Creative workshops inspired by books of Daisy Mrázkova
Not only children who attend the Czech School in London had the opportunity to take part in creative workshops for three consecutive Tuesdays. The workshops were based on themes from books by Daisy Mrázkova. In each workshop the children first got to find out a little bit about each book and then took turns in three breakout rooms. In these they had the opportunity to try out different activities inspired by a specific book.
The first workshop on 22nd June was based on themes from the book What would happen, if… The children created pocket watches that have the ability to control time and weather. They painted underwater worlds full of fish and jellyfish. They also went to Africa, where they discovered local animals.
The second workshop on 29th June drew inspiration from the book My Teddy Bear Flora. During our time together they created their own teddy bears with its own bed or bench, and its very own little book. In the third group they had an opportunity to sing and play games. The children had a chance to show their favourite cuddly toys.
The last of the creative workshops on 6th July was inspired by the book Beautiful Tuesday. The children got to make the night sky and eveything that a Tuesday could see. The drawings were based on the illustration style of Daisy Mrázkova. During this workshop the children also played games about animals.
Just as the name of the last book suggests, we have spent Beautiful Tuesdays with the children. You can see the artwork that was created on the school facebook page or on the school’s instagram.
Seniors read to youngers (January – July 2021)
Embassy – ceremonial handing over of the certificates and sashes
On Sunday 20th June, year 9 students and last year’s graduates came together at the Czech embassy in London to celebrate the successful end to their studies at the Czech School. Ceremonial sashes, certificates and yearbooks were bestowed upon all students in attendance. The day was filled with sweet memories and nostalgic conversations. Miss Sabrina Sečková, the wife of the Czech ambassador, accepted her invitation to the event and handed the students their celebratory sashes. Teachers of both classes – Adéla Herbsová, Filip Charvát, Katarina Lebar and Alena Pilná – attended the special occasion, alongside members of staff, who had known the students from their early childhood at the school including Zuzka Jungmanová, Ivona Klemensová and Veronika Prokopová. Year 7 Matilda Kraft, who represented the Czech School in the International Czech Language Olympiad, was also awarded a certificate for her 1st place attainment in the category of pupils aged under 14.
On behalf of the official Czech School board, Dagmar Kraft drew attention to the importance of bilingualism as well as highlighting the importance of the lifelong friendships that the students will carry into their futures. It was our great honour to guide all the graduates through their journey and witness their growth of character into truly unique individuals. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the event, especially as an opportunity to finally meet in person after almost a year and a half, during which learning ran purely online. We are also very grateful to the Czech embassy for kindly enabling us, at this challenging time, to organise the gathering on their premises.
A simply standard family – an online acting workshop 4.6.
On Friday the 4th of June, students from the higher years met at the online acting workshop (A Simply Standard Family), where they reminded themselves what the average family gathering may look like. The name of the workshop led some to recall the synonymous, successful Czech sitcom, while others remembered the comedy-drama Pelíšky.
Each participant was randomly assigned a family member, and so changed into their corresponding costumes and introduced their character to the others. Short dialogues, as if snippets from the congregation of a simply standard family, followed. Grandma Barborka criticized the bold style of today’s youth, auntie Radka received the thoughtful gift of a ketchup bottle and father Bonifác once again forgot to go shopping.
The workshop was not only a lot of fun but was also designed as an opportunity to practice communicating in the Czech language. The passion and creativity of the actors can be seen in the exceptional video that arose from the afternoon of role-play and improvisation. Most importantly, everyone had a great time acting in Czech!
Forbidden forest – Children’s Day on the 1.6. and 3.6.
Children’s Day full of children – the ideal combination! On the 1.6 and 3.6 we were once again, after much too long, able to meet face-to-face with children from the Czech School. We organised an exciting trip to Highgate Wood in the South of London. Both days were filled with games, building forest huts, listening to chirping birds, paintings pictures and above all having fun with their Czech friends. We also tried writing our own secret messages using Morse code and came up with magical stories about how the mystical creatures lived in the enchanted forest. About twenty children gathered on both the Tuesday and Thursday and, despite their vast age range and varying year groups, everyone was exceptionally creative and both days went past in a flash. We all had a great time and hope that we will have many more opportunities in the near future to go on similarly enjoyable trips.
Petr Horáček and our work with his amazing books
Petr Horáček is a renowned author of children’s books. With Mr. Horáček‘s charitable kindness and financial support from the “we read Czech books” program, we were able to invite not only children from the Czech School without Borders but also from around the entire world to our event. All in all, sixty children joined us for this fantastic opportunity.
