Our Approach to Learning
Emerald Ant engages schools and communities in their local history and heritage through hands-on, creative projects and large scale art. We aim to deliver projects with real “WOW” factor for children and young people. We work in partnership with experts, including museums, historians, archaeologists, palaeontologists and wildlife experts. Artists such as ourselves deliver participatory making workshops and creative experiences.
“A once in a lifetime opportunity, amazing” (Student, Carter Community School)
Our heritage projects include The Bluebell Project, Castle in the Clouds, The Iguanodon Restaurant Schools Programme, Magnificent Mills and the Swanskin Seafarers of Sturminster. Through them children broaden their horizons through motivational learning. They are cross curricular, holistic experiences, involving students in their own research and creative responses. Where useful we link schools internationally online, so they can learn from each other’s research and gain international understanding.
In 2021-22 we have delivered arts-based mental health programmes to groups of Year 3 to Year 7 children. ‘Inside Out’ is a programme supported by Somerset County Council, delivered by Emerald Ant working with our partner FUSE Performance in 8 schools in Bridgwater and Taunton. These workshops have supported children to manage anxiety and anger, and gain a positive self image.
“My Voice does Matter ” (Year 6 student, Bridgwater)
We believe our approach results in memorable experiences and fosters confident creative individuals who can think and ‘do’ equally.
“I strongly believe that this is an effective approach to engaging children in their learning” (Teacher feedback, Iguanodon Restaurant Learning Programme)
We work with museums, the National Trust, Wildlife Trusts, National Parks, Jurassic Coast Trust and the Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs. Partners ensure our content is accurate, and in turn, our work diversifies and expands their audiences. Our learning packs (available below) support teachers to run classroom activities.
Additional packs can be seen online at http://www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/learning/north-hill-in-world-war-2, and http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/clouds-hill/
Our work is grant-funded and therefore free to audiences and participants.
The Iggy Schools Programme
Our Iguanodon Restaurant Learning Programme has delivered performances and workshops in schools across Devon, Dorset, Sussex, Kent and London. In each place we performed the show to whole schools and delivered an arts-geology workshop for 30 students. Our online pack is available at https://emeraldant.com/learning-tools/ to assist teachers in using art to teach earth science and history.
Luke Towe, Headteacher at Sidmouth Primary School says:
Emerald Ant came and delivered their absolutely fantastic performance ‘The Iguanodon Restaurant’ to all the children at our school in fabulous performances. The children were engaged and showed their enthusiasm and curiosity with a million different questions after the show. It was great as well as it linked in with the National Curriculum local history study whilst also linking in with evolution and inheritance as part of our Science curriculum. Most of all though, it was just great fun and I am certain that every child in the school will remember the day the dinosaur came to school!
Teachers will benefit from INSET days supporting them to use the Jurassic Coast, or other local heritage, as a learning resource, and all schools will be able to access an online pack with creative classroom activities, fossil walks, links to local museums and pictorial resources.
The programme supports learning in science and history in Key Stage 2 and 3, and engages students in their local geology and history. Children make shadow puppets looking at how scientists have interpreted iguanodon fossils since 1812 up to the present day. They also place creatures and plants on the world timeline below, learning about prehistoric ecology, evolution, and the human race’s place in the world.
“I found today great, intelligent and funny” (Year 7 student St Simon Stock Catholic School)
“The fossils were explained well, the geologist was seen to be very knowledgeable and the timeline, the children placing objects on it, was great” (Year 4 teacher, Atlantic Academy, Portland)
Iggy at Camp Bestival 2017
The programme is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, West Dorset District Council, the Fine Family Foundation, the Ernest Cook Trust, and PalAss, the Palaeontological Association.
A snapshot of schools workshops
Click on images to view photo gallery:
Lawrence of Arabia and Dorset, 2014
In May 2014 ten students from Carter Community School came to Clouds Hill, the small cottage of T E Lawrence in Bovington, Dorset. There they worked with artists, National Trust volunteers, historians, soldiers and linked with a school in Amman. They learnt about Lawrence, World War I, and Arabian castles, one of Lawrence’s greatest passions. They gained new skills and experience in heritage learning and built an Arabian shadow castle. Students and teachers comments:
“It’s more hands on, sort of getting you to know a whole topic in a week, stuff you wouldn’t learn at school”
“It was an amazing experience, we actually got to see his house and all the objects he owned, it was real”
“They had the opportunity to be enthused and inspired, learn, be stretched, develop team and SEAL skills as well as independent learning across a variety of subjects”.
Watch the film of the project here: