© 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: 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: Activate all the senses, encourage participation, and foster play. 

We initiate the experience with a newspaper, using it as a sensory tool to facilitate engagement.  

Together, we explore the newspaper’s potential, creating sounds and connections with the material. The object serves as a foundation for building connections.  

Playing with the object entails transitioning from its conventional use to creative exploration. 

 We discover ways to transform the object, using it to narrate stories through its various forms (e.g. using simple paper to represent wind, water, boats, rain, and more). 

Allow ample time for presenting the object. When transforming it, maintain clarity and simplicity, giving each step adequate duration for acceptance and enjoyment.

Intention: Cultivate connections through play, evoke emotional memories, spark sensory responses. 

We enter the scene with a sound and voice impulse, mimicking the noises of a young kitten or puppy while introducing a partially concealed object.  

The hidden item is a plush kitten or puppy, and we suggest that we found it on the street. We engage in playful exchanges, imitating the animal sounds and encouraging the audience to interact by touching the small animal.  

As the play unfolds, the focus shifts towards the connection between the audience and the object of our play. We invite everyone to collaboratively name the little animal.  

While the scenario is built on fantasy, the interaction rekindles physical memories and emotions. 

Initiate play with sound, allowing it to set the stage for the context. Only introduce the object when the residents actively search for it. The sound and their reactions establish the connection; be patient to nurture it.

Intention: Validate a narrative and rekindle memories. 

The foundation of this activity is a deep connection.  

A resident shares a story, and we engage by expressing the emotions evoked by the narrative.  

Gradually, we enhance our expression, initially through gestures and facial expressions, and as the game unfolds, we incorporate more extensive movements and vocal sounds.  

These expressions create a powerful connection, and when executed skilfully, they help the resident recognise and relive the story or memory. 

Begin with uncomplicated signals. Maintain awareness of the connection throughout to avoid imitating.

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: calling back memories through well-known activities, sensory impulse, group connection 

The proposal is a game involving a familiar activity: washing clothes. 

This activity uses scarves for sensory benefits, allowing for hand-washing movements, the graceful motion of scarves during drying, and the fresh smell of the flying fabric. 

Our entrance involves scarves placed in a large washbasin, and we invite the audience to participate in this washing activity. 

This physical engagement quickly activates the memories of the audience and connects them to the theme. 

Rhythm and singing are incorporated into the play, fostering a sense of group connection as everyone participates in the shared experience. 

To enhance the fun, a long drying rope and clothespins are introduced, and both relatives and staff members become part of the play, helping the older people hang the scarves on the line. 

This collective effort brings forth the fresh, floral scent of clean clothes, enriching the sensory dimension of the activity.

Involving both relatives and staff in the game is a great idea. Everyone can play together, and we can even incorporate different types of clothes to make the activity more enjoyable and engaging for everyone.

Intention: creating a sensation of travelling, recalling memories, activating imagination 

The invitation is to travel together and the central theme is storytelling, accompanied by the creation of a train-like atmosphere. 

Starting with the suggestion of sounds and voices reminiscent of a busy train station, the journey begins by moving through the audience as if there’s a rush to catch the train. 

This initial phase offers opportunities for connection and establishing engagement. 

Through the use of music and carefully crafted sounds, we transport ourselves to the bustling train station, setting the stage for our collective adventure. 

Before embarking, we ensure that everyone has joined us, thereby stirring memories and prompting imaginative play. 

Upon reaching our seaside destination, a multitude of possibilities emerges, enriched by sensory elements such as blue fabric, the gentle sounds of water, and the tactile sensation of temperature. 

These elements add depth to our play.

As our journey concludes, we make the return trip by train, mirroring the initial game, creating a coherent framework for our entire encounter. 

Throughout, we maintain a keen awareness of sound and movement to prevent overwhelming sensory stimulation. 

We prioritise simplicity in our communication, ensuring clarity in each part of the journey.

Intention: empower, transfer emotions 

The game aims to create positive feelings using poetry and imagination.

We start by noticing something beautiful about an elderly person and express it poetically, comparing them to lovely things like stars or rivers. 

We continue by describing the beauty in more detail through storytelling and body language, making the ordinary seem extraordinary. 

This makes the person feel appreciated and happy, and we carry this positive energy forward as we dive deeper into the imaginative world we’ve created.

Keep the poetic images clear and simple, avoiding complexity, stay with images and avoid abstractions.  

Aways approach this with genuine intentions, never pretending. The goal is to authentically celebrate the beauty in each person.

Intention: changing the atmosphere, making residents feel beautiful, recalling memories 

Clowns introduce an activity by bringing in vintage objects to decorate and transform the space, evoking a nostalgic retro party atmosphere. 

These objects, such as a knitted tablecloths, a vintage vinyl record player, jewellery, and scarves, serve as a bridge to the past, triggering cherished memories and setting the stage for a joyous celebration. 

Residents are warmly invited to participate and have fun together. We engage them by helping them dress up in costume, and involve them in the process of selecting old songs, creating a sense of collective ownership and contribution.

The creation of the party atmosphere unfolds gradually, step by step, to prevent overwhelming residents with sensory stimuli. 

As this activity can evoke strong emotions and memories, be sure to provide enough space for residents to experience and live their feelings freely. 

Creating the party, listening to music and dancing together raises the energy and brings joy.