Using digital technologies and children's literature and storytelling to engage children in their historic built environment is not a new phenomenon. Various projects have attempted to engage children in heritage sites using these methods with differing degrees of success. This section introduces some of these existing projects.
Staff from CURDS at Newcastle University investigated children and young people's engagement with their historic built enviroment, encouraging them to photograph their favourite sites and geotag them. This method was particularly successful in working with young people from Pupil Referral Units. However many children struggled to geotag their photographs and the project was very work-intensive for their teachers. You can read their report below.
English Heritage commissioned poet Michael Rosen to write short poems, or charms, for their interpretation boards at Grimes Graves, a neolithic fint mine.
From March 2004 to October 2007 a heritage youth project called 'Middleton Mystery' ran at Belsay Hall, Northumberland, which allowed young people to design a computer game based on the site. Children designed the game using information they had learned about the site, including historical figures from its past. The project aimed to diversify the interpretation methods used on site and attract new audiences. You can read more in the 'Middleton Mystery' pdf below.
English Heritage recently asked facebook users to vote for the best site to visit with a family -you can read the Top 10 here. You can also see their top 10 towers and castles here. You can read their Top 10 Literary Links here.
Historic Royal Palaces
Palace Explorers was a project run by Historic Royal Palaces which sought to engage local children and their families with the Tower of London using digital technologies. The project ran over a half term. Children were introduced, via a video, which you can watch here, to the the Keeper of the Stories. The Keeper had lost all his stories and the children had to help him find them. Ultimately, the children had to read their stories out loud in a ceremony at the Tower in order the free the Keeper. You can find out more about the project here.
The Telling Histories project did not use digital technologies but was designed instead to unlock the potential of Seven Stories' significant holdings in historical fiction and to encourage children to engage with history and the past in creative and imaginative ways. Children were introduced to facsimiles of Geoffrey Trease's personal papers to encourage them to think about some the factors affecting the creation of one his novels, Bows Against the Barons. One of the problems encountered here was that the literature used was out of print, and therefore children could only read extracts from Trease's novel.
Another facet of the project was a symposium jointly hosted by Seven Stories and Newcastle University, which like Heritage Stories, brought together archivists, creative practitioners and academics, in this case, to celebrate historical fiction.
Pdf of a report co-authored by Dr David Bradley, detailing project findings about the relationship between children and/or young people and their historic built environment.
PDF detailing the 'Middleton Mystery' project at Belsay Hall.