History and literacy – Making sense of a letter from Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn

Pupils are given a copy of a letter from Henry to Anne Boleyn. It appears, at first glance to be impossibly hard to read – so many old-fashioned words, such an old-fashioned way of writing, and so long! But if the text is attacked in an imaginative way, pupils begin to make sense of it. By use of DART activities and text highlighting, pupils can quickly pick up the clues. The great prize is to see who can find all 14 words or phrases to prove that this is a love letter. The most obvious ones are modelled with the children. They can see a heart shape Henry has drawn with the letters AB within it. The second is slightly harder. It says in French but with a translation below ( I search for no other). Then it gets trickier. But as pupils gain in confidence they enjoy working in teams to see how many they can find. It is not essential that they find all 14, but some, as you know, will want to. The PowerPoint presentation breaks the long document into 3 sections and gives all the answers so that you can relax and the pupils can check their own answers.

This lesson leads on to a human dilemma decision-making activity Should Henry be allowed to divorce Catherine? which will soon be available to subscribers.

  Letter to Anne Boleyn

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