Recently we went back to school. It was so very different to my school days when we all sat at our desks in neat and tidy rows, two by two, and kept our heads down for fear of being ‘chosen’ to contribute to the lesson. Earlier this month we visited the delightful St. Marks Primary School Talbot Village, our nearest primary school neighbours. We had been asked to contribute to their project on toys by taking in some old toys from our collections. We took a selection of about 15 which we thought might interest them. The children we saw were around 6 years old and to help them understand the concept of time passing we explained that the toy we were holding up was made when their grandparents were children for example, or indeed, their teacher. Many of the toys have been re-invented a few times so even though they might have been made in the 1970s, they were still familiar to today’s generation. Mr. Potato Head for instance first made an appearance in the early 1950s as a set of plastic features – provide your own potato. By 1964 a plastic potato was included in the set and in 1995 he made an appearance in the Disney/Pixar film Toy Story. The idea of sticking things into a real potato to make a face was a great hit with the children.
|Mr Potato Head AIBDC : 004826|
The toy typewriter met with the usual chorus of ‘It’s a computer’. We were intending for them all to have a go at typing their names on an old portable I found, but time was against us and we had to save that delight for another day.
|Petite Typewriter PHSL : 15|
Katherine, my colleague, really found her feet with this visit. Being a Mum herself meant that she knew just the right way to talk to the children and to hold their attention. They were responsive and beautifully behaved and the hour we spent with each class flew by. In spite of the interruption of a fire drill, (very impressive school evacuation) we managed to get through most of the toys we took. Sadly, the Transformer Soundwave did not come out of the box. I had spent much of the previous afternoon brushing up on how to transform it from a cassette player into an Evil Decepticon, and back again, with the apparent ease of a 6 year old. I had just about got it off to a fine art, but we ran out of time and all too soon the bell rang for lunch and the Transformer came back with us un-opened and un-transformed.
Sharing our collection with schools is always great fun and very rewarding. They are a willing audience and it is always good to think of our objects from the perspective of young children. Thank you to St. Mark’s School for inviting us in. Hope to see you again next year perhaps.
Pam Langdown (Collections Manager)