Compass Rose Songs

Pirate Island Assessment Sheet

Pirate Drama Assessment Sheet Pic

Pirate Drama Assessment Sheet Pic

It’s amazing how much inspiration you can produce with just a couple of props.

This time around it was two flat-style palm trees that were left in our drama area after a storeroom cleanup.

We moved them onto the stage and improvised a series of ‘Pirate Island’ adventures, with an emphasis on ‘beginning / middle / end’ structure, or for the older students, ‘orientation / complication / resolution’.

Here are  the assessment task sheets. I laminated mine so I can reuse them next year!

Desert Pirate Treasure Drama Assessment



YouTube is a huge resource for teachers and especially so for those in the areas of Music, Multi Media and Drama.

I came across the video ‘Forward’ after following a Reddit link. The clip features music by Fred V and Grafix with video by Messe  Kopp.

The concept is simple; have your principal actor walk through a scene backwards. When finished, reverse the footage and add your music.

Student responses

I showed this to a range of year levels. I explained to them there was only one ‘special effect’, and asked if they could work out what it was. Some of the responses were quite entertaining! The clip certainly caught their attention, as all classes wanted to watch it again! It was also intriguing to hear their thoughts on where it was filmed. After some hints (look at the signs, headwear) students worked out the Middle East, then Jerusalem.


We then bounced around ideas for filming our own version. With the weather still warm students were keen to try out the water effect and one group immediately saw the potential for the playground swings.

We started with a whole-class version. Two students were chosen as the ‘walkers’ and the rest of the class positioned themselves strategically along a path from the front of the school to our Performing Arts Centre. We attached the Flip Video to a tripod and balanced it on a furniture trolley for stability. The trolley was then pushed keeping pace with the students walking backwards.

Safety is obviously a concern when people can’t see where they’re going. We had a spotter (outside of the view of the camera) and I made sure nobody was falling off the trolley.

Once filmed, we downloaded the video onto our Windows 7 PCs and used the excellent VideoPad video editor to reverse the video. (If you use VideoPad, right click the clip in the timeline > ‘Change Clip Speed’ > Tick box ‘Play Clip In Reverse’)

The results were impressive, with some very ordinary actions producing totally unexpected results. Throwing jumpers or hats to the ground was especially impressive, as were any leaps or jumps.

Students then formed small groups and recorded  footage of their own which we edited and presented to a whole school assembly.


I discovered Coldplay’s ‘The Scientist’ after we completed the project. I shared the clip with one class, and although several students had seen it before, had never connected the story to the backwards filming. This clip led to a discussion of what life would be like if it ran backwards, Arthur Eddington’s ‘arrow of time’ theory and the Red Dwarf episode (and later novel)  ‘Backwards







Artificial Snow Machine

The snow machine in use during our Christmas Countdown Assembly

The snow machine in use during our Christmas Countdown Assembly

Christmas came early for the school Tech Crew this year, with the delivery of a 1500W Artificial Snow Machine.

This awesome beast featured in our school’s Christmas Countdown Assembly; as the Junior Choir sang, the Tech Crew funnelled a steady stream of snow (actually light foam) over the singers’ heads. Yay! Snow in the Performing Arts Centre in Australia in summer!

In the olden days (as in twenty years ago) all our productions featured fog machines. These industrial monsters produced their beautiful low-lying fog effect by slowly immersing a block of dry-ice into a vat of boiling water. Safety concerns? What, from dry ice (temp < -70C), boiling water (temp >99C) and electricity? Hah!

But now we have our new favourite toy, though fitting it into any other performances this year may be interesting, to say the least.

Technical Stuff

The machine is a model SM-1500. This video gives an idea of its output (but ours doesn’t have the remote).

I bought the snow machine on the Australian eBay, cost $125, postage $39 to South Australia. Delivery was snappy with the contents safely and securely packaged. All kudos to the seller panatechnology, who runs the online store Panatech Electronics Factory outlet. It has an air volume switch (high / low) and weighs 13kg without the snow fluid.

