Here’s some images from our Creative Cubby Project event at the 2015 Ballarat Heritage Weekend. This year’s theme was “A Century of Service”, and we were commissioned by The City of Ballarat for the “In Their Boots” children’s’ activities.
We designed and constructed an interactive maze-like installation that replicated World War 1 trenches for the”Kids Trail”, that was fun, educational and relevant. My architect skills certainly came in handy during the “design” phase and initial discussions with the Heritage Weekend’s curator and organisers. This was a different event than we have run before, and we had to very well-planned with our cardboard-box design (instead of the kids building their own.)
We were also responsible for organising and running a “Periscope-Making” workshop for families over the weekend, that the kids could then take into the the trenches and try out. These two activities were also complimented by a dress-up corner where there were helmets, boots, clothing, to try on, and scales where you could weigh tea leaves to learn about war-time rationing.
There was an activity sheet for the older primary-school aged kids to follow the “Kids Trail” through the trenches and complete six activities, including thinking about how food was cooked, learning to use a compass and scale off a map, solve a maths problem about how long it took to dig trenches, find and count the airplanes, decipher a morse-code message, and of course to try out a pericope and see if you could spot the enemy-soldier.
The younger kids loved finding six rats hiding amongst the trenches – the older kids loved this too! Although many young children initially expressed horror as they asked me if there were REAL rats in there! One diligent child even collected all our rats by pulling them off the walls and proudly announcing they’d ‘found’ them all! Whoops!
The City of Ballarat were keen for the activity to have a grand entrance of some sort, so we came up with this idea, which was very well received:
The Heritage Weekend “Kid’s Trail” trench-maze activity was designed to enrich children’s understanding and respect of our history. For the entrance façade to our trench, we chose to reference an identifiable local war memorial, the Arch of Victory, as it is a tangible conduit to the past and to the memories of those who served. The creation of a recognisable visual link from Ballarat, helped children connect with the stories from the past as they stepped back in time into our recreated trench.
The large entrance facade was initially quite daunting for some kids, but also exciting…. what was beyond the arch? What would they find?
Once they were brave enough to enter through, their parents found a hard time getting them out!
It was designed to be child-sized, so they couldn’t see over the top of the trenches. There were lots of hidey-holes to crawl into, which also housed the activities.
There were sand-bags to sit on and used as props which really gave the damp smell and texture and feel of the space. We even made some duckboards and ‘puddles’ on the floor for authenticity.
The entire structure was made of over 40 very large recycled/reclaimed cardboard boxes (thanks to local businesses who supplied these!), covered in hessian to tie them altogether and represent the earth and compliment the 140 sandbags. 70 of the sandbags were filled with sand (thanks to the SES!), and 70 with lightweight recycled materials (like newspaper).
The wall murals in the three alcoves of the Mining Exchange Building were black markers on craft paper/white paper which depicted the retaining-wall-boards of the trenches, sandbags on top and barbed wire, and no-mans land beyond (and beautifully created from our concept by some local artists who volunteered their time).
Our periscope-making activity was very popular, with hundreds and hundreds of them constructed over the weekend! These were made from recycled cardboard, masking tape, and two mirrors. It was a great hands-on making activity that involved art and science!
After months of planning and sourcing materials, a busy and labour-intensive week to deliver the materials and construct the installation and do the artwork and set-up the activities, the trenches were then completely dismantled within 2 hours!
As always, we had minimal waste at the end of the weekend once we’d disassembled our installation. We saved the hessian for re-use in future projects, the sand-bags all went back to the SES, and the cardboard was all taken away by BRI for recycling.
This event was proudly supported by: City of Ballarat events management and curator Jennifer Frost, SES Volunteers, Haymarket, Good Guys, Officeworks, JB Hi-Fi, Aldi, Masters, OMNI ASTEC, Konica Minolta, BRI, and our wonderful team of volunteers! Heartfelt thanks to all involved – we couldn’t have done it without you! And of course a BIG thank you to the hundreds of families that came and had fun! We didn’t get photos during all those busiest times as we were too busy helping make periscopes and helping kids with their activity sheets!
We had such great feedback from ALL ages about how fabulous it was – in terms of concept and execution, but also of historical relevance and an important educational experience which was very engaging.
Want to know more about our future events? Follow the Creative Cubby Project on facebook www.facebook.com/CreativeCubbyProject or Twitter https://twitter.com/creative_cubby or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Did you visit us at this year’s Heritage Weekend? What did you and the kids think? Would love to hear in the comments below!
Talina Edwards Architecture is a Ballarat-based studio, with a passion for sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes. Click here to ensure you won’t miss out on our news & advice!