St George’s Day – A Teaching Ideas Blog
St George’s Day remembers the infamous patron saint of England every year on 23rd April. People often think of him as some kind of armour-clad knight who fearlessly fought off a fire breathing dragon. However, he actually came from Turkey in the times of the Roman empire, so was probably more like a Roman soldier than a traditional English knight. St George’s day is celebrated all over the UK and is part of English heritage. It is becoming a much more popular topic to teach at primary level.
Why learn about St George?
Children always love a story about good versus evil and this folk tale really doesn’t disappoint. Some will like the bravery of St George and the gruesomeness of the dragon eating sheep and people and whilst others might enjoy the the princess and the fairy tale ending of the her being rescued from the dragon by the courageous St George.
Not only will the children love the story but there are some great curriculum links…
History – events beyond living memory and lives of significant individuals.
R.E – belonging to a community/heritage.
Reading – becoming familiar with and retelling fairy stories and traditional tales.
Geography – use world maps, atlases and globes to identify the UK and its countries.
DT – design purposeful and functional products based on design criteria.
There are many debates you could have about the morals of the story as well – Were the villagers right to feed the women to the dragon? Would you have helped the villagers if you were St George? or more fun topics – Are dragons real?
Start with a brilliant hook-in to get the children excited to learn about St George. This could be evidence that a dragon has been in the classroom like some large dragon footprints and some burnt toast or a thank you note from the princess saying, “Thanks George for being so brave and rescuing me. Would you like to come to my house for a banquet?” could be found.
Next read the story. I have written a TPET flip book version of the story where St George is depicted in true historical style as a Roman soldier.
Read the story using expression, pausing to ask the children questions about how the characters might feel or what they might be thinking and ask the children to predict what might happen at the end of the story.
Add story telling puppets to your reading provision so the children can enjoy retelling the story in their own words. Children could even retell the story by writing their own version.
Learn about the history behind the real St George and how St George’s day is celebrated as background knowledge to the tale. I have written an information text and comprehension that could be used in a whole class read or as part of reading in the wider curriculum. Children will begin to understand and make links to the English heritage. This could be a great way to talk about the cultural differences within your class or school.
Follow this essential learning with some purposeful cross curricular activities like designing a shield for St George, creating a St George flag or some engaging writing challenges like ‘How to put out a fire’ or ‘How to slay a dragon.’ We have a selection of activities that we know children will enjoy and learn from.
Remember, when you have taught a topic, plan in some spaced retrieval to ensure that children have retained the knowledge about St George. This could be with a mini quiz or a simple true or false fact game. For even more ideas check out Michael’s topic blog all about St George!
Enjoy St George and I hope you don’t meet any hungry dragons in your classrooms.