Author Archives: Kirsten Swan

Drama TDT- Picturebook Drama

I have chosen the storybook The Bravest Fish, written by Matt Buckingham.  I have added the link to the story read aloud on Youtube.

For this storybook, I have chosen to plan for early years as this book is most suited towards this age group.

The experience and outcome i would use is:

Inspired by a range of stimuli, I can express and communicate my ideas, thoughts and feelings through drama. EXA 0-13a. 

The key moment for drama in this storybook occurs at the very start and is when the little fish Stanley wakes up to find that his school and family have swam away to find warmer water and he is all alone. The issues i would explore as i worked through this book would be the emotions of Stanley and how he is feeling as he searches for his family. The main problem that needs to be addressed is how will Stanley find his family again?

Farmer (2011), describes drama conventions as strategies developed for teaching drama, that help to grow skills such as: inquiry, communication, negotiation and creativity.  Across some reading, I have found that the most useful strategies to use would be role play, freeze frames and thought tracking. Throughout the story Stanley faces many obstacles to find his friends including a cave and a shark- each page leaves the reader on a cliffhanger before we find out what Stanley has come across now, this would be a perfect opportunity to provide creativity for pupils as they can imagine what they think Stanley may find in the water. This can be done through individual, paired or group work. I would read the story to the class firstly focusing on how Stanley is feeling and as we read through the book acting out each of the page with myself leading. Then as we swim and find and obstacle in the water, allowing children independence to be creative. If this is new to the class it could be taking one idea and using this as a whole class- or pupils could work in small groups to create a freeze frame of what they have found in the water. Thought tracking can be used to find out the thoughts of each child’s character. An effective part of the story could be when we encounter the shark- children can create a freeze frame for what they think they will find. When we realise it is a shark we can freeze on our reactions and explore how we may be feeling. As I am planning for early years these emotions may just be scared, worried etc.

Another strategy I think would be useful to use in the classroom is improvisation- as the story ends we reach a cave and a shinning light. If i was reading this to a class i may stop before the very end and we can create our own ending. We might find a treasure chest full of gold or a fishing trip trying to catch us. As this is early years it may be easier to work as a class, or the pupils could work in pairs to create a short ending for their story with either an imagine or a short script.

Overall this storybook would be an excellent example to explore through drama, this book would allow me to not only explore the feelings of the characters but to also allow for creativity through various techniques. Storybooks are very engaging for young children and allowing them to step into the shoes of the character if fun and engaging.


Farmer, D (2011) Learning through Drama in the Primary Years. Norwich: Drama Resource. 

Prendiville, F and Toye, N (2007) Speaking and Listening through Drama 7-11. London: Paul Chapman Publishing. 

Dickinson, R. Neelands, J and Shenton Primary School (2006) Improve your Primary School Through Drama. Great Britain: David Fulton Publishers. 

Dance TDT- Dance a Story

For this section of my portfolio i have decided to use the story Room on a Broom, written by Julia Donaldson.

The experience and outcome i have chosen is:

I have the opportunity and freedom to choose and explore ways that I can move
rhythmically, expressively and playfully. EXA 0-08a

I have included the music to be played during the warm up which will be a game called ‘Sweet Shop’. This warm up gets children active and also introduces them to movement and levels as they stretch from very high to very low. I will call out a series of sweets and there are instructions to follow each:

  • Bubble gum- stretching your body into long and thin shapes.
  • Twister- turning and twisting in circles both high and low
  • Chocolate bar melting- moving from high to low, sinking and melting to the floor
  • Rolo- find a way to roll on the ground (pencil roll)

As this lesson is with an early years class- I may have to demonstrate these instructions each time and use vocabulary to aid children’s movement ie. high to low, melt into the ground, stretch long and tall.

After the warm up I will tell the class we are going on an adventure and introduce them to the storybook.

As a class we will start at one end of the room and prepare for our journey as a witch. We will plait our hair, put on long hats and sit on our broomsticks with our cat. We will think about what we might hear and the noises the witch and her cat might make (a wicked laugh and a meow). Then we will travel around the room on our broomsticks listening to the harsh wind- imitating our witch. Suddenly, a big gust of wind nudges us to the side and blows our hat of our head! AAAAAHHH. We need to fly to the ground to find our hats. WHOOSH.

