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Creativity across the curriculum

One bright idea led to many more, inspiring a primary school to devote a whole week to creative activities, Miranda Fettes reports

Creativity is the word of the week at Juniper Green Primary, on the western fringes of Edinburgh. Every classroom and hall is buzzing with the industry of children creating everything from Aboriginal style art to jumping origami frogs.

The headteacher, Karen Noble, came up with the idea of dedicating the last week of the spring term to creativity after being astounded by the degree of artistry displayed at a pupil talent show last year.

"I was bowled over," she says.

"I also wanted to break out of the assumption that creativity can only be done through the expressive arts. It's right across the curriculum - in science, information technology, language, maths, sport - which is why we decided to have a different focus each day. We were looking at A Curriculum for Excellence and how we're going to adapt what we're doing to meet the challenge of it."

Monday was spent on science; Tuesday, movement and creative sports; Wednesday, drama and music; Thursday, art and crafts. As a finale, Friday was set aside for The J Factor, Juniper Green's take on The X Factor talent show.

It is Thursday and all round the school are signs of creativity by the 80 children in the nursery and 386 primary pupils.

In the nursery, children are parading Easter hats down a catwalk. Some children have made miniature spring gardens in trays and plant pots.

In the main hall, some children are learning clowning skills. Elsewhere, others are busy putting the finishing touches to hats, scarves and newspaper acrobat costumes.

P3 pupils Paige Morgan and Mhairi Cochrane are painting colourful fish in Aboriginal style, using cotton buds to make dots. Others are painting scorpions, beetles and other bugs, lizards, dinosaurs, dragons and octopuses.

There are displays of masks, paintings, mosaics, shoe accessories, Japanese costume designs and photographs by the children.

A photo lab has been running all week, with pupils developing their own black and white pictures in the temporary darkroom.

Some children have been given the chance to produce stop-motion animated films with hand-held video recorders.

"We're going to do magic where things appear and disappear," the principal teacher, Paul Ewing, tells a group of P2s who are making a short film.

P6 pupil Elliot Shiels has been busy making an origami frog which can jump.

"We didn't use any glue or sellotape; we just made lots of folds," he says.

He particularly enjoyed making photographic images and using the darkroom earlier in the week.

On the science focus day, activities included chemistry experiments, mixing potions and making things pop; the physics of force, through pushing and pulling; and a rocket workshop, where pupils built their own rockets from card and launched them to see which would go the farthest.

Expressive dance was one element of the movement day, but the real hub was a sports circuit created by the children, where they participated in various activities and races.

"It was like It's a Knockout," explains Mrs Noble. "The children decided what they wanted to include. They wanted lots of water throwing and mess and fun.

"There was a water carrying game, wet sponge throwing and a team relay painting event. Each team member had to paint one bit of a body, like a head, then hand the brush over to the next, who would paint another bit, until the team had completed a person.

"It was all outside, even though it was pouring with rain. We all had really great fun."

The third creativity day featured music workshops with guitar, percussion, keyboards and singing, putting poems written by P4 and P5 children to music, and garage and blues bands. There were also acting workshops.

Competitions were running all week, for best scrapbooks, jokes, art, model-making, writing, spring gardens, photography, PowerPoint presentation, fancy dress and fashion design, with pupils acting as judges.

Pupils auditioned each other for The J-Factor to narrow the contest down to 20 groups before the local councillor, Alastair Paisley, and the quality improvement officer for Edinburgh, Rosie Wilson, were called on to judge it.

One act was by P7 pupil Shannon Lamb and seven of her friends - six girls and a boy - who wrote a song. "We thought it would give us a boost,"

Shannon explains. "It's called 'Notice Me'. The point of it is: don't change yourself to please other people."

Two P7 pupils also organised and judged the JJ Factor (Junior J Factor) competition for the P1 to P3 pupils, with Scottish and Irish dancing, ballet and joke telling.

Ms Wilson says: "The enthusiasm and motivation has been wonderful. They've been having so much fun, they've been learning without even realising it."

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