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Friday, 29 November 2019

Run, Run, Rudolph!

I am currently lying in bed, wrapped in a very fluffy dressing gown, under no fewer than three blankets, one of which is a microfibre fleece, shivering.  I ache in places I didn't even know I had.  I have consumed so much Lemsip I have developed a liking for the taste (for my American readers, apparently it's a bit like Theraflu).  But I am not downhearted, oh no, because today I get to share one of my favourite things I have ever done in a classroom... and it'll make you money at your winter fair!

Bitmoji Image

TL:DR
Go to bit.ly/reindeerrush     Project the screen     
Charge 20p to place a bet        Award the winner with sweets!

Some context...
A while ago I was told that I had to produce something for the Christmas fair at school.  I was the ICT/Computing lead teacher, so I thought I would do something techie.  I also taught the oldest children in the school, so I didn't want to take too much time off-timetable because we had deadlines and assessments; you know how it is.  

We had begun to look at coding using Scratch - a web-based drag-and-drop programme builder made by the folks at MIT.  It's child-friendly, fairly foolproof and, most importantly, free!  So I thought I could let the children have a play around and challenged them to write a programme that caused a character to walk across the screen and tell a joke.  Fairly simple stuff, but it would keep them entertained.

Children being what they are, they began to experiment with their code.  There's not much you can do with a character walking expect increase or decrease the speed. So they did that.  And that's what gave me the idea.

Carnival Games
There was an old carnival game called The Kentucky Derby (it changed its name to The Arabian Derby for reasons I cannot fathom).  It was fairly simple.  You rolled balls on a skeeball table and the number of points you got advanced a mechanical horse (or camel later on) by that many places.  The winner was the horse who reached the finish line first.  


This thing was as lucrative as it was addictive.  The prizes were nothing special, you could accumulate several smaller prizes for a larger prize, but the number of players per round more than paid for the merchandise.  It was a guaranteed money-spinner.  And it wasn't a million miles away from what the children had created...

A Chorus Line
I pitched the idea to the class and they loved it.  We would be the first class in the history of the school to have a digital entry in the Christmas fair.  It would require minimal set-up on the day and almost no take-down afterwards (the children had to help with tidying their stall away, so this was a big selling point!).  

So we had our BIG PROJECT: A racing game where people could place bets on a sprite.
Now we had to ABSTRACT the problem.  This was very useful because abstraction was quite a new concept, not only for the children but for a lot of the staff as well.  Abstraction was taking out BIG PROJECT and breaking it down into lots of little projects.  The children were quite surprised at how much work we had to do.

We needed:
  • Racers
  • Code to make the racers move
  • A 'win' screen for each racer (because any one of them could win)
  • A background for them to race on
Since it was a Christmas fair, we decided that we would have Santa's reindeer race.  I was surprised that they only knew Rudolph.  Not a problem, the next day, during our English lesson, we studied A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore.  

"Mr M!"  came the excited cries, "The reindeer names!"

It was almost like I'd planned it...

So we had 9 racers.  Dasher, Dancer, Donder, Blitzen, Comet, Cupid, Prancer, Vixen and Rudolph.  Except we could only fit 6 on the screen comfortably, so we had to cut a few.  Then we hit our first stumbling block.  

The home screen.  We matched the names to the noses.  

Drawing Reindeer is hard!
Everybody tried.  Some were quite good... but transferring the drawn image onto the computer proved too difficult for the children (I wanted them to independently do as much of it as they could).  This was in the days before reliable touchscreen and styluses, so it would have involved drawing on paper, scanning the picture, creating a transparent background in photoshop... too much.  So I set the reindeer team the task of working the problem.

They came back with clipart prancing reindeer.  Perfect... almost.

The problem was that when we applied the movement code to our new sprites, they just glided across the screen.  They didn't look like they were running at all.  We needed some animation to bring them to life.

A group of children requested the project for the weekend so I let them have it.  They came back to school on Monday with big smiles on their faces.  They had watched YouTube videos on simple animation and realised that all they needed to do was cut the legs off the reindeer and have them switch from facing inward to facing outward.  So that was their task when we next had the laptops.  I moved my attention to the coding team and the problem of fairness and excitement.

