Tony Robinson learning resources cfe levels 1 and 2 Resource created by Jen Buchan Contents of this resource

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Tony Robinson learning resources
CFE Levels 1 and 2
Resource created by Jen Buchan

Contents of this resource
About Tony Robinson Page 2
Introducing Tony Robinson: Activities for First Level Page 3

Introducing Tony Robinson: Activities for Second Level Page 3

Greeks: Activities for First Level Page 3

Greeks: Activities for Second Level Page 4

Romans: Activities for First Level Page 6

Romans: Activities for Second Level Page 7

Egyptians: Activities for First Level Page 9

Egyptians: Activities for Second Level Page 10

British: Activities for First Level Page 11

British: Activities for Second Level Page 12

Tony Robinson Authors Live Event: Activities for First Level Page 13

Tony Robinson Authors Live Event: Activities for Second Level Page 13

Additional Resources Page 14
About Tony Robinson
Tony Robinson is an English actor, comedian, amateur historian, TV presenter and political activist. He has also written sixteen children's books. He has written several titles on historical subjects including The Worst Children’s Jobs in History, which sold over 60,000 copies and won the Best Book with Facts category in the Blue Peter Book Awards. His Weird World of Wonders series includes books about the Romans, Greeks, Egyptians and British. They combine facts, jokes, anecdotes, cartoons and information to provide readers with a quirky and entertaining insight into different parts of history.
Robinson is known for playing Baldrick in the BBC television series Blackadder and for hosting Channel 4 programmes such as Time Team and The Worst Jobs in History. He has also written several television series for children including Maid Marian and Her Merry Men, for which he received a BAFTA and a Royal Television Society Award.

  • Official Weird World of Wonders website packed with games, jokes, clips and information:

  • BBC website with excellent activities, quizzes and information about the Greeks, Romans and Brits:

  • Good source of child-friendly information about ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt as well as British history:

  • The National Museum of Scotland offers some excellent downloadable resources relating to the Egyptians and Romans. Class visits to the museum in Edinburgh can also be made and handling boxes with original and replica artefacts can be borrowed. See the website for details:

Activities Introducing Tony Robinson

Activities for First Level

  • Navigate your way around Tony Robinson’s website ( to discover the games, jokes, activities and information there. Play the game to practise your co-ordination and navigation skills:

Technologies – Computing science contexts for developing technological skills and knowledge – TCH 1-09a

Activities for Second Level

  • Watch the clip, ‘Introducing Tony Robinson’ on the homepage of his website: Look closely at the different costumes and animations to see what you already know about the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Brits. Which of the images or animations would you most like to find out about?

Technologies – ICT to enhance learning – TCH 2-03b

  • Look at some of the different Tony Robinson texts and discuss:

    • Which genre(s) are they?

    • What is the effect on the reader of combining more than 1 genre?

    • Do you think this is a good idea? Why/why not?

Reading – Understanding, Analysing and Evaluating LIT 2-16a

Activities for First Level

Art and Design

  • On page 19, we learn about the different uses that the Greeks had for olive oil. Design a label for a jar of olive oil which could have appeared in Greek times to show all of the different ways it could be used.

EXA 1-04a

    • Create your own tragedy/comedy masks (see pages 98-99). Discuss why you think the masks were used (because the audiences were so large that they could not see the faces of the actors. The masks were clearer to see from long distances. Actors could also change parts by changing masks). Discuss the sorts of things which might have happened in a tragedy (illness, death, crime, fighting, sadness) and in a comedy (happy ending, laughing, joking, teasing). Think about stories, films and plays that you know and classify them as tragedies or comedies.

EXA 1-15a
Numeracy and Mathematics

    • Robinson tells us how the Greeks used water clocks (page 36). Make your own water clock by using a plastic bottle with the neck cut off. Make marks every cm on the inside of the bottle and make a small hole in the bottle near the bottom. Fill the bottle with water and time how long it takes for water to empty from one line to the next. Record this time. Use this clock to measure the length of time of activities during the school day. If it takes 3 minutes for the water to move down 1 mark on the bottle, and a reading lesson drains 7 marks, then the reading lesson will have lasted for 21 minutes (3minutes x 7marks = 21!)

