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On Wednesday the 1st of November 2023, the dance participation team led an early years networking and workshopping event, as part of their MOVE ME! project through CANVAS funded by the Place Partnership. The Deda team invited local early years practitioners, to learn how they can engage early years in dance and movement, learning from specialists in the region.


The MOVE ME! project run by Deda, funded through the place partnership, was set up to help inspire creativity and curiosity through movement and play in children across Derby city centre. Led some amazing local early years movement practitioners, children aged 0 – 5 years in family hubs across the city are able to dance, move and play in an accessible and safe environment, developing their social and emotional skills. 

Movement and sensory props

Early year's specialist, Katherine Simpson uses movement and sensory props to spark creativity and curiosity in early years movement sessions. Katherine gave us insight into one of her masking tape sessions. She created a spider web of coloured masking tape on the floor, using this to help develop team building and communication skills. Our participants discussed how else masking tape might be used to spark movement play to help child development including: doodle dance, letters, numbers and shapes, grids and more. Katherine finished the session with a projection of stars on the ceiling presenting one way in which she closes her sessions, to allow children to leave calm and refreshed.  

Non-verbal, visual arts

Monika Johnson and Rachel Scanlon gave us an insight into their nonverbal, visual arts early years sessions. They enjoy allowing the children to watch what is happening and join in when they feel they are ready and willing, without any speech required. The pair used a variety of sensory props to allow a story/ narrative to emerge from free play, which would invite drawings and re-enactments to occur. Monika and Rachels session focused on letting the children decide the narrative and listening to them. The pair suggested this way of working was developed through their making and believing sessions, due to the number of SEN children and those with additional needs, finding this nonverbal atmosphere much more accessible.  

Making and Believing

Cheryl Mitchell explained the making and believing project; similarly, to the MOVE ME project, they took visual arts and sensory play into early years settings for children aged 0 – 5. Alongside Cheryl was Susan Young, the lead researcher for the project. Susan discussed the background of her research looking into an Italian early year’s practise called Reggio Emelia, which was set up by women to develop imaginative, caring individuals in society. Reflecting on the making and believing sessions, Susan suggested the setting played a huge role on the children’s engagement and the height in which children were spoken too by the adults. They looked at theories of how children develop and evolve, and the importance of learning through play.  


Movement and play help to develop curious, creative, and imaginative children, and our attendees took away their own tool kits of movement and play knowledge to develop social and emotional skills in children within their own settings.  


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