It’s That Time of the Year! Using Christmas Media with LGfL Content 2019

We are all, like it or not, currently being exposed to a plethora of Christmas media campaigns (advertising the latest must-have toy, must-watch movie or the supermarket who can deliver the most magical Christmas for you and your family and friends). Over the past months, you will have been exposed to a deluge of expensive media campaigns – which has been the most effective for you, I wonder?

Every year, I write this blog post and honestly I wasn’t sure this year if I could see a theme, or find something to latch onto … that was until (with a flash of Christmas lights) I saw this year’s Tesco advert and then it all came together! So, how does an advert for a supermarket and our award winning LGfL curriculum content link? Read on to find out!

This Tesco advert is a brilliant stimulus to get your students thinking about the past and to think about how people of different eras lived and celebrated Christmas. It’s vital to honour our past and pass on knowledge and experiences  through the generations; looking back on the past allows us to study the nature of ourselves and helps us recognise why we do what we do and hopefully learn from the experiences of others. 

Don’t worry, you and your students don’t need access to a DeLorean travelling at 88 miles per hour to see what has happened in the past at Christmas, just let them search The Guardian and The Observer Archives. The archives go all the way back to 1791 and offer a window into celebrations from years gone by, great for your students to research and compare modern traditions with those in the past. I have researched many fascinating and stimulating Christmas themed articles that offer a window into a sometimes very sad past.

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I have used the j2e5 tools, found within the j2e Toolsuite, to highlight how you can use the archives with your students. 

First off I used a powerful letter sent to the Manchester Guardian from a group of German prisoners during World War 2, ask your students to first read the article with small parts of the text covered up, ask your students how the letter makes them feel? Ask them to question who the letter writer might be? After this show your student the article with the full text, ask your students to reread the text again, does knowing who wrote the letter affect how they feel about the person? Ask your students to think about what it may be like to be a prisoner of war at Chrismas, using the template in j2e can students write a letter?

In the second file, I have used an article explaining the Tate’s museum tradition of commissioning a private artist to create Christmas tree decorations and cards for Christmas. Can your students research some of the artists mentioned in the article and make their own themed decorations or Christmas cards using the artist as inspiration?

Finally, ask your students to explore these articles looking at how different countries celebrate Christmas in different ways, can your students pick a country and make a presentation about that country within j2e5?

What better way to see how people celebrated Christmas than to find out what they ate?! Cookit has a range of old and odd festive recipes to explore, here a few recipes to whet your appetite (or in some cases not!)

Sweet Frumenty: This is a standard dish appearing in many variations over the centuries. It makes a lovely side dish, especially with strongly flavoured meats. It was a symbolic dish in winter, a sign that spring would come. It later came to be served as a festival dish on Twelfth Night (5th of January).

Pottage: People ate a lot of pottage throughout the ages since they had first made cooking pots that would withstand heat. In Tudor times, it was still the main part of an ordinary person’s diet. It is basically a vegetable soup, flavoured with herbs and thickened with oats. 

Roast goose: usually with added apple and was often served as the centrepiece of celebrations. It was traditional at Christmas and at Harvest suppers throughout the Victorian era. In Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’, Scrooge sends for a goose to be bought for the Christmas meal.

The aim of Cookit is to improve pupils’ skill, understanding and enjoyment of food and healthy eating. The site supports the teaching of a range of basic skills and processes. It encourages and inspire learners to explore cooking and supports ways for students to create and share their own recipes.

For a free great resource looking at how Londoners have celebrated Christmas have a look at Layers of London, this is a crowd-sourced online resource blending geography, history and technology. By gathering historic maps from across London and layering these on top of each other with fade in/out functions, users can discover how areas and streets have changed throughout time. Maps include WWII bomb damage sites, Charles Booth’s Victorian Poverty map and the 18th Century Rocque map covering 10 miles around the City of London.

Anyone can add any content at any time, however, the project also runs focused campaigns to build themed based collections. December’s theme is #25DecLondon – regardless of your culture, background or religion, how do you spend Christmas Day? Do you celebrate it? Is it a big family gathering? Do you go for a walk or bike ride whilst the streets are quiet? Or is it a chance to relax and binge watch that latest boxset? Layers of London is looking for people to share their stories of how they spend the 25th December, mapping these stories to create a visual representation of London on one day. For more information go here

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In the new year, Layers of London launches its #HistoryOfMySchool campaign. As the name suggests, the idea is for any school in London to contribute a record about the history of their school. When was your school built? Has it changed throughout time? Do any old photos of the school exist? Has anyone famous been a pupil at the school? Are there any interesting stories about the school? Whether it’s an after school club, a class’ local history project or even a team activity for teachers, They would love to see as many schools of all types get involved. For more information go hereClick here for more information about Layers Of London’s education programme and to contact a member of the Layers Of London team and for more information email: layersoflondon@london.ac.uk.

And finally … if you really do want your students to drive (okay, sit in) a DeLorean then Avantis is giving you the opportunity to win a ‘Back to the Future Experience Day’ for your school with a visit from an actually DeLorean. To enter, simply upload a 2-minute vlog to Avantis Class VR Facebook or Twitter page with your students and teachers telling Avantis why they love ClassVR (UK schools only). For any schools outside of the UK, they would still love to see your entries and you have the possibility of winning a 360 camera for your school. The competition ends on 28th February 2020.

Are you using Christmas media with LGfL content in your school to inspire your students? If so, let us know by posting them on LGfL’s Twitter or Facebook and don’t forget we have our Christmas Media posts from both 2017 and 2018 as well which may provide you with further inspiration.

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