From Celtic knotwork interlacing to creating a loaghtan sheep children from the Fairfield Road site of the Henry Bloom Noble Primary School have taken to heart Island of Culture’s strap line ‘Be Inspired. Get Involved’.
The school recently held an Island of Culture week with pupils taking part in a range of Manx-themed activities including Celtic interlacing, block printing, poetry, learning to play the penny whistle, casting decorative tablets from plaster of Paris, shadow puppetry, baking and dancing.
Each activity class was of mixed age groups and lasted two hours. The baking sessions proved especially popular with the children learning bonnag and shortbread biscuit-making techniques then decorating the biscuits cut out to resemble Manx symbols. Interlacing sessions provided the children with an opportunity to learn something of the intricacies of Celtic knotwork, the printing class drew on the themes of land, sea and air, while the poetry activity fused traditional Manx story-telling with digital design and editing skills.
Head teacher Ian Walmsley explained: ‘The children came in on the Monday not knowing what was planned for them but soon got behind the programme with great enthusiasm, becoming very involved in all the activities, each one of which had references to the Isle of Man woven into them.’
Callum Berry, 11, said: ‘First I did the puppet class, where we made a Buggane out of paper; then there was some Manx dancing and then the penny whistle class where we learned to play Baa Baa Black Sheep. What I enjoyed best, though, was the baking, and decorating a biscuit in the shape of a Manx cat.’
Mr Walmsley continued: ‘Although the children have mostly worked as a group, they each created an individual piece of art work that was theirs, so had a sense of ownership. And, interestingly after a couple of days into the activities, some children were coming in to school and telling us they’d noticed certain symbols – such as the knotwork – elsewhere, which showed they had become more aware of their surroundings.
‘Over four days we reached 140 children who took part in eight very different activities but with a common theme, the Isle of Man. This has seen them not only develop new skills but also gain a practical understanding of some key elements of Manx history, heritage and folklore.’