We land in a  forest and search for our hats, we can hear all of the birds in the trees above us. We can feel the crunch of the leaves as we stand on them. The music stops and we suddenly start to hear footsteps coming through the bushes:

As a class we panic and hide- (I may ask for ideas as to what is coming towards us-noises it may make it could be a bear, a tiger etc), when suddenly a big ferocious fluffy puppy runs towards us. AWWWWWW. The dog has our hat! and has asked to join us on our broom. So off we go again flying through the wind.

*I will use the same video for the strong wind*

This time the witch loses her bow! AAAAHHHH. We fly to the ground and this time land in a field. WHOOSH.

As we search through the tall wheat- we listen to the sound of the wind.

Then we hear the flapping of wings. We then pretend to be the bird that we can hear and we imagine how big or little it may be. We travel around the room flapping our wings. Each child’s bird may be different and their choice of travel will be different. In the story a little green bird then appears with the witches bow and also joins us on our adventure.

As we are flying the rain begins to pick up as we cross the rivers and ponds. The rain is so strong the witch cannot see, she is holding on so tightly to her bow that she lets go of her wand! AAAAHHHHH. We fly back down to the ground. WHOOSH.

We walk through the water and puddles we can hear the sound of the water splashing at our feet. Suddenly we hear a strange noise:

A frog jumps out of a pond! They have our wand! The frog then joins us and we carry on with our adventure.

*Same wind music as previous*

As we travel around the room again on our broomsticks we suddenly hear a loud SNAP:

Our broomstick has snapped and we are met by a dragon! He wants to eat witches for tea!

We all do our best dragon roar and breath fire all around the room.

We continue with the story and our friends come to rescue the witch. We all gather together as the witch brews up a potion in her magic cauldron.

We will use our arms and stir our cauldron with our magic potion, then we will all take a step back and point our wands at our cauldrons and chose our magic spell. (Each child can create their own- we could also create an action to go with our spell). Once the spell is complete the witch has made her new broomstick and she flies off with her new friends. YAY.

After our lesson, we will make a circle and following my instruction we will stretch and relax our bodies to cool down. Stretching our arms in big yawns- reaching up on our tip toes- touching our toes etc. Finally, shaking our bodies from head to toe.

After the lesson we will have a short discussion about the music and dance we have listened to. What was your favourite part of the story? Are there any parts you did not like?  Is there other music you would have used in the story? Which character did you enjoy being most? Discussions with the class are also helpful to ask for anything the class would like to do again- or any ideas they have for next time.

Art TDT- Portraits and People

Portraiture is an art form that can be dated back thousands of years and is used to represent and express the story of the sitter in the painting. Portraits once portrayed the rich and powerful but with the introduction of photography, portraiture is a commonly used art form- ranging from photographs to paintings and sculptures. Many different art periods influenced the style of portraiture, such as the impressionists and post impressionists- who explored concepts of representation and expression. The values and thoughts of the sitter in the portrait became almost more important than the realness of the art. As part of my portfolio, I will examine a series of portraits from the artists Pablo Picasso and Frida Kahlo.

The Old Guitarist, 1903, oil on panel

Pablo Picasso is an artist i have previously explored and his portraiture is a very great example of creating an environment though a painting. Picasso is very well known for co-founding the cubist movement in the early 20th century- however his blue period (1901-1904) is also very influential to portraiture. His paintings and portraits were monochromatic using only shades of blue and blue-green, with very little warm colours.  During this period, Picasso’s work was heavily influenced by his failings as an artist financially and the suicide of his close friend, this sorrow he felt was depicted in his work through not only his use of colour, but composition also.

The above portrait is called The Old Guitarist (1903), and depicts a poor and blind musician, like many of his works as Picasso himself, was poor for a period of his life. The man holds a large guitar which is the only shift in colour in the painting, which i think may symbolise this man’s happiness only lies with his music. The guitar fills the space around the man and he seems oblivious to his surroundings as he plays his guitar. This portrait is a full body painting and his elongated body and posture are very striking and depict the feelings and thoughts of the man. What i find most striking about this portrait is that the man’s face is not the focal point, I think the guitar is. This almost blurs the man into the background, the muted blue palette also does as these colours create a two dimensional form, flattening to painting. The man is ghostly pale depicting how ill he is, the painting depicts not only the life of the old guitarist, but also the thoughts and feelings from Picasso at the time.

