The charity Caring for God’s Acre supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Jean Jackson Charitable Trust has created a new resource for teachers and youth leaders, which is available via their website: www.caringforgodsacre.org.uk.
This newly produced pack offers lots of activities and ideas to support the exploration of burial grounds of all kinds, from old church and chapel yards to Victorian cemeteries and more recent burial sites.
Available in English and Welsh the pack supports learning through five topics, which are Precious Places, What’s the Story? MarvellousMonuments, Wildlife Safari and Art and Architecture. Each of these topics has several activities and ideas covering a range of subjects relevant to learning in Key Stages 1 and 2 and Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). There are notes for Teachers and a pack of photographs, worksheets, templates and writing frames to support the activities.
Kay Miller, Headteacher of St George’s Primary and Nursery School, Clun said “This is an exceptional piece of work. Beautifully presented, the pack is a perfect balance of useful information, pedagogy, and practical, engaging activities for our children. Teachers and children will learn so much, across many curriculum areas by using this resource. Local study features heavily in the new curriculum so this pack is essential and a joy to use.”
To give an example of work from the pack; the focus of Precious Places, the first topic, is caring for the environment, being an active citizen and beliefs about death. The overview here is for the activities to develop children’s appreciation of what makes a burial ground so special, exploring its atmosphere, their feelings towards it and what burial grounds mean to the local community. Children will investigate the ways in which people use burial grounds, how they are cared for and how they can get involved. Activities also provide children with an opportunity to reflect on different attitudes to death and how life can be celebrated and remembered.
Guiding and scouting groups including Rainbows, Beavers, Cubs and Brownies, Scouts and Guides are supported through the Education Pack with activities and ideas for work towards various badges and challenges.
Peter Bamford, leader of 1st Bishop’s Castle Beaver and Cub Group said ‘What a fantastic resource, I’ll definitely use it again and recommend it to other Beaver and Cub leaders’. The pack is also designed to contribute to meeting the John Muir Award themes of Discover, Explore, Conserve and Share.
Churchyards and other burial sites are accessible sites, being fairly close to most schools. Within designated landscapes such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) churches and churchyards are enduring features in the landscape, having been here for centuries, relatively undisturbed. They have become known as ‘Living Sancturies’ for the wealth of wildlife they contain, as well as the man- made structures such as monuments and memorials. This mix of natural and built heritage together with their traditions and folklore make them inspirational places for learning.