News & Events

Aardman Model Making Session - Fleetville Junior School, St Albans

9 April 2021 | Posted in News

At the end of the last Summer term, Finn, a pupil from Fleetville Junior School, St Albans took part in a Cracking Ideas Competition. His idea was a machine that allows you to decide to perfect amount of time your biscuit will be dunked in your cup of tea. His idea was one of the winners and he won a model-making workshop for himself and his classmates with Aardman Animations.

The following is an article written by his teacher, Evaline Gandre.

At the end of the last Summer term, a pupil in my class, Finn, took part in a Cracking Ideas Competition. His idea? A machine that allows you to decide to perfect amount of time your biscuit will be dunked in your cup of tea; whether you prefer a barely-dipped-in biscuit or a soggy one, this machine will help you achieve the perfect tea time! Cracking Idea indeed! What Finn also achieved is to win a model-making workshop for himself and his classmates with Aardman Animations. Cue Wallace-type celebrations!

In early November, the organisers from Cracking Ideas contacted me to find a date for our workshop. Obviously, with the global pandemic, the safest option was to have an online session. So, after emails and a phone call from a helpful and friendly team to discuss the details and organisation of the Zoom workshop, we were ready to go.

The exciting day finally arrived. The children were sat at their tables, eyes eagerly fixed on the interactive whiteboard. The worksheets and the clay for each child had been prepared in advance by my lovely TA. My role was to type our questions and let our model-maker know how we were doing in the chat box.

Our model-maker was none other than Jim Parkyn, a senior model-maker, designer and creative workshop leader who has worked for Aardman Animations for over 20 years. He quickly introduced himself, then moved on to show us how to work the clay to build the parts that would eventually form Gromit, Wallace’s loyal and clever companion. Jim’s instructions were clear and easy to follow, although we quickly realised that it would have been easier to use the clay had I left it near a radiator before we started using it. Lesson learnt! Manipulating cold clay was tricky at first and our model-making session turned into a fitness session for 5 minutes. However, once we had spent that time working the clay, the game was on!

Under Jim’s patient direction, punctuated by interesting facts and useful tips, we saw Gromit form before our eyes. Although not everyone had quite finished their models by the end of the session, our classroom was full of clay dogs with unique personalities.Once we had thanked Jim for a fantastic workshop, we spent the rest of the afternoon working on our finishing touches. It was brilliant to see children being inspired and using their leftover clay to build bowls, baskets, bones or even earmuffs and sunglasses for their Gromits.

For myself as a teacher, it was an amazing opportunity to see a different side to the children in my class; to show them that, even though they might find it challenging at first, with resilience and perseverance, they can achieve what they set out to do. And who knows, maybe a future model-maker was born that day?

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