Teaching your timorous wee beasties

Date Posted: 17/02/2015

If the headline of this feature bamboozled you, then you may not be familiar with the poet Robert Burns. You and your class can learn all about Scotland’s Bard at the Robert Burn’s Birthplace Museum in Ayrshire.

The museum has a wide range of workshops for both Primary and Secondary schools on its books; all of which can be tweaked to suit your individual needs.

The site comprises Burns Cottage where the poet was born, the historic landmarks where he set his greatest work, the monument and gardens created in his honour and a modern museum housing the world’s most important collection of his life and works.

Follow-up lesson plans and resources are free with any workshop booked. The sessions last for 90 minutes and you will also receive a self-led teachers’ pack and risk assessment.

Primary school workshops

Tim’rous beasties

Children explore the museum dressed as Burns’s wee tim’rous beasties. This workshop is ideal for building movement and language skills through imagination and performance.

A Primary school teacher from St Mary’s Caldercruix commented on the session:  “The mouse costumes are a great idea, the children loved them. Using the costumes helped the children to remember Robert Burns and his poetry and hopefully want to learn more poetry themselves.”

Robert Burns Superstar

Find out what made Robert Burns so famous in this fun and interactive workshop. Pupils learn about the life of Scotland’s most important poet and consolidate their learning by making something special to celebrate Burns.

Being Burns

Children dramatise a day in the life of Robert Burns in their quest to understand how he became a poetic genius in a time before compulsory education.

This workshop brings history to life through developing drama skills.

Hot potatoes

Children learn about the provocative issues in Burns’s poetry including politics, religion and the environment.

This workshop strengthens public speaking and communication skills.

Burns in motion

There are lots of different ways to get pupils interested in Burns and sometimes this means doing something completely different.

This workshop lets pupils make their own stop-motion animation about Burns’s life here in the cottage. The museum will e-mail you the finished results to watch back at school later.

When Burns was a bairn

Find out about Burns through the objects he used and the chores he did in the cottage, then make butter using different historical methods. This workshop provides an excellent opportunity to bring together teaching History and Technology.

Sonsie scrivers

Burns was inspired by his local environment to write poetry. Pupils will explore the cottage and use different poetry techniques, and by the end of the session everyone will have a poem that they can be proud of. The next Robert Burns may even be in your class.

Kailyard capers

Pupils learn all about the animals that lived on the Burns’ family farm (and their Scots names too).

This year the children will get the chance to become the animals on the farm by dressing up in the museum’s new costumes. 

Secondary school workshops

Tam o’ Shanter: rewriting Tam for today

Students will experience the story of Tam o’ Shanter through film, and then bring the story into the 21st century through dramatic interpretation and analysis of the characters.

The workshop develops dramatic, analytical and creative writing skills.

Hot potatoes

Students will learn about the provocative issues affecting Burns and how these influenced his thinking, politics and poetry. The session concludes with a lively debate.

This workshop strengthens analytical, public speaking and communication skills.

For more information visit www.burnsmuseum.org.uk.

School Travel Organiser's Guide