Blog: Immerse Summer Project at St David's Primary School

22 October 2022

A sign reading Happy Birthday to Laszlo Biro, the creator of the ballpoint pen
A sign reading Happy Birthday to Laszlo Biro, the creator of the ballpoint pen

If someone asked you what you were doing this date last year, would you be able to remember? Using the date as a creative exploration, myself and artist Cynthia Cheung worked with the two Primary 5 classes in the school. We had 4 days in the school, meaning the dates we would explore were: 26th - 29th September. No pupils had birthdays on any of these days. Sigh.

Monday 26th September. We explored five songs that were number one in the UK on this date. Those songs were:

  • Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival (1969)
  • Cars – Gary Numan (1979)
  • Dancing in the Street (David Bowie and Mick Jagger) (1985)
  • Never Gonna Give You Up – Rick Astley (1987)
  • Roar – Katy Perry (2013)

The pupils chose one of these songs and then rewrote the lyrics. The first class chose Rick Astley (the influence of the Rick Roll meme lives on…). From the creative imaginations of 9-year-olds we got new lyrics about the joys of junk food (“never gonna try healthy food or diet”) and the joys of fruit (“never gonna get you mouldy , gonna make you juicy”).

In the second class, predicting that they would also pick Rick Astley, Cynthia and I asked them to work with Gary Numan’s Cars. This was actually a much easier song to work with, with its repeating simple melody. And we got brilliant new lyrics about animals and aliens (“Aliens are coming, coming to town, trying to abduct us, so we’re running around”).

Tuesday 27th September. Today we looked into significant historical events that happened in the past, including:

  • 1825 – The world’s first steam locomotive passenger railway journey
  • 1908 – Ford began producing the famous Model T car
  • 1998 – Google launched its Search Engine
  • 2008 – Chinese astronaut Zhai Zhigang performed China’s first spacewalk

One class chose to recreate the launch of Google. We ended up with laptops being created out of cardboard and a rap performance with music created on GarageBand. The other class depicted the passenger train journey with an incredible cardboard train and a hilariously manic performance involving one pupil who was running late and had to get to her very important meeting!

Cardboard model of the world's first passenger steam train

Wednesday 28th September. Did you know that this day is World School Milk Day? Or Freedom from Hunger Day? You must have known that it is also Strawberry Cream Pie Day? Cynthia and I asked the pupils to use their imaginations to explore 5 of these days and create a short TV programme depicting what they think happens on this day. They then filmed these using their ipads. Cut to lots of cardboard cakes being splatted in people’s faces and the brilliantly weird “Milk Disco”.

Thursday 29th September. Today we celebrated famous people born on this date, from film noir actors to opera singers, the inventor of the Biro pen to a Baroque French sculptor. The pupils created happy birthday banners inspired by these famous people and we wrapped up the week playing pass the parcel to a playlist of music from people who were all born on that date (the weirdest playlist I’ve ever created – happy birthday Luke and Matt Goss from Bros!)

Here’s a quote from Cynthia on her experience working on the project:

“It was enjoyable and playful to have a week session with Greg and P5 at St. David primary school. We have looked at each date to explore what has happened about this date and have done various art activities related to those events. P5 created their lyrics for UK number 1 song on that day; they created installation art and poster for the historic event on the day; they created performances and performed the national event on the day. But my most favourite part was we had a birthday party and made a birthday banner/poster for famous people who birthday on the day. P5 were creative, energetic, and full of idea. Most of them were clear about what they wanted to create and worked well in the group. Some of them might struggle with the creation and need some instruction. However, most children followed very well and brought their ideas into activities. I’m happy to having fun with them.”