Number, money and measure – MTH 1-12a
Social Subjects

    • Find out how many sporting events there were in the 2012 Olympics. Carry out the activities on Robinson’s website to compare which events from Greek times are still participated in today. Take the Newsround Olympics quiz to see how much you remember about the 2012 Olympics:

People, past events and societies – SOC 1-04a

    • Create a diary entry to show a day in the life of an Athenian girl or boy. Describe the types of things s/he would do, what s/he would have eaten and the different games s/he would have played. Write these onto tea-stained paper to look like diary entries which have been unearthed from Greek times!

People, past events and societies – SOC 1-04a
Homework Activity

    • Write a fact that you have learnt about the Greeks using the Greek alphabet on page 100. Bring in your message and swap it with a friend to share your learning about the Greeks. Create a ‘Did You Know …’ in display of facts written in Greek in the classroom and ask other children to come and decipher the information.

Social subjects – People, past events and societies – SOC 1-04a

Activities for Second Level
Art and Design

  • On pages 40-41, Robinson teaches us about Pandora’s Box and the evil things that she let escape from it. In groups, discuss what you would put in a Pandora’s Box for the year 2013. Think about things that you think should be locked up and should not be allowed in our society. Ideas could include smoking, racism, bullying or illness, for example. Once you have chosen your ideas, write each item in different font and style, using bright colours, onto card and cut around each word. Attach each work to a piece of wire or a stick. Decorate a cereal box or equivalent as Pandora’s Box and show each wire or stick coming out of the box as if it has been opened. You could even have creatures such as those shown in the illustrations coming out of the box, along with the evils you have chosen.

EXA 2-05a

    • Work in groups to make your own Greek coins. Think about your group values and the message you would like your coin to give (see pages 56 and 57 for information about this) and design a picture or image to show this message. Swap coins with other groups and try to work out their values and message from their designs.

EXA 2-04a
Social Subjects

  • Compare what life was life for a Spartan and Athenian girl and boy. Use information from the book and from the following websites:

Put information into the correct place in the table found in Additional Resources 1. Take the ‘Growing up in Greece’ quiz found at:

People, past events and societies – SOC 2-04a
Religious and Moral Education

  • On page 55, we read about the Greek philosopher and teacher, Socrates. Research some of his ideas and the questions he asked (try As a class, choose 4 or 5 questions and write each one at the top of a different piece of flipchart paper (“What is wisdom?”, “What is the right thing to do?”, “What is truth?” and “What is justice?” for example). Form 4/5 groups (according to the number of questions you have) and visit each piece of paper, discuss the question and note down ideas. Spend 5 minutes discussing each idea. Once all questions have been discussed by all groups, ask 1 person from each group to share ideas with the class.

World religions selected for study – RME 2-05b

    • Aristotle believed that heavy objects fall faster than lighter ones (see page 139). Work with a partner to design a test which would investigate whether his theory was correct. Carry out your test to see if Aristotle knew a thing or two about science!

Forces, electricity and waves – SCN 2-08a
Numeracy and Mathematics

    • Find out what Archimedes’ great idea was and design a test to prove his theory. Use his theory to find the volume of different 3D objects. Discuss how his theory can be used in everyday life today.

Number, Money and Measurement – Mathematics – its impact on the world past, present and future – MTH 2-12a
Homework Activity

  • Design an image which would have appeared on a piece of Greek pottery and which shows something you have learnt about the Greeks (see examples on pages 46 and 47). It could, for example, show a chariot, a soldier or a god. Be ready to share your design with the class. You could even paint it onto a clay pot or cup that you had made in class.

