Education development manager at Wordsworth Grasmere in Cumbria, Zoe McLain, reports back from a school visit they hosted for Seaton Academy.
The group of 45 Year 1 children from Seaton Academy in Workington spent time exploring Dove Cottage and looking for clues about the lives of the Wordsworths. It’s such an immersive experience that appeals to children (and adults).
The children handled facsimile (copied) letters, newspapers and objects from the Georgian era and learned about the day-to-day activities of the Wordsworths which included cooking, walking and writing profusely.
In the nursery the children enjoyed comparing the Wordsworths children’s toys to the toys they play with today. In the kitchen they handled and learned about the bread, porridge and gooseberry pies that Dorothy and Mary Wordsworth cooked and the tea, coffee and ginger that they bought. They even had a funny chat about the lack of bathroom and a good look at the chamber pot!
In the woodland, the children tuned in to nature using ‘the mighty world of eye and ear’ just like William and Dorothy Wordsworth. They played a game and creatively named shades of green that they collected from the woodland.
Rebecca Ross from Seaton Academy said: “The children were completely fascinated to see where William and Dorothy lived and what their home was like.
“We had a wonderful session in the wooded garden where the children played a variety of listening and role play forest games. We also thoroughly enjoyed a workshop session where we found out what school was like in the Georgian days. They loved learning about the cane and dunces cap and how the children had to write on slates.
“We were able to consolidate and extend our learning when we got back the classroom as the children wrote a diary entry as if they were Dorothy Wordsworth and also discussed whether they would prefer to go to school in Georgian times or the present day.”
We stopped for lunch, then in the workshop the children learned about how different school was in the Georgian era, they explored what children might have been doing instead of going to school and acted out a Dame school scenario. They learned about the different educational experiences of girls and boys in the Georgian era and specifically those of William, Dorothy and their three brothers. They then explored Georgian toys and games by playing Cobbler Cobbler Mend My Shoe and crafting toys from natural materials.
The children went away feeling that they had stepped back in time and with an increased knowledge and empathy for children from 200 years ago. We also think they had lots of fun in the sessions and enjoyed eating their lunch in the Sensory Garden.
School trips to Wordsworth Grasmere
In 1799 William Wordsworth arrived in Grasmere aged 29, largely unknown and writing innovative poetry in a new style. While living at Dove Cottage with his family, Wordsworth wrote many of his greatest poems and his sister Dorothy kept her Grasmere journal.
Educational offers for primary and secondary students include a creative writing workshop, Firelight Poets and Let Nature Be Your Teacher Walk which encourages children to get to know and understand the landscape around Dove Cottage which inspired the Wordsworths. The walk includes activities designed to help students gain a different perspective on the natural world.
The aim is to give everyone who visits a rich and meaningful experience and for them to leave with a deeper knowledge about the poetry, the era, the place and the relevance of the Wordsworths’ writing today.
To find out more visit wordsworth.org.uk/learn/schools/