words. In this context, symbols work similarly to an interpreter; furthermore, they transmit information one cannot or does not want to share.

As a symbol may have infinite meanings and is interconnected with multiple feelings, the key is an individual approach to support children and adolescents in adverse situations.

After a short presentation from each project the ARTPAD Research group had intense discussions about the characteristics and the impacts of the presented practice.

Development through play and drama – Day of Joy – 21st February 2017

Hungarian Multiplier Event

On the 21st of February 2017, a “Day of Joy” will be organised in Budapest, Hungary, as part of the ARTPAD project, by Rogers Foundation for Person-centred Education. The aim of the event is to share the results of the project so far with stakeholders in Hungary, including school directors, teachers, youth leaders and pedagogical staff. It is also an opportunity to present the Best Practice Guide developed within the project.

The event is named “Day of Joy”, as we are aiming for providing experiences and joy to the participants while learning about the project and the possible application of plays, games and drama methods in institutional programs. Following an opening presentation, there are going to be parallel interactive workshops focusing on the following topics:

  • Board games in education
  • The method and the benefits of playwork
  • Morality: What would you do? – Exploring moral dilemmas through a card game
  • Playwright and drama camps
  • Dramatic Changes: drama methods as means of developing employability skills of young people
  • Kamishibai (paper theatre), drama and tales

We are going to present the central principles of supporting the overall development of children and young people which the partnership has identified during the one-year long research phase of the project. We will then discuss with the participants how they are relevant to these concepts of play, games and drama and draw conclusions about their application. Therefore the event will be a great opportunity for stakeholders to share ideas and to network with each other, and to create a dialogue about the role of play and drama in education.


A Mutual Understanding in Gdańsk

ARTPAD visit in Gdańsk, Poland written by Paulina Pawlicka

The second research visit of the ARTPAD project team took place in Gdańsk, Poland between 31st of March 2016 and 2nd of April 2016. This was the meeting that brought our mutual understanding of resilience and core idea of how the Best Practice Guide should look and be like so that it was reader-friendly. The group dynamics brought us to the point where we set off to the deeper water and the individual differences of the group members became more visible resulting in fierce discussions. This showed how engaged in the project everybody was and resulted with better getting to know each other.

As the first meeting during the visit in Poland was planned for early afternoon, those who got to Gdańsk a day earlier had the opportunity to participate in a morning drama training session aimed for students of social work and early education at the University of Gdańsk. The training was led by our ARTPADer Adam Jagiełło-Rusiłowski. This created the opportunity to discuss the goals and the process of the training, which is the project’s Intellectual Output 2.

After the ‘welcome part’ of the meeting accompanied by lunch, everybody transferred to the Gedania 1922 kindergarten in Gdańsk to see the children education place working on introducing free play and equipped with a creative playground and huge outdoor area of the Gdańsk sports club. The discussion that followed the visit, introduced the theme: what free play is, the playworker’s approach and how to facilitate free play. During the afternoon session back at the Social Sciences Department of the University of Gdańsk the group worked on the Best Practice Guide. Each person introduced the chapter they had worked on. We also discussed the overarching aims of the Best Practice Guide and groups that it is addressed to.

The second day of the ARTPAD visit, which was All the Fools’ Day in Poland (April the 1st), started at the 12th Elementary School in Gdańsk, where the group had the opportunity to experience two actual lessons (with fifth-graders and second-graders) with elements of drama led by the certified drama teacher. It was an interesting and direct experience as the children agreed that the ARTPAD group stayed in the same room and even participated in the introductory part of the lesson. The lunch took place back at the University of Gdańsk, where the drama teachers leading the sessions with the children joined us for a reflection session. The rest of the day was spent on discussing the Best Practice Guide. In the evening the group met at Adam’s and his wife Magda’s house where the hosts prepared and served a delicious buffet dinner (home-made Polish and fusion) for the ARTPADers.

