Home Education: The Great Plague

This week we have been learning about

The Great Plague

With the help of a two hour drama workshop

With Bindlestick Theatre Company

The session started as all good drama lessons do

With some warm up activities and games

All the children were joining in

And having fun

While developing their listening skills

And following some fast and complicated instructions

2018-09-13 10.16.38

I was really proud of Bea

And her ability to keep up with the games

Soon we were ready to step back in time

And set the scene for our history learning

2018-09-13 10.31.11

London 1665

Katie the leader

Engaged the children

And encouraged them to use their senses

To paint a picture of what London was like back then

We talked about the fact that people lived in cramped conditions

That there were no toilets

That people peed and pooed in pots

That they emptied on to the streets

How unwanted food was left to rot in the streets

We talked about lots of families living in one small house

Poor sanitation and hygiene

We thought about what we might see

What we would hear

And could smell!

2018-09-13 10.39.26

We talked about the animals in the streets

Farm animals on their way to market

Cats and dogs

Rats …

And fleas!

2018-09-13 10.39.20

The children all curled up

Making their bodies as small as fleas

They played a game of rats and fleas

One child, my William, was a flea

The others were rats

William had to chase them and catch them

And infect them with the plague

The rats if caught had to change from happy rats

To evil angry rats

2018-09-13 10.39.06-1

Using a game like this

Was a great way to make the dark subject matter of the plague


Light enough for primary aged children to enjoy

Building this physical activity into the drama and storytelling

Was a great way to allow the children to burn off energy

While keeping them engaged

2018-09-13 10.59.54

After the fleas and rats game

The children became hunters

Hunting and killing the animals on the streets

Trying to stop the spread of the disease

Another games was played

Hunters and animals

But of course, even with all the animals gone

The plague was still spreading as the fleas infected the humans

Next we learned about the symptoms of the plague

Coughs and sneezes

Spots, buboles and rashes

2018-09-13 10.59.57

We sang Ring o Roses

And talked about how people believed

The rhyme written in the 1800s

Was referring to the plague

We talked about the posies

And how people believed that plague

Might be linked to the dirty air

So rich people made posies and plague water

Filled with lavender, rosemary, roses and mint

To filter the air

Poor people could not afford these herbs

And instead used vinegar to purify their air

And mask any smell

2018-09-13 11.24.37

Next the children learned about the plague doctor

What he wore and why

They then played a game

Where there were doctors and patients

The doctors had to question the patients

And look for signs of plague

Do you have a cough?

Do you have a sneeze?

Have you got any spots?

Do you have sore armpits?

2018-09-13 11.34.01

They discussed how they had no medicine

No antibiotics

And therefore had no way of helping the patient

All they could do was shut them up in their houses to die

They would have to stay in their house

With anyone from their family that had been in contact with them

2018-09-13 11.40.24

The windows would be boarded up

The doors shut

A red cross painted on the door

With the words

Lord Have Mercy Upon Us


The children learned about the Watchmen

How they would watch to see if any infected people tried to leave their homes

How they would feed the infected families

Until they died

2018-09-13 11.42.02

And then we met Margory Jones

A Searcher

Who would search the town for dead bodies

Every time the church bells tolled

They knew that someone had died

2018-09-13 11.44.08-1

They would find them

Look for signs to confirm the plague

And report to the doctor

Who would record the death

2018-09-13 11.44.42

Searchers were poor

They had no family

They were chosen for their job

Because nobody cared if they caught the plague

Nobody cared if they lived or died

They would enter the homes of plague victims

Using sticks to avoid touching the bodies

2018-09-13 11.49.32

Once the death was recorded

The corpse carriers would come

They would take the dead

To the nearest grave

The nearest plague pit

Where they would be buried

With herbs and vinegar

To try to stop the spread of the plague

2018-09-13 11.55.58

After acting out the grave digging

And burying their dead

The children came together to discuss how many people died

As a result of The Great Plague

And why it was called The Great Plague

Do you know why?

2018-09-13 09.49.50

We also talked about how the plague was finally wiped out

In 1666

By The Great Fire of London

Which we will be exploring together next week

With the incredibly talented Katie and Bindlestick Theatre Company


One thought on “Home Education: The Great Plague

  1. Such a creative and fun way for children to learn. History has always been my passion and my favourite subject to teach. I love all the activities the children took part in and am looking forward to reading about the Great Fire of London.
    It looks as if the children loved it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>