At Greenfield’s Children’s Centre 2015 has been a year when children’s expressive curiosity has centred on the alliterative pairing of boats and bees. Artists-in-residence Rosie Potter and Kirstie Reid – both from Wimbledon College, University of the Arts London – took the children’s interest in travel and natural history as a starting point for our creative engagement. We observed, in particular at this time, the children’s fascination with water transport and insect life. Initially, this raised questions about floating, sinking, natural habitats, flight and survival. It then led to considerations of wider global issues, including the devastating prospect of a world without bees. Up for discussion, too, was the topical issue of thousands of refugees trying to cross the seas in unreliable vessels to escape persecution.
These were big themes for preschool children to take on board. However, driven by their inherent desire to learn, together with a collective pioneering spirit, they worked hard to develop valuable innovative strategies and thought processes to help them unravel some of the complex and difficult problems facing our environment today. The children’s intense interest in exploring a range of materials and tools, as well as some practical making skills, enabled them to embark confidently upon an ambitious project. Its aim involved the building of a seaworthy craft, able to take passengers and be launched successfully at the seaside in Littlehampton later in the year.