Henry VIII - a project undertaken at home by Frances - Age
(This has been sent in as an "example of work" to
The "Bad" King - according to Frances.... "Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived..."
A while back Fran heard an ice-cream van playing Greensleeves...
it prompted a conversation about Henry VIII, who by co-incidence
I was reading about in Philippa Gregorys The Other Boleyn Girl
and so I had some interesting facts at my fingertips. I realized
she was intrigued when she sat and looked through a Ladybird
book of Kings and Queens for ages. Her interest has been such
that I have had to read adult history books to keep up with
her enquiries but it should be stressed that the interest has
been led completely by her - rarely a day goes by without Frances
asking to "learn more about Henry".
Surprisingly, she was totally unfazed by beheadings of wives
and has talked quite ably about what happened to them all. She
calls Henry "the bad king" and is quite scathing about
Anne Boleyn for breaking up his first marriage. A recent look
through a handy copy of History Today has made her particularly
like Kathryn Parr, his "survived" wife - who she knows
helped ensure his children were cared for and got a good education
- hence the picture, in which Edward is wearing a hat to look
like his daddy and Kathryn is pictured with Henry and his three
We have looked at a variety of websites and had really interesting
discussions about film representations of the wives and why
some sources of information are more reality-based than others,
head dresses, getting fat, people being buried in castles, why
only certain wives (ones who had boys) were buried with him,
religion (not easy with a 5 year old!) paintings and whether
the people really looked like that, where people came from and
why he married people from other countries, England being an
important/not important/ rich/poor country.
We have visited Peterborough Cathedral where Catherine of Aragon
is buried in the floor and the permanent display there has been
cause for plenty of discussion, and Belvoir castle where a Holbein
picture of Henry hangs. We are also hoping to visit Hatfield
House, as much for the gardens as anything, the Tower of London
and Windsor Castle where he is buried now that the tourist season
is over. We allowed Frances to watch a film on Henry and his
wives, diverting her attention during the odd unsuitable scene.
She followed the plot ably and knew exactly who the main cast
In addition Frances has done a lot of drawings, particularly
of costumes and the different head dresses the wives wore, made
a map of where different ones came from and where they lived
and made a lap book of pictures and information. These ideas
have come totally out of her own head. Using a network of home
educators we have access to, we have collected postcards, leaflets
and photos and mounted them in a folder. We bought several Dover
Publications books that explore Holbein portraiture and costumes
through the ages and have enjoyed using them as starting points
for discussion and work.
This is a pictorial representation of the different wives, their
children and their places of origin. She laid it all out herself
and requested the various pictures that are her favourite portraits
of individual characters. On several occasions she asked for
more than one portrait that she was aware existed and very ably
looked at similar pictures of wives/daughters and decided who
This afternoons work also involved Frances carefully copying
out the names of all the characters, a discussion about current
and Tudor maps of the UK, cutting, sticking, safety (we mounted
the pictures onto paper stuck to the wall and so had to be careful
to climb up safely), colouring and a perception of creating
a colour "key" ordering and designing a display that
Using these same pictures we created a set of cards mounted
on board and used them for the following exercises.
o *Group the wives of Henry and those who were not wives of
o *Group pictures of Henry VIII against all the other males.
o *Group his children.
o *Group those who come above Henry VIII in his family tree.
o *Order the portraits of Henry into age order.
o *Group the pictures of his children into order of age or succession.
o *Put the wives in order, inserting the "wife" who
wasn't (Christina of Denmark, before Anne of Cleves).
o *Create a "family tree" on the carpet.
This is a pictorial representation of Henry VIII's family tree.
Following this we drew out our own family tree and compared
how prolific we are with how sparse his was.
The image of a Tudor rose prompted the creation of this pattern
with beads, which also involved carefully working the pattern
out on a bead pattern computer programme.
A mock up of a Tudor child's dress, complete with head dress
- we used a website that detailed the layers of clothing worn
for accuracy and a correct "feel" (and a lot of safety
And we also made a small Anne Boleyn doll and have plans to
do the full set of wives.
A discussion on Tudor understanding of health led us to make
A friendly home educating herbalist we know sent Frances some
information on folk medicines popular in medieval times which
we have been having fun with. We also harvested our own lavender
and made lavender bags and lavender wands to scent our living
and a discussion about Tudor buildings and black work embroidery
led to these bead creations.
The interest seems to be continuing unabated so over the next
few months we have plans to use the following ideas as starting
points for activities. In addition we have several trips planned,
a model medieval town and castle to build and a medieval dress
timbered houses...tapestry... Needlepoint heraldry...cookery
and lifestyle... mary rose... armoury...how about jesters...the
tudor rose....candle making......china dolls....dolls houses......pub
names...popularity of theatre...piggy banks...(with no hole
- you had to smash them to get the money...papier mache... calligraphy...
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