Developing pupils’ creative thinking skills, drawing on recent events for inspiration

This week’s primary enrichment activity draws on the recent news of a missing fishing net. Using this as the inspiration, pupils have to design a dance to represent the net, encouraging pupils to think about the different elements of creative representation.

This week’s secondary enrichment activity uses two examples of houses built from recycled materials. Getting pupils to think about waste reduction and innovative ways to use recycled materials effectively.

***Primary Enrichment***

KS2: Physical education. Dance activities.

Pupils should be taught to:

  • create and perform dances using a range of movement patterns, including those from different times, places and cultures
  • respond to a range of stimuli and accompaniment.

KS2 English. Spelling

Pupils should be taught: Spelling strategies

  • to analyse words into syllables and other known words
  • to apply knowledge of spelling conventions
  • to use knowledge of common letter strings, visual patterns and analogies
  • to check their spelling using word banks, dictionaries and spellcheckers
  • to revise and build on their knowledge of words and spelling patterns

Net dance

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has recently issued a warning to vessels in the Pentland Firth asking them to beware of a huge fishing net which has been lost overboard from the fishing boat the Bergen-registered Krossfjord. The net is the length of six football pitches. While the MCA and shipping in the area anxiously look for the drifting net, thousands of dancers in Belfast will be taking part in the 38th Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne (World Irish Dancing Championships) which runs from 23-30 March. The dancers, aged from under 11s to 21 years and above, will take part in 35 competitions. Some questions for your pupils to consider and an activity for them to do: Imagine how the net will move through the sea as it drifts, pulled by tides, currents and changes in the weather, and pushed by winds. Imagine you are a dance choreographer and produce a dance that will show the movement of the giant net, changing its direction and shape as it moves in three dimensions. What music would you use to support your ‘drifting net’ dance performance?


Appreciating three-dimensional topography.

Going further

Having thought about and discussed how you would write and produce a ‘drifting net’ dance, it would be a very satisfactory challenge to put on a performance of the dance for others to see. Imagine some 300 people taking part. Where would you hold the performance? How would you get people involved? How would you finance their performance? If each knot in the net was a word that had something to do with the sea, how could these words be incorporated into the soundtrack of the dance?

To learn how to make a fishing net click here

The full ‘lost net’ story and links can be found here.

For more information about the Irish dancing festival click here.

Learning and teaching Scotland.

From a very early age children engage, naturally, in dramatic activity. They pretend that they are other people, in other places, sometimes in another time. In education, drama may be considered to be not only a subject, but also an important method of learning about ourselves and the world in which we live. Introduction to 5-14 Drama

International Baccalaureate. Primary years programme. Curriculum framework

At the heart of the programmes philosophy is a commitment to structured, purposeful inquiry as the leading vehicle for learning. Six transdisciplinary themes of global significance provide the framework for exploration and study:

  • where we are in place and time
  • how we organise ourselves

***Secondary Enrichment***

KS4: Design and technology. Evaluating processes and products

Pupils should be taught to: evaluate their design ideas as these develop, and modify their proposals to ensure that their product meets the design specification test how well their products work, then evaluate them identify and use criteria to judge the quality of other people’s products, including the extent to which they meet a clear need, their fitness for purpose, whether resources have been used appropriately, and their impact beyond the purpose for which they were originally designed for.

Free house

Two ‘free houses’ have been in the news recently. A 12ft tall house created of ‘freesheet’ newspapers, donated by members of the public, train companies and the additional donation of 100,000 newspapers from ‘Project Freesheet’, has now been recycled. The artist Sumer Erek created the artwork in Gillet Square in Dalston, Hackney. The donated newspapers were rolled up and fitted into a wooden framework. The project was undertaken by a group called Creative City and funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Mr Erek said: ‘Newspaper House covers our era’s three aspects − news, paper and house… and also brings communities together and people contributing into the construction and adding into the piece in a physical active way.’

He added that the rain would help congeal the paper turning it into an ‘even stronger and more solid material’.

Even things that don’t have value can be transformed into artwork and it could be something beautiful,’ he said.

Another house-building project using recycled components has recently been completed. Steve James, who built the Galloway home, estimated the price of the house to be about £4,000. Most of the building has been made from items other people have thrown away. The walls are made of straw and the roof is covered with turf. Steve James has built a watertight, heat efficient, small house, which at the moment is powered using a car battery.


£600 supplies for volunteers

£50 water heater £70 water pump £100 fuel for power tools
£100 fixings £100 miscellaneous £100 batteries
£100 tarpaulin £100 paint/varnish £100 wiring
£100 quicklime £150 glass £150 equipment hire
£150 reclaimed joists £150 plywood £400 pond liner
£300 straw £50 stove chimney £500 sacking
£400 floorboards £30 cooker £200 plumbing

Source: BBC Scotland news website

Some questions for your pupils to consider and discuss:

  • How much and what types of recyclable materials does your school produce over a six-month period?
  • How much and what types of recyclable materials does your home produce over a six-month period?
  • Consider local service providers, retail outlets and manufacturing businesses in your immediate neighbourhood − what type of recyclable waste do you imagine they would produce?
  • Quantify, as far as you can, the various amounts of timber, glass, plastics, turf, paper and other potential building materials
  • When you have an idea of the amounts and types of building materials available design a three-bedroom family home that must be built using the materials you estimate as being available from locally produced waste.


Thinking about rubbish.

Going further

Professor Shinichi Suzuki and his team at the University of Tokyo are testing a paper aeroplane that they want to launch from the International Space Station, which is 400km above the Earth’s surface, to glide back to Earth. The team plans to ask a Japanese astronaut, who will travel to the ISS later this year, to throw about 100 of the planes into space. The Japan Origami Airplane Association has designed the test prototypes of the paper plane. To track the planes there is to be a message in a range of languages on the paper asking people to send it back to Japan if they find it. Design and build, using recyclable materials that are locally available, a space glider that could be launched from the ISS into space away from Earth.

To read the full story about the paper house click here.

Building a house for £4,000, the full story, click here.

Japanese paper aeroplanes click here.

Learning and teaching. Scotland.

Introduction to 5-14 Technology Technology education is a distinct form of creative activity in which human beings interact with their environment − be it natural or built − in order to bring about change.

International Baccalaureate. Middle Years Programme curriculum


This course is essentially concerned with solving problems in an effort to stimulate students’ ingenuity and to encourage them to combine intellectual talents and practical skills.

This e-bulletin issue was first published in March 2008

About the author: John Senior is the author of Enrichment Activties for G&T Pupils. He is a teacher with 26 years’ experience of teaching Gifted and Talented children, working with parents and carers as a consultant on high ability, and peer mentoring.