Oral history is a great way to involve your children in their community, and make the past come alive for them. If you plan to send your students out into the community to do interviews, make sure they go with a well-planned list of questions. It's a good idea to have them do some preliminary research into the past as a starting point. This will help them decide which questions will be most useful. An interviewer who knows something about the topic will ask questions that provoke a thoughtful response.
If you have a local museum, a local research library or a county, town, or provincial archive nearby, encourage children to visit these places, or plan a field trip. Staff of museums, research libraries and archives often know a great deal about local history. Old maps and photographs can help to bring the past to life.
If you live in a place that had a newspaper, the nearest district, public research or university library may have back issues of local newspapers on microfilm. This is also an excellent introduction to the past. If you have access to this resource, you may wish to focus on a single year or historical event of local significance.
If you have none of these formal resources, there may well be a person in your area who has taken on local history as a hobby. These informal local historians can be wonderful resources.
For very young children, an oral history project will work best if they focus on one topic alone. See the History Page for a list of suggestions. Interviews are hard work. Make sure your students are prepared.
If you live in an urban centre in Canada, many of your students may relatives who immigrated from other countries. Like the people in Katie's community, others may have moved from one part of Canada to another. The Saltbox Sweater can serve as a springboard for discussion about immigration. Some children may interview family members who made the journey.
Students may wish to look at old family photographs and ask for the stories behind them. Each student could do a project based on the story of one old family photograph. Who were the people in the photograph and what did they do with their lives? This kind of project can centre on a specific event. For example, everyone who had a relative who fought in the First or Second World War could collect a story about that relative and bring in a photograph. This project works well around Remembrance Day.
You may wish to use the page "Is Quinter Cove a Real Place?" to talk
about the differences between where you live and where the characters in
the book live. If you compare climate, geology, and economics, students
will see the differences.
Resources Specific to Newfoundland and Labrador
"Architecture," pages 65 to 69, Volume One, Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador (ENL). This long article includes pictures of house-types commonly found in the province.
The ENL also contains articles on virtually every community in the province.
The Dictionary of Newfoundland English, GM Story, WJ Kirwin
and JDA Widdowson, editors, University of Toronto Press, 1982.
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