A Day with St John’s Catholic School in Canada Water

What might a twig pencil, a printworks and a potential park have in common? On this occasion, they were all stepping stones in a story brought to life by Year 5 pupils from St John’s Catholic Primary School in Canada Water.

The children were pioneers in an early stage workshop in bringing the Canada Water ‘Paper Garden’ to life - an opportunity to show that young people’s ideas and creativity are really worth something amidst all of the new development that is going on in the area. We heard from the children about the values they felt are important in creating something new: 

“Imagination is key – if you let yourself dream you will always be free.”

“You need patience because things don’t always work out how you want.”

We shared the story of a pencil which once had a life high in the branches of a very tall tree... a story which echoes the roots of Canada Water, a place named after the large dock that once floated logs that came from Canada and Scandinavia. Together with the Year 5 class, we thought about the different stories that have come into the area and how they got there … on sailing ships, some of them bringing butter and strong smelling cheese, through the many newspapers that flowed out of the Printworks and now through the many different cultures who have come to live in Canada Water. 

The children were eager to get going with the carpentry tools we brought into their classroom - saws and drills, vices and the branches of cut-down trees. They made their own twig pencils along with personalised notebooks, complete with woven covers and pop-up pictures.

On the multi-coloured pages, they began to write stories of what might be - stories that spoke of the meeting of the forest and the city. Characters of the past and the present were introduced by the children to the class in the form of kenning poems - two words per line as a way of describing something without naming it. Here are a couple of them: 

Boat mover
Tree swayer

(the wind)

Underground traveller
People carrier

(the tube)

We look forward to the summer term when we will host more classes from St John’s and other local schools and community groups in our Printworks space. We will create more stories together and make more products for the Paper Garden.

“I love the way we used our creativity today and tried lots of new things we have never done before.” - a participant from Year 5

Many thanks to St John’s School staff for hosting us, Lawsons Builders merchants for donating materials and tools, Xcite for their collaboration and for giving us a space in the Print Works and British Land for the financial support behind making it all happen.