In Autumn 2018 through to Spring 2019, as part of Amersham Museum’s People’s Story of Amersham in the 20th Century project, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, our Learning Officer Georgina and professional illustrator Erica Sharp collaborated with KS2 pupils and teachers at Elangeni School in Amersham on the Hill to bring their history topics alive in the form of an illustrated book, written and illustrated by students at the school. Over 240 pupils took part in the the project, all of whose work is represented in the final book, Robin Reid’s Adventures in Time.
Erica Sharp, Amersham Museum, and Elangeni School had worked together previously for a workshop day celebrating 2018 World Book Day, during which KS2 pupils at the school learned about local author and illustrator Val Biro and designed their own illustrated anthropomorphised characters based on his famous children’s book series Gumdrop. In the lead up to World Book Day 2019 the idea was born to create an illustrated book using ideas and designs created by the children to compliment their History curriculum topics from year 3 up to year 6. These included prehistory, Roman Britain, the Anglo-Saxons, and the Victorians.
Years 3, 4 and 6 were treated to museum handling sessions led by the museum’s Curator (Emily Toettcher) and Learning Officer (Georgina), which encouraged the pupils to link their wider history topics to local events represented in the museum’s collection of artefacts. The students got to explore real prehistoric stone tools found by archaeologists around Amersham, handle authentic Roman coins discovered near the Misbourne River, and be time detectives with Victorian objects reflecting the town’s early 20th century industries. These objects would be referred to during their illustration workshops to help inspire their stories and characters.
Erica then led day-long workshops with each year, which included character development sessions, writing groups, and illustration sessions using a range of artistic techniques. Each class was introduced to the character of Robin Reid, a real 20th century paleontologist and amateur archaeologist, who would be the time-travelling protagonist linking the four time-period chapters together. The children’s written work was then combined and edited together to create a coherent story, complimented by illustrations drawn by each pupil during the workshop sessions.
The final book has been printed and bound, and copies made available to Elangeni School, as well as the museum and its new Mobile Museum.
Georgina Barrett, 22/03/2019