Archive for January, 2018

Learning in the Roundhouse at St Cuthberts

I was delighted to be asked by St Cuthbert’s RC Primary School in North Shields to come and work with two groups of children in their outside space. St Cuthbert’s have built a round house in their school grounds along with a dedicated campfire area. How could I resist?

I worked with two groups of children, from years 2 and 4. I wanted to use the outdoor space to increase confidence,  social skills,  dexterity and engagement in children who struggle to engage in class.

Over five weeks we made marble runs on a pile of soil left over from building the roundhouse, we painetd autumn flags, we made clay pots and got the Muddy Fingers potters to glaze and fire them, we made bird feeders, we ground flour from wheat, built dens and many more activities. We blew giant bubbles thanks to a great recipe from Philip Noble for the perfect bubble miture. It was a truly magical session for the children.

I’m not sure who enjoyed themselves the most when we played conkers; Mr Dillion, the headteacher, or the children. I think my favourite activity was making apple crumble in a dutch oven. We divided the children in to two teams, team apple and team crumble. Team apple had to peel and cut up the apples and team crumble prepared mixed the flour, butter and sugar to make the crumble. I had built up the fire to make sure we had lots of hot coals for cooking the crumble. We put the dutch oven on it’s tripod over part of the fire. and covered the lid with coals too. After about 40 mins the crumble was cooked and we ate it hungrily around the camp fire.

Each session ended with stories and songs around the campfire followed by a reflection on the day.

One aspect that I particularly enjoyed about this project is that the parents were encouraged to come along at the end of the day to see what the children had been doing and to have a go themselves. The parents really enjoyed getting their hands stuck in, particularly when we made the clay pots.

Working with St Cuthbert’s was a real inspiration for me as the staff their are so enthusiastic and so dedicated to providing the best experience for the children at the school.


Orkney Science Festival Sept 2017

Last year I was at a festival where there was a kite making workshop and I was a bit horrified to see so many plastic kites ending up in the sea. Once plastic gets in to the sea, it floats around the world possibly for centuries reaching parts of our globe that we might think are far away from any kind of pollution. This bottle of 7 up is thought to have left Florida about ten years ago and washed up in Birsay, Mainland Orkney earlier this year. It contained a sweet smelling liquid, thought to be the remains of the 7 Up. (No-one wanted to taste it to find out!)

Plastic bottle from america

So over the summer I had been working on making a kite with no plastic parts. After weeks of testing I was happy with the result and the Orkney science festival proved to be the best place for the first outing of this new workshop.Kite sideways viewI spent months researching different kinds of paper, different lengths and weights of bamboo canes, finding pure linen thread etc etc. but finally I was ready. How would classes of school children find making these kites?

I’m always a little nervous when doing a new workshop for the first time, but everyone managed to make a kite from P2 to S3. It is a great workshop as you can tailor the science to be appropriate for the class.

There wasn’t time for me to get involved in flying the kites with each class but, the older kids on Stronsay let me join in their kite flying session. Here are a few picures:

We had loads of fun on a blustery Orkney day!