Arts and Crafts

Taylor High School’s Adventure into the World of Knitting

Written by Cathy MacIntyre

I am job-share librarian at Taylor High School, Motherwell, North Lanarkshire. We like to encourage our S1 and S2 students to come along to lunchtime clubs and we wanted something that could rival other clubs operating throughout the school. Various ideas were put forward, it would need to be something that would keep their attention and was fun.

One of my colleagues is a knitting expert and agreed to help me on my mission.

Before we invested in our knitting needles we had to make sure that our members were serious. At our first meeting 10 came along, 4 boys and 6 girls. Nobody knew how to knit, initially our aim was to knit small squares and to sew them into a blanket. We would raffle or auction it and donate the money to charity. Long term plan I hasten to add.

The club started in September 2015 and it caused quite a commotion once word spread throughout the school. Two more students wanted to join so more needles had to be bought. We decided to make 12 our maximum number.

Mrs Dickson (one of our classroom assistants), our knitting expert, came up with an idea to keep the group interested, before we began to make our blanket, let’s show the students how to knit covers for their mobile phones. She brought in some samples and the group thought that it was a great idea.

We started by showing the group how to cast on 30 stitches and start to knit plain garter stitch. Thursday lunchtime, 12.25-1.10pm and we had a thriving club with 12 enthusiastic members. By the time they had their lunch the actual time spent on knitting was 25 minutes.

Some of the students thought that their knitting would grow quickly but unfortunately many stitches were dropped and had to be found but then we decided just to leave the mistakes because as they improved they could look back and laugh.

We lost a few members along the way but as one left new members joined.

Our little club have now mastered the garter stitch in such a small period of time. Some of the group are now knitting at home, one of our boys was going to Paris Disneyland with his family and he was worried that his aunt would be cold so he knitted her a chunky scarf. It was incredible!

Any new members joining the club are made very welcome and are given encouragement and support by the founder members. Thus making knitting fun and enjoyable within this age-group.

It is now December and Taylor High school is busy preparing for the Christmas Show and for the Carol Service so a few of our members have got to go for rehearsals at lunchtime. Purl stitch has now been introduced and we have decided to extend the club to Friday lunchtime because the members have been so keen to master the art of knitting. Hopefully our little group will grow from strength to strength in the New Year.




Categories: Arts and Crafts, Clubs / Groups, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, Health and Well-Being, Interdisciplinary Learning, Literacy | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Summer School Workshop in the Library

August in the library means Summer School. A library workshop has become a regular feature of this fabulous programme of activities for some of our new S1s.

Great! This was an excellent chance to work with my job sharing partner, something that is rare because we have no cross over days. It would also mean we actually got the opportunity to speak and work with one another, instead of working via email, phone or notes left in the librarian’s notebook. A welcome change for both of us.

I had previously ran craft activities as part of summer school but this was the first year I had thought about designing a quiz, a book character quiz. It was something fun my job sharing partner and I could work on together.

Pupils were split into groups of five and asked to choose a name for their team but pupils were understandably nervous. That’s when Cathy came up with the idea of pupils in the group each suggesting a word and that word would form part of the team name. (Obviously, it had to be something pleasant but that is never really an issue with our pupils!) This caused much hilarity and chat.

It was a great group of pupils with lots of conversations about reading, summer holidays and looking forward to starting high school. We discussed memorable books from primary school, reading out loud and comic books.

Quiz team names included, The Yoda Book Club, Quiz Destroyers (pencils on fire), Dogs Play Football and Haribo Scooby Doo Club. Some of our S6 pupils were on hand to help pupils answer a few of the questions, take videos and pictures of the activity.

To finish the group were asked to create a monster that lives in the library for our walls. Creations were colourful and fun was had by all, even our S6s! This was a great way to get everyone talking and making our future pupils feel at ease about starting a new school and joining our wonderful school community.

Ian MacFarlane, Home Partnership Officer who organised Summer School commented;

“As part of my Summer School at Taylor High School, both Librarians in our Library Resource Centre organised a workshop for 2 groups of 10 P7 pupils making the transition to Taylor High School.   The Library Quiz Workshop provided the pupils with an opportunity to work cooperatively in teams whilst giving them a sense of what the Library Resource Centre can offer them when they begin Secondary School.

The feedback from the pupils was very positive in relation to the workshop itself and the delivery methods of the Librarians. I personally would like to thank Anna and Cathy for their hard work in putting on such a successful aspect of the Summer Programme.”

I hope the quiz is something we can develop in future and many thanks to Ian McFarlane, Home Partnership Officer for allowing the library to be part if this wonderful programme.

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National Libraries Day 2015

Pupils and staff at Taylor High School, New Stevenston have been busy getting ready for National Libraries Day 2015 over the last couple of weeks. Our fabulous Art department and some of our S1/S2 pupils were asked to create and design murals for the library.

The idea originally came from one of the Scottish Book Trust’s projects for ‘Book Week Scotland 2014’. I then began thinking about how my school could incorporate this for National Libraries Day.

