My colleague Caroline and I were invited to a primary school in Butetown to help the Year 6 children make willow lanterns. They will be carried in a Halloween procession for the community organized by Butetown Arts & Culture Association and Wales Millennium Centre.
Caroline demonstrated how to construct the lantern structure from withie or willow strips, beginning with a square base using the stronger root ends of the withie. The children used masking tape to bind the pieces together and strengthened each section using plastic zip ties.
They then strengthened the structure further by adding a cross half way up the pyramid. Two thinner strips across the base hold the candle. The children enjoyed having a a go with the wire cutters to snip the correct lengths of withie, and they focused well to get a structure made each in the time we had.
Caroline and I worked with a group of 12 children in the morning and another group in the afternoon, which was the ideal number to supervise and give encouragement to. On Friday, tissue paper will be applied to the structures with PVA glue, and bamboo sticks prepared to hook the lanterns onto to carry during the procession.
We had really lovely feedback from the Deputy Head teacher about the workshop:
“I know we haven’t finished the project yet, but I just wanted to feedback about what a wonderful day Year 6 had yesterday. The teachers were thrilled with the project and what it brought out in the pupils. The skills, breadth of experiences and way the pupils came together to work collaboratively were such a brilliant embodiment of the new curriculum. Historically, the class have not been known for their social skills and cooperation but the teachers said they were so engaged in the project they really worked together to learn.
We are really looking forward to Friday and are so grateful for the opportunity to work with you. As the new curriculum kicks in next year, these rich learning experiences will be the heart of what we do, so if we can build up links and regular opportunities to work with you all, we would really love to. I can’t tell you the impact these experiences have on our pupils, who have such little experience of the expressive arts.Thanks again – we are looking forward to Friday!“