Excavating words, making books

The beginning of November saw Georgia with poet Matt Black  in Athersley, Barnsley, for 3 schools workshops.
Our sessions were the culmination of a 4-part series of visits in each school. To introduce archaeology, dig testpits, discuss the analysed finds and what they might reveal about each school site’s past, and finally to engage the children in interpreting their archaeological experiences and finds.

 “I learnt that archaeology isn’t only digging!”

 The children worked in groups. Each group excavated nouns from a themed shoebox of stratified tissue. The themes related to their finds, for example a Blacksmith box, a Coalmine box… The children added their own adjectives and verbs, then jumbled and played with their word ‘artefacts’, creating new juxtapositions and finding phrases that satisfied and fit, others that didn’t so well.
New words and blank word-cards were seized as eagerly as new finds, opening new possibilities for meaning.
Along the way we created a Palaeolithic dictionary in charcoal on a log, and navigated forests of hands reaching for a chance to perform the Ug haiku to classmates.
Eventually, each child created a layered book, with a phrase on each layer and hidden-away secret facts, images or riddles.

 “I loved making my book!”

They were packed and fast-paced sessions, with the children hugely enthusiastic about their books. Matt shared poems and writing tips throughout each session, often involving call and response or other active participation. The grand finale saw 15 young grannies lined up for the Granny Power Rap at Athersley South!