Making Stories Come Alive With John Donne Primary School

Last week the Imagination Lab was buzzing with 120 children from John Donne Primary School, in Southwark. Over two days, Year 1 and Year 2 pupils visited the Lab to take part in activities aimed at encouraging storytelling skills using creative and digital activities.

The workshops were based around the theme ‘Making Stories Come Alive’, using books the children had been studying in class as a focus. These were I want my hat back by Jon Klassen (for Year 1) and Roald Dahl’s The Magic Finger (for Year 2).

With parents, teachers and the iOi staff on hand to guide the activities, children were encouraged to use their imagination to create characters, stories and storyboards through interactive activities. The children tried out:

  • Stop Frame Animation: Using ipads and modelling clay children created characters and props capturing them one frame at a time. When they played back their sequence of images they’d created their own mini movies!
  • Hacking hexbugs: Hexbugs are small robots that move and react in their own way depending on how you instruct the. The children adapted these to characters from the books they’d been studying, bringing their own characters to life in a new and imaginative ways.
  • Building their own light boxes: Using simple cardboard boxes, LED battery powered lights and photographic paper, children created scenes from the books which they then lit up.

A scene from stories made from puppets

Each of the activities encouraged the use of invention and imagination – ultimately improving the children’s own storytelling through experiencing and understanding the different parts of the stories and how to communicate them in different ways. We had fantastic feedback from parents, teachers and children.

“All of the activities today have been completely new and offered something different to the students.”

Teacher, John Donne Primary School

This was also evident for the children there with additional needs. Referring to two children with SEND and EBD, a teacher said:

“They seem so focused and engaged with the activities, especially the Hexbugs, and it’s a joy to see. The activities clearly cater for all levels and abilities while promoting fun and creativity. Being able to mirror a similar set up in the classroom would be great for our students with varied needs.”

Many of the children said they had never done anything like this at home and school. And when asked to sum the day up in three words, we had some wonderful responses!

“Exciting, fantastic, cool”

“Everyone’s working together”

“I love it”

Pupils from John Donne Primary School

The iOi are returning to John Donne Primary School in July to create an installation made up of over 200 light boxes. Every child from the school will have the chance to work on it and see their stories lit up as collective work of art. Children will also be trained up to mentor other school years so they can add to the installation in the months and years ahead – we believe it’s important to be able to pass on skills and experiences and we hope it will inspire creative learning for many years to come.

Two children and a workshop facilitatorThis work has been made possible thanks to the generosity of the Friends of Livesey Museum for Children.

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