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Invaders and Settlers - Living History classroom activities

Life in the Dark Ages or the beginning of British society?

Angol saxon tools and coins

The Dark Ages is a term coined by some for the centuries following the Roman period. Described as ‘dark’ because it has been generally perceived as being difficult to see what had happened but is this really correct?

Evidence now shows us that the Anglo-Saxon period was actually very different indeed. A time of cultural, religious and political firsts, when a distinct English identity was developed, including the structures of local government (shires, sokes, hundreds) which lasted late into the 20th century.

FREE worksheets: For each of my activities, I provide a worksheet for each child to help them record their work during the session, I'm happy to send out samples. Request a sample worksheet.

What is covered in a typical Anglo-Saxons activity?
Archaeological ʻexcavationʼ
Children get the chance to ‘dig’ in the classroom, excavating through different archaeological layers of earth to discover the different period artefacts and objects that are contained.
Children learn how artefacts can be used to establish dates for a time periods.
Once the ‘digging’ is complete, the different artefacts are then placed in sequence to create a linear timeline.
Playing dead
Anglo Saxon bone remains Using role play, children have to think of a favourite object they would like to be buried with and what would happen to it when buried in the ground.
They think about what different possessions can tell us about a person’s life.
They also examine what type of materials survive in the ground and which ones decay.
Comparing technologies
Children get to handle a range of artefacts that were used by the people from the Anglo-Saxon period.
They have to work out what they object was and how it may have been used.
They also have to compare it to the similar technology from today and decide whether the Anglo-Saxon version would have been better or worse.
Creating timelines
Children have to place important dates from the Anglo-Saxon period in the correct order to create a timeline of events. Poos from the past!
Poos from the past!
Organic remains are an important way for archaeologists to discover about how people lived in the past.
Working in groups, pupils have to examine and dissect a a fake human ‘poo’!
By examining the food remains contained in the ‘poo’, children try and work out which time period it comes from.
Animal bones
Children examine real animal bones from the Anglo-Saxon period and try to identify which animals they would have come from and which part of the body they relate to.
They also have to try and decide what this animal would have been used for. Would it have been hunted by the Anglo-Saxon or used in other ways?
Pottery
Using actual pottery sherds from the Anglo-Saxon and associated periods, children try to answer a series of questions as to what material the original object would have been made from, how it would have been made and used.
They will also look to draw how object may have looked like in its original form.
The different pottery sherds enable them to see how styles and manufacturing techniques develop over time.
Coins
Children examine a collection of real and reproduction coins and try to work out what period the coins came from and who had them made.
They can shade the different coins to see the designs in greater detail.
The Anglo-Saxon warrior
Pupils get the chance to see at first hand the weapons and armour that were used by a Anglo-Saxon warrior and how they would have been used.
They also get to examine the remains of some of their victims and the injuries they suffered at the hands of the Anglo-Saxons...

Booking an activity call:
07772 398 974

Whether you are a looking for an activity to act as a primer for forthcoming lessons or to reinforce previously undertaken ones, your pupils understanding of the past will benefit from being able to feel and touch actual ʻlivingʼ history and learn how it was actually created. Their thinking skills will certainly be challenged and maybe some of their historical preconceptions will as well...

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Teaching activity plans:

The Vikings: Who they really were.
The Romans: What did they do for us?
The Anglo-Saxons: Life in the Dark Ages?

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