The John Muir Award is a key learning experience in primary 5 every year and evolves from topical issues affecting our local environment. The children work with the John Muir Trust, visiting the museum and learning about the life of John Muir through drama and literacy.
The Law Stories project became the key focus of the award following close liaison with our country ranger Jen Edwards. Long-term conservation was at the core, working towards creating an official trail up North Berwick Law in order to reduce human impact on this historic local site.
In addition to collating social stories from the local community about the Law past and present, prototype interpretation boards were designed by each class depicting key elements of the stories collated. Creative writing by the children based around what they had learned and experienced during their walk up the Law also formed part of these boards.
The project subsequently evolved into a much wider collaboration with the arts service and Ruthanne Baxter, who worked with groups of children on how to interview people and find out their memories and how to broadcast requests with East Coast FM in Haddington. Caroline Henley from the local library ran workshops at lunchtimes developing story-telling skills. Tanwen Llewellyn who speaks the Brithonic language, came into school to tell us about the history of the Law and Brithonic Iron Age people.
Following successful acquisition of a grant from Scottish Heritage we were then able to work with an artist Gemma Coyle producing art work from natural products, and archaeologists Ruth Bordoli and Sarah Cowie (Museums Service) on how to investigate the past using artefacts.
Music evolved as a key element of the project through the work done with Gordon Turnbull (surround sound) and his collaboration with Matt Thomson (BBC radio and local parent), in the production of a CD recording excerpts of the stories, music and sounds of the Law.
On the day of the event a group of High School pupils along with Pauline Hickmann, music specialist, played string instrument pieces throughout the afternoon, creating a very relaxed atmosphere. The children also designed shadow puppets as part of their Science focus on light to recreate their stories, which they brought to life using a variety of percussion instruments.
On the 9th June 2011 the year long project came together in an Extravaganza of learning and sharing of the children’s work, attended and supported by the specialists involved, parents, other pupils and the local community. Marquees, yurts and tepees were set up in the quarry at the foot of the Law, all children and staff dressed accordingly and got into role to recreate an Iron Age Brithonic village atmosphere.
Children worked in groups to perform music, cook bread on sticks, carry out shadow puppet performances, tell stories, got involved in archaeological digs and working with artefacts, willow weaving, performing drama, sharing their hard work and playing traditional games from days gone by. Recordings were also made for a feature on East Coast FM.
It is hoped that East Lothian Council will be able to find funding to produce the formal interpretation storyboards. Next year’s primary 5 will continue the project producing podcasts which can be downloaded by visitors, who can listen to the tales of the Law as they climb the hill.
The audio CD showcasing this wonderful collaboration can be downloaded by clicking on this link.(click on Law primary: username:rocket password:house all lower case)
Heartfelt thanks to everyone who worked with us this year on this hugely successful project.