Poetree!

OK, so this looks like a spindly, bare, whippersnapper of a tree …

Naburn Primary School children with one of their new apple trees

Naburn Primary School children with one of their new apple trees

… but pupils at two York schools have been imagining what it will grow into, and how they will enjoy the fruit it will bear in the future. And they have been doing so through poetry.

The ‘Poetree’ project was dreamt up and delivered by Vikki Pendry of York Edible Schools (Y.E.S. – part of Edible York) and me. Two local schools were offered two apple trees each (courtesy of Y.E.S.), and an accompanying poetry workshop from me.

The first school to take up the offer was, appropriately, Applefields School, followed swiftly by Naburn Primary School.

Planting apple trees in February is a splendidly muddy business, but fortunately the children had been primed to bring wellies that day, so much stomping could be enjoyed by all.

Apple tree planting at Applefields School

Apple tree planting at Applefields School

Less muddy were our poetry workshops, in which the children learned and performed a poem I had written specially for them all about the wildlife the apple trees would support as they matured.

Then the children created their own class poem about what the trees and their fruit would mean to them.

It was great to see such purposeful and imaginative learning going on at these two schools. Claire Hopkinson, Form 3 teacher at Applefields, told us afterwards:

‘We loved having you to visit us and the pupils really did have a great deal of fun and enjoyment. They performed the poems in assembly so everyone in school has benefitted from your workshop.’

Planting mission accomplished at Applefields School

Planting mission accomplished at Applefields School

We hope the apple trees will leave a tasty legacy for these children for years to come.

This was one of a range of food-related poetry events that I have put on. If you fancy some poetree or other food-related poetry at your school, then just get in touch. (Though I have to tell you, the current funding for the apple trees has been used up now!)

Meanwhile, do check out the excellent work of York Edible Schools and Edible York. You’ll find loads of resources there to help you get growing, and teach others to grow too.

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

 

 

Terrific Technologies at St Anthony’s Primary School

It was Terrific Technologies week at St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School in Leeds last week, and I went along one afternoon to teach Year 4 how to take photos using my BigBuzz Photography Technique and my digital cameras. The children caught on fast. Very fast! Take a look at some of the terrific photos they took in their school grounds:

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It’s amazing what you can find on a cold, grey afternoon in February when you’re being observant, isn’t it?

What did the children think of the workshop? Well, more than one came up to me and said they now wanted to be a photographer when they grew up!

And what did form teacher Miss McGuire think about it all?

‘Thanks so much for the fabulous workshop. The children really loved it and I was so impressed by the quality of the photos they took!’

I was really impressed too! Congratulations to Year 4 for learning to use the terrific technology that is the digital camera so fast and so well. It’s a skill for life. Who knows where it will lead them?

If you’d like a BigBuzz photography workshop in your school, and you’re within an hour of York, then just get in touch.

And you can find out more about my photography workshops here and here .

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz

Tang Hall Big Local

This might look to you like a jumble of beanbag cubes for sitting on.

The new seat cubes at Tang Hall Community Centre

The new beanbag seats at Tang Hall Community Centre

Indeed, that’s what Tang Hall Community Centre Manager Stephen Collins bought them as. However, on their first outing (at the Tang Hall Big Local Festive Make & Take day on Saturday), the children in my storytelling sessions saw them rather differently.

These cubes became sledges to toboggan on, they became snowballs to build into tall snowmen, they became the building blocks of castles and of pyramids and … and … and … .

Oh the joy of creative, imaginative play! In this instance, creative, imaginative, language-rich play. Initially, the children were inspired to build things that featured in the rhyming stories I was performing for them. However, it soon became apparent that these children were more than capable of creating rhyming stories themselves, inspired by the things they were creating with the cubes.

Some of the children who created and performed story poems at the Tang Hall Big Local Festive Make & Take day.

Some of the children who created and performed story poems at the Tang Hall Big Local Festive Make & Take day..

After a momentous battle fought between the occupants of two rival (cube-built) castles, the children wrote an epic poem they called The Battle of Slew (a saga to rival the Icelandic sagas!) Which they then performed to an audience they rounded up themselves.

