Plastic Pollution Art Project: Year 5


I like to link as many areas of the curriculum, where possible, to the over arching topic and Art and D.T. is a great area to do this. I knew I wanted to create a statement piece of art (to generate a talking point around the issue of plastic pollution) and was inspired by the upsetting imagery of sea creatures swimming among the plastic.

Session One: We began by looking at how plastic is recycled and used by artists to create statements or to simply generate ethical art. I saw a wonderful sketchbook lesson done by the fabulous Gomersal Primary School art blog: It involved researching plastic art with questioning and independent exploration. It was so lovely I decided to directly copy it to start the topic. Many thanks to Gomersal Primary School. I loved how each child tackled it in their own unique interpretation and I listened in to some fantastic conversations discussing which features they liked and why they felt they were effective.


Session Two:

Session two was a glorious free art exercise, where the children could just let their imaginations run wild. I showed them a slide show I had created highlighting the issues of plastic pollution and told them they will be recycling plastic waste to give it a new life. It was wonderful to just see them busily collect materials to free create and reminded me of my days in EYFS, where I would observe the children accessing a variety of materials independently to just build and explore.


Session Three: In the next lesson we recapped previous learning and I explained to the children that we would be sewing our own sea creature. The children immediately went into panic mode. and I quickly discovered only 4 children in the class had ever sewn before. I had already countered this by planning in a session to develop their sewing skills on scrap material. I taught them the running stitch, back stitch and blanket stitch so they could decide which one they wanted to use in their final designs. To ensure the lesson ran as smoothly as possible, I created each child a sewing pack with their needle already threaded and knotted ready to use. They really enjoyed it and although they found it a challenge, relished the opportunity to try a new skill.


Session Four: 

I ran a weaving exercise alongside to create a background home for their sewn creatures. I attached various threads of plastic and nylon ribbon to a chicken wire frame and just left them to create. They really enjoyed the exercise and the fact it was a collaborative class project created a buzz and sense of belonging with the children. birdimg_4747-1


The actual designs produced by the children varied greatly, although the majestic sea turtle did prove to be extremely popular. They generated a design criteria (e.g. strong, small stitches spaces closely together) and also generated step by step instructions for the design process.


Session five:

This was the final creation session and had various stages to it. The first part involved making a template for their designs, pinning it to fabric and cutting out. I actually broke this session up and carried out this part the day before so everything was set up and ready to sew in the main creation session. To ensure the session was a stress free as possible, I again used their sewing packs and threaded their needles and did the first two stitches for them. I find preparation is the key to managing whole class sewing projects.


The children amazed me with how they tackled the sewing in the final session. Children who had struggled in the practice sessions remembered what they did wrong (like forgetting to hold onto the needle when they pulled it through the material) and all worked extremely hard. I know sewing can sound daunting but the satisfaction and pride on the faces of the children makes it all worth while.

The final element to the project is for the children to evaluate their worked based on  their design criteria.




My adventure into using wordless picture books began in earnest this term. Having never used one before, I did at first wonder how to make it work, but the book Flotsam by David Wiesner set my imagination running as soon as I opened it. I have thoroughly enjoyed using it and will definitely be exploring how to incorporate other wordless picture books in future planning.

You can read all about how I planned and structured my lessons and see some of the work my wonderful class did with it in my guest blog here for Books For Topics was a huge honour to be asked and I feel very proud my blog is part of that fantastic website celebrating and promoting books.

Make The Time

I am very lucky, as both my parents love books. I was read to every night and encouraged to develop an individual preference for specific genres through exposure to a wide range of reading materials. I did incidentally follow in my father’s footsteps and seek out fantasy and science fiction, but I embrace any book if recommended by a friend, colleague or in a specific book review post.

On top of this family love, I had a teacher at school who valued books above everything. He loved books, lived books and even wrote books. He would take time to have book chats with me and made discussing books as normal as discussing the weather.

Lots of children do not have this family background to nurture a love of literature so we are the flag bearers as teachers and librarians, waving the banner sky high. We can make children feel the way I felt about books as a child if we take time to give it the platform it deserves. More and more I see reading for pleasure being championed and celebrated; if Teacher Twitter is a reflection of current UK teaching classrooms, we are shining a light for a future of passionate readers.

One thing I love to do to shine this spotlight in my class is to copy my old teacher and make time to chat about books; get to know what my children are interested in so I can recommend books to them. Today I had tears as a recommendation led to a special moment.

I have a little girl in my class who is an avid reader and seeks out advanced literature and can grasp complex themes. I immediately knew Thornhill by Pam Smy would be perfect for her so asked her mum if she would mind me lending her my copy. The next day she brought this thank you card in as she was loving the book. She will never know how I will treasure that card. I hope one day she sits back and remembers me as the teacher who made discussing books as normal as discussing the weather.


Starting with a sparkle!


For my first ever post, I want to share this image. I adore reading; always have and always will. I try my hardest to help that love of reading flourish in the children I teach, but ultimately feel I have to model that love daily for them to buy into it.

A9853F23-E321-40BB-9432-DA6825D672F1.jpeg I was presented with this in class by a child who said ‘I made you this last night as I know you love reading.’ My heart fluttered a lot and I genuinely felt very proud and emotional. My blog posts won’t be here necessarily to teach you how to do something new. They will be here to remind you why you do it. The glitter and sparkle of our job needs to shine over the negatives.