In Term 4, children in Year 5 took part in a Community History Project. The aim of the project was to find out what life was like for Valentine Club members and other local residents when they were growing up in Steeple Aston (or elsewhere). Visitors were invited into school to meet with small groups of children over tea, coffee and cake, the idea being to create a relaxed setting for conversations about the past (and present). The project was set up with the kind help and support of Richard Preston, Chairman of the Valentine Club, Diana Gardner in connection with the Steeple Aston Village Archive and, of course, our visitors.
In the lead-up to the meetings, we discussed how making links with older members of our community could be of value to them and to us. Listening to each other, getting to know each other, companionship and comparing past with present were just some of the ideas that came up. Children were also invited to talk about their own grandparents and what they knew of their childhoods.
In preparation for devising interesting questions for our visitors, we watched a BBC History clip featuring nine-year-old Isabel talking to her grandfather about his childhood. We took note of the type of questions she asked, including how she phrased them, and acknowledged her pleasant, interested manner. Children also made comparisons between the grandfather's childhood experiences and their own. You can watch the whole clip using the link below. What do you think are some of the similarities and differences between life then and now?
Each group planned a coffee morning or tea party for two visitors. We started with an in-depth discussion about how we could make our guests feel welcome. Everyone contributed ideas and these included showing respect by listening carefully, speaking in a friendly, polite way, making our visitors feel at home by having a tablecloth, flowers, drinks and cakes, making it easy for our visitors to follow conversations by not interrupting and being kind and helpful to each other. Children planned thoughtful questions for their visitors on themes such as outdoor play and pastimes, World War II memories, food and where it came from, school life and how Steeple Aston has changed.
We asked our visitors to tell us what they liked doing outside when they were children. We learned about many fondly remembered pastimes, including helping on farms and with jobs at home, football with a leather ball, a ball game called Kingy, sliding down the Dickridge on a tin tray in the snow and roaming in the fields finding wild flowers. During the project, we went outside to have a go at rolling hoops. Originally, the hoops were propelled using a large hook. (We used hockey sticks!)
Stories about life in Steeple Aston in the past, told by some of our visitors and other Steeple Aston residents, can be heard on the SAVA Village Memories DVD. A different, self-contained world comes to life through the interviews and photographs of village life: the wild flowers that could be found, memories of being at Dr Radcliffe's, children's play out and about, farming and the role of children at harvest time, local shops, including butchers shops and a cobbler, and World War II memories. Copies are available through the Steeple Aston Village Archive website using the link below.