Then Bobby came out to speak to them and that was great. He had so much expertise and he had objects and the children were so excited. And his passion really helped. So he was fantastic. He came out to the school and he talked to them and he brought photos, he brought grenades and helmets and the children were able to try them on. He had a gun from the war so they were able to feel the weight and that experience -that hands on experience was so amazing for them.

TITANIC-launch-invitation

If you can get your hands on them, having real objects dating back to the era is an ideal way for children to connect with the history of the time.In Lisnafunchin NS and Glenwood PS local historians brought in helmets, uniforms and weapons from WW1. The historian who worked with Glenwood also brought in authentic hats worn by female workers in Mackie’s, a local factory that was making munitions in WW1. Sensory elements made a big difference and Kathryn Connolly, the teacher from Glenwood PS acknowledged how valuable it was for the children to be able to experience real objects from the period.

“Cavemen used those for killing dinosaurs.”

Case Study: Glenwood PS –Artefacts

 

Mary and Ann visited the school on the day before a local historian’s first contact with the children. One of the boys in the class had brought in an intriguing object and he showed it to the rest of the class for the first time. A heavy wooden bat with lumps of metal embedded in a pattern from the tip to about a third of the way down, it looked primitive and improvised and slightly terrifying. The boy was sure that it originated from the first World War but wasn’t entirely sure about its use. The other children examined it and suggested what it might be. One asked:

“Was it a weapon for whacking somebody on the head?”

another said confidently:

“Cavemen used those for killing dinosaurs.”

They came up with questions that they would be able to ask Bobby, the historian who was visiting the school the next day. It turned out that the children were right about the weapon’s use and its primitive nature –the historian was able to confirm that it was a trench club, an adapted wooden club used instead of noisy weapons for various purposes in the trenches including killing rats and, more terrifyingly, for night-time raids on the enemy in WW1.

WW1 Club, Glenwood PS

Reminiscence box

Not all of the schools had access to this kind of material but there are other ways to find real objects from the era. Holy Rosary PS in Belfast had already made use of a reminiscence box from the Ulster Museum but, after seeing a range of artefacts from WW1 shared by one of the museum staff during the second teacher’s meeting, the teacher was keen to extend that relationship and avail of more objects.

In this clip the children investigate some coins during Mary and Ann’s visit. Some are new currency and some are from the 1912-1922 period. They made a lot of interesting observations about what they saw….