art – ¡Vámonos!

Category: art

A brilliant opportunity has come to my attention via the LiPS group on Facebook. If you’re interested in art and/or languages and you live in or near Coventry, or can get there on 28th September by 4pm, I’d say register. And as the blurb says, it’s not just for language teachers – it;’s for any KS1/2 staff member. And if you do go, please report back as I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to attend as it’s just my thing! (Really hope they repeat it on a day i can attend!)

Teaching Modern Foreign Languages through Art
Herbert Art Gallery & Museum
Thursday 28 September, 4.00-5.30pm
Suitable for all Key Stage 1 & 2 teachers and teaching assistants.
Knowledge of a MFL isn’t necessary.
Includes a tour of the new Picasso exhibition
Cost £20
Explore, consider and learn how to use art when teaching modern foreign languages in this cross-curricular workshop.
Finding inspiration from our newest exhibition Picasso: Linocuts from the British Museum, language expert Anna Grainger* will draw on her 20 years of experience to discuss ways in which non-specialists (so don’t worry, you don’t need to be able to speak a foreign language to take part) can use artworks to think about vocabulary, history and culture. This workshop also includes a special private view, tour of the exhibition, and an opportunity to learn more about the Coventry Primary Languages Hub.
*Notes on the speaker: Anna has taught languages for 20 years and is currently a specialist MFL teacher and international coordinator at Alderman’s Green Primary School in Coventry. The school has recently been awarded the British Council’s prestigious International School Award in recognition of its work to bring the world into the classroom.
Booking essential, please contact Nicky McIntosh on 024 7623 4271,




Following on from my last post about a couple of non-fiction books I bought in Bilbao, I’ve decided to share some other non-fiction texts that I’ve collected over time. In fact, I’ve concluded that I need to do it in several posts as there are quite a few, so here is part one which includes some ‘arty’ books! By arty I mean to do with the arts not just about artists although there are quite a few that fit that category.

Don Quijote – A Spanish Language Primer

I bought this lovely board book last year to share as part of the celebrations of the 400th anniversary of his death- and that of Shakespeare. It is essentially a word book with the left page in English and the right hand page in Spanish and intended for very young children; however, used in conjunction with this song from BBC Bitesize ClassClips, it gave a stimulus to introduce and discuss the most famous work of Cervantes in a simple and unthreatening way.

Link to purchase: Amazon

ISBN – 978-1-4236-3875-9


This book forms part of a series called Big Names for Small People and my copy is in English although you can buy it in Catalan  (and soon in Spanish – see the link below) I am a great fan of Gaudí and his story is so interesting that I really enjoy sharing this book with young learners porque si as well as in the context of our learning about Gaudí’s artwork when we discuss shape and colour. It’s also particularly useful for looking at timelines, chronology and working out how long ago things happened.

Link to purchase in Spanish: Amazon    Cossetània Edicions for the other books in the series

ISBN – 978-84-9034-414-9

It contains no words, but I also use Trencadís  with the above book. It’s a wonderful sticker book with outlines that you fill in with stickers that are taken from photographs of Gaudí’s original works so children get to be just like Gaudí without the mess of smashed crockery!

ISBN – 978-84-616-3706-5

And finally, before we leave Barcelona, here’s a storybook in English that gives a flavour of the city through the eyes of two dogs called Poppy and Max. Poppy and Max – Holidays in Barcelona is a work of fiction but I thought I’d share it here as it’s in context!

ISBN – 978-84-92745-31-9

Frida Kahlo (Colección Antiprincesas #1)

My final book (for now as I have more at school that I’d like to share!) belongs to a series that has attracted lots of attention and centre round the life and work of Frida Kahlo. It’s completely in Spanish and whilst the chunks are fairly short, it’s not the sort of book that you could expect children to pick up and understand without guidance. I like the small blue boxes that give definitions of key words like surrealismo and revolución, and also the stylised drawings of some of Frida’s works alongside photographs and pictures of her actual work. A fascinating woman!

Below is a video of the book being read in English, and you can see it in Spanish by following this link  and forwarding to about 12 minutes. The link that promises a lesson plan based around the book is broken but I’ve tracked it down to here – it includes some excellent ideas not just based around the book but also around promoting women and being ‘antiprincesas’.

ISBN – 978-987-33-9158-3

I hope this selection of books has been of interest. I’ll share more in my next post, focusing on books with a scientific theme.