And the winner is... Everyone?
To have a race, someone has to win.  Everyone else has to lose.  The coding team were very proud of the code they had written but it had one very big flaw.  They had programmed the races so that each reindeer took turns at winning.  Essentially just an increasing sequence that reset after 9.  

I asked them if they thought this was fair.  They said yes because it meant that everyone had a chance of winning.  Bless them.  I pointed out that their system might be easy to crack and we would only ever have people placing bets on the winning reindeer.  They were horrified when I reminded them that the idea was to make money from the losing bets.  So we had to find a way to ensure that:
  • Everybody could be the winner
  • 8 out of 9 would lose every time
  • Each reindeer was equally likely to win or lose each race
  • Nobody, not even us, could know for certain who would win
I was so happy that one of them said: "It needs to be random!"  Mostly because it meant a maths lesson was called for...

There was a lot of coding involved!

Roll Up, Roll Up...
We had a maths lesson about probability (naughty because it was no longer on the curriculum) and how to ensure that a random number could be picked from a range every time.  Then we transferred this knowledge onto the computer.  

The children wrote a code that told the computer to move each individual reindeer a random number of steps between 0 and 5.  Applying this to each reindeer resulted in our first completely randomised race.  It was very exciting.

It was also very quick.  The race length was about 30 'moves'.  We test-ran several races and because of the 0-5 random chance generator we had created, some of the reindeer were leaping to the finish line in just 6 moves.  It was split-second stuff.  not long enough to generate any excitement.  The animation team were also upset because it didn't leave enough time for their wonderfully dynamic legs to be seen.

Back to the drawing board.

Wait a second...
The children really started to own the project at this point.  They gathered around their table and began to attack the problem.  There was absolutely no hint of defeat in them at all.  They already knew how to tell a sprite to 'wait' because they had used that in their original joke-telling projects.  They decided to add a 'wait' command to their random movement loop.  

This worked well, sort of.  The race was a little bit longer but all the reindeer were moving, then waiting, then moving, then waiting.  It was like a bizarre game of Grandma's Footsteps.  I was about to step in when one of the girls had an epiphany:

"Randomise the wait time!"

So now we had reindeer that would run forwards at a random rate of between 0 and 5 paces, wait for a random length of 0-3 seconds, then run forwards again at another random rate.  It was perfect.  We ran several races and children placed mock bets on the winner and the outcome was random every time.  They had done it.

But it looked awful.

Greens, greens, nothing but greens...
The default screen we had been testing on was a green background.  It was not Christmassy.  Luckily, while the coding team had been busy coding, and the animation team had been busy animating, our digital design team had been creating a background.  They had found a snow-covered field (it had been slightly ploughed so it even looked like lost of races had happened already) and set it as the backdrop.  They had drawn a starting block, which, with the animation team's help, opened and closed for each race.  They had even created magical reindeer food for each of the reindeer to race towards.  This is actually my favourite bit of the whole thing.  They took a picture of dog kibble and worked with the animation team to add magical sparkles to it.  It's a really cute touch.

The winner's enclosure

We put it all together and were very impressed.  The only thing missing was the winner's screen. This was created by using a stock background (Scratch has lots to choose from) and having the winning reindeer's name appear on the screen.  We also decided to add the winning reindeer jumping for joy (by rotating the original animation a quarter turn).  All that was left to do was build in a reset button and launch the game.

A lie that brings a smile...
We set up our 'stall'.  We had the big screen and projected the computer on to it.  It was pretty impressive.  We sold our betting slips to the children and parents and told them... that the reindeer were voice- and motion-activated.  We actually had these kids believing that the louder they shouted, and the more they flapped their arms, the faster their reindeer would move.  It was hilarious.  And loud.  Very loud.

We had a couple of complaints - some parents thought the game was rigged because Vixen kept winning (and she did, five in a row once).  I explained that the game was totally random and built in a stats screen that showed all the races and winners within a session (press the up arrow to see this, and the down arrow to clear it).

