Lead Research Organisation: Institute of Education
Department Name: Culture, Communication and Media


This project will engage different generations in communication and learning about current and historical forms of play. The project is to develop a teaching pack and curatorship programme, both of which will involve engaging with the current project website hosted by the British Library (which will go live in February 2011) as well as creating new materials for an archival deposit. These activities will lead to a self-sustaining programme involving HEIs, schools and community organisations in documenting, exchanging and comparing knowledge and experiences about childhood games and songs.

When it launches in February, the British Library website will contain film, video, audio and other documents which span over a century of recordings about childhood games and songs. The teaching pack, which will be developed in this follow-up project, will be distributed as a free downloadable resource on various websites (potentially Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, British Library, United Kingdom Literacy Association). The teaching activities (for pupils aged 3 - 11) will engage children in learning about games and songs through various forms of generational dialogue. The pack will include activities in which children learn about previous and current generations of play through existing visual and audio materials available on the website, as well as through interviews and dialogue involving older friends, siblings, relatives and/or elders about their experiences of play. For example, the website will contain both historical images and oral recordings of marbles and hopscotch as well as videogame versions of those games. One activity will be for children to find out more about people's experiences of these games (through various forms of communication) and to engage with different generations of people in playing both the playground and videogame versions. A panel of elders who have experience in working with schools will be available for this activity (e.g., to answer interview questions, visit schools, comment on website material). Other activities will focus on a range of curricular areas (e.g., history, language and literacy, speaking and listening, music, ICT) and include suggestions for setting up exchanges (e.g., via email, Skype, blogs, videoblogs) with other schools or organisations as a way of discussing and documenting current games and songs. The intention is also that older people will learn about newer forms of play such as computer games, stimulated by the computer game adaptations of traditional games developed as part of the current project.
The curatorship component of the project will develop a self-sustaining programme of new collections of childhood games and songs including video, audio and still images. The programme will involve agreeing to a protocol for contributions to an archive (potentially the British Library). We will develop a running programme with HEIs which are committed to including a research activity centred in collecting children's games and songs as part of existing courses (e.g., primary language and literacy courses); and we will secure commitments from lecturers for participation to cover at least the next three years. In addition, primary schools and community organisations undertaking intergenerational work involving discussions of childhood games will be able to take part in the curatorship. Currently Age Exchange and the English and Media Centre have such programmes, and we plan to recruit other organisations working in this area through groups such as the Oral History Society Regional Network and the Heritage Lottery Fund for future involvement in the curatorship.

Planned Impact

Various forms of impact will occur through the project:
- new knowledge will be produced and distributed via the archiving institution as a result of exchanges between different generations of audiences and amongst audiences of the same generation
- knowledge exchange between the current investigators, CLPE, Age Exchange and schools will result in new teaching materials
- new forms of public engagement will occur through the development of the curatorship programme (including HEIs, community organisations such as Age Exchange and schools)
- increased dissemination of current project findings will occur through the teaching pack by engaging with data on the current project website (hosted by the British Library)
- two-way forms of public engagement will occur through the curatorship programme, allowing people to view existing archive material and create and deposit new materials
- there will be increased potential for social impact by engaging audiences in discussions, learning and documentation in relation to a specific cultural heritage (developing understandings of play as well as appreciation of different experiences of play)
- there will be greater potential for economic impact by positioning the British Library as a major archive for future research in this area and drawing visitors from around the world

As a result of these activities, the project will impact the following groups of people in different ways:
- Educators and children from around the world will benefit from having high quality educational materials available on various websites. These groups will also benefit by having a group of elders who are available and experienced in working with children. Teachers, playworkers and trainee teachers will benefit from a professional development workshop and from professional journal articles which are planned as part of the dissemination programme.
- The engagement with elders from different community organizations will benefit these groups by providing spaces to engage with and disseminate their knowledge of childhood games and songs. The programme will provide opportunities for them to feel empowered and valued; and also provide training, application and practice in the use of digital technologies (through e-exchange activities with schools).
- The curatorship programme will benefit students and tutors at HEIs by providing resources for research and discussion about childhood games and songs.
- NGOs (children's charities) and policy makers will benefit by engaging in discussions which take account of current and historical evidence in relation to debates about play. These discussions have the potential to shape lobbying activities and policy-making decisions concerning children's play.
- The potential for social impact on the lives of children will increase as wider audiences develop new understandings of play.


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