Children in White City and Bethnal Green have embarked on an exciting exploration together to travel 100 years into the past to experience life during World War One. We have become…. DORA Explorers! (No, not the small Spanish kind… Explorers of World War One and the Defence of the Realm Act, aka DORA.)
We have looked at what life was like for children 100 years ago through drama workshops, trips to the British Library, listening to recorded interviews, and debating sessions in school. We have realised some stark differences, as well as some surprising similarities, comparing life for children then and now.
Children have learnt the laws passed under DORA, including some very strange ones (no buying binoculars, no feeding ducks, no whistling for taxis). Drama-based workshops run by Half Moon Theatre have brought these rules to life through short sketches.
We also explored games from the time such as Hoop and Stick, and Five Stones, and discussed how it would feel to give up this playtime when the war started, in order to work towards the war effort.
We found out that many children would have to leave school as young as 11 to work in munitions factories or to grow food on the land. Opinions were split on whether or not this might be a good thing!
In one of the sessions, we acted out a Zeppelin air raid and discussed where we might choose to shelter if we were experiencing one. There were lots of different ideas but we all agreed it would be very scary!
From White City, Ethan’s favourite part was playing hoop and stick. “It is harder than it looks and it is even more fun when you can’t do it very well because it is funnier,” he said.
We were also lucky enough to visit the British Library to explore what it means to be a researcher and how we can all become researchers using a variety of materials.
We would have loved to speak to some older people to find out what their childhoods were like but sadly very few are alive today. We did, however, manage to gather some recorded interviews from the 1990s so we could hear how they lived and how they played. This inspired children to consider bringing these childhoods to life through drama…. Watch this space.
This project has been gratefully funded by Heritage Lottery Fund.