Mary Chambers, KS2 teacher, from Hayn Primary School, Sherwood Nottingham, explains why she would recommend a trip to the Framework Knitters Museum, Ruddington, near Nottingham to study Literacy, History and PSHE.
I had heard of the Framework Knitters Museum, and I knew it had recently undergone a big revamp recently, so when the History curriculum changed and we needed to do a local study, it lent itself to exactly what we needed. The teachers were supplied with specially designed guide books which focused on different aspects of each room, which made it easy to lead a group round, even though it was our first time there.
What did you do?
Loads! Dressing up at the beginning meant the children were immediately engaged with and felt a part of history. We learnt how people lived, both rich and poor, and what the working conditions were like for the framework knitters. We really enjoyed the hands-on aspect, for example finding out about the knitting frames and also making our own scarves on the Griswold knitting machines.
I liked opening the drawers in the houses and finding people’s possessions there. The children loved the toilets and couldn’t believe they had to share with other workers as well as the manager. The room with the information panels about the Luddites was really good, because there was just enough information to be interesting and give us the context, but not too much to put children off reading them.
It was the first time we had come across the Luddites, and teachers as well as children came away with knowledge of a whole new piece of history which is really important for Nottinghamshire so fitted in perfectly with the local study. In the afternoon the children watched the film which combined PSHE, History and debating skills.
They had to decide on the actions of a young framework knitter as he faced a series of decisions; the group interaction was excellent and provoked lots of discussion. The moral dilemmas that the boy faces are issues that many children still face – for example, snitching on your friends, vandalism, protecting your family, stealing, bullying.
Pictured: Machines and yarn at the Framework Knitters Museum
Why would you recommend it?
The visit is a great stimulus for a cross-curricular topic for half a term. The resources, which are online, include an informative pack combining material which is on view at the museum, and authentic archival material, with lots of photos. Back at school we watched the film again. Having been round the museum and experiencing the dreadful poverty which was a reality for the workers, the children could bring these experiences to their discussion of the film.
Watching the film without having experienced the whole museum would not have provoked the same depth of discussion. Literacy lessons involved diary writing, recounts and emotive writing. Even children who struggle were able to write with enjoyment, stimulated by their experiences at the museum.
The children loved coming away with their scarves, just having something physical which they had made themselves gave them great satisfaction. They loved the fact they had made it themselves on real equipment. They also loved dressing up. It wasn’t too far to travel and the children came away wanting to go back and take their families.
For more information call 01159-846 914 or visit www.frameworkknittersmuseum.org.uk.