Of the many activities I have been involved in during the last days of the school year, my imagination was captured with a special visit to Blairholme.

At the end of last week, I went home with some fairy dust still attached to my shoes. Mr Toms and I were special guests of the Year 1 students at the official opening of their Fairy Village, and of course, you cannot have an official opening such as this one without fairy dust and fairy bread. After the ribbon cutting, Mr Toms and I were led through a secret garden by the children who showed us their fairy houses.

This was the culmination of an ongoing activity the children have been working on with their teachers, Ms Galanis and Ms Harris. With the support of Dr Street, the children had worked through a design thinking process after considering the brief of their clients, the fairies in the Blairholme garden. They brainstormed ideas for their fairy houses, used digital technology to each design a house and then made a prototype. The next step after the prototypes were created was to reflect on changes that needed to be made and finally the design of each student was cut out on the laser cutter.

As I walked through the garden, I noted the uniqueness of each house and the design elements considered by each student as she envisaged how her house would be used by the fairies.

As I spoke with Ms Galanis, she told me that the idea for the fairy village had been conceived after she attended our FabLearn Conference which we held earlier this year at Lauriston. From our conversation, I learned that Ms Galanis and Ms Harris have a strong belief in the intellectual and creative abilities of their students. They were confident that the girls would have the ability to work through a design thinking process and utilise digital technologies. They also told me that the children had persevered through the prototype stage when some of the original designs did not work as they had envisaged.

Ms Galanis and Ms Harris have plans to enhance this particular unit of work in 2017 and continue to challenge their children.

Tim Brown, a designer and founder of IDEO, speaks about the strong links between creativity and play. As we become older, we are less inclined to share and show our ideas with our peers because we are concerned about their opinions. I have often found myself at conferences or workshops when I have been asked to draw something or write down my ideas, and my initial reaction is not to share these ideas with the members of my group for fear of embarrassment. Fortunately, children do not have these same fears, and they are happy to share their ideas with their peers and their teachers.

Our task as teachers is to make sure that we can provide a secure learning environment where our students feel that they can play and take risks with their ideas and thinking. In the familiar and safe surroundings of Blairholme, the children were comfortable in sharing their ideas and plans for their fairy houses with their peers and their lovely teachers. Peers and teachers who are trusted enable children to maintain their sense of play and thus their imaginations.

As we become teenagers and adults, the opinions of others become more important and our fears that our ideas will not be accepted or understood grow, sometimes to the point that we make a conscious choice not to offer our opinions. We do have an opportunity, through projects which incorporate digital technology and the fabrication laboratory, to prolong the development of creative thinking skills and to foster an environment where play is valued and encouraged.

We see the benefits of play in our kindergarten where the children have the freedom to be curious and wonder about their world. Visual and performing arts also encourage creativity and play, therefore, we aim to bring creativity and play to science and mathematics.

In building their fairy houses, the Year 1 children participated in an interdisciplinary project which involved mathematics, literacy, digital literacy and hands-on learning. They were courageous in their plans, open to new ideas and tenacious in finishing their house. We all hope that the fairies will enjoy their new homes.

As we finish the end of our school year, I would like to wish all the members of our School community a peaceful and enjoyable summer vacation. We are grateful for your involvement in the education of your daughters and feel an enormous sense of pride in their achievements.

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