YOUNGSTERS looked on as the model village they carefully built was burned to the ground by a teacher.
But no-one’s in trouble – the fire was a chance for the children to learn a powerful lesson about the devastation caused by the Vikings.
The re-enactment at Portsmouth’s Northern Parade Junior School was the grand finale of Year 4’s topic ‘raiders and invaders’.
Boys and girls had painstakingly built the model village which their ‘Viking leader’ – teacher Dr Sara Collins – set on fire in the playing fields.
The pupils then charged in their own-made life-size boats with oars and spears, screaming battle cries at the top of their voices.
Jennifer Amponsah, eight, said: ‘It was exciting but at the same time sad to see the village being burned.
‘I was thinking about how the villagers must have felt and how some of them will have lost their homes and their families, while others might have escaped.
‘I helped make my boat for two people and I was very pleased with it – it gave me a good idea of how it must have been like to be a Viking.
‘It must have been a frightening time, as there was lots of fighting to get more land.
‘I’m glad I wasn’t living in then, but acting out what they went through is an amazing way to learn history.’
Harry Critchett, eight, said: ‘After the fire the whole village was just ashes. I didn’t feel sorry for the villagers because I was a Viking and we were celebrating a victory, but I did feel quite sorry for our homework! The battle inspired me to write lots of interesting things about the Vikings as it was the most fun I’d ever had at school.’
Sarah Hilditch, Year 4 teacher, admits there were a couple of complaints from parents whose children were unhappy to see their homework burned, but she says they soon came round when they saw the impact it had on the youngsters’ writing.
She explains: ‘We can’t go back in time, so this is the closest thing we can do to make it real for them.’
‘If you give children a real life experience, they produce much better quality work.’