The kids knew that the secret was something to do with pets. I thought they wouldn't be able to guess what kind of pets Mabel had. But in the end, Timothy guessed that they were fleas. Mabel's pets are so tiny and quiet that they can all be kept secretly in her sewing box. Of course, she's not supposed to have them at all, and we did make it clear that fleas and hospitals don't normally mix. But these are very anthropomorphic fleas, who are a bit like children with 6 limbs. And they eat leftovers of normal food, rather than suck peoples' blood.
The group was restless because there were only a few of them and the workshop was held in the hall, which was unusual, and without a teacher present, and with me there too, so in fact it was all a bit unusual. Still, Vanessa kept control. She did a series of exercises to help them identify how people have different personalities from each other, and together they made up names and personalities for all five fleas.
They are: Scary Simon, Brainy Barbara, Lazy Lara, Lively Lola and Bossy Benjy. More of them, later.
It was warm and sunny in the hall, and directly outside the window was the relatively new chilllout garden and studio. The garden was built on an unpromising little corner of the school grounds not long ago. I love its clever planting and inviting layout, and the studio room is clean and simple, very good for kids who are stressed..
Some of the children do get stressed. They have difficult lives, and several have in fact fled from war zones, which is one reason we need to be careful about how we present the idea of war.