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Enchanting minds

Creativity lies at the heart of this year's show - both in the inspiring workshops and the huge range of products on offer. Victoria Neumark reports

With the whole show geared around the theme of creativity, key art workshops in the revamped Creativity in Practice area will be a focal point. GCSE Year 10 students will share their experiences using ICT technology in the teaching of art, while primary pupils experiment with art software.

Sally Roundell from Alderbrook - a practising artist who has been teaching at the Solihull School for 10 years - will use state-of-the-art kits from Matrix, with a camera to record the teacher's tuition, later played back as rolling footage to the class on a wide screen. As well as PowerPoint presentations, she weaves live and DVD recordings from the camera with Sympodium software's interactive pen capabilities, annotating over a recorded or live image.

She says: "The task will be an extension of Year 10's project - an introduction to Lucian Freud - and there will be live demonstrations on technique, with pupils carrying out tasks while I address the audience."

A small group of children from Robin Hood Primary School in Birmingham, recently awarded a Futures Vision award for its innovation in the use of ICT, will try Paint Shop Pro, Adobe Photoshop and Flash. "The workshop will provide a chance for teachers to watch a step-by-step lesson with the software and even to have a go," says Ann Aston, headteacher at Robin Hood.

Talented artists from Years 4-6 at the Birmingham school are encouraged to join an in-house art academy, with extra-curricular modules in a mixture of traditional and computer art. "It has been a huge success in developing pupils' artistic talents, as well as piloting new ideas and activities into the general curriculum," adds Ann.

For those who come to shop, there are many new products offering tempting possibilities. From Art2Go there is an ingenious bottle that only releases glue when the spring-action valve is activated, minimising leaks and spillage; also a new range of pearlescent paint, imported from America, in six assorted colours, which feature a leakproof applicator. The paint is only released when the applicator is pushed down on paper, resulting in much less mess and wastage.

Other paint suppliers are Brian Clegg Educational Products, which stock Crafty Kit Cut to assist teaching younger children about shape, colour and size recognition, saving hours of cutting time for staff. From Edding, joining hundreds of pen permutations for virtually every marking solution imaginable, is the UK's first retractable boardmarker, in red, black, blue or green. Its push-button mechanism ensures that there is no cap to lose so the marker shouldn't dry out.

Pentel, known for every kind of pen, launches its EnerGel liquid gel range to offer an even smoother-flowing, quick-drying writing experience (something that left-handed writers will also appreciate).

Bic is offering the chance to win great prizes, including a Bic Sport Kayak worth pound;500. Other prizes include colouring class packs, which retail for pound;35 and whiteboard kits worth pound;25. The company is running promotional offers throughout the show, including a product pack, which costs pound;5 and is full of ball pens, graphite pencils, colouring pencils, correction products and a mini whiteboard. Don't miss the Bic Evolution Triangle Graphite Pencil and the improved Bic Cristal Gel Pen, with increased smoothness and bright vivid colours, as well as old favourites, the Bic Cristal Stick Ballpoint Pen and Tipp-Ex.

Another writing-implement specialist, Staedtler will be judging 24 finalists in the Classroom Challenge. Now in its fifth year, this national competition invites children to design the packaging for Staedtler classpacks. The winner will take away pound;1,000 worth of computer equipment for their school and their entry will adorn the packs for the following year. So far more than 5,000 schools have risen to the challenge.

Students can use these pens when they try Drawing is a Class Act, from Brilliant Publications. The book covers all the national curriculum programmes of study related to drawing for primary children. It contains carefully planned, clearly laid-out lesson plans, with examples of pupils' artwork and photocopiable work by famous artists.

Storage is key in art rooms, so it's worth checking out Certwood Ltd for its StorSystem of trays, with wooden or colourful metal storage units to house them. Alternatively, try Creative Units 3 4 from Community Playthings. These craft organisers feature woven baskets or plastic totes which sit in bulk storage containers. Upgrade your displays with the likes of Fadeless display papers, Bordette border rolls and Bulletin Border - new products from Creativity International.

Use Velcro to mount wipe boards, pictures and heavier items. New are Clear Glue Spots, Sticky Foam Pads (for sticking and fixing) and, unique to the market, Picture Paper, with an integrated "hook" backing, which is ideal for securing woven surfaces, such as clothing, carpet tiles, exhibition panels, cubicle partitions and bulletin boards.

On the web, Culture Online, part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, aims to improve access to the arts and culture through the innovative use of technology. Culture Online works with an array of partner organisations, such as the National Theatre, the Victoria and Albert Museum and Channel 4. My Art Space ( is an interactive service that enables key stage 2 and 3 visitors to museums and galleries to "collect" cultural artefacts with their mobile phones, create their own online collections and share their interest, knowledge and enthusiasm about the objects and artworks they find. The service, specifically designed around museum education, illustrates how the digital world of websites and mobile phone technologies can add value to the world of museums, galleries and exhibitions.

Resource Education offers the program Albert's Paintbox, in which big clear buttons and no words (even in the menus) introduce very young children to pop-up picture menus and computer-based work. Features include a large collection of stamps, three simple methods of editing colours and patterns, two and four-way symmetry and two tiling styles.

Spark of Inspiration launches Deltasand, a high-tech sand with a special additive which keeps it constantly moist, and able to stick together, almost like a clay. However, when needed, it can also crumble away like normal sand.

If children make their own cards with The Vanilla Card Company, it won't cost the school a penny. Children draw their own designs, which the company will turn into prototypes for free. If parents then order packs of 12, they can buy them direct from the company. The school earns commission for all the orders.

* Art2Go Stand EY-W22

* Brian Clegg Educational Products Stand AZ-R50

* Edding (UK) Ltd Stand AZ-T41

* Pentel Stand Q10

* Bic Stand AZ-S47

* Staedtler Stand D4

* Brilliant Publications Stand PZ-K61

* Certwood Ltd Stand X6

* Community Playthings Stand R21

* Creativity International Stand AZ-S40

* Velcro Stand EY-U31

* Culture Online Stand Q23

* Resource Education Stand IT-M90

* Spark of Inspiration Stand T61

* The Vanilla Card Company Stand EY-X28

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