Activity One – Through The Years
Year 4 to Year 6
There’s a lot of free software which is easy for children to work with and which can produce really worthwhile outcomes. One of my favourite is Windows Live Movie Maker which comes as part of the Windows 7 operating system although versions of it appear with earlier operating systems. We use the software primarily for simple editing of videos that the children take on school trips or of drama activities but it can also be used for putting together a slick photo montage which can be run as a narrated slide show or with a soundtrack. It really is easy to use and it’s only the fine tuning that would need the patience and skills of older children.
Depending on how detailed you want to do this you can either use a timeline of the decades of the Queen’s reign such as found here:
Or get a grandparent in to talk about many of the events that have happened over the course of the Queen’s reign.
Now, armed with a list of the main events, talk with the children about the significance of events such as the first colour television or the first female prime minister in order to give them a bit more information on them. They should be more aware of events that have happened in the last decade.
Ask them to look for pictures of two events from each decade and to find pictures of them. Save them into a folder for easy access after they’ve completed this part of the work.
Now find some music from each of the decades. It won’t cost much to download from iTunes and save them where the children can access them from their workstation.
Ask the children to open Windows Live Movie Maker and click the icon to ‘Add Videos and Photos’ They can extend or shorten the length of time the pictures are visible by repeating the process then shortening the time for the playback in ‘Edit’. Each frame is in place for a second so shortening by a second removes one frame. Once the pictures are in place you can overlay a narration by recording in Sound Recorder for the duration of each photo or use a piece of music from iTunes and clicking ‘Add Music’. You can add music at any point and cut it where required. You can fade music in and out too for a more professional feel.
Activity Two – I Was There
Year 2 to Year 6
To begin this activity let the children look at the video of the Queen’s coronation from 1953. This is available on YouTube in handy little chunks.
Ask the children to watch the video carefully, noting what happens to the Queen during the ceremony and what the crowd is doing.
Once they’ve watched the video, discuss with them what they’ve seen and ask them to imagine being there and how they would describe the day. They should write their story under the title ‘I Was There’.
Activity Three – Royal History
Year 3 to Year 6
We are all focused on the history of what happened around the world and in the UK during the sixty years of the Queen’s reign but few stop to consider the family history of the Queen. We think of her so much in her public persona that we lose sight of her role as part of a family. To redress this it’s a nice idea to ask the children to research the history of the royal family over that sixty year period beginning with the moment the Queen was told that her father, George VI had died and that she was now Queen. You could even step it back a few years to the marriage of the Queen to Prince Philip and begin there. We’ve found that the completed task gives a sensitive insight to a woman whose family role has had to fight against her national and international responsibilities.
The task can be completed at a number of levels. From the simplest as a diary style piece for family events such as the birth, marriage and deaths of members of the royal family, to the long trips abroad and how the public have perceived her and other royals over the decades. Older children might want to add what they think the Queen might have thought about events such as the divorce of two of her children. Read the best out upon completion and a moving account of the queen as a person, rather than a head of state, emerges.
Activity Four – Where is She From?
Year 3 to Year 6
Children love investigating and this activity allows them to investigate one of their favourite topics, family trees. The Queen’s family tree is available in plenty of places online and using it helps us to understand the alliances forged across Europe in the last two centuries or more. Many think of the Queen as English through and through but an investigation of her ancestry shows a different story.
For this activity you can begin with a simplified family tree going back four or more generations. On it you’ll have the Queen’s parents, grandparents etc. but also cousins who in the past have married people from other countries. On a simple scale, identify which countries the Queen’s ancestors have come from and work out what ‘blood’ she has in her. The older children love the competitiveness of trying to find the fraction that is German, French, etc.
Older children can research the family tree themselves looking for her sister, her parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, great aunts and uncles and so on. They can construct a family tree before finding out ‘where is the Queen really from?’