We were also shamed for encouraging gambling but I argued that it was no worse than a raffle.  Also, since five out of every six children lost their money, it was a good way to teach that gambling isn't a good way to earn money.  It was nice to see some of the children from my class comforting the losing children, saying things like 'you can't win every time' and 'isn't it good you only lost 20p?'  Meanwhile, I was saying 'you can always try again!'  Because I'm morally bankrupt and wanted to win the prize for raising the most money.

We did, by the way.  Our overheads were negligible - a tub of Haribo that cost a fiver.  After the first five races, we were on pure profit and we could run around 5 races ever minute.  The fair was open for two hours.  We cleaned up.  Figuratively, of course, there was no literal clean up beyond shutting down the computer.  Everybody wins.

A gift that keeps on giving...
I have used the same programme several times and it has always proved popular.  And now I offer it to you.  It can be found at bit.ly/reindeerrush  Just open it up, make it full screen and press the green flag to begin.  The controls are simple enough.  Space begins a race.  N resets the race (N for New).  The up arrow shows the stats; the down arrow hides the stats.  If you press space before pressing N, you have reindeer running all over the winners' screen.  Don't panic.  Just hit N and start again.

Thanks for reading this far.  If you haven't read my other Christmas Fair posts, they're a lot more curriculum-based with lots of ideas of how to create things to sell and incorporate the whole project into your timetable so as not to miss any teaching and learning time, check them out.  

Bitmoji Image
I've recently discovered Bitmoji...

If this is your first time here, you are very welcome.  Do read some of my other posts - the one on marking is very popular (it's here) and please let others know about this blog!  If there is anything you would like me to cover, leave a comment, or send me a tweet,  Me details are below.  If you would like to have me as a guest post on your blog, please get in touch.  I've done this already for a couple of people and I'm always happy to meet new bloggers!

It is nearly the end of the term, the year and the decade!  Do yourself a favour; look back on everything you have achieved.  You are doing a brilliant job in a difficult time.  Keep smiling and help others to keep smiling too.  

Carl Headley-Morris

@Mr_M_Musings     tragiclantern@gmail.com     bit.ly/carlslearningplace

Friday, 22 November 2019

This post is good for your elf... (bug-free update!)



<<Whoops!  Had some formatting issues there.  We're all back on track now...>>

There are 34 days to go until Christmas. That’s less than five weeks! That means it must be time for the second of my three Christmas Fair blog posts!

To recap, last week I posted how to create delicious no-bake melted snowmen tiffin treats, and also how to frame the learning around them so as to not waste any precious teaching time. If you missed it, it is right below this week’s post, so please do check it out.

Also, last week I promised to be brief and got a little carried away. So, starting this week (following my brilliant wife’s advice), I shall include a TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) summary to each of my blog posts. I’ll also go back and retroactively update all previous posts.

And finally, before getting into this week’s post, a plea. For those of you living in the UK, if you haven't already registered to vote, and are aged 18 or over, please go to gov.uk/register-to-vote and sign up. I’m not going to get political here, but it is so important that your voice is heard on December 11th. Thanks.


TL;DR

Have the class design, create, and come up with 
an advertising campaign for a brand new Christmas companion!

#English #MFL #Music #RE #Computing

Last week was quite a sweet treat and I know many schools have a healthy-eating policy. Some schools also have a health-and-safety policy that forbids and food that has been made by people without a valid health and hygiene certificate. So this week I offer something different.

SALT DOUGH!

Not just for reception, salt dough ornaments are surprisingly forgiving, relatively easy to make and the profit mark-up is ridiculous. Since the seasonal sculptures themselves can be made in an afternoon, they’re perfect for an end of week activity if you need to just get something. 

But why not go a little bit deeper with this…

I’m not going to post a recipe for salt dough here, and I don’t recommend that you provide one for your children either. Instead, as part of a digital literacy lesson, have them research it and give you a list of required ingredients. You might get a whole host of different methods (the recipes are largely the same), which is fine. Let the children use the technology they are being taught to use. I would put them in groups and, like last week, encourage competition.

