Outdoor Learning in Leeds

‘Learning outdoors creates lasting memories, helps build a greater awareness of the environment, provides more opportunities to think independently, and gets children feeling challenged and excited by learning.’ Outdoor Classroom Day website

Outdoor Classroom Day came early to Rose Court (the Nursery and Pre-prep section of The Grammar School at Leeds). Turns out that Outdoor Classroom Day was scheduled for 18 May this year. But we were outdoors a week ahead, on 11 May instead. And what a fabulous day we chose! Unbroken sunshine through all four of my Year 2 minibeast sessions.

Outdoors with Year 2 at Rose Court

Rhyme-Time Rambling with Year 2 at Rose Court (Photo by Rachel Cockburn)

You can read all about our activities on the school’s website. And see more fabulous photos taken on the day at the school’s facebook page. For my take on the day, read on …

Rhyme-Time Rambling with Year 2

Rhyme-Time Rambling with Year 2 (Photo by Rachel Cockburn)

One of the wonderful things about learning outside the classroom is that, whilst you can plan a session until you’re blue in the face, you never know what you and the children are actually going to encounter. For example, I walked onto the Rose Court playing field, just before my first session with the children, and I immediately spied a Green Woodpecker. In the heart of Leeds! (Which, according to the taxi driver I had on the way back to the station, is the fastest growing city in Europe.) (I haven’t fact-checked that, so it may or may not be 100% accurate!)

But back to our Green Woodpecker. I was at Rose Court because Year 2 is studying minibeasts. And whilst I was hoping/expecting we’d get to see, for example, ladybirds (yes) and snails (yes) and bees (yes), I hadn’t anticipated that we’d all be able to watch a Green Woodpecker. And the relevance to minibeasts? Well, the Green Woodpecker was on the field, repeatedly jabbing its beak into the grass, because it was looking for ants to eat. It eats some 2,000 of these a day, prising them out with its pointy beak and long sticky tongue. (You can watch a Green Woodpecker doing this, and find out more about it, in my Green Woodpecker poetry video here, which is taken from my new book, Flying High! Discover the poetry in British birds.)

And what, you may be wondering, is Outdoor Classroom Day? Well, to quote directly from their website:

‘Outdoor Classroom Day is a day to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play. On Thursday 18 May 2017, thousands of schools around the world will take lessons outside and prioritise playtime.

Why? Outdoor learning improves children’s health, engages them with learning and leads to a greater connection with nature.’

I can vouch for this – which is why I do the work I do!

Rose Court Year 2 pupils being millipedes (Photo by Rachel Cockburn)

Rose Court Year 2 pupils being millipedes (Photo by Rachel Cockburn)

So, if you’d like me to take your pupils on a rhyme-time ramble, or to turn them into poem-creating millipedes or to put on any of my other poetry+nature outdoor learning workshops, then just get in touch.

Meanwhile, a big Thank You to the many staff involved in my visit to Rose Court – including librarian Sandra Harris, who looked after me so well on the day, and Rachel Cockburn, for her write-up and photos. Not forgetting, of course, the Year 2 children, who were such a joy to be with.

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

 

 

Finding treasure in Beverley

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: what I love most about putting on family workshops is seeing different generations working together. And they were certainly doing that in the family photography workshops I put on at the East Riding Treasure House in Beverley recently:

The Treasure House family photography workshop

The Treasure House family photography workshop. (Photos by Sarah Hammond)

Now, whilst the Treasure House is teeming with treasures on the inside (do go and visit – it’s a gem of a place!), you’ll have noticed from these photos that there are not a lot of treasures in the outside space. It’s by a busy road, and there are some flower tubs, a front border and a bit of green by the side.

And you’d think, given that these were nature photography workshops, that this would have posed somewhat of a problem. However, it didn’t stop our talented photography families:

Taking photos outside The Treasure House

Taking photos outside The Treasure House. (Photos by Sarah Hammond)

They put into practice my Top-Secret photography technique, and in so doing found all sorts of things to take fabulous photos of.

James is 14. Here are his favourite photos from the day:

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And Marco is 7. Here are his favourite photos from the day:

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My favourites from the photos Marco took are these (which I’ve cropped a little):

My favourite photos taken by 7-year-old Marco

My favourite photos taken by 7-year-old Marco

You see – you don’t need to live in Kew Gardens to take great nature photos. Look carefully in a grass verge or a municipal flower tub, and you’ll be amazed at what’s there.

