Cold, clean and maggot free...'

18th July 2008 at 01:00
Seamus Gibbons explains how Henry VIII and the rest of the Tudors helped with a difficult advertising problem

Seamus Gibbons explains how Henry VIII and the rest of the Tudors helped with a difficult advertising problem

Many teachers can find it difficult to persuade children to write persuasively. The key is to get them writing about something they are interested in.

During our history topic about the Tudors, my class loved learning about the horrendous hygienic conditions and bizarre medical treatments encountered at that time. With this in mind, I decided to link two objectives. In literacy we had been studying persuasive advertisements and, while my class could easily identify key features of these, they found it more difficult to independently create their own.

So, using their interest in history I divided the classroom into "modern versus Tudor". On one side of the classroom there was a selection of modern items - a toy toilet, an asthma pump, a toy shower, an empty pack of headache tablets and a fridge.

On the Tudor side I set up a tray of soil (the Tudor toilet), a mock hangman's rope (their cure for a headache was to rub it against their head), a selection of butter and spiders (dip the spider into butter and swallow to cure asthma), a pomander (a ball made of perfumes because the Tudor people didn't bath much) and some infected food, complete with worm holes.

We began by recapping how the Tudor people lived and did some thoroughly enjoyable role-play pretending we lived in Tudor times - rubbing the rope on our heads, pretending to swallow spiders in butter and making a meal from the rotten food.

In contrast, we discussed the benefits of the modern items and how we could persuade Tudor people to use them.

The children worked in mixed-ability groups, focusing on one modern item and used a planning sheet to think of benefits they could describe (via a snappy slogan or an illustration) and who their target audience would be.

They applied their knowledge from history lessons and our healthy living week to describe the many benefits - with the help of some snappy advertising slogans.

The children worked exceptionally well, primarily because of the good subject knowledge they had gained from linking different parts of the curricula, role-play and practical experiences they had benefitted from.

Following on from this, the children worked independently to create an advert to persuade Tudor people to buy one of the modern products

Seamus Gibbons is a Year 4 teacher at Charville Primary School in Hayes, Essex

Snappy slogans

- "Flush and you will never blush."

- "Don't walk in poo, flush it down the loo."

- A bath was advertised with: "Wash your diseases away."

- A slogan for a fridge was: "Cold, clean and maggot free."

- For headache pills, pupils came up with: "Hits pain quicker than Henry beheads his wives" and "Don't use a hangman's rope, you dope."

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