KS2 – Fun Facts on Vikings

By Robert Reed

Do you have a friend who occasionally loves to hop in a longship and go raiding? Perhaps, they also like jewellery, plaiting their beard, incredibly violent poetry and games of chess? If the answer is ‘yes’, possibly they are a Viking.

The Viking Age lasted for about three hundred years: from the 790s until the Norman conquest of England in 1066. As well as being skilled sailors and warriors the Vikings were traders, mercenaries, settlers and farmers.

They explored and colonised islands in the North Atlantic even reaching as far as Newfoundland in Canada. They had a profound effect on British and Irish history in particular. They traded along the Volga River and as far south as Baghdad.

Many of their exploits were recorded in Icelandic sagas and on rune stones. They were famous for ferocity in battle: the word berserk comes from the Norse habit of going completely loco in combat.

However, conversion to Christianity slowly curbed the Vikings of the more anti-social aspects of their behaviour, much to the relief of their neighbours.

Generally speaking, it’s probably best for your health to invite your Viking friend to join a yoga club, or maybe take up knitting.

Scripted for use in the assemblies, read about a funny Viking story Don’t Argue with Eric http://artdramascripts.com/ks2_playscripts/vikings.

The Ancient Greeks loved the theatre

By Robert Reed

In Ancient Greece huge stone theatres were built for audiences of up to 15,000 people.  The clever Greeks designed the theatres so that even people stuck in the back row could clearly hear every word said by the actors.

The earliest recorded superstar actor was Thespis. He was so popular he toured with costumes, masks and props in a horse-drawn wagon.  (That was the Ancient Greek equivalent of a limousine.)

There were three styles of play, or genre: tragedy, comedy and satyr [yes the spelling is right here].  The Ancient Greeks were most famous for their very, very serious tragedies.  Almost always someone died, and there was a moral to teach the audience: you know something like don’t eat all the custard, or everyone will get the plague.  By custom, there were a maximum of three actors and a chorus (who sung and narrated).

Some things never change in the world of entertainment: Homer’s epics were greatly in demand back then as well… okay, so it was a different Homer to Bart’s dad.

Anyway, one final thing about Ancient Greek theatre was that it was central to religious festivals, especially in honour of Dionysus (the god of wine and having a good time).

If your class are researching the Ancient Greeks, I recommend visiting this site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/ancient_greeks/.

Would your class like to be Ancient Greek heroes in a super comedy?  If the answer is ‘yes’, here’s the perfect script for you: http://artdramascripts.com/ks2_playscripts/greeks.

Celebrate St Piran’s Day and the Cornish Piskies

By Robert Reed

Palm trees, surfing and people greeting each other with “aloha”, you can only be in one place in the world…  Welcome to Cornwall!  It’s a county located on the south-west peninsula of Britain. Okay, so it might be a bit similar to… what’s-it-called?  Ah, yes, Hawaii.  But, still Cornwall -or Kernow, in the local language- is a great place to visit.  The climate is the mildest in the UK thanks to the Gulf Stream and there are miles of sandy beaches.

Cornwall is famous for its fish dishes and cream teas.  Tourist attractions include the Eden Project and Tintagel Castle, legendary home of King Arthur.  Well, a lot of other places in Britain claim to be the location of  Arthur’s castle where he entertained round knights; however, for my money Tintagel is the real deal.  He just travelled around the country frequently because he was so famous, that’s all.

I know Hawaii Five-O wasn’t shot in Newquay, but if it had been, I’m sure Detective Lieutenant Steve McGarrett’s catchphrase would have been different: something like, “Get me a pasty, Danno!”  I like Cornwall, so I wrote a really funny play script to celebrate St Piran’s Day.  Enough said.

For teachers from Cornwall – special assembly play about Saint Piran and the Cornish Piskies http://artdramascripts.com/patron_saints.

There are some fantastic pictures of scenery and places to visit in Cornwall at http://www.visitcornwall.com/ .

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 .

Everything you need to know about the Tudor dynasty in 365 words!

By Robert Reed

The House of Tudor came from Wales, like Tom Jones (but, the similarities end about there). Henry VII was the first ruler in the dynasty.  He defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22nd August 1485 and literally took his crown.  Henry wanted to form foreign alliances and married his eldest son, Arthur, to Catherine of Aragon.  Poor old Arthur died four months after marriage, and so  Henry VII decided to marry his younger son, Henry, to Catherine as well.  Yuk!  Well, the Pope said it was okay, so the marriage went ahead.

In 1509, Henry -Hal to his mates- became King Henry VIII.  Hal was described as “friendly” and “gentle” when he was young.  However, unfortunately, he became a bit of an obese maniac in later years.  Also, he had a few wives and fell out with the Pope.  His son Edward VI succeeded him in 1547.  Eddie was a young lad aged nine, but was serious about religious reform- probably because there were no PlayStations back then.  He was never very healthy and died in 1553.

Then it was Mary’s turn.  She became queen and married Prince Philip of Spain.  The people weren’t happy with this.  However, Phil was even more unhappy to be married to Mary (she wasn’t exactly a beauty queen).  Mary became rather bitter and became too overzealous with reinstating the Catholic faith in England.  Finally, “Bloody Mary” died childless and in 1558 Elizabeth became Queen of England.

Elizabeth I was under constant pressure to marry and have kids to produce a successor, but she liked to be the boss and wasn’t having any of that.  There were lots of plots to get rid of her and put her cousin Mary Queen of Scots on the throne of England.  Eventually, she agreed that Mary should have a date with an axeman.  A few chops and that was that. Philip II of Spain was really annoyed about it and sent an invasion fleet.  The Armada was defeated by the awful weather -no surprises there- and some skilful pirates working for Liz.  On 24th March 1603, Elizabeth I died and the Tudor dynasty came to an end.

A good place to begin a class research topic on the Tudors is: http://tudorhistory.org/ .

Get a full assembly play about Henry VIII and his six marriages: http://artdramascripts.com/ks2_playscripts/henry_viii.
You can have the children read and/or perform the script in the classroom or in a school assembly!

Read funny dialogs from the play Henry VIII: Big Hal Knows Best:  http://artdramascripts.com/r/henry_viii_big_hal_knows_best.pdf