Ways of making: explaining ancient object production to primary school children (outreach)

At Arbury Primary School, Cambridge, Year 3 have been studying Ancient Greece as their half-term curriculum, looking especially at themes like daily life, childhood and toys. I was therefore very happy and enthusiastic to share some of my knowledge about the production of objects in the ancient world by running a series of weekly classes at the school.

The first two sessions we just talked about what it is that archaeologist do and how they go about when they try to reconstruct the past. We looked at the types of materials that survive in the soil and then more closely how some of these objects relate to the daily life of children. This was a really stimulating experience as the children at this age (7–8) were genuinely excited and interested, and spent most of the sessions asking some amazingly interesting questions!

In the next session, and to get a better understanding about materials and how the objects in Ancient Greece resemble (or not) modern ones, we looked together at a number of ancient objects more closely using photographs and then handling modern replicas of ancient vessels and toys.

In the final sessions (not yet completed), we then took a hands-on approach to production by getting the children to make their own versions of Ancient Greek toys using clay, string and wooden sticks, after talking about how they were ade and put together. [More information on these toys in a subsequent entry].

I would like to express my warmest thanks to the staff and pupils of Arbury primary school for their warm welcome, to the Year 3 in particular for their enthusiastic participation, and the creativity they shared with me in both their questions and clay works!