Art and Design – EXA 2-04a

Activities for First Level
Social Subjects

    • Hold a Roman banquet to show different aspects of life in Roman times. You could…

  • Dress in togas, practising how to put them on correctly

  • Make and wear Roman sandals (draw around your foot onto a piece of card, punch holes down each side of the foot and use string to lace these around your foot and ankle)

  • Sample some foods commonly eaten in Roman times – dates, olives, cheese, grapes and figs

  • Greet each other in Latin (salve, mihi nomen est....= hello, my name is …)

People, past events and societies – SOC 1-04a

    • Become archaeologists and historians and create your own dig site. Look at this BBC clip about the job of an archaeologist from the National Museum of Scotland: Fill a large box with sand and hide different objects which could have been found in Roman times in the sand (coins, pieces of pottery, scraps of metal or jewellery, for example). Practise gently searching for different pieces of evidence, using paintbrushes to carefully brush away grains of sand and look closely under the microscope at what you have found. Complete the activity sheet found at to show how archaeologists would make deductions from images found on broken pots and jars.

People, past events and societies – SOC 1-02a

  • Choose one of the Roman Emperors (see pages 112-117) and create a Factfile for him. Give details such as the dates he ruled, notable acts, things he liked and any crazy things that he did!

People, past events and societies – SOC 1-04a
Art and Design

    • Make your own Roman oil lamps from clay. Look at images of what oil lamps looked like and how they were used to help you. This website gives an excellent step by step guide to making your own lamp:

EXA 1-04a
Numeracy and Mathematics

  • Look around you for examples of Roman numerals in our everyday lives (on clocks, watches, buildings and at the end of some television programmes, for example!) Make your own Roman numeral paper plate clock by drawing on the numerals in bright pens, making the numerals from plasticine, or using magnetic or felt letters (XV and I) and placing these on. Attach 2 hands using a paper fastener. Write different times in Roman numerals and work with a friend, asking him/her to show the times you have written.

Number, money and measure – MTH 1-12a

  • Use Google Earth to see images of Rome today. Which buildings do you think still stand from the times of the ancient Romans? Look for the Colosseum, the Pantheon and the Forum. Can you spot any famous modern buildings which you know (Stadio Olimpico, for example!)?

ICT to enhance learning – TCH 1-03b
Homework Activity

  • Robinson tells us about the way in which historians can tell a lot about life in Roman times from the remains found at Pompeii. Imagine you could preserve 3 things from your life to tell people in the future what life is like in 2013. Discuss with a parent, carer or sibling which 3 things you would preserve and why. Be ready to share your ideas with the class!

Social Subjects – People, past events and societies – SOC 1-04a

Activities for Second Level
Listening and Talking/Social Subjects

  • Watch the BBC Timewatch episode which explores Hadrian’s Wall. Take notes using the headings provided in Additional Resources 2. Use your notes to write a postcard back to Rome as a Roman soldier building the wall and living in a fort. Listen out for how the Romans felt about living in the British weather! Draw an outline of a map of Britain and show the location of Hadrian’s Wall on the front of your postcard.

Organising and Using Information – LIT 2-05a

People, places and past events – SOC 2-06a

Art and Design

  • Make a class life-size model of a Roman soldier. Draw around 1 child onto card and cut this out. Form 8 groups and give each 1 part of the soldier’s outfit (see pages 44 and 45) to make. Lay out different materials and tell children to choose what they think would best suit their part of the uniform. Materials could include: tinfoil, card, newspaper, glue and paperclips (for mail armour!), for example. Alternatively, children could discuss in advance the materials they think would be most suitable and bring these in from home or source these within the school. During the activity, lay out the cut-out of the child and remind groups to make sure the items they create will fit the soldier! Tell each group to also prepare an information card about their item. Dress and arm the soldier and display him for all to see!

