Monday 8th May….Final Session….Let There Be Light

Today we reached the end of a journey which in the words of Buzz Lightyear, has taken us ‘To infinity and beyond’. The children were looking forward to the session because it was a ‘real visit’, which means we get to welcome Sharon into our classroom and into our school. This is always more interesting to have her input at first hand. She takes such an intense and personal interest in all the children’s work.

We began with Circle Time where all the children had opportunities to reflect on their journey throughout the year, reminiscing on particular sessions which stood out for them for one reason or another.


A firm favourite was our ‘Jackson Pollock’ day when we attempted to recreate a Pollock masterpiece by using a wide variety of implements and utensils, including turkey basters, baby bottles and syringes, to drip paints onto a canvas without the painting tools actually coming in contact with the canvas. We used ‘Control’ sometimes less, sometimes more to create a cacophony of colour.

Another firm favourite was the day we explored gravity. We made ‘space goggles’ from egg boxes to protect our eyes and we set off on a journey into the unknown territory which before break time had looked like a normal classroom but was now covered in ropes and tape to create a laser minefield.  The children were even tied together in teams to stop themselves from drifting away into a black hole!

Discussions brought us back to the present as we linked together the various ideas that had made this journey possible. In preparation for Sharon’s visit we had watched a clip on Youtube of an interview by an Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson, whose creation ‘Little Sun’ had prompted our discussions on light and energy.   

He had created or invented a solar powered light which he hoped could be used by people who had no access to electricity to improve their quality of life.

We were extremely lucky with the weather as we had lots of sunlight on Monday morning flooding into our classroom, which we needed for our activities. We were able to control the light coming into the classroom simply by using our window blinds. We needed to block out the light in order to use our interactive whiteboard. We quickly discovered that the sunlight was much more powerful than the bulb in the projector, and easily overpowered it flooding the whole classroom with light so that the images on the screen could not be seen.

One of our tasks for the day was to examine our shadow and draw it at different times in the day. We made 3 trips outside at 10 o’clock, 11 o’clock and 12 o’clock to draw our shadows. We worked in pairs. The children took turns to draw each other’s shadows; whilst this was great fun, the first time we went out the sun disappeared quite suddenly and our shadows vanished. Some of us admitted to being a little bit cross with our shadow for playing such a trick and it prompted us to read the Robert Louis Stevenson poem ‘My Shadow’, when we went back inside.

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,

And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.

He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;

And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.


The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow—

Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;

For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,

And he sometimes gets so little that there’s none of him at all.


He hasn’t got a notion of how children ought to play,

And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.

He stays so close beside me, he’s a coward you can see;

I’d think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!


One morning, very early, before the sun was up,

I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;

But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,

Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.


Luckily on the next two trips outside the sky was clear. We tried to stand in the same position each time and observe how our shadows fell across the ground. We were able to see clearly how our shadows got shorter as we got closer to midday. Our shadows also moved sideways as Niamh pointed out in a clockwise direction. We were able to check out images of sundials on the computer when we went back inside which led to a discussion about them actually being the first clocks.  We found a picture of a terrific one that someone had made on the beach using stones and we thought it might be something that we could try ourselves on a sunny day.


The children played some Shadow Games; in groups they raced across the yard only to watch their shadow beat them in a race. Then they raced back again to discover that this time their shadow was behind them. They also played a miming game called ‘CopyCat’ where they had to mimic the shape of their partner’s shadow by watching it. We had shadow animals, including elephants and butterflies. We also had some balancing shadow acts. Some people tried to make their own shadow disappear by hiding it on someone else’s shadow.

The children asked lots of questions and made lots of astute and interesting observations on their shadows. We looked for places in the playground where we couldn’t see our shadow, when we were standing in the shade. We finished off by sitting in the sunlight and thinking about all the things that the sunlight gives us and especially about how the sun makes us feel. We were all feeling very positive indeed.

Back inside we looked for shadows in our classroom and what shapes those shadows made. The children went on a shadow walk around the classroom looking for interesting shadow shapes.


