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

 

Sounds interesting …

The day after the momentous Brexit result in our EU referendum, we had the pleasure of welcoming a very special migrant to our garden here on the outskirts of York. Take a listen to this:

Isn’t it beautiful? It’s the first time I’ve ever, in the 20 years we’ve lived here, heard this bird singing in our garden. And it provided very welcome balm for the soul.

In case you’re wondering, what you’ve just listened to is a male Blackcap.

As anyone who has been to one of my Flying High! shows will know, I am a big fan of birdsong. And I’m very keen, through my Flying High! shows (often performed with storyteller Catherine Heinemeyer) and my forthcoming Flying High! book, to tune other people in to the joys (and occasional annoyances!) of the birdsong around them.

However, birdsong isn’t the only fabulous sound you might hear in your garden. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear all sorts of other interesting sounds.

For example, ten days after I heard the Blackcap singing, I was just about to go to bed when I heard a familiar sound through the bathroom window. We hear it every year at about this time. Have a listen. Do you know what it is?

The first time I heard it, I had no idea what it was. The answer is: two hedgehogs getting to know each other. They snuffle around each other like this for ages and ages. We feel very lucky that year after year, hedgehogs come to our garden for this special event in their lives.

Courting hedgehogs in our garden, 4 July 2016

Courting hedgehogs in our garden in Heslington, 4 July 2016

And here’s another intriguing sound. I heard it in the garden over the course of a few days last week. It was coming from our wooden trellis. Any idea what it is? (N.B. You need to listen very carefully!)

For the answer to this one, I’ll point you in the direction of my award-winning Buzzing! book. All is revealed on pages 20 and 21!

Meanwhile, may your life be enriched by tuning in to the sounds of nature all around you.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what the effect of leaving the EU may be on our wildlife here in Britain, have a read of this interesting document, The EU and Our Environment, drawn up in advance of the referendum by the RSPB, Wildlife Trusts and WWF.

Anneliese Emmans Dean theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

 

Bowled over by Bolton-on-Swale

It was my second visit to Bolton-on-Swale Primary School. I spent half a day there last year celebrating World Book Day, as a result of which Mrs Dobson, the Head Teacher, invited me back for a full day this year.

And what a day it turned out to be!

I kick-started the day with an interactive poetry show for the whole school in which I performed poems from both my award-winning Buzzing! book and my forthcoming Flying High! book too.

Then Mrs Jones’ Class 4 (Years 5 & 6) knocked my socks off with the fabulous minibeast poems they wrote in our Minibeast Magic workshop. Each and every one of the pupils imagined really well what it was like to be a particular minibeast, and they used lots of magic tricks I showed them to make their poems sparkle.

Mr Ramsbottom’s Class 3 (Years 3 & 4) and I went on a wildlife walk. After which the pupils tickled me pink with the rhyming couplet poem they came up with, all about the things we’d seen. My favourite couplet was:

‘Rooks retreating to their nest
Trying to avoid the Class 3 test’

Rooks' nest at Bolton-on-Swale Primary School

Rooks’ nest at Bolton-on-Swale Primary School

The rest of the school giggled at that too, when Class 3 performed their poem in the sharing assembly at the end of the day. In which Reception warmed everyone up with their Warm-Up Rhyme from our Rhyme Time Ramble, and KS1 performed the brand new minibeast poem that they’d created outdoors in our Millipedes Galore workshop.

What a great day’s poetry from fabulous children. And what lucky children they are, too, to have such lovely school grounds to enjoy – including their very own Reflection Garden. There we spotted bumblebees, hoverflies, spiders and even the cuckoo spit of froghopper nymphs.

The Reflection Garden at Bolton-on-Swale Primary School - complete with storyteller's chair

The Reflection Garden at Bolton-on-Swale Primary School – complete with storyteller’s chair

Thank you to all the teachers and teaching assistants who pitched in so enthusiastically with my workshops. Here’s some of their feedback:

‘This session (in which the children were writing minibeast poems) was brilliantly modelled with enthusiasm and fantastic creativity/subject knowledge. As a result the children were excited, inspired and consequently wrote poems of a very high standard.’
Mrs Jones, Year 5/6 teacher

‘A very inspiring morning! All children were engaged and took an active role when learning the rhymes.’
Victoria Moodie, Reception teacher

If you’d like a poetry visit to your school, then just get in contact!

Anneliese Emmans DeantheBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

 

AGM – with attitude!

Let’s face it, an AGM can be a little … lacking in pizzazz. However worthy the organisation. And Edible York, the organisation holding its AGM last night, is a *very* worthy organisation. It’s a ‘lively local charity that aims to support people to become closer to the food they eat’. Take a look at what they get up to here.

To counter the ‘lack-of-pizzazz’-ness of the evening, Edible York invited me to come and perform for them, after the formalities of the agenda were over. So I did just that. A set of poems all about what they get up to, which is growing fruit and veg.

Entertaining at the Edible York AGM

Entertaining at the Edible York AGM

How did it go down? Here’s what one  attendee tweeted afterwards:

‘Spectacular performance poetry this eve from the ever effervescent Anneliese’

Edu-taining at the Edible York AGM

Where would we be without bumblebees? Edu-taining at the Edible York AGM

And another comment:

‘I loved the way you tied everything together with merry words and buzzing characterisations. It made our AGM such a happy, memorable event!!’

Adding to the festive atmosphere was Tim Pheby playing and singing some beautiful songs (and updating us on the England v Slovakia game).

An excellent way to spend a June evening.

If you dig digging, then Edible York are always looking for new volunteers! They’ve recently produced an excellent ‘Guide to Community Growing‘ which you might find inspires you further. You can download a copy here.

And finally … if you’d me to come and pep up your AGM, then get in touch!

Anneliese Emmans DeanBringing poetry to life – theBigBuzz.biz