From early on in The Storybox Project we began to realise the benefits of taking a thematic approach to our creative work. In the simplest terms this means giving a theme to each workshop or activity and using it as a starting point. This is a way of working that we have found brings a range of positive results. Whether giving a theme to a single workshop, or a series of activities over a longer period, themes can really help creative activities take off and become a real success.
- GIVE MEANING – Using a theme can give meaning and resonance to a group of activities which may otherwise feel disconnected. A craft activity, song and roleplay may feel peculiar together on their own, but as soon as they share a theme their connections and the purpose of them being together is clear.
- GIVE PURPOSE – An activity that stands alone may feel forced or contrived, but giving them a theme can give clear reason why something is being done. Making paper flowers on their own may feel childish and without reason, but making them to prepare bouquets as part of a wedding theme workshop gives a specific purpose and concrete meaning.
- GET INVOLVED – A theme can make it easier to get people involved. People may be reluctant to get involved in a craft activity or song if it stands on its own, but as part of a themed workshop it may be more likely to appeal, especially if the theme is familiar and something that interests them.
- TRY NEW THINGS – People may be more willing to try something new if it is within a workshop theme that is familiar which they enjoy. Somebody may have no interest in a collage activity decorating a t-shirt, but may give it a go if it is football themed and framed as an activity designing a new football strip.
- A REMINDER OF PURPOSE – A theme can be a great way to support somebody with no short-term memory, or with other cognitive needs, to engage and to reduce confusion, especially if your theme has strong visual cues. Somebody may not remember what is going on from minute to minute but themed props, images and costumes which are familiar can serve as an anchor to keep them connected to the purpose of the activity that is taking place.
- HELPS PLANNING – From the facilitator’s point of view agreeing a theme cam make planning activities much easier. By focusing on one theme it can help make decisions about what activities to choose, and then help to draw these activities together.