347598578_2055495130I’ve been asked to share the following project to ensure that as many people as possible hear about it and have the opportunity to participate. I wish I was a teenager again as I think I’d have jumped at the chance!



“Guernica is to painting what Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is to music: a cultural icon that speaks to mankind not only against war but also of hope and peace.” Alejandro Escalona

80 years on from the start of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Picasso’s painting Guernica is as powerful and disquieting today as it was when the artist expressed in paint his revulsion and outrage over the first ever bombing of civilians within Europe.

The GAP Arts Project is looking for 20 motivated, creative young people aged 11-18 who are interested in immersing themselves in an exploration of the most controversial and moving anti-war painting of the 20th century, exploring its impact, its component images and reflecting on their resonances in today’s 21st century world.

Over three weeks the assembled company will engage in practical workshops, creative activities and rehearsals, working towards devising a collective artistic response – a performance utilizing a variety of artforms such as drama, movement, poetry and more, to be produced for a public audience.

If you are excited by this chance to work creatively as part of a team, to explore this key turning point in the history of Europe and to devise and perform your artistic response publicly, we’d love to hear from you. Whether your interest is in Drama, Art, Movement, Poetry or History, this project is for you. No experience needed, just enthusiasm, curiosity, an open mind and a willingness to explore.

Dates: 8 – 29 August 2016                   Times: Tbc (initially daytimes, potentially some additional evenings/weekends in last week)

Director: Ian Yeoman, formerly artistic director of Theatr Powys, 30 years experience of directing and devising theatre for and with young people. (Ian and all adults working on the project are DBS certificated)

Venue: The GAP, Jubilee Centre, Pershore Street, B5 6ND (city centre)

Cost: £80 per participant. This covers all rehearsals, costumes, production costs etc, PLUS membership of The GAP – Birmingham’s only young people’s arts space – and all the associated benefits –free arts events, free wifi, free tea & coffee, arts library, and the opportunity to be part of The GAP’s young creative community.

Contact: Ceri Townsend             07533456387

Reservation: To reserve a place please go to

Payment: To confirm your place please pay online at

Deadline is 9pm Wednesday 20July.     NB: Places are limited so please reserve and confirm your place asap!

Further details are attached here: GUERNICA




| Leave a comment

A beautiful, moving video of the Picasso painting Guernica, presented here in 3D. The music makes it all the more haunting.


I’ve mentioned before how I think that language learning should not be a stand alone but creatively integrated into the curriculum. Today I’ve been alerted to a couple of videos that I can see being used to do just that, using works of art as the stimulus for speaking activities.

Helen Myers (of ALL President and MFLResources fame) passed on a tip from Glynis Rumley about Women in Art, a lovely video compilation of many female faces from works of art morphing into one another.

The information on Youtube about it says –
500 Years of Female Portraits in Western Art
Music: Bach’s Sarabande from Suite for Solo Cello No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007 performed by Yo-Yo Ma
Nominated as Most Creative Video
2007 YouTube Awards
For a complete list of artists and paintings visit

Helen asked for ideas of how this could be exploited. One answer suggested using it as an ‘observation’ piece on which you ask questions at the end along the lines of How many brunettes? How many blondes? How many earrings? How many faces? What is the most popular eye colour/dress colour? How many hats? Or you could use the stills of the individual pictures from the site above – pupils choose one to describe then communicate the description to a partner / group who have to pick the correct portrait. Or, if they’re up for it, draw the portrait then compare to the original.

Along these lines, I found this video on Teachertube called Mona et Paloma. A class use the Mona Lisa by Leonardo DaVinci and Paloma by Picasso as the stimuli for a speaking activity. Having drawn their own versions of the portraits, they imagine that Mona and Paloma are members of their families, describing them in as much detail as they can in French. Adds interest to the sometimes tame and boring, and potentially touchy subject of families.

And whilst I was there, I came across the following video – similar to Women in Art, but solely about Picasso. It could be used in a similar way to the above videos – descriptions, family members etc, and also for cultural awareness of the life and times of a Spanish artist, linked to the art curriculum.

Any more ideas of activities, or suggestions of other video clips you’ve discovered of a similar vein?

PS more ideas on integrating art and languages in Mira Miró.

Dali in Prague

| Leave a comment

.flickr-photo { border: solid 2px #000000; }.flickr-yourcomment { }.flickr-frame { text-align: left; padding: 3px; }.flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; }

Dali in Prague, originally uploaded by George*50.