The Weeping Woman, 1937, oil on canvas

Another portrait, The Weeping Woman (1937), also depicts sadness but in a very different style. On the 26th of April 1937, the air force of Germany bombed the Basque town of Guernica- one of the worst attacks of the Spanish Civil War. Picasso responded to this by creating a series of paintings, the first being a large anti-war mural called Guernica. He then created a number of portraits- The Weeping Woman is the last in this series. The figure in this painting is influenced by his lover Dora Maar, who was an artist and photographer who documented the creation of Guernica.

Picasso painted the image of a woman crying to not only symbolise the tragedy of the Spanish Civil War, but to symbolise an image of suffering. The weeping woman depicts a sobbing woman, holding a handkerchief to her face. This portrait has been created in a two-dimensional style typical to Picasso’s early analytical Cubism- using pointed and overlapping fragments. Although this portrait is of the head and shoulders, the sharp black lines lead you to the mouth and chin, which is the focal point of the painting. Picasso’s use of colour here is very interesting as although he is depicting sorrow and tragedy, he has used a very large colour scheme. I believe he may have done so to depict the impact of suffering- the woman is noticeably bright and colourful- perhaps reflecting her personality. The sorrow she feels however is depicted in the focal point, with the more sombre colours conveying sadness. The handkerchief looks like shards of glass and depicts pain. Both of these portraits by Picasso are very powerful images of sadness and sorrow, interestingly though they are both very different styles of portraiture.

Another artist similar to Picasso, who depicted their emotions through their work is Frida Kahlo. Kahlo had a very difficult life, suffered life threatening injuries in a bus accident as a teenager- whilst recovering she began to focus on her paintings, depicting the pain she felt.

The Broken Column, 1944, oil on masonite

The Broken Column (1944), depicts the devastation caused from the bus accident. In this portrait, Kahlo is almost naked, her body is split down the middle and her spine has been replaced with a metal column. Her skin is pierced with nails. This portrait is most striking as you can clearly understand the pain Kahlo was in as her body looks broken and destroyed. Although she has tears streaming down her face, her head is held high and she looks ahead which I think depicts her power and strength to overcome her battles. The background depicts an open, barren landscape, perhaps conveying how isolated Kahlo felt at the time of her accident.

Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, 1940, oil on canvas

Kahlo not only had a very difficult life physically, she also had a very turbulent relationship with her husband Diego Riviera. This portrait was painted after her divorce and at the end of her affair with photographer Nickolas Murray. Unlike the broken column, Kahlo stares directly at the viewer, she is in the centre of the painting and her face is the focal point. As with The Broken Column, I stated that Kahlo looks powerful and strong, in this portrait however her intense gaze creates even more confidence and I think shows she has overcome her battles. In this painting, Kahlo wears a thorn necklace, that looks like the roots of a tree. She is surrounded by animals and insects and the leafs remind me of a forest or jungle. There is lots of imagery and symbolism regarding this painting, the leafs and animals reflect nature which is often a symbol of fertility and life, but this is in stark contrast with the black money and cat which symbolise bad luck and death. Diego Riviera gave Kahlo a monkey as a gift, and in this painting the monkey tugs the thorn necklace, causing her pain. This can be a symbol of the pain caused by her marriage. Overall, I think this portrait conveys the pain and difficult Kahlo has faced and overcome.

Both of these artists are very good examples to explore when examining portraiture, as their styles are very different, but they are able to convey a lot of emotion through their work. These portraits reveal a lot about the artists’ lifes and about the time period they were painted :).

Clever and Cunning (values module workshop)