After break time was over, Sharon produced two strange looking objects called ‘light boxes’. It was interesting to hear what the children thought that they might be used for. A common idea was that you could use them if your electricity went out until the children discovered that the box was also plugged in to the mains electricity. Sharon had brought along some photographic slides from her collection of her work and explained to the children how the light box let you see the picture on the slide clearly. The slide was more like an old negative than a picture but the children had never seen photographic film before as all pictures are now stored electronically on a microchip. We explained how before digital photography an image was saved onto the photographic film and it then had to be developed very carefully in a darkroom. Exposure to light would ruin any images stored. Having had a chance to examine the light boxes Sharon gave the children a sheet of black paper to obstruct the light and their task was to let the light shine through the paper by creating holes in the paper. Each child was given a pin along with very important safety instructions about how to use and not to use their pin.

The activity itself was very challenging and required a lot of concentration. The children got stuck in enthusiastically and had great fun watching their pictures develop. Some chose to work close to the light box so that they could see the shapes and patterns emerging as they made them. Others were confident enough to make their shape pattern and place it on the light box when they were finished. The results were varied and interesting. Some children wrote their names, some made constellation patterns, whilst others drew specific shapes.

This led to a very interesting discovery and discussion prompted by Eileen our classroom assistant, who suggested if we turned our page back to front we could run our fingers along the holes and feel the shape of the picture. In some ways it resembled the Braille alphabet which is used by the visually impaired. The children swapped pictures with each other and tried this out. Ciaran had made a pinhole picture of a house and we gave it to Sharon to read the bumps. She was able to guess correctly what Ciaran had made and the children were suitably impressed. We had a lot of fun making our pinhole pictures and the children were fascinated at how their patterns appeared illuminated when their black paper was placed on the light box. It was a very enjoyable session with lots of exploration and self-discovery which has been an integral part of the ‘Virtually There’ project.


The children have had wonderful opportunities to explore and express themselves imaginatively in their own environment and by doing so they have become more aware of the world around them and how they make sense of it. Our year long journey with Sharon has literally taken us to the sun, moon and stars and back again. We’ve had roller-coaster rides and lots of other memorable experiences along the way, which the children will undoubtedly carry with them in the years to come. But above all we’ve had fun. We’ve enjoyed the opportunities which the Project has afforded to us, enabling us to express ourselves through a variety of media. Sharon has brought a whole new dimension to our learning through her artist’s lens as she perceives the world in her own unique and special way and she has encouraged us to see things from a whole different perspective.

The project has evolved organically as the children explored the ideas which were thrown up in every session by them as they questioned the familiar.

Ultimately the skills and techniques which the children have acquired on this journey are secondary to their personal growth, socially, emotionally and intellectually as they begin to make sense of the world around them.

I look forward to meeting up with Sharon again at the beginning of the next academic year as we begin another journey into the unknown!

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Monday 10 th April Session 13

Today’s session started with the children on the floor on a big carpet sharing their memories and thoughts with Sharon about what they enjoyed about their trip the previous Wednesday to the Planetarium in Armagh. The children were full of chat with memories still fresh about the fantastic simulator roller coaster ride Armageddon. Making the rockets and launching them had also been a very popular and exciting activity.


Prior to our session we had watched a science clip on YouTube about constellations in the night sky and the different Zodiac constellations. The children were all able to identify their birth sign based on their birthday and were interested in the idea that their star sign could tell them something about themselves. We chatted about horoscopes and how people like to read them for fun.

Sharon had put up some pictures of the zodiac constellations up on the interactive whiteboard for us to look at.

Activity one involved the children working individually, in pairs and in groups of 3 to make their own zodiac pictures using their bodies to grate the shapes. I had brought in a few sets of battery operated fairy lights and we draped these around the shapes that the children made. The favourite ones to recreate were Sagittarius, Gemini and Scorpio. The children all participated extremely well in the activity and enjoyed it and we got some great aerial views of the constellation shapes.



After that the children were then tasked with creating their own constellations. They were given black paper, white paint and a cotton bud to use as their paintbrush. There was great concentration as the children made up their own star patterns using dots and then joined the dots to make a star picture. The results were varied and very creative. We discussed the half human half creature type constellations and the children took this as their starting point to invent their own mythical constellations.

