Tag Archives: Every Child Is An Artist

Hobmoor TV

After half term we launched Hobmoor TV – the Hobmoor TV crew meet every Tuesday lunchtime to report on recent or upcoming events at the school, and conduct interviews with pupils and adults at Hobmoor.

Here’s a brief introduction to some of the TV team:


Hobmoor TV is a project that will hopefully continue into the future as it is a great way of sharing information about what is happening at the school – here is some information about tomorrow’s Christmas disco:


The team interviewed students about recent events at Hobmoor, Aspire Day and the trip to Whitemoor Lakes, and managed to get some footage of the day the ‘smoothie bikes’ came to town…


The TV crew like to talk to pupils and adults at the school to get to know a bit about them – they found out a bit about what some of the students got up to at half term:


And also got to find out a bit about me!

Drawing Machines

Over the last few weeks the pupils have been experimenting with engineering and design using LittleBits to prototype ideas quickly.

Some of the questions in the project include thoughts about how artists and creatives are able to come up with such wondrous magical and bonkers ideas and turn them into a reality.

Reverse Engineering?

How do we figure out the inner workings of an object? What parts is it made up of?  Our knowledge of Inputs and Outputs can give us some idea, however to really understand most designers, creative tinkerers and makers will actually take something apart to investigate it.

Deconstructing physically or even just in the thought process (can be applied to anything from software to objects) and figuring out how something was made is called Reverse Engineering.

Using this thought process we could work out what LittleBits we might want to use to construct objects we are already familiar with such as lights and alarms and other devices using sensors to detect the world around us.



Interaction is brilliant however the majority of devices and objects perform tasks by themselves. Having things run with a sense of autonomy is key to figure out which parts of an object actually cant or don’t need to be interactive.

Autonomy is the ability to carry out a series of instructions (often repeated) without Input or user intervention.

Using these ideas and processes along with everything else we have learnt so far in the project we set about building our own drawing machines that could create artworks in the real world.



Does building a machine to draw art for us stop us being the actual Artist ?

By creating a device to work and create for us have we lost our creative input in to the artworks created ? A very interesting question to think about.

What parts of our drawing machine need to be repeated and which parts require user interaction. In fact, does our drawing machine even need interaction ?

What modules do we need ?


Drawing Machines?

By using our understanding of engineering, design and automation we can create an object using LittleBits modules, some craft materials and a lego wheel.


By attaching only one lego wheel to the motor the whole object tilted and by its own weight held it as a pivot on one corner. This meant with the continuous turing of the motor and wheel (autonomy) the whole object spun around in a circle. By attaching pens using different methods and placings we could create spiragraph spiral drawing using our machines.


After School Digital Arts and Technology Club

Hi my name is Ashley and I am slowly becoming known in the school as the ‘Makey Makey Man’. I am a digital artist and coder who uses technology to create playful creative works that range from smartphone applications to large scale art gallery light installations.

I have been working after school with Year 4 in our Digital Arts Club to start our exploration of Digital Arts, Creative Technology and using our artistic inventiveness to explore and understand computer programming and building our own interactive objects with a creative and playful outcome.

So far we have made pianos and musical instruments out of bananas! and our bodies. We have built moving flashing ghost drawings for Halloween and designed our inventions of the future.

As part of Back To The Future day we have been designing our own futuristic inventions.



Makey Makey ?

We have used a Makey Makey , a digital interface that allows us to connect everyday conductive objects such as coins, fruit and ourselves to control content on the computer.

Using resistive electricity we create and connect circuits with these objects to the Makey Makey device so that when connected together by touching the objects with our body, they operate like a switch and simulate the pressing of a key on the computer, such as the spacebar.




Little Bits ?

LittleBits are a system of digital building blocks that can be combined to create interactive objects. Much like a series of lego blocks these bits are magnetic and stick together. Through experimentation and understanding we can use them to combine multiple inputs and outputs and with a little crafting and imagination we can transform our ideas into working inventions. Each bit has a different function, some are input devices and sensors and others are output devices.


LittleBits snap together in the following order: (Power -> Input ->Output ) By changing an Input or Output device we can create varying differences in our objects within seconds of experimentation.

In our club we have used LittleBits to make moving flashing objects for Halloween.



See our devices in action:

Back To The Future Day – making our own inventions

Today was officially Back To The Future Day – 21st October 2015 – the day that Marty McFly travelled to the future and witnessed a plethora of exciting inventions from hover boards to flying cars, automatic dog walkers and giant holographic 3d cinema screens.

