Sunday, 3 February 2013

The Battle of Hastings (Recreated)

Looking for ways to get your pupils really enthused about the Battle of Hastings? Want your pupils to show off their creativity? Need your pupils to enhance their communication skills and their ability to work with others? Then please read on........

A work of art - I think they are horses at the bottom :)
I can't take full creative ownership of this Year 7 lesson on the Battle of Hastings as it was introduced to me by Stacey McCabe at a Dragonfly Inset a few years ago. I can, however, offer my version of the lesson and ultimately how it has helped my pupils to consolidate their understanding of the battle and communicate this understanding to their peers. 

Prior Learning:

Before recreating the battle the pupils spend a few lessons covering the key events by, amongst other things, watching sections of Peter & Dan Snow's Battlefield Britain, acting out the battle and creating a storyboard (homework task). 


  • You will need a number of tubs containing various small items. I use cotton wool, Play-Doh, pipe cleaner, beads etc. 
  • You can find a copy of the PP and peer assessment sheet here: which is all quite self-explanatory.
  • You will also need some sort of device to take pictures of the models. I use an iPad as this can be easily connected to my digital projector and the pupils can hold it during the presentations. If we had more than one iPad I would love the pupils to use Skitch or Explain Everything to annotate their work.....

The lesson:

Firstly, pupils are given 10 minutes in their groups to recreate the battle using the items in their tubs. They are able to use their storyboards as a reminder of the key details of the battle.
Secondly, pupils are given five minutes to prepare their presentations. Everyone in the group MUST say something during the presentation. This also gives me time to walk around and take pictures of the models. 
Finally, pupils present their work whilst the rest of the class completes the peer assessment sheets. After the presentations I randomly select pupils to give oral feedback about the presentations. Instant peer feedback reinforces the importance of the task and makes pupils feel great about their work. 

The Impact

This lesson really helps pupils to understand the key points of the battle and, more importantly, develop their communication skills and tap into their creativity. Even more importantly, they love it. I have just finished reading my Year 7 pupil blogs where they summarised what they have been learning about, many pupils wrote about this lesson as one of their highlights. 

I've also done the same lesson with my GCSE pupils for the Battle of Little Big Horn. Their engagement would suggest that you're never too old for Play-Doh........

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