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Topic plan: Romans (KS2)

A KS2 topic-based activity plan on the Romans written by Andrew Brooke

Romans

A topic-based plan by Andy Brooke, offering six weeks of activities across the KS2 curriculum to integrate Song Bank songs with everyday classroom delivery.

Over a period of several centuries, Roman culture influenced every aspect of life in Britain so utterly that even after Rome’s departure in the 5th century AD, nothing would ever be the same again! This topic has great scope not only for a history focus, but for a project which has a much broader cross-curricular canvas.

Salve!

  • This topic relates to QCA History unit 6A: Why have people invaded and settled in Britain in the past? A Roman case study. Discuss what the children already know about the Romans. Establish that the Romans were a people who lived a very long time ago, and so their way of life was very different from ours. Given this fact, what would children like to find out? Explain that they will be learning part of a song to introduce a number of aspects of daily Roman life. Listen to and learn the chorus to Just like a Roman.

Roman lifestyles

History, Science, PSHE, English, Art, Maths

  • Verse 1 of Just like a Roman introduces the idea of Roman banquets. Encourage children to organise a banquet (though discourage eating too much and being sick!). Poorer Romans ate a simple diet of porridge and bread. Wealthy Romans ate lying down on their fronts or reclining on their sides, and the food would have included sausage, eggs, fish, fruit and vegetables, such as olives and grapes, as well as some fairly unusual delicacies such as snails and dormice. Deserts would include pastries and tarts. This can be tied in with work on healthy lifestyles in Science and PSHE. Encourage children to dress for the occasion – there are lots of websites, including video websites, explaining how to make and put on a toga (try wikihow.com).

  • Verse 3 of Just like a Roman includes references to communal baths. There are a number of other songs about Roman Baths, from the Roman Baths pack from the School Trip Singalong. These songs are: We have been to Aquae Sulis; Here’s to the Romans; Researching the Romans and Roman rap.

  • Show pictures of the Roman Baths in Bath (just search the internet using any search engine – type -“Roman Baths”) and ask children to do some of their own internet-based research about the baths. There is a variety of information and activities on the excellent Roman Baths website, especially the children’s pages, which include games, a timeline and video diaries.
  • Watch the video about the bath house in Bath at bathtv.tv. How does this film persuade us to visit the Roman Baths? Use their findings as the basis for writing their own persuasive texts. They might like to write a text persuading the reader to visit some other place of historical significance, or perhaps write as if it were Roman Britain, trying to convince a local to visit the Baths.
  • Look at pictures of Roman mosaics, such as those found here on the BBC website. Discuss how the images were created by using small, coloured tiles to give the effect of pictures, rather like larger versions of pixels on a computer screen. Children could use mosaic to produce images of Roman gods or gladiators, or develop designs with reflective or rotational symmetry or which tessellate.

Fighting and warfare

History, Literacy, DT, PE, Maths 

  • Introduce the idea that the Roman war machine was the most superior military force in the known world, by listening to and joining in with verse 3 of Just like a Roman. Lead onto discussing:

    o why the Romans invaded Britain – to expand the Empire, to civilise the ‘barbarians’ and for the precious raw materials;

    o why the invasion was successful – Roman soldiers were highly-trained professional soldiers, with superior weapons and armour, effective tactics in battle, and the ability to manipulate tribal leaders;

    o what Britain was like before the invasion.

  • Visit the BBC website to find out more, including a timeline, videos and photographs and have a look at the Horrible Histories pages of the site for some gory inspiration. Hot-seat children/staff in role as a Roman soldier and a farmer/warrior from Britain – prompt effective questioning by preparing questions in advance.

  • Children would really enjoy making their own Roman shields. Download instructions from completeyork.co.uk. Ask children to march in step, in rows and columns, with a centurion (the leader) and an optio (the second-in-command) shouting out “Left-right, left-right” at a steady pace. Watch video clips of Roman soldiers at caerleon.net (and click on the ‘military tactics’ link) for more advanced legion strategies, such as the legendary testudo (tortoise).

  • Using the structure of a legion, devise maths investigations according to the age and ability of children. For example, for level 4+ children: if there were 80 men in a century and 6 centuries in a cohort, how many men were in a cohort? If there were 10 cohorts in a legion, how many men were in a legion? This is complicated by the fact that there were only 5 centuries in the first cohort, but each of these had double the number of men (160 each). How many in a legion now?

Roman legacies

History, Geography, Science 

  • Ask children to find out about the legacies left behind by the Romans. Use the excellent PowerPoint presentation, The Roman Legacy, at primaryresources.com to stimulate discussion, as well as the lyrics from Just like a Roman.

  • Some of the major roads built by the Romans still exist today. For example, parts of the A2 and A5 follow the Roman road called Watling Street. Investigate Roman roads, why they were so straight and how they were made. Get children to build their own scaled down cross-section, using the teachingideas.co.uk resource as a starting point.

  • The Roman calendar was very similar to the modern calendar used today. Ask children to find out about the Roman calendar, and whom the months were named after.

Other ‘Romans’ songs in the Song Bank include:

Downloadable Resources

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