EXA 2-04a
Social Subjects

  • On pages 68 and 69, Tony Robinson tells us about some Roman games and toys. Research different toys and games played by Roman children (see images of toys here: Make some of these yourself and ask another class to join you for a Roman games afternoon. Teach them how to play games such as Trigon (see this website for how to play and make a Roman dice: and Tabula. See this website for an example of a Tabula board and rules for how to play – click on the link to the Powerpoint at the bottom of the information about different games: Compare games in Roman times with games today – can you spot any similarities? (Tabula is similar to Backgammon, and we still use dice for chance and uncertainty games today!)

People, past events and societies – SOC 2-04a

  • Imagine you are a rich Roman, recruiting a slave. Create a job advert for the slave, indicating whether you would like a male or female, what you expect him/her to do for you and any skills you would like him/her to have (reading and writing/cooking or entertaining, for example). Use the information in the text (pages 76 and 77) and carry out some research of your own to help you ( is very useful!)

People, past events and societies – SOC 2-04a
Social Subjects/Writing

  • Imagine it is the time of the Romans invading Britain. Create newspaper headlines to show the things that the Romans have brought to Britain (research these first! Ideas could be the calendar, Latin, Christianity, roads, central heating…) Try to make your headlines as catchy as possible, using alliteration and puns to catch the reader’s interest, for example, “Raucous Romans teach Brits to Read!”

People, past events and societies – SOC 2-06a

Creating texts – ENG 2-27a

Homework Activity

  • Make a set of matching cards which match the names of Roman gods to their powers. Either draw or write the names of gods on one set of cards and their powers on a second set. Look at images and descriptions of gods at this website: or use the text on pages 94 and 95. Use the template in Additional Resources 3 (you will need 2 copies!). Play the matching game with a sibling, family member or friend at home.

Social Subjects – People, past events and societies – SOC 2-04a

Activities for First Level
Social Subjects

  • Robinson tells us about the harsh conditions of living in the Sahara. On pages 56 and 57, he describes how difficult it is for things to live in the desert. Research different plants and animals which live in the desert and the ways in which they have adapted for survival. Make a diorama of a desert scene using a shoebox, sand, stones, and models or drawn pictures of the creatures and plants which live there. This website gives clear instructions for making a desert diorama:

People, Place and Environment – SOC 1-12b

  • Use the hieroglyphic alphabet and activities on this website to create and decode messages and play a hieroglyphic game.

People, place and societies – SOC 1-04a
Religious and Moral Education

  • Robinson tells us about the way in which Bible stories are often set in Egypt. He mentions how the Bible character Moses leads Jewish people out of Egypt. Read about what happened to Moses as a baby ( Have you ever seen or heard of a Moses basket? Weave your own Moses basket using the instructions and template at this website: and put a little model or toy character inside to show what happened to Moses when he was born under the cruel Pharaoh’s rule.

Christianity – RME 1-02a
Art and Design

  • Make your own Pharaoh’s headdress (see page 101) by following the instructions and painting your own headdress using the template at this link: Work in pairs to write out 1 fact about the pharaohs that you have learnt. Visit another class wearing your headdresses and share your facts with the class.

EXA 1-04a

  • Robinson tells us about the recent scanning of mummies in the Birmingham Museum. Discuss where or when you have heard or experienced CT scanning and read about how it is carried out at the website below. Look at the images of the mummies and scroll over the different parts to see the scans which were taken. (

Technological developments in society – TCH 1-01a
Homework Activity

  • Imagine you are packing things that you would like to take to the afterlife. Discuss with a parent, carer or sibling which 3 possessions you most treasure and would like to take with you. Come prepared to tell the class about the 3 things you have chosen and why.

Listening and Talking – Creating Texts – LIT 1-09a

Activities for Second Level

  • Make a mindmap to show the different uses of the Nile for the ancient Egyptians. Choose which sub-headings you will have on your mindmap, reading the information on page 59 to help you. Create your mindmap by hand or using the Kidspiration software, including illustrations or cartoons such as those drawn by Del Thorpe to bring your mindmap to life!