Similarly to last week, the maths aspects creep in with scaling measurements and calculating cost margins etc. So I won’t go into that here (again, details are in last week’s post). However, I had an idea the other night. An idea that I quite liked…




I was thinking about the Elf on the Shelf. For those of you who might know about this (My analytics tell me I’m being read all around the world now, which is amazing and humbling - a big welcome to everyone who is reading my blog in China!), it was a bit of a child-bribe where parents would buy a very creepy looking toy ‘elf’ and sit said elf on a shelf in the child’s bedroom. This elf would then spy on the child and report back to Santa. 

I find this concept deeply disturbing but I don’t have children, so maybe I just don’t understand.

Anyway, this elf was sold with a little book that explained its back-story and created a whole world for the child to buy into (philosophically, not financially). So I figured, let’s do that!

Show the children an advert for the Elf on the Shelf (I can only find one of the spin-off Elf Pets. It’s here) and have them, in their teams, design, create, brand and come up with an advertising campaign for their new (creepy) Christmas companion. A curriculum breakdown follows…

English

There is the obvious advertising angle here (writing to persuade), but go beyond it. There is the back-story that will need creating. Challenge the children further by introducing a target age-range (writing for a specific audience). You could also have them write and present a pitch for the adults in the room (writing for performance, persuasion and for a specific audience). I won’t go into too many details here because I’m really trying to keep this brief, but you get the idea!

MFL

Sell this product in a different country. This is not a throw-away suggestion. Again, using their digital literacy skills, they can research the country in question (your MFL target country of choice, perhaps). They can use Google Earth to look around the country and see if they can incorporate local traditions in their tale and design. They can use Google Translate to create a country-specific poster (make sure they translate it back to English to check that it still makes sense!). They could design a poster for their family if their family speaks another language. 

Come to that, they could design the whole concept around a holiday tradition from their country. What a great way to get the parents involved!

Art

This is tricky because the creation of the sculpture is art, but we are designing it to be produced and using it for a specific purpose (to be a toy and rto raise money) for a specific person (a child of a given age). So the process as a whole would fall under DT. You could argue that the decoration of the piece is art, but again, that would have been designed and agreed upon. Even the poster would be to serve a purpose.

As discussed last week, Art should be a creation for its own purpose. To get around this, I would argue that the story the children create has to have illustrations. These can be made digitally or traditionally. I would look at illustrations of classic Christmas tales or poems like A Visit from Saint Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore (‘Twas the night before Christmas…) for inspiration.


Music

Again, I would say create a jingle. The children could adapt the annoying one from the advert. If you have the facilities, you could even record this digitally. 

But…

Why not just play some music? How often do we allow children to explore music for its inherent musicality? Go to YouTube or Spotify or whatever music service you prefer (or are allowed to use in your school) and play a Christmas / seasonal playlist. While it is playing, display musical terms such as pitch, tempo, dynamics and invite the children to discuss their opinions using those musical terms. They can like or dislike the songs, but they have to state their case through the correct vocabulary.

RE

I’m not going to mention Christianity here. I’m going to talk about Judaism. Now, I am not a particularly religious person, so what I am about to suggest is for educational purposes only; I am not talking about faith nor am I questioning anybody’s religious beliefs. 

Dreidels are associated with Hanukkah and are a traditional (gambling) toy that was made out of wood or clay. Salt dough is a bit like clay. Could there be a link there? Again, I’m treading lightly because I don’t want to upset anyone. But there is the opportunity to discuss religions beyond Christianity at this time of year. 

Computing

I’m not going to dwell on this because I’m keeping my computing bombshell for next week. But you could have your children work collaboratively on their pitch. I would use Google Docs (actually, I would use Google Slides if we’re being pedantic) but you can use whatever you are comfortable with. Tell the children that they must create a presentation with only 3 slides. Each slide must be presented by a different member of the group. There should be no animations. Presentation software is not about animations! The slides should feature no more than 5 bullet-pointed concepts, but could simply be a picture. 


