Was childhood invented?

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Postby lesclarke » 14 Jan 2008, 13:25

My own similar experience is that aged 5 is fine, but still worth asking if they have seen Punch before, aged 4 OK but ask more carefully if they have seen Punch before, and enquire if older kids will also be present.

I had an enquiry a year ago, from a German lady who seemed clear that she wanted a Punch show for her 3 year old boy, I advised her to wait a year, she said in Germany it was normal for 3 year olds to go to the puppet theatre. I suggested again wait and she said she'd talk it over with her husband. A few days later she insisted and confirmed she wanted to go ahead.

The show went well,but her 3 year old was totally silent and didn't really 'get it', but a two and a half year old girl really 'connected' and was answering to the puppets etc. The 3 teenagers and adults also enjoyed the show.

She thanked me saying that whilst "it was yes, fine", she was" a bit surprised at the, er, the violence." I explained that it was a traditional show etc, and she said that in Germany '...a puppet might be naughty and for instance steal a teapot."

So, on this occassion no real problems but they would have been better waiting a year.
Mind your head, ...on that light fitting!!!!!
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4 is too young for a party, full stop

Postby CvdC » 14 Jan 2008, 16:13

When my first son was 4 there were a number of parties given by eager parents (including myself) associated with our child care centre. I think they were all a waste of time and effort regadless of what entertainment they had. Children under 4 don't associate with others their own age particularly well. My current thought is to wait and have a big fifth birthday - with a Punch and Judy show of course. And then do it again when they turn fifty.
It has been my experience that I am always true from my point of view, and am often wrong from the point of view of my honest critics. I know that we are both right from our respective points of view. - Gandhi (Having a bob each way.)
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Who invented childhood?

Postby profpanic » 14 Jan 2008, 17:25

For under 5 years as I said I do the "Teddy bears Circus Picnic"
and this is specifically designed for the age and their ability/attention span.
I can "entertain" them for 50 minutes plus with this show.I am however not standing and entertaining them....I am playing WITH them.
The show has puppetry/circle games/join in songs /music and a storytelling with puppets as "props". Because they are doing things and
getting up and sitting down etc .......their attention is constantly focussed.
What amazes me is how few of this age range have the experience of playing even the simplest "circle games".The "circus stunts"
are always well received(I have a unicycling puppet and beautiful tight rope walker and a clown marrionette that teaches them the "Hokey-cokey" etc)I often get parents and playleaders thanking me for teaching them how to play with their children....
The worst thing with this show is that I always tell the booker that is designed for up to 20 children and very often I find that the organiser has invited the neighbouring playschool/toddlers club to"share the cost"
The result of this is 40 kids (3 screamers) and gossiping mums in the background.Nightmare!
I used to do a show called the"crocodile hunt" with Punch .But I used to play this in full sight of the children over a waist high screen and it also had games and songs in it.I think my mother used to do a similar show but as a booth show.
The under 5 s shows always exhaust me much more than doing a full-on Circus show....Under 5 year olds are HARD WORK!
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Postby Tony James » 15 Jan 2008, 00:22

Chris - that surprises me. I find three and four years old parties reasonably straightforward and they have been an important part of my business for forty years. And the parties these days are two hours. They were two and a half hours in the early days.

Games, Punch, break for tea and an hour has passed. Second hour is a magic show.

Punch is fast as I mentioned earlier and as Chris (S) highlighted, at three and four lack of eye contact makes Punch less easy. But provided the numbers are reasonable - 12 or 15 - and the party is at home and not a hall, then they can work delightfully.

The magic needs to be appropriate, very participative and nothing should dwell for any length of time. It's surprising how suitable material can be when simplified for younger children.

I work nurseries - some I have been working annually for over thirty years - where the numbers are in the forties and fifties but the duration is shorter - 45 minutes - and they are together with their companions and teachers. So they interact without any problem.

I wouldn't have imagined there was any big difference between nursery age children here in the UK and Australia. Perhaps I'm wrong.
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Postby Miraiker » 15 Jan 2008, 10:48

"second hour is a magic show"

An hour magic show for 3 and 4 year olds - honestly?
After they've already sat for a Punch show.

My nightare booking was the local mums and toddler group who asked me to do their 2 hour Christmas party last year. I explained that there would be little I could do to hold their attention for long but was prepared to try if the mums would be supportive (that's not always the case).
I suggested that short sessions of magic and puppets be broken up with games and play it by ear.
A week before the booking the organiser emailed to say she had invited the mums to bring their toddlers half an hour before the time given so that they could eat before my 2 hours began!

