Art in Action

EdLab Spark: Create an activity for ‘Exceeding’ Early Years children

A school in the local area has a diverse mix of students from around the world, and they would like students to develop some activities for their Early Years provision:

‘We have some opportunities for students in our EY to build their experience/CV. We can be very flexible in terms of days, times, etc Helping in nursery or reception, supporting in different ways.

If students have a particular interest (eg creative, PE, dance, ICT etc) we have some potential “exceeding” children that we would like to stretch.’



EdLab Spark: Create an Activity or Story Trail

The use of maps can stimulate learning experiences and increase engagement. MMU has a history of experimenting with games and apps with an aim to increase student engagement. We can add to this work by creating challenges in the form of Treasure Hunts or Adventure Trails aimed at both young people and adults.


The use of mobile phones and tablets is clearly valuable when it comes to creating such interactive trails. The mixed media approach including GPS, QR codes, images, videos and voice recordings opens the door to so many possibilities for an engaging learning experience. Actionbound is one tool that we use to facilitate these types of learning experiences.

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EdLab Spark: Develop Workshop Materials for Primary Schools

EdLab have been working closely with Dr Sam Illingworth to develop and deliver workshops in primary schools which mix science teaching with poetry. Students from the Faculty of Education have helped to deliver these sessions so far, and now we would like students to create online resources so that schools can deliver the session themselves should they wish. See below for full details of the challenge.


It is great fun bringing this science and poetry session to primary schools, but we would also like to reach many more pupils than it is possible to see face-to-face. To do this we can write up session outlines, tips, resources etc. and make them available on our website. We believe students could bring their creativity to this process, and creating lasting work which would be a real asset on your CV.


Home Educator and EdLab – Starting an informal partnership

We started a new project today around how Home Educators work together with the EdLab project.

The main aim of the meeting from EdLab’s perspective was to work out how we could best work together with Home educators as a project ‘partner’. In this we look to find areas where we can work together to our mutual benefit. This involves a good level of discussion and finding out what the needs are.  

While it was informal we used maps and brainstorming as techniques to provide a written record of the information gathered at the event.

There were some really interesting observations that really helped us to work out where we could explore some interesting areas for partnership.
Some of the clear ways forward were:

  • If students are offering educational opportunities as a way to gain experience Home Educators are happy to promote and bring young people to sessions at partner venues or MMU
  • Certain areas including science and technology could greatly benefit from access to the equipment and expertise at Brooks MMU.
  • There is area to explore to see how some of the educational sessions that EdLab runs could be of use to adult Home Educators.

EdLab Spark: Create Resources to Help Parents Prepare their Children for School

We have teamed up with local primary school Divine Mercy to support them in engaging parents of children in the Early Years Foundation Stage. The school would like students to develop short video style resources to help parents in supporting their preschool and early years children with skills development; especially with literacy and numeracy.


Recent MMU Graduate in Early Years and Childhood Studies, Leanne Clarke, will lead the project. The school are working towards guidelines for child development during this phase laid out by Department for Education in this document:

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Sonic Pi session with PGCE music students & Sonic Pi at the Library

Research Session with PGCE Music Students – report by Mick Chesterman

After a warm up and an activity involving a broken version of Happy Birthday and finding out what music is for “Five minutes or Forever”, we launched into an exploration of Sonic Pi. The two main aims of this part of the session were:

  • introduce the concepts of tinkering in the area of creative digital media making
  • explore the possibilities of Sonic Pi as a tinkering, exploratory tool

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Part Two – Creative Visualisation Workshop – Exploring ideas

This blog post details some of the processes and outputs from the Creative Spaces workshop with guests Belay from MRSN and Sara from CAN.  In part one of the workshop Manchester Refugee Support Network and Community Arts North West gave us background on creative educational projects with Refugees. We then moved on to the more active and creative part of the session where students generated idea to solve the challenges.

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Part One – Creative Visualisation Workshop – The need to support Refugees in Manchester

Input from the Community Partners

The workshop was started by Belay from Manchester Refugee Support Network who set us some challenges to solve, which would add to the projects they are already doing.

Sara Domville from Community Arts North West then lead activities on Creative Visualisation using the challenges set for us by MRSN. The key question was how can we use those skills to bring innovation to support that existing work?

There are already activities which are co-ordinated by MRSN. We started to explore ideas of how MMU students could add to this.

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This week, we attended a meeting at Z – Arts to discuss the Snow Queen Learning Log project. Every year Z-Arts creates a Christmas show which is brings together local school children and is the basis for a learning journey. This year their show is called Snow Queen which blends live action with film, puppetry and digital storytelling. Our challenge, is to help create a learning log for this event.  The purpose of the meet was to discuss our ideas and plan our next steps, but firstly Paul (Z – Arts Education Officer) set us a creative task to get our thinking caps on!

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Help Uncovering Hidden Voices Create a Visual History Resource

Uncovering Voices is a project which aims to build on some of the work of the Hidden Voices community research project which focused on the day-to-day lives, views and experiences of Hulme’s older residents. Hidden Voices was lead by local residents and studied the local area. They found that that isolation and disengagement of the elderly was a big problem locally. 

We are looking to work with local partners to support this challenge. The challenge for us is to come up with information, images and text to help jog memories and provoke discussion. There are many resources open to us in the MMU and central library. We can work together to gather these images and stories to put them onto tablets to bring the get togethers of the community groups.

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