Music mastermind, Sam Burt and textiles extraordinaire, Charlotte Liddle from our TICE team were fortunate to meet Year 2 students at South Wellfield First School, Whitley Bay. In light of their science week activities, we thought we’d provide an extra dash of fun to the world of horticulture…with a TICE twist.

First things first, what do plants give us? Students began to discuss their role in the food chain, the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the air we breathe. All in all, it seemed that plants were pretty important and one of our main sources of survival. This led students to question, if plants are our superheroes, what superpowers do they have? The group were fascinated in learning how they disperse their seeds, such as velcro-like seed pods that hook onto animal pelts and aerodynamic designs that can be lifted and transported for miles by the wind. To top it off, Sam arrived with a special guest – his precious bonsai tree, to help and encourage their understanding.

It was enough of talking and time for singing! Sam invited the team of horticulturists to stand up and get involved in a quick vocal warm-up using the Irish folk song, “Rattlin’ Bog”. This is a traditional song that uses a cumulative verse structure like Old McDonald does, which is really great to help improve concentration and short-term memory. For educational flare, students of South Wellfield pulled off the best choreography which narrated a story of a flea living in a giant tree in a bog. Sam’s accompaniment on the ukulele was eventually drowned by the enthusiastic group of singing, dancing pupils!

Once the students knew the song back to front, it was their turn to put their own creative spin on it. In small teams, they were given the task to replace some of the words in the song with their own, to illustrate in song form how food chains work. There were eagles, wales and jellyfish galore! It was a fun way to learn about an important cycle of nature, whilst also improving linguistic and musical skills at the same time.

Then it was time to get the paint brushes out! One of the many things we get from plants is pigment; this pigment can be used to create dyes, paint, cosmetics and medicine. Charlotte brought along some homemade ink made from beetroot and turmeric (an intense yellow spice that can be used to give curries a rich, golden colour). Year 2 spent time creating four-line drawings using only sticks to draw with and the natural inks. The illustrations were based on horticultural imagery such as, the sun, rain, seasonal flowers and garden critters. The quality was outstanding, to say the least.

Once their illustrations completed, it was time for our final task. Year 2 were asked to use their beetroot ink drawings as inspiration for a print design. The children chose their favourite design and reproduced it by scratching it into a piece of polystyrene block using a sharp pencil. They then rolled acrylic paint over the block using a roller and placed it face down onto a piece of natural cotton fabric, whilst learning some fun facts about cotton in the process!

The children unveiled their very own printed designs soon after and it’s fair to say that every student perfectly encapsulated everything they learned from the workshop into their design. The room was filled with proud smiles! Thank you to South Wellfield First School for participating, proving that the arts can be used as a tool to enhance young people’s academic learning.