Now, back to the treasures inside the Treasure House. Well, they were of two types. Firstly, something I treasured was seeing so many people, of all ages, milling enthusiastically round the exhibitions (and café!)

And talking of exhibitions, the other big treasure for me that day was the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, which was on tour from the Natural History Museum in London. Indeed, that was the reason I was at the Treasure House – to put on photography workshops to inspire the Wildlife Photographer of the Year winners of the future.

It was Sarah Hammond, Education Officer at the Treasure House, who asked me to come and put on these photography workshops – plus two more in local schools. (You can see the amazing photos the children took in the school workshops here and here.) So a big Thank You to her for inviting me, and for all her organisational work. (And for taking the photos at the top of this post.)

Both of my Treasure House workshops were fully booked, and I’d like to thank all the people who came along and took part – and gave such lovely feedback afterwards, some of which you can read below:

Infectious enthusiasm of Anneliese is wonderful, well done’

‘I just want to say it was EPIC!!! Thank you!!!’

‘Anneliese was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable. The techniques she taught were straightforward and her manner was encouraging. Thank you for a lovely afternoon.’

‘A very interesting and educational way to spend Saturday afternoon.’

‘Anneliese is so passionate about her work, it is very contagious.’

‘We like how we got a lot of tips’

‘I learnt how to use a camera!’

If you’d like me to put on a nature photography workshop for families at your venue, you can find out more here, and you can email me here.

Meanwhile, here’s to Wildlife Photographer of the Year winners from East Yorkshire in the future!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz

 

 

#MondayMotivation

I happened to hear Ed Sheeran on Desert Island Discs on Radio 4 yesterday. Time and again when he was setting out he was told by record labels he approached that ‘No-one wants to see a ginger white guy rapping’. Despite that, he stayed true to himself, stayed true to his dream and kept on knocking on doors. And the rest is history.

This inspiring story reminded me of a poem of mine. So for anyone in need of a little motivation today, be it because of SATS or GCSEs or dissertation or … life, here’s a little something I hope will inspire you to reach as high as high can be:

If you’re interested, you’ll find more of my poetry videos on my Videos page, or at my YouTube channel.

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

Year 6 photography in Bridlington

First day back at school, SATS looming, Tour de Yorkshire arriving on Friday – there was a lot on the minds of Year 6 pupils at Bay Primary in Bridlington when I arrived to put on a photography workshop for them this week. But they rose to the occasion!

They learnt my photography technique, learnt how to use the cameras I’d taken along for them, and went out into their grounds to take nature photos. And what fabulous photos they took! Here are some of my favourites:

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I was at Bay Primary as part of the outreach work surrounding this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, which had been on tour from the Natural History Museum in London at the Treasure House in Beverley.

Just like the children of St Nicholas Primary in Beverley (which I visited a couple of weeks ago), these children had visited the exhibition before my visit. I was there to teach them how to take nature photos, so they might enter the competition in years to come. I hope they do! In fact, more than one pupil came up to me afterwards to say they now wanted to be a professional photographer when they grew up!

However, you don’t have to wait until they’re grown up to see their photos for real yourselves. The Treasure House in Beverley is hoping to put on an exhibition of some of the photos these children took. I’ll let you know when that happens.

Meanwhile, thank you to Bay Primary teachers Mrs Green, Mrs Pemberton and Miss Johnson, and all their TAs – both for their help on the day and for warding off the sleet, snow, hail and rain that dogged my journey there and back for long enough for us to be able to go outside and take photos!

Thank you too to Sarah Hammond, Education Officer at The Treasure House in Beverley, for inviting me to put on these workshops in the first place.

If you’d like a photography workshop at your school, you can find out more here, and get in touch with me here.

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz

Much magic at Much Marcle

What an inspired idea! Bring children from different primary schools together at a gorgeous venue, set in fabulous grounds, for a day-long poetry festival in the company of three very different poets.

The idea was Chloe Garner’s. She’s the Director of the – very wonderful – Ledbury Poetry Festival.

