by Author Magic Acorns

Published on

You are here:

Connecting with My Silliness

Youth Music funded trainee Aphra McSherry Birley reflects on a year spent working with under 3s with Magic Acorns. 


Between April last year to March 2024, I took part in Magic Acorns traineeship and development program. Through play days, play mornings, mentoring and reflection I have deepened my understanding of early years development and further to this my own relationship with play.

Back in April, I went to my first play day, where you are immersed in activities that take you back to the roots of childhood and exploration. With some scepticism, we took part in a series of odd games; sound massage, imitation and creating a play garden. These games and moving through the day with minimal language had a great impact on me and the others taking part.

Over the year I have kept a diary and after this first session I wrote;

I found the experience very freeing and felt a lot of release. I enjoyed the lack of speaking during the sessions and how naturally each activity seemed to flow into the other. I felt I learnt a lot about how imitation can create shared spaces between people especially when they can not communicate through language. I am curious to see how the day now will relate to the play groups. I look forward to building my confidence when interacting with people as I think that these activities feel very cathartic and connect people in a way the every day doesn’t allow. After the play day, the core of the traineeship consisted of observing, assisting and then reflecting on music garden play mornings led by the wonderful Abby Page. Every Thursday I have had the absolute joy of hanging out with babies, their families and Abby. Exploring a sound garden, singing songs together and learning about different ways to create stimulating multi-sensory environments.

In the first few weeks I wrote;

After only a few sessions I’m already feeling more confident in my own practice. I feel more comfortable with transitionary periods between activities and I am now creating different options and directions that my lessons can go in. The playgroup was busier this week than the first one I joined which I think I found slightly more overwhelming. I would like to get more stuck in with the songs over the next few weeks.

As we reached September I took part in another play day. The games we played, helped me to connect with my silliness and have a deeper understanding of how young children interact with the world. Entering onto a child's wavelength takes breaking out of the adult world which revolves around unspoken rules, time and expectations. I think the day led me to how important that connection is to young children and their learning. For example, whilst playing around the room with a partner I noticed how absorbing these games can be and how important subtle redirection of attention is to not break focus.

This year I had the opportunity to go into a Nursery with Abby, firstly to observe and play and then to help run a session. I was surprised how quickly I felt comfortable in this setting and I think the guidance and sessions from Magic Acorns have given me the tools to interact with children in a meaningful way where I can also reflect on their behaviours and understand what this means in terms of their development.

Whilst the sessions I went to ran in Norwich, simultaneously a traineeship was happening in Magic Acorns' home in Great Yarmouth. I have had the pleasure of going and setting up a Play Garden with Abby here and these guys truly have created a little magical world.

As I come to the end of my traineeship I am now trying my hand at leading songs and portions of the sessions. I feel far more confident and have gained an understanding of music and play that is individual to Magic Acorns' approach to early years arts. It has been a very special time, that I will go on to treasure and continuously draw on.