Trails for Key Stage 2
The Abbey as a Place of Christian Worship Trail - Where, how and why do people worship?
St Albans Cathedral is open 365 days a year, but how and why is it used? Using the building as our classroom, the children will explore the Cathedral to learn about the key beliefs of Christian worship, what Christians believe, and how the building helps to bring these to life. They will visit the font, altar, pulpit, lectern and shrine, and think about communion, baptism and the Bible, before one of the children is dressed up as the Bishop!
St Alban and the Romans: Local history
The year is around 300AD and all is peaceful in the town of Verulamium. Until, one day, a Christian priest comes visiting … Using the Cathedral as our setting, the children will dress up to re-enact the story of Alban, saint and martyr. Along the way they will learn about the history of every day Roman life in Verulamium, and find out how brick from Verulamium ended up being used to make the Abbey 700 years later. For teachers who wish their children to learn about St Alban from an RE perspective, the children can also explore in more detail the growth of the Abbey after his death and how Alban is remembered in the Cathedral today as the first Christian Martyr in Britain.
Before and After the Dissolution
This trail starts with children being put into role as monks in St Albans Abbey in the first half of the sixteenth century. With the help of costume, badges, music and the building itself, the children can begin to understand the life of the cloister and the experience of those who had lived there for all their adult life. But the year is 1537 and change is in the air. Disturbing rumours from other religious houses in England fill the monks with fear and despondency. The group moves round the Abbey looking at the treasury, the nave altar, the wall paintings, statues, glass, brasses, the shrine itself – indeed all those things it knows to be particularly vulnerable.
There is a change of Abbot. Tension rises. The monks are called to an extraordinary chapter meeting and discuss how best to respond to the almost inevitable dissolution of their monastery. A peaceful response is decided upon – the monks remove their scapulars and receive their pensions. The building itself however is treated with violence and experiences dramatic change. It becomes very clear that Henry's longing for a son, his desperate need for money and his interest in the religious reformers of his day have together wreaked havoc on St Albans Abbey and the town around it.
Christmas Trail: why is Christmas important to Christians?
Christmas is one of the major festivals of the Christian year, and we have both a trail and a workshop aimed at investigating Christmas in a fun and thought provoking way.
Christmas Trail: The children will explore the Cathedral and learn about the Christmas story, its significance to Christians, and how it is celebrated. They will investigate the signs and symbols of the festival and find out how the Cathedral prepares for Advent and Christmas.
Christmas Clay: In this workshop the children will learn about the signs and symbols of Christmas, before each creating a clay tile design with a Christmas symbol on it.
Easter Trail: why is Easter important to Christians?
Easter is one of the major festivals of Christianity, and we have both a trail and a workshop aimed at investigating Easter in a fun and thought provoking way. The children will explore the Cathedral and learn the story of Easter, its significance to Christians, and how it is celebrated in the church today. They will investigate the meaning of Lent, the the Last Supper and why the events of Good Friday and the resurrection are so important. They will also discover the history of the Hot Cross Bun!
Invaders and Settlers Trail: Romans, Saxons and Normans
Since time begun, life in England has been affected by Invaders and Settlers. Using role-play, the children will explore over 1000 years of national and local history. They will start with the first Roman invasion of Britain in 55BC, re-enact the story of Alban, learn about the Anglo-Saxons before finishing with the Norman Conquest and the construction of the church that we see today. The trail will finish with the children using a Roman brick to create a timeline to represent the events they have explored.
Maths is at its most exciting in the real world, and there is nothing better than using the Cathedral to bring the children’s classroom work to life! By exploring the building, the children will have a chance to use their skills in shape, pattern, symmetry, length and number. The trail will finish with the conundrum of how to measure the height of the Nave ceiling, testing the children’s creative thinking to the limit!
Imagine as a child in medieval England being sent by your parents to St Albans Abbey to train as a monk? What would you have seen? In the monastery trail, the children will take on the role of a monk and experience their daily life in the Abbey, from electing an Abbot, discussing problems at chapter meetings, thinking about their everyday roles and looking after the shrine of St Alban.
Imagine yourself in St Albans in Medieval times – the town was thriving and the Abbey was the journeys end for thousands of pilgrims – for a while the most important pilgrimage site in Europe! Dressing up in character, with a story to tell and a gift to leave at the shrine, the children will re-enact the why’s and how’s of medieval pilgrimage to St Albans. They will explore the Cathedral building and put into context the significance of pilgrimage to people of that time, as well as thinking about pilgrimage in other world faiths today.
The Cathedral is a wonderful source of inspiration for poetry of all different styles and topics. By using the building, candles, artwork, incense, costume and music, children will be challenged to explore their thoughts and feelings, and encouraged in their use of language. By the end of the session, the children wil have worked in pairs or groups to compose their poetry, before performing these within the Cathedral.
The children go back in time to Saxon Britain and explore everyday life using artefacts and role-play. Starting with how King Offa founded the Saxon monastery at St Albans in 793AD, the trail then explores daily life, crime and punishment and the growth of the local settlements in the area. Finally, the children will look for Saxon evidence within the Cathedral, before being led in a handling session using Saxon artefacts. A great activity to explore local and national history.
Signs and Symbols Trail - What do Christians believe?
The Cathedral is full of signs and symbols, but what do they all mean? By exploring the building, the children will discover the important signs and symbols of Christianity, including the significance of candles, food, communion, baptism and bells. They will visit the Lectern, Pulpit and the Shrine, as well as the Cathedra where one of the children will dress up as the Bishop!
The Vikings were feared thoughout Britain during Saxon times, but did the Monastery at St Albans have anything to worry about? In this new trail, the children will learn why monks in the 9th and 10th Century were targetted by the Viking raiders and the impact of Danelaw, before using historical records to role-play the impact of the Vikings on St Albans. Finally, the trail will end with a Viking artefact handling session.
World War 1
In this new activity, the children have a chance to explore the Cathedral, looking for signs and symbols of remembrance. They will learn the stories of some of the local men who fought in World War 1 and visit one of the war memorials in the streets near the Cathedral. Using charcoal, the children will then produce a portait of one of the men from St Albans who fought and died in the war. Finally, the children will learn about the significance of the poppy before planting a poppy seed in the Cathedral grounds as an act of remembrance.