Here are the results.


As they finished their work they came up to show their inventions to Sharon and tell her a little story about the constellation that they had invented.

Sharon emailed us a constellation which she drew but she didn’t join up the dots. She asked the children to interpret the dots to make a constellation picture. We discussed it for a while and the children suggested it might resemble a human with the head of a giraffe or a horse, playing football!

Here are the end results.

Once again the children had a great session exploring the idea of patterns in the night sky. We look forward to welcoming Sharon into our classroom for our final session after the Easter break as we wrap up what has been a tremendously positive learning experience for all the kids in the class. I have watched how their participation in the project has helped them to look at art in a holistic way and how they have shaped and moved the project forward with their very personal and individual contributions to the project on their own journey of self-discovery.

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Armagh Planetarium and Astro Park Wednesday 5th April Session 12

For today’s session the children are going on a field trip to better understand the direction our Virtually There project has taken us. We began over 6 months ago looking at balance and control, and this led on to thinking about weight and gravity, and eventually space exploration, the Solar System and the night sky.

The day dawned dry and bright thankfully as the second part of our trip was to be outdoors. The children were full of excitement as they boarded the bus at half past 8. We were the first school group of the day to be booked in to the Planetarium so we needed to get on the road early. We had arranged to meet Sharon at the Planetarium at 9.15.

On arrival we were greeted by Heather who took us to a large theatre where we were given our schedule for the morning.

We began our visit with a show in the specially designed auditorium with a dome roof. It was an interactive show as Heather introduced the children to all the planets in the Solar System individually with lots of questions and answers along the way. It was very informative as well as a lot of fun. The children listened and participated so well that they won a ride on the planetarium’s simulator roller-coaster Armageddon which took them into Space on a very memorable journey around the planets. It was awesome. Thank goodness no-one had travel sickness!


We then left the domed room with Heather and she took us to a workshop where the children were put into pairs and made their own rocket ships using 2 litre plastic bottles, card, a weight, sticky tape and crayons to decorate. The children worked as quickly as they could as they only had fifteen minutes before they would need to take their rockets outside to launch them up the hill behind the workshop.


Each pair launched their own rocket from a large generator which pumped air into the bottle. The bottles were half filled with water first, which was the rocket fuel. When all the rockets had been launched we set off up the hill to look for our rockets and find out whose had travelled the furthest.  It was a close contest between Caolan’s rocket, and Sarah and Samantha’s rocket, but theirs flew right up to the top of the hill so it was declared the winner.


After an extremely busy morning we just had a half hour left to explore the Exhibition area. The children dressed up as astronauts complete with space helmets and had opportunities to participate in a wide range of interactive activities before we move on to the Planetarium shop where some children bought some Alien eggs!


By this stage the children were hungry so we made our way back to the bus to retrieve our lunches then we walked the short distance to the Astro Park which is a scaled model of the Universe where we sat outside and ate our lunches. We had a chance to explore the Astro Park and after tidying away the lunches we set off to climb the Hill of Infinity.


Sharon waited with the children at the top whilst I ran back down to the bottom to video the race as they travelled at great speed back down the Hill. It was a very exciting race and the children said they felt like they were hurtling through space! Erin Crummie was the winner of what was a very tough competition. However the fun was in the participation. Exhaustedly we made our way back to the bus to drive to the play park at the Palace Demense.


Sharon had come equipped with art materials and clipboards and the children were able to record some of their thoughts and ideas from their trip on paper as the children sat around the picnic tables and drew some wonderful pictures.


There was a zipline, a spider climbing frame as well of lots of other fun equipment in the park to challenge and amuse the children and we were very fortunate with the weather as the day stayed lovely and sunny and the children had an energetic afternoon. A big thank you to Daithi’s mum who spent the afternoon pushing people on the zipline.


Daithi would like one to travel from his house into school in the morning, and then there wouldn’t be cars parking dangerously outside the school gates!

