Teaching Primary History: Anglo-Saxons & Vikings for Key Stage 2
>>>2014-READY OUTSTANDING LESSONS ADDED SEPTEMBER and OCTOBER 2013 see below
The following Key Stage 2 history lessons have all been judged to be outstanding according to OFSTED criteria. There is a wide variety of teaching and learning activities as well as a rich array of teaching resources including PowerPoint® presentations. New lessons will be regularly added to meet the demands of the changing primary curriculum.
>>>Getting ready for the 2014 curriculum As you will have noticed the new curriculum pays far greater attention to the Saxons and Vikings. The statutory elements and some brief advice on planning, using the lessons, can be found below:
Outstanding KS2 Lessons
Teaching the Anglo-Saxons & Vikings to Key Stage 2
The focus should be on the nature of the settlement in Britain and the evidence that remains. However, because the Vikings is such as dramatic topic, it is developed beyond the nature of settlement. It is important to help children to appreciate how careful we must be when labelling groups of people, whether it is today (asylum seekers, Polish builders!) or in the past.
The lesson on the Vikings: What were they like? when the children act as Saxon spies and find out about their legendary ships, is a good way into the Viking topic which has at its heart the question: Raiders or Traders?
Pupils are asked to counter the relatively stereotypical view that often surrounds the Vikings in the media. By asking children to rehabilitate their reputation this lesson makes a major contribution to pupils' awareness of diversity and the need to respect both other societies and the nature of evidence itself. They test the evidence and realise the importance of being sure that your judgement is based on sound evidence. In this way pupils learn to evaluate what is being said. Perhaps the Vikings had such a bad press only because most of the written evidence came from monks who suffered most at the hands of the Vikings.
The lessons on the Saxons focus on the nature of their settlement and encourage pupils to use a problem-solving approach to map evidence. The links with geography are very strong here as is use of ICT.
Resourcing your Anglo-Saxon and Viking topics
A great place to start looking for material ion the Anglo-Saxons is the 24 hour museum site for children called showme. You will be helped to explore an Anglo-Saxon village and 3D artefacts as well as seeing video clips of a recent archaeological dig.
The same site can also be a a great starting point for checking out which museums offer pupils the opportunity to get involved in some problem-solving activities using Viking finds.
The discovery of the first fully intact Viking burial site in the UK (October 20th 2011) - on the Ardnamurchan peninsula in Scotland provides a great opportunity for de-bunking some well known Viking myths. The 16ft-long grave containing the remains of a “high-status Viking” who was buried with an axe, a sword and a spear might suggest the typical Viking warrior image. About 200 rivets - the remains of the boat he was laid in - were also found. Previously, boat burials in such a condition have been excavated at sites on Orkney. Until now mainland excavations were only partially successful and had been carried out before more careful and accurate methods were introduced.
Other finds in the 5m-long (16ft) grave in Ardnamurchan included a knife, what could be the tip of a bronze drinking horn, a whetstone from Norway, a ring pin from Ireland and Viking pottery. These finds question the stereotypical image about the Viking helmeted warriors pillaging the land at will.
5 good reasons for thinking the Vikings were more traders than raiders.
As you will have noticed the new curriculum pays far greater attention to the Saxons and Vikings. The statutory elements are:
1. Britain’s settlement by Anglo-Saxons and Scots (covers the
period before King Alfred)
2. Viking and Anglo-Saxon struggle for the Kingdom of England to
the time of Edward the Confessor
There are several points that need to been borne in mind when considering your planning. Firstly, both Saxons and Vikings as depth studies are now compulsory in a way they were not in the 2000 curriculum. So there will be work to do. Even schools who have taught the Saxons before will not have done so in this detail. Few will have taught about the Scots.
The most important point to consider is not the content alone but how it provides a context for developing key historical skills. Many of the outstanding lessons featured do just that. Evidence-based enquiry work centres on the cremation urn evidence for Saxons settlement in which pupils test historical hypotheses. The problem-solving Sutton Hoo ship burial detective work lesson really helps pupils to think like historians. Interpretations are well provided for with Has history been fair to the Vikings? Work on causes is dealt with in the push v pull activity on the Saxons. Over the next term, we will be adding material on Significance: Why should we remember Alfred and Athelstan? As well as posing puzzling questions such as why the Saxons believed in trial by ordeal?
Challenging a stereotypical view of the Vikings
Realising where the evidence comes from and then evaluating it.