History off the page
The excitement begins at 8am as the van draws up in front of the school and is unloaded. It might be swords and shields, it might be a fireplace, it might be teddies and robots. Senior boys and teachers ferry the many boxes inside and they are unpacked, transforming the classroom into a great hall, a workshop, a museum. History off the Page is here!
Earlier in the week we had three visits from History Off the Page, a company that brings history alive in the class room through role play and hands-on activities. The workshop leaders are all qualified teachers and history enthusiasts.
On Monday Patrick spent the day in Reception class. He brought with him a huge range of old fashioned toys which the boys could explore and sort into different types. Later in the morning they became archaeologists, digging up evidence of toys from the past. Oliver was very excited to find a piece pottery which he thought was from an Egyptian temple! In the afternoon they had a go at making some traditional toys such puppets, fishing rods, nodding parrots and boats. The ball and cup was of great fascination and proved very tricky to operate. There were even reports of parents competing to see how well they could do! At the end of the day all the Reception boys went home will a bag full of their creations and armed with the knowledge that if you can play with it, it’s a toy, it doesn’t have to be brightly coloured plastic!
On Tuesday Carl arrived in Y1 in the guise of Eric Bloodaxe, a Viking warrior ready to train some enthusiastic young recruits. Age 6, and not apprenticed yet, he declared, we’d better get to work! The boys spent the morning learning skills in weaving, pot making, candle making, rune writing and herbal cures while following the progress of battles against the Saxons. Finally they were allowed out with shields and spears to practise their battle drills. In the afternoon the classroom became the site of an archaeological dig and ended with a demonstration of metal casting. Gregory was very proud that his clay mould was chosen and went home wearing a fine pewter necklace. When all was tidied away Carl introduced the boys to the Viking board game of Hnefatafl which they have come back to many times since, some showing impressive tactical skill!
On Wednesday Carl was back, but as this time as Prefectus, a Roman General. Y2 boys were transformed into the residents of a local Roman villa and had a lot of work to do. They got busy making wax tablets, oil lamps, herbal cures, mosaics, pots and beauty creams while keeping up to date with the exploits of Boudicca as her army marched closer. At last they were allowed out to practise their fighting skills: the tortoise formation tested their ability to work as a team! After lunch the news came through that Boudicca had been defeated and a feast was held in celebration. Then followed the entertainments, with the boys performing some Roman plays. Ask any Y2 boy what the most interesting thing they learned on Roman Day was and they will probably tell you why the Romans never ate using their left hand. Do you dare?
If the boys took away an enthusiasm for history and an understanding that the way we did things was different in the past then History off the Page has done their job. Improved hand- eye coordination, strategic thinking and a knowledge of Roman toilet habits are all bonuses. What was also wonderful to see was how engaged and motivated all the boys were from 9 right through until 3 and, how much they all remembered the following day.
Many thanks to the parents who supported these days by finding costumes or by joining in and to Pepe, who had to clean the floor afterwards!
The past may be a foreign country but at least we got to visit for a day.