The field trip was a great success and getting the opportunity to get together with Sharon to discuss the remainder of the project was very helpful also. The children’s curiosity about space has grown and we are planning some alien activities back in the classroom.

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Session 11 24th March

We started off today’s session by talking about what we see from earth when we look up at the night sky? The children all were asked to spend some time last night looking at the night sky for homework! Sharon had also posted some lovely views of the night sky from the skylight window of her home in Belfast. The children took turns to tell Sharon about what they had seen and we had some great descriptions. A few thought they might have seen a planet as there were a few stars which shone brighter and seemed larger than the others. Erin and her dad spotted Orion the Hunter’s belt and also they saw the North Star. There was a lot of interest in the solar System. We had watched a short kid’s documentary video clip yesterday on the solar system.

Our first activity was to use charcoal and rubbers to try and recreate what they had seen in the night sky. These drawings were done using their hands and fingers to smear and smudge the charcoal on the page, then the rubbers were used to create points of light in the darkness.

The results as you can see from the photos above were really effective.

Then I gave all the children out a piece of a wax candle as Sharon wanted to explore using a variety of art medium with the kids. They were given a small piece of heavy duty paper and asked to make marks on it with their candle like the stars in the night sky. Then it was break-time and after break the children made a wash of colour over their card using a mixture of blue and black acrylic paint.

It was fun to see their reaction as their wax marks started to appear on the page. After a little bit of discussion we ascertained that the wax was actually waterproof and that was why the paint would not stick to it.


We then had an interesting discussion about a Van Gogh painting of the night sky at Arles, that Sharon had posted on the IWB. The children were drawn to the swirling patterns around the light and compared it to waves underneath the sea. There was a feeling of movement and the children tried to copy the tiny brush strokes in a circular movement in their next drawings of the planets orbiting the solar system.

The children then worked in groups to make a wax crayon drawing of the solar system which they then covered in a blue wash. There was evidence of good teamwork with both people agreeing on what format their picture would take and the results were really good.

Here are their team efforts with the wash of acrylic paint on top.

Having experimented with candle wax, wax crayons and the acrylic paint for the wash, Sharon then demonstrated how the children could paint using water soluble wax pastels so for our final activity this morning the children had opportunities to experiment with the wax pastels as a drawing and painting tool to make a picture which would become part of a collage of the solar system. The children this time just chose one aspect of the solar system to draw such as a planet or a moon or a constellation. Then we joined all the drawings/paintings together to make one large picture of Outer Space. The children completed their drawings with a wash of colour to give it the impression that the paintings were indeed one large mural, and the results were very effective.





The move to space from exploring the sky and gravity has been a very enjoyable and interesting topic for the children and we are considering a trip to our local Planetarium in Armagh to get some hands on experience from the experts, which we can then bring to the remainder of our project.


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Session 10 Wednesday 16th March

Today’s session began with a very quick recap on where we left off last week. It had been a very practical session with a lot of moving around and using our bodies to explore weight, weightlessness and gravity. We talked about the virtual session and introduced the concept of ‘cyberspace’. Where is cyberspace? What is it like? I explained the idea of our virtual room in cyberspace that we use for our Virtually There project. We discussed who would be in the room. Today we had a third party, apart from us and Sharon, who intended to listen in to our work from the Kidscape project. It was important to highlight to the children that we were in a safe environment online and no one else could see or hear us. It was also important to point out that cyberspace can be a dangerous place and only to use the internet under adult supervision as it is not a safe place for children to explore unsupervised.

We then discussed the possibility of going on a journey with Sharon into space to visit a new planet which was much nearer to the sun than our planet so we had to make preparations for the journey. We needed special equipment just like astronauts, so we agreed on making space goggles using egg boxes , string, and filter/tissue paper to shield our eyes from the bright sunlight.

The children found the activity challenging as it is not something that a lot of kids do…make things from junk materials. It required patience, and skills such as making knots which were ’alien’ to many of the pupils (pardon the pun).




We had a bit of practice moving around the perimeter of the classroom wearing our space goggles. The children had to be careful to hold onto the desks on the way around so they wouldn’t float away or get sucked into a black hole. It was wonderful to watch the way they walked like real astronauts in space conscious of the lack of gravity and their own weightlessness.