In our first session, Petr Horáček enchanted the children with his colourful pictures and stories. The children talked about where they felt most at home. Besides the dwarf from “A long journey”, we also met the Goose Lisa, the Goat, the Elephant and the Penguin, all of which Petr taught us to draw. Children painted and drew whilst Petr read his book. INSPIRATIONAL is the only word which can describe our 90 minute gathering. The event was touching, and we thank Petr Horáček and all his young and older readers for this experience.
On May 11, we explored the topic of true friendship. Puffin Peter loses his friend Pavel in a storm and sets out on a long and arduous journey to find him. The children enjoyed reading from Petr’s favourite book before splitting into separate breakout rooms full of activities. They drew a puffin, stirred up the sea and lit up the sunset. They also learned something about the life of puffins and the singing plushy birds and had the space to discuss their experiences with friends, both in person and in fairy tales.
On May 18, we returned to Petr Horáček’s favorite topic, which is – home. We read the book A New House for Mouse and last spun the carousel beak out rooms. With Matyáš and Radka, the children managed it playfully. Next door the children did an “animal” yoga with Adelka and talk about the human home and animal dens with Káťa.
Time was running out like water over with Petr Horáček’s books.
A virtual visit to the Theresienstadt concentration camp
As part of their lesson year 7 students were taken on a virtual tour of Theresienstadt concentration camp, which explored the lives of the Theresienstadt ghetto inmates durign the Second World War. We also visited parts of the city, and even specific rooms, then inhabited by thousands of Jews, living in horrific, inhumane conditions prior to their removal to concentration camps. Our tourguide vividly depcited their ongoing spirit and hope for anything close to a normal life, in spite of the harsh circumstances they faced. She also mentioned Petr Ginz, a generational peer of our pupils, who published the journal Vedem. Overall, the tour evoked strong emotions and provided excellent details on the place, that we often discussed during our history lessons.
Spring is full of flowers, younglings, and joyful children. This exactly what our Spring festivities, which took place on the 9th of April 2021, were all about. The online workshop with the theme of spring flowers and new-born animals was held for our youngest students during the half-term holidays. The children sang, danced, played a range of games, and even tried some arts-and-crafts. They managed to create blossoming fields as well as hens with little chicks using their own hands. In short ‘it’s a spring fever’.
Night with Andersen
Traditional sleep-over workshop “Night with Andersen” took place online this year, but it didn’t make the experience any less extraordinary – we did a sleep over at a secret place in our respective homes. On Friday evening, the attendees celebrated the 80th anniversary of the publication of the “Záhada hlavolamu” book and afterwards were invited to join forces with the world-famous investigator, Detective Nick Carter, to disentangle a mysterious murder in Edmonton Green. At the crime scene, detectives worked in harmony to break coded messages which eventually led them to the site of the murder. On Saturday, the team met for breakfast and the refreshed detectives conducted a remote interrogation of suspects. After artistic reflection of the Friday night events, everyone put their heads together and exposed Sherlock Holmes as the culprit as well as his nefarious methods. These results were confirmed by fingerprint analysis and Nick Carter managed to handcuff the criminal and took him straight to jail. Thanks to the hard work of our detectives, London is a little bit safer again.
As free as a bird
During the Easter holidays, on Thursday 8.4, the Czech National Theatre arranged a unique project, designated not only for students, but also for their parents and teachers. The Czech National Theatre offers these exceptional performances to organisations in collaboration with the DOX institution, which focuses on contemporary arts across the Czech Republic.
The participants were not only members of the audience, but also played a key role in the show itself. They achieved the extraordinary and for just a moment became free birds with the ability to fly wherever they like. Led by professional dancers and the reassuring guidance of the organiser from the Czech National Theatre, Lenka Hubáčkova, the children and adults became immersed in a world of music and movement together, despite participating through screens. The exciting events of the evening were then drawn to a close with pleasant discussions and warm conversations that ensued.
Three Tales of Fear and Bravery with books of illustrator Galina Miklínová and author Eva Papoušková
This year we met up with Galina Miklínová for the second time, as she took us on a virtual tour of her exhibition, The Museum of Oddsockeaters, in Prague’s Villa Pellé. The children had the opportunity to meet characters Kanafásek and Jonáš, known from Večerníček stories. We learnt what else the illustrator does, when not amid drawing pictures in novels – she creates comic posters and banners to guide tourists through nature trails or paints murals on the walls of children’s hospitals. At the close of the afternoon, the children made their own Oddsockeaters and came up with unique names for their new pets.
