Some further planning for The Roman Box Unit: Boudicca & the Romans

10th September 2013

This planning is an additional sequence of steps for the Unit: The Roman Box

In this sequence the children:

  • draft & make a proclamation from the Roman Governor,
  • create an Iceni settlement,
  • organise daily tasks for different groups of people in the settlement
  • represent the people in the settlement on the day the proclamation arrived
  • discuss how to deal with the demands of the proclamation
  • decide how to deal with an even bigger problem

Stepping into the past: Boudicca and the Romans


  • The painting of Vercingetorix Throws Down his Arms at the Feet of Julius Caesar.
  • A copy of the story of Boudicca and the Romans appropriate for the age of the children
  • (Optional) a copy of the Battlefield Briton documentary
  • Paper for the children to write their ‘final copy’ of the proclamation
  • Pictures of an Iceni village/settlement (for whiteboard and/or printed out and laminated)
  • List of buildings etc from the settlement (see resources in planning unit) – printed, laminated and cut out
  • Skipping ropes to represent the fenced border of the settlement
  • (optional) Resources for making the village
  • List of the settlement tasks (see resources in planning unit) – printed, laminated and cut out

This sequence follows on from the inquiry using the painting: Vercingetorix Throws Down his Arms at the Feet of Julius Caesar. You can either start it directly after or come back after exploring the Roman Box sequence first.

1: The painting – Remind the children of the painting by showing it again on the whiteboard.

2: Read the Story of Boudicca and the Romans.

Note: there are many versions of this story for children of different ages, which can be easily found by searching the Internet using the term: “Boudicca for children”. There is also a BBC documentary film from the series Battlefield Briton (you kind find a link to the YouTube copy of this programme at the end of this unit). However, be warned the film does contain some graphic descriptions of violence and will not be suitable for all children.

3. Draft a proclamation from the Roman governor of Britain, Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, to the Iceni tribes after the defeat of Boudicca.

  • “What, do you think, would the Romans demand of the Iceni tribes to ensure they would never again rise up in revolt?” For example”
    • Hand in all weapons?
    • A third of all jewellery?
    • Pay a tax of a third of all crops?
    • One half of all animals born?
    • Etc
  • “What language would the governor use?” The official language of command and rule.
    • Model this with the class
    • Discuss and suggest vocabulary
    • Punctuation
  • “How would this proclamation be communicated to the Iceni people?” For example read out by a Roman soldier in each Iceni settlement.
  • Children work together to create draft copies of the proclamation
    • These are shared and checked for spelling, punctuation etc
    • Children make final copies of the proclamation
    • A single proclamation is made for the story, using samples from the children’s work

4. Creating the Iceni Settlement

  • Share the pictures of the Iceni settlement with the class
  • “What do you notice about this community?” Discussion
  • Bring the children on to the carpet:
    • Ask them to sit in a circle.
    • Ask them to make the fenced border of the settlement using the skipping ropes.
    • Hand out the list of building etc so the children have one each.
    • “Who has the well? Where do you think we should have the well? Where might this community choose to have the well?”
    • “One at a time please place your building where you think it would go best in this settlement. As you do it could you please explain your thinking.” For example, “The pig pen goes here, at the edge of the settlement, because of the smell.” Etc.
  • (Optional) The children could now draw and/or make the different buildings etc in the settlement.

5. The settlement tasks (see resources list)

  • Organise the class into small groups
  • “I’m going to give each group a copy of some of the tasks done in the settlement by the Iceni people. Could you please take a look and organise them into one of four categories: Tasks for Men; Tasks for Women; Tasks for Children; Tasks for the Elderly.
  • Hand out the ‘Settlement Tasks’ cards to the children working in groups, a complete set for each group.
  • After the activity is completed ask the children to take a look at the work of the other groups and share their thinking.

6. The day the proclamation arrived

  • Dramatic Action – “Imagine there is another painting of the settlement showing the people at work on the day the Romans came with the proclamation. Could you please imagine you are someone in the settlement occupied on a task, you might be collecting berries from the wood, you might be making a sword, feeding the pigs, or fixing clothes.”
    • The children decide where they would like to be in the space and represent the person in the settlement at work.
    • “The people of the settlement were at work when the Romans came. Doing the tasks they did every day. Unaware their lives were about to change forever.”
    • “What were you doing the day the Romans came? Where were you?”
    • Dramatic Imagination – “Please relax for a moment”
      • “How did the people in the settlement know when the Romans were coming? Was there a look out? Did they shout? Or was the first sign the sound of the soldier’s marching feet?”
      • “So, let’s try this again. Please get back into position.”
      • “The people of the settlement where hard at work, the first sign that things were about to change was the sound of look out’s cry from the top of the hill. ‘The Romans are coming’. This was never good. As the people looked up, they saw the look out running down towards them, then they heard the sound of the soldier’s boots and saw a flash of light as the sun caught the tips of their spears.”
      • Reading the proclamation – “Without pausing the soldiers marched into the centre of the village”
        • An adult (or teacher) in role (AIR), representing the commander, carrying the proclamation speaks:
        • “To all the people of the Iceni Settlement, I have an proclamation from the Roman governor of Britain, Gaius Suetonius Paulinus. Every person must be present to hear this important announcement.”
        • The children gather to hear the reading.
        • The AIR reads the proclamation and answers questions.
        • After the proclamation – “With that the Romans left, leaving the Iceni people with their thoughts.”
          • Allow some time for discussion and reflection.
          • “What can we do? They are so much stronger than we are? All our armies have been defeated? Our queen is lost, no one knows if she is alive or dead.”
          • “We will have a meeting this evening to decide what we must do. Please bring along your weapons and your valuables.”

7. Some hard decisions

  • Outside the fiction, the children spend some time drawing something valuable they would each like to keep hidden from the Romans. These will constitute the focus of the next inquiry.
  • “Once you have drawn your valuable thing, it could be a sword or a piece of jewellery or some other object, could you please think of a reason why it should be hidden from the Romans. Remember we can’t hide everything, they will be suspicious and we know they are capable of terrible acts.”
  • The children decide how they would like to have the meeting; it might be in a circle on the carpet or a ring of chairs.
  • The meeting begins with each member of the settlement showing what they have brought and why they think it should be hidden from the Romans. The community discuss the implications.
  • Note: It is not essential that everyone gets to show their object, this is more about building tension and does not need to be dragged out.

8. An even harder decision

  • When you judge the moment right…
  • An AIR, representing a tired man, arrives asking for permission to talk to the people of the settlement. He brings an important message, his Iceni clothes are tattered and torn covered in dark marks, which might be blood.
    • “Thank you, I thought us lost. The Romans are everywhere. I have a secret, can I trust you?
    • “Outside your walls, hidden in the trees, are Queen Boudicca and her daughters. They are tired and starved, all we ask is that you take us in and hide us from the Romans.”
    • Discussion.


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