Exploring Anglo-Saxon times

19th November 2004 at 00:00
A project in which we built an Anglo Saxon house began as an archaeological dig in the school grounds. Every class from Foundation stage to Year 6 had two 1m x 1m squares to excavate. They recorded their findings and did research to determine what their finds were and what these suggested was on the site. Recording took various forms: measuring, drawing, photographing, videoing, as well as writing key facts. Everyone helped make a large recreation of the site on paper, which we displayed in the hall. When all the squares were dug, we met in the hall and real artefacts that had been dug up were laid in the correct places on it. The "footprint" of a building from around the Anglo-Saxon period was identified by things found there, which was a thrill and lead to a lot of discussion.

We were then visited by archaeologist Tristan Barham and his team (contacted through the East Sussex Museum), who came and shared their expertise. This group helped the children recreate the building outdoors.

We learnt how to make shingles and wattle walls in willow; to dye, spin and weave wool; make pots; use a pole lathe to make furniture; create fire and make Anglo-Saxon meals - even how to cook bread in a clay oven. In class we researched Anglo-Saxon life from a variety of sources including the internet. Here are some of the skills I felt children used and improved during the project: questioning and problem solving; developing, stretching and exciting the imagination; communication skills; mathematical skills; ICT - recording, researching, communicating with the experts by email; team working and working with members of the larger community. Children were able to follow individual learning paths: there was scope for individuals to explore elements of the experience which appealed to them. The project brought the power of skills-based learning to the front of everyone's thinking and experience - it was unforgettable.

Sue Bingham, Year 4 class teacher, Summerlea CP School, West Sussex.

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