– a brand-new blog for a brand-new school year! Each week we’re going to bring you some great ideas, fantastic singing tips, fabulous suggestions for activities you can use in your classroom, inspirational ideas for teaching music and lots of weird, wonderful and wacky facts for you to share with your colleagues and class. From cows to conkers, warm-ups to taking applause with aplomb, lunar cycles to little black dresses, you’ll find the answers here to questions you never realized you needed to ask! We’d love to hear from you too, so feel free to add your own comments and suggestions and generally get involved.
it’s the height of Spring! Trees are coming into leaf, lambs are playing in the fields and, in the Out of the Ark hive our queen, Bee-yonce is getting busy! Can you spot her in the video? (Hint: she has a white spot on her back.)
Is there anyone who hasn’t seen a print of Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’? The great painter produced two series of paintings inspired by these looming floral giants, and reproductions of his work have adorned the walls of primary schools, doctors’ surgeries, public buildings and homes for generations. Glowing golden and orange they capture the imaginations of children and adults alike, and anyone who has driven through those ‘holiday’ parts of France where ‘tournesols’ grow in happy serried rows can’t fail to have had their own heads turned in appreciation.
You might have read our previous blog about the huge benefits that singing in a group can bring you but singing together is arguably even more important for children than it is for adults. If you already have a thriving choir in your school, that’s fab, but if not, we’re here to help you start one!
Serried ranks of violins, a phalanx of shiny brass, a row of straight woodwinds and a clamour of bangy, crashy instruments at the back. The spectacle of the classic symphony orchestra in all its glory! Or maybe you prefer rocking out with a couple of cool-looking guitars, a bass, amplifiers and keyboard, all driven by the all-in-one drum kit at the back.
Do you enjoy a chuckle or a snirtle, do you like nothing more than a good yock? Are you ever happier than when you’re creased up, rolling in the aisles, clutching your sides, guffawing like a drain? Or perhaps you’re more at home formally cachinnating?!
Boiled, scrambled, poached, pickled, fried, or best of all (at least in my opinion) covered in hollandaise sauce, we certainly enjoy our eggs. In the UK alone we eat 34 million of them each day, and our love of these oval, shelled wonders has helped make the humble chicken one of the most populous land animals on planet Earth.
It’s Pancake Day tomorrow and soon the nation will be cracking more than 52 million eggs to mix the batter for our favourite, flat, fun-filled, flip-flop food. Pancakes are found in almost every culture across the world, but here in the UK they were traditionally eaten to use up all the eggs and fat that wouldn’t last the 40 days of the Lenten fast.
Do you sweep across the floor with all the grace of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, or are you more in step with the natural rhythm of Ann Widdecombe? Many people claim to have two left feet when it comes to dancing, and never mind a Hand Juggle Slingshot (yep, that really is a dance move), some of us approach anything more complicated than a drunken ‘Dancing Queen’ with more than a little trepidation!
Question: what do boys, the National Health Service and a housing estate near Watford have in common? Answer: they have all been the subject of the fabulously successful BBC series The Choir where Gareth Malone puts together a choir of unlikely singers and transforms them into a successful singing ensemble, in the process often changing the lives of the participants forever.
Christmas seems like a distant memory. All the beautiful lights have been put away for another year, the sun is low in the sky and it’s dull, grey and cold outside. If your energy levels are lagging, let us help you light up your classroom, cast away the winter blues and bring some zing and fun to your January.
And so for the answers to our Christmas number 1s quiz. How did you do? The correct answers are highlighted in red, while blue indicates some great Christmas hits that either only made it to the number 2 slot or were never Christmas hits in the UK at all!
Christmas is nearly here and it’s competition time at Out of the Ark! The titles of lots of UK Number One Christmas singles are hidden in the text of this week’s post (some are more difficult to spot than others, and some are downright sneaky!). Find as many as you can and you could win yourself a bottle of bubbly! You can also choose any Words on Screen™ single title for your school.
Crackers: an essential part of our Christmas celebrations – a novelty toy, a paper hat and, of course, a joke! Often more ‘oh no’ than ‘ho-ho-ho’, apparently one of the reasons that these terrible puns and riddles are so popular is precisely because they are so bad.
Their singing was only just short of angelic and the audience have erupted in rapturous applause! As the final notes die into an echo, you’re deservedly swelling with pride and looking forward to a glass of red on the sofa. Your work here is done, right?
We use our voices all the time, telling stories, giving instructions and chatting with friends, and while some of us are more talkative than others, there’s no doubting just how important our voices are. But have you ever wondered what happens when you sing?
The School Nativity Play – such a memorable tradition! We have worked together for years as both teachers and writers and sometimes it feels as though Christmas extends from spring until autumn as we beaver away at creating a new nativity musical. Superstar is our latest addition to the Out of the Ark catalogue and we devised this plot to help children to understand that everyone has a chance to shine.
Picture this. You’ve been dreaming of that perfect vacation for a while now – wistfully looking through catalogues, choosing a destination, planning excursions or checking the Waterstones ‘We recommend’ lists for some great holiday reads. The day has finally arrived: school’s been wrapped up, the suitcase is packed and the plane has boarded.
We all know Guy Fawkes (he actually preferred Guido Fawkes) as one of the conspirators in the (failed!) attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605, but as the 5th of November approaches, here are some less-known facts about the most famous gunpowder plotter...
We all know that Mozart was a genius. He had written his first compositions by the age of five and by eight he had composed his first symphony, though his first opera had to wait until he was a stately eleven years old! He also kept a pet starling and taught it to sing the theme from his 17th piano concerto (although he was disappointed that it always got one note wrong!).
The start of autumn sees a flurry of activity in schools – a return to work for teachers and new year groups and classes for children. New faces and places, lessons to plan, outings and activities to organise… all this can come as a bit of a shock after the (hopefully) slower tempo of the summer holidays.
The worlds of music and maths are miles apart, aren’t they? After all maths is all to do with equations, 1s and 0s and logic; music on the other hand is all about feelings and emotional expression, a comforting, safe place where there are no rights and wrongs.
Over the last couple of weeks there’s been a fair amount of ooh-ing and ah-ing in the office over our fabulously colourful new product, THIS IS ME! It’s a product that is sure to become an indispensable assembly resource and an established favourite with schools and parents alike.
October sees the ripening of the nut of one of Britain’s best-loved trees, the horse chestnut – those shiny, mahogany-brown beauties nestled in their spiky, green protective cases; and there are few things more exciting than to prise a perfect conker from its jacket. After all, it could turn out to be a winner!
The moon continually waxes and wanes throughout the year, but full moons have traditionally been given some beautifully poetic names – Moon after Yule and the Wolf Moon happen in the first quarter of the year while Spring brings the Egg, Milk and Flower moons, for example.
A box full of empty wrappers. You’ve enjoyed the pepperminty chocolatey-ness and the time has come to chuck the packaging into the recycling. Still, more in hope than expectation, you take one last riffle through the papers and… YES! You find one more forgotten wafer-thin mint – and that little unexpected extra tastes so good!
Didaskaleinophobia is a fear of going to school and is thought to affect between 2% and 5% of school-age children. While it’s a pretty uncommon condition, there’s no doubt that those three little words – back to school – carry so many different meanings and varying emotions! The chance to see friends again, the excitement of new classes and activities, sharing tales of long summer holidays, new faces to welcome, lesson planning and marking, having to set an early alarm… we all have mixed feelings about that first day back.