Senior Infants, Eight Sessions of Exploring Ideas and Materials

Loreto Junior Primary School.

22 pupils, Teacher Ms. McGrane.

Session 1

Senses, texture and clay.

We began by discussing our senses. How many have we, and what are they? If we were missing one which other senses would we use most, example, being blind or deaf.

The children were asked to close their eyes for one minute and listen. How far can we hear? Can we hear beyond where we can see? Can we hear better when we close our eyes?

They explored touch. With their eyes open the children begin to touch their jumpers, their faces, hair etc. How do these textures feel? They began to collect lovely words to describe textures and made up new descriptive onomatopoeic words.

The children were asked to close their eyes again and to put out their hands. An object was placed in each child’s hands. They were asked to keep their eyes closed and to think of words to describe the weight, temperature and textures of their object. (I have a collection of difficult-to-recognise objectss; mainly found washed up on beaches)

When they opened their eyes they took turns telling the class what their object felt like. This builds up their vocabulary and their ability to describe their own and other artwork for future work.

Again they closed their eyes and each child was given a small handful of clay.

They began to mould the clay, to look at the effect it had on their hands. At this point wooden board was placed on the table in front of  each child. They rolled and pounded the clay, remarking on the changes.

They were asked to pound, pinch, poke and pull the clay. Then they made a collection of forms; spheres, cylinders, cubes, and cuboids. They were asked to build a tall tower by balancing the 3d shapes.

Session 2

Texturing clay and building with slabs.

The children were given clay and rollers and shown how to make slabs. Using a variety of tools they textured the clay. They had an opportunity to use the previous week’s vocabulary.

They cut out 2d shapes from the clay slabs, squares, rectangles and triangles. They were shown how they coud build in 3d with these. Rectangles were turned into hollow cylinders, which became castle-towers, squares and rectangles; became house and castle walls and triangles formed part of the roofs.

Session 3

A Visit to Sculpture in Context at the Botanic Gardens.

The children were brought on a trail that included several sculptures, the ponds and the hot houses. We approached each artwork as a group of detectives, asking questions and making suggestions about the work, what it was made of and how it was made. We used all our sense of sight, sound, touch and smell throughout the trail. The children learnt to ‘freeze’and stay quiet when they encountered a squirrel and were very excited at how close they got to them.

Session 4

Responding to the visit to the Botanic Gardens.

We began our session with a slideshow and chat about our visit to the Botanic Gardens. The children were asked to draw the sculptures they remembered.

They were given clay and sticks to make their favourite piece.

Session 5

Exploring the School Garden. Matching and Mask Making

To continue the enthusiasm and enjoyment of being outdoors in nature that the children experienced in the Botanic Gardens we took them to the school gardens. Seven objects were laid out on a rectangle fabric. We spent time looking at each object and the children described the colours, shapes and textures. They were asked to go off and find as many matches to the seven objects, eg. oak leaves, conkers, sticks.

They brought their collected objects back to the class.

Back in class we looked at a book of ceremonial masks. We looked at how each half of the face matched the other half. We looked at what made them different to real faces.

The children drew their own masks.

They were given clay and the objects collected from the garden to make their own masks bearing in mind the matching exercise they did in the garden.

Session 6

The School Garden, Repeat Patterns and Mask Making.

The children enjoyed the previous session in the garden so much that we extended the matching game. Six objects were laid out and the children went off to find ‘matches’ having explored the objects. Six lengths of fabric were laid out on the grass. (There were a lot of leaves on the grass so the white fabric made it clearer to see the collected objects). The children sorted their matched objects on the fabric strips.

The class gathered around the strips. I swopped objects and began to make patterns on each strip. The children began to direct me on what should go on next. They were given turns to continue each pattern.

Back in the class the children were given an assortment of classroom objects to create their own repeat patterns. They laid out patterns on the table. photos

They were given contact paper to glue on the patterns that they would like to keep.

They looked again at the book of ceremonial masks. This time we noticed and discussed the patterns on the masks.

Each child was given contact paper, which had been cut out in a mask shape to create their own symmetrical and repeat patterns.

Session 7

Myself, Clay Work.

As I brought the clay into the classroom the children were asking about it. They were excited about using clay again.

I suggested they would make ‘themselves.’ We all stood up. We all looked down, starting at our feet on the ground. We looked at our body parts. Feet, ankles, legs, knees, bodies, arms, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, fingers, necks, heads. We bent our joints. Patricia began to sing  ‘Heads and shoulders, knees and toes’; we all joined in and did the movements.

We discussed how we could make ourselves. I reminded them of the 3d shapes we made in the first session. Would any of those shapes be useful? The suggestions began coming; spheres for heads, cuboids or cylinders for bodies, cylinders for legs.

The children were given clay. Each table had extra pieces of clay in the centre of the table for the children to use, as they needed it. They got to work. We looked at the best way to join the heads, bodies, legs etc.

Initially most of the clay figures were lying down.

Standing a clay figure is difficult. Every now and again I would stop the making and we would look at each other’s work. We looked at the few figures that were standing. The children discussed how they made this work and learnt from each other. Lying-down figures were put in sitting position, chairs were added, then tables, televisions, dogs etc. We looked at how our limbs move. Where are our joints? Figures made to walk, play football, fold their arms etc. Stories began to develop.

Session 8

Parents/Guardians and Children Working Together.

What we like to do Together. Clay.

Parents, grandparents, and a big brother came to our final session. They were shown a slideshow of the seven sessions and the children gave feedback on what they remembered and how they found the experiences.

Adults and Children having Fun Together.

Parents/guardians and children were put into pairs. The children became the teachers for their parents. They were be given clay and asked to make themselves. Then they were asked to put their clay selves together doing what they like to do best together.

Their was great discussion on what they liked to do and then all the details that went with it for instance would they like to have popcorn while watching the film or something else.

Children who didn’t have a parent/ guardian worked happily on their own or with a friend.

We had an exhibition at the end and the parents walked around looking at all the work and asked questions.

The only sadness was at the end where two children were having such lovely quality time with their adult that there were some tears when they had to go, but it didn’t last long.

Response from Ms.McGrane

Maths: The children learned how to make 3D shapes out of clay It was amazing to hear Senior Infants chatting about spheres, cubes and cylinders and then watch them go and make them! They picked up the mathematical language very quickly because they were using it in context.

The session outdoors involved making patterns with natural materials and linked in very well with the patterns we were making in Maths.

Science: The first clay session began with an introduction to the senses. The children closed their eyes and were given objects to hold. They were asked to describe the objects texture. This drew the children’s attention to the importance of the other senses. I really thought they would peep but they didn’t!

The children made themselves in clay, a session which tied in perfectly with the topic of Myself and My Body. They discussed all the body parts and their functions and made themselves in different poses. It was great fun!

S.E.S.E.: The session outdoors linked in with Environmental Awareness and Care and drew the children’s attention to the changes in Autumn. The children loved being outdoors and collecting Autumn treasurers to use in mask making.

Literacy: The senses session also introduced the language of texture e.g. rough, smooth, hard, soft and extended the vocabulary the children already had.

S.P.H.E. The children made themselves in clay doing things that they like to do. This allowed the children to express their individuality and to appreciate the ideas of others.

In summary, the Creativity in the Classroom project was a wonderful learning experience for the children. It provided many cross-curricular learning opportunities and was great fun at the same time. Every child was actively engaged throughout and expressed their individuality through the work.


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