School Travel Organiser looks at how the Rainbow Factory, in Farsley in Leeds, can inspire students to use their creativity and imagination and enhance their learning in subjects including English and Drama.
The Rainbow Factory is a storybook themed play centre, which aims to help students discover and develop their creative talents and confidence as well as inspire a love of reading by bringing traditional children’s stories and modern classics to life.
With activities including story-writing, model making, creative movement, physical theatre and dance, the centre – which opened last summer – is driven by a desire to help improve literacy standards and encourage pupils from Early Years through to Key Stage 3 to use their imaginations.
A performance of Little Red Riding Hood.
Students are transported to a storytelling world for the day as they take part in a series of 20 to 25-minute workshops in groups. The sessions are outlined below:
In this workshop children explore traditional and contemporary stories using handmade models constructed by the Rainbow Factory’s in-house artist Richard Underwood.
The Rainbow Factory’s stage comes complete with professional lighting, costumes and props. Here students develop their creative storytelling, music, drama, performance and verbal communication skills.
In the Rainbow Room children can practice their writing and illustration skills and are encouraged to develop their own stories, to link to the English curriculum.
This area of the factory is filled with craft materials and will see pupils work with the Rainbow Factory’s in-house artist to make their own mini masterpiece to take back to school.
The Rainbow Factory values outdoor play and provides active learning opportunities in its green space, including activity boxes, which encourage individual skills, group dynamics and imaginative play.
Pupils eating lunch in the Secret Garden.
All school trips begin and end with a play, such as Jack and the Beanstalk or Little Red Riding Hood, where the pupils are encouraged to take part and have their say on what’s happening, much like a pantomime.
The Rainbow Factory is able to tailor the content of its educational programme to suit particular books or themes being studied, or to meet specific needs of individual groups.
As well as the learning outside the classroom trips, the Rainbow Factory offers outreach programmes where its team can visit schools.
The Theatre In Education programme includes a show, followed by workshops, such as Debate & Discussion, Drama Exercises and Musical Composition, whilst the Story Makers programme sees the Rainbow Factory’s in-house professional author visit schools. Both are designed to inspire creative storytelling and enhance key literacy skills.
The Rainbow Factory school trips are designed to support the Art & Design, Drama, English and Music curriculums.
However there are notable benefits beyond the National Curriculum as the Rainbow Factory’s Debbie Newman explained.
“We believe that children learn a great deal – often without knowing it – during their time at the Rainbow Factory.
“Through enchanting activities the Rainbow Factory builds both confidence and an interest in reading that can provide life-long benefits.
“We often notice that children are willing to push themselves and attempt activities that they might usually find challenging because they feel inspired by the positivity of the team. They also often find that they are able to express themselves more freely than at home or in the classroom and are able to really discover and unleash their creative side.
“From the minute they walk through the door they are encouraged to use and expand their imagination, which is obviously a great skill.”
The Rainbow Factory’s school trips are available on Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays during term time.