Creative Process and Co-Research with Very Young Children through Flight


  • Robyn Ayles MacEwan University
  • Heather Fitzsimmons Frey MacEwan University
  • Jamie Leach Mount St. Vincent University


Practice-based research that meaningfully engages with very young children (ages eighteen months to five years) as co-researchers presents wonderful opportunities to co-imagine possibilities together, but it also presents challenges related to communication, a democratic process, and children’s agency. In this article, we discuss how The Urban Wildlife Project uses Flight: Alberta’s Early Learning and Care Framework to help our creative team have a relationship-centred process. We discuss how Flight’s core values of play and playfulness inform our process, how Flight’s “Cycle of Co-Inquiry” and emphasis on understanding children’s meaning-making honours children as citizens, and how several key concepts--including “co-,” a specific conception of children and childhood, play and play-informed meaning-making, and making magic--enable us to include very young children as co-researchers in our co-creation and co-imagination practices.  To illuminate how the process works, we offer two examples of how we are using Flight to inform our practice-based research processes with the early years demographic, and to create meaningful immersive theatre experiences for all participants.

Author Biographies

Robyn Ayles, MacEwan University

Robyn Alyes in a theatre designer and assistant professor in the Department of Theatre at MacEwan University. Heather Fitzsimmons Frey. She holds an MFA from the University of Alberta.

Heather Fitzsimmons Frey, MacEwan University

Heather Fitzsimmons Frey researches performance for, by and with young people; theatre for young audiences; youth arts organizations; and performance-based historiography. She is an associate professor in the Department of Arts and Cultural Management at MacEwan University.

Jamie Leach, Mount St. Vincent University

Jamie Leach is an assistant professor in the Department of Child and Youth Study at Mount Saint Vincent University. Her research examines children’s social communication during play.






PBR and Communities of Practice/Process