After my first values module lecture, I left inspired, calm and collected. After my first values module workshop, I left panicked, confused and hysterical. Then I laughed, cried, then laughed again and wondered why I did not realise what was really happening during this workshop.
I entered the classroom to find we were being split into four smaller groups, and we were soon joined by Derek. He went on to explain that each group would be given an envelope containing a variety of materials and we were to create a resource that would be useful for a new student studying at the University of Dundee. One person from the group would then pitch our idea, once just to explain our idea, then once more after we had used the materials to actually create it. As if we needed more tension, Derek then revealed that each group would be marked out of 10, everyone casually sitting more upright and poised, ready to begin.
Each group was then given their envelope, labeled 1-4, I was in group 3, still i took no notice and began the task, we didn’t have much materials, just some paper, post it notes, paper clips etc, but we worked with what we had. As Derek began listening to our conversations, he let us all know that groups 1 and 2 had very good ideas, so I found myself trying to eavesdrop and almost climbing across the table to see how their idea could be so amazing, yet we seemed to have similar ideas. We decided to create a survival guide, that would include a map, some tips, vouchers, a timetable…lots of useful things for a student. As a member from our group began to explain our idea, Derek barely gave us a second glance, and seemed bored stiff with the idea, but again praised groups 1 and 2.
So we then began to create our guide whilst Derek continued to huff and puff as he passed our table, so much so I was beginning to think we had done something to create this reaction from him, surely a survival guide wasn’t that bad of an idea??? The competition was heating up. We made two guides: one for a student living at home, and one for a student staying on campus. Without tooting my own horn (toot toot) I thought we did a really good job, and to add that extra layer of icing to the cake we even added some twitter hashtags to try and #impress Derek since our idea was so horrifying to him.
As Alan began presenting our now completed and pretty darn good guides, Derek’s eyes were still rolling to the back of his head. Now i knew for a fact he didn’t like us, he despised us. Then he even had the audacity to ask if we had taken our ideas from group 1!!!! As if. They had created a bag that also included a map and timetable, and it was only at this point I realised they had a lot more resources than us,  group 4 only had a pencil, some paper clips and a post it! The scores went like this:

Group 1-9
Group 2-7
Group 4-2

Oh and as for my group our wonderful, creative and absolutely amazing guide, got a 4. Out of 10. Yes a 4. I was livid. All our hard work seemed pointless as Derek STILL gave us the cold shoulder, so I thought it was time he got a taste of his own medicine, I slumped in my seat, barely glancing up at him as he asked what we thought of the workshop, only shrugging my shoulders to tell him I was listening. Barely.
Then here’s the twist, it was all a wind up. Yeah yeah jokes on us ha ha ha. Well once he told us I suppose I wasn’t quite so angry, more confused and astonished, that Derek was a lecturer, he should have been on Corrie!!
But jokes aside this workshop did open my eyes to many key points; that the way a teacher reacts towards a pupil’s performance can seriously affect their learning, after it became clear Derek was not impressed, I felt deflated and did not see the point in continuing. This workshop was very valuable and I am glad that I was in group 3, as I was able to experience first hand inequality in the classroom. It also highlighted the point of inclusion, that despite how a pupil performs, they should not be treated differently based on this. As every child has different levels of progression, this should be used to the teachers advantage to allow the pupil to learn and grow to their highest potential. We as teachers should provide education that is flexible enough to benefit each pupil. The workshop also allowed me to think of inequality and how this can affect learning, as groups 1 and 2 recieved the most materials and recieved the most rewards, however groups 3 and 4 recieved little and were given little praise. Not every child will come from the same background, each child will have different levels of support, whether that be at home or anywhere else, some children will have more than others but as teachers it is important we do not view things this way. Equality is essential in class to ensure each child is treated fairly with the respect they deserve. This workshop was completely mind boggling, but it allowed me to realise the impact teachers can have on a child’s life inside and outside the classroom, from the way they learn to their views on society.

Why Teaching?

As a child, I was asked ‘what do you want to be when you are older?’ or ‘what is your dream job?”, each time I would reply ‘a famous tennis player, or a teacher’. I had the answer branded in my mind and I was determined to make sure it would one day be true. Although, when I was young I was never sure why I wanted to be a teacher, just that I did. I was a keen tennis player and admired my coach; he was enthusiastic, kind and caring, and had the balance of strict but fair down to a tee. So when I was asked to help coach younger children one summer, I jumped at the chance. Now, when asked: ‘why teaching?’, I always think back to this summer job I had when I was 11. I loved helping the younger children by encouraging and motivating them. There was one young girl, not much older than five, that always stands out to me. She hadn’t played much tennis before and was very anxious about beginning her lessons, so I was asked to be her buddy, and help her through each lesson. This, I think, is what made me realise that teaching is what I want to do. I loved watching her grow not only in herself and her confidence, but also as she progressed in her tennis. She began as a quiet and shy girl, who knew none of the other children, and left arm in arm chatting with the friends she had made. After this, my mind was set. Teaching was for me, this job sealed the deal and getting paid at the end of the summer made it all worth while. I still remember coming home after my final day and telling my dad about my decided career path, only to later discover that he too was having similar ideas, as later that year he left his supermarket job and returned to university, and wound up becoming an English teacher. Eleven year old me knew that this was ‘fate’, even if I didn’t exactly know what the word meant.