Monday, 20 October 2008

Bubbly Burton and Giggly Grantham

Sorry for being a bit out of sequence: so much is happening all at once at the moment, but I want to tell you about last week's children's events.

On Wednesday I was in Burton Library, where they have a really good activities room. It was all set up ready, complete with two helpers for each session. I was doing Mr Strongmouse and the Baby workshops (see A Day in Derby).

I've adapted this activity lately, by getting everyone to draw the little mouse at the bottom of their drawings with me, step by step. That way they all get that basic foundation out of the way and can get on with the imaginative exercise of thinking up big things to pile on top of him. I've been noticing that I get caught up with one or two kids that don't have the confidence to follow my earlier instructions on drawing the mouse, which prevents me from helping the rest of the class. When I'm asked how to draw say, an elephant, or the Eiffel Tower, I like to be able to quickly show them on the flip chart. That stops me being asked the same things over and over!

First up was a Y6 group (about 10 yrs old), who did some truly amazing drawings. It makes a change to work with slightly older children, who add all sorts of interesting detail. In the afternoon, I had Y3 children (7) who were, to be honest, a bit of a handful. I continually had to stop and wait for them to be quiet, and the teachers rather left it to me! Fortunately, I've got fairly good now at dealing with 'lively' characters, principally by watching what teachers do. A lot of it is confidence.

On Thursday it was storytellings with Y2s in Grantham, set up through the Federation of Children's Book Groups, a brilliant, voluntary organisation that puts huge amounts of time and effort nationwide into promoting kids reading. I began in Grantham Museum, again in a separate events room. The school bought 2 classes: while one was looking round the museum, the other was with me, then we swapped - a good plan. They were lovely.

I couldn't resist reading Rocky and the Lamb again: I just love doing the wolf voice! Plus both Class Two and Class Three: the rhyming texts make them so nice to read aloud. I got the second class drawing anacondas. One boy's snake seemed to be saying, 'moo! moo! moo! moo!'. When I asked him why, he said his snake had eaten a cow!

In the afternoon we removed to Harlaxton School, as they couldn't make it to the museum. This was another rather 'lively' session. I had about 60 together, in the school hall. They weren't naughty, just a bit over-excited.

It was probably a mistake to read A Lark in the Ark, as this only made things worse. The book is full of flaps, and of course all the kids wanted to be chosen to open one. Again, I had to keep doing my teacherly bit: 'I'm only choosing children who are sitting quietly on their bottoms', but 2 minutes later they were all up again, doing that 'ooh, ooh' thing kids do, with their hands stretched as high as possible in the air!

And then every time we exposed another pair of animals inside a flap (goats in coats, owls in towels, gnus in shoes...) they all screamed with laughter shrill enough to burst your ears. Sometimes they deliberately compete to see who can screech the loudest and it's a bit like setting off the fire alarm!

The school unexpectedly bought about 20 books: great, but I had to try and sign them all, complete with little drawings, in time to get back to the station for my train home. I tried doing it while the children were drawing (animals in various silly outfits) which would have been fine, except I was constantly mobbed by groups of excited kids wanting to show me what they'd done.

I did make the train (phew), and this is one of the sketches I did on it. The dark line is where it goes over the middle of the sketchbook, by the way.


ale balanzario said...

What a great day you had at school, I just loved the anaconda saying moo, moo, moo!! wonderful post.

Lynne Chapman said...

Thank you!

Yes, it's lovely to see some of the things children come up with.

Damian Harvey said...

Sounds like you've had a great, and busy, time. Crowd control is a funny thing though isn't it... I like the children to be really enthusiastic and excited during my sessions but it can easily go too far and you end up with an unruly group. It's just getting that balance right.

I try to keep things balanced and under control by alternating between loud and lively interactive segments and quieter pieces. It doesn't always work of course, but I'm finding I'm getting better at it.

Occasionally, if there really is a problem, I wish that teachers would step in but generally speaking I'd rather they didn't as it can prove more disruptive than the problem itself.

Stinky looks absolutely fabulous by the way... really looking forward to seeing that.

Jon M said...

Cor you don't half get about Wales one day, Burton the next and all by train! I'm impressed!

granny grimble said...

I love the 'train' sketch. You have got it just right.
I wish I could hear you doing these readings. I know I have a DVD of a couple of your school trips, but I bet you have improved no end since those days.

Lynne Chapman said...

It's funny with teachers - sometimes they are really sensitive and get it just right: a quiet word in an ear, or discreetly scooping a tricky child over to sit by them. Other times than can be like rhinos trampling all over, telling kids that they mustn't do this and that before they've even sat down, or laying down rules during activities that I don't really agree with!

Mostly though they do seem to leave you to it unless you look like you're in real trouble, which is usually better in the long run, as you say.

Lynne Chapman said...

I am considering making a little film of me reading, to put up as part of my exhibition, so watch this space...

weechuff said...

Goodness! That tired me out just reading about all you had to do! Where do you get your energy from?

Lynne Chapman said...

I've always been a bit hyper. I'm one of those people that can't bare to be doing nothing.

If people give me too long for lunch, I often ask for extra sessions, as I'd much rather be up doing stuff than hanging around.