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Although the gnomes folks place in the garden seem to date back to late 19th century Germany, mythical, whimsical, earth-dwelling creatures pop up far earlier in the folklore of many cultures from the Mayan Alux to the ancient Greek Dryad. This winter, we watched the short film, The Gnomist (if you haven’t, it’s well worth the 17 minutes) and fell in love with the story of Firefly Forest and the impact Robyn Frampton’s mysterious gnomes had on all ages.
It was clear to us that to children (and many of us who still like a little magic in life), gnome-like characters are captivating friends who inspire our imagination. So we sent all Tinkergarten Leaders gnomes of their own, and a series of activities highlighting these small, magical friends. The gnomes themselves continue to be used by leaders and children in many creative ways. In this activity, the gnomes help kids direct their own study about balance, opposing forces, and friendship.
When children work together to help their two gnome friends, they get the chance to build on their problem solving and collaborative skills. Children also get the opportunity to explore the concepts of weight, balance, and counter-balance. By starting with a problem solving scenario, we inspire kids to be curious and experimental. The materials we recommend are quite responsive, making this a challenge that does require a certain amount of trial and error, persistence and grit. This kind of tinkering ultimately promotes creativity in the long run as well. Finally, using gnomes as ambassadors to this kind of playful work opens up you and your kids to a world of imaginative play.