New Booklet for KS1: The Great Fire of London

I have been hard at work producing another history booklet, this time for KS1, on the Great Fire of London. This is on the National Curriculum for KS1 and is a popular topic in schools. However, quite often this topic is handled through role-play, videos and delightful artwork of burning London. I wanted to create something knowledge-rich, memorable and steeped in the disciplinary tradition of history teaching. This presented several challenges. How do I make it knowledge-rich without overwhelming early readers in KS1? And by limiting the amount of text to what a 7-year old can digest, what part of the story do I leave out?

Over a period of weeks, I researched the Great Fire, made notes and came up with three enquiry questions:

  1. What were the living conditions for people in London in 1666?
  2. Why did the Great Fire of London cause so much destruction?
  3. How did London change as a result of the Great Fire of 1666?

Through these three questions, I wanted to get pupils to start tackling the second-order concepts of cause and consequence, as well as change and continuity. By whittling it down to these three questions, it soon became clear what I would regretfully leave out. I had thought about discussing the war with the Netherlands and France, and immigrants in London who were scapegoated after the Fire. This part of the story would have to be left out. The focus became on London’s streets, buildings and trades. What factors contributed to the destructiveness of the Fire, and how London changed, including what didn’t change, after the Fire.

As a Learning For Memory booklet, naturally I also had to focus on making the content as memorable as possible. With this in mind, I tried to write an engaging and accessible narrative, whilst also interleaving vocabulary throughout the narrative. Terms such as ‘flammable’, ‘tinder-dry’, ‘sewage’ and ‘wood, straw and pitch’ make regular appearances in the text. There are also regular retrieval practice exercises dotted throughout the booklet.

The booklet is currently in the final editing stages. Angel Oak Academy have very generously offered to trial it out at their school later this school year, and to give valuable feedback on the booklets. It would be fabulous if a handful of other schools were to also try out and feedback. If you think this is something your school might like to do, please contact me on

Multiple Choice Questions for ‘The Middle Ages’

Below is a link to a downloadable Powerpoint file with multiple choice questionnaires for each of the 11 booklets forming ‘Learning for Memory: The Middle Ages’. These can be used as a starter activity or as a low stakes test at the end of each topic. I also recommend using the knowledge organisers for quizzing, simply by deleting the content from the boxes on the right or left column. I have tried to include plausible answers for each question, and to set questions that get students thinking about the main issues covered in the booklets, with a view to enhancing understanding, clearing up misunderstandings and helping students to retain this knowledge in their long-term memory. Correct answers are indicated with (C), which should obviously be deleted before printing out for a lesson.

Multiple choice questions: The Middle Ages

Teacher notes for ‘The Middle Ages’

Below are teacher notes to go with each booklet. They contain some suggested sentences for the sentence completion exercises, as well as various other bits and pieces. I suggest though that teachers attempt to complete the because, but and so stem sentences themselves first, before looking at these notes. It can be a bit challenging to come up with all three sentences (usually the because sentence is obvious, the but one less so), so I think it’s useful for teachers to put themselves in their students’ shoes and try completing the sentences themselves, and then comparing with the sentences I came up with in the teacher notes.

Please click on a link below to download the file as a Word document.

Teacher notes for Booklet 1 (Introduction to the Middle Ages)

Teacher notes for Booklet 2 (The Making of England)

Teacher notes for Booklet 3 (1066: Three Kings in One Year)

Teacher notes for Booklet 4 (Religion in the Middle Ages: Everyday Faith, Religious Orders and Heresies)

Teacher notes for Booklet 5 (Norman England)

Teacher notes for Booklet 6 (Religion in the Middle Ages: Church Reforms and Crusades)

Teacher notes for Booklet 7 (The Anarchy)

Teacher notes for Booklet 8 (Religion in the Middle Ages: Conflict Between Church and Crown)

Teacher notes for Booklet 9 (Medieval Kingship in England)

Teacher notes for Booklet 10 (King John and the Magna Carta)

Teacher notes for Booklet 11 (Social Change in the 14th Century)