Ted's tips

2nd February 2001 at 00:00
* Children cannot empathise with a Roman soldier (it's boiling in Rome, that's why they were always in the baths or drinking wine) unless they have a solid factual basis. Without it history is about as real as The Flintstones.

* Look out for authentic period museums, preferably with "hands-on" facilities, like Bygones in Torbay, where children can dress up, handle the artefacts and hear accurate accounts of events and lifestyles and ask questions.

* Be prepared for shock when they discover how teeth were just yanked out, or that they would have been thrashed at school (should make kind old you more popular).

* Re-enact a historic episode, in situ, if possible, like a battle, a visit from someone famous, a discovery, an nvention, making it as accurate as possible.

* Persuade some suggestible but well-informed loon (it might even be the head) to dress up as a particular historic figure, answering questions and telling about events.

* Go to a residential centre and create some genuine looking artefacts relevant to the area, like a scroll of parchment or other documents about the Plague, the contents of a chest, things dug up by an archaeologist nearby. Children then play detective, but don't forget to put it all into context.

* For more recent periods, interview older residents in a locality and create an oral history account of the Blitz, or "rationing" and austerity ("Dunkirk spirit, bring back the birch . . .", maybe not).

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