Today that day has arrived and while some inventions have made it into our lives for real, many of them have yet to be realised.

This week the pupils have been advancing their understanding of Inputs and Outputs, terminology we used in programming, and applying this to physical interactive electronic objects in the real world.



Interactive Technology?

Each of the pupils investigated common interactive technology driven objects from around the home, school and on their person to dissect the Inputs that control them, and the Outputs that they produce. We looked at table lamps and heaters, television sets and radio hi-fi. Once we discovered that many outputs could indeed become sensors as inputs as well as outputs we could understand how devices that we use today might have been dreamt up; from audible reverse parking sensor alerts on cars to automated central heating systems in our homes and schools.

Taking our imagination into the future another 25 years, we all came up with an invention that used some form of Input and Output to show our understanding.


Prototyping ?

Coming back to some of first lessons,  we learnt the term iterative development and the way in which we can quickly produce ideas on paper and in our minds, and then write bits of code or design using computers and then once it works we can further refine and amend our ideas until we are happy with the result.

In digital technology terms this is called prototyping. Creating ideas on paper and then using electronics or computer code to sketch out a rough idea or to quickly demonstrate the interaction between Inputs and Outputs.

Prototyping objects is often quick and means that the focus is on creating and realising ideas rather than spending lots of time building and manufacturing something that may not be the desired result. It is a further form of iterative development and is a process widely used in the technology industry (and many other sectors too)


Little Bits ?

LittleBits are a system of digital building blocks that can be combined to create interactive objects. Much like a series of lego blocks these bits are magnetic and stick together. Through experimentation and understanding we can use them to combine multiple inputs and outputs and with a little crafting and imagination we can transform our ideas into working inventions. Each bit has a different function, some are input devices and sensors and others are output devices.

LittleBits snap together in the following order: ( Power -> Input ->Output ) By changing an Input or Output device we can create varying differences in our objects within seconds of experimentation.


LittleBits is quick, fun and easy to use so it is a perfect tool to enable us to prototype with.


Inventions ?

Choosing Light as our Output we worked with a button (toggle switch) as our Input to create a simple on/off light switch device. Changing the Input for a dimmer (variable potentiometer switch) we were able to alter that device into something that could produce a different amount of light. Altering the Output to a servo motor (rotary motor that moves between 0 and 180 degrees) and attaching a post it note we could create a moving flag with a message on it.



Understanding the building blocks of sensors and devices that make up many of our technology driven objects in the world today, we can now begin to design and develop our own inventions and make them a reality using LittleBits and a bit of creative and artistic imagination.

First session of the film & animation after school club

Emma here! Last week I had my first after school session with a group of year five pupils, and we got stuck in with I Can Animate, an animation app on the iPads.

I pointed my group of animators towards a box of plasticine and asked them to go forth and do whatever their imagination dictated – here is what they came up with! They have each helpfully provided a synopsis for their videos:

Balram – “My story is about a bunny lost and he finds a pool and jumps in the pool and he drowns”

Patrick – “My video is about a football and a leg changing into a mud circle and a worm then into a firework and then a man comes, jumps off a trampoline and turns into a black hole and everything gets sucked up”

Ram – “It is about a worm going into a pit and a blob of paint hitting a wall and explodes and a man doing gymnastics”

Ryan – “Avengers assemble, they fight villains”

Tammie – “Stick Man Trouble! A stick man wakes up and finds a dog and gets stuck in a rainbow puddle and much more”

Zulqurnain – “It’s about a guy called Mip and he loves fighting, he fights his dog and also an evil bad guy who turns into a boulder. Can Mip survive? To be continued…”

Creating our own Drawing Tools

One of the amazing things about technology is in the way in which it can enable all of us to become makers and creators. We can learn a tool and then apply our own artistic and creative understanding to produce different outcomes from it. We can even make our own tools for expression.

This week the pupils in Year 5 and Year 6 have been programming their own drawing machines using Scratch.



Last week we looked at how programming is much like reading a list of instructions and making sure we apply those instructions in the correct order. Using our (if this, do that) method of understanding, we could build up a series of instructions to perform a program.

Computers are not as clever as us humans and so we need to give them exact instructions or they will not do as we ask. We can also figure out ways of getting them to perform lots of tasks with as little effort from us as possible.

