Collective thoughts

11th July 2008 at 01:00
From a wheelbarrow to citizenship lessons - yes, there is a connection. Pamela Izerkhef explains

From a wheelbarrow to citizenship lessons - yes, there is a connection. Pamela Izerkhef explains

Primary - Ages 4-7

Empathy and communication are key parts of citizenship, so our school hosted Thinking Together, a series of activities that brought together the gifted and talented key stage 1 children from our school with pupils from a partnership school.

The aims of the session were to encourage pupils to express opinions and listen to others; to make collective decisions; to defend their position; and to consider the rights and responsibilities of themselves and others.

We started with some warm-up activities, allowing the children to get to know each other. First, they were asked to imagine that there was a box, and what could be inside it. One child mimes what they think is in the box, while the other children guess what the mime artist is doing. The person who guesses correctly takes their place.

Next, pupils were asked to work in groups and make themselves into household objects by using their bodies: wheelbarrow, toaster, car, hairdryer, bicycle, washing machine.

They were then asked questions such as: How did you feel when you had made the object? Are you happy with how your object looks? What would you change? Did anyone take charge? Did everyone speak at once?

The next activity was based around a story called The Sand Tray by Don Rowe and Tim Archibold, about a girl who wants to play in the sand tray with the boys, but they don't want her to.

I was asked to read the story to a group of children. Then we brainstormed the questions that we would like to ask the characters in the story about their decisions and feelings.

Once we had discussed the questions we had to prioritise them and share the question we thought was the most important.

After lunch, we were given a scenario in which children needed to cross the road to go to the shop. They could use the level crossing, as their parents wanted them to, or ignore it.

The children were asked to act out their chosen course of action, and share their thoughts about the consequences. This enables them to see what different groups of children had decided to do.

To begin with, the children were reluctant to work with the other pupils and, in particular, the teachers from the partnership school. They sat close together and spoke only to their friends. Once the warm-up activities were started, the children visibly relaxed, and then they began to enjoy themselves.

Pamela Izerkhef is standards leader at Britannia Village Primary School in east London.

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