LOOK: Children ‘Wow!’ as Festival of Schools Goes to Arcadia School in pictures
It’s not often you’ll see hundreds of children eagerly volunteering to do extra maths problems, English quizzes or language challenges on the weekend, but that was exactly the case at the spectacular Festival of Schools hosted by Arcadia School in Dubai on Saturday November 20 2021.
With every ticket snapped up by families within minutes, the fabulous Festival of Schools event boasted a beautiful artisan crafts market, bouncy castle, food trucks, dance performances, sports taster sessions, toddler creche and much more.
But the highlight for most of the children was the Festival of Schools Passport challenge: given the passports on arrival at the event, the children were tasked with filling in at least eight of the twelve stamps by completing the different activities, in exchange for a prize at the end.
Inspiring a passion for learning
The corridors of the Secondary building at Arcadia School were buzzing with shrieks of excitement on Saturday morning, as hundreds of kids scurried from classroom to classroom to take part in the many Festival Passport activities dotted about the building.
And with more than 850 tickets released for the sought-after event, the British-curriculum school’s spacious facilities were busy but not crowded, making for a lively, festival atmosphere in which children had time to join in activities and adventures across the school.
The Festival Passport challenges were pitched at various levels of difficulty, so children of all ages could have a go and complete each of the different stations.
But what made Arcadia’s activities really stand out was how they blended key elements of the curriculum with the fun and frivolity of the Festival Passport challenge.
Each academic subject had its own hands-on activity station – and there was real, inspiring learning involved at every turn.
Our video of the Festival of Schools at Arcadia School captures some of the magic:
Stealth teaching as Arcadia School Teachers “sparkle” at Festival of Schools
It was clear from the activities devised by each subject department that the Arcadia teachers are bursting with creative ideas, and use these to invent tasks that engage children’s enthusiasm first and foremost, and impart learning as a byproduct. Teaching by stealth! It was fascinating to see how amazing teaching can make learning so captivating – as parents we were completely hooked!
In the language department, a Bee-bot activity saw children translating the French words for everyday locations – the bank, school, a museum, etc – and then using French directions to programme the bee-shaped robot to navigate its way there on the floor map.
Meanwhile the Spanish teachers taught children the connection between the Spanish names for different days of the week and the names for the planets in our solar system. Kids then had to match up the names of the week with a laminated image of the planet and its Spanish label. There was plenty of learning to be had for adults as well as children here!
The science department had a whole host of experiments, including fluffy slime-making in the name of Chemistry, and a ‘make a burglar alarm’ activity for Physics, where children had to complete an electronic circuit and then work out how it could be turned into an intruder alarm.
In the mathematics department, kids had to solve a worksheet filled with numerical problems, in order to crack the code and discover the missing number.
The light and colourful library had a literature-themed scavenger hunt and quiz on behalf of the English department.
Meanwhile the design technology area had some fun and practical wood-cutting activities, using real wood and a power drill, which children were allowed to operate themselves (under supervision).
In the computing section, kids programmed real robots to complete a series of set tasks, within which they experimented with logic and calculating distances.
And the beautifully vibrant art department featured a particularly popular bottle-cutting activity, wherein old plastic water bottles were transformed into beautiful, repurposed flower corsages.
The children’s excitement was palpable, as was every member of staff’s passion. The ability to combine curriculum-based learning with fun, real-world experiments and hands-on activities highlighted the Arcadian values of creating a positive, happy and inclusive culture that provides unique and inclusive learning opportunities and pathways for all students.
“My kids have number-one enjoyed the challenges,” said Sheren Abbas, the mother of twins in year six and a member of the Arcadia PTA committee, who helped to organize the event. “They all wanted the passports to fill in. And the challenges weren’t easy – there were different age levels, so my kids said some of it was really hard. They were very happy to win the Arcadia-branded Pop-it gadget at the end of it.”
Engaging the community
While the Festival Passports ignited children’s curiosity in the secondary school’s upper floors, the beating heart of the downstairs activities was the indoor craft market.
This featured stalls manned by parents and members of the local community selling their stunning, artisanal items, spanning everything from embroidered accessories to handmade furniture, soft cotton baby accessories, ornaments, gorgeous dresses and jewellery.
Perfect for gift-buying ahead of the festive season, it was amazing to see local residents and crafters coming together in such a joyful and community-minded event.
Outside, the community spirit continued with student performances on-stage, which ranged from dramatic renditions of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, to dance displays, live DJ sets and solo singing.
Every performing child had an audience of encouraging peers to cheer them on, both highlighting the Arcadian values of encouraging children to aspire to great and brave things, as well as to have compassion for and support one another.
Another community-minded activity was the interactive First Aid workshops put on by the Dubai Overlord Academy. This military-inspired adventure cadet force is run by ex-British Army officers, and aims to teach 7-16 year-olds challenges their boundaries and build their character, resilience and teamwork to a level demanded of future leaders.
The cadets were showcasing a mock First Aid scenario, in which an ‘injured’ dummy was checked for breathing and given CPR treatment.
Close by to this display, the Aventura outdoor-adventure-park team had an obstacles course for children to enjoy, while kids also had the chance to work on their ball skills on the football field.
Walking the talk of sustainability
Devised under the Festival of Schools’ theme of ‘Our Planet, Our Future’, Arcadia School teachers hosted an amazing sustainable fashion show, as well as a pop-up series of sustainability-themed stalls lining the edges of the school fields.
One of the highlights at Arcadia School was the Powerful Innovators stall, which was selling handmade fine art canvases as well as beautiful handmade bird feeders, trinket bowls and more, all made from reclaimed and upcycled Damas wood.
The Damas tree is notorious for its complicated root system, which interferes with building foundations and water-pipe infrastructure in urban areas. For this reason, Damas trees are seen as a menace and uprooted in residential areas across the UAE.
Members of the Powerful Innovators collective have been working to reclaim this wood, and upcycle it into useful, purposeful objects that also contribute to nature and the environment.
The Purposeful Innovators team spoke of the launch of their ‘50 Schools in 50 Days’ campaign, wherein they are recruiting schools to sign up to their Sustainability Pledge. Every school that signs up will have its badge sewn onto a flag made from upcycled fabric – something that touches on the Purposeful Innovators’ ethos of teaching skills that give children the tools to live more sustainably – such as sewing, mending and clothes-making.
Another sustainable highlight of the Festival of Schools at Arcadia School was the Kiswa UAE stand, which was giving away tiny plants in biodegradable pots, as well as explaining their business concept. Instead of throwing out old clothes, the Kiswa UAE team will not only come and collect your old belongings, but will pay you Dh2 for every kilogram of garments that you give them. These will then either be redistributed amongst needy communities, or the fabric will be repurposed for use in textile factories.
All the fun of the fair
Threading through all this learning and good causes was also just a simply fun, family festival. Bouncy castles kept the kids entertained and burning off energy, while the rock climbing wall – one of the school’s stand-out, year-round facilities – let them climb high in the name of adventure.
A food trucks area delighted little mouths with cotton candy, popcorn and ice cream, as well as more nutritious salads and vegan crackers and cookies.
On the roof of the building there was also a creche for toddlers, which featured a whole range of fun activities for smaller children, including free face painting, water play, a toddler obstacle course, clay modelling and much more.
Focused on the Early Years concept of learning-through-play these activities were designed to improve children’s fine motor and co-ordination skills, all while having fun.
For visiting children Lila (10) and Theo (7), the big highlights were the singing and dancing on stage – which they also took part in.
Meanwhile for many of the other children, it was the satisfaction of receiving their Arcadia-branded Pop-it toy that clinched the top spot for them.
Have you been to one of our fantastic, free Festival of Schools events yet? The next one – and the last one in this current series – is happening this Saturday 27 November from 9am to 3pm, and it’s set to be another brilliant occasion – with a rumour circulating that Santa is set to fly in. The Arcadia event saw tickets disappear in the blink of an eye, so don’t delay in booking your tickets today.
Click here to book your free tickets to the Victory Heights Primary School Festival of Schools event this Saturday 27 November, 9am to 3pm.
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