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I'm Up in Space, Wow!
I’m Up in Space, Wow!
Karen Irwin / Foundation Stage Teacher / Northern Ireland, UK / Class of 2019
I’m Up in Space, Wow! is a creative art activity to encourage pupils to relate to the thoughts and feelings of another person - in this example, an astronaut who has just embarked on their very first space walk.
Learning Intentions and Success Criteria
As part of a topic learning about Space, pupils are learning about an astronaut's role in exploring space. Pupils have spent time learning about the training an astronaut must go through, and they have spent time role-playing as an astronaut. To help them further empathise and imagine the incredible experience of walking in space, pupils will illustrate themselves as an astronaut and include some thoughts the astronaut may be feeling at that time. Whilst completing this activity, background music in the theme of ‘space’ is played to help children fully imagine how it would feel to walk in space.
I chose this project specifically as I am keen for my pupils to understand the vastness of space and begin to experience a sense of wonder at what exists outside of our world.
- Look at, respond to and talk about examples of photographic images and artworks, thinking about specific elements of art such as colour, shape or texture.
- Frame the subject of their photo and keep the camera steady when taking a photo with a digital device.
- Use Markup to create their own digital artwork.
- Use visual language to describe their images when talking about their work, for example the colours, shapes and textures of something they have photographed or created.
- Use empathy to understand the feelings of another person.
Before embarking on this project, pupils listened to stories about space, looked at photographs of space and watched videos from Commander Chris Hadfield telling them about life on the International Space Station.
As an introduction to the activity, I asked pupils to close their eyes and imagine their journey into space. As we ‘arrived’ at the ISS, pupils were commenting on the vastness of space, the darkness, the stars and the view of Earth below.
- Pupils took a photograph of their friend wearing a space helmet to be used as the project's starting point. These photographs were taken in black and white using the filter settings on the iPad camera.
- Each pupil then used Markup on their photo to make their art ‘pop’. They explored the different drawing tools and how each could be used to create different textures and effects.
- Tip: Leave some parts of the image untouched to allow the photograph to shine through in black and white.
- While they drew, I played space-themed music to help them imagine what space might be like. Pupils added details to the background (such as Earth, for example) and a thought bubble containing some of their thoughts about space.
- Pupils plan their artwork first using the Galactic Scene in Clips to think about possible ideas, colours, and features for their background. Record a short Clips video sharing their thoughts about space as a starting point for their project.
- Compose space-themed music with GarageBand to be played in the background while marking up their photos. Or collate all the final drawings into a video using iMovie and add the GarageBand soundtrack to it.
- Use their Pop Art pictures in Keynote to create a talking storybook about their journey into space.
Space is a difficult concept for young children to grasp. It’s vast, out of reach and completely different to the life they live. Children love to explore this subject as it takes them to a new world and gives them plenty of scope for their imagination. During this project, I noticed that some pupils concentrated very carefully on their art, silently drawing and inwardly thinking. Other pupils were alive with chatter and noise as they expressed their ideas to those around them. I found that the children pushed themselves technically to explore different drawing techniques, using different tools in their quest to develop their project.
When completed, I invited some pupils to AirPlay their artwork through Classroom to share with their classmates. It was a great opportunity for them to explain their thoughts about space, and I loved their use of language as they did this.
To make this project inclusive, I scaffolded the activity for some children. I gave them a smaller canvas by cropping the photo, allowing them to complete the task in a timescale more suitable for them. We also made use of the colour filters in the Accessibility menu on the iPad to support children with colour vision deficiency.
In assessing the skills developed during this task, I feel that the children really pushed themselves to produce some very creative artwork. Being allowed to really use their imagination appealed to them a lot. The best way to assess the skills developed is to watch them complete another project independently and see how they transfer those skills. During a subsequent session, I noticed pupils were keen to reproduce the activity independently, using their friends as the subject. They began to create pop art about their friend and then shared it with them once complete.
Overall, this project worked well with this age group. The children were engaged through the scaffolding discussion, videos, and music that encouraged them to immerse themselves in the topic fully. They took time to create their artwork and thought carefully about the colours, effects, and textures they used.
In the future, I plan to build on the skills developed through this activity during Kindness Week. Each pupil will have a portrait photo taken, which they will mark up in a pop art style. Once complete, the pupils will move around the classroom to add markup words to the picture, describing the character of their classmates, for example: happy, kind, thoughtful, caring. At the end, each pupil will have a lovely portrait of themselves, filled with encouraging words and messages.
Another way I would like to use these same skills is at the beginning of a new school year to have them think about their character and personality and introduce themselves to their new teacher through Pop Art.
As a celebration of their creativity during this project, pupils shared their artwork digitally with their parents and classmates. You may also like to generate QR codes for each piece of art and hang them around the school to share with your school community, which is something I plan to do next time we complete this project.
How would you use Pop Art with your class this year? I’d love to hear your ideas!