Firstly, I had a brief discussion with my colleagues in Art and gave each one a copy of the National Libraries Day logo for inspiration. I followed this up with an e-mail suggesting possible ideas. However, it was really my colleagues who had the most challenging task.

Mrs Devlin’s S2 class became involved and she stated;

“Like previous library activities my classes have taken part in, I was keen and so were my S2 class to illustrate all the fantastic and wonderful things that happen in our school library.”

I gave each teacher and their classes the freedom to choose how to create their mural but asked them to follow three simple rules. These included;

(1)It must promote the work of the library.
(2) The mural can be completed as a class assignment or during lunchtimes.
(3) It should be either A3 or A4 in size.

S1 and S2 classes took part in this activity during their Art periods and the final results were nothing short of amazing. Each mural’s interpretation of life at Taylor High School library differed.

One of our S2 pupils commented;

“The activity was fun and different, a twist on what we normally do in Art. I am proud that our class’s mural is on the wall outside the library.”

Each mural depicted different aspects of life in the library. One was a collage and the other was inspired by the comic book format and both offered a valuable insight into life in the school library and the role it plays in our school community.

Mrs Ferguson’s S1 Art class also took part. She commented;

“My class were really enthusiastic about this project and came up with some amazing ideas. Once the class began to discuss possible ideas for the mural, there was no stopping them. As a class, they decided to design a mural like a comic book but using fictional characters from Beatrix Potter stories and Roald Dahl books to tell our community about life at Taylor High school library. ”

These artistic creations would not have been a success without the support and enthusiasm of my colleagues. It was a huge compliment to the library, as the murals proved our pupils hold our school library in high regard.

Thanks to all the staff and pupils who took part in this wonderful project.

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Welcoming S1 pupils to the world of the library.

Every year when the new term begins the school is full of chatter from our S1s. Cathy (the other half of my role) and I try to design and organise as many fun but educational activities as possible.

This year we intend to celebrate as many national events as possible. These include celebrating Roald Dahl Day from the 8th September to the 12th September (a day was not enough for our plans), Halloween (my favourite), Scottish Book Week, Christmas, the Chinese New Year, National Libraries Day, World Book Day and anything else we can come up with.

Some of the events we organise are for the library only, while others get various departments across the school involved. Even our craft competitions get the staff involved. Recently, we ran our first craft competition. Pupils were asked to design and decorate their very own craft t-shirt to celebrate the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Many of our pupils were able to share stories about their experience of the games, be that from watching the television, going to the various sporting events, visiting Glasgow Green and even going to the dress rehearsal for the opening ceremony. It was wonderful to get to know some of our new S1 pupils and there were also a number of familiar faces to welcome back.

Our winners of the craft competition came from both S1 and S2. A member of our PE department chose the most creative.

Well done to all involved. We are really looking forward to meeting some new faces.

Categories: Arts and Crafts, Competitions, Creativity, Daily life, Events, Health and Well-Being | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Eggcellent Easter fun in the library

Taylor High S1 pupils have been involved in a great Easter craft activity at lunchtime this week. Pupils were asked to design and decorate their very own Easter egg.  Not surprisingly, eggs had to have an Easter theme.  Designs were great with one pupil writing a poem and another creating a more religious theme.  Clearly, our pupils had not forgotten the importance of the season!  Fun was had by all creating these wonderful eggs, even the Librarian created one.  Eight pupils took part in this great event.  The most creative and colourful was pick by a teacher and prizes were of a chocolate variety.  This was a wonderful way to get pupils to be creative, promote friendship and develop literacy skills.  Our pupils never fail in creating a wonderfully welcoming environment.  The library is now full of Easter cheer

Well done to all the pupils for taking the time to be involved.

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Trying out art

Interactive websites are always useful to have up your sleeve, handy for lunchtime activities, for when something goes wrong with  a planned lesson, or just for fun at the end of a busy class. Here’s some links that are part of the collection of fun links on the OLHS Library website, but these are also being added to the online tools for Challenge X.

These art websites appeal, perhaps because my hand faints at the thought of trying to sketch something. You could say I’m drawn to them  🙂 .

1. Mr Picasso Head

mrpicassoheadcropUsing shapes pulled from a variety of Picasso portraits, this website allows you to create your own Picasso painting, and then to pull it apart and recreate it.

Or of course, you could actually create a picture that actually looks like something.

Unfortunately, you can’t save or print the images, but it’s always possible to print the screen and then crop the bit you want.



Create your own splatter paintings in the style of Jackson Pollock (more or less). Very therapeutic.

You can make the space full size and change colour by clicking the mouse.  The colours are random, but that just adds to the fun.

3. NGA Kids Artzone

Jen2A smorgasbord of artistic stuff. The activities include collages, 3D designs, pattern design, landscapes, portraits and abstracts, and some can even be animated. Appears very simple on the surface, but is capable of producing very complex pieces of art. More to the point, it’s fun. Requires Shockwave to play online or can be downloaded.

