Thank God it's Friday

13th January 2006 at 00:00
Monday I am filled with trepidation as today my class of 30 Year 4 children face a new challenge: they are to become film-makers. They will create, before the end of term, a Wallace and Gromit style animation of the Nativity. I've never taught animation before and all the equipment and techniques are new to the children. We make the scenery so we can start filming tomorrow.

Tuesday I'm nervous. What if the programme doesn't work? But I watch with pleasure as all the children, including those with special needs, work together and start filming. They enjoy making the plasticine actors and I am proud of the quality they achieve, especially the historically correct Roman soldiers.

Wednesday All my fears prove unfounded. The first two scenes filmed yesterday are fantastic. The children take turns at each aspect of filming, moving the characters, directing the scene and using the camera. By 3pm the class watches with amazement as the plasticine angel visits the plasticine shepherds on the paper hillside. One shepherd is so shocked he drops his sheep (Joel's idea), a detail which sows the seeds for other ideas.

Thursday Filming moves swiftly today with three more scenes ready by hometime. Each is better than the last. When the plasticine angel visits the plasticine Mary her mouth moves as she says "Ooh!" This leads to every character needing to speak and the donkey's ears and tail waggling.

But nothing prepares me for the input from Nico, a child whose behaviour can be best described as challenging. His group works on the scene where the three kings visit Herod. When Herod hears the news of the birth of Jesus, Nico says the king is so shocked that he should take off his crown and drop it to the floor. Then, in true king style, shout for his soldiers to pick it up. He does this, moving the plasticine Herod a few millimetres at a time. It takes him half an hour of concentration but he never wavers.

Friday We watch our completed animation and I'm astounded by the quality we achieve. My thoughts turn to new projects, an animation of the Viking invasion perhaps.

Sarah Clee teaches at Crosshall junior school, St Neots, Cambridgeshire. If you have a diary to share (no more than 450 words), write to TES Friday, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX or email friday@tes.co.uk. We pay for every article we publish

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