Friday, 6 March 2015

Smoothies, ghosts, campfires and wolves!


It’s been a weird week at work. Exciting, creative but weird. I’d known for some time that there was going to be an ‘electricity’ shut down on 2 days this week (by coincidence the 2 days I teach). The parents had been informed in advance and assured that the communications system would still be up-and-running, the heating functioning etc. They were asked to keep it a secret from the children.

Interestingly, the impetus for the switch off was neither environmental nor relating to history work (although we could exploit both, obviously) but was a whole-school creative writing project. Each year group did different activities. In Year 3 they had lovely vanilla scented candles (it was like teaching at a luxury spa on Monday!) and observed how they burned. They also did some work on fire and then wrote poetry about fire. They also had a fantastic ‘smoothie bike.’ This is a stationary bike with a blender on the back, which is operated by pedalling fast.

Year 5 had a ghostly theme for their creative writing and I arrived at school on Monday morning to find all the year 5 staff dressed up as ghosts. I was asked if I could do a ghost-related story in French with them so, on Thursday (World Book Day) Year 5 and I enjoyed ‘Par Une Sombre Nuit de Tempête.’ We did actions and created sound effects before 3 teams competed to re-form a section of the story from sentence strips.

Year 6 were having an incredibly exciting day. They were spending most of it outdoors, in non-uniform, and had set up an enormous campsite. I went outside to investigate and found 3 enormous bell tents and a campfire, over which they were cooking fish. My French lesson was in the afternoon and I was told I could hold it at the campsite! Fantastic!

I had the lunch hour to think how I was going to adapt my lesson to make full use of this. We have been working on clothes and I was planning to read the story ‘Promenons-nous dans les bois’. I decided to exploit this further and re-create the story with the children. I dashed home and packed 4 enormous hold-alls full of clothes – having raided the wardrobes of every member of the family. I chose anything wacky or bright and especially similar items in different colours (thinking ahead to when we’d be writing about it).

In the lesson my Year 6 class and I went outside and sat near the campfire while I read the story. They then chose 1 or 2 items of clothing each. Next, we all recited the 3 questions from the story, “Loup, y-es tu?, entends-tu? que fait-tu?”. One by one they went into the tent and said e.g. “Je mets mon pantalon” at the same time holding out the appropriate item through the tent flaps (or sticking out a leg in the case of boots). I then took a photo on my ipad. That person would then place their item(s) of clothing in the one of the bags (which were inside the tent) and come out. The next person would enter the tent and the rest of the class would ask the 3 questions again. In the 45-minute lesson we just managed to get everyone in and out of the tent and all the photos taken. I did have the support of a wonderful TA who helped organise everyone.

At the end one person was chosen to be the wolf and to emerge from the tent fully dressed (wearing a wolf mask I had quickly made at lunchtime).
Here’s the photo.

Next steps:

My plan is to turn this into a book using something like Storybird or Storyjumper. As I have so many items of different colours on my camera roll I’d like the children to be able to choose which selection of clothes they would like. They will then be able to write the story but adding their particular items of clothing and colours (with agreement where necessary, of course).

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