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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

Photographing the darling buds of May

The theme chosen by Half Acres Primary School in Castleford for my photography workshops with them on Monday was ‘Signs of Summer’. However, this message clearly hadn’t percolated through to the relevant meteorological authorities, because the weather as I travelled down to them was appalling: driving, torrential rain and thunderous grey skies.

Fortunately, by the time Year 6 were ready to go on the photography missions I assigned them late morning, the rain had eased enough for us to be outside collecting material to photograph – albeit taking the actual photos under cover.

Taking photos undercover

Taking outdoor photos under cover

And when Year 5 went out in the afternoon, the sun decided to make a (brief) appearance, which meant that the children were able to find – and photograph – some fantastic minibeasts, amongst other things.

Young Half Acres photographers

Taking outdoor photos outdoors proper

I was very impressed by all the children I worked with at Half Acres. They got the hang of my Top Secret photography technique very quickly and put it into action in their school grounds enthusiastically.

The results? Well, here are a few of the – many – great photos they took:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Well done to you all! I think Half Acres will be able to create their ‘Signs of Summer’ photography display after all!

Thank you to everyone at Half Acres who made my visit possible. Here’s to a sunny summer for us all …

If you’d like a photography workshop for your primary school, do get in touch. I’m afraid I won’t be able to guarantee good weather for my visit to you, but your pupils will learn a skill for life in a workshop that enhances their observational, motor, teamwork, art and IT skills, increases their confidence and their curiousity and knowledge about their surroundings, and leaves you with a bank of great photos – and great budding photographers.

‘I’m going to go out tomorrow lunchtime and look for more minibeasts on the playing field.’ Year 5 pupil

‘I’m going to go to my grandma’s house tonight and take pictures of her garden. She’s got lots of flowers.’ Year 5 pupil

Anneliese Emmans Dean – www.theBigBuzz.biz

Spring at Ackton Pastures

Spring is here! And Years 5 and 6 at Ackton Pastures Primary School in Castleford have been out taking photos to prove it.

I had the pleasure of spending a couple of days with them this week, teaching them my Top Secret photography technique. Which they put into practice with great gusto!

As you can see, they were taking photos high:

Taking photos of the Spring at Ackton Pastures Primary School

Taking photos of the Spring at Ackton Pastures Primary School

and low:

Taking photos of the Spring at Ackton Pastures Primary School

Taking photos of the Spring at Ackton Pastures Primary School

and came up with some fabulous pictures:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Most of these children had never picked up a camera before. I was very impressed by how quickly they learned, how well they worked together as teams outdoors and, of course, by the photos they took.

Taking photos of the Spring at Ackton Pastures Primary School

Taking photos of the Spring at Ackton Pastures Primary School

Miss Coggill, their Head Teacher, wanted them to come up with photos for a display in school. I think it’s going to be a wonderful display!

Congratulations to all the children who took part in the workshops. I hope they will enjoy putting their new-found skills into practice more and more.

Thank you to the staff at Ackton Pastures who welcomed me so warmly and were so helpful during my time with them. (See staff feedback here.) Thank you too to the good folk at Fulford Framing in York for the viewfinders they generously provided for the children. The biggest thanks of all goes to the sun, for deciding to come out *just* when we needed it – two days running!

If you’d like your pupils to learn my Top Secret photography technique, then please get in touch.

Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to a return visit to Ackton Pastures next year!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life


A poem for the BBC World Service

It’s not every day that I get asked to write and perform a poem to be heard by 50 million people around the world. But that’s exactly what happened this week.

The BBC World Service’s flagship environment programme, One Planet, commissioned me to write a poem about the wildlife of my home city, York, here in England. My poem is included in this week’s programme, broadcast to coincide with an important UN biodiversity conference taking place in Japan.

In my poem, ‘My Biodiverse City’, I highlight some of the wildlife wonders that so enrich my life in York – including the stunning Tansy beetle, which is only found along the banks of the river Ouse here.

Tansy beetle in York. Photo © Anneliese Emmans Dean

Tansy beetle in York. Photo © Anneliese Emmans Dean

York is justly famous around the world for its history, but less so for its natural history. It was great to have the opportunity to celebrate some of the wildlife we have here too.

You can hear me performing ‘My Biodiverse City’ at the One Planet page of the BBC’s website (click on the 28.10.10 episode), or as an audioboo here. And there are some photos of mine to accompany the poem at One Planet’s flickr pages.

