Clifford All Saints Primary School is a small Church of England school located in the inner city, which teaches children aged 5-11. The MakEY project was undertaken in December, 2017, and focused on the ‘Moomins’ stories.
The project involved University of Sheffield researchers Professor Jackie Marsh, Dr Minna Shkul, Beth Nutbrown and Kisha Bradley, who worked alongside James Wallbank, a Sheffield maker who runs his own maker business, ‘Makers’.
The work was focused on the Moomins, characters in a set of books written by the Swedish-speaking Finnish writer Tove Jansson (1914 – 2001). The Moomin family, hippopotamus-like creatures, live in Moominvalley, and have featured in numerous films and television programmes.
The project began with the English children watching a puppet show of the Moomins, presented by a professional theatre group (see Figure 1).
The children were then read some of the Moomin stories by Minna, who was Finnish, and also a parent of child at the school. She provided the children with some information about Finland in a session in which children had opportunities to ask her questions, and reflect on their prior knowledge. This provided a firm knowledge base for the children as they undertook the Moomin maker activities. In addition, the children linked up with a Finnish kindergarten, and Minna led a WhatsApp video conversation between the children, in which they explored each other’s cultures. The children then undertook their Moomin maker activities having an underpinning knowledge of the Finnish culture.
The children enjoyed becoming familiar with the Moomin characters and they drew them, drawings which were laser cut by the maker James into wooden figures (see Figure 2), and then inserted into shoe-box theatres (see Figure 3).
The children created plays, which they outlined in playscripts (see Figure 4).
A family assembly enabled parents to view some of the plays being performed, which some parents tweeted about excitedly (see Figure 5)
The children also created a model of a Moomin in clay. They then used an iPad to import this model into the app Qlone, which allowed them to create a 3D digital representation of the Moomin model. This 3D digital model was then exported to a .stl file, which enabled a 3D model of the figure to be printed (see Figure 6).
Children were able to reflect on how the properties of clay models of Moomins differed from 3D models and the differences this made when they made green-screen animated films using both, in that the plastic models were more robust for film-making (see Figure 7).
Finally, the 3D digital model was exported to an .obj file, which was then imported into Google Tilt Brush, and the children created a VR Moominvalley world (see Figure 8).
Overall, the project was hugely successful, and the children were very proud of their achievements. A public exhibition was held at the conclusion of the school projects, and all of the class attended, delighted to see their work on display for the general public (see Figure 9).