Tag Archives: children

Thoughts from the Singing Ringing Tree – Beth Allen

Music Leader from the Songs from the Singing Ringing Tree, Beth Allen, recalls her experience…

Two years of nursery experiences makes for quite intense experiences and deep learning. I see nurseries as a community to enthuse with the love of voice.  If I can enthuse the kids  and show them that songs can make them laugh when they are low, help them remember things they are struggling with, control words they wouldn’t have ever controlled, played out stories they had never really heard before… then they will always remember those feelings.  I am one of those children, having been enthused by a visiting music specialist at my school when I was five years old!  If I can enthuse the staff and build their confidence to mess and play with songs to make them their own, to make them relevant and make them fit for purpose… or if I can find songs that work for them, using backing tracks, or instruments, or nonsense, or with props or pictures, microphones or folk songs… I will find any way in to help staff find their own, sustainable way, to use songs when I’m not there any more.

Some prefer putting on a show for celebrations, while others like to keep it simple and just mix up the occasional words?  We have played with our voices to bring life to the characters in a song, with soundscaping to set a whole scene to a song, with nonsense language to express more than second language children can express with words, with instrumentation to grow the meaning/emotion of a song… add to that lighting and dance moves, then an audience… and the more confident staff enabled their kids to experience something bigger. For me I have found that it is the relationships that allow me to work creatively and that when there is a relationship of trust… a whole group or a pairing can work together to write really lovely little nuggets that stick and are remembered weeks later, because they caught a moment and remain relevant. Some members of staff obviously thought about words and language between sessions and came back having written new songs… or improved on mine.  Some children thought about the games we were playing with language and offered really interesting and fun alternatives, remembering additions from week to week.

The one big failing I felt was after reading a dissertation from an Assistant Teacher at Woodfield Nursery.  She talked about the aural tradition in Pakistan, and about the different regions placing different emphasis on writing… and how this effects ability to learn writing skills once in Britain.  I became very aware that I was trying to make links and encourage development of the English language but that I couldn’t make culturally relevant links if I knew nothing about the prevailing culture of a nursery, ie Pakistan or Bangladesh.  I felt, and still feel, very short on stores and rhymes and songs from those cultures.  I am aware that we show respect for each other by learning each others aural traditions, and by learning them we give them a value.

Beth Allen

You can read more about the project and view the documentary film on our website.


The Iron Man Lives in Cornholme

Cornholme School reflect on their experiences so far of the Discovering Ted Hughes project:

Year 3 and 4 children at Cornholme Junior, Infant and Nursery School have immersed themselves in the project supplied by Mid Pennine Arts.  The school is already a firm believer in delivering writing through the creative curriculum in order to inspire and enthuse children’s ideas and were therefore very keen to be involved.  Children in lower Key Stage 2 have explored the text of The Iron Man by Ted Hughes and then worked with two professional artists.  Mick Kirkby-Geddes, a local sculptor, helped the children to form their interpretations of the Iron Man.  The children thought this day was ‘fantastic’, using junk materials in small groups to model before covering the pieces in mod-roc to form completed structures.  As the children worked, language to describe and create was being used and developed.   Our teachers can now use this stimulus to feed into children’s written work.

The children then participated in two days of story-telling and drama workshops with professional story-teller Ursula Holden-Gill.  These sessions were extremely well planned and included a balanced structure of listening and working practically in order to develop ideas.  Children completed their drama session with a clear starting point for writing and are genuinely enthused about the prospect of creating their own piece of work.  Ofsted inspectors, who were in school during the workshop days,  commented on the positive benefits of ‘the opportunities to enjoy enrichment activities based on authors and books’, when feeding back on their judgements regarding achievement of pupils at the school.

The Iron Man in Cornholme