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Project: Toymakers Workshop

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STEAM topic(s) Engineering, Arts

Inspired by the Compton Verney art exhibition “Created in Conflict” (specifically the painting 'Hospital for facial injuries Frognal, Sidcup: The toymakers shop’ by John Hodgson Lobley) The Toymakers Workshop is a unique and truly multi-disciplined STEAM project.

It brings together practical engineering and problem solving with an insight into military and social history and explores a less discussed side of military life today. Starting with the long history of soldier toymaking we move into an engineering task in which students will design and build a moving toy. We engage with the reasons for soldier toy making as students put themselves in the shoes of soldiers away on operations or wounded in hospital and produce a bluey (official military letter home) for the toy’s intended recipient, explaining their design choices.

The project aims to engage school children with art produced in conflict, encourage critical thinking about war, and develop engineering and design techniques. A series of workshops will complement formal learning at KS2 level.

The workshops link with the national curriculum in the follow subjects: Design & Technology (Specifically): Mechanical systems. Complete focused tasks to develop practical skills, use research and develop design criteria to inform the design of innovative, functional, appealing products that are fit for purpose, aimed at a particular individual or group. Students will be asked to “Design, Make and Evaluate a toy with one moving part for a specific individual, to be given as a gift and displayed in an exhibition.”

History (Generally) – The workshop will inspire pupils’ curiosity to know more about the past. Pupils will explore the complexity of people’s lives, the process of change, the diversity of societies and relationships between different groups. Art and Design (Generally) – Students will think critically and develop a more rigorous understanding of art and design. They will use and apply drawing skills. Use techniques with colour, pattern, texture, line and shape. English – Write for a real purpose and audience, describing their final product and the reason for their design choices.

Related learning in other subjects: Computing – use search technologies for research purposes and be discerning when evaluating digital content. Science – apply knowledge and understanding of circuits, switches, conductors and insulators in the design of the final product. Mathematics – understand ratios. Apply understanding and skill to carry out accurate measuring using standard units i.e. cm/mm.

Art Award: Through the completion of the project, students will be eligible for the Arts Award Discover certificate.

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Age Range Links directly with Key Stage 2 National Curriculum (Yrs 5 and 6) however it can be adapted to other age groups.
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Group Size Maximum of 30.

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Time Commitment 2 hours a week for 10 weeks.

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Location Classroom based but can use any break out space for the practical element.
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Similar Activities N/A
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Equipment Basic recyclable equipment.
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Below is an article in ICOMAM Magazine (#22 Dec 2019) about the background of this project. Please respect their copyright.
ICOMAM, the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Arms and Military History

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