The second workshop on fear was inspired by the book ‘George the wombat is brave’. Together we read the second instalment of the trilogy called “George the wombat is brave.” Then, the children enthusiastically discussed what they found out about George the Wombat, whose home is in faraway Australia, created amulets and danced to aboriginal ritualistic rhythms as kangaroos, ostriches, and snakes to express and overcome their fear of travelling to the exotic land.
The guest of the third workshop was Eva Papoušková, who alongside Galina Miklínová, published the novel Cilovnici. The title of the novel itself represents the letter C from the phonetic alphabet in Morse Code. The protagonist and hero of the story is young Záviš, who recounts the fates of the boys and teachers from a boarding school that greatly influenced the paths of many renowned individuals. These included orphans from the war such as Miloš Forman, but also children from respected families such as future playwright and president Václav Havel.
Cinema story about the Velvet Revolution
On Saturday the 27th of March students from the years 6 to 9 had the opportunity to take part in the “Cinema story about the Velvet Revolution”. This involved a very interesting moderated online discussion about the events of September 1989, which was prepared by the organisation Post Bellum.
Moderator Hana Hubková guided us through the era of communism as well as through the events of September 1989, with her talk being supplemented with witness accounts of those who took part in the revolution along with archive footage. We also had the opportunity to learn about the stories of 4 individuals, with each one having a different view of the Velvet Revolution (the videos included protagonists of the student movement as well as a member of the State Security).
The students listened with great interest and some actively contributed to the discussion. The whole project was really interesting.
School year 2020/21 - Pantoland - cooperative Christmas performance + online drama club
This school year 2020/21 Czech School Without Borders, London provides drama/art after school club in Tufnell Park Primary School in collaboration with St. George church pantomime group. We were tirelessly working on a panto performance with a difference to meet the challenges of the time in which we found ourselves. We were ready to start a new project with the school group at Tufnell Park, but Lockdown meant our course was cancelled as we could no longer be in the same space, however we were creative and came together with a group working towards an online pantomime. This gave us an opportunity to use our skills at running online workshops to play games and run creative exercises with the group to create material and enhance their drama skills for the panto, meaning they could play characters, write scripts and produce material for the animation we created. It was a combination of animation and live action, made and delivered from home, and produced as an online pantomime, safe and fun for everyone to enjoy.
After the project ´Pantoland´ was done and successfully presented to the public, we continued delivering a creative course aimed at teaching drama and craft skills and techniques through fun games and interactive activities, combating the mental fatigue and monotony of lockdown. Through the whole online time, we felt very united with those children and we were very proud and impressed about their passion and positive attitude. It was a great project for us teachers and for our students.
Online workshop with Elliott
On the 6th of March a collection of teachers, assistatns and volunteers of the Czech School took part in a virtual workshop with Elliottem Ajai-Ajagbe -Daley. Elliott, who is a long-time friend of the school, is not only an actor and author, but also a teacher. He prepared a range of games and activities designed to diversify online learning. During the two hours our participants were able to try first-hand, tasks suited for the youngest and oldest students of the school, suddenly finding themselves in the opposite position to the one they usually adopt during Saturday classes. Elliott also left time in the closing minutes of his lecture for potential questions from the virtual audience primarily concerning the act of teaching on an online paltform. Throughout the pleasant afternoon the participants gained plenty of ideas and inspiration, while most importatnly enjoying the amaible atmosphere and postivie mood, for which we are very grateful to Elliott.
Workshop Kytice/The Posy
On Friday, February 19, six brave pupils from the Czech School without Borders gathered for an online holiday workshop, dedicated to writing ballads with Radka Polenská and Veronika Prokopová.
We were inspired by the new, beautifully illustrated edition of Kytice by Karel Jaromír Erben. The book in the Czech Republic and, in the artistic translation by Susanne Reynolds, in the UK were published with reproduced graphics and special author prints by Míla Furstová. The senior students of our school learnt this and many other interesting information at the beginning of the workshop. The artistic accompaniment of Erben’s ballads became a springboard for the next part of the workshop. In it, students unleashed their imagination and interpreted illustrations. Then they got acquainted with a sample from the film, based on the book, by director F.A.Brabec, which became the Czech film of the year 2000.
This was followed by a joint reading of the essential parts of the ballad Vodník/The Water – Goblin, whose drastic end did not the students surprise, but instead gave them the inspiration for their own work. Some also added illustrations to their ballad after the workshop.
Thanks to all the brave authors.
Attending a different kind of concert ‘And yet we continue to learn!’