The idea behind this is to encourage the children to use presentation software as a tool, not a learning outcome. Be strict. They will surprise you. You can always direct them to a YouTube video about Death by Powerpoint - there are plenty of Ted talks about it. And it means that you don’t have to explicitly teach it.

In fact, this whole project can be a self-driven process. If you create instructions on the board (assign points values to certain elements if you like) for each process, or have print-outs for each step of the project, you can let the teams manage themselves. They might decide to delegate. They might decide to do things in a different order.


This approach can be very scary because it involves you stepping away from the controls. It is also very freeing because you get to visit each group and ask formative assessment questions along the way. You can glean a lot from a group of children when they don’t know they’re being assessed! At the end of the day, they will learn a lot and you will have something to sell at the Christmas fair.

I hope that was useful. Next week I will post my final idea (I am very excited about it) and I will also include a link to a free resource that you can use straight away (and make money from). 

As always, thanks for reading this far. My little blog is growing slowly and I am so grateful to all of you who give me your time. If there is anything you want me to post about, or any ideas you think I should look into, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

Coming up through December, I will be posting about how to reduce marking pressure on extended pieces of written work, and definitely, before the end of term, I will post something about assessment. As some of you may know, I am currently working through an MA in educational assessment and I have learned so much about the design process of tests, how the data they produce are used, and how we can best approach them in the classroom. I am so keen to share that with all of you!


If you create any salt-dough masterpieces, please take a photo and share it with me on Twitter (@Mr_M-Musings), where you can follow me and say hi - I do reply. Beyond that, you can reach me at the usual places listed below. Thanks again, wrap up warm and remember, you are awesome.

Carl Headley-Morris

@Mr_M_Musings      tragiclantern@gmail.com      bit.ly/carlslearningplace

Thursday, 14 November 2019

The Great Christmas Fair Drive pt.1: Do you wanna build a snowman...?

I know it’s still 41 days until Christmas, but I also know that a lot of schools will be thinking about Christmas Fairs and what each class can do to raise money that is so desperately needed for silly things like books and pencils.  


So, in a rather fleeting blog post this week (I have essays to write, articles to critique, and dogs to bathe - if anyone has Instagram success tips, please tweet me!), I present the first of three tried and tested methods of fundraising that not only engage children but also teach them a thing or two.


Melting Snowmen - English, Maths, Science and DT (a little)
(Festive Tiffin Treats)


These delicious chocolate treats are a simple, no-bake recipe that look adorable and taste amazing.  Plus, there’s a little bit of fruit in them so you can say they are healthy!


To make 2 snowmen, you will need:


For the tiffin:
  • 50g chocolate
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 digestive biscuit
  • 30g dried fruit


For the covering:
  • 20g marzipan
  • 30g white fondant icing
  • 4 small chocolate beans
  • 1 strawberry lace
  • Dark writing icing for the eyes/nose
  • White/clear icing for glue


Equipment:
  • Rolling pin
  • Mat for rolling icing/marzipan
  • Icing sugar (to prevent sticking)
  • 68mm cookie cutter (round)
  • 2 cupcake cases
  • Jam
  • Cupcake tin
  • Microwaveable bowl.


Method:
  1. Melt chocolate - 20-30 seconds in microwave (800w) - stir, repeat until smooth.
  2. Break digestive biscuit into small pieces, no bigger than a thumbnail, and add to melted chocolate.
  3. Stir in the fruit.
  4. Mix until everything is completely covered in chocolate.
  5. Place cupcake cases into cupcake tin.
  6. Divide the mixture between the two cases and press down with a spoon to flatten.
  7. Divide marzipan into two equal parts.
  8. Roll marzipan into a small ball and flatten with fingers until it covers the top of the tiffin.
  9. Place marzipan on top of the tiffin and press to secure.
  10. Roll out the icing and cut 2 circles with the cookie cutter.
  11. Place a circle of icing on top of the marzipan, glueing down with a little bit of jam.
  12. Roll the remaining icing into 2 balls.
  13. Dot clear icing onto the middle of the tiffin and glue one ball onto each piece.
  14. Wrap ½ a strawberry lace around the ball allowing the end to rest. Trim if necessary.
  15. Draw on eyes and mouth with dark writing icing.
  16. Use clear icing to glue on a chocolate bean nose and two chocolate bean buttons.


