Ideas for teaching the topic of the abolition of slavery

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Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade

Teaching Ideas

Ideas for teaching the topic of the abolition of slavery
NB: Before you begin teaching about the topic of slavery it is vital that you introduce traditional and positive stories about the areas in Africa affected by slavery to avoid pupils first knowledge of these areas in Africa being negative It is also very important to identify the positive impact that black people had in this era to ensure that a sense of empowerment prevails. There are many individuals which you could choose from, e.g.

  • Harriet Tubman

  • Olaudah Equiano

  • Nanny of the Maroons

Further information on each of these named individuals is included on the numbered fact sheets referred to in orange text within the activities below.
Introducing the topic

  • After teaching a lesson on one of the above individuals, you could establish what the children know using mind-maps or KWL grids.

  • You could introduce an aspect through pictures such as the quilt and discuss its possible significance (see fact sheet 6)

  • Alternatively a photograph of another key figure e.g. Newton (fact sheet 4) or Wilberforce (fact sheet 9) could be displayed to initiate discussion.

  • Studying artefacts or posters from the era is another way to engage children.

  • Or how about setting up a space in your classroom representing how much room slaves had on ships, ‘The space between decks was divided into two compartments 3 feet 3 inches high; the size of one was 16 feet by 18 and of the other 40 by 21; into the first were crammed the women and girls, into the second the men and boys: 226 fellow creatures were thus thrust into one space 288 feet square and 336 into another space 800 feet square, giving to the whole an average Of 23 inches and to each of the women not more than 13 inches.’ "Aboard a Slave Ship, 1829," EyeWitness to History, (2000).

  • Listen to ‘Amazing Grace’ (fact sheet 4) – a traditional/contemporary version and discuss the emotions it evokes or ask the children to speculate on its origins, (don’t forget to mention the local link), John Newton, a one-time resident of Olney wrote it and it is now world famous having been sung by many famous artists such as Destiny’s Child.

Main activities

Cross-curricular links to Art & DT

  • Designing a stamp to mark the bicentenary

  • Designing a poster informing people of the fact that there are more slaves today than there have ever been (fact sheet 11).

  • Designing a symbol in which ever medium to mark the abolition or the bicentenary

  • Making a class quilt/picture/photo using symbols to represent the class, (fact sheet 6)

  • Make traditional crafts from Africa (ideas and resources are available for free loan from the multicultural resource centre at EMASS)

  • Cook some traditional African recipes, invite parents and members of the community to help/inform (please visit our resource centre at EMASS for recipes)

Cross-curricular links to literacy

  • Hot seat one or more of the key figures (fact sheets 3 ,4 ,5 ,8 & 9).

  • Write a diary entry from the viewpoint of a key figure, a slave or a slave trader (as above)

  • Write a poem about any aspect (all fact sheets)

  • Write a letter to a key figure, expressing admiration or anger depending on recipient! (fact sheets 3 ,4 ,5 ,8 & 9).

  • Role-play aspects of the topic

  • Study African/Caribbean texts (available for free loan from the resource centre at EMASS)

  • Explore texts related to this topic

Cross-curricular links to Numeracy

  • Data compiling on any aspect of the topic

Cross-curricular links to Geography

  • Study the local links to Olney (fact sheet 4)

  • Identify on a world map areas of slave trade (fact sheet 2)

  • Identify on a modern world map, areas affected by slave trade today (fact sheet 11)

  • Study sustainable farming etc

Cross-curricular links to History

  • Produce a timeline of key events, this could be 2 or 3D or multimedia (fact sheet 2)

  • Study key events in the life of a central figure; present it as a 2D storyboard, or as 3D using a variety of mediums (fact sheets 3 ,4 ,5 ,8 & 9).

  • Study the original abolition of slavery speech, the following website has extracts reported by the contemporary press. .

Cross-curricular links to PE

  • Watch a clip of the Brazilian self-defence ‘Capoiera’, devise routines based on this principle (fact sheet 7)

Cross-curricular links to Music

  • Learn ‘Amazing Grace’ as a class, year group or school along with other contemporary hymns (fact sheet 4)

  • Compose pieces of music or songs to represent any aspect of the topic

  • Use either of the above 2 to perform a concert to raise money for a modern anti-slavery charity

Cross-curricular links to PSHE

  • Discuss the fact that today there are more slaves than there has ever been (fact sheet 11)

  • Study the quilt and the Brazilian ‘Capoiera’ and discuss how societies have communicated secretly to empower and unite people (fact sheets 6 & 7)

  • Identify rights of children/people identified by the UN and discuss the implications for today’s society (fact sheet 10)

  • Use circle time to empathise and explore the emotions evoked by this topic

Cross-curricular links to RE

Cross-curricular links to languages

  • Study Creole or Patois and learn how to say some key phrases

  • Look at the language used in texts using Creole/Patois

Cross-curricular links to Science

  • Look at medical issues at the time of slavery, which diseases were rife? What advances had medical science made?

  • Discuss the habitat of some of the key areas and identify native species of plants and animals, classify them using keys

  • Look at the medical skills of Harriet Tubman and how she used herbal medicine to cure hundreds, never catching any of the deadly diseases herself, (fact sheet 5).

If you would like any further information please contact Emily Garratt, (Consultant):


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