After a short break outside the children returned to find they had landed on a new planet. It no longer resembled our classroom. This was the second phase of our session the EXPERIENCING phase.



After an opportunity to move around the new planet independently, the children then divided into teams and were tied together using skipping ropes, by the arms or in some cases by the feet, so that they could explore the planet safely without one of their team drifting away into space or being sucked into a black hole! The children had enormous fun during this activity. It required a lot of teamwork as well as physical skill and dexterity not to get caught up in the ropes, which were meant to represent different time zones.



Our third and final stage of our activities today was for the children to RECORD or DOCUMENT what they saw and also if possible what they felt. There was collective agreement that despite the challenges posed by wearing the space goggles(which were discarded by most at this stage) and the challenges of being tied together, there was a lot of fun involved in moving around and exploring this new planet and the children were quite willing to believe that they had been transported to a gravity free environment.

The children’s charcoal drawings show the detailed journeys and the excitement involved in making those journeys both physically and imaginatively.



I love the comment at the top of this drawing.

‘It felt like I was actually in space’



The children’s work is testament to their ability to suspend disbelief and become totally immersed in the experience. It certainly caught their imaginations and provided them with wonderful opportunities to explore concepts such as gravity and weightlessness in a safe and fun way. We probably asked a lot more questions than we knew the answers to, but that added to the interest in the project and in outer space and the idea of travelling in time to another world. We look forward to our next session. Who knows where we will go next?

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Session 9 Wednesday 8th March

We began the session by thinking about how our paper airplanes flew the last day. We talked about what made them fly. We talked about weight and gravity and how it might affect us. We discussed the whole idea of walking in water like in the swimming pool where there is low or less gravity and how it is harder to keep our legs on the floor as they have a tendency to drift upwards. We decided to have a little walk around the classroom pretending that we were walking in water to see if we could exert a force on our arms and legs which would push them upwards every time we tried to walk normally.

Here are some of the activities that we worked through with Sharon during the session.

ACTIVITY 1: LETTING PAPER FALL  (We could just investigate a little more about air friction / shape by trying this:)

A4 piece of paper  – the children could work in pairs  (recycle pieces of paper already used)

Shall we see what happens when we drop two pieces of paper – one will be a flat piece of paper and the other should be a crumpled, screwed up piece of paper. Drop one and lets see what happens, then lets drop the other and observe –  the children in pairs take it in turns to drop the paper to the ground, just letting it fall, maybe stand on a chair to do this  from a height – please count or time how long it takes for each piece to land on the floor.  The children can tell me what they observed. Did one fall quicker than the other? If so why might this be?

Each child was given 2 identical A4 sheets of paper. They were asked to crumple one into a ball and then we dropped both pages simultaneously and watched how the pages fell. The crumpled page hit the floor first. We observed how the flat page floated or drifted gently to the floor. We talked about how the shape of the page had an impact on gravity. The two pages were the same weight but one took up more space than the other. The flat page created a resistance towards the pull of gravity by its very shape. The air was slowing down its fall. This opened up an interesting discussion on forces and pushes and pulls.

AIR FRICTION – perhaps from here it could prompt our next discussion on WEIGHT and GRAVITY…

What is WEIGHT? and What is GRAVITY  – lets have a list of words / sentences the children tell us from their own understanding – be interesting to hear what the children think about these words/ideas…

GRAVITY is the force that pulls us to the ground  – thats what I understand

WEIGHT is the force of gravity on the object – so its a force… an ENERGY ? Can we see it?

ACTIVITY 2 – thinking back to our BALANCING ideas could we try BALANCING FORCES?

Working in pairs, the children could:

  • take it in turns to stand steady on two feet and see if their friend can gently push them to UNBALANCE them
  • try the same again only this time stand on one leg and see how long it takes to exert gentle FORCE to topple them
  • lean into / against each other – exerting enough force each of them to stop the other pushing them over – keeping balance…
  • Jack and Titas were willing to demonstrate for Sharon over the IWB and they were both very strong and equally balanced exerting the same amount of force against each other but Titas eventually proved to be the stronger.


