In the run-up to Wild Goose Festival 2023, the Creative Spaces team worked with pupils from Laurieknowe Primary School to deliver a series of creative workshops on the migration of Geese and their relevance to the region. We would first like to say a huge thank you to Laurieknowe’s P4 class and both teachers who were brilliant to work with!
The first day Creative Spaces went into the primary school we were pretty nervous. We had a plan but were also prepared to be flexible as we didn’t know what to expect from the class. The P4s were really excited to see us and paid close attention as we introduced ourselves and showed them a short video about bird migration. When we asked them questions afterwards, they were all eager to put their hands up and show off their recall skills. We started to see their different personalities shine through and were reassured by the energy of the class – they were so ready to learn about geese!
The next task was map-based. We put a big world map onto each of the 3 tables in the classroom and worked in groups to identify the places where the different species (Barnacle, Greenland White-Fronted, Light-Bellied Brent, and Pink Footed Geese) breed. The first challenge for the kids was spotting Scotland (it’s tiny!) and then understanding that the geese fly hundreds of miles to get here from Iceland, Greenland, Svalbard and Canada even though it’s only a few centimetres on the map. We gave them little card cutouts of geese that they could move around the map – some of the kids’ geese were much more interested in flying to Africa and South America than following their usual migration patterns.
After learning a lot in the classroom about where the geese in Dumfries come from, when and why they come and go, and the challenges they face on their long journeys, we relocated to the hall for an active break. We had come up with a loose concept for a game, where we held up the flags for different countries that the kids had to ‘fly’ between. A few of them played different risks such as predators (foxes, eagles, badgers), wind turbines, bad weather etc. The ‘geese’ had to make it safely to their destination (Scottish flag) without being caught by a ‘risk’, otherwise they would join the obstacles in the middle of the hall. They had a blast with this active learning, amongst the noise and chaos, and enjoyed the challenge of running in V formations like the geese fly.
We then went back to the classroom for a drawing activity. Each child received a comic strip template designed by Korey and drew/coloured in the story of the wild geese migration. They were really impressed by Korey’s ability to draw a goose and were queuing up to get his help with it. This seemed to be the recurring theme of the day, with everyone asking Korey to tie their shoelaces as they left at 3 o’clock! It was an all-around successful afternoon, and we went home feeling very tired but encouraged.
Before starting Day Two, the team were slightly daunted by the task of engaging the class for an entire day about geese and incorporating more research-based lessons. These nerves immediately disappeared when recapped what the class had learned from the previous session and realised how much they had remembered from only one afternoon.
We decided to dedicate the morning to teaching the class about Goose habitats – what they need to nest and to protect themselves from various dangers. In groups, the kids designed beautiful three-dimensional habitats out of coloured paper and freestanding elements arranged inside shoeboxes. We then moved on to the computers so that the class could complete some further research and fill out their ‘Goose Facts’ booklets.
This helped the kids differentiate the different goose species that come to D&G and put all their findings in one place. Just before lunch, we switched things up and held a goose-making workshop where the kids had the choice of dressing our pre-made chicken wire geese in newspaper scraps or making miniature tinfoil geese. What was most impressive was watching the pools of PVA glue and mountains of newspaper scraps disappear and the classroom return to its previous state in a matter of minutes before the lunch bell.
In the afternoon, we decided to put the kids’ learning to the test with a newsreader task complete with costumes. Finally, we brought in our goose expert extraordinaire Hagen Patterson, to answer all the questions the kids had come up with over the past two sessions. They loved having their burning questions answered and it was hilarious watching the Q&A go off track with a couple of questions (shout out to the pupil who asked which goose was the tastiest to eat). However, the highlight was definitely Hagen’s true-to-life goose calls which showed the class a fun, tangible example of the differences between the various geese species they were learning about.
We felt a great sense of achievement after the second day as we achieved a better flow between the various lesson plans and felt genuine excitement from the class about geese migrating to our region.
On Thursday the 12th of October the Creative Spaces team headed into Laurieknowe Primary School for the final time. The class were just as excited to see us, and the feeling was mutual. During the third visit, the team felt more comfortable and at ease with the P4 class. The lessons were well received and as the kids had familiarized themselves with us, they were genuinely engaged, and the lesson continued at a good pace.
The lesson of the day was centred around Scots language and poetry with the theme of Geese. Mia grabbed the class’s attention immediately with a self-written Scots Poem about Geese visiting Dumfries. At this point, it was interesting to see which Scottish words the kids already knew or didn’t know. This was a great way to introduce some Scots Words to the pupils’ developing vocabulary.
So, using words provided (and explained) by us, and some useful goose facts, the children were then prompted to write their own poems. They did brilliantly and it was a great pleasure to help translate regular English words into Scots for the kids. That in particular was something they were all excited about, and even though it wasn’t mandatory, all the pupils stuck to writing about Geese.
The brilliant poems were available to view at the Wild Goose Festival Hub in the Lorebrune Centre during this year’s festival. Towards the end of the day, we also finished off our miniature goose sculptures with some coloured pens and got some great results, which were also displayed in the WGF Hub.
By the 2023 Creative Spaces Team.
Learn more about the Wild Goose Festival here.
Visit the Wild Goose Festival website here.