Museums for schools - Key Stage 2 (KS2) activities

Tudor living history at Oak House

Living history in costume and in character is the best way for KS2 children to learn about rich and poor in Tudor times by actually becoming Tudors and getting contrasting experiences. It is also excellent background work for topics about Tudor kings and queens.

The pupils are asked to imagine that they have travelled back in time, to the end of the 16th century. Master Hugh Digby has gone to conclude negotiations for his daughter's marriage.

He sends a letter instructing the household to make urgent preparations for a return visit from the future in-laws.

Some of the pupils take roles representing members of the family and children of local gentry, whilst the remainder play children of the servants and estate workers.

The different experiences of the children will reflect the inequalities of Tudor society and will give opportunity for reflection and feedback; to be started at Oak House and followed up in school. The visit can be the basis of cross-curricular activities in art, drama, literacy, geography, citizenship, history. IT and much more.

The activities are undertaken in costume (provided by the museum) and in character. The children and adults are asked to actually become Tudors living 400 years ago. The children are able to immerse themselves in the character and encourages discussion about their experience and feelings.

Alternative Henry VIII period option

The basic story remains the same as Master Hugh is away negotiating his eldest daughter's marriage. The year is 1530 and King Henry VIII is trying to divorce his first wife Katherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn. Oak House may be far from London but it doesn't stop the household talking about the King's marriage, particularly as Mistress Alice may be about to get married herself.

Houses and homes option

The children undertake Living History as above in the morning but staff pay particular attention to information about how the family and servants use the house and elements which are missing from the Tudor house which we have in our own homes, or visa-versa.

In the afternoon the children look more closely at Tudor houses and examine the Oak House, how it is made, its meaning and why it is where it is.

Two class Living History

Our standard sessions are designed for one class only. However we are now able to offer two class on site together sessions with a shorter Living History element. The other class undertake other activities around, house building, the farm, lighting and the dairy. For this session schools must stay until 2.30pm or it is not possible to fit in the full day's sessions. The above themes are available for two classes too.

Booking your school visit

  • To book your school visit telephone Oak House on 0121 553 0759 or to check availability. School visits are available Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
  • If staff are not available when you phone please leave a message and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.
  • Staff are usually available on - Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays.
  • You can also make initial enquiries via e-mail at museumarts_tourism@sandwell.gov.uk. However please state which site and session you are looking to book for and what date or dates you are interested in. 
  • You can also e-mail or telephone us if you are interested in organising a one off project with us or the information contained in the links above does not tell you what you need to know at  museumarts_tourism@sandwell.gov.uk.
  • We are available for visits from school groups from February to December.

Why choose living history at Oak House?

Living history is the past that children can see, touch, taste and smell. They can immerse themselves completely in the past and have a very full experience. They can learn much more in just a few hours than weeks of reading books and text.

Living history can inspire and motivate, as well as opening up opportunities in cross curricular activities in drama, citizenship, English, speaking and listening, art and much more. Living History involves a very different way of learning to traditional classroom based activities involving touching and seeing items and objects from the past and learning through 'hands on' as well as 'minds on' activities.

Many teachers find that even children who find traditional learning difficult respond to museum activities.

Available: 10am - 2.30pm Available Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Please note that our lesson plan for the day is organised to fit into this timetable. If you need to leave early or are going to be late please let us know as soon as possible so that we can re-plan the day before the day you arrive.

Max children: 36 (Due to the hands-on nature of the sessions we can take no more than 36 children at once inside the Oak House undertaking Living History)

Cost: Find out our current charges for education sessions at Sandwell museums. We do not make a profit on our living history sessions, the cost of the programme covers specialist staffing costs, materials, development, costumes etc to enable us to give you the best service possible - you will have three expert living history staff to guide your class through life as a Tudor and the children will learn new vocabulary!

Why not also borrow our Tudor loan collection to use in your classroom for a small charge per day?

What the teachers think!

'It was fantastic. Many of the children said it was the best trip they had ever been on' - Bearwood Primary.

'A first visit, very impressed with the role-play. I will be able to use the visit for Literacy, Art, ICT as well as History. Thank you' - St Mary's Primary.

'All the children really enjoyed the visit - they enjoyed taking part in the practical activities and learnt a lot. The staff were helpful, knowledgeable and very pleasant with the children' - St John's Primary.

'We thought the role-play was really well done and the costumes are super! Children enjoyed the activities and one child said his writing had never been so neat as a result of writing with a quill. A worthwhile and enjoyable trip. As staff, you made us feel welcome and your positive attitude and manner with the children enabled teachers to enjoy the experience too! Thank You' - Howley Grange Primary.

'We had a wonderful, very informative day, the children loved dressing up and play acting, we will be back again next year, thanks to all involved' - Castleford Jnr.

'The children had a fantastic learning through role-play. It was a fantastic way to cover the curriculum. I will definitely recommend it! It was perfect' - St Philips Primary School.