Bard of Barnsley joins in with fun and games with youngsters

Poet Ian McMillan entertained children at The Showroom to celebrate the end of a project researching the National Sound Archive
Poet Ian McMillan entertained children at The Showroom to celebrate the end of a project researching the National Sound Archive
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PRIMARY pupils met Bard of Barnsley Ian McMillan to share playground games, rhymes and songs to mark the end of a two-year Sheffield University project.

The youngsters joined researchers and teachers at the Showroom in Sheffield to celebrate the success of the initiative, which involved updating, analysing and redesigning the British Library National Sound Archive’s recordings of children’s games and songs gathered in the 1960s and ’70s.

The aim was to preserve an important aspect of national culture while studying playground trends to explore how games and songs continue to be part of children’s lives in the age of computer games and the internet.

TV and films were found to be a major source for fantasy play among children, including newer genres such as talent shows like Britain’s Got Talent and reality TV such as The Jeremy Kyle Show.

TV ads, popular music and dance and children’s computer virtual worlds also influenced playground games.

Some kinds of play popular in the mid-20th century, such as skipping, ball bouncing and singing games, were less popular now. But others had blossomed, such as clapping and dance routines. Some remained popular, such as chasing games.

Another difference from the 60s is that boys as well as girls now take part in pop singing and dancing.

A two-year study of playground culture was carried out in two primary schools, one in Sheffield and the other in London, to explore how games, songs and rhymes are used by children and how they relate to children’s experiences of popular media such as comics, TV, film, the internet and computer games.

The final element of the project explored how traditional children’s games make their way into new media.

Children took part in poetry workshops with Ian McMillan to explore playground games.

Prof Jackie Marsh, head of the University of Sheffield’s School of Education, said: “Children’s play is as vibrant and imaginative as ever and the project has been very successful in actively involving children in researching this area and disseminating their own findings.”

n More pictures of pupils working with Ian in Class Act in The Star on Tuesday.