Activity One – Queen of Where?
Year 4 to Year 6
We all know that Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II is queen of our country but she’s also the queen or head of state of many other countries, a consequence of the British Empire. In this activity the children will find out which countries she’s constitutional head of and which others she is the head of as part of the collective known as the Commonwealth.
Give younger children an A3 copy of a map of the world with the main countries and other smaller Commonwealth countries annotated on it. Ask them to use a list of the countries the queen is head of state in to find and colour them and to use a second list of Commonwealth countries to find and colour those. A fun extension to this is to tell the children that once there were many more countries that the queen would have been head of and that there was a saying that ‘The sun never sets on the British Empire’ meaning that wherever the sun shone, at least one of the countries where it was shining was part of the empire.
By giving them a strip of paper the width of the band of night time, ask them to pass it over their map and see if that statement is still true.
Older children can find the countries using an atlas and mark them in on a blank map to improve their use of atlases and knowledge of where the countries of the world are located.
Activity Two – The Queen’s Year
Year 4 to Year 6
Each year the queen makes state visits to different countries, either as part of a tour or as a standalone visit. Choose a year from her reign and find out which countries she visited together with the purpose for visiting them. For example, the Queen visited Australia in 1988 to mark the bicentenary of the founding of Australia through the city of Sydney. She opened the new parliament buildings in Canberra during her stay.
Construct an itinerary for one of the years of her reign including the dates and places she visited. Find out how many miles away the countries were and how she got there. Sometimes she travelled on the royal yacht, HMS Britannia, other times she flew. Try to find out why she visited the countries and what she did whilst she was there. Often her visits coincided with a charity project.
By investigating her travels, the children find out more about some of the countries she visited and may be able to identify the reasoning over the modes of transport. Sometimes HMS Britannia sailed to the destination whilst the queen flew. Can the children think why she didn’t go with the boat?
Activity Three – Celebrating Around the World
Year 4 to Year 6
This year it won’t just be the UK that celebrates the queen’s diamond jubilee. Many other countries of the Commonwealth are also celebrating with parties, concerts, new buildings and the issue of stamps and coins to mark the anniversary.
Find out which countries have planned celebrations and use www.epals.com to contact children in schools in those countries to find out how they’re celebrating. What differences are there in the way people are marking the occasion? You can list the differences under what food they might eat at parties and where the parties will be held? What entertainment there is for the celebration? It’s also interesting to find out what they think of being ruled by an absent queen, especially in the light of republican demonstrations over the years.
If you’re doing this part of the topic in the run up to the celebrations, it would be good to do a wall display of all the information you collect plus a world map that can indicate the location of the countries you’ve made contact with. The display will be a great talking point that can be seen by any parents that join your celebrations. After the event, you can also share photographs with the schools you’ve made contact with.