And if you’d like to find out more about the wildlife of York – in verse – then come along to my award-winning Buzzing! show, which celebrates just that in poetry, music and projected images. I perform versions for adults, for families and for schools.

Anneliese Emmans Deanwww.theBigBuzz.bizinfo@theBigBuzz.biz

Lord Deramore’s Science Week 2010

Congratulations to the pupils at Lord Deramore’s Primary School in Heslington on their Science Week achievements. All the school, from Early Years upwards, took part, and I was lucky enough to be present at their final assembly, where each class demonstrated some of what they’d learnt.

I spent two days at the school as part of their Science Week, working with Years 1 through to 5. I discovered  that Years 1 and 2 make very good millipedes, Years 3 and 4 are excellent budding wildlife photographers, and Year 5 is bursting with strong voices and acting and artistic talent.

But don’t just take my word for it. Here are some of the amazing photos Years 3 and 4 took using my top-secret Wildlife Photography Technique that I taught them:

Painted Lady butterly photographed by Lord Deramore Primary pupil, 11.6.10

Painted Lady butterfly photographed by Lord Deramore Primary pupil, 11.6.10

Harlequin ladybird larva photographed by Lord Deramore Primary pupil, 11.6.10

Harlequin ladybird larva photographed by Lord Deramore Primary pupil, 11.6.10

The children were very observant, finding butterflies,  ladybird larvae, snails, a lacewing, spiderlings, caterpillars, and even a mystery beetle (which I’m still trying to identify) in their school grounds.

And here are some of the performers in Year 5’s rendition of my eco-musical about climate change called Go MAD! – which they learnt in just one day! As you’ll see, they each made a ‘comedy’ or ‘tragedy’ mask for the performance.

Year 5 go MAD! performers, Lord Deramore's Primary School, 11.6.10

Year 5 go MAD! performers, Lord Deramore's Primary School, 11.6.10

Go MAD! performers at Lord Deramore School, 11.6.10

Go MAD! performers at Lord Deramore's School, 11.6.10

I was lucky enough to be part of their Science Week last year too (find out more), and I’d like to thank them for inviting me back this year.

Some of you may know that Lord Deramore’s is the primary school I went to when I was a child, so I have  very soft spot for it …I’m pleased to be able to report that it’s still a very special school, full of  smiling, enthusiastic and helpful staff and children alike. I very much enjoyed my two days there this week.

Anneliese Emmans Deaninfo@theBigbuzz.bizwww.theBigBuzz.biz

Beautiful Lealholm!

The children of Lealholm Primary School in the North York Moors National Park are extraordinarily lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the country.

The view from Lealholm Primary School

The view from Lealholm Primary School

And I was extraordinarily lucky to be invited to spend a day with them yesterday.

Anneliese at Lealholm Primary School, North Yorkshire

Anneliese at Lealholm Primary School, North Yorkshire

After a Buzzing! performance for the whole school in the morning, the infants and I went on a Rhyme Time Ramble round their playground and field. The beady-eyed children spotted bees and a 7-spot ladybird and a painted lady butterfly, amongst other wildlife wonders.

Then in the afternoon, I revealed my Top-Secret Photography Technique to the juniors, and we all went outside to take photos. And what amazing photos these children did take! Photos of bees and flies and beetles and flowers and snails …

Here are a few of the photos that Mattie, Charlotte and Emma took. Aren’t they great?

One of the photos taken by Mattie, Charlotte and Emma

Taken by juniors at Lealhom Primary School

Another of the photos taken by Mattie, Charlotte and Emma

All the children were very observant, and found a fascinating variety of creatures to photograph. Charles Darwin would have been proud of them!

National Insect Week 2008

So, how was National Insect Week for you? Here in York, theBigBuzz National Insect Week has gone on for a fortnight! (If you missed any of these events, then fear not! You can either listen to my poems on my Buzzing! CD, which is a recommended resource on the National Insect Week website, and/or you can catch a live show later in the year.)

So, my National Insect Week 2008 began early, on Friday 20 June, when I performed my Buzzing! show (in celebration of garden minibeasts) to more senior York residents at a local hospital. (Here I am chatting with members of the audience after the show.)

Chatting with the audience after my National Insect Week hospital performance

Then, the next morning I was entertaining somewhat younger York citizens at Copmanthorpe Primary School Environment Fair.