Just as the Czech Philharmonic showed their gratitude to healthcare workers in June 2021, this year (20.2.2021) they decided to dedicate their concert to members of the education sector- not only teachers across all year groups and schools, choir masters, and sports instructors, but also parents and children… The concert was held in the Dvorak Hall at the Rudolfinum and the organisers contacted a wide range of schools, encouraging students, teachers, parents and affiliated colleagues to send their hand-drawn portraits, as a gesture of united support and community strength for the performers. We were also eager to be a part of this experience and so many of our students and parents ‘took their seats’ and were able to enjoy the concert.
Back to the future, how the world will look like in 3030
During the half-term holidays, on the 20th of February 2021, we gathered with children across multiple year groups to have a look at what the future might hold. We explored how people imagined the 21st century a hundred years ago and compared their ideas with today’s reality. Afterwards, we put ourselves in the shoes of travelers from the future and through their eyes looked at objects we use daily but that can be completely unknown in a thousand years. A mask for instance will serve as a wonderful hammock for hamsters (even sooner than in a thousand years, hopefully). In the second half of the workshop, we travelled further to the future and everybody designed a device which could win the competition “Invention of the Year 3030”. Based on these, we then created innovative accessories, jewellery and other smart gadgets, such as a weapon enabling its user to walk through the walls, Alexa 3030 (which cooks dinner for you, among others) or a thief-proof jewellery box.
On Saturday 20th February, our youngest children took part in our annual, carnival-themed celebrations, giving us the chance to enjoy Masopust festivities for a little bit longer. Even though this year it was online, it did not stop us from enjoying this special day. We made masks out of all the materials we could find at home, such as: plastic bottles; egg and milk cartons and cardboard boxes and throughout the celebrations all sorts of characters appeared. From frogs and butterflies to wizards and witches, we even had two princesses. We were also greeted by original Masopust characters, welcomed by “Strakac” and we exercised with the joker and danced with the bear. Not just that but we learned more about the horse and even found Masopust himself. Throughout the day we had the chance to sing, dance, get a bit competitive with some games and we finished it all off with the traditional burning of the base. We hope that we managed to bring at least a sparkle of traditional festive joy into the rooms of all the children that joined us.
Parents meeting: how to help your children with online studying
On the 16th of January we ran an online meeting for parents to discuss ‘how to help your kids with online studies, quickly and efficiently’
Czech school lessons are shorter online than before, and it’s therefore, important to practice Czech during the week as well as the weekend. Online English lessons are time consuming for both parents and children, and that’s why I think that sharing tips and advice on how to include Czech during the week is very important. With the parents, we discussed how to include reading in czech in daily activities, for children of all ages. We discussed different ideas on how to include grammar and vocabulary in the kitchen, bathroom or even the park, and it was very beneficial to hear that everyone has similar problems. In the end the meeting was very successful, where teachers and parents both shared experiences, tips and ideas. We have included these on the school website for all to read.
Christmas musical online workshop “We came to sing carols”- Saturday 19.12.20
On the morning of the last Saturday of the Advent season, 13 children got together for a 2-hour Christmas workshop with Veronika Prokopová and intern Michal Stodůlka. Together with their parents everyone joyfully sang carols and participated in Christmas themed craft-making. Who would have thought that so many activities could be fit into such a short time frame! Following the caroling the children played games; due to the wide scope of ages some tried a game of pairs, while others competed in a thrilling round of Christmas Kahoot. And a Christmas card? No problem! Another round of caroling, card-making, bauble crafting and fairytale watching coupled with Czech Christmas customs and traditions ensued. This and much more made for a fun and exciting time at the online Christmas workshop this year.
Autumn 2020, international art competition “Comenius to the classes!”
In autumn 2020 we commemorated the 350th anniversary of John Amos Comenius’ death. We incorporated his portrait into our Czech school logo and shared his quotes on our facebook and instagram pages for a whole week.
Before Christmas we asked children from across the school to take part in the international art competition Comenius to the classes! They really did confirm the main idea of Comenius, that we learn through play. There was an array of both traditional and non-traditional portraits bursting with creativity and playfulness.
Zachary from year 3 built a lego portrait and did not forget to include the name. Dominik and Alexandra from year 5 chose to do a collage using different materials. Miriam from year 7 drew John Amos in pencil. Madeline from year 8 baked and decorated Comenius’ portrait as a brownie. Natalia used chalk and Viola opted for using cubist principles in oil pastels, both from year 9. Graduate Amelia had a fun graphic take on her creation with various realistic backgrounds. In the spirit of Comenius year 4s brainstormed about what they would change in the education system and created an ideas map.