Chloe Garner - Director of the Ledbury Poetry Festival

Chloe Garner – Director of the Ledbury Poetry Festival

The gorgeous venue was Hellens Manor, in Much Marcle, Herefordshire, not a million miles down the road from Ledbury:

Hellens Manor

Hellens Manor, Herefordshire

The grounds are gorgeous, both formal:

The grounds of Hellens Manor

The grounds of Hellens Manor

And more wild:

The grounds at Hellens Manor

The grounds at Hellens Manor. (The elephant is a sculpture, in case you were wondering!)

And the poets were me:

Anneliese Emmans Dean at Hellens Manor

Me!

Sara Hirsch:

Sara Hirsch, preparing her next workshop!

Sara Hirsch, preparing her next workshop …

and Rob Gee (who I kept meaning to take a snap of, but didn’t get around to!)

We three poets performed for the children and with the children, we put on poetry writing and performance workshops, and we all came together at the end of the day to listen to the children performing their new work.

Then we did something very similar the next day (with different children).

And the children? What did they make of it all?

Children in our Poetry Festival lunch break

Children in our Poetry Festival lunch break

Well, here’s the – completely unsolicited – letter one of the children gave me:

A letter from one of the participants in the 'Poetry Festival in a Day' I took part in

A letter from one of the participants in the ‘Poetry Festival in a Day’

Can’t ask for much more than that!

And the grown-ups? What did they think? Here’s some feedback from one of the accompanying mums:

‘What a joy it was to join my son’s primary school and 2 other schools for a
Festival of poetry at Hellens Manor.
A trip out of school to such a beautiful yet friendly location was a great
start to engaging the children but then a day of hard listening, thinking
and writing really got them buzzing and creating. The three so different but
excellent poets performed wonderfully right from the start as the children
asked questions; then listened to the funny, serious, challenging and even
slightly naughty material; then enjoyed three absorbing workshops and
finally performed their own work to their friends and new friends, using a
mic.
Conversations and laughing about the poetry continued in the car and I
believe was taken up next day in lesson plan changes by their teachers.
If days like these don’t get children realising that writing and poetry can
be so rewarding, fun and exciting, I don’t know what will.’

As for me … I found it a very enriching and inspiring experience, in a location so beautiful that I could quite happily have stayed there for ever and ever and ever …!

Fortunately, Chloe is hoping to put on a similar events in the future. Next time she invites me, I may just have to refuse to leave the premises at the end of it all …

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

 

 

 

 

Prize-winning photographers of the future …

In all honesty, I didn’t think that the last day of term was the wisest choice for a photography workshop. I thought I would arrive at the school to find the children demob happy and unable/unwilling to concentrate. How wrong I was!

The school in question was St Nicholas Primary School in Beverley, and the children were two Year 5 classes, 5F and 5C. I was there as part of the outreach work surrounding this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, which is currently on tour from the Natural History Museum in London at the Treasure House in Beverley.

The children had visited the exhibition before my visit. I was there to teach them how to take nature photos, so they might enter the competition in years to come!

Each class had just over two hours to go from zero to fully fledged nature photographers, proficient at using the Canon cameras I took along for the workshop. And they well and truly rose to the challenge – and took some fabulous photos! Here is a small selection, all taken in a modest-sized flower bed at the front of the school.

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Impressive!

Thank you to all the staff and parent-helpers for their assistance during these workshops – especially to Mrs Fox, for all her behind-the-scenes work in advance of my visit. Thank you, too, to Sarah Hammond at the Treasure House in Beverley, whose idea it was to invite me to put on some photography workshops linked to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition.

Next up, I’m putting on two family photography workshops at the Treasure House itself, on 22 April – but they’re already fully booked, so it’s too late to join in with them, I’m afraid. Then there’s another school workshop too.

If you’d like a photography workshop where you are, just get in contact. You can find out more about my school photography workshops here, and my photography workshops in general here.

Meanwhile, you’ve got until 22 April to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Treasure House in Beverley. Enjoy! I’m looking forward to seeing photos by local Beverley children in future years’ competitions!

Anneliese Emmans Dean

Job Satisfaction

I’m just back from Herefordshire, where I’ve been putting on poetry performances and workshops with primary-school children for the Ledbury Poetry Festival. I’ll tell you more about it later. For now, I’d just like to share this fabulous – completely unsolicited – letter that one of the children came up to me and gave me. I was completely bowled over. Job satisfaction doesn’t get much better than this!

A letter from one of the participants in the 'Poetry Festival in a Day' I took part in

A letter from one of the participants in the ‘Poetry Festival in a Day’ I took part in

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life