Climbing the Tudor job ladder

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By Jane Bowerconsultant to primary schools in art, drama, dance and literacy

Original article published on 26 September 2007

The following activities invite children to look at conditions in Tudor towns and the different types of jobs that were available at that time.

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Activity 1 uses role play to visit a ‘Tudor Job Centre’.
Activity 2 encourages children to interview each other at a ‘Tudor Job Fair’.

Activity 1: The apprentice

Learning objective: to learn about a variety of Tudor occupations through role play.

You will need: background information (see essential facts and activity sheet, ‘Job descriptions’); workspace for drama; whiteboard; sticky notes; pen.

  • As a class, research, read about and discuss the various occupations that were available to ordinary working people in Tudor times. You can use the activity sheet to aid your research.
  • Ask the children to think of an action to represent each Tudor occupation. For example, pretending to mix potions for the apothecary or acting out scrubbing clothes for the washerwoman .
  • Write different Tudor job titles on sticky notes (one per child). Some may be repeated.
  • Stick the sticky notes randomly on the whiteboard. This is the Tudor Job Centre.
  • Allow the children time to decide on their own background story. Ask them to consider questions such as what are their skills? Where have they come from? Why are they looking for work?
  • The teacher (Master) is in charge of the job centre, and places a sticky note on each worker. Stress that it’s possible nothing will be available to suit their skills – they may have to take whatever work they can.
  • Children carry out their jobs through role play. Tell the children to use the actions from earlier and also encourage them to create their own actions by reading the ‘Jobs descriptions’ activity sheet. The Master can check that they are doing their work well, and can fire them if they are not. When a worker wants to change jobs, they must give valid reasons why and return their sticky note to the board!
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