Jubilee Primary School – 17th November:

On the 17th November, our TICE mentors, Lottie and Kath, made their way to Wallsend Jubilee Primary School for the third instalment of the Healthy Hearts project, funded by a Heart Research UK and Subway® Healthy Heart Grant.

Drawing on TICE’s experience of working within schools in the North Tyneside area, we created a series of workshops for children to bring an awareness of the importance of heart health through the exploration of creative writing and illustration.

The aim of the workshops was to encourage children aged 8-11 to become more independent in their lifestyle choices, with the hope of instilling healthy eating, drinking and lifestyle habits into their lives, before they start at high school.

Lottie introduced the session with an overview of what’s involved in keeping our hearts healthy – her presentation encouraged the children to think about and draw upon their familiar, day-to-day experiences. Things like exercising, eating and drinking. The presentation was greeted with raised eyebrows, open mouth and lots of questions from the children about the points that were raised. Who knew that if you tied together all the capillaries, arteries and veins in the body you could wrap them around the world – twice?

After the presentation, the children were introduced to a series of practical science-based experiments, the first of which involved squeezing a tennis ball in one hand to understand how hard our hearts work to pump our blood. Despite their best efforts and much grimacing, the children found that only the slightest indent could be made on the balls’ surface.

The atmosphere then became charged as Lottie and Kath explained that the next experiment the children were going to take part in worked best “if you’re very, very out of breath.” The class rose as one to complete a full 30-seconds of star jumps, high kicks and press ups. Who knew that learning about the heart could be such fun – and so exhausting?

Once they were all nicely out of breath, the children were issued with a mini-marshmallow and a cocktail stick and the mentors showed the children how to find their pulse in their wrists. Then they were told to stick the cocktail stick a little way into the flat surface of the mini marshmallow and then to lick the bottom of the marshmallow. The little ‘lollipop’ was them stuck onto the children’s pulse point in their wrists – and it made a pendulum that ticked along with their heartbeats. Cue more open mouths and gasps of wonder – and a few more star jumps for the best possible results.

The children were then divided into small groups and given a recipe sheet each. On the menu? A colourful autumnal salad with homemade French dressing. The challenge?

  • To follow the instructions
  • To be safe when using the kitchen equipment
  • To work together as a team.

No small feat. Especially after they were given the option of eating their mini-marshmallow, which caused much delight.

Armed with a cutlery knife, chopping board and a salad bowl, each group of children worked to prep, slice and dice their ingredients. They worked with a selection of lettuce leaves, cucumber, spring onions, fresh flat leaf parsley, peppers, Feta cheese cubes and tiny tomatoes. Each child took it in turns to chop, slice and throw their chosen salad ingredients into the salad bowl.

Kath then showed the children how to make a basic French dressing, with heart-healthy extra virgin olive oil, a slug of balsamic vinegar, a squeeze of fresh garlic (also good for the heart!) and a tiny bit of mustard, together with a pinch of oregano. Each group was given a glass of dressing and every child got to give the dressing a good stir until the oil and vinegar combined – and the scent of garlic filled the classroom. Then it was time to dress the salads and for the children to taste their creations.

The sight of the children piling forkfuls of garlicky salad into their mouths was a sight to behold. The salad was a huge success and there was very little left after just a few minutes.  The children were then asked to write a few words about what they had experienced using their senses: how the salad had looked, tasted and smelled. As they wrote down their thoughts, Kath asked them some questions about how they keep their hearts healthy and what different forms of exercise they enjoy. Many of the children were eager to share what they enjoy doing outside of school hours and it was a nice way to get them thinking of different ways to keep fit.

The next activity involved everyone washing their hands and then creating a thumb printed tag, like a small red signature, on a small piece of card. This part of the day ensured TICE had a piece of work from each child who had taken part in the day – before things got really messy again. Using two thumb prints – one facing left, one facing right and joined in the middle, each of the children created a unique heart icon we could use in our final Healthy Hearts project.

To end the afternoon, Lottie gathered all the students around her at a table for a demonstration of their final task. The children were shown how to make collaged images of the vegetables and other ingredients they had used, with the use of natural inks, including turmeric and beetroot ink. They were encouraged to use straws and blow the natural dyes onto their paper – a very messy but very enjoyable creative exercise.

The children tackled their final project with great care and consideration, tracing around the images of their chosen subjects and gluing and sticking papers to layer their creations with beautiful colours and textures. This illustration work and collage techniques, embedded the healthy heart imagery and associations from the opening presentations into the workshop learning.

And then suddenly the school bell rang and it was over. Lunchboxes were found, coats were gathered and they were gone. Leaving a rainbow of illustrations, beautiful written work and a faint whiff of garlic in the air.