History - In their footsteps

Elaine Sutton

What the lesson is about

When two classes of eight-year-olds began a pilot project to research the history of Blackburn Orphanage, it was viewed as something of an experiment. But the cross-curricular scheme, funded by the Heritage Lottery and devised by charity Child Action Northwest (CANW) and Dimensions Curriculum, a company that develops teaching resources, has proved a triumph, writes Elaine Sutton.

The aim was to take history off the page and transform it into a resource that could be adapted for use by other schools. The result is a website and film footage that are due to be launched on 24 June, on the anniversary of the first Pound Day in 1892, a fundraising event for Blackburn Orphanage when it opened.

Dimensions Curriculum used storyboards to help the children think about and depict the lives of the orphans. The favourite scenes were selected - girls working in the laundry, boys digging the allotment - and then scripted and acted out by the children in Victorian period costume, using the language, songs and behaviours they had learnt during visits to the orphanage.

CANW also organised a history walk for the children, following in the footsteps of the orphans as they walked the six miles from the orphanage to their school. Original photographs were re-created by taking pictures of today's children, in Victorian costume, lining up outside the orphanage.

Literacy, numeracy and geography were covered seamlessly, without the children realising how much they were learning. They also developed their skills in music, drama and IT, particularly when building the website.

What else?

How did children live in the Victorian age? See the differences between rich and poor in choo's presentation.

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Elaine Sutton

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