2022 is the year of The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Up and down the country, people are embracing the two-day Bank Holiday and throwing parties to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s historic 70-year reign.
Just like with other cultural celebrations and national days, the Jubilee presents an excellent opportunity for fulfilling the EYFS ‘understanding the world’ directive. Unlike most national days, however, this is a once in a lifetime event.
Young children may struggle to grasp the concept of a time before they were born, but they are fascinated by the idea of a world without the technology they are used to. You can work as a team to create a large piece of art showing things that were common in 1953 versus now. For example, a red phone box compared to a mobile.
Also, look at 1950s clothes compared to today’s fashions. You could even try to recreate some 1950s looks and have a fashion show.
Black and White Photographs
As soon as you look for images of the coronation, you will find that they are in black and white. Explain to the children that photographs and televisions were mostly black and white in the 1950s and have fun creating your own black and white images. You could print them out and make a red white and blue frame to take them home as keepsakes for the children’s parents and primary caregivers.
Stamps & Printing
Use a whiteboard or blue tack to hang up a piece of white paper at the child’s head height then either you or another child can use chalk to draw around the first child’s profile, creating an outline like a stamp. This is a great pairs activity, but younger children may need more help to trace the outline.
You can also look at creating your own stamps for printing using hard veg like a potato or thick foam.
Coins are useful for shape and size recognition – circle, smaller circle, hexagon etc. Try tracing the outline of the queen on coins with chalks or doing rubbings of different coins to show the queen ageing.
Create or download a bingo sheet with items related to the queen, such as the Union Jack, corgis, a crown etc and matching cards. Encourage the children to shout out or raise their hands when you call a symbol they have on their sheet. The first one to match all symbols wins.
You can also use these cards to play snap and other games that rely on concentration and recognition.
Flags and Bunting
You can decorate the space with Union Jack flags and bunting, either bought or homemade with the children. The Union Jack is also fun to colour in. Let the children choose their own colours to create a flag for their own kingdom! This kind of artistic expression helps children feel confident in their ideas and develop their sense of self.
Simple crowns are easy and fun to create. Get some paper plates and let the children paint them however they wish. Once dry, fold each in half and cut triangle shapes in the middle. Open it up and continue to cut until you have even ‘spikes’ and a ring that will sit on the child’s head. Add jewels or anything else you fancy to decorate.
Now that you’ve got your crowns sorted, it’s time to party. Garden parties are a traditional way to celebrate The Queen’s Jubilee (weather permitting), and the children benefit from being outside. If going outside isn’t an option, you can still have a rocking party in your classroom or activity space. Alexa or YouTube can help you find hits from the ‘50s to intersperse between the children’s favourites. 50’s music, such as Ray Charles’ Mess Around, has the advantage of clean lyrics.
Dancing holds many benefits for all ages, including better flexibility, improved heart and lung health, better coordination, improved balance and spatial awareness and increased muscular and core strength. This is part of the recommended physical activity in the early years national guidelines covered in our short course.
If you have time, you can send home invitations ahead of time and encourage a red, white, and blue or party dress code.
A Feast Fit for a Queen?
You can serve any buffet food or encourage the children to try some of the popular dishes of the 1950s, such as peanut butter and bacon canapes, potao salad, celery and cheese whizz, marshmallow crispy squares and, of course, coronation chicken. Make sure you have some more familiar options for picky eaters.
As for the party favours, we suggest some on-theme biscuits. Making simple biscuits with the children is a great group activity involving measuring, number recognition, and fine motor skills (kneading). All you really need are butter, caster sugar, and plain flour. You can even use non-dairy butter in case of intolerances and get the same results. If you can get hold of a crown cookie cutter, you can make tasty crown biscuits and decorate them with icing. Jelly Tots or other small sweets make great ‘jewels’ to complete the crowns.
Boiled Sweets ‘stained glass’ Windows/Jewels
You can also try making stained glass windows or jewels from boiled sweets. Once you have created the shapes for your biscuits, either cut out the middle or use the sweets to top off the crowns. Separate the sweets into their various colours, put them in plastic bags and use a rolling pin to crush them to a fine grain. Sprinkle them in the hole you made or at the top of the crown’s spikes. Bake until the biscuits are pale golden and the sweets have melted.
These biscuits can be eaten on the day or taken home to share with caregivers. They also freeze well.
So, there you have it, a few ideas to help you celebrate The Queen’s Jubilee with early years children and teach them how the world has changed.
We hope you all have a fantastic time!