Local History Trails

Written by Av Srivastava // May 1, 2011

Local history trails

As May is Local History month we thought it would be good to run through a few ways in which you can easily incorporate Local history into your curriculum. The first of these suggestions is to create your own Local History Trail.

What is a Local History Trail?

A Local History Trail can be a guided walk around the locality, a scavenger hunt based on local sites or a structured walk around a local historical site. They can work very effectively in towns, villages or city centres and are a great way of bringing some of the smaller, less well known, sites to the attention of pupils, parents and colleagues.

How do I go about planning a Local History Trail?

Firstly you’ll need to have some local knowledge – which can be difficult if like many teachers you teach in an area that you don’t or haven’t lived in! Planning wise – determine how long you want to spend on the trail. is it a short walk lasting an hour or so, a half day or a full day exercise? What are your objectives going to be, have you got a specific theme in mind or are you simply wanting to show pupils some features of the areas past?

From experience I’d suggest a half day / afternoon activity. This provides enough scope to get to a handful of sites and to have enough time at each to do something meaningful as well as enough time to get from a to b etc. Unless you’re blessed with a mountain of varied history on your doorstep it’s unlikely that you’ll get much out of anything shorter than this.

How do I find out about the history of the local area?

Most areas have vibrant and active Local History Societies which are willing to work with schools. There’s a reasonably comprehensive list of these on this website. You might also find lots of information in your local newspaper and if you’re lucky, like we are in Keighley, you may find a lot of information and very helpful staff in the local library.

How do I involve parents and / or the local community?

Apart from making use of Local History Socieities as suggested above it’s really easy to get parents involved in this sort of activity. If you have lots of sites that you want to look at you could create a pack that parents use with their children over the course of a few weeks. This encourages them to participate in the learning process, provides them with some new ideas for days out and can result in them becoming more actively invovled in follow up activities.

Help, I live / work in a relatively new town so there isn’t much ‘history’

Ok, not everywhere has piles of ancient artefacts, old buildings and ‘obvious’ places to visit – but there WILL be something of relevance out there! Your local library and Local History society will be able to provide specific examples but it’s more than likely that there will be sites that illustrate the areas links with warfare through the ages; to changing land use; to migration issues; to farming and agricultural change etc…

Examples!

Our Lady of Victories RC Primary School, Keighley, co-ordinated a ‘Hidden Keighley‘ event that involved several schools, the Local History Society, the Historical Association and local businesses, including ourselves. The schools looked at a wide range of historical sites and used ICT to record their findings and to do some interpretive work. The results were outstanding!

Vauclair abbey

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