ACTIVITY 3 – seeing weight/gravity

We tried dropping 2 different sorts of objects to the ground… a plastic ball and a wooden Jenga block ? what do we notice?


2 very different objects in weight and density


Describe these objects

What happened and why?


Activity 4: Test what it feels like to hold a weight for a while (stop it falling to the ground) and then the feeling of weightlessness?


some heavy objects for the children to hold –

we used dictionaries

Martin and Amy held  a weighty object, say several books in one hand with arm outstretched for an extended period of time…

We discussed the  responses from the children – is it difficult? how does the weight feel? why isn’t the object falling? what’s holding it up?  why isn’t our hand falling? what do we need to do with our hand to stop the object falling?

The children kept their arms as straight as possible.

Who can keep holding the longest? but it needs to be long enough to really feel as if the weight is getting heavier as time goes on, because then we put the object down and feel the LIGHTNESS of our arms, as the heaviness is gone and it feels like no effort to hold our arm out

We can talk about the feeling of HEAVINESS / WEIGHT & LIGHTNESS / WEIGHTLESSNESS 

What if there was no gravity? Is that what space is like? What do we know about space? how do we know it? from stories, news, from films?





We then returned to our desks after break and drew some pictures about what it might be like in space. We asked the children to imagine that they were taking off in a rocket and travelling into space.

This last drawing shows astronauts moving around in space where there is no gravity. It reflects the fun the children had as they pretended to float weightlessly around the classroom.

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Session 8 Wednesday 22nd February

The session began with all the children seated on the floor on a large rug so Sharon could get a bird’s eye view of everyone.

We picked up where we left off last week with our discussion on how birds actually fly. We had a very interesting discussion and the children were full of ideas using words such as flapping and gliding. They pondered on the importance of feathers. Wings were definitely seen as an essential. Strong muscles would also be needed.

We then did some swooping and gliding around the classroom being extra careful not to collide with any other ‘birds’.

After using up lots of energy Sharon then recommenced our earlier discussion to extend the idea of flying, to include  ‘iron birds’ which planes were commonly known as in the early days of flying. We talked about what they might need to keep them up. Amy suggested that it would be very important to keep your feet and legs together and thus the idea of a streamlined shape was introduced. We tried to make our bodies symmetrical so that they might resemble an aeroplane shape.

 Sharon then asked the children to draw some planes from memory. Most of the class had already been on a plane by age 7. I informed them that plane travel was not as common when I was their age, and I was an adult before I had my first opportunity to fly on a plane.

Using charcoal and A3 paper we sketched from memory keeping our flying machines as big and as symmetrical as we could. Some of the children drew helicopters.

The drawings showed great detail with solid shapes and symmetrical wings. Some pupils drew a tail on their plane. Here are some of their drawings.


After break time, we watched a short 3 minute video on YouTube on how to make a ‘Classic Dart’ paper airplane. The children then had the challenge of making their own paper airplane from folding an A4 page, no scissors, and no glue. The results were really good with lots of clever ideas. Then everyone got the opportunity to launch their paper airplane and we selected the ones which travelled the furthest to have a closer look at them and at how they were made. Some planes came back to their inventor in a loop the loop and some went out and turned around and came back like a boomerang.

John’s plane was a clear winner and travelled about 15 metres up the school corridor. John has been practising making his own paper airplanes now he says, for about 2 years as a hobby. It turns out that Sharon had NEVER actually made a paper airplane so John was selected to instruct Sharon step by step via the Facetime to make her very first paper plane. He explained each fold to her carefully demonstrating as he did so. When she had finished after following John’s instructions, Sharon then launched her paper airplane in her studio and we all watched her on the interactive whiteboard. She was very pleased with the outcome. The rest of the class were also excited by the way John’s model could travel such a distance so John then instructed his peers in the class on their own version of his design. We then returned to the drawing boards and the charcoal once more and the children drew what they had just made.


