• Justin Hannam

Protecting The Bubble

When I look back at the memories where I was most creative as a child; taking part in a junk modelling competition with the cubs, building a raft in the air cadets, making dens in the woods with my brother, creating an awesome Lego pirate ship, I can see that all of these activities had a few things in common. Firstly, for all of these activities I and the people I was working with were afforded time and space. Secondly, the activity was either open ended from the start or if there was a goal, such as building a raft, there was no set way to achieve it. Third and finally there were high quality resources around to choose from, some I used some I didn’t.

‘The journey not the destination’, ‘process not product’, however you want to word it these sayings make a good point. Regardless of the outcome it is the journey that makes everything worthwhile. Working within early years and working with children, I feel a little sad when I see children coming out with the same picture or the same robot design made by junk modelling. A lot of parents love this but for me I would feel cheated. It is ridiculous to suggest that 20 children would choose to make the same robot if they were all given the same resources. What I would rather see is what the children would choose to make with these resources. Or if you asked them to make a robot with the same resources, I would rather celebrate their individual journeys as they create their very different robots. To make the same as someone else is saying there is a right and wrong way to be creative, and that’s just tosh.

My kids and I have started watching Lego masters. For an activity during lockdown, we decided it would be fun to build something out of all the Lego we own. This was our challenge, the theme we decided on was to create our own world as a team. We were at it for four hours. Did we use all our Lego pieces? Not at all, there were loads left. What i can say is that we definitely fell into a bubble of concentration, nothing outside of building this Lego really mattered. We didn’t know we would be going on for 4 hours, we stopped when we came to a natural conclusion in the activity not when we ran out of bricks. The time flew by as we enjoyed each other’s company and the excitement of our journey. We were proud of the end product and I will remember this activity for a long time.

What is so amazing about Lego and why it is probably one, if not the best toy ever made, is the sheer volume of different blocks. You can make anything you want, it feeds creativity and there is nothing there that can stifle it. Even when you buy a Lego set and you have finished the build, this is only the beginning because if you are crazy enough, you can then add those pieces to the big bag of already accumulated bricks. There are also endless good quality resources in nature, sticks of all shapes and sizes, leaves of a thousand different colours, mud, trees, as a forest school practitioner I know that children can be immersed among these resources for days, weeks and even years without getting bored. Good resources don't have to cost a fortune, they just need to complement the activity, challenge a child’s ideas and create endless possibilities.

I remember those moments as a child that I was able to stay within the bubble for an activity, what I don't remember are those moments where I had to stop to tidy my room and never re-engaged, or the time I had to pack away everything before I had finished, or when I stopped writing a story because we had to go to the garden centre. I have some hopes for when we leave this pandemic and these lockdowns, I hope I take away the importance of time and space. I hope that we don't go back to running from activity to activity. I hope that I consider what the children are doing when it's time for lunch, a lunch that could wait another 30 minutes. We need to protect what precious time we can in this over stimulating world we live, so our children can be as involved in the moment as they can be. To do this for the children the adults need to be aware and able to spot when a child is in a bubble of concentration, a bubble of excitement, a bubble of creativity, a bubble of exploration and a bubble of pure joy.

I challenge everyone to keep an eye out for when their child is in the midst of a bubble and protect it for as long as possible. At the Other path we would love to see pictures of them in the moment, connect with us on Instagram, Facebook or at

Have a splendid day!


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