This morning I had to be out of the house at 6.40am (!) to get the train to York, where I have been spending the day with Chapter House School. A teacher gave me a lift from the station. Walking from her car across the playground, I could see fairy lights sunk into the tarmac. 'Looks like a landing strip,' I joked. 'It is,' she said, 'it's the helipad.' A penny dropped - I'd had no idea that Chapter House wasn't a state school.
It was a day of illustration workshops with Y3 to Y6. For two of the sessions, I did my new 'predator' workshop (see Stockport Art Gallery), adapting it, so the children invented crazy monsters. I took some monster artwork from Rocky and the Lamb and we designed a bizarre monster together on the flip chart, as inspiration. Then they got drawing. It's always fascinating to see the variety of images kids come up with, despite having the same starting point. One lad's monster had a deep trough in his back, for spare spear storage; one girl drew ears with indicator lights; another invented a ghastly creature, like a mutant insect!
To keep myself sane, I did something different for the Y5 class in the middle of the day. I based the session on Giddy the Great and, since in the sequel Giddy is a keen climber, we designed him fantasy towers to balance atop, rather like my Mr Strongmouse workshop in reverse (see A Day in Derby). Some children get the greatest pleasure from racing to see how tall they can make their towers, and we stick paper end to end to accommodate their ideas. Others prefer to sit quietly, carefully creating intricate drawings, packed with detail.