Imaginary Identity Investigations

This workshop holds together symbolic play and creative activity, imagination and reality. Children are invited to invent a character that will gradually begin to take a concrete shape, through the transformation of a real person. It is a very powerful, almost magic process, within a protected “pretend” setting. I proposed it for the first time in a stand of a public event dedicated to women. My collegues and I arranged the stand as a theater dressing room, full of clothes and accessories. An educator and an actress supported the children along all the process. You could also try this activity at home with your children or in your classroom, using your wardrobe and becoming an actress/actor for a day. Let’s see how it works.

Children are invited to invent an imaginary character (in this case, it was a female character, for being attuned to the theme of the event): who is she? How old? What’s her name? Where does she live? How does she look like? What does she like? They can list and describe all these informations in a special identity card.

Fictional identity cards

When the character is well defined, children can start to “materialize” her. They choose every detail and give precise instructions to an adult or child previously selected for this role (in this case she was an actress).

The person starts to trasform into the character, as if she was a material to be modeled: clothing, look, facial expression, posture, make-up, accessories – carefully listening to the instructions of the child and following the informations of the identity card.

Children can choose different kind of objects, clothes, makeup, clothing accessories or create some specific stuff with the available materials (papers, cardboard, fabrics, tapes…) – for example hats, tools, nails, jewelry, etc.

imaginary driver-character
Imaginary supply teacher character
Imaginary mermaid character

The last step consists in taking some pictures of the actress after the transformation, and choosing the best for representing the personality of the character. The chosen picture should be printed and eventually put in a frame specially created by children, inspired by the photo.

An amazing gallery of portraits will take shape over time! And it will be very interesting to observe the potential endless transformations of the same person through imagination.

Many thanks to the actress Cinzia Ferri, to the pedagogista Gina Iacomucci and the educator Valentina Tonucci.

You are welcome to share your identity transformations…