It can draw 1500W (so put it on its own circuit) and  warms up very quickly; less than a minute is sufficient. It comes with a wired remote but can also be controlled by a DMX 512 connection.


In use

The machine was easy to set up and start but be warned: it will create a huge pile of foam if pointed near the ground as it can pump out  half a litre of snow each minute.

Pointing it up at a 45 degree angle achieved the best throw and spread. We found the low air volume combined with short burst produced more than enough snow for our purposes.

Noise is an issue and we needed the whole choir singing to mask the sound of the fan. The effect though is brilliant and certainly added huge amounts of interest – and excitement – to our themed assembly.


Christmas Countdown Song

My students love Advent calendars, especially the ones that include chocolates behind each door.

This year, for our End-of-Year Christmas Assembly, we’re performing an advent calendar song called ‘Christmas Countdown‘. No chocolates, but lots of fun anyway.

Christmas Countdown has six verses and six choruses. Each chorus proclaims the date and the number of days to go until Christmas. Each verse describes what is ‘hidden’ behind each door of the calendar. There are four ‘doors’ in each verse, making for a total of 24 items. (There’s lots of Maths at work here; ordinal numbers, counting up, counting down, summing to make 25 and more. What patterns can your students find?)

We’re performing the song as the interludes between other Christmas items (six verses does go on a bit…) but it’s the perfect song for involving lots of kids on stage. We’re making giant paintings to hold up showing each day but you could just as easily create a PowerPoint or act each ‘door’ out live. Puppets would be a good alternative too. Let your imaginative students ideas run wild on this!

There are four resources below. The PowerPoint is useful for IWBs but you can print out the lyrics  from the Word document. The piano score can be used for performing live or just to check how the words fit. (Some verse are a bit tricky matching the syllables to the notes.) The mp3 has all six verses with a small pause between each one.

Have fun and let us know how it all goes!

Christmas Countdown Lyrics


Counting Down the Days, until Christmas; December 1st there’s 24 to go, oh, a ho-dee ho ho ho.
24 doors  to open on our Advent Calendar, Look in this one, What does it show?

Verse 1

24’s presents all tied up with string, 23’s children out carolling.
22’s stockings a brimming with toys, 21’s smiles on the girls and the boys.
There’s only 20 days to go!


Counting Down the Days, until Christmas; December 5th there’s 20 now to go, oh,  a ho-dee ho ho ho.
20 doors to open on our Advent Calendar. Look in this one, What does it show?

Verse 2

20 is lollies, and candy cane sweets. 19 is cookies, and Christmas treats.
18’s a tree that’s been decked out in lights. 17’s the star, that’s bright in the night.
There’s only 16 days to go!


Counting Down the Days,  until Christmas; December 9th there’s 16 now to go, oh,  a ho-dee ho ho ho.
16 doors  to open on our Advent Calendar. Look in this one,  What does it show?

 Verse 3

16’s the holly green shiny with red. 15 is children now tucked up in bed.
14’s a donkey, the dust shows its tracks.  13 is Mary, a sleep on its back.
There’s only 12 days to go!


Counting Down the Days,  until Christmas; December 13 Only 12 to go, oh,  a ho-dee ho ho ho.
12 more doors  to open on our Advent Calendar. Look in this one, What does it show?

 Verse 4

12 is the small town, of Bethlehem.  11’s the camels that carry wisemen.
10 is the church bell it’s ringing out loud. 9  is the street full, of Christmas crowds.
There’s only 8 days to go!


Counting Down the Days, until Christmas: December 17th Just 8 to go, oh, a ho-dee ho ho ho.
8 more doors  to open on our Advent Calendar. Look in this one,  What does it show?

Verse 5

8 is the sun in Australian skies. 7  is the presents, we all need to buy.
6  is the stable, a manger and straw. 5  is a wreath on, a welcoming door.
There’s only 4 days to go!


Counting Down the Days,  until Christmas; December 21st Just 4 to go, oh,  a ho-dee ho ho ho.
4 more doors  to open on our Advent Calendar. Look in this one,  What does it show?