I was so impressed with these children’s creativity. With their ability to get on with each other. (This was a drop-in session that any children of any age could take part in.) With their imagination. With their vocabulary. With their enthusaism. With their performing skills. And what was great was that Tang Hall gave us the flexibility to go with the flow. Initially I had been scheduled to put on four separate 30-minute rhyming storytelling sessions, with 30-minute intervals inbetween. However, the kids wanted to carry on going without any breaks – and so we did!

The whole of the Tang Hall Big Local Festive Make & Take day was inspiring. There were a raft of seasonal craft (and my storytelling) activities put on in the Community Centre on a free, drop-in basis. *And* a delicious free lunch, which we all shared together in the hall. So uplifting! And topped off by the best inter-generational Christmas jumpers I have ever had the privilege of encountering:

The best family Christmas jumpers I have encountered!

The best family Christmas jumpers I have encountered!

Thank you to all those at Tang Hall Big Local who invited me to be part of their Seasonal Make & Take day, and who made me so welcome.

A particularly big thank you to Stephen Collins, whose inspired idea to buy some colourful bean bags to sit on transformed the day for us all!

Tang Hall Community Centre manager Stephen Collins

Tang Hall Community Centre manager Stephen Collins

There are fabulous photos from the day at Tang Hall Big Local’s Facebook page, so do go and have a look. The feedback from the day was so positive that I was invited to think about starting a regular session at the community centre there. Sounds tempting to me! Watch this space …

Meanwhile, if you’d like your community event pepping up with some rhyming storytelling, just get in touch!

Anneliese Emmans DeantheBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

Quick: Buzzing! sale – 50% off!

Quick – time to grab your copy of my award-winning book Buzzing! at a mere £5! That’s the cheapest the book has ever been! It’s part of my publisher, Brambleby Books’ Black Friday 50% off weekend sale – which ends tonight (Sunday 27 Nov 2016).

Buy your copy here – while stocks last!

A perfect present for any nature-loving/giggle-loving/rhyme-loving primary children (and all young-at-heart grown-ups too!) And the perfect antidote to  nature deficiency disorder!

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Whilst you’re at Brambleby’s site, check out the discounts on their other great natural history books too!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

 

Autumn at Skelton Grange

I’ve been wanting to visit Skelton Grange for ages. It does in Leeds what our St Nicks does here in York. Both are environment centres in urban settings offering, amongst many other things, conservation volunteering opportunities and the chance to frolic (or stomp around – as you prefer) in nature and learn more about it.

St Nicks held its Autumn Fayre on Saturday 15 October (where I presided over the creation of a community poem). The Saturday before that, Skelton Grange held their Big Green Weekend Open Day, and invited me to come and put on an event for visitors. An invitation I couldn’t refuse!

So, I got to Skelton Grange at last! And took families with younger children on Rhyme Time Rambles round their grounds.

The setting for Skelton Grange is urban. Very urban:

The approach to Skelton Grange Environment Centre

The approach to Skelton Grange Environment Centre

But step inside, and you’re in a different world, with woodland and ponds and fruit trees and bird hides …

A bird hide at Skelton Grange

A bird hide at Skelton Grange

… and minibeast hotels and mosaics and sculptures …

A Skelton Grange sculpture

Skelton Grange sculpture

and, and, and!

There was *lots* going on at this Open Day, from spinning to willow weaving to charcoal making to … a tug of war. Oh, and spoon-making, of course, by Dan of 2carvedspoons!

Dan with his carved spoons

Dan with his beautiful carved spoons (and bowls)

Thank you to everyone who came and joined in my Rhyme Time Rambles. And to the Robin that came along for the ride!

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Thank you too to Freya for suggesting me to Skelton Grange in the first place. And to Toby for all his admin and organisation.

Freya busy serving freshly baked pizzas

Freya busy serving freshly baked pizzas

If you live in Leeds and haven’t been to Skelton Grange, then I thoroughly recommend it as a place where both you and the kids can run around through bird- and minibeast-rich woodland and meadow and get a real sense of being in the great outdoors slap bang in the middle of a big city. A place where you can breathe.

They run all sorts of activities and courses too. Check out their website for more details.

Skelton Grange Environment Centre

Skelton Grange Environment Centre

And if you’d like me to put on some Rhyme Time Rambles for your upcoming outdoor event, then just get in touch!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life