Year 5 have had a wonderful time learning about an extraordinary period in British history: the Tudors. First they spent a blustery day at Dilston Physic Garden in Corbridge, learning about the traditions and stories of Tudor life. Surrounded by an array of plants, the girls made a wonderful healing balm using a method very similar to that of the apothecaries from Tudor times.

In the classroom, girls have been using as many sources of evidence as possible to examine famous portraits and learn about the hidden meaning behind the different symbols. Replicating the methods used in Tudor times, the girls used pouncing, to make their own Elizabeth I portraits. This involved having access to the court ‘approved’ cartoon image of the monarch then sprinkling charcoal through tiny pinpricks. This transferred the image onto clean paper and then the outline could be accurately filled in. Using powder paint (instead of charcoal) and cocktail sticks, the outline was soon replicated. The girls then used acrylic paint to try to replicate the texture of oil paints to complete the image.

They have also used watercolours to make miniatures, and interpreted the iconic pop art of Andy Warhol to create some stunning pieces of art. The girls were also lucky enough to have some experts from Durham University help them interpret all of the weird and wonderful symbols in Hans Holbein’s The Ambassadors. The most fascinating aspect was the information about looking at the picture from a side position, so that they could see the hidden skull and crucifix.

Using actual inventories of Tudor households, shown to them by Jennie, a palaeographologist, the girls could work out what each person did as their job and how wealthy or poor they were. The girls used quills and ink to write an inventory of the contents of their own house. The girls then handled actual Tudor objects, making sure that they used two hands, and used observational techniques to try to work out what they were used for. The most popular was a portable sun dial. Not quite so useful for telling the time at night or when there’s no sun, but a great accessory to those who wanted to show off!

Overall, it’s clear that Year 5 have had a wonderful term finding out about the Tudors.


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