the oogly boogly!

Back in the summer of 2008 G and I took part in the Oogly Boogly an event for children aged 12-18 months. G was 17 months at the time and I was heavily pregnant with E. Oogly Boogly was part of the Children’s Imagine programme during Capital of Culture and was certainly one of my highlights of Liverpool 2008.

Oogly Boogly is an improvised game for 12-18 month olds. Children and their carers are invited into a soft inflatable tent for a performance experience with a difference. In this space free from toys and distractions the children are joined by 4 performers who follow and amplify their gestures and sounds. The spontaneous movements of the performers and toddlers are transformed into a gentle dance led by the babies themselves.

When I arrived at the inflatable tent I was a little unsure what to expect. We took off our shoes and entered the space. I sat down on the floor (a little tricky the size I was!). Initially G clung to me. One by one the children began to move and as they did a dancer began to mirror their movements. G moved and was mirrored. So he moved a bit more. It wasn’t too long before he realised how the game worked and was playing along.

It was a truly inspiring experience proving the creative ability of such young children. An added bonus were the tips on how to recreate this experience at home. So here is an abridged version.

Prepare: Clear a small area from objects within children’s reach. If possible this should be a soft area.

Observe: Let your child move freely through the space. Enjoy observing your child. Try to notice the detail. If they do nothing for a long period this is OK.

Connect: Notice how your child’s movements and sounds relate to your own body and movements.

Follow: Allow your child to lead your actions through the sounds, movements and expressions they make. Follow any detail that catches your eye and ear.

Let your game together last as long as you like.

I’ve tried this at home with both boys – and while it doesn’t fully recreate the Oogly Boogly experience it does offer an opportunity to create a game or dance together, to observe your child and to give them creative experiences. 

This is a great way to communicate with small children on the brink of language. 

Oogly Boogly was created by Tom Morris (Associate Director Royal National Theatre) and Guy Dartnell (award winning performer). To explore more visit

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