In November 2021, we launched our first ever book gifting campaign funded entirely by individual people power! Using the UK Crowdfunder platform we raised over £6000 thanks to 120 supporters. These funds enabled us to distribute a thousand books to children who need them most.
These will be distributed in two ways:
1. Working with the brilliant team at Children’s Books Ireland, hardback copies of our Illustrate This Book series will be distributed to Irish Traveller communities, families in Direct Provision (Ireland’s asylum-seeker accommodation) and children experiencing homelessness.
2. Working directly with my existing school network across the UK, copies of the paperback school edition will be sent to schools in areas of socio-economic deprivation or with high numbers of pupils from low-income families.
A brand new series for pre-schoolers that uses creative and visual literacies to engage young learners.
These unique and energetic activity books use creative, engaging activities to teach the alphabet, numbers, early maths concepts, writing skills plus a range of visual literacies like colours, shapes, line and facial expressions.
Our creative arts-based approach enables children to build confidence and strengthen visual skills while supporting them to reach important literacy milestones.
Kitty Harrison, Author
We are super proud that this series will be published first in Australia with Affirm Press! Stay tuned for more info about that.
And if you’re a publisher outside of the Australia/New Zealand region and would like to publish this series in your territory, get in touch.
Bright Start is created by author Kitty Harrison with illustrators Annika Brandow and Alex Houston.
Hey! Inside these books there are stories but no pictures. Can you help us finish them?
Drawing is a powerful pathway to literacy. Empower your child to learn, create and communicate with this personalised new series. Published in Autumn 2021 by Curved House Kids (UK) and Kane Miller (US).
Generation Visual (GenV for short) is a primary school programme that uses art to open up conversations about culture, identity and community. It was developed by Kristen Harrison at The Curved House and educator Dee Mulrooney at Wangari Maathai International School in Berlin, with the kind support of BegaSchule Berlin.
The first pilot programme ran over 10 weeks in 2020. In this time, students at Wangari Maathai International School engaged with critical analysis of art, developed visual literacy skills, learnt about a diverse group of contemporary artists and strengthened communication, listening and empathy.
The lessons were based around three contemporary artists, each chosen for their approach to making work, their artistic thinking and their influences which we felt would greatly inspire students. Using videos, artworks and specific creative tasks, students engaged deeply with their work while exploring a range of ideas around culture, identity and prejudice.
We started with the work of Adébayo Bolaji and the theme of “Play”. Students watched a video of the artist discussing his play-based approach and how he finds his connection to his artwork by allowing himself to be in the moment, moving and making. Adébayo has a very physical approach, walking around his canvas or standing over it to paint from above, so we ran a series of activities that got students playing and creating in this way.
After a Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) session discussing a portrait of an Egyptian god by Adébayo, called “Graffiti”, students developed their own portraits of Egyptian gods. These sessions were very freeing and fun but they also allowed for more serious themes to emerge such as how we depict each other and ourselves and how those depictions might emerge from history (like the Egyptian tomb paintings) to tell alternate stories.
In the second module, Joanna Kidney‘s work encouraged the students to create a connection with their environment, found or even mundane objects and each other. Joanna created a studio visit video to show students where she worked and describe the process of creating a work. Joanna’s work takes often ordinary objects and turns them into extraordinary artworks and this aspect sparked conversation around the meaning of things. Students developed empathy by creating works that included objects that were precious to someone they knew (e.g. a parent, sibling or friend) and talked about respecting things that may not appear to hold value, but are intrinsically valuable to someone else.
In the final module students looked at the work of Irish artist and prop designer, Ebun Oladeru, whose brilliant spoken word poem More Blacks, More Dogs, More Irish talks about black Irish history, racism and the prejudice Ebun faced growing up in inner-city Dublin. Ebun created a video for students introducing them to the idea of “Artivism” (using art as a form of activism) and set them the task of creating a work that expresses something big about a cause or issue they feel passionate about.
Visual Thinking Strategies
The programme is grounded in Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), a model for talking about art developed by Abigail Houson and Philip Yenawine. This well-established model enabled open and organic dialogue and helped to establish a safe space for conversations that might otherwise be difficult or intimidating.
Gen V in 2022: Focus on Climate Change
Thanks to Dee Mulrooney and Wangari Maathai International School, we have received further funding to develop an extension of Generation Visual for the school, with a focus on climate change action. Stay tuned for more as we develop Gen V 2.0.
In 2015, ESA astronaut Tim Peake went on his first space mission to the ISS. While Tim was in space, his mission ojective back on Earth was to inspire as many children as possible to see themselves in careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). The UK Space Agency managed a portfolio of education projects to achieve this objective, including the Principia Space Diary. We created this free arts-based science programme with author Lucy Hawking, and distributed almost 40,000 copies to UK primary schools.
