Mentors Sam Burt and Charlotte Liddle from the TICE team delivered a horticulture workshop last week, with the help from Year 2 at South Wellfield First School in Whitley Bay. The main focus of the day was ‘What Do Plants Give Us?’ and we thought carefully about the important role they play: in the food chain, the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the air we breathe.
We then looked at clever tricks that plants use to disperse their seeds, such as velcro-like seed pods that hook onto animal pelts and aerodynamic designs that can be lifted and transported for miles by the wind. The children were very involved in the presentation and had lots of questions to ask. They all thoroughly enjoyed looking at and talking about Sam’s juniper bonsai tree which he brought in as visual aid to enhance our discussion.
Then we were ready to stand up and get musical. Sam led a brilliant song workshop which began with a quick vocal warm-up and then by teaching the whole class the Irish folk song “Rattlin’ Bog”. This is a traditional song that uses a cumulative verse structure like Old McDonald does, which is really great to help improve concentration and short term memory.
The pupils added in their own actions to the song, which tells the story of a flea living in a giant tree in a bog. Fair to say it got quite noisy and Sam’s ukulele was soon drowned out by 30 excited Year 2 students singing loud and clear! Having learnt the structure the students then worked in 5 groups of 6 and replaced some of the words in the song with their own, to illustrate in song form how food chains work. So, we had some “Birdy” bands write and then perform their song about a hawk, a snake, a frog, a grasshopper and some grass. The other “Fishy” bands had a similar tale to tell, but this time about a whale, a seal, a penguin, a fish, a prawn and finally some algae! Some of the groups were slightly different in the animals they chose for their food chains, with one group having a Neon Tetra at the bottom of their food chain (no, we didn’t know it either!). All in all it was a fun way to learn about an important cycle of nature, whilst also improving linguistic and musical skills at the same time.
After such a fun musical session it was time to do some artwork. One of the many things we get from plants is pigment; this pigment can be used to create dyes, paint, cosmetics and medicine. Charlotte brought along some homemade ink made from beetroot and turmeric (an intense yellow spice that can be used to give curries a rich, golden colour).
Year 2 spent time creating four line drawings using only sticks to draw with and the natural inks. The illustrations were based on horticultural imagery such as, the sun, rain, seasonal flowers and garden critters and looked amazing!
Illustrations completed, it was time for our final task.
Year 2 were asked to use their beetroot ink drawings as inspiration for a print design. The children chose their favourite design and reproduced it by scratching it into a piece of polystyrene block using a sharp pencil. They then rolled acrylic paint over the block using a roller and placed it face down onto a piece of natural cotton fabric. At this point we talked about where cotton fabric comes from and looked at some images of cotton plants. The children lifted the blocks away from the fabric to reveal their very own printed designs, which were quite abstract and all very individual.
A big thank you goes out to South Wellfield First School staff and children, we had a fabulous day and really enjoyed working with you!