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Guest Blog Post: The use of artefacts in Religious Education

We are delighted that Penny Kite, Faculty of Education has written the following guest blog post.

Religious artefacts are an important and exciting resource for pupils of all ages, as they explore religious beliefs and practices. Their use needs to be planned carefully so that children can benefit by careful observation and open questions that encourage them to think and reflect upon their learning.
When exploring religious artefacts, many teachers are worried about causing offence to members of a faith community. To avoid this, we need to learn about the artefacts for ourselves,
to ask members of the faith community for help and advice and to be careful about the way in which children may or may not handle items that are customarily used in worship (distancing).

In the library, you will find a wonderful collection of artefacts that are beautifully presented to encourage you in your teaching of religious education. The items are divided by faith and comprise
1) Artefact bags: mainly suitable for Reception and Key Stage One.photo
Inside each one you will find a contents card, artefacts, sensory cards and artefact cards. The artefact cards carry a photograph of each item together with a short explanation.
2) Persona dolls: Mainly suitable for Reception and Key Stage One.
These are dolls that are dressed as particular characters, and you can always make some for yourself. They are helpful in explaining attitudes, excellent for story-telling, and should be used with the accompanying book called ‘Persona Dolls’ by Marilyn Bowles, also available.
3) Artefact boxes: mainly suitable for Key Stage Two and Three.
Inside you will find a contents card and a list of the items. There will also be a brief description of the focus of the teaching e.g. Islam – Hajj.

Big books: mainly suitable for the primary range, but varying widely in content and focus. Do spend some time in considering their use; some can be linked with specific artefacts and are helpful in supporting teaching, linking artefact and story.

The best website for drawings of artefacts – http://www.strath.ac.uk/redb/reartefacts
Is very helpful in creating worksheets to support and supplement (but not to replace) the use of artefacts in the classroom.

You can also use the artefacts to create interesting and colourful displays – but these must also be educational. Therefore the addition of labels and questions is very important, making sure that the primary focus of the lesson is not artefact names but the beliefs that they represent. Therefore Sikhs do not “believe in the 5Ks”, but features like the uncut hair (Kesh) represent the Sikhs’ devotion to God; Sikhs believe that their body is a gift from God and that they should treasure it accordingly.

Some schools are well supplied with artefacts and others have very few. Please make sure that you borrow some of the artefacts and practise using them in your placements.
Let us know how you get on.
Are there other items that you need?
Did the session go well?
What recommendations would you make to other trainees about using artefacts in RE?religionsymbols

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