Over the course of this academic year over 200 teachers and trainee teachers have attended our prehistory training as part of the London Schools Excellence Fund project, Prehistory in the Primary Classroom.
The topic, ‘Stone Age to Iron Age’, entered the National Curriculum for the first time back in September and since then, teachers have been honing their subject knowledge to provide their pupils with creative and engaging learning experiences. However, again and again, they have asked us for ideas that might help their pupils connect abstract artefacts to real people’s lives.
It got us thinking. We needed an approach to bring the objects to life in a way that was both age appropriate and engaging for children. We started by writing Stone Age storytelling, a booklet with short stories, poetry and activity ideas, which gave us the opportunity to engage children’s imagination around characters and scenes from prehistoric London (as well as a great excuse for me to rhyme Mesolithic with terrific). But we wanted to go a step further. What if we could help children to imagine stepping back in time? What if we could introduce them to some of the characters, while teaching them about the techniques and technologies that were used to create some of the artefacts displayed in our London before London gallery? This called for video!
Flint knapping expert and prehistoric re-enactor Will Lord provided the characters and amazing footage of flint knapping and bronze casting, while I was joined by an intrepid gang of young curators, and filmmaker Rory Lowe in our galleries. Five children, from different primary schools in south east London, were our presenters and they did an amazing job, speaking about our objects and explaining facts about the Stone Age and the Bronze Age in simple terms. At the end of the day they told us how exciting it was to be part of a video and how cool it was to be trusted to hold real objects from prehistoric London. And the most special moment for our 6 year old curator? For her, being allowed to take her blue curator’s gloves home was the real icing on the cake.
I hope you enjoy the results!