Take One: case study – Herefordshire Heritage Services
Take One: fish
Herefordshire Heritage Services's Take One programme focused on a stuffed sturgeon from Hereford Museum and Art Gallery. The huge fish – over eight feet long and 182 pounds – was caught in the River Wye, near Hereford in 1846. As it was being caught, the fish twice knocked over the fisherman.
The sturgeon was displayed at a local fishmongers for 'a penny a look' before being stuffed for posterity.
The school's art co-ordinator worked with the Year 6 class teacher to develop a project that linked art, literacy and geography.
Drawing without seeing
Instead of showing the class the object, the art teacher first described it and asked the class to draw what they expected it to look like.
The teacher explained to the class that her approach was inspired by the 16th century German artist Albrecht Dürer, who drew a rhino without knowing what it looked like.
The pupils visited Hereford Museum and Art Gallery to see the sturgeon. Here they created a bank of words to describe the fish, later using them to create their own poems.
The class made shadow puppets of the sturgeon and created a puppet show, which they performed in assembly.
Inspired by the monster sturgeon, the pupils studied mythical beasts, listening to descriptions and stories, such as the story of the bunyip, an Aboriginal monster. The class then created their own drawings of imagined beasts.
During a field trip to the lakes of the Elan Valley in mid-Wales, the children developed their own stories about the mythical beasts that could live there.
Pupils’ work was celebrated in a school assembly and in the first Take One exhibition at Hereford Museum.
The project created meaningful links across the curriculum and increased pupils’ engagement. This led to improved creative writing.
The children found it helpful to explore ideas through art and work outside the classroom before beginning to write.
The class teacher felt that using objects from local history as a focus for learning was successful and said: 'We don't do enough of it, the children love it!'
Image above: Pupil at Hereford Museum and Art Gallery