In November 2015 we had our first booking for our NEW Stone Age programme!
So why don’t YOU join us on a journey back in time, to when the world was different and our ancestors lived in a world without cars, mobile phones and computers? Come with us to learn about how people of the past lived in an ever changing landscape, when the world of human beings was new and intertwined with our environment. Join Ranger Peter, a qualified archeologist and extremely knowledgeable in this era, and the cleaner, better dressed, Ranger Ben (well for this programme he is!) to learn all about the lives, tools & technology of our stone age ancestors. Want to know more?
In November 2015, the first school to visit us to do this programme was Middlewich Primary. Very satisfying for us, because myself and Ben live in Middlewich so knew the children and teachers well, we knew we would receive honest and constructive feedback.
Our Rangers, Peter and Ben, had spent much time preparing for this programme. Peter dressed himself as “Talan” and quickly became the character (well, we do call him the “caveman” anyway!) Dressed in hides and with a necklace of sheep teeth, he charcoaled his face and spoke with grunts and roars! Why do we only run this programme in the winter months? Well, clothes of reindeer fur and leather get rather hot, even in winter!
The children from year 3 were met by Ben on their coach and led to our classroom. After the usual introductions and housekeeping necessities, the children were taken out onto the field and Ben explained that he needs to call for his “colleague” to help him today…….Talan. He explained that he was a bit dirty, didn’t speak much and that he didn’t really like him much, but would the children help him call for him? He explained about echoes and how people of the Stone Age communicated over long distances without phones.
We heard a loud, gruff shout, (more of a bellow really!) from the trees in our private educational area of the forest. The children shouted back….”LOUDER!” yelled Ben. The children let a really loud call out, but they had no idea who or what they were calling! A loud, gruff, shout came back and slowly from the trees, Talan emerged and made his way up the field to our fire circle. The children gasped with surprise, a couple of the adult helpers started to back away warily. They explained afterwards that they were a little nervous!
“What is it?” someone said.
“An animal?” was shouted out. “A woman!” said another cheekily.
Talan (Peter) has long hair, so we could understand this theory, and he was dressed in real hides so the animal theory was plausible too!
After introductions, Ben and Talan started to talk about the Stone Age and ask questions about life in that time, to find out how much the children already knew so that they could tailor the rest of the planned activities and content to their knowledge. This also helps gauge how freely some classes interact or how shy they may be. Then they started to play an active run around game to introduce the children to what was items and materials were available to people in the stone age. Talan then demonstrated one of the most important material in the stone age – flint, and how it was used as tools.
One activity which we didn’t do as planned was the timeline. Ben and Talan felt that as the children were only year 3 and had only just begun this topic at school, that it was not appropriate for this age group and would discuss it in other ways as the day progressed instead. In this activity the children learn about how long human beings have been on earth, and place beads on a long piece of hand made string to represent periods in history. As an alternative, the children worked in pairs to make their own piece of string. This was quite tricky on the first day of the school’s visit as it was our first frosty day and little fingers were getting cold! For other groups we would also then continue to make natural beads from Elder for the string.
At Forest Explorers we appreciate that sometimes the amount of work that schools have to cover in the national curriculum can leave little time for art and creativity. We like to fill that gap and inspire children with creativity using natural resources. Something they can also easily do at home, in the garden or out and about. The art we made is based on natural methods used in the Stone Age years, when they used art as a form of story telling. We used charcoal, mud and natural paintbrushes and our hands. Depending on the time of year, we can also use crushed berries. The art was then all taken back to school and put on display in the classroom. I called into the classroom at Middlewich Primary one day to have a peek, and was amazed….there was a complete cave, with tools, clothes, and art work. Truly beautiful and amazing! Well done 3S!
As part of this programme, the children will learn how Stone Age people lived before the start of farming, we will discuss the difference between our modern sedentary lifestyle and that of hunter gatherers and talk about where they would have got their food from and how they cooked, Following this discussion the children (AND ADULTS!!) will be shown how to make a very simple spring snare. The purpose of this activity is to illustrate how people would have needed to hunt for their food & also to give the children a clear idea of the technology and innovation of the time. I wonder what they’d catch to eat in Delamere Forest? We certainly have rabbits, stoats, badgers and foxes in our private educational area! After a short discussion as a group about how Stone Age people may have cooked and prepared their food, the children made a small pinch bowl from air drying clay & decorated it.
In the forest, we can be as messy and dirty as we like, and apart from clay (which is natural anyway,) the fact that we use all natural resources found on the forest floor means children can really let their imaginations run wild. Some of the clay bowls that were created had leaves stuck on them, patterns, sticks etc. Beautiful! We set the pots to dry on a rack above the fire, just as they would have done in the Stone Age, and the children took them proudly back to school. This was a really popular activity and many of the wonderful letters we have since had from Middlewich Primary say that this was one of their favourite things to do on their school trip day. Some of the creativity was amazing..
We will always try to end the day with a chance to try some stone age food cooked over the fire, including primitive fire demonstration, with the bow drill…. weather permitting! Unfortunately for the second trip from this school, Talan couldn’t get a spark to ignite. 3D got to roast chestnuts on the fire, but there are many different kinds of food we could choose to cook ..apples baked in clay (….apples picked from the trees on our field,) snacks of nuts & berries (blackberries,) all dependant on what is available on the day and time of year in our forest. If all else fails, and we are short of time because we have had so much fun doing other activities, we can resort to the 21st century, ever popular, marshmallow toasting! This is also partly why we can only accommodate up to 30 children in one day, we need 2 rangers and a maximum of 30 children to hold a fire, there is also such a lot of information to cover that we feel 2 rangers with one class is the only effective way to do this.
Now, sat around the fire, aren’t we all relaxed and transfixed with the flames? We can then reflect on what we have learned throughout the course of the day, finishing by eating our delicious fire cooked food & then extinguishing our fire safely.
So, what an amazing time both classes from Middlewich Primary had? Their letters and pictures we received were testament to that. I see a lot of these children around Middlewich and they always talk about the day with me.
Thanks for reading! We hope to see YOU soon, Rachel (Admin.)
Why don’t you book your school a Stone Age Day?
We are also holding some Stone Age Family Events, check out our family events pages for details!!!!