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Creative Sparks, Spring Term!

We have had an eventful Spring term at Creative Sparks! Together we traveled to other planets and met aliens and earthlings, created whole new worlds through storytelling and imagination and explored our own worlds through sound…

We started the term by exploring our ideas of science, investigating what we think we know and what we can find out from different materials and conditions. The group investigated using resources from The Materials Library. Using this kit they experimented with a variety of materials and reactions to make: fake snow, invisible balls and make fiber optic lights. They used notebooks to document the results of their experiments, learn from and share their findings.

For the next session and now with our scientific minds warmed up for the term, the group were set a challenge to design and make the most effective paper airplane. They had to consider weights of materials, angles for aerodynamics and the shapes that would affect air flow. Some creative aircraft designs showed passengers in windows, animals on wings, signature logos and flags on planes. A variety of materials and designs were created and a lively flying competition was underway! Now qualified pilots, the group moved on to space travel.

The next challenge was to design and create a rocket from basic materials using only paper and sellotape.

A variety of tubes, cones and wings in different combinations were assembled and put to the test in the next high speed race with the help of an air powered rocket launcher.

The next session following these brief encounters with space, focused on the group creating their own planets. Re-using an idea that we picked up from the NTU Physics team, the group made their own ‘community solar system’. Using drawing, collage, painting and (lots of) glitter they each thought about what their planet would look like, what it would need to function, what they would be called and what might surround them. Their imaginations were able to flow here as there were no practical constraints. They make planets with: volcanoes, giant shark robots, chocolate rivers and nine different moons.

The following week, now that we had familiarise ourselves with the concept of different planets and shared our ideas about worlds that we could imagine, we played a game between aliens and Earthlings. In the game the group were split into two groups and separated by a semi dividing wall in the community room. One group represented the Earthlings and the other the Aliens. They had to work together to decide what they might need to find out from the other group, how they could communicate with each other without using speech and decide if the visitors to their planet were friendly or not. Each group devised a list of questions to find out important information and then without speaking communicated their questions to each other using; drawing, symbols, dancing and miming. They then collected information from the other group and discussed it with the group on their own planet. This was a real test of their communications skills, allowing them to think outside the box and understand how and what information they would need to gather to make judgements. The result was that the Aliens decided humans were not friendly as they might eat them and the humans tried to welcome the Aliens to their planet by offering chocolate, bananas and showing them pictures of beautiful forests.

The next few sessions built on these imagination and communication skills. We re-introduced the recurring character of Kaka the cow, who has regularly featured in the group's storytelling warm up exercises. Objects were used as prompts for the group to create a story collectively, this time thinking about the structure of storytelling as having a beginning, middle and end. From there they had the option to work in pairs to develop this story into a full length story or to create a new tale.

Many opted to make an entirely new story and worked with their partners to create whole comic book strips and books of drawings and writing. The stories all had multiple characters and usually contained an element of travel from one place to another. Some characters completed missions, others built their own farms and even escaped from prisons and defeated enemy characters. The next steps in developing their stories was to create 3D / pop up books so that they could share their stories with the group. After this we moved on to focusing on Character development and made notes on each character, what they might need throughout the story and where they might go. This helped with the next step of creating puppets for each character. The group used their stories and notes to design and make finger, pipe cleaner and stick puppets. The next session focused on making props that would help the story along and set the scene. Some of the older children who are interested in games and technology worked together to build a large cardboard TV that would be hollow and act as a stage, the TV was equipped with ariel, buttons, remote controls and cut out screen.

To finish off this block of sessions the pairs worked together to perform their stories to the rest of the group, using all of the puppets, props and set designs that they had created. These final performances demonstrated how well the pairs had worked together to communicate their stories. We saw confidence grow in some of the quieter children when they were on ‘stage’ and the wider group became an engaged audience and celebrated each other's work, applauding each play as it ended and asking questions about what happened next.

Building on the skills and confidence that we had noticed developing and the sharing opportunities that the group seemed to enjoy, we used the next session to ‘come back to Earth’. We spent the afternoon exploring sound, beginning with a warm up exercise, we used mark making to respond to music. This helped to understand the effects that sound has on our movements, interactions and methods of communication. We used the scientific methods that we had learned at the start of this term to explore the library outside of the community room setting where we are usually based and test out our listening skills even further. Small groups were led on a sound walk around the library, each using a notebook to record their findings and document sounds that they may not have noticed before inside and outside the building. The group then came back together to create a collective ‘sound map’ of the library using a large piece of paper on the ground, as they created this they discussed what they had heard, felt and discovered. The day ended with a game of musical statues that created an opportunity for movement alongside their listening skills.

For the final session of the Spring term we invited a special guest, Barbara from Maths Blast came to lead the session! Barbara brought lots of interesting and intriguing resources including math puzzles and rubix cubes. The group explored shapes and learned about how these can be used to create structures. First of all they learned how to make perfect triangles from a single sheet of paper, they then worked in groups to construct their own spaghetti towers and pyramids. This was a great task for team building and cooperation. They each learned that they needed to work together to achieve the best results and when some spaghetti inevitably snapped they learned to regulate their emotions and practice resilience by re-building their work. The Marshmallows that were used as adhesives proved to be a very popular building material.


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