Our Approach to Learning
Emerald Ant, (www.emeraldant.com), 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, work in partnership with experts, and employ artists to deliver participatory workshops and creative experiences.
“A once in a lifetime opportunity, amazing” (Student, Carter Community School)
Our projects broaden children’s and young people’s horizons through motivational learning. They are cross curricular, holistic experiences, involving students in their own research and creative responses. Within ‘Castle in the Clouds’ (see below), ten teenagers, came to T E Lawrence’s cottage, Clouds Hill for a week. They learnt about Lawrence from archaeologists, artists, historians, soldiers and volunteer experts, whilst gaining an insight into different heritage–related careers. A live conversation took place on Skype with a school in Jordan, looking at the Arabian architecture Lawrence loved. The project stimulated pride in local history and an understanding of global affairs. Young people were inspired by the many sides of Lawrence’s story and character. The project culminated in a performance around an illuminated Arabian Citadel we built in the garden of the cottage.
We use creative learning methods, discussion, team work, visual arts, film and photography so participants discover facts for themselves. We bring original artefacts into schools, (currently a wide collection of fossils), and often take students out of school to heritage sites or natural environments. We create large scale, interactive learning aids, such as the Time Line below. Participants interpret their findings in their own artistic ways, working in groups, and so retain knowledge and memories of their learning experiences. Our projects help young people connect across school subjects, enabling them to make better sense of the world.
“I strongly believe that this is an effective approach to engaging children in their learning” (Teacher feedback, Iguanodon Restaurant Learning Programme)
In our new Bluebell Project primary school children will be looking at the science of spring flowers and exploring the woodland habitat. They will respond creatively using visual arts, developing work in sketch books, leading to an installation and ideas for a Spring Parade in 2020.
Our partners have included many museums, the National Trust, Wildlife Trusts, National Parks, Jurassic Coast Team, the Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs and museums. Partners ensure our content is accurate, and in turn, our work diversifies and expands their audiences. Our learning packs (available below) engage teachers and students in their local heritage through classroom activities, and 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 free to audiences and participants, we can perform and deliver workshops in unusual locations, and so we are able to work with a broad range of communities.
We are now running our Iguanodon Restaurant Learning Programme, delivering performances and workshops in schools and a Home Education Group in Devon, Dorset, Sussex, Kent and London. In each school we are performing to whole schools and delivering an arts-geology workshop for 30 students. An online pack is available on our website, to assist teachers to use art to teach across 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: