KS2: Ceremonies and Sounds of Dawn

Year 4 learners at Barry Island and Cadoxton Primary Schools


Ceremonies and Sounds of Dawn was developed in cross curricular workshops with year 4 pupils attending 2 Barry primary schools. It culminated in a dawn performance on a local beach one week before the summer solstice of 2014.

As the event called for two ‘tribes’, collaboration between the schools was necessary so that each had an audience for the other.


Dylan Adams, a freelance music, philosophy and creativity specialist, initiated the project, with the head teachers of both Barry Schools. His ideas, expertise and resources were integral to the project. The artist was known to both head teachers and had worked in Barry previously.

The project had strong links with art, music and dance in the Key Stage 2 curriculum. It also fulfilled many areas of the English programme of study, and links with elements of history.

It enabled teachers to deliver the relevant sections of the national LNF for Year 4 in terms of Literacy, specifically:

Oracy – Developing and presenting information and ideas –

Speaking, Listening, Collaboration and discussion

Writing – Organising ideas and information – Meaning, purposes, readers, Structure and organisation

Writing – Writing accurately – Language.


The teachers and the artist planned workshops in which learners would focus on:

• listening, collaboration and discussion skills to develop their performances,

• generating their own ideas and using their previous knowledge, for example, when making pottery to use as offerings and

• developing dance movements that reflected those seen in cave paintings and geological patterns.

The artist e-mailed an initial outline of the project to the schools before the first workshops. Much of the subsequent work relied on the learners’ own ideas within this framework.

Ceremonies and Sounds of Dawn
dawn 3
What happened?

The first day involved a work shop in each school. The learners focused on:

  • considering the roles required by the performance – dancers, warriors, musicians, craftsmen, poets/bards
  • listening attentively to sounds in the environment. This led to poetry writing with the lead phrase, ‘It was so quiet, I could hear ........’
  • mind-mapping ideas about a sacred place – link with Celtic cave where the sun shines through an opening at the summer solstice
  • talking about the sunrise and the summer solstice and whether any learner had experienced this magical time between night and day
  • thinking about music in terms of beat, rhythm and voice and exploring the use of drums, didgeridoos and chanting with half the group being dancers and half musicians/singers.

At a second day’s workshop a week later, learners rehearsed their performance in the morning session, each perfecting their dance and music to welcome the Sun. They then worked with clay to make pottery using Neolithic designs. These were used to create offerings at the final ceremony and smashed as part of the ritual.

What happened?

The Performance

An afternoon ‘dress rehearsal’ was organised for the whole ceremony on June 13th. The two school groups met on the beach and performed for each other. This was a great success as all the learners involved were present – something that wasn’t possible the next day.

The final ceremony which took place at dawn, required learners and parents to be at Jackson’s Bay at 4.50 a.m. It was described as a magical and memorable experience by those able to attend.


Learners showed great enthusiasm for the project and their ability to collaborate, to discuss and make plans, to reflect and to express their feelings showed improvement. Their ability to work independently also increased as they responded to such an unusual and interesting focus.

They gained inspiration from the artist’s input so that their poetry, including that written by learners with additional needs, showed imagination and an ambitious use of vocabulary.

Cadoxton learners used report-writing skills to record what had happened. They demonstrated their ability to work well within a group and their speaking and listening skills were also enhanced by having to plan carefully in order to perform to an unfamiliar audience.

The head teacher of one of the schools reports that this and other imaginative projects are leading to improved standards of literacy with elements of Level 6 work being achieved by some learners.

Follow up

In both schools, pupils were involved in writing about the event. Learners appeared more motivated and better able to produce extended pieces of work.

After the performance, speaking and listening activities continued to be a focus of the project. This included an evaluation of the performance by the learners.

At Barry Island School, teachers used the project to help the learners explore beat, timbre, rhythm, dynamics, duration and texture in their music making, linking the work to more instruments and layers, and to composition and appraisal.

A display with a QR code was generated for the learners’ iPads and placed on Barry Island School’s website. The project generated considerable activity on social networks where parents showed their appreciation of the event.

More information

Not for translation….(INSERT VIDEO /SOUND from the Resources file provided by TLC )