Verse 6

4  is the shepherds, outside in the cold. 3  is the gifts Frankincense, Myrrh and Gold.
2  is the angels, they sing ‘Peace on Earth’. 1  is the ev’ning before Jesus’ birth.
And now there’s NO, more days to go!

Resource list:


Australian Curriculum: The Arts Foundation to Year 10


ACARA (The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority) has released a consultation draft of The Arts curriculum.

The paper is organised into eight sections:

  • Rationale and Aims
  • Organisation
  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Media Arts
  • Music
  • Visual Arts
  • Glossary

Each of the five Arts subjects has its individual rational, aims and learning detailed. Learning outcomes are then expanded for the Foundation to Year 2, Years 3 and 4, Years 5 and 6, Years 7 and 8 and Years 9 and 10.

Unlike other curricula (yes SACSA, I’m looking at you) the draft celebrates the diversity of the Arts’ subjects whilst acknowledging the connections; I love the description of them as being ‘distinct but related’.

The draft sees students in Foundation through Year 6 having ‘opportunities to experience and enjoy learning in, learning through and learning about all five Arts subjects’. From Years 8 up they have a more modest aim; ‘students will continue to learn in one or more of the Arts subjects, with the opportunity to specialise in one or more subjects in Years 9 and 10.’ Sounds like at least one of the authors has their feet grounded in the real world.

It’s interesting to see how the draft refines the presentation the Arts in each subject down to just two interrelated strands:

  • Making – using processes, techniques, knowledge and skills to make art works
  • Responding – exploring, responding to, analysing and interpreting art works.

There’s a nice turn of phrase for this; ‘The strands … involve learning as artists and audience’. Yay for simplicity!

Initial impressions are favourable, the draft is clear, concise and quite readable. Our school has an Australian Curriculum day this week and some our Arts teachers will be reading, analysing, dissecting and discussing the draft in detail.

I encourage all Arts teachers to do the same and make a submission while you can.


Olympic Sports Symbol Posters

Olympic Posters screenshot

Here’s a free set of Olympic sports symbol posters.

Each poster features a graphic symbol of the sporting event, the name of the sport and a photo of a piece of equipment used in that sport.

Great for decorating the Olympic classroom!

Lesson ideas:


  • Spot the Sport: Divide into teams. Each team attempts to guess the sport from the symbol alone. A correct guess wins the card.
  • Sports Charades: Divide into teams. Place even piles of cards, face down,  a distance from each team. On the command players race to the pile, turn over the top card and return to their team. Players then try to guess the mimed sport. As soon as it’s guessed the next player races to the pile. First team finished is the winner.


  • Designing sports: Using the cards as a model, design symbols for other sports or events. Focus on clarity and how easily recognisable the sport is.
  • Supersize Me: Make larger versions of the posters for a classroom display. Introduce enlarging techniques such as the grid or the pantograph for students to experiment with.

Olympic Sports Symbols Download

Link to resource at TES


Marionettes – take two

The marionettes the year 6/7 students are making are nearing completion.

This project has certainly captured their interest and I think the combination of tools use (pliers, side cutters, knives, hot glue guns etc), technical issues (stringing, balance, weight distribution) and aesthetics (painting, costume making and props) has meant there’s been something for everyone.

I’m impressed with the problem solving that’s gone on, the sharing of techniques (inserting eyelets is TRICKY without a power drill) and the support they’ve given each other along the way.

We’ve also covered logic too. So just because your puppet / controller / lower marionette limb has gone missing doesn’t automatically mean there’s a nefarious puppet thief loose in the classroom. Especially when you find the missing pieces not soon after…

Making Radio Programs

Making a radio program?

An ideal project for my mixed-ability Year 9 Music class; creating and producing a radio program is an open-ended task that combines ICT skills, creativity, media and music.

You beauty!

What they had to do…

The brief was to create a radio program with the following features:

  • A station ident
  • Top ‘n’ tailed songs
  • Song introductions
  • An advertisement
  • A phone in
  • A competition

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