Kim Biddulph and Matt Ritchie
Forestry and Land Scotland, free
Download from: www.forestryandland.gov.scot/learn/conservation/archaeology
This is a teaching resource published by Forestry and Land Scotland. Aimed at students of later primary school age (that is, 8- to 12-year-olds), it teaches them about the Neolithic way of life. As the authors, Kim Biddulph, an archaeological educator, and Matt Ritchie, a National Environment Advisor for Forestry and Land Scotland, explain, their ‘key objective is to explore the interconnected ideas of Neolithic first farmers, first foresters, and first builders – and to encourage indoor and outdoor learning by “thinking like a first forester”.’ It follows on from Forestry Commission Scotland’s previous teaching resource on the Mesolithic: Wolf Brother’s Wildwoods.
Describing it as a teaching resource, though, undersells this publication. It has been professionally put together and richly illustrated with professional photographs of Scottish forests, maps, diagrams, reconstruction drawings of Neolithic cultural practices, and cute cartoons of Neolithic characters who come with backstories that can be used to create writing narratives with students. For those who want to engage with the material further, the authors provide a useful list of further reading.
As well as providing archaeological and historical background on the Neolithic in Scotland, the book outlines a series of imaginative activities that teachers can use to engage their students with the material, allowing them to think about what life would have been like some 6,000 years ago. Examples include using the students’ mathematical abilities to build a to-scale model of a Neolithic timber circle, and then utilising the students’ creativity to decorate the timbers with different designs. There are also activities that get the students to think about connections between the Neolithic and today, such as what types of monuments we build today and what social rituals we partake in.
While this resource has been put together with the Scottish curriculum in mind, it could be adapted for teaching anywhere in the UK and beyond. It is an engaging publication and, to be honest, I am a bit jealous that I was never taught so creatively during my school days!