Henry VIII and the Tudors was a project undertaken at home by Frances, Age 5 2003-2004. We sent this to our LA as an example of work.
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 Gregory’s 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 children.
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 members were.
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 was 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 made sense.
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 Henry.
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.
A discussion on Tudor understanding of health led us to make a pomander…
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 room….
and a discussion about Tudor buildings and black work embroidery led to these bead creations.
Additional Project Ideas
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 to make.
ornate lettering…bibles….priests…..priestholes……monks…abbeys……half 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… lavender wands…