Project: A Birds-eye View over Fieldhead
Participants: Year 4 pupils
Partnering with: Mill Lane Primary
Artist: Tim Curtis
Science topic: Which wild animals and plants thrive in our locality?
We are using creative activities to investigate which living things thrive in Fieldhead, and what kinds of habitats there are around us. We’ll be discovering that the creatures and plants living in our locality can be grouped in different ways, and exploring how living things can be affected by changes in their environment. Equipped with maps, quadrants and ipads we will be going on Habitat Walks, using surveying, coding and ‘data handling’ techniques to explore different areas outside the classroom. We’ll collect, plot, analyse, make maps and sketches, take photos, and create a habitat/creature survey. We’ll also be bird watching, learning how to identify and classify birds, then creating drawings of the birds we have found using a variety of materials. We plan to develop our drawings into scenes depicting the different habitats our birds visit and what happens to them there, adding backdrops and props and using stop frame animation to create an animated story about a bird’s journey around Fieldhead.
Session 1: 25th February 2016
This week we met and worked with Tim, our artist. We thought about lots of scientific survey skills like seeing, touching, recording, photographing and sketching. We walked around Fieldhead estate and found lots of creatures and habitats even on a cold day in February at the end of winter. We saw birds in their habitats, collected plants and seeds and brought them back to school. We discovered that plants, flowers and seeds are homes and habitats for an amazing range of mini-beasts from worms, slugs and snails to flies, woodlice, ants and aphids. Next week we will learn to draw birds or mini-beasts and animate them in three parts so they look like they are moving.
“Look, I’ve found little green thing, it’s got six legs and wings and it came out of this dandelion“
“Look at this Tim, I think it’s a slug and it’s got no feet”
Session 2: 3rd March 2016
This week we met David Radcliffe, our volunteer from Cummins Turbo Technologies. He showed us a model engine with pistons, spark plugs and turbo charger attached and told us about what Cummins Turbo make. They make engines for buses, trains, lorries and wagons all around the world, and in Huddersfield they make the turbos that go on them. They have over 9 factories in places like the USA, Brazil and the Netherlands and David gets to visit them each year and talk with colleagues there on video conferencing most days. He tried to explain to us what his job is: he looks, listens and checks things carefully and pays a lot of attention to quality. In the hall we played a few drawing games to get warmed up on a massive 12meter long roll of paper: drawing with two hands, drawing with your other hand, drawing with your favourite hand. These games were designed to help us focus and listen and use our fine motor skills. When we returned to the classroom we had a drawing demonstration, where Tim showed us how he looks at the art of other artists and copies their lines and marks as best as he can. We looked at how two book illustrators have drawn a magpie and a raven (a bit like some of the birds we saw last week on our nature survey walk), and we watched Tim try to copy them, really big and filling a page with charcoal pencil. Then we had a go ourselves. We also tried to draw two made-up birds from our imaginations and made a sparrow type cartoon in profile and an owl type cartoon flying head on towards us, wings out and in flight. In case you’re wondering about the costumes we are wearing in some of the photos, is was World Book Day so we had all dressed up. David and Tim really enjoyed the chance to share Billionaire Boy with three or four children at the end of the day.
Session 3: 10th March 2016
We had a really busy and productive workshop at Fieldhead this week, well done everyone! Since Tim visited last week, the class had all managed to draw a bird in three different positions, including wings out and wings by the side. To start today’s workshop we carefully cut around our bird drawings so that we could use them in our time-lapse stop-motion animation. Then in our work teams we had to choose one of five scenes or locations that we would make. We learnt a quick ‘Mr Maker’ way of using collage to make a layered scene to be the back ground for our animation. We worked hard and shared well as teams to make some great background scenery. Then we worked as a team using our ipads to take photos of each frame in our animation, moving our cut-out birds a tiny amount around the scenery, which stays still. Tim taught us how to close crop, or zoom/focus in with a still camera to make sure that the thing you are photographing fills your lens and that it is in focus. Then we had great fun making our hand-drawn, hand-animated birds fly into and out of bird boxes, lamp posts, trees, bushes and TV antennae – all places we had seen birds using as part of their habitat when we went out on our first walk three weeks ago. Next week we will try to use all these scenes to tell a narrative story that shows how much we now know about habitats at Fieldhead.
“We animated a movie on imovie, it was fun. We took photos about the habitats around us”
“We made backgrounds for our films and we used our birds. We used our collages to create our film”
“We used paper and we collaged a berry bush and a blue sky”
“We used our habitat knowledge to design our collage. We used our collage to create an animation about a bird going through places”
Session 4: 17th March 2016
Tim’s last day with us today! Everyone worked in teams to take close-cropped photos of hand drawn animated birds flying through the habitats we surveyed in February. We quickly agreed a structure for our story that neatly, simply and interestingly used all the background scenery we had created, and offered a chance to make some animated action. Most of us worked really hard together in teams and did things that people often find hard: we shared things, we took turns, we were patient and understanding and we cooperated together to get a finished piece of work done. Tim asked us to use hand drawn birds that may not have been their own. He also asked us to share and use each other’s background scenes in turn as we took close-cropped photos of our stop frame animation story in five parts and five settings. Tim and David from Cummins Turbo were impressed by the way everyone managed to contribute and join in with creating our habitat story. In small groups we tried to take photo frames that tell a very simple story of a bird being hungry when he wakes in the bird house, having a damaged or broken wing and being helped by other birds to get red berries, eat in safety and then go and hang out in a flock with his friends in the trees above school. The story is based on our real-life habitat observations. We had lots of fun, did some great reflective writing in our booklets, and also enjoyed finishing our part of a collaborative illustration that we have worked on with children from Mill Lane school. Tim is now going to edit our animations together so that we can add captions and sound ready for our film to be shown in Batley Art Gallery.
“When it gets out of the bird house it falls to the ground because it can’t fly, it’s got a broken wing”
“I know that it needs to eat the red berries on the red berry bush and that its friends will fly along and help it get the berries to eat”
“I think I have got all the frames and all the scenes in imovie now”
“I saw the bird on the TV aerial when we was on the walk and I took a photo of him on the ipad”
A few words from our teacher:
“The opportunity for pupils to develop a love for Art and feel safe to explore techniques in Art has been very beneficial to their learning and progression.”
Our volunteer from Cummins Turbo Technologies said:
“The time I spent working with Tim and the children at Fieldhead was fantastic, I think I have missed my way and should have been a teacher. The faces and reactions of the children have been very rewarding. Although I was shattered at the end of the day, I had a great feeling of satisfaction knowing that in a small way I had contributed to the children’s education and awareness of their environment” (David Radcliffe, CTT)