We went to a wonderful event at Fulham Palace this morning – a sort of living history presentation in which the children dressed up and took part in various scenes which would have taken place within the palace in the Victorian era. The main enactment involved the children taking various roles as servants preparing for and serving at a large garden party. C took the part of head cook. As part of her duties she had to liaise with J’s gardening team who grew most of the food, including of course cucumber for sandwiches. Some of the children showed us, using tongs, carbolic soap and wooden “dollies”, how washing was done in pre-washing machine days, while others took the parts of the butler and housekeeper and members of their respective teams of footmen and housemaids.
While I know that the best learning takes place when as many senses (“rep systems”, in neuro-linguistic programming speak) are engaged as possible, and try to adopt this approach with my children, I have always personally been quite happy to learn sitting down, from books. (I used to put this down to laziness but I now know it is actually quite common among introverts, especially highly visual ones – sounds like a good excuse to me.) But even I thoroughly enjoyed being at an imaginary Victorian party, and I can’t deny how much we all learned through being immersed in the sights, sounds, costumes and artefacts of the period.