Wind in the Willows project at Altham St James’ school

One Monday early in July Mel and I set off and found our way to Altham St James C of E Primary School.

Prior to this exciting day I had sketched out a Wind in the Willows design onto 60 tiles to make a picture which is going to be mounted in the School entrance. Each tile was numbered so they could be put back together in the right order.    

 We started off with 37 Juniors divided into work groups to add detail to the more intricate areas surrounding the main Characters, Toad and his hall, Mole and his underground house, Ratty in his boat and river bank house and Badger looking from his burrow. The big Willow tree formed another group and the cheeky/naughty Weasels another. The children instantly drew added details onto the designs, talked about colours to use and how the tiles in their group would fir back together to make a continuous picture.

Here are the Juniors concentrating on the design session

After morning break we got down to the painting after a demo on how to use the special pottery paints. Great care was taken by these children painting the background and adding detail.

Badgers house in progress.    

After lunch we had the Infants in 3 groups; Reception, Year1 and Year 2. By this time I had put the picture back together so they could see what it looked like so far so the little ones understood what it was we were making.

 They were given the tiles with grass or river on so this lead to the discussion of who lived in the river which they could paint and what or who would you find on the grass. So traditionally pottery inspired creatures appeared; finger print pigs and sheep and caterpillars, sponged butterflies and ducks. A lion made a grand appearance quickly followed by a crocodile in the river…. Whilst we had the Wind in the Willows theme after the main characters and their surrounding areas were done we wanted the children to use their imagination and be creative. Who’s to say you can’t have a lion or a crocodile – we were about 100 years ago when the story was written!

The children were brilliant all day and really enjoyed themselves and the staff at the school were so supportive and were itching to have ago themselves.

On returning to the studio we let the tiles dry out and then added details such as river edge and outlines on items painted by the younger painters, just so they weren’t lost or missed in the backgrounds, that’s when we found the penguin apparently on holiday visiting the story! That’s part of my job to open up children’s and adults creative side and nurture it, looking at the finished result which was hard to part with on Tuesday when I delivered it back to school I think we succeeded.

Mr Peter Williams, the Head teacher, was delighted on the painting day and on Tuesday seeing the tiles separately and a few photos of the whole thing was thrilled at the result and cant wait to have the tiles put up on display.


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