Pentrepoeth Primary School, Day 1

| September 29, 2011 | 0 Comments 

Lovely to be back in Wales for a really fun day at Pentrepoeth Primary School, in Bassaleg, Newport and travels through mysterious lands, with the children across the age ranges of the school.

A darkened room, dancing sound effects, haunting music enhancing the atmosphere, and we’re ready to go who knows where?

Today, we wandered in the world of wondrous words, with the children and staff, . more than 60 individuals in each session, yet, at times, you could hear a pin drop. Then, when an unexpected feature sprang to life, bubbling discussion and fizzing talk.

Laughter galore here at Pentrepoeth, and lots of quick self control down to quietness. So, we had fun! Well done all.

Thank you, to Anne Carlyle, Head Teacher, her colleagues and, most importantly, pupils, for a very enjoyable day. We look forward to extending things further with the staff.

We are grateful to Nick Penn, for recording his thoughts on the process. Nick has already sent us some feedback on what his pupils achieved when he was working at another school, Abertillery Primary.

Day 1 in the Pentrepoeth House…Tim and Sarah arrive and the tension and anticipation is palpable.  I’m trying to use impressive language already and they haven’t started working with the children yet!

Year 2 arrive and Tim has them eating out of the palm of his hand.  Little faces look on in shock and awe (and not the George Bush kind) and they are engaged immediately.  Tim has Myst III: Exile projecting and the children are inspired by it in so many different ways already.  One scene seems to mean a million different things; the ideas are literally tumbling from their lips; dragon wings made into stairs; trees and leaves woven into patterns; drills piercing the sky; the mast of a ship; a dragon’s tail; snakes left for one hundred years; a slide built by someone – maybe even made by God!  Claps or ‘ripples’ are encouraged as ideas are shared. Crumbs!

“Come on” says Tim, “Climb up, but we need to walk ‘carefully and cautiously, dears!’”

On they go, and now their senses are tuned into the noise around them.  He reminds them of how they walked, and all of a sudden the children are thinking of their own ‘ly’ adverbs to make their way up, what they now know is a strange and mysterious plant.

The children:

climb carefully

head upward quickly and cautiously

tip-toe slowly

spin madly

dance wildly, and wickedly

They’re up and moving, and next they are challenged to imagine what’s at the top.  Is it ice and fire? Is it hotter than the gates of…Hull?  Our children know there are no right or wrong answers and the steam begins to rise from their ‘scribble sticks’ as they commit pen eagerly to paper.  None of the children seem phased by the blank space before them – and they haven’t climbed up yet!

Tim gathers the children back on the carpet and they are excited about the next part of the journey up the ‘automatic spiral escalator plant’.


The boys and girls reach the top, surrounded by seeds and peculiar tendrils and the sad chirrup of a lonely bird in a nest.  “How does it feel right now?”, Tim asks.

Lonely, hungry, sad, scared, afraid, broken-hearted, and endangered, and seamlessly he segues into The Owl Babies, by Martin Waddle.

Back to the scene and a bird flies into view carrying some food for it’s baby, and we have an interesting discussion.

This ranges from about whether it’s a mummy bird or daddy bird (Daddy apparently, because the colourful ones are show offs and Daddies are show offs!), to the diet of the little one.

All of a sudden Tim and Louie are having a ‘balanced argument’ about where they go to explore next.  Louie wins and now they go back down the plant.  The bell rings, yet the children seem stabled to the carpet, they want more but time has run out and they leave buzzing with excitement!

Year 4 arrive and the fun begins again. Tim makes the children feel comfortable straight away, introducing ‘Mr Walker’, his walking stick and their first job is to guess the second job the stick has.  The children ‘witter’ to each other about their ideas, then share them:

An adjustable stick. A magic money maker. A stick with holes which help him breathe. A flute. A portable face cleaner/eyebrow cleaner/earwax remover. A dart gun for the purposes of war!

Talk of Mr Walker changes to talk of the picture on the screen in front of them.  More wittering takes place, thoughts are shared and ripples exchanged as the children respond to one another’s ideas.  Strange clouds are blown across the sky like excited holiday makers travelling to the coast.  Someone notices that the wind which moves the clouds is different to the winds which are don’t let the dancing leaves struggling to escape from the bushes, and the column of smoke which rises from one of the buildings they can see.  Someone else has noticed that the light is changing the patterns on the landscape.  Now the children are talking excitedly about what they see, hear, feel and think.  No wrong or right answers here – the children are the experts in the world they are immersed in.

It’s autumn because the leaves are blowing and there’s a fire in the chimney; the water leads into a cave where maybe boats are moored.  The people have fled because they are scared of the monster which lives in the snow, sprinkled on the mountains like icing sugar.

Now the children begin to spot similes in the descriptions Tim gives. Now we close our eyes and paint the picture in our heads, which Tim helps us imagine through the use of similes, of a comfortable bed which was like parachuting into a bed of marshmallows.

Now they look through the world in front of them, and the children are encouraged to use their scribbly sticks to write what they see, even ‘nicking’ ideas from each other whilst making them their own.  You can hear a pin drop!  The children are engaged and on task and immensely proud of their work!  Reluctantly, the children are brought back together.  Now the children get to speak their words and the room is brought to life with the sound of their voices reading the descriptions, against a backdrop of a beating heart.  Powerful stuff!

Now we meet a resident and a gardener from the world.  The questions they are asked reveal a terrible tale!

A monster has destroyed the village and left them with nothing, they had fun building it though, laughing about the time the gardener fell off a ladder into the manure which he uses to help the plants grow!

More walking through the world?  Afraid not boys and girls, because it’s lunch time!

Groans of disappointment fill our classroom, though Tim does reveal the real second purpose to Mr Walker. Mr Walker is…

(No, we are sworn to secrecy!)

Year 6’s turn now and they come in hot and bothered after a hot and sweaty dinner time!  No matter though, because they are immediately tuned in. Introductions out of the way (Mr Walker included, who they believe may be an exercise pole for worms, a didgeridoo among other bizarre suggestions) and we’re off.

We’re going to a different place now, and the children are intrigued by the image in front of them. What is it? A pirate ship? A windmill? A whale’s mouth? Where are they?  An island of spirits and ghosts? The Bermuda Triangle? A place where mermaids did a horrible thing?

More simile spotting but this time with metaphors mixed in! We walk, perched on the edge of time itself; birds pierce the water, like a bullet through velvet.

Bad jokes and magic from Mr Walker, and we’re off, pinching Tim’s sentence starter like magpies to start us off with our writing.

Standing here…

Now we’re at the bones of the writing; adding, taking away, polishing our words.  Challenge, challenge, challenge!  The standards are high!

Onward and further in and the children share their thoughts and sentences – your blogger has to leave the class at break time, but the children once again, are disappointed when the bell rings for break time.

A great day was had by all! Thanks Tim and Sarah, from all of us at Pentrepoeth Primary School.

Thank you Nick, for your thoughtful observations. We look forward to more tomorrow…

Category: 1) Events and Training days

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