If you want an example of how to take a single project and weave it through multiple curriculum areas, take a look at what our art and music therapy teams are achieving with Gulliver's Travels this term and next. Jonathon Swift's novel is being used to pull together mathematics, literacy, performance art, music, dance and arts/crafts.
The idea of having a common arts-based thread running through multiple activities, has been used at Whitefield Schools has used for a few years now as a way of "joining the dots" between different subject areas, but this years activities see the initiative extend into more areas of the school than ever before.
Planning started in January and the Gulliver story was chosen because it worked on so many levels. "Gulliver's story is about sometimes feeling very big and at other times very small and out of place. It's about needing to make a journey with tasks to complete and barriers to overcome", says Peter Whelan, head of Music Therapy at Whitefield Schools.
In February, Michelle Reader, a local artist who specialises in making art from recycled materials, joined us to start making Gulliver himself. Classes helped build the model, which is articulated and can be used as a giant puppet in performances. Students also started making the tiny landscapes and buildings that Gulliver travels through in the land of Lilliput. These activities were tied into Maths In Action week - and involved measuring, thinking about scale, geometry - all good mathematical concepts as the students designed and created the backdrops to the story.
In the same week the Music Therapy team met with four groups of students across the school to begin the song-writing process for the show — once again, using a mathematical twist with repetition and predictable rhythm forms. The last of these workshops coincided with World Book Day, allowing the initial puppetry and craft work to be put into action.
Throughout March, May and June different classes will be developing the songs into fully-fledged pieces of music and developing the structure of the final performance that will take place in Arts week on on July 3rd. The theme of the week is 'The World Around Us. By then Gulliver's influence will have travelled throughout the school and through much of the curriculum.