As you can see the children paid close attention to the sharp folds, the streamlining, the symmetry, and the shape and size of their plane and their drawings were very similar to the paper airplanes they had made. We also looked at some aeroplane logos on google.



We spent a bit of time trying to find the centre of gravity of our planes and tried to balance them on our fingertips. The children discovered that the planes were heavier towards the front or the nose of the plane where there were more folds and this encouraged them to work on their folds and keep them as sharp as possible, and the plane was lighter at the back.

We look forward to thinking about gravity more in our next session.

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Session 7. Wednesday 15th February


We were delighted to welcome Sharon into our class today in the flesh.. And to move the project forward as our last session was before Christmas.

There was a great sense of excitement at Sharon’s visit. We began by chatting about where we had left off and our earlier attempts at animations. Sharon introduced the children to a beautiful animation which she had worked on in a previous project entitled ‘Rescue Me’.

 The children were full of ideas about what the animation meant to them and we had some very interesting discussions around what it all meant. The children came up with the idea of drowning and falling into a boat and being saved. The ‘shed’ and the ‘tree’ were two very important aspects of the animation which the children kept coming back to in their discussions. The trunk of the tree morphed into the man’s body and this was fascinating as just this week in class we had done a family tree in religion as a part of our Grandparents Day celebration, as part of Catholic Schools Week.

There were also several recurring themes which the children seemed to agree on. The animation suggested to them feelings of loneliness, loss, life, a journey, danger, safety, sadness, depression, drowning and the idea of needing rescued and returning to the tree where they belong and feel safe. It reminded me of Julia Donaldson’s wonderful children’s story entitled ‘Stickman’ and the family tree.

The children were totally drawn in to the animation with the beautiful music to accompany them on the journey and their insights into the short film were intelligent and thoughtful.

We also discussed the practical aspect of working on such a project and how many drawings would be needed to complete a project like this. We chatted to Sharon about the TIME she had devoted to creating this fantastic animation which lasted approximately three minutes and took somewhere in the region of Three MONTHS to create. We were astounded at her patience and diligence to her craft.

Following our lengthy and thought –provoking discussions the children were provided with willow charcoal by Sharon and they had an opportunity to work with this wonderful art medium for the first time. Sharon also provided them with rubbers so that they could explore some of the techniques which Sharon had used in her animation ‘Rescue Me’, leaving a shadow of their drawing, giving it a ghostlike quality.


The children thoroughly enjoyed using charcoal as a medium and their work reflected the freedom with which they approached their drawings. The idea of the boat from the earlier animation stayed with a few of the pupils and they explored this in their artwork. The children became totally engrossed in their work and we had to ask them to stop drawing so that they could go for break!!




After break we returned to class and watched Sharon draw a crow using the scribble technique which we had explored in previous sessions. We had recently taken part in the RSPB Big Schools Birdwatch and the children had had some practice drawing a bird shape. Sharon had brought in two lifesize plastic crows which we used for our still life drawings.




Having had a go at drawing crows, we then attempted to take this one step further and turn our drawings into an animation! We discussed how the bird’s wings move at take-off and landing as well as mid-flight and we attempted to recreate these series of movements by giving everyone in the class a different position to draw. The children had a bit of practice using their arms as wings and determining their positions that they would need for their drawings. The results were extremely effective and we photographed each drawing in sequence and put them onto the photo roll on the iPad. We were then able to watch our short animation on appletv which lasted around 3 seconds. It was wonderful for the children to begin to appreciate and to understand the work that goes into creating an animation from still images. It was indeed a very busy activity and we were trying to have our animation complete before the session ended so the pressure was on. The results were very impressive and the children were duly proud of their achievements.



Siobhan’s work shows how she was able to draw the shape and size of the bird using the scribble effect, beginning in the centre and working outwards.


It was a wonderful session from start to finish having Sharon in the classroom and the quality of the children’s work reflected this.

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Session 6…Wednesday 7th December

We began as always by reviewing our work from the last session via the Kidsown website. The children love to see their work (and themselves) up on the big screen. We looked at the way our bodies bent and moved to take different poses. Sharon  sent down two mannequins in the post so in two groups we shared the models and  looked closely at how we could make it do a simple move to see what stages are involved.

