Open accessibilty tools

Change in Trains and What's World War I Got to do With us?

Exhibition title: Year 4: Change in Trains, Year 5: What’s World War I Got to do with Us?

School: Riverdale Primary School, Years 4 and 5

Curriculum areas covered: History – a local history study. A study of an aspect of history or a site dating from a period beyond 1066 that is significant in the locality

Curriculum areas covered: History, Literacy, Art, Computing, Design and Technology

What we did to find out about our topic and create our exhibition: The children visited local museums in the area – Head of Steam, Darlington Railway Museum and the Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum. Museum education staff helped us to plan the trips, and sessions in school
to explore artefacts that the children wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to see. Year 5 used the website to find out about a painting – “The Bombardment of the Hartlepools”, which we used as our local stimulus.

We developed objectives around a sense of personal, local and national identity in our planning, to help choose relevant and engaging topic content. We also asked the children their opinions on the topic before starting and what they would like to find out about. Putting this together to create a 4-week exhibition development programme was challenging and involved some ruthless decision making. However, the children developed a real sense of ownership through the work leading up to and during the exhibition and this was evidenced throughout their interactions with visitors and in their work in the classroom.

Our Change in Trains exhibition included:

  • QR code quizzes and information sheets using iPads
  • Green Screen iPad videos of children sharing information in character
  • Biographies of local people
  • Non-chronological reports
  • Information leaflets (about transport)
  • Lego trains (created in after school lego club) with coding to make it run
  • Timelines with pictures and information cards for visitors to order
  • The children as Curators
  • Our What’s World War I Got to do with Us? exhibition included:

  • Letters home from soldiers
  • Written information about loaned artefacts and how WWI affected the local area
  • Poppies that children had sewn and artwork of poppies
  • Photographs of the museum visit with information texts written by the children
  • Games and interactives made by the children for the visitors: e.g. a mystery object borrowed from the museum
  • The children as curators
  • How our students benefited from taking this approach: This approach was of so much benefit to the children. It allowed them to really make sense of their learning and gave it a purpose. Children were amazed by what they discovered about the local area. The engagement of children was higher than I have seen in previous topics and their interest levels in their local area improved as well.

    Quality of work was enhanced considerably, and children took real pride in their work, knowing it was to be displayed in the exhibition. Their insight into planning, designing and creating work also developed as they saw a topic through from start to finish. Children gained a range of curriculum skills and made links across subjects. As well as academic improvements, children developed social and emotional skills. Their cooperation and collaboration skills showed good progress and they were able to demonstrate empathy, especially with the lives of the people who stayed behind in the local area during WWI.

    Perhaps the biggest impact I saw was the massive growth in confidence of the children during the exhibition. When they were interacting with visitors, the knowledge they shared, the way they communicated and drew in visitors was fantastic. The children were so proud of themselves and the work they had produced for the exhibition.

    How I used the toolkit: We were part of the initial project that created the toolkit. We began by using the online resources, including the activity ideas for interacting with paintings and artefacts. The resources were easy to use both for planning and in the classroom and the toolkit we helped develop provides loads more ideas, including some from our exhibitions!

    What the impact has been on our planning and teaching: The Humanities team have introduced a new whole-school approach to planning Geography and History, ensuring progression and continuity in knowledge, understanding and skills. We have used the MaM objectives, linked to NC and Assessment Milestones. We have provided staff with links to our local museums, as we see the use of artefacts and museum visits as essential. We have also established a rolling exhibition programme so that, across the year, all classes are producing an age-appropriate exhibition.

    Top tips for other teachers:

    “Use the resources”
    The online resources and the museum are great – they have so much to offer schools.

    “Really get the children involved in the planning of the topic and the exhibition”
    However, don’t get carried away. Keep it realistic and within an achievable time frame – don’t try and do too much!

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