Hi! It’s Nicole, one of the core team of practitioners at Altru.
Today, Year 4 at Highfield Primary are in for a treat, we’ve been asked to come in to introduce the class to a new topic, Early Islamic Civilisation. It’s a new topic to me too, so I’ve done a lot of preparation to create sessions that will introduce them to key events, historical figures and lots of new language through a collection of drama-based activities. I arrive well-armed with visual aids, timelines and a great music playlist to set the scene.
We begin our morning session by using fun physical games which require lots of concentration and team building, our scene setter exercise is played by the whole class over 30 minutes as a way to introduce lots of information in a really fun way.
Using physical theatre techniques, the children represent the building of the great circular city of Baghdad. A 600-year timeline is introduced by creating freeze frames of key events linked to years which the children repeat aloud, like 762AD when Caliph Al Mansur laid the first brick or 1258ad when the city was ransacked by the Mongol invasion. Working in pairs, the children become great scholars studying texts in the House of Wisdom. We show the Mesopotamian region using our bodies and represent the rivers Tigris and Europhates by forming two lines on either side of the room and using sound effects. We even introduce an Abbasid Caliphate and work in groups and use physicality to represent ‘a great family of leaders’.
I then turn the exercise into a game and the children show off what they have remembered by racing to be the fastest to complete the tasks. It’s a lovely way to recap our learning and gives the children a good chance to apply their new knowledge.
Using our newly acquired knowledge, the children then work in small groups to study a year from our timeline in more detail. They create scenes based on what was happening in their chosen year and have to consider who the people would be living in that time, citizens, builders, soldiers or great leaders, what they would be doing and importantly, how they would be feeling. They get to use the language they’ve learned this morning and also apply emotional language as they consider what it would be like to be a person living at that time.
Before lunch, the class are ready to perform the scenes back as a whole class timeline and I introduce background music to support their scenes. Bringing together all of our work from the day so far with a performance activity shares just how much the children have learned and enables them to apply it by creating something from scratch. It’s really important that the children give each other feedback on their scenes and are able to identify how they have integrated the topic into them
Morning done and it’s time for a sandwich and then doing the whole session again with the other Year 4 class! What a fantastic day!
The feedback from the teachers was lovely, taking part in an Explore Day can take away some of the fear of introducing a new topic from scratch and by using drama we’re able to really bring topics to life and create a lot of fun in the process. They’re especially useful for teachers as they get to tell us in advance what they want the children to achieve. For this year group, it was really important to build their confidence and improve team work as well as giving them a good overview of their new topic.
Thanks for having me Highfield Primary.