Domesday Book

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I’m all for fun school work.  I know that sometimes in life one simply has to knuckle down and do the work regardless of the fun factor or lack there of, but as Mary Poppins once said ‘a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down’ (I’m currently breaking off into song – you should be glad you can’t hear me given I can’t sing a hoot!!) or in this case a bucketful of fun makes school go very smoothly.

I’m often asked how I manage to actually persuade the children to do school at home.  The answer is I don’t.  In the main (apart from maths) my children love school.  This was certainly the case until we happened upon the Domesday Book.  Anyone have a clue how one makes THAT fun?  No, me neither!  On this occasion I did have to persuade the children to do the work (and cajole, bribe, threaten with the electric chair…..)  It was all met by groans.  What should have taken a week, took two.  Any wise parent would have left it.  I’m not.  Wise, that is.  So I didn’t.  Here are the pitiful results.  Actually making the Domesday Book at the end-now that was fun.  The children very nearly sprung into action when I suggested that!!

First up, however, was the painfully ‘boring’ stuff.  I had bought three books.  Each day I had each child read one book each.  Granted it took them longer than it did me (I felt I needed to join the troops on this one and assigned myself the same heavy reading).  In fact, probably, had I known it would take that long, I would have assigned less.  Lesson learned.

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They were good books, but really, as T11 pointed out – was it essential to read ALL three?  On the same subject?  No probably not.  Lesson learnt.  Again.

I had them watch this video and for a bit of light relief (and to show them I’m really not such a bad mother) I let them watch this Horrible Histories video.  And just to try to persuade the children that the Domesday Book really is fun I had them do this Domesday game, basic but better than all that reading!  They each had some time to peruse the Domesday Book Online site and the National Archives.  Frankly, they were all Domesday Booked out!  Just to add salt to the wound (oh, and to make sure they had understood all that reading and research) I asked them to write a paragraph.  Surprisingly they did quite well (must be all that reading….!):

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I asked them to set up a Manor on our map:

The manor was simply representative, whilst the pieces of card were used to show the relative proportions of land which were arable, meadows, settlements and so forth.  They would be used for our maths lesson on percentages.
The Manor was simply representative, whilst the pieces of card were used to show the relative proportions of land which were arable, meadows, settlements and so forth. They would be used for our maths lesson on percentages.

Obviously, given the whopping great keep plonked in the middle of the map, it wasn’t to scale.  In fact, it served no purpose other than to persuade the children that something exciting was coming up.  Unfortunately for them, this was not the case.  I had organised a living maths lesson all about our Manor and incorporating percentages and taxes.  Not really enough to make the children’s eyes light up with excitement.  More like groans of disappointment.  The maths lesson, which I’ll post on tomorrow, was actually a huge success and one which I was chuffed went so well.  However, at that point in time, the children didn’t fancy their chances of enjoying it.

Our map and Manor did serve another, infinitely more interesting and enjoyable, purpose.  It was to form the basis of the Manor on which our own consensus would be written down (using quill pens, bottled ink and parchment paper) and placed in our own Domesday Book (with a highly decorated cover in the vein of the original Domesday book).  A collective sigh of relief was breathed.  The Mummy they knew and loved was back on her game!

First I had them study the cover of the actual Domesday Book:

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Then using the supplies below they began to make their own:

Feather quills, ink, proper parchment paper, card, foil and foam shapes.
Feather quills, ink, proper parchment paper, card, foil and foam shapes.
First they stuck foam shapes on card in any pattern they desired (much like we did with the Viking brooches and string)
First they stuck foam shapes on card in any pattern they desired (much like we did with the Viking brooches and string)
They covered the card with foil.  We used a cheap foil this time and the results were not nearly as good, so I recommend no scrimping on the foil!
They covered the card with foil. We used a cheap foil this time and the results were not nearly as good, so I recommend no scrimping on the foil!
If the foil had been of better quality it would have molded itself to the foam leaving a raised impression of their pattern.  It really didn't work that well with the cheaper stuff
If the foil had been of better quality it would have molded itself to the foam leaving a raised impression of their pattern. It really didn’t work that well with the cheaper stuff
They stuck gems on to decorate
They stuck gems on to decorate
They ran a thick paint brush with a little black paint on it to age the foil and it was finished
They ran a thick paint brush with a little black paint on it to age the foil and it was finished
Meanwhile they had fun figuring out how a quill worked, by writing the contents of our Manor onto their parchment
Meanwhile they had fun figuring out how a quill worked, by writing the contents of our Manor onto their parchment
Trying to do it with out splodging and getting their hands inky proved to be quite a challenge
Trying to do it with out splodging and getting their hands inky proved to be quite a challenge
We burnt the edges using a match to age the parchment
We burnt the edges using a match to age the parchment
I think they did a great job!  The sentences were started in red ink and the important names of places had a red line through them as per the original
I think they did a great job! The sentences were started in red ink and the important names of places had a red line through them as per the original
The parchment was glued into the the decorated covers
The parchment was glued into the decorated covers

And that was that.  Thank goodness.  Knights next.

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17 comments

    1. I think I probably went into overkill, and also, no matter how I tried to silver plate it, ultimately it is just a book with a stack of lists from the 11th century. I did my best though. That said, I’m pleased to move on to the more palatable knights.

  1. It looks to me that you’ve done exceptionally well, given the solemn factor of this particular topic. Most of our learning days are fun (incredibly, my son just said that to me yesterday), but even so my son still prefers to have days off and to do his own things. Therefore I won’t worry too much about making everything fun, as long as you’ve tried your best to find meaningful activities for the children, which I think you certainly have 🙂

  2. Fab job, I am going to remember this one…When we travel around England we are often told about the Doomsday book and while I know what it is, not sure my kids do. Great activity!!!

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