I read this article last week:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/searching-for-life-beyond-earth-scientists-debate-danger-of-messages-to-hostile-aliens-10078189.html

It got me thinking; what would we want to tell our intergalactic neighbours about what it is to be a human being living on planet Earth in 2015? What would we tell them of our history, our scientific discoveries, our art and culture, our beliefs?

So, in looking for an answer to this, I took it to my primary school writing group.  We warmed up by working on some mind maps, generating ideas. It got everyone talking, Madonna falling down the steps at the Brits was a popular theme, I was impressed that they all knew who Elvis Presley was and that they could name the President of America and our Prime Minister (who is old apparently. This was a bit depressing; he’s the same age as me…)

There was a lot of interesting talk about science and I was thoroughly quizzed as to how small ‘exactly’ is an atom and ‘what is gravity?’ Kids are nothing if not inquisitive and challenging.  Oh, and Apple are doing something right with their marketing as all the groups of children named their products.

These are the mindmaps they came up with:.

https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpf1/v/t35.0-12/r270/11034653_10206252834182015_787164493_o.jpg?oh=98db6952b39cf687431d2b4f7e292014&oe=54FBC497&__gda__=1425803478_8072ca8bdcf3bd06457ee587b177416d

https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpf1/v/t35.0-12/r270/11054574_10206252836582075_373918795_o.jpg?oh=4f14e13ebd9fb25d1f0e7f2b7b5a57ea&oe=54FBE473&__gda__=1425804658_e6457f0fff21205e0775b58a70d05459

https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpf1/v/t35.0-12/r270/11028688_10206252833862007_1957603050_o.jpg?oh=e6467ca03597e6cb3168317fcbced9c1&oe=54FC3154&__gda__=1425807422_06cee03e901ece5a1aba428e3376b430

Then they set to work writing and illustrating their information leaflets on Planet Earth.  I’d cut out a range of images I’d found in Sunday supplement magazines and they had fun choosing some to include in their work.  It was fascinating to see what they felt were the important things to include and as always, to see how they approached the activity.  One boy decided to focus on myths and legends, he illustrated his work with a beautiful drawing of a dragon and wrote about Lord of the Rings, witches and wizrds, unicorns and dragons.  Another child imagined he was a flower and told the story of the Earth in its voice., This was a beautiful idea, told with humour and gentleness.  One of the girls themed her leaflet, focusing on places on Earth, technology, disasters and buildings, Here’s her leaflet:

https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpf1/v/t35.0-12/r270/11028093_10206252836142064_1688119822_o.jpg?oh=0c373a94630f3d9a5aefb72148b0f975&oe=54FBF373&__gda__=1425802009_6942fa169f2fc407b9d0b65e786123af

As always, the session seemed to go past really quickly. It was heartening to hear them groan when I told them our time was up.  It was a really interesting session, one of the most rewarding I’ve run for a while. I love to see how they rise to the challenges I set them, how open to new ideas they are and how fertile their imaginations are. It’s refreshing and I take away with me the desire to channel some of their youthful enthusiasm and confidence into my own writing. It strikes me, not for the first time, that I learn as much from them as they do from me.

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