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National Poetry Day 2013

How quickly the years do pass!!!!  National Poetry Day again – a great opportunity to get your pupils thinking about poetry.  I tried a couple really quick activities with my book groups this year.  First of all using the poetry match up activity from the NPD website and then using raindrop and cloud/puddle templates, I asked the book groups to think of as many words as they could related to the theme of Water.  On the raindrops they could write one word but on the clouds and puddles they had to think of three linked words, it took a while for some of the pupils to get into it and some only thought of one or two words but others were in their element asking for extra templates as they thought of more and more obscure links! (Sushi – was one!)  The end result was our National Poetry Day Tsunami!


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Las Fallas

2013_0226_1245The Modern Languages Department decided to study Las Fallas for their Added Value Unit in S3 and contacted me for LRC involvement following the success of the pinatas with S1. Las Fallas is a Valencian fire festival in honour of St Joseph.

And so, Cardinal Newman Does Las Fallas was born.

Naturally we had to seek permission to build a bonfire for the traditional destruction of the Ninot, or model. After the Headteacher had picked herself up off the floor and told us we were mad, she tentatively agreed.

We arranged a visit from the Community Fire Safety Officer, who explained the Health and Safety aspects of our idea and assisted with planning.

2013_0226_1244Game On!

In Valencia, they burn well known and political characters, so after considering various local dignitaries we agreed that a mythological character would be more appropriate. And so we’ve built a 9′ tall Devil from papier mache and chicken wire!


Pupils from the Technical Department created the body, and created a passeo or palanquin for participants to carry.

To add a Scottish flavour we’ve booked a pipe band to play along with our own musicians.

Meanwhile, the pupils are studying the fire festival of Las Fallas in their Spanish classes. Each pupil has been asked to write an essay in Spanish about the festival, and the most interesting contributors (six male, six female)will be invited to participate in the event itself.

Watch this space!

Categories: Arts and Crafts, Creativity, Events, Interdisciplinary Learning, Languages, Literacy, RE / Religious and Moral Education, Technologies | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Christmas pinatas

The life of a school librarian is never dull, but some days stick in your mind, like the day I was asked to dress a skeleton for the Day of the Dead.

They were pleased with the result and the event, which included a mariachi band, was a great success. The PT Modern Languages and I then wondered what we could develop as a rich task for S1.

The result? The Cardinal Newman Christmas Pinata Competition! (also known as 200 1st years, a blindfold and baseball bat).

Following extensive research, we purchased nine large balloons, glue, lots of tissue paper, and millions of nice things for the contents.

The making of the pinatas turned into a whole school obsession. The Art Department and LRC turned into papier mache factories and any passing person was welcome to stick layers of paper on the balloons.

By 1st December, we had nine huge papier mache balloons just waiting for decoration. Enter the S5 Int I Spanish class! The LRC became awash with glitter, tissue paper and assorted shiny bits as the S5s competed to create the most complicated pinatas.  They took a real pride in their work (even becoming rather possessive).

Back in Spanish, the S1s were studying pinatas in Mexico and learning a poem in Spanish called ‘Dale, Dale, Dale’ which you recite while attempting to ‘break’ the pinata.

On the day, the tallest 6th year boy was responsible for hanging the pinatas in the LRC and manoevering them out of harms way as frustrated S1s atempted to destroy it.

The 1st years came along by class, with one pinata per class. With Spnaish music playing the background, pupils were called out one at a time to have a go. Unfortunately, the pinatas were rock hard and despite the best efforts of S1, resisted all attempts to fulfill their purpose in life.

Ultimately, they were done in with a baseball bat from PE, wielded by the S6 pupil to allow the pupils to claim their prizes.

Fortunately, the pupils then went on to enjoy their ceilidh, and did not have to go to their next classes full of Spanish glee.

Categories: Arts and Crafts, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, Expressive Arts, Languages | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Your Paintings

A huge collection of public owned paintings in the UK is now available online at the BBC Your Paintings website.

The public are being invited to add tags to the individual paintings to provide additional information.

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Christmas Crafts at Cardinal Newman

The Craft Club at Cardinal Newman is always extra busy leading up to the Christmas Fayre, as our wee decorations is a highlight of the event.

Included in the images above are our Rockin’ Robin plates, felt gingerbread man and robin from the Busy Bees Sewing Club, glittery Christmas trees, and wreaths made from paper plates, tissue paper leaves, gems and bows. The sun catchers were purchased blank from a hobby shop, then decorated and sold on for school funds.

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Pumpkin heads and sparkly ghosts

The Craft Club at Cardinal Newman meets Friday lunchtimes in the Library.

We try to match the activities with the time of year, such as these pumpkin heads made from paper plates, and sparkly ghosts: made the Library look funky a well as brightening a scary books display.

The Craft Club is open to all year groups, and provides a relaxing peaceful time for pupils from across the school to get to know easch other.

We also encourage the pupils to suggest their own activities – the next event will no doubt be Christmassy.

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