Elizabethan Unit Study: Week Three

elizabethanunitstudy Biography

We continued to read the next two chapters of Elizabeth I: The People’s Queen.  We learnt a lot about Mary, queen of Scots and were introduced to the necessity of spy craft to keep abreast of any threats to the throne.  We also read about the queen’s progresses or road trips and how the queen gradually won over the heart’s of her people: plans4 It is my goal each week to share a couple of fiction books the children have read pertaining to Tudor England.  The second book is Anne Boleyn and is a book the children read a while ago whilst we were looking at all things Henry VIII.  The first book, however, is the perfect book to read this week as it is about Mary Queen of Scots.  Mary features heavily in Chapter five of our main text: elizabethan novels before queen elizabeth Reformation

I’ve shared these books before but for cohesion I also wanted to include a few here, and a few next week.  The children are currently reading these and so far they have been a hit and have caused much discussion and further research (which is always a good sign): plans10 I also continued to read out parts of Luther’s 95 Thesis discussing them as necessary. We also learnt how Queen Elizabeth navigated this particular issue during her reign from her position as an unmarried, protestant and female ruler.  I think I will probably have the children write an essay on this because it was intelligent and strategic leading on Elizabeth’s part.

 Small Pox

Elizabeth I almost died of small pox fairly early on in her reign.  This put the crown and therefore the future of England in jeopardy, especially after she named Dudley as her successor.  He had no actual claim to the throne in terms of royal blood and everyone breathed a sigh of relief when Elizabeth was sufficiently recovered to take over her royal duties. I gave the children 15 minutes to research small pox and then gave them a timed essay under exam conditions (ie no talking, conferring or taking notes in) about all they had learnt.  This daily half an hour of writing is probably the most single useful thing the children have done to improve their writing.  Their essays were thorough and interesting and the spelling and grammar mistakes are decreasing each time they write.  In fact, one of the children had no mistakes at all, although another more than made up for it 🙂

Elizabethan Progresses

  • Primary evidence:

I photocopied some primary evidence written by a chronicler about a progress (journey) Elizabeth I made to the Earl of Hertford’s estate in 1591.  He was, at the time, in the queen’s bad graces and he was attempting to redeem himself.  Unfortunately he bankrupted himself instead!  This evidence was a mix of the chronicler’s words and a picture which depicted the event: elizabeth1 It was written in old English and the children needed to use the picture and their knowledge of old English to fully understand the passage.  I asked them to highlight important information: elizabeth2 and then use that information to create a set of ten questions each which they were to write out and exchange with their siblings: elizabeth3 During lunch we went through the questions making sure everyone had understood everything which had been communicated.  This was a very successful activity and one I will be replicating.

 Nine Men’s Morris

Nine Men’s Morris is a strategy game the Tudors liked to play.  It is simple to make and simple to learn.  The rules can be found here.  We made ours using a piece of card from some postal packaging, a permanent pen, ruler and 9 pennies and 9 five pence pieces: elizabeth4 First we copied out the board: elizabeth5 The girls checked how to play and then proceeded to spend a few happy hours playing it: elizabeth6 Although they did play a few games on their own board they  enjoyed playing against the computer more on this computerized version.  In fact by the end of the afternoon all four girls were attempting to beat their computer at Nine Men’s Morris!

Elizabethan Spy Craft

I am so excited about learning about Elizabethan spy craft.  It just sounds full of intrigue and mystery!  We will be doing a whole week on it in the final week but in the interim we will be reading this book.  This is quite a long and small print book so I’m hoping I’ve given us enough time to finish it.  The Daily Telegraph touts it as being ‘the most gripping history book of the year’.  Seriously I am so looking forward to reading this one out loud: watchers   Elizabethan Dress Up

The children had a bit of fun decorating some masques: Ribbet collageelizabethan2 Even T13 joined in and I managed to get a rare photo of him: Ribbet collageelizabethan4 The girls then got dressed up to show off their masques in the best possible way: Ribbet collageelizabethan3 Elizabethan Era Paper Dolls

Nadine has out done herself again with these fantastic, free downloadable paper dolls from the Elizabethan Era.    These were a really good fit for us during this short five week unit.  Although we are attempting to put together an Elizabethan outfit from bits and pieces around the house, it is still good to see what a ‘real’ Elizabethan would have looked like. We printed them on card stock, the children coloured them in and then stuck the clothes on the dolls: Ribbet collageelizabethan1   I don’t feel we completed as much as usual but I think this was because we began the spy craft book and realised, as interesting as it was, it would probably take longer than the week or so we have to finish it.  I am therefore squeezing in more read aloud than usual. Next week we will be learning about the Spanish Armada, among other things.

Weekly Wrap-Up


  1. Love T’s picture! He is such a good sport. Nadene has some wonderful resources at Practical Pages. I wish I was that artistic. I love what you are doing with the essays. Next school term will bring much more structured writing to our little home school. I am hoping to use some of your ideas since we will be right in the middle of this time in history. Claire, you always do such a fine job of weaving together so many varied activities for each study. I don’t know how you do it, but I am glad you are so willing to share with the blogging world.
    I hope you have a wonderful weekend with your sweet family.:)

    1. I really recommend the whole writing everyday thing, because it has helped improve their writing very quickly.
      Donna, it is a joy to share what I do with you because you are so enthusiastic! Thank you for being my biggest cheerer!

  2. i love your source document research. What a wonderful experience for them to work through the Middle English. It looks like they are ready for a Masquerade ball!

    1. I’ve been umm-ing and ah-ing about a masked ball this year. I’m not sure I have the energy, especially as I have big Shakespeare plans this summer. We’ll see….

  3. I’m seriously in awe of this study your kids are doing. I need to stay 2 months behind you in studies 😉 But oh well, we passed up the Tudors and are moving forward. Maybe next time through in a few years. I do just love reading about all your wonderful activities.

  4. I just love seeing what you all have done. The projects are amazing. I may have to borrow your writing idea. I know they are going to continue writing every day, but I like the idea of mixing up the content of their writing.
    Blessings, Dawn

  5. ‘Seriously love the books, activities, and games you picked for this. I am saving this for later. I also am going to follow your example on the essay writing. What a great way to give some practice! Blessings

    1. Thank you so much for the lovely comment Elizabeth! I’m so glad you have found it useful. Re the writing – it has been so helpful to us in improving the children’s writing and the ease with which they do it.

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