Plymouth’s Great War – Interim Report
Project intention: to engage large numbers of local children in an experiential look at WW1, to learn about how the war impacted their home city and the wider world.
Project Aims: to expose the children to a creative approach to WW1 using drama, slide show presentation and creative writing, furthermore to provide an opportunity to delve into family archives and share findings with peers, ultimately incorporating this archive material in our portable exhibition.
Progress so far: we have delivered our two-day workshop three times and, using a rigorous process of evaluation and feedback, have honed the presentations to deliver maximum benefit to the children. We are scheduled to deliver another three sets of sessions by mid-October and once these are completed will have seen over 300 children. Whilst this has been a powerful learning experience it has also provided an opportunity for many children to visit their future school and break down fears and anxieties.
The children from Ernesettle were also asked about their favourite part of the experience and what they had learnt. Responses included, to favourite parts:
‘I enjoyed the singing because everybody was involved and had fun.’
‘The slang words.’
‘I loved the drama because everyone put a lot of effort in.’
‘Making the flags.’
‘The drama because you can move around.’
And what they learnt:
‘They had rats in the trenches.’
‘That it was hard in the War and people got traumatised.’
‘That if you didn’t go to war you were called a conchie and given a white feather.’
‘I learnt that people in the trenches got lice.’
‘That it started in 1914 and ended in 1918.’
‘The British soldiers and the Jerrys forgot the rivalry on Christmas Eve 1914.’
‘That Russia helped Serbia.’
What’s next? We are now moving into next phase, where we intend to create a portable exhibition. We are discussing launching the exhibition in St Budeaux Library, where it can be viewed by local residents and indeed further contributed to. Plymouth’s Great War Exhibition will consist of some large archive images, including an expanded map of the area from the Great War period. In addition, we plan to include archive material recovered by the children; some of the writing completed during the workshops; images of the objects uncovered; images of the children participating; a looped Powerpoint presentation showing images from the period. It is hoped that elements of the exhibition could be bequeathed to local schools or community centres: e.g. large laminated images.
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