Once upon a time, not so very long ago in a primary school in deepest North Tyneside, a classroom of children took a day trip across seas and mountains to the magical land of India.

For our day at Whitehouse Primary School, we combined two creative disciplines – animation and creative writing – and mapped them onto the KS2 curriculum areas of art and design, history and geography.

We started by introducing ourselves – and our work before showing the students a video introduction to India from the Indian Tourist board. Then we watched a short CBBC film that compared the daily life of a boy in Dublin and a girl in Pune. Then we talked about what looked the same and what looked different – and how their days compared to life in North Tyneside.

To explore the Indian language – and how the spellings are so different to those in the UK – we set the students a word search of the names of India cities. With words spelled backwards, at angles and upside down it wasn’t easy but soon Ahmedabad, Gurgaon and Pimpri Chinchwad were being found, coloured in and crossed out.Next, we travelled back in time to the Victorian era and Chloe showed Eadweard Muybridge’s moving horse film from 1878. It was the first film ever made and consists of a series of photographs of a galloping horse.

Chloe explained how the looped photographs create the impression that the horse is galloping along and then showed the children a model zoetrope.

Then each table of students was shown the zoetrope and was able to see how the images of the birds inside appeared to move as the drum was rotated.

And then the fun really began.

Making zoetropes

Each child was given the kit they needed to make their own zoetrope and they listened heard as we explained what to do before they set to work. Soon there were scissors snipping, glue sticks glooping and cries of “Please can I have a paper clip?” as the zoetropes came to life.

It was almost time for lunch and so we introduced the afternoon’s activities before the break by reading the story of ‘The Elephant’s Nose’, an Indian folktale, like an Aesop’s Fable.

Puppet making with card and split pins

During the lunch hour, we erected a shadow puppet theatre, complete with backlighting and a lot of gaffer tape for security. When the children came back, we tested the lighting with an Indonesian puppet that Chloe had made earlier.

Then the classroom turned into a hive of industry, as each table was assigned an animal and an element of backdrop from the folktale to make from black card, crepe paper, feathers, and split pins. We had elephants galore, an elegant giraffe, a red-eyed hippopotamus and a sneaky, cheeky crocodile, which was a terrifying thing of beauty.

It was hard work to get everything finished in time – at some points, there were more animals visible on the floor than carpet – and the children did a magnificent job of concentrating, listening to the instructions and being wonderfully creative at the same time. The main challenge was working out which parts of their animals they wanted to be moveable. We needed a hippo with red eyes (thank you red cellophane), a crocodile that could snap – and, without wanting to give the story away, one of our elephants needed a very, very extendable nose.

Feasting with poppadums

Before the show began, we took a little bit of time out and shared some Indian foods that we’d brought in with us. There were crispy poppadums and cool raita, sticky mango chutneys and spicy samosas, sweet onion bhajis and aromatic vegetable pakoras and some squishy naan bread with coriander and garlic to mop everything up.

Storytelling with shadows

And then it was time for the show to begin. We dimmed the lights, lit some sandalwood incense and everyone got into position.

Please enjoy the hard work of the brilliant children of Whitehouse Primary and learn the story of The Elephant’s Nose.

We had a really exciting experience which transformed the learning in Year 5 into an immersive experience that hit all the senses:- from food tasting, to music, to drama and storytelling, from DT to art. The activities were so well prepared and the delivery by the facilitators was exceptional. Most importantly of all, it brought fun and creativity to learning!

– Rachel Woods, Headteacher at Whitehouse Primary School.

Thank you for having us – we had a brilliant day!