Season’s change: CALF in the classroom, ILAFS outside


Ahhh, the start of Spring, clearer skies and warmer weather means we’re itching to get digging again and this week we have the first of our ILAFS (Independent Learning Archaeology Field Schools) at Brundall, Norfolk. But before that we thought you might like to know what we’ve been up to over the winter. (Not hibernating as tempting as it might be).

We’ve mentioned a few times on this blog about the new project for ACA: CALF (Cambridge Archaeology Learning Foundation). It’s a fun, interactive archaeology session for primary schools teaching how we find out about the past through objects, and allowing pupils to make those discoveries for themselves.

Emily has been out and about over the last few months delivering these sessions to schools including St Laurence Catholic, Hatton Park and Over (Cambridge), Poplars  and Somerleyton (Lowestoft), and Magdalenge Village School (Norfolk) before that start of our summer field work.

Children from years 1-6 have all enjoyed the sessions with some insightful answers and inferences about the past. How would you heat your dinner if you were a stone age person? The Romans didn’t have plastic; what could they use instead? What could we tell about you from what you throw away?

Enjoying a few days by the sea (even though it was February) the children in years 3 and 4 at Poplars school enjoyed the sessions as the hands-on basis of the sessions is great for those who learn in different ways. The multidisciplinary nature of archaeology was also enjoyed by the pupils at Somerleyton school. Being such a small school all the pupils in years 3-6 joined in a session together (still only around 30 pupils) but everyone worked really well together. A journalist from the Lowestoft Journal also popped in to find out more about what the pupils were learning. You can read the story here

Teaching at Somerleyton

Both Hatton Park and Over Primary schools have enjoyed CALF days for free, courtesy of the the Homes and Communities Association schools as part of the Northstowe town being built nearby. The archaeological excavations are currently being carried out prior to the building work and it’s great for children to have a live example of archaeology so close to them.

Students have really enjoyed the sessions with their highlights including holding real human bones, realising the pottery they were holding in their hands was over 2000 years old, doing an excavation in their classroom, and my favourite answer of all “Everything!”. By the sounds of it we have inspired a generation of future archaeologists and it’s always really encouraging to see pupils linking up knowledge from other subjects, or making inferences to understand objects they have never seen before.

Teachers have also greatly enjoyed the sessions, appreciating the flexible and engaging teaching style. Older students saw how subjects such as maths, geography as well as history had real life applications and younger students were fully engaged and concentrating on many different tasks with one teacher commenting “Hands on learning really captivated the children”.  “Fantastic experience. Interesting for pupils and adults!”.

Emily has had a great time delivering these new sessions, having developed the programme back in the autumn. We’re hoping that other school would like a visit in the next school year from September to February.

We’re out of the classroom and into the field this week though as we have the first of our field schools! These are now known as ILAFS- Independent Learning Archaeology Field Schools- and we’ll let you know all the action from Brundall later in the week!


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