So we made the mannequin raise its arms up to wave! The children put the arms through various stages from arms hanging down by its side to raised full in the air. It took maybe 6 – 8 moves in total.

We looked what Edward Muybridge did when he took lots of photographs of a horse in different stages of moving…

Eadweard photographed each stage and realised that if you saw each image quickly enough one after the other, you would think the object moved!

Sharon showed us  a simple flip book that her son had brought home as a souvenir from America when he was a boy. It showed King Kong in New York.

We then had a go at trying our own flip book – Sarah suggested making a snowball:
So we discussed how many STAGES will we need to make?

we used the post it notebooks for each child  –

  • where will we start and what position do we need it to be in at the end?
  • How many stages will we use?
  • what do we need to be careful of?
  • Drawing from the same starting point each time.

Each child made their own flip book and we worked steadily through the book making each snowball bigger as we went along.

Creating and photographing a larger sequence…. a bare Christmas tree getting decorated? 

I prepared a large Christmas tree shape – just simple triangular shapes-

Each child  drew a simple shape as decoration and cut it out then coloured it in or decorated it using chalk or pastel (not wet media). Using an iPad camera I took a photograph of the bare tree – then as each child stuck the decoration onto the tree I  took another photograph so I ended up with  27 photographs of the tree  at different stages of being decorated.


  • What will we need to think about as we take the photographs?
  • How will we ‘make it move’?

We were then able to put the photographs onto the IWB using AppleTV and flick through the camera roll. As we moved through the photos the tree appeared to be getting decorated.

The children then had opportunities to use the ipad themselves and play around with the idea of a moving image from still photographs.

We think we might like to explore this idea further so we are going to get in touch with the AMMA Centre in Armagh to discuss some ideas of how the children might make their own moving images.

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Session 5…Wednesday 16th November

I introduced this wooden mannequin to the children - who named him POSER we used him to help us see the important point over the body where we bend.

We began today with a close up look at an artist’s mannequin, whom we named ‘Poser’.

We explored all the different joints and ways the mannequin could be manipulated. We discussed all the ways which the body connects with each other. We named all the pivotal points and we counted 14 joints and we set ourselves the challenge of trying to move as many joints as possible at the same time and recreate a pose.

This was great fun and the children struck some interesting poses but Eileen, our classroom assistant surpassed us all by striking a sitting pose which had each joint assuming a different position.

Our first activity involved using the scribbled mass technique to make the shape of the body. We used graphite sticks to draw ‘Poser’ as a jigsaw made up of 15 separate pieces. We then cut out our jigsaw pieces and placed them directly onto sheets of coloured paper trying to make some of the poses which we had practised earlier in the session when we were exploring our joints.

The children made the pose on paper and then tried to imitate the pose which they had made. This proved to be both fun and challenging at the same time.

Sharon introduced us to Eadweard Muybridge, a photographer from the 19th century who invented a ‘gun’ which allowed still shots to be taken in quick succession.


We also looked at some work by a French Scientist called Etienne Jules Marley who studied movement and documented animals and figures in motion.

We examined closely a picture showing a series of photographs of a horse’s hooves in motion.


Then we looked at a painting by French artist MARCEL DUCHAMP (1887 – 1968)

Nude descending staircase by Marcel Duchamp 1912

This painting provoked a lot of discussion amongst the children as we tried to make sense of it. It depicts movement and we could see the staircase in the background. The sense of the person in motion was decipherable but separating the actual staircase from the figure was difficult and I suppose this is part of the charm of the painting.


We then went back to our desks and attempted to draw again using the scribbled mass technique, a person in motion descending the stairs. The results were very impressive as the children mimicked the movement of the joints as would happen if they were to walk down the stairs.

During this session we had teacher visitors to our classroom, who were in our school for the day from Croatia, as part of an Erasumus Project, so the children had opportunities to discuss and reflect on what they were doing in their drawings with the adults who took a great interest in what they were doing, and were indeed impressed with the children’s work.


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