St Patrick’s Day 17th March – Bite-sized for KS1, KS2

By Robert Reed

St Patrick’s Day Parades

St Patrick’s Day originally celebrated the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.  Nowadays, it’s celebrated equally as a festival of Irish heritage and culture.  The celebration is marked throughout the world, not just in Ireland itself.  The biggest St Patrick’s Day parade is in New York City; but, Ireland holds the record for the smallest parade! (lasting a distance of 23.4 metres between the only two pubs in the village of Dripsey, Cork).

St Patrick’s Day school assemblies

Every year schools worldwide celebrate St Patrick’s Day with a school assembly.  A couple of scripts for primary school assemblies are available here: http://www.artdramascripts.com/st_patricks_play

Dressing up like leprechauns

In addition to parades, people celebrate by “the wearing of the green” (shamrocks) and dressing up.  This includes wearing ginger coloured wigs and beards and looking like mischievous leprechauns- who are said to love collecting gold.  [Hmm, that’s a bit like international bankers, but when bankers get up to mischief they wipe a few trillion from the global economy.]  If you’re feeling energetic, you don’t have to be a member of Riverdance to try Irish dancing and appreciate Irish folk music.

KS2: Everything you need to know about the Romans in 365 words!

By Robert Reed

Legend has it that Rome was founded by the twins Romulus and Remus on 21 April 753 BC.  The legend doesn’t say at what time of day this occurred, but it was probably after breakfast.  The city was named in honour of Romulus.

KS2 Ideas: There is a fantastic and very funny play for primary schools available at http://artdramascripts.com/lost_eagles , which includes dressing up as Roman soldiers.

At first, Rome was ruled by kings; however, that ended in about 509 BC when Lucius Junius Brutus established the Roman Republic based on elections and assemblies.

There were some tough times for the Romans, the Gauls looted Rome in the third century and Hannibal gave the legions a fright with some elephants, but the Romans won the day. With a highly professional and skilled army, Rome began to conquer all her neighbours, which brought a flood of wealth and slaves (including Spartacus).

Soon Rome was divided between a super-rich elite and a mass of poor folks.

In 27 BC, Augustus became emperor after having defeated Antony and Cleopatra’s forces.  It was always dangerous being emperor, because someone -usually your nearest and dearest- wanted to murder you as soon as possible.

Under Trajan in 117 AD, the empire reached its greatest territorial extent: stretching from Britain to Egypt.

Marcus Aurelius was the last of the ‘Five Good Emperors’.  There were also some very mad and dangerous emperors, like Nero and Caligula.  Definitely not the kind of people who should become head teachers, but great names for class pets.

Popular entertainments were used to pacify the masses: like gladiatorial combat and chariot racing.

Political divisions, civil wars, economic problems, plague and a whole load of invading tribes meant trouble for the Imperium Romanum.  In 410 AD, the Visgoths trashed Rome and the once all-powerful Roman army ceased to exist, and that was the end of the Western Roman Empire.  However, in the East the empire continued as the Christian Byzantine Empire for another thousand years.

The Romans were great builders, leaving behind roads, aqueducts, monuments, temples, palaces and baths.  All this building was partly made possible by the invention of concrete.

Moreover, the Romans left a lasting legacy in many fields including art, literature, law, government, warfare, language and many more. However, there is no evidence that they invented Marmite, or PlayStations.

If the cohort in your class are researching the Romans, I suggest they visit this site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/romans/ .

St. George’s Day 23rd April – Fun Facts for KS1, KS2 Kids

By Robert Reed

St. George, or Georgius as named by his mum and dad, came from Lydda in Palestine.  He followed his father’s footsteps and became an officer in the Roman army.  Georgius seemed destined for a brilliant military career, until it was decreed that soldiers were banned from being Christian.  That was a problem because there was no way that George was going to renounce his faith. He was martyred on 23rd April CE 303 after some very unpleasant treatment.

The more popular story of George as a knight in shining armour defeating the dragon and saving a fair maiden dates from the Golden Legend– a thirteenth-century best seller in England.

If you’d like to read or perform St George’s story with children – in class or in a school assembly – visit : http://artdramascripts.com/st_georges_play where you could find a brilliant fictitious fun play featuring Saint George and his heroic quests adapted from the legend of St George and the Dragon.

George became the model of a chivalrous knight- the kind of bloke who’d give your granny a ride on his horse back from Tesco with all her shopping without complaint.  The English began to call upon St. George’s help in tricky situations: for example, before the battle of Agincourt, “Cry ‘God for Harry, England and Saint George!’”

Nowadays, St. George’s Day is celebrated with parades, pageants, a few re-enactments of St. George’s altercation with the dragon, and lots of flag waving of course.  People used to wear a red rose in their lapel, but that doesn’t happen any more.  (I think that’s a pity.)

Also, Saint George is the patron saint of several other countries, including Georgia. In fact, the Georgians loved the legend of St. George so much they named their entire country after him (kind of).

Interestingly enough, the 23rd April is the same day William Shakespeare was born… and died.

If you’d like to find out more about St. George, visit: http://resources.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/stgeorge.html .