Whilst searching for a picture for my previous post, i came across this one. As a fan of Dalís clocks and a soon to be fan(?) of Prague, I thought I’d share it with you. You can view the ‘real’ clock in Prague here and have a look at it in a computer simulation programme.
It’s an astronomical clock showing the current state of the universe at any point in time for six hundred years – sounds very impressive!

And, in case you’re stuck for a craft project to keep the kids amused, here are instructions on how to make your own Dalí clock– anyone got a 12″ ?

The last session I attended on Friday at PLS was a really tough choice – so many I wanted to attend but I chose ¡Mira Miró!, ‘a West Sussex KS2 cross-curricular Spanish / Art project, developed by María Roberts (MFL advisor) and Jane Sedgewick (Art advisor) to escape subject silos.’

Maria introduced the project, designed to be cross curricular, not CLIL (most is in English with some Spanish language), and lasting approximately 5 hours / half a term.
The dual objectives were stated as –

  • To explore the works of the Spanish painter Miró, using some simple Spanish to describe shape and colour.
  • To prduce own art in the style of Miró and be able to simply describe and evaluate it.

Miró was chosen as the artist as he is 20th century, his work is abstract and also not too ‘way out’ in imagery (Dalí would perhaps be a little too disturbing!)

The language involved in the project included the vocabulary of

  • shape
  • colour
  • size
  • preposition
  • evaluation

Maria showed us a number of activities that were used with the pupils to familiarise them with the work of Miró such as a game involving dominoes based on Miró’s work – each person has a domino and has to find someone with an identical image by describing it (in English) – this was an interesting activity that reminded us that our perception of a piece of art can be different to someone else’s – where I saw a man with long arms, another person saw something completely different, so it took a while to find our partners. The dominoes had been purchased from the Fundació Miró (as had other resources such as the posters that were originally part of a calendar)

Maria then took us through some of the activities that the pupils had done as part o the scheme including:

guess the name of the painting
Pupils looked at the painting on the right and discussed what they thought its name might be. they were encouraged to comment on the form, colour, texture, lines etc of the piece. The title is Ciphers and Constellations in love with a woman – does it suit the piece? What might be a a better name?
The pupils also learned at this pint that Miró often shut his eyes and painted – interesting and quirky – perhaps they could emulate it?

looking for shapes in pictures
Looking at this painting (left) called Woman in front of the sun, pupils were asked to look for shapes – and this is where some Spanish vocabulary comes in as they describe the shapes they see. In the following lessons, they add adjectives of colour and size to the descriptions – eg hay un círculo grande y rojo.

human sentences
using cards containing images of shape, size, colour and form, we made human sentences, physically emphasising the noun / adjective word order. This could be extended with verb cards for Hay / No hay.
DIY Miró
Having been given a random selection of the shapes from the paintings, we discussed their properties, and then constructed our own picture.


The next step was discussing where things are in the picture – having learned a few simple prepositions, one member of the group was given a very simple extract from a painting to describe whilst the rest drew what they had understood. A good exercise in communication – it’s amazing how clear you think your explanation is until you see how others have understood it ;o)
evaluation. NB accuracy of del / de la was modelled but not insisted upon as the flow of conversation and communication was seen as more important.
How does it make you feel?
Part of art is learning to appreciate it and the end stage was discussing how the painting made them feel. Words such as ‘bueno‘ were banned – words like bonito, tranquilo, calma, alegre, triste, confuso, raro, enfadado were encouraged – I wasn’t sure about the inclusion of ‘horroroso’ as an advisable word to describe another child’s work though!

I’ve scanned the handouts for now (in My Box of Goodies as Slideshare is not liking me today :o(

Maria shared that the hope is to publish these resources on the wsgfl alongside the existing cross curricular packs on Animals and habitats, and Habitats in Spanish (there are also a wide range of French cross curricular resources including The Giant Turnip and the Little Polar Bear, and a couple in German), and also to cover a French artist, Matisse (in his later years his work is suitable!) At the moment, the stumbling

block centres around copyright issues.

I think this is another great idea for embedding PLL in the existing curriculum, and looking in a more ‘joined up’ way at children’s education. Any other ideas out there?

¡Vámonos! ©2024. All Rights Reserved.
Powered by WordPress. Theme by Phoenix Web Solutions