What about the Royal Wedding?

27 April 2011 · 2 comments

in Literacy Outdoors

This week the debate will run higher than ever about the Royal Family. Kate and William are getting married and in honour of this special occasion, schools, even in Scotland, have been granted a holiday.

I’m sure some children will have the chance to attend a street party to celebrate this event. Whilst this may cause strong reactionary feelings in many, it’s not often local people have community get togethers with their neighbours and perhaps we all need to think a little more creatively about street parties rather than waiting for a royal event to prod us into action, if it even does this.

My grandparents, either on, or shortly after, their wedding

Like it or not, it is history in the making and to ignore the wedding is a bit of a missed educational opportunity. This week I was asked to undertake an outdoor lesson with a P6/7 composite class who were studying the Royal Wedding.

The anarchic political animal of a teacher that I am, immediately saw the gaming potential of the moment! Had I known the class, school and teacher better, I’d have planned a scenario where the class was split into three groups: the Royal Family and Friends, the police and security forces and finally the assassins. A map of the procession around the school grounds, timings and other practicalities would have been issued to each group. The aim would be for the Royal Family to complete the procession without the assassination attempt being successful and a member of the Royal Family getting a fatal “shot” to the torso or head. The assassins would have to use water pistols but no brut force.

Now I know my suggestion is very un-pc. But it’s also a very real life situation. The security issues around such an event are huge and costly. It’s also a genuine threat. Children find role play one way of learning to understand and deal with big issues and are often less offended and upset by the thought of a mock killing than adults are.

Rock is the oldest material around and has been used for centuries to create buildings

Alas, I did not carry out the above idea. I went for a much more genteel option. There’s the old saying that the bride should be wearing “Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.”

So many new flowers in spring, like this comfrey

The children went for a wee walkabout outside to find objects, near and far away that were old, new, borrowed and blue. There were some excellent suggestions including a useful discussion about the school which was built and is owned by a private company and leased to the Council, thereby making it both “new” and “borrowed.”

One child thought that nest boxes are borrowed by birds

From the ideas gathered, the children created two diamante poems. One for “Old and New” and the other for “Borrowed and Blue.” These are fun and easy to create, once the jist of task is understood. The distinctive structure of the poem provides a useful base for sentence level work on nouns, verbs and adjectives. The purpose of the poem is to go from one subject at the top of the diamond shape to another totally different, and sometimes opposite, subject at the bottom. Here’s what it’s like:

Line 1 – Subject
Line 2 – Two adjectives describing subject
Line 3 – Three verbs ending in –ing or –ed to describe subject
Line 4 – Four words, two related to the Line 1 subject and two related to the Line 7 subject
Line 5 – Three verbs ending in –ing or –ed to describe Line 7 subject
Line 6 – Two adjectives describing Line 7 subject
Line 7 – Subject opposite to Line 1

Stoney Cold
Praying, Singing, Shivering
People, Pews, Chairs, Pupils
Talking, Learning, Listening
Hot, Sunny

Although the poems are simple and arguably lack challenge for older children, the conversations and discussions that this engaged the children and really made the activity worthwhile. The children had not  thought about making connections between the themes within the saying and they commented positively about the way the activity made them think and look at the landscape around their school.

Blue sea and sky. Blue ocean thinking is increasingly common as well as blue sky thinking!

Regardless of what Kate wears on her special day and what the children get up to this Friday, at least the Royal Wedding provided an interesting outdoor literacy opportunity for one class in the Far NE Scotland!

Finally many thanks to Glitzypursegirl on Twitter for suggesting the saying as the prompt for this outdoor work.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen April 28, 2011 at 15:07

What a fantastic lesson for those student! Topical, environmental and outdoors! Well done.


Juliet Robertson April 28, 2011 at 15:55

Thanks! It’s just nice to link wider events to our environment.


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