We must remember that there can often be many different ways to solve the same problem in programming.



Last week we also explored variables – values that are stored on the computer and can change either via instructions from the program or from user interaction, such as pressing a key on the keyboard.

We looked at 2 types of variables: strings which are characters, letters or words and integers which are whole numbers.

Our integer variables this week were the co ordinates of the character on the screen, called ‘x’ and ‘y’. By changing the numbers we could manipulate the character and make it move. Using our (if this, do that) structure we could create a keyboard press IF and a variable change THAT to produce the movement. We had to press the key a lot of times to make our character move about !



To create instructions that repeat themselves over and over again we learned about ‘Recursion’ or Looping/Repeating. This enables us to take a few instructions and repeat them many times without having to keep sending the same instructions again and again.

Making our character move with one instruction was really fun. Making him move 20 steps in one direction involved a lot of key presses; imagine that it needed to move 1000 steps….

By taking an instruction and repeating it we could have one key press perform many actions for us!




Drawing Tools?

Learning repetition is much more fun when we can use it to draw shapes for us on screen.

Understanding how to repeat a simple instruction such as move forward and turn right 90 degrees we could build up repetitions to allow us to instruct the computer to move in a square shape and draw it out for us. (Hint: we repeated the instruction 4 times)

Using Scratch, we were able to take simple instructions and repeat them to create our own creative drawing tool. Using the Pen commands we created a spirograph/etch-a-sketch tool that responded to our inputs from the keyboard.

By changing the variables we could create different shapes and colours. By adding in the ability to stamp our character sprite on the screen we could create colourful spiral drawings made of ghosts, unicorns and cats.




Video and animation on the iPad

Hi, my name is Emma – I make videos, and run workshops teaching others how to make their own films and animations using whatever technology they have access to. Now  that we all have so many gadgets at our fingertips there are a wide variety of apps and programmes that users can access to make their own creative projects, and in the age of smartphones and tablets everyone can get in on the fun.

I have been working with pupils in years 2, 3 and 4 using equipment that they already have varying degrees of experience with (iPads) and free or very low-priced creative apps. I am one of four artists currently working with students at Hobmoor to explore what it is to be an artist – in the first few sessions I asked them for their thoughts on this and it seems that most believed that you weren’t an artist if you couldn’t paint or draw! We talked about the many ways in which one could be an artist and through working with different media, they are discovering that there are many routes to finding their ‘inner artist’ and expressing themselves creatively.

Introduction to video and animation

Over the first three weeks of this project, the pupils have been working with an app called Vine – Vine is free for smartphones and tablets and is accessible from computers too (it requires an email address or Twitter account to login, so I have set up a profile for each class). It is a very simple app for making short videos or animations, and is quite unique in that the videos are square (not TV shaped!), you record and stop by lifting your finger on and off the screen rather than pressing a button, and you are limited to a duration of six seconds. Once you finish recording, you are able to do a little further editing within the app if needed (although only in terms of cutting or removing clips) and you can share it instantly.

Learning to use Vine


In the first week, I wanted to introduce everyone to the basics of animation without making it too complicated, so I had the pupils pull as many silly faces to the camera as they could fit into the 6 second time frame, stopping and starting the recording throughout. I was certainly impressed with their face-pulling abilities!


In the second week we moved onto animating objects, which required a bit more time and care; the children used tripods to keep the iPads steady and Vine’s onion-skinning feature – the ‘ghost tool’ – to see how far they moved the object between shots, as smaller movements give better results. The trickiest parts were keeping the tripods still and making sure everybody’s hands were out of the way!

Topic: Identity

Last week I introduced the topic that we are going to be working with for the rest of the term; ‘identity’. We talked about what identity means and the different factors and influences that make up who we are – where we have lived, the things we like, our cultural and ethnic backgrounds, languages we speak, etc. In each session, we identified how many countries and cities we could represent as a whole class – I also asked them what they knew about some of the places on the lists we came up with, and asked them to draw things that we might expect to see in those places. As you can see from this picture of one of our lists, Hobmoor is very international!



I then asked the pupils to record a Vine video (no animation this time, just a continuous six second recording) talking about their identity; the countries and cities they have known, the languages that they speak, etc.

This was very challenging within the time limit, but we already knew that our identities are far too interesting to be summed up in six seconds – which is why we will be moving on from Vine and making some longer videos next!