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Exploring feelings through creativity at Sythwood Primary School

Sythwood Primary School has a high ratio of pupils for whom English is an additional language. The school was concerned that some pupils found it hard to express their feelings to their peers and teachers, and wanted to find a way to make open communication more successful.

Who was involved

  • Two classes of Year 3 pupils from Sythwood Primary, Surrey
  • Lead teacher: Ellie Utting
  • Creative partner: Becci Kenning (visual artist)
  • Creative agent: Hannah Wheeler


How can we enable children to speak about their feelings through creativity?


  • To develop alternative means of self-expression and communication
  • To develop speaking and listening skills
  • To enable pupils to become more successful communicators
  • To enable pupils to recognise the positive value they can bring to themselves/their class/the school and their families

By working with Becci, a puppet maker and visual artist, the project found new ways for staff and pupils to communicate with each other, which enabled staff to better support these children’s needs, and help them communicate effectively with their peers. The project used various methods of puppetry and storytelling, including making and animating puppets and creating narratives (some old, some new) to go with the puppets.  Through these methods Becci and the teachers were able to encourage the pupils to talk more openly.

One of the most successful aspects of this project was the ‘mood boards’ that were created for the classrooms.  Each pupil drew a self-portrait, which they could then move to different coloured sections on the board, at any time during the day, to indicate how they were feeling. The teachers noted that most children were more able to share their emotions as individuals rather than as a whole peer group and some children were less likely to just agree with the thoughts of the rest of the class. They also felt that the pupils were more able to give honest accounts of how they were feeling by the end of the project.

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