The third day took place again at the University of Gdańsk and began with the management meeting. Finances, action plan from the last meeting and preparation for the next meeting in Hungary were the main issues. Furthermore, a discussion on the second output of the Project, which is the drama and play course for teachers and youth workers, took place. We have made a decision, that a pilot of the course will take place in Gdańsk in February/March 2018. The last part of the meeting was held by Wendy Russell, our external elevator, and focused on the group dynamics and process of working on the Best Practice Guide. The session was followed by lunch, which was the last part of the visit.

A playful visit!

ARTPAD UK Visit written by Karen Benjamin

In November the partners from the European project ARTPAD visited the University of Gloucestershire as part of the yearlong study visits to see examples of good practice in a arrange of settings using drama approaches to learning and also those supporting play. The project is focused on researching how these approaches may support the development of resilience in children and young people.

On Day 1 the group visited a primary school in Stroud where the Year 5 teacher was using drama to engage children in learning about a specific aspect of history.  The children had already created an imaginary character with who they could relate to as she was of their age and had similar characteristics. By placing the students in an imaginary situation the teacher was able to engage them with the emotional context of the Fall of Pompeii.  We observed a very sensitive engagement by the teacher with her class who after their involvement in the task responded creatively through their language and similes, demonstrating a high level of involvement and understanding of the historical event.

Later that day Play Gloucestershire presented their work that targeted particular groups of children through their Play Nurture project where they provide targeted play sessions for children who need time and space to play away from their environment and with supportive adults.

Then Michael Follet presented on his work with OPAL (Outdoor Play & Learning) where school’s invest in a play audit that ensures school environments are improved to support children’s access to spaces for playing, and are supported by a change in school ethos and approach to playtimes.

On Day 2 a whole day was spent in Bristol where the group visited Bristol Children’s Scrapstore and a Scrapstore Playpod in a local Primary School.  Scrapstore Playpods introduce scrap materials as loose parts into the playground encouraging a range of play opportunities that support creative, risky and co-operative play and improve children’s overall experience of their school day. Evidence form the research  on the  initial pilot projects clearly showed how improving playtimes through resources and staff training impacted on the whole school and on children’s engagement with learning in the afternoon.

Alice from ‘Playing Out’ visited during lunch to talk about how the introduction of street closures supporting children’s play on their doorsteps had benefitted communities with research being undertaken through the  University of Bristol on the impact of the project.

After our European partners shopped in the Warehouse at Scrapstore we all travelled to Felix Road Adventure Playground where the Senior Playworker Eddie Nuttall showed the group around and we were fed delicious food from their kitchen whilst we sat around the fire pit and evaluated our day.

It was hoped that a great deal of good play projects were seen by partners as the UK is very proud of  playwork as an approach to supporting children’s play and this was something we wanted very much to share with our European partners.

Ueckermünde Experience!

Written by Kees Schuur

The study visit of the ARTPAD team to Ueckermünde in the most North-East of Germany, was supported by nice summer weather. It shined over the four locations visited and also offered the opportunity of experiencing the city and environment of Ueckermünde.

The four locations visited were:

  1. Nikolai Schule in Pasewlak,
  2. Youth centre in Eggesin
  3. ZERUM – Center for Experimental Education and Environmental Education Ueckermünde
  4. international Art and Cultural youth centre in Bröllin (incl presentation of the EU-project Writing Theatre at school)

At all four locations the central issue is the attitude and approach of the people doing the job (‘reliable and trustworthy adults who are building relationships’) and with their head, hands and heart and their being they turn every method, play, drama into gold. Chrisine Lauenstein of the Cultural Youth Centre always tells to everyone about the “gold dust that is in every child” and part of the ‘gold dust’ is the ability of the child to turn what is ‘dust’ into ‘gold’. Just make it happen is what she and all the other workers at the four locations do.



Budapest Visit – Day of Joy

Written by Judit Ratz.

Between the 15th and the 17th of June, 2016 the 4th international project-, and the 3rd research visit was held in Budapest, with the participation of our colleagues from Germany, Austria, United Kingdom, Poland and Hungary. Even though the meeting started just one day after the fierce Austria-Hungary football match of the European Championship, the meeting was in good spirit from the beginning. During the three days we have spent together, we observed several best practices, followed by discussions with the practitioners as well as among ourselves, and also progress was made on the best practice guide.

