Colours and words surround us and can affect our mood and thoughts – as well as how we feel about our school, home, neighbourhood and ourselves.
This activity uses everyday objects as source material and inspiration for temporary artworks and stories. Through this activity, students will investigate the properties of objects and use their imagination to explore the objects as potential characters for a short creative writing activity.
Use this activity to:
explore everyday objects and their properties
make a temporary artwork
investigate words and their meanings
write a short story or poem
This activity is designed for KS1/CFE level 1/PS 2 students but may also be suitable for younger KS 2/CfE level 2/PS 3 students. It would also be a fun activity for families to try at home.
The activity is inspired by sculptor Tony Cragg's artwork New Stones – Newton's Tones. Tony Cragg often uses found objects to make his sculptures.
To make New Stones – Newton's Tones he used things he found that had been discarded by people near where he lived. Most of the objects he gathered were plastic. He decided to arrange them by colour in an approximate sequence of Isaac Newton's visible colour spectrum: dark red, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, dark blue and violet.
For this activity, students will need:
a flat surface to work on
a collection of ordinary objects that are all the same colour (you could gather a few collections of objects that are all the same colour, i.e. a red group, a yellow group, a blue group, for different groups of students to work with)
a piece of paper and a pencil
Make a temporary sculpture
Arrange students into small groups and provide each group with a collection of objects that are the same colour.
Step 1: experiment with arranging objects
Challenge students to organise or arrange their objects in different ways.
from the tallest to the shortest
the heaviest to the lightest
the smoothest to the most textured
the most useful to the least useful
the funniest to the most boring
the most expensive to the cheapest
how useful the object would be if they were stranded on a desert island!
They could arrange the objects in a straight line, in a curved line, in a square, a rectangle or a circle. Or they could pile them up or put them in a messy huddle!
Encourage students to try out different arrangements for each instruction.
Step 2: decide what your artwork will look like
Ask students to choose their favourite arrangement as their temporary sculpture. This could be because it is eye-catching, unusual, interesting or thought-provoking.
Perhaps the objects look as if they are standing in a long queue.
Or objects piled up high on top of each other might look interesting and precarious.
If some are grouped together, while others stand apart... what is the effect?
Ask students to show their artwork to the rest of the class and say what they like about it.
Photograph their favourite arrangements as a record of the temporary sculptures.
Invent and write a story
Ask each student to choose one object from their group of objects, and to think about how their object relates to the other objects in the group.
All the objects are the same colour, but in what other ways is their object similar – or different – to the other objects?
Step 1: explore objects and their properties
Task students with making a list of the qualities that make their object similar, unique or different (they may need help with this).
Encourage them to be as specific as they can with their descriptions and to explore the object using different senses – how does it smell, feel, look and taste (if it is a food object)? What sound does it make?
They might even need to make up a new word to describe the qualities of their object!
For example, the list for a lemon could include:
Ask students to think about their list and the words they have chosen. Are they surprised by any of their observations?
Step 2: create a character for your object
Now ask students to imagine if their object was a person or character in a story.
How do they think the character would behave?
Would they be mischievous, kind, selfish, powerful, quiet, funny, friendly or angry?
Step 3: plan and write your story
Instruct students to put their object back among the other objects and to think about its position in the arrangement.
What does its position suggest?
How does it look in comparison to the other objects?
What sort of situation could your object be part of?
Is there a story about your object that could be told?
For example, their object might be part of a crowd in the playground or watching a football match:
My lemon looks like it's in the first row, watching and observing.
Ask students to write a short story about their object as if it were a person, describing its habits, character and the way it looks at the world. Encourage them to use as many words from your list as they can.
Lemon was tough and zesty. He would push through a crowd in the playground and claim the best viewing spot to watch a game. His sparkly eyes and yellow dimply face looked sour. He pretended he didn't really care who won. He just came to watch.
But this time it looked like a fight. Big Yellow Pepper was picking on a new guy, Tiny Clip who was trembling with fear. Lemon rolled forward. 'Stop it,' he said in his firm voice, his lips dry, 'or there will be tears.'
Or students could write a short poem or haiku about their character. (See our haiku activity for haiku instructions.)
Tough, yellow lemon A zesty superhero Stands out from the crowd
Story development ideas
Students could develop their story into a comic strip with pictures, short narratives and speech bubbles.
Or they could make the stories into short stop-animations. Look at our stop-animation activity for ideas and technique tips and instructions.