Whenever school holidays approach, ask students where they will be travelling to and the places they are visiting. Encourage students to send a postcard from any historic city or site that they visit back the school (and promise to reimburse them the price of the stamp with some sweets or similar!). Use the postcards to produce an ongoing classroom display.
You could have a ‘history department mascot’ that could be taken by students going somewhere particularly noteworthy. A photograph of the mascot at an iconic spot could then be brought back to school and used in place of a postcard (with a caption underneath explaining where it is and why it is historically interesting). A few years ago we had a mummified tangerine which we christened “Sun Satsuma” in honour of a unintentionally hilarious reference to a historical character in a student essay on the causes of the Chinese Civil War. Over the course of the next two years ‘he’ was pictured in Alexanderplatz Berlin, the Kremlin in Moscow, and at Napoleon’s tomb in Paris.
Taking it further
- Add pins to a world map to illustrate where different students have visited at different times, and connect these using string to the appropriate postcard.
- Award an annual prize to the best postcard, judged on the information provided about the place in question by the student in their message.
- If you choose to pursue the ‘mascot’ approach, you could use the photographs to construct a quiz which challenges students to identify the places ‘he’ has been visiting.