Anyway, I got through it. I borrowed Peter's badge machine and called a break half way through for all the children to sit with mum and design a badge to be made up to take home with them. I asked mums to stay with their children throughout the party to help them get the most from it, particularly during the puppet show (Little Red Riding Hood - because they were too small for Punch).

I went back this Christmas - they specially asked for the badges again.
I know I've only had 14 years full time experience, unlike Tony's 40, but I don't think I'd ever be happy to do too many shows to that age group and certainly not bring Mr Punch to them.
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Postby Tony James » 15 Jan 2008, 11:45

Yes. Honestly Chris. Playgroups as they were known in the 60s and 70s and 80s were always a big part of my business. Then in the 90s they began to slip away and a more educational approach - less play and more learning - took over. Now they have been replaced and called nurseries and they have become big business. National chains.

At 3 years all children can go to state provision nursery and 4 they move into main stream education. It's called Reception Year and is pre-Infants department where they visit the infants regularly and learn to acclimatise to a 'pure' educational day rather than play.

So three and four year old children are generally quite bright. I don't want to get into the previous discussion about rich and poor areas but where i personally live and where I do most of my birthday party work the children are bright and often very bright. Let me give you an example.

I do a magic story routine about the Ugly Duckling. Jack Hughes of London originally put it out and in the 70s Supreme Magic took it over along with other of Jack's effects. There's a point where the duck/swan looks in the water and my routine goes:

"and the water was like a mirror. And you know what happens when you look in a mirror. You can see see your -"

Now, I pause and the children add the word that's missing. In the less well-off areas the children naturally use the word 'self' but where I live, three years old children use the word 'reflection'. Their vocabulary is much more extensive and these children have much better concentration levels. There is a high degree of verbal participation in my shows for all ages. I ask questions about what we're doing and the responses and the words used by such young children are sometimes surprising.

Nor are they simply copying what they've heard adults say but using these words in context. I had a five year old using the word 'incomprehensible' perfectly correctly. It bears out what Chris (S) said previously about young children being more advanced than years ago.

The trick is only to concentrate on any aspect for a few seconds and then move the routine on. So something that might produce five or six minutes with an older child may only produce three minutes with a three or four year old. Instead of developing aspects and pursuing them you stick to the main theme, cut the subtleties and make everything direct and easy to follow. No word games and funnies of that sort. But plenty of visuals.

Each little section of a routine, instead of being perhaps a minute or so is only twenty seconds or so and move on.

It's exactly the same with games. Only do 'doing' games. No eliminations, no winners, no losers, no being out and watching others. Not really games are they? Activities perhaps. And do them first to cover the children's arrival which is always spread ten or fifteen minutes either side of the start time. Some parents around here are notoriously late arriving at anything. Even a free dinner!

Punch, with all its introduction is in total no more than fifteen minutes and sometimes only twelve or so. And then it's off to tea.

The hour of magic goes quickly and within the routines they will stand and sit as a part of the routine. And get them to talk to you, to suggest ways out of the problem and allow them to to help, as many as possible even if it only means someone extra standing holding something you might have held yourself or put on the table.

You don't have to have just one child waving one wand - use lots to wave lots. If they're involved, participating you keep their interest.

Well, it's how I've done it all these years and it's through using some routines for ever that i measure the changes and differences in the children's abilities.

Forty years ago you would never have heard the word 'reflection' from a three year old. Now it's quite common. At least where I live!
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Was childhood invented?

Postby profpanic » 17 Jan 2008, 18:30

Hi tony......When you said "that suprises me Chris" did you mean me,Chrib the webmeiter or Chris CVC ? seems like there are a lot of Chrisssses here!
If it was me.......Yes under 5 s do make me work harder, but I do enjoy doing shows etc for them.....It just requires much more input....you can never just "coast" like you sometimes can with other age groups.
Chris Panic.[/quote][/b]
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Postby Tony James » 17 Jan 2008, 20:28

Sorry Chris. I didn't mean you Chris nor the other Chris but that Chris, if you follow me. Apologies to all the Christopers.


When I said "that surprises me Chris" I was referring to CvdC's post of Monday in which he had said " I think they were all a waste of time and effort"

Actually it gets worse! Then Miraiker posted on Tuesday:

""second hour is a magic show"

An hour magic show for 3 and 4 year olds - honestly?
After they've already sat for a Punch show. "

To which I replied:

"Yes. Honestly Chris. Playgroups as they were known....."

When of course I should have said Miraiker.

Don't ask me why. I can only put it down to an insufficiency of gin before noon.
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