© Piros Orr

Artistic Tools

In our experience through ClowNexus, people with dementia and autistic children can both enjoy art because it engages their senses, lets them express themselves without words, gives them a sense of structure and freedom, and helps them remember and share emotions. Art is a way for us all to connect and communicate.

Intention: Propose familiar activities that foster unity. 

The clowns embody various animals, encouraging participants to use their bodies and join in the role-play.  

This activity trains children to recognise the animals represented, promotes physical activity, and facilitates emotional expression in a fun and appropriate manner.

Intention: Engage in imaginative play together. 

Description: Clowns use fairy tales as a foundation for shared clowning activities. They adopt various roles, and children are encouraged to join in.  

Fairy tales serve as a structural framework for the visit, guiding children from beginning to end. With the assistance of the clowns, children learn to follow the story and discover their preferred roles within it.  

This kind of play enables them to be active or passive participants, fostering a deeper connection between mind and body. 

Create a whimsical atmosphere and employ props. It is helpful to begin with a familiar story known to the children and, once the method is established, introduce new stories.

Intention: Forge a connection, invoke nostalgia, stimulate the senses. 

We arrive with a basket and initiate a role-playing game of going to the market.  

The first step is to establish a connection; employing the basket piques interest and links to the topic. 

We invite the older people to participate in the play, simulating a trip to the market to buy vegetables.  

The market theme and role-play activity rekindle memories, emotions, and provide a sense of familiarity and competence.  

Throughout the play, participants can assume various roles, such as selling or buying. 

For sensory stimulation, real vegetables can be used. Be mindful of their reactions to actual vegetables, as some may not immediately recognise them.

Intention: connection, emotional memory calling 

Incorporating elements and characters from folk tales into our collective play provides a wonderful opportunity to awaken childhood memories. 

These tales also possess deeper significance, as they often contain archaic symbols and universal motifs that resonate on a profound level. 

Our approach starts by introducing a specific folk tale element, often initiated with the use of a relevant object, such as a storytelling prop. 

We initially establish a connection with the audience through clowning, creating a playful and engaging atmosphere. 

As the play evolves and the concept becomes clear, we transition with clown play to the roles of the folktale characters. 

Audiences have the option to actively participate in the play or enjoy it as part of the audience, so they can engage in a way that suits their preferences and comfort. 

A simple storyline is key, with the folk tale element serving as the impulse for our play. 

Props are used to represent different roles, and objects are employed to support the narrative consistently. This approach keeps the play enjoyable and coherent, emphasising the joy of playing together.

Intention: minimise the fear of strangers, improve the children’s social skills, improve their rule-following skills

The clowns seamlessly integrate into the daily classroom routines with a gentle and sensitive presence, always open and playful. 

While they actively participate in the regular activities, they still carry out their clownish behaviour, often dialled down to about 30% to avoid disrupting the class. 

Nevertheless, their genuine openness and playful spirit shine through. They engage in the same exercises and lessons as the children, even receive the same rewards.

This touch of playfulness often works wonders. It can rekindle the interest of a child who may have been struggling to focus, or inspire a child who typically isolates themselves to join in during teamwork exercises. 

The clowns act as catalysts to create an inclusive and engaging atmosphere within the classroom, fostering connection and participation among the children.

Intention: Flipping the focus from disability to abilities and special powers. 

This tool serves as an approach that is adaptable for use in playful, educational, or even challenging settings. 

The nature of the interaction will yield varying levels of energy, but one thing is certain – it invokes a sense of awe! 

Witnessing someone with superpowers naturally elicits amazement and encourages compliments, making it an empowering experience. 

The power in question should be authentic and genuine. It’s not about pretending to have the ability to see superpowers, but rather about truly “seeing” the person who is part of the encounter.