The idea of carrying out a Heritage Trail at Baħrija saw its inception last year. Mr Vella, the Head of Baħrija Primary School, expressed his wish that as part of the literacy school projects, we work on activities that highlight the beauty and the historical, cultural aspects of the village.
Our literacy team contacted Profs Adrian Gellel of the University of Malta who immediately offered us all his expertise and support in relation to Symbolic Literacy. We worked on a plan that would include in class and out of school activities with the Year 4, Year 5 and Year 6 classes.
In Class: Our main focus for this project was the importance of writing and the issue of memory. During our in-class activities the students were exposed to different symbols and characters, including artifacts showing very ancient writings. Discussions on the purpose and process of writing were carried out in class followed by readings of old Maltese tales. It was highlighted that if facts/stories are not written down along the years these may be altered or lost. This led them to the appreciation of the use of the written language as a tool to remember and recount memories, stories and experiences.
Out of Class: ‘L-Għar l-Iswed’
Once on site, all the students were asked to spend a few minutes in silence to be able to listen, observe and focus on what was around them. The students were then divided into two groups who took it in turns to visit the shelter found at the back of the cave and took part in an archaeological dig. Various artifacts related to the Byzantine, Roman, Medieval, Phoenician and British eras were buried in the soil for the children to unearth. These artifacts included: Byzantine icons, Roman statues, coins, pottery, mosaic and the Murex sea snail. Other items, such as rosary beads and candles were hidden inside the shelter for the students to find. These items were collected and a discussion on their origin and relation to their village followed.
Later, the students were asked to sit down and welcomed Mr John Portelli, an elder from the village, who recounted personal anecdotes about his life and experiences in Baħrija. Children jotted down notes so as to remember and record what had been narrated.
As a follow up to this activity, another in class session was held where the students were asked to write the story in their own words based on what they remembered and use of recorded material.