Do not refrigerate!



The English lesson:
Everybody gets bored when it comes to procedural writing.  How many times can you write sandwich instructions for a robot to follow?  I mean seriously. So, there are options here.  


You can have the children bake-along with you as you display the original instructions.  Insist they make notes as they go. They then have to write their own instructions based on those notes.  So far, so bland.



So why not watch a couple of YouTube clips of some very different chefs?  I like to use omelette recipe videos by Deliah Smith and Jamie Oliver.  Both are experts but both are vastly different.  It is a great way to test out success criteria for procedural writing and to show the difference between formal and informal writing/presentation (it also shows children how easy it is to make an omelette).  Watch both videos a couple of times and make notes with the children on the language and style. Then allow the children to choose a style for their own procedural writing. 


 As a bonus, have some of these written up for display (instant display, with photos of the baking) and you have your Christmas Fair environment sorted as well as the goods to sell!


The Maths lesson:
This recipe is for 2 snowmen.  To make sure you have enough ingredients for the whole class, you need to scale it up.  That’s multiplication. Have the children work out how much of each ingredient they would need to make 60 snowmen (30 children, 2 snowmen each). 


But that’s not the end.  You need to buy the ingredients.  Jump online and find out how much it will cost to buy the ingredients from various supermarkets.  You can have children work in different teams (UK - you can have Tesco, Sainsbury’s Waitrose etc.) to see where would be cheapest to buy.


This not only teaches the direct maths and comparative maths; it also introduces the life skill of shopping around.  If you’re lucky, some shops might have special offers, resulting in even more maths! It might be that you have to buy ingredients from a variety of shops.  You can then factor in the cost of having the ingredients delivered, or even (if you really want to get into it) the cost of visiting each one yourself. The basic concept is fairly simple but there are a lot of places you can go with it.


Then you need to know how much money everyone will need to contribute.  A simple matter of overall cost shared between every member of the class.  There is room for a bit of PSHCe (citizenship) here if you ask the children (or better, if they ask you) whether or not the adults should chip in?  There are debates around equality versus equity that can be addressed here, depending on the ages you teach. Should everyone pay the same amount, or should some people pay less?  If so, who decides?


inews.co.uk

After that, you have the concept of profit.  You will have a given amount of snowmen to sell.  You know how much the ingredients cost, so you know how much you need to ear to break even.  This is a concept that some of the children will not be familiar with, teach it here! Have a target in mind for the amount you want to raise.  Do you want to break records or just do well? You will also have to factor in how much you think people would be willing to pay. There is no point having 60 snowmen at £1 each if you are going to be left with 60 snowmen at the end of the fair.  This could be a simple in-class discussion, but why not make it market research and bring in some data handling? Get them to draw up a questionnaire and ask the other children at break time how much they would be willing to spend (having a picture of the product would be helpful here).  Then, back in class, collate the data and see if there is a realistic price.


When I have done this in the past, I have turned it into a whole Apprentice situation with teams of children each battling to earn the highest profit.  It was some of the easiest teaching I have ever done.


The Science lesson:
This is a bit domain-specific and in the UK, only really applies to Year 4, although younger children can introduce the concept and older children can revise it.  On a broader note, you can look at why the snowmen have melted and bring that into habitats and environments. Especially key at the moment with the whole Extinction Rebellion movement and Great Thurnberg’s climate protests.  


The properties of melting and solidifying are key in this recipe.  Why does the chocolate melt? What is happening at a structural level?  Is it a reversible process. If you have used the omelette videos for English, you can bring those back in as a non-reversible process.   If your school will let you, you can make some omelettes to prove this.  