On the 15th, we have started off by visiting the RS9 Theatre and had a long and particularly meaningful discussion with Katalin Lábán, who is the organiser of one-week drama camps at summers for children. She described the method she use, which is very much rooted in the person-centred approach – the overall belief in children, the unconditional positive regards for them as individual people. She has also shared some stories about children changing during the camps. The group has spent together 3 hours, discussing – among other things – the difficulties and the possibilities of freedom, or the meaning of love.

In the afternoon, following a cozy lunch in the city centre, the group has arrived to the Rogers Academy – the educational institution maintained by our partner, Rogers Foundation. In this „non-school” private students of secondary schools gather every day to study together, with the guidance of mentors and teachers. We had our management meeting on this location, covering issues like action plan from the last meeting, finances, dissemination, best practice guide, and preparation for the next meeting. We were also accompanied virtually by Wendy Russell, our external elevator, via Skype.


The group spent the whole 2nd day in the Magnet House in Budapest, at an event organised by Rogers Foundation. The so called „Let’s Play Right! – Day of Joy” was the closing event of a national project that explored different play/game-based methodologies, that young talented people can use in their work with children and young people. At the event the ARTPAD group has taken part in the opening session and two workshops: board games and tales. During the workshop of board games, József Jesztl, Máté Lencse and Kata Zsille presented some board games and their potential in working with children – followed by a discussion where they have explored more deeply how a wide knowledge of board games, and choosing the right one, can change certain social dynamics and change the life of children. The workshop on tale was led by Júlia Heltai and Anikó Kárpáti – after some experiential practices, Júlia explained the concept of tale pedagogy and tale therapy, and how they can be implemented. She has also told a story and provoked a little discussion about it.

At the third day, although we planned to have a session on simulation games, presented by Virág Suhajda, we decided to go on with our work on the best practice guide, as we felt we hadn’t progressed enough on the first day. With a very fruitful and intense session in the morning, we managed to take a huge step in our process. Led by Virág, we had a brainstorming session about what we, as a group, thought are the most important aspects of the „best practices” we had witnessed so far, in relation to developing resilience in children. First we collected those ideas, then created groups of statements, covering different topics: methodology, alignment, empowerment of the child, attitude of the adult, environment and social aspects. As we looked at our list, we realised that we managed to crate the core of our guide, the six central principles, that we, as a group, think are essential when developing resilience in children with the help of play and drama.


NEWS – Research phase of the ARTPAD project – June 2016

Partners are gathering for the 4th meeting of the ARTPAD project in June 2016.  This is the 10th month of a 36 month project, funded by Erasmus plus.  The first phase of the project is a research element to the project, whereby staff from the partner Organisations visit each other’s countries and see settings where teachers, youth workers and playworkers work with children and young people using drama and / or play.  The project has already been to Austria and Poland, with visits to Germany and the UK still to go.  When all visits have taken place this will be incorporated with research to form the basis of a Best Practice Guide that will be available in all the four languages of the partnership.

ARTPAD examines resilience in children and young people and has a goal of influencing how play and drama are understood and used by teachers and youth workers within formal and informal learning environments.  The idea is that drama and play in learning environments can enrich the experiences of the children and young people leading to increased motivation and engagement in learning. Across the EU there is a great emphasis on reducing levels of school drop-out rates and to help students to enjoy their learning experiences.

The critical concepts to the project – resilience, play, drama are difficult to define, philosophers and other academics have tussled with them over the centuries, they are understood differently across cultures and this brings a richness to the project through the transnational element being a key feature of the work.

During the 3 day visit to Hungary, the Rogers Foundation have organised a ‘Day of Joy’- a one day conference where 50 participants will attend and take part in numerous sessions and workshops around the theme of play, partners will also participate and will benefit from meeting a wide range of practitioners and talking to them about their work.  In addition, day one of the visit will involve a visit to a Theatre that organises events and projects working with Roma children.

To keep up to date with developments of the project please join our twitter group and facebook page: