"I believe I have seen a genuine correlation between children involved in the ARTiculate workshops and target children making Age Related Expectation (ARE)...Every child benefited with progress, clearly evident in their school books."
Simon, Y4 Teacher, Leeds

"Raised pupil's writing by at least 1 sub-level - developed their ability to apply knowledge. Hopefully we will see ARTiculate in our school again!"
Andrew Howdle, Literacy Coordinator

"Very inspirational and creative - lots of new ideas to improve writing and unlock children's imaginations."
Nadia, Year 4 teacher


Saturday, 14 May 2016

Blood thirsty Macbeth posters

Macbeth
Creative writing workshop, KS2

Macbeth is a blood-drenched, gory and spooky tale. Too gruesome for little ones? Apparently not! The Year 4 and 5 children I have been working with this half term have become completely immersed in the Scottish play. 
As well as getting the children to write short playscripts, developing the climactic showdown between Macbeth and Macduff (more on this at a later date), my groups have designed some concept posters for the play.
The children chose a colour and symbol that represented some aspect of the play (bloody red, royal purple, a black cat for the witches, a chess piece for the king) and overlayed it with words that help tell the story. We used emulsion paint and big worn-out brushes (the ones at the back of the cupboard that nobody uses...) to achieve a battle-worn, scratchy effect. Gory blood splatters went down a treat too! Here are some fine examples!

Royal Shakespeare Company, take note!





          

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Sakura - Making the most of spring blossom with some creative writing!

Sakura, Sakura!  
Creative writing workshop, KS2

Children inspiring their writing with a trip to the school garden!
Spring has well and truly sprung! Old news for most in the Northern Hemisphere, I know, but as the cherry tree at the end of my garden has now exploded into a cloud of pink blossom, the beautiful growing season is hard to miss. 

This natural inspiration is priceless and, following on from a workshop about iconic Japanese print The Great Wave, provides the perfect backdrop for some writing on the Japanese Hanami cherry blossom (sakura) festival.

Using a selection of Hiroshige and Hokusai woodblock prints as inspiration, my group spent the morning outside in the school garden getting up close and blossomy with the pink blooms. Following their senses, the children developed a vocabulary bank featuring precise verbs (floating, dancing, waving, gliding and so on) and evocative adjectives (silky, glossy, transparent, baby pink, sweet aroma and many more).

This was great fun and, as the blossom tree is in the middle of the playground, this is a wonderful way of introducing children to their surroundings in a new way. This could be a great link to your Forest School or outdoor classroom.

We even used the vocabulary to write some short Haiku poems. Here are a few great examples...

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

"We couldn't fail to turn when we heard it brutally roaring...." Creative writing based on Hokusai's The Great Wave


The Great Wave - Creative writing workshop, Year 6
Week 2: Drafting a narrative

After our previous work on vocabulary, this week's workshop was a chance for the children to put their rich language and ideas into action.

A first draft of writing based on The Great Wave (Hokusai) - Year 6 boy, Leeds primary school
Writing from the perspective of one of Hokusai's cowering sailors, we tried to convey the right mood and atmosphere as the fishermen face down the monster wave. The superb example above, by a Year 6 boy, shows how we captured this scene perfectly... "One again, we faced our nemesis, the flowing nightmare: The Great Wave." Zing!

A good author needs a strong command of language. This writing, although excellent, didn't just happen! It was built upon the foundations of creative thought, a rich bank of vocabulary and the experience of applying it in sentences.

These were key parts of the process: 

  • Children read a model text to see how a piece is structured. We used this to make a plan for our own writing.
  • We tried to retain a sense of mystery and suspense by not naming the wave, simply referring to 'it'. We thought about scary movies we had seen and how people behave when the big-bad appears unexpectedly.
  • The sentences we practised last week formed the spine of each paragraph drawing in simile, adjectives and adverbs as well as personification. 
  • To give the writing an authentic feel, we included references to Shinto deities and the Japanese names for animals (including the symbols - they were great fun to draw!) 
Next week... we will edit and redraft the writing further! More excellent examples to follow.