Session Seven ‘London Bridge Is falling down, falling down, falling down….’

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Artist: Helen Barry

Teacher: Bríd McGovern

Class: Junior Infants (4&5yrs)

School: Our Lady Of Mercy School Convent

I had overestimated and underestimated two key things that would be essential in planning this session; one the children’s continued interest in self-portraits and two how difficult building a cube from green garden sticks could be. Both of these I had originally intended us to focus on. Thankfully I did some rethinking and decided to get back to our construction on a more imaginative and experimental basis rather than asking that they build a perfect cube.

I spent a couple of hours in the studio building the cubes and found it to be quiet challenging especially as green garden sticks aren’t really straight. But with their self-portraits attached on the sides of the cubes they are beautiful and ready to be installed back in the classroom.

Instead Session Seven focused on designing and building bridges. We had already tested out construction on a large scale and both Bríd and the children were eager to return to this again. The previous build had involved the class working together following a set of directions I had developed to build a large stable structure that they could play in.  This time the children would take the reins and build a bridge of their own design. At the start of this session we looked a different traditional and contemporary designs for bridges from around the globe. Many of the children were able to describe bridges they were familiar with. E.g. The Ha’penny Bridge and Dundrum Luas bridge. I asked the children to look at the context of where the bridges were set, the materials used in making the bridges and who and what would use the bridges.

The task then was for the children to work in groups of 4 to design and build a bridge using basic arts and craft supplies. The ends of each bridge were anchored between two tables. The idea was to discuss and sketch the designs for the bridges before embarking on the build. It was interesting to see the different approaches of each group. Some children found teamwork enabled a more ambitious build and others found working as a team quiet challenging. A few of the groups drew possible designs but most of the children used the materials to shape the design of the bridge. I think most of the children found this enjoyable but challenging. The process demanded that Bríd and I were both very hands on with the builds. Some groups focused on the structure where as others focused on decorating the bridge once it was built.

I think if I should do this theme with children again I should make a bridge of my own!!!


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