This week we went to Suffolk for a couple of days and stayed in a cottage. As part of the trip we visited a couple of castles, both English Heritage, and it is these which have prompted this blog post.
The two castles in question are Framlingham and Orford, although Framlingham was much bigger, with more on offer, so I shall concentrate mainly on this one. Now, it’s been several years since I visited a castle as I wasn’t much of a fan when I was younger (I found them all very much the same and rather boring – I didn’t like History) but it struck me how much there was on offer, particularly for keeping children entertained.
Inside the castle wall were all manner of activities for children to do (some castle related; some not), from giant chess to a chest full of medieval dressing up clothes. Then there was the free entertainer who got the kids swordfighting with blow-up swords and acting out such things as medieval marriages.
The thing that most interested me though was the free audio tour available. this was available at both castles and the Orford audio tour was a very informative, but bog standard talk. Framlingham’s however was slightly more entertaining…
The tour consisted of walking from one numbered plaque to the next around the ramparts of the castle, then keying in the number. At each plaque you had a choice of two soundtracks: even numbers were the informative, yet bog-standard type and the odd numbers were a rather wacky ‘Horrible Histories’ style commentary (supposedly for kids although it was a little confusing at times!). This then gave me an idea! Wouldn’t it be great to get kids to create their own audio tour of places on a similar kind of system. They could create all sorts of things: audio tours of the school for visitors, tours of towns and villages, tours of places visited on trips eg show what you learnt by creating an audio tour.
The technology nowadays makes this so easy to do – I can imagine something as simple as audioboo tracks being recorded and loaded onto a web page with relevant numbers or even linked to a QR code or RFID tag. I’m now thinking of where I can get this in next year!