All children were awarded with an honourable mention for their creations by the director of the National Pedagogical Museum and library of J.A. Komensky. A big congratulations to all the children that took part.
Online meet and greet with st.Nikolas
On Saturday the 5th of December 2020 Czech School was paid a visit by St.Nikolas!! Everyone has adjusted to these unusual times and St. Nikolas is no exception. St Nikolas, the angel and the devil sat behind their webcams and gradually joined all the classes. As always, the children sang carols and recited poems, and to everyone’s astonishment, they managed to avoid the imperfections of the online environment and sang in unison. You can see how creative the children of Czech school are. Some sang in choir, others did a word relay. Not only that but we didn’t miss out, as the naughty kids were taken away in sacks by the devil, this was all done through his ability to go between the “windows” on ZOOM and take someone away. Of course, the rest of the class did not agree and bought their class mate back with a nice poem. In the end, the devil did not take anyone, everyone was satisfied, but as it is well known, the devil never sleeps, he watches over everyone and writes a book of sins for the next year.
Brownie off - baking contest
On the 19th of December 2020, Czech school got together with past graduates to run an online baking contest called “brownie off”, which turned out to be very successful. The main contestants that joined the competition were high school girls. Throughout the two hour workshop, students were walked through, step by step to make their brownies. The organisers, who are sisters, prepared gluten free and vegan options, so that absolutely anyone could get involved. During the workshop students got the choice between making marzipan or icing as well as making a beautiful homemade Christmas present for friends and family, this was done by putting all dry ingredients into a jar which was then decorated and given as a gift to someone so that they could bake their own brownie.
All contestants had successfully baked and decorated their brownie by the end of the two hour workshop. Then from pictures that were sent by each contestant, the brownies were voted for by the teaching faculty. The ones with the most votes were the winners and were awarded with an Amazon gift card.
Overall the event was a great success which everyone enjoyed.
Czech community sing Christmas carols 2020
Every year the Czech School holds the traditional St Nicholas celebration that culminates with the arrival of St Nicholas accompanied by devils and angles. This event, however, is also a celebration of Christmas with home-made cookies, hand-crafted ornaments and communal carol-singing. Unfortunately, the pandemic meant it could be made possible this academic year and so instead, we eagerly joined the Czech community Association project called “Compatriots sing carols in 2020”. The project was created and organised by the head of the Czech music association Malimelo, Eva Klosová, with the help of Jiri Kratky. Czechs from all over the world were encouraged to send in recordings of them singing their assigned carols. As a school we asked our parents to submit recordings of the song Tisíc Andělů, carol Půjdem spolu do Betléma and the famous Jingle Bells. While it was a challenging task, the amazing project was ultimately a Success so much so that it was posted on the Radio Prague International webpage alongside the creations of other participants.
While this was certainly a reason for great pride, what was most rewarding was the execution of the project itself: the fact that we were once again working together as a community and singing as a group.
And as our guitarist, Dáša, said, we continue to draw positive energy from this experience and very much look forward to any new challenges that may come our way in 2021.
Let’s play with songs – online workshop – 30.10.2020
An online music workshop- ‘Let’s play with songs’- organised by Veronika and Michal, was held at the end of October. The children sang their hearts out, danced, changed costumes, and also created their own kazoos, monsters from the song Máme doma obludu and a magical forest from Skřítkové tesaři, all infront of their computer screens. While the workshop lasted two full hours, even the youngest children at four years old had no problem enjoying the entire event.
The workshop was more than a sucess, as the children sang Czech folk classics such as Kočka leze dírou or Vyletěla holubička ze skály, but also learnt new music. Despite being ‘only‘ held online, everyone had a phenomenal time. Thanks to the unified singing and creative tasks, we were all able to better connect; the computer was no longer a just a computational machine, but an intermediary between us and the children. As a result of this workshop, we were able to show both children and parents alike that even when we cannot physically be togehter, we are still able to sing, dance, craft and have fun as a group. Nothing is impossible when it comes to Czech School workshops!
After the Saturday classes, several teachers and interns met and tried how to do storytelling in a foreign language. Although met with a little delay, everyone came with a smile on their faces to the workshop organized by Elliott Ajai-Ajagbe Daley – versatile artist. We really enjoyed it. Not only did we have an opportunity to try some activities that we can use in teaching Czech, but also we had a lot of fun, for example with describing the reasons for traffic jams (whether it was due to gigantic ants or Godzilla). In the end, we had an opportunity to ask Elliott some questions about storytelling, how to motivate children to storytelling, but also about the life of an artist. Thank you very much, Elliott!