China plate inspires performance

3rd October 2003 at 01:00
"Blue and White China", a musical drama by Stanley St Peter's Infant Players, represents a term's integrated arts work for one class of 26 Year 3 children. A high point was performing at the National Festival of Music for Youth (www.mfy.org.uk) at London's Royal Festival Hall in the summer.

The children are mixed-ability, some with special needs. They have no formal music tuition, but the project brought together elements of several QCA study units for music: exploring rhythmic patterns, the class orchestra, pentatonic scales and painting with sound.

The children created their own version of the willow-pattern plate story in literacy lessons, and formed different elements of the music in small composition workshops, choosing instruments that sounded "oriental".

Movement and dance were developed in PE.

They looked at Chinese art and circus, and included diabolo, lanterns, chopsticks, parasols, fans, plate-spinning, juggling, martial arts and a dragon in their performance. During numeracy lessons, they explored shapes to project as background scenery. We used a graphic notation, employing the children's own signs and pictures.

Every child made a valuable contribution to the project and it has been a wonderful tool to promote inclusion and pride in their achievement. I have seen improvements in concentration, self-help skills and behaviour, and better attainment in other school studies.

Stephen Peace, class teacher, Stanley St Peter's CE Primary School, Wakefield

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