Tudor Time Travel

“I was unprepared for just how enthusiastic children were in using their Time Traveller’s Notebooks. This has had a massive impact on their attitude to writing… far exceeded expectations.”
Teacher, St Barnabas Primary

St Barnabas Primary asked if I could create a series of workshops for them loosely themed around Tudor History with a focus on increasing attainment in literacy for a Y3/4 nurture group. What followed was 5 weeks of adventures, travelling back in time to key dates of Tudor history, meeting King Henry VIII, experiencing Tudor Crime and Punishment first hand as the Jury in a complex case, being immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of a Tudor market place….

Some of the content was loosely based around similar projects completed with Speakeasy Theatre Company, but I didn’t just want to repeat past work here. I created 5 new sessions for the school taking techniques and tools that I knew would work, and making them relevant to this project. I suppose I didn’t want to feel I was ripping-off old ideas that didn’t entirely belong to me, but also, I wanted to stretch myself and ensure I was creating the best possible experience for the students.

The sessions focussed on a Time Capsule, dug up in the year 3014 from beneath the students classroom. In it were 5 objects, each relating to a period of Tudor History. The class were enrolled as ‘Time Order Technicians’, tasked with discovering the story behind each object which could then be recorded in individual notebooks handed to them as part of the adventure. As the weeks progressed, so did the young people’s desire to fill their notebooks with ideas, names, stories… Recounting their adventures, and inadvertently developing their cognitive skills in forming ideas, communicating those ideas, and particularly in recording those ideas as a report of what happened.

Together with the fantastic input of Andrew McWilliam, Natalie Nightingale and Georgina Elsom, three very experienced educational theatre practitioners, a whole range of characters were created for the young people to meet. The key for any project like this is always that human story, bringing historical facts to life by making it relevant to a person they can have a conversation with.

The whole project culminated in an assembly, presented by the class to the entire school in which they demonstrated a snippet of each adventure, taking on the characters they had met and sharing their stories.

Some great results, and I even got a book full of letters from the young people as a memento… lovely!


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