This year, working with the school's gifted and talented co-ordinator, I organised an activity day based on the Greeks. This gave pupils from Year 7 as well as some Year 6s from our feeder schools the opportunity to work on a topic which they might never have covered before.
Paul Allen from Breath of Life was asked to run the day. The activities varied from acting out the stories and myths of Ancient Greece and looking at the structure of Greek society to learning how Greek soldiers fought. Paul had brought artefacts such as plates and rugs with him which pupils were able to examine and there was an opportunity to safely handle weapons used by the Greeks including shields, spears, swords and bows and arrows. Using adapted weapons, children were instructed in the way the Greeks fought. The mock battles caused great excitement and were the high point of the day.
Pupils also role-played Greek stories including Jason and the Argonauts and were divided into groups representing parts of Greek society, for example the rich, the businessmen and the slaves, to act out the roles these people played.
It was a day that they will remember forever. Facts which might have seemed unappealing in a textbook were turned into an interactive experience which was a resounding success.
Perhaps the best way of describing how effective the day was is to allow one of the students the final say: "It gave me a real insight into what it was like in Ancient Greece. We discovered the differences between the lives of the rich and poor. It made you realise that the Ancient Greeks were pretty amazing and I cannot wait to find out more about them. I would definitely like to take part in more events like these." Alice Upson, Year 9.
Marian Kirkham, History teacher, Holywells High School, Ipswich
* Email: Paul_A_Allen@hotmail.com