Lesson planner

15th May 2015 at 01:00
Your weekly collection of inspirational lessons, imaginative resources and newly released books

Primary history

The case of the missing Mayans

In this lesson on the Mayans, I like to see the past as a whodunnit, with the children acting as history detectives.

After a 10-minute introduction, I set the class the task of finding out why the Mayans disappeared. I provide six sources of information (find these at the link provided, below right). A good first step is for children to think of questions about the reliability of sources. Then, as a class, we use the evidence to form a conclusion about what happened. Not all pupils will find the answer, but the process of exploration is hugely valuable. Children quickly take charge of their own learning - and are more enthused because of it.

Rhodri Thomas teaches at Bournemouth Park Primary School in Southend-on-Sea, Essex

Secondary physics

A close encounter

with the solar system

What better way to expand children's horizons than to explore the solar system and the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe.

I place my students (aged 11-12) into 10 groups named after the eight planets in our solar system, plus Pluto and the Sun. Each group uses a pack of planetary statistics to fill out a blank Facebook profile sheet. These are then circulated around the room and every student has 10 minutes to answer 10 quiz questions on each profile.

To test their learning, I write seven statements (related to the topic) on the board, which pupils must mark as true or false in their books. To close the lesson, we have a discussion, followed by a vote, on the question of whether life exists beyond Earth.

This lesson harnesses children's natural inquisitiveness and encourages them to think outside the box.

Aimee McKeon is a science teacher at Shirley High School in Croydon, South London

Secondary drama

Build dramatic tension - using Lego

I don't know if Antonin Artaud - a mentally ill, drug-addled playwright who was kicked out of the Surrealist movement for being too strange - would have played with Lego, but this lesson shows the two are compatible.

One of Artaud's key theories is the Theatre of Cruelty, a space of spectacular proportions with audience and actors existing in a swirling vortex of experience. I've yet to come across a school hall that can support this, so I use Lego.

The students, who have been studying Artaud for a few weeks, are tasked with building his vision. They must then justify their creation with reference to his writing. Finally, they stage a scene from a play in their new theatre, using Lego figures.

I have always found that this exercise frees students to play and to create, which is what drama is all about.

Rob Messik is a drama teacher at Brighton College

To access resources for all three lessons, visit:


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