Last night, while others spending an evening at school may have been watching the typical (or less typical) Christmas nativity, I was privileged to attend Stonelow Junior School to see the year 6 give a dramatic presentation for Dronfield 2017: Stories from the First World War.
For the last 12 months, the pupils have been researching the history of their town and it’s people, including some of soldiers who fought in the war. With funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and led by the brilliant Gertie and Paul Whitfield from Whitworks Adventures in Theatre, pupils visited different museums, businesses and organisations. In Feb 2017, I visited the school taking a selection of old Dronfield records, photographs and history books to help the pupils with their research.
Posters created by the pupils to show information found from Record Office sources
Informed and inspired by diaries, letters, newspapers, service records, church registers and many other sources, the pupils brought their local “ancestors” to life with poems, songs, a silent movie re-enactment, imagined postcards and letters and recollections from the past. Remembering facts and figures, stories and feelings, it was a fantastic way to present what they had learned – including a verse of Silent Night in the original German.
I couldn’t help but read the pupils project diaries and see what they thought of the Record Office visit…
Me and Lucy looked at a church catalogue. It had people’s personal information. It was really interesting to learn about what names and jobs they used to have… The writing was really weird, it had a lot of swirls and flicks on it… It was quite hard to read but we managed. It was really fragile because it was over 100 years old. We found our school [on the new map] but couldn’t see it on the [older] maps because it was just a big field! As a result it was a very interesting day – Chloe
We read old smelling dirt like books to find out more about the courageous people and all about the fascinating WW1… We needed to open the book son the cushion because the book was so old… It was a really fun afternoon – Charlotte
Rebecca from Derbyshire Archives was kind enough to come and visit us. She brought in records and interesting materials linked to WW1… we made a poster about… “what like was like in WW1”. We put down lots of information…
… I thought it was very good… it was very fascinating… We looked at some very interesting ration books. They also looked very ANCIENT. Overall I had a great time and recommend learning about WW1! And I was very proud of our poster – Aimee
I found it different to look at all the old documents and see what life was like back in World War One times without actually going back in time to 1916 – Abigail
Did you know that ladies used to wear hats. It was very rare not to. I found it interesting that in WW1 diarrhoea was a problem… little children could easily die from it – Ruby
Last Thursday we were looking through real, old archives from WW1… We started looking at a map, they were really cool because in the older map our school was just a field. Afterwards we were told to look through books on what life was like in WW1. I was very interested by all the information – Fay
“… it was a fascinating day I learnt a lot and hope she comes again” – Chloe
“When I was reading I noticed that the writing was squiggly in the log books” – Alexander
“My personal favourite is the church record book. It had in it all the names, birth and their jobs. I felt so privled [?privileged] and excited to find out what jobs were in 1917. The writing kept going column after column and the writing was big and scary but some of it was so fancy”
You can soon see a copy of the book produced as part of the project in our Local Studies collection and in Dronfield Library.