It's time for extreme outfits and crazy lyrics this weekend when the Eurovision Song Contest returns, this time in Moscow. Some pupils may remember that the UK entry by Andy Abraham finished last in Belgrade in 2008, but this year the country's hopes are up again with an entry called "It's my time" penned by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Why not follow up Eurovision by getting pupils involved in an assembly (and any number of lesson tie-ins), where they look at the weird and wonderful history of the competition and even stage their own final.
Introduce the assembly by playing music by the most successful winners of all time - Abba. Start a discussion around why most winning songs are performed in English - Abba actually lost in the Swedish contest in 1973 with "Ring Ring" in their native language, then they won the finals a year later when re-entering with "Waterloo" in English. And last year a French MP was outraged that the song chosen to represent the nation in the contest had English lyrics.
This could be an opportunity to look at the politics behind Eurovision and the dominance of the English language. The main aim of the competition when it started in 1956 was to promote inter-European relations, so it's also a good opportunity to look at different cultures.
Start by dividing the class, with each pupil representing one of the 43 countries that will compete this year, or alternatively dividing them in to small groups. You could use PowerPoint slides to illustrate country maps, otherwise pupils could paint their own map and use a collage for the presentation.
The next step could be to find the flag for the country - what do the colours mean? Is it true that the green, white and red for Italy signify tomato, basil and mozzarella? Or is the real explanation that the colours were taken from the flag of Milan and the uniform of the Milanese civic guard? Pupils could make flags and wave them.
Eurovision is also a great excuse to look at languages. Pupils could identify the main language of their country and learn how to say hello in it. If this is too simple they can find out what their song is about. In 1982, for example, Finland scored nil points with a song protesting about the building of a nuclear power station. Further research could include identifying the national dish, famous people from that country and some details about the climate.
In lessons, pupils could rehearse the country's entry and perform it in either the style of music or poetry.
You could then bring everything together with a final assembly where pupils take turns to perform and the audience vote in time-honoured "Grande Bretagne, nul points" style. You can be the presenter taking the votes, or choose a couple of budding mathematicians to write the results on the board and total as you go along.
Make sure that you have a jury as well since the rules for this year's competition have changed in order to prevent neighbours voting for each other. A nice way to finish might be to sample a dish from the winning nation
To research individual countries:
- For songs: www.youtube.comeurovision
- For lyrics: www.diggiloo.net.