Start at the Library. Take the West Walk past the big pink rhododendron and turn right. At the precise moment all civilization disappears from sight, turn right again. Look closely. If you’re lucky, you may just see it.

As a way to ignite the imaginations of both children and their future educators, instructors in Capilano University’s Bachelor of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) program are enlisting the help of the fairy community. Last spring, ECCE faculty members, Children’s Centre teachers and North Vancouver campus groundskeepers came together with the idea to transform one special spot in the forest into a “fairy garden.”

Early Childhood Care and Education instructor Violet Jessen describes how she had students go out into the forest, collect natural items and construct “teeny tiny things” such as ladders, furniture, tree houses—even a spa—in hopes of attracting fairies to our neck of the woods. The secret space has been transformed by many little hands since then, but apparently remains a major attraction to the tiny, magical guests.

For early childhood educators-in-training, Violet says activities like this are important to re-awaken the “wonderment” of being a child, especially in adults who have forgotten how to simply “play.” “As an educator, you don’t always have to teach something to children,” says Violet, “you can learn alongside them.” She also emphasizes that playing in the natural environment in this way can do more for children’s ability to think about materials than “just going to the dollar store” and putting out crafts on a table, where the focus is often primarily on the teacher.

Some international students in the program had never even been exposed to fairy folklore, which made the project all the more inspiring. Of course, when it comes to the activities of these elusive little beings, authority must still be deferred to the children. “They have lots of theories about fairies,” says Violet. “They are the experts.”

Learn more about the Bachelor of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) program.

Submitted by Marketing & Communications