Kineton Primary School took part in a rewarding visit to Mary Arden’s Farm in Stratford-upon-Avon, the former home of Shakespeare’s mother. Here’s what they got up to.
Kineton Primary School is a Church of England, voluntary aided school for children aged between four and 11. To deepen and extend the children’s understanding of Shakespeare, the teachers were keen to engage in a programme of outdoor learning where pupils could walk in his footsteps and explore his stories, language and heritage in more depth.
The school’s location in Kineton allowed for a relatively short drive to Mary Arden’s Farm, situated about 15 minutes’ drive from Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon. Mary Arden’s Farm, named after Shakespeare’s mother who inherited the property from her father, is a dedicated learning facility operated and maintained by The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
Kineton pupils visited the farm and participated in a programme of workshops, giving them the chance to experience an authentic Tudor setting, helping to bring Shakespeare to life in an immersive environment whilst meeting National Curriculum requirements.
The pupils enjoyed a wide range of learning activities that were tailored to the different key stages. One of the workshops, for Key Stage 1, was ‘William on the Farm’, in which the children experienced what it was like to live in a Tudor farmhouse. This hands-on session encouraged pupils to learn about animals, the growing and use of herbs, fruit and vegetables and play games whilst exploring the site.
Kineton’s Key Stage 2 pupils took part in one of the Trust’s drama workshops, ‘Best Will in the World’, one of four such programmes on offer. The major themes of A Midsummer Night’s Dream were explored in a fun and interactive way, culminating in an abridged performance using the original text, together with movement and music.
This hands-on session encouraged pupils to learn about animals, the growing and use of herbs, fruit and vegetables and play games whilst exploring the site.
The school had chosen in advance which play to look at during the workshop, but schools can also choose between Macbeth, The Tempest and Twelfth Night through this particular workshop, with children actually performing on the site where Shakespeare himself roamed as a young boy.
Previous visits here have seen Kineton’s Key Stage 2 children participate in the ‘Tudors Alive’ workshop where they spent the day as Tudors, helping on the working farm. This involved pupils making wattle and daub, planting crops, playing Tudor games and enjoying authentic music and dancing.
Katie Barritt, Year 5 teacher at Kineton Primary School, said: “Our children always find their visits exciting, entertaining and informative. Whether they are getting hands-on with history or getting to grips with Shakespeare’s stories in the drama workshops, the element of fun and imaginative learning delivery means they are instantly engaged and excited to learn.
“We value the support from the Learning Team at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust when organising our visits and the post-visit resources are a great way to extend our Shakespeare topic back in the classroom.”
Back in the classroom
After visiting Mary Arden’s Farm, a host of resources were available to Kineton CofE Primary School, to extend their experience back in the classroom. This included free-to-download resources to use as well as a loan box. Available on a monthly basis, Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust’s loan boxes provide teachers with the flexibility of using tailored learning resources, alongside replica artefacts, whilst allowing children to have a tactile learning experience. One pupil said: “It’s like a box full of Shakespeare’s magical stuff”.
For more information about Mary Arden’s Farm, visit www.shakespeare.org.uk