Cats ... & YouTube

Sons 2 and 3 (aged 10 and 7) and I have been reading "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" by T.S. Eliot. We found a lovely copy in the library, illustrated by Axel Scheffler (of Gruffalo fame), whose drawings we love. We have also been looking at the famous stage production, "Cats", which Andrew Lloyd Webber built around the poems. I studied the score for GCSE music, and thought this project might appeal to my second son, who is musically inclined. When I went online to listen to the music, I realised we could watch the dances - as performed on the West End stage - via YouTube from the comfort of our living room. I was struck once again by the way in which, in this digital age, we can learn anything we want to at the click of a mouse. How easy it is to bring learning to life for today's children.

Son no 2 was not that taken with the stage production, describing it as "too dark and sinister". (He is a sensitive soul.) His younger brother watched with more interest. And both boys have enjoyed parts of the music. My 7 year old, on reading "The Old Gumbie Cat" - who "sits and sits and sits and sits - and that's what makes a Gumbie Cat" - said, "Mum, I think Garfield must be a Gumbie Cat", which made me smile!

After reading the poem and watching the production, the boys have produced their own artistic representation of each cat. Son no 2 has been doing this with particular care, on his watercolour postcards with his special paints. They have chosen their favourite bit of the poems and written these lines on to their pictures. Here is their work so far ...

Coincidentally, my Mum planned to do some cat prints with the boys, and we tagged this activity on to our recent marbling session. They put paint on to the table top and drew patterns into it. They then pressed a sheet of paper on top of the paint to make a print, and drew a cat on the paper. When the paint had dried, they cut the cats out and then drew eyes, nose, whiskers onto the printed side - with great results!

And talking about music and learning from YouTube, son no 2 received a dholak (an Indian drum) for his birthday, and has been learning to play using YouTube. Initiative and independent learning - All good!