This chapter, written with Eleanor Staples considers creative ways of engaging with children and learning about their experiences, views and suggestions. In a project commissioned by the Welsh Government involving 67 care experienced children and young people, we were interested in what they thought about education and what needs to be put in place to foster improvements.
The research was situated in all day events with The Fostering Network, which included activities such as clay modelling; wall climbing, sport based games; and jewellery, t-shirt and bag making. Children and young people who wanted to be included in the research put their name on a card and pegged it on a string to let us know they were happy to take part.
This approach provided opportunities to get to know the children and kept the activities open to everyone, whether or not they wanted to take part in the study. Children who wanted to be involved in the research could select one-to-one emotion sticker activities and/or sandboxing incorporating an elicitation interview, or just have a conversation with the researcher.
Having an open activity, where children could create representations of their present experiences and ideas for the future, on their own terms, allowed space for exploring the complexities and uncertainties faced in the everyday lives of care experienced children. Moving away from a traditional question-and answer style of interview also made it easier to reflect on and discuss topics, as there was something to look at or hold, rather than children being fixed within the gaze of the researcher. We hope that other researchers will find these techniques useful in their work with children and young people.