You can also look at the nutritional content of the food.  I made the joke earlier that this very sugary treat is healthy because it contains fruit.  Is that true? What a great investigation opportunity. Why not go and explore some of the ‘healthy’ snack foods and compare sugar content against the WHO daily recommendations?  


When I did this with a class of 10-11-year-olds, they were shocked that many foods and drinks were a double serving but the nutritional advice was based around a single serving.  Is this ethical (again, back with the citizenship, a little bit of English as well [writing to persuade])?  


Again, depending on the children and your school, you could look at what ‘energy’ means by burning sugar (if you have access to some sulphuric acid, you can do this, which is both incredibly visual and very cool).  On a perhaps more manageable level, you can look into how many hours of exercise it would take to burn off the calories in one snowman.  Probably best not to advertise that at the fair though!


The DT lesson:
Design Technology always used to confuse me because I didn’t have a clear differentiation between it and Art.  Until a very good DT lead teacher told me this:
DT is the three S’s:
It is the design and making of SOMETHING, for SOMEBODY, for a SPECIFIC reason or purpose.
Compare that with the Oscar Wilde quote: All art is quite useless.  Meaning, Art does not need to have a purpose or a use.  It can exist purely for its own sake.  


With that in mind, the DT I propose for this project is two-fold.  Firstly, the snowmen themselves are the SOMETHING.  They are for people to eat, so people are my SOMEBODY and the purpose is to raise money.  That’s my SPECIFIC reason. The reason is not to be eaten - some of them won’t be (be honest, you’ve bought cakes from children and thrown them away).  


So that’s the main DT aspect.  The second is the advertising, which brings in some English work as well (back to persuasion).  The children have to sell these things, so they need to advertise them. A lovely poster should do the trick.  But why not design a whole campaign? A digital one, if your school has a Twitter or Facebook account, or a post on the school blog?  It can be a short video; a static image; a viral tik-tok-style short… the possibilities are bound only by the children’s imagination and your school's willingness to explore what ‘schoolwork’ means.   


theartofeducation.edu

There are of course other subjects that can be brought in.  You can draw the snowmen for art (shading skills; life drawing; using different media - a junk-model of a giant melted snowman would certainly draw a crowd).  You can write and learn a song or jingle for music (or, if you’re not confident enough to write a song, you could explore jingles and the use of effective hooks in music - I recommend looking at the ‘do, do, do, do, doo’ of McDonald’s and the main riff of AC/DC’s Back in Black).  PE you can link back to the science of burning off the caloric intake.  RE - look at festivals celebrated with food and the importance of food within all major religions.  Computing could involve a digital animation of a melting snowman or writing code that shows what happens when you heat chocolate and eggs, with another function to show them cooled again.  Scratch.mit.edu is great for this.  MFL - translate the recipe into different languages…


There’s so much you can do.  There is so much you can assess as well, and all without the children really realising that they’re learning.  It can take a little as an afternoon or as long as the rest of the term. And let’s face it, with nativity rehearsals, surprise elections and absences due to flu, isn’t a project-based approach the only way to survive the second half of the Autumn term?


I hope this has been useful.  I will be posting another Christmas Fair idea next week with the same lesson ideas attached.  If you give these snowmen a go, please, please take some pictures and tweet them to me (details below), I’d love to see them!


If you have any questions about anything I’ve mentioned, please get in touch.  The comments section below is a great place (it also helps to show the Blog host that people are engaging with my content!), or you can email or tweet me.  Have a great week and I’ll see you….


WAIT!  I need to mention SVR Education!  This new education company is run by teachers who are very highly qualified.  They have a child-centred approach to education which informs the materials they produce (I say this because I have written some assessments for them so I know how particular they are).  They have a range of English and Maths resources for all age groups and they are releasing a fantastic new maths-based card game very soon!


Okay, thanks for reading this.  Please tell everybody you know about - retweet it, recommend it, print it out and stick it to a fox, I’d love to reach (and hear from) as many people as possible.  Look after yourselves and smile at some strangers, you might just make their day!


Carl Headley-Morris


Update on resources for home-learning!

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