Finding and using information – LIT 2-15a
Social Subjects

  • Throughout the book, Robinson tells us about lots of different ways that historians and archaeologists have pieced together information about Egypt and the ancient Egyptians. Discuss what the term ‘evidence’ means. Discuss also what primary and secondary sources of evidence are, and take the interactive quiz to sort sources at this website: Look through Robinson’s text and identify primary and secondary sources of evidence about the Egyptians. Hold a discussion about which sources you think are the most reliable and why.

People, past events and societies – SOC 2-01a
Art and Design

  • Look through the text and online for examples of Egyptian tomb paintings. What do they all have in common (see page 97 for suggestions)? Draw a tomb painting of your family or the people with whom you live, showing parents or carers as the more important people! Use a long strip of paper and use the hieroglyphic symbols on page 103 and decorate your panting with these. Remember to use the correct colours for males and females and ensure to draw everyone in profile!

EXA – 2-04a
Numeracy and Maths

  • Look at images of the pyramids and describe their properties (square-based pyramids, 8 edges, 5 corners, 5 faces). Discuss everyday objects which are or contain square-based pyramids. Choose which net would make a square-based pyramid from those shown in Additional Resources 4, and make your own square-based pyramids on sand-coloured paper. Write a fact about the pyramids of Egypt on each of the 4 faces around the sides of the pyramid.

Shape, Position and Movement – MTH 2-16b
Homework Activity

  • Retell the 8 gruesome steps of mummification to a parent, carer or sibling at home. Look at the examples of Del Thorpe’s illustrations on pages 86-88 and make your own cartoon strip of mummification. You can use the template in Additional Resources 5 to help you.

Social Subjects – people, past events and societies – SOC 2-06

Activities for First Level
Health and Wellbeing

  • Throughout the book, we learn of foods and products which were brought to Britain from the different colonised countries. On separate sticky labels, draw a picture of each of the products that you learn about (sugar, potatoes, tobacco, spices and tea). Work with a partner and use an atlas to help you place your sticky labels on the correct countries to show where the products came from. Look at today’s packets for each of the food items and see if they have travelled from the same countries as they did all those years ago.

Food and the Consumer – HWB 1-35a
Social Subjects

  • Robinson teaches us about all the ways in which Steam enabled the Brits to become more efficient. Make a mindmap with pictures and words to show the different things that steam enabled the Brits to do and the changes it made to our transport. Sub-headings in your mindmap could include ships, trains and factories, for example.

People, past events and society – SOC 1-04a

  • Research what school life was like in Victorian days and have a Victorian school day of your own. Divide into groups to research a different aspect each. These could include: uniform, subjects, the classroom or teachers! You could arrange the classroom in individual desks in rows, write on slates, have lessons in sewing and dictation and play Victorian games at break time.

People, past events and society – SOC 1-04a

  • Imagine that you are Dr David Livingstone, exploring undiscovered parts of deepest Africa. Discuss some of the different types of landscape you would have encountered (jungle, forest, rivers, waterfalls, lakes, savannahs) and look at pictures of examples of these to help you visualise them. Think about the types of noises you might have heard in each place. Use different instruments to make the sounds of the landscapes, weather and creatures (rattles, rainmakers, bongo and ocean drums, for example). Work in groups to choose a landscape and create the different noises that Livingstone would have heard there. Take it in turns to create your sounds for others to listen to and have them guess where Livingstone might have been on his journey.

EXA 1-18a
Homework Activity

  • Tony Robinson mixes lots of important information with funny facts and entertaining stories. Think of 3 of the funniest or strangest facts that you have learnt about the Brits and tell them to a parent/carer or sibling at home. You could also put these into an A4 sized poster, entitled, “Did You Know…”. You could draw an accompanying cartoon illustration for each of your facts, like those drawn by the illustrator Del Thorpe.