At this fair I acquired a new roadie: 2-year-old Roadie Raphael …

… who also decided to take part in the show itself!

Copmanthorpe Primary School Buzzing! performance, National Insect Week 08

“That was great!”
“What a wonderful show!”

On the evening of Tuesday 24 June, I went to a fascinating lecture on insect bio-acoustics (the sounds insects make), given by Dr Dave Chesmore of the Electronics Department of the University of York. You can find out more about Dr Chesmore’s fascinating research here. It was at this talk that I had the pleasure of meeting the former President of the Royal Entomological Society, and the force behind National Insect Week, Professor Chris Haines.

The next morning saw Dr Dave Chesmore up bright and early to be interviewed by Radio York about our joint National Insect Week event planned for that night: a Buzzing! moth night in York Cemetery.

At that event, I began by performing a special version of Buzzing! in the cemetery chapel. (Ably assisted by the unflappable Adrian Lovett, at the computer in the photo below – taken by Paul Rhodes.)

The show featured lots of moth poems and photos – including a world premiere!

“A really super show”

Then, once it was well and truly dark, we all went outside where Dr Dave Chesmore had set up his moth trapping equipment.

Enthralled, we were out until after midnight, and Dave caught and identified a total of 23 species. (Photo below taken by Paul Rhodes)

“A thoroughly enjoyable evening”

This joint event went so well that we are doing a similar Buzzing! Moth Night at Kew at Castle Howard on 20 September. (more details)


On Friday 27 June I was an invited speaker at ‘Creative York Revealed’, an event held at York St John University, organised by Creative York and hosted by C4C. So I was able to spread the National Insect Week word there too, and regale the audience with tales of my Berberis Sawfly larvae, which had hatched two days before. (This is the third year in a row that I’ve sighted them in our garden. This year I even saw – and videoed – them laying their eggs. Of which, more anon.)

Saturday 28 June was a Buzzing! plus Photography Workshop and Minibeast Hunt at York Environment Centre (St Nicholas Fields).

“Them voices what you did was right good!”
“It was delightful!”

We were blessed with good weather which meant that we could spend as long as we wanted outdoors after my show looking for minibeasts and taking photos of them. The younger children present were very enthusiastic bug hunters. They had particularly beady eyes and found young pond skaters in the pond …

… and all sorts of other tiny creatures, some hidden away in hard-to-reach places.


The older members of the audience spent their time photographing insects.  Here is Jacob honing his macro photography skills (photo taken by his mum Lesley):

And here is a beautiful photo of a hoverfly that Jacob’s Mum, “I think you may have got me hooked!” Lesley, took:

My last National Insect Week event of the fortnight came on Thursday 3 July, when I put on 3 Buzzing! workshops as part of Scarcroft Primary School‘s Science Day, organised by NYBEP. I set off bright and early with all my National Insect Week stickers, pencils etc. for the pupils …

and also with two specimen jars of my world-first insect discovery, Berberis Sawfly larvae, collected that very morning from my garden.

Collecting Berberis Sawfly Larvae, 3 July 2008

Collecting Berberis Sawfly Larvae, 3 July 2008

Berberis sawfly larvae, from theBigBuzz garden in York, 3 July 2008

I was very impressed by how much the children already knew about scientific names etc., and by how much they learnt during each of my Buzzing! sessions. At the end, I gave each pupil a National Insect Week pencil, which I hope they will use to note their sightings of 2-spot ladybirds and Painted Lady butterflies, and to write up their ‘Close Encounter’ with an insect, and draw their invented insect. Details of all these surveys and competitions – which I told the children about in my workshops – are on the National Insect Week website.

“You could have heard a pin drop!” Year 5/6 Teacher
“The session was very informative, fun, lively and kept the children’s interest throughout. I’m sure they have learnt alot.” Year 5/6 Teacher

My National Insect Week ended on a real high. As I was leaving  Scarcroft School, a 10-year-old boy came up to me, completely unbidden, and said:

“You’re well good at poems, you are!”

What a great way to end a great 2 weeks!

I am indebted to the Royal Entomological Society’s Lesley Goodman Award for enabling me to put on these events. We had lots of great feedback from the shows and workshops, and I hope many of the residents of York will be taking part in National Insect Week surveys and competitions as a result.

And if you want to host a Buzzing! performance and/or workshop where you are, email me! I look forward to hearing from you.