This programme was so successful that we received further funding in 2017 to create a new version of the Principia Space Diary that could be used in classrooms for years to come. Available in book form or as free downloadable activity sheets, the Principia Space Diary remains a core resource for hundreds of schools. It contains 60+ hours of curriculum-linked activities that take students through astronaut training, launching a rocket and conducting experiments in space.
“I am a home educator for my son Luke who is 7. He has special needs where he gets very anxious and doesn’t concentrate well. All that changed doing the Space Diary. He suddenly became eager to complete the chapters. He has learnt so much and constantly goes around telling anyone that will listen facts he has learnt from the Space Diary.”
Laura Irvine, Home Educator
Tim Peake inspired children to imagine themselves in space and STEM careers. Our goal with this programme was to ensure that this inspiration reached children who might not have an interest in science or who might not see themselves in STEM. Our cross-curricular and multimodal activities – all with a creative and visual approach – made the science accessible, regardless of interest or ability. Students also personalise their diary giving them ownership and confidence.
Written and developed by Lucy Hawking and Curved House Kids, the Space Diary programme was made possible by funding from the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency, with additional academic support from Professor Peter McOwan at Queen Mary University of London and a fabulous team of teacher consultants and STEM experts.
Finalist for the Sir Arthur Clarke Award for Education and Outreach Team, 2017
KS2 resources with ideas for differentiation for KS1/P2-3
Teaching notes for each activity
Curriculum guides for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales
Teacher timelines for easy programme integration into a term, half-term or intensive week
Blank lesson plan and reflection templates
Flexible structure that allows activities to be experienced in order, chapter-by-chapter, or used standalone for individual lessons
Multimedia features including original video footage and a special message from ESA astronaut Tim Peake, plus photos and other videos of Tim taken aboard the ISS
Profiles real, diverse STEM experts to help students ‘see’ themselves in STEM
Hard copy book available as class sets, single copies or Home Education packs
Incentives for students like Mission Badge stickers
Approved for Children’s University Passport programme
Visual Literacy Today is an online magazine first founded in 2017 by Kristen Harrison, publisher at The Curved House. It is now co-run with Dana Statton Thompson, a librarian and academic at Murray State University, US.
What began as a general interest website about visual literacy has grown, largely thanks to the initatives of Dana Statton Thompson, into a go-to resource for academics, artists, educators and practitioners all around the world.
In 2019, Dana was awarded a Carnegie Whitney Grant from the American Library Association to create Recommended Reads for Visual Literacy, an extensive bibliography of articles, books, and archival materials that seeks to serve as a detailed web resource for visual literacy.
In 2020, with generous support from the International Visual Literacy Association, we added another new feature: a Teacher Resource section enabling visual literacy experts around the world to share their VL teaching materials.
We look forward to further partnerships that can support wider dissemination of the ideas, resources and research generated by the global Visual Literacy community.
Drawing is a powerful pathway to literacy and art has the capacity to open up books and reading to all children. We developed the “Make Your Own Book” model to help creative kids discover the joy of reading. These books have either illustrations and no story, for children to write their own books, or a story but no pictures, for children to illustrate their own book. By combining personalisation with the empowering experience of being part of the creative process as “illustrator” or “author”, children engage deeply and are inspired to learn and communicate.
We have run illustrator-led workshops in schools, kindergartens and local libraries in the UK, US and Germany; festivals including Southbank Imagine Festival and Islington Word Festival; museums and galleries including IMMA Dublin.
In 2018, TSB Bank ran a ‘Let’s Build a Rocket’ competition for primary schools with KS2 students. The winning school won a half-day workshop with scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock and former TSB CEO and theoretical physicist Dr Paul Pester.
In collaboration with TSB and author Lucy Hawking, Curved House Kids created a STEM activity pack to be completed during the workshop, containing maths and science activities themed around building a rocket to Mars. The purpose of the competition and its workshop was to get KS2 children excited about STEM-learning, as they engaged with it in a fun and novel way.
The winning school was St Luke’s C of E Primary in Merseyside, whose Year 5 class enjoyed the workshop as part of British Science Week.
Visual Verse is an online publication that exists to break down the barriers to publishing that many writers face, especially those from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds. It was founded in 2013 by Kristen Harrison, designer Pete Lewis and British author and academic, Preti Taneja.
Each month, we publish an artwork on the website and invite writers to respond. Writers located anywhere in the world can submit a piece of poetry or prose between 50-500 words, written within one hour. Of the 200 or so submissions we receive per month, we select up to 100 of them for publication.
Since 2013, we have published over 7000 pieces of new writing. We are proud to provide a platform for undiscovered writers to be published alongside established authors including Ali Smith, Irenosen Okojie, Andrew Motion, M. NourbeSe Philip and many more.