Reading – Understanding, analysing and evaluating – ENG 1-17a

Activities for Second Level
Social Subjects

  • Throughout the book, we learn of Grace’s Top 10 British Colonies. Using a blank world map and an atlas, read about the different colonies and locate/colour these on the map. You could colour code the colonies and use a key to show the order and dates in which they were colonised.

People, past events and societies – SOC – 2-06a

  • Imagine you are posted to India as an official in the British Raj. Write a letter home to your family, describing what life is like. You could mention the weather, the food, the lifestyle and your accommodation. Read pages 97-104 and look at the images on this website to help you:

People, past events and societies – SOC – 2-04a
Health and Wellbeing

  • Robinson describes some of the tropical diseases encountered by explorers of Africa and India (see pages 121-123). One of the deadliest killers was malaria. Malaria is still one of the world’s largest killers today. Research how it is spread and what can be done to stop it. Use this interactive website to help you and to identify the countries which are still troubled with Malaria today: What do you notice about the location and climate of all of the countries? One of the simplest ways of preventing Malaria is by sleeping under a mosquito net. Hold a class or whole school fundraising event to raise money to buy mosquito nets to help people prevent catching the disease: The event could be an Explorers’ Day when you pay a small amount and dress up as an explorer for the day, for example.

Mental, emotional social and physical wellbeing – HWB 2-16a
Art and Design

  • Look at the way in which the illustrator, Del Thorpe, depicts the invention of the steam train on pages 68-69. Choose one of the other inventions described on pages 77-82 and show the discovery and development of this in cartoons of your own. Include speech bubbles with humorous text to engage the reader and help explain the illustrations. Put all of the cartoons together and bind these in a book entitled, “British Inventions of the 1800s” or “Victorian Inventions”.

EXA 2-04a
Technologies/Social Subjects

  • Present information about the Battle of Trafalgar (see pages 54-59) in your own chosen way using ICT. Watch the animation of the battle at and read more about the battle at Different ways of presenting your information could include, for example:

  • in a Powerpoint presentation

  • in a cartoon strip (using Comic Life software)

  • in a newspaper article or a leaflet using Word

ICT to enhance learning – TCH 2-04b

People, past events and societies – SOC 2-06a

Homework Activity

  • Tell a family member or carer at home what it was like to be a child working on the Royal Navy ships during the 18th century. Use the following words in your descriptions: skylarking, cabin boy, powder monkey. Discuss any aspects of life that you would have enjoyed and those you would not have liked so much. You might want to think about the living conditions, illnesses or food that you would have experienced on board, too!

Listening and Talking – Creating texts – LIT 1-09a

Social Subjects – People, past events and societies – SOC 2-06a

Authors Live Event
Activity for First Level

  • Create your own headdress to wear for the event. Choose from either a Roman laurel wreath, an Egyptian headdress, a Greek soldier’s helmet or a British top hat and moustache. Look at the video clip, “Introducing Tony Robinson” on his website to spot the different headdresses that he wears ( Can you match each to the correct groups of people in history?

Art and Design – EXA 1-04a
Activity for Second Level

  • Read the excerpts from reviews of Robinson’s books which are given at the bottom of his webpage ( Write your own comment about the books, sharing your ideas about how the information is presented, the effect this has on the reader and your own personal experience of reading the book(s). Collate these in a class leaflet of reviews about the books and put these in your school library for others to read.

Literacy and English – Reading – Enjoyment and choice – Lit 2-11a

Additional Resources 1

Comparison of the Lives of Spartan and Athenian Girls and Boys





Additional Resources 2

Note-taking: Hadrian’s Wall

Emperor Hadrian and his Ideas

Building the Wall

The Vindolanda Fort

Artefacts found on the Wall and what they Teach us

Additional Resources 3
Matching Cards for Roman Gods


dditional Resources 4

Net of a square-based pyramid

Which net would create a 3D square-based pyramid?

Additional Resources 5

Cartoon Strip: Mummification









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