Medieval medicine – KS2

leech2-2If you are teaching your Year 5 or 6 students about medicine through time, this workshop is a great way to teach them about some of the key topics of medieval medicine.  It covers the 4 humours, which are relevant throughout a lot of early medicine, blood letting, surgery, herbal remedies and the black death.

Age Group: KS2, Year 5 or 6.

Workshop time:  1 hour.

Max. number of students: 30 (or 1 class, 31 or 32 can be accommodated ) per workshop

Number of workshops per school day: 3 maximum

Workshop area:  Any large indoor area, such as a school hall, gym, dance studio or even a large empty classroom.

Teacher requirement: One teacher but they must remain in the workshop area with us throughout the entire workshop.  If that is not possible two adults must be provided.

YellowBileThe 4 humours:  This part of the workshop uses modern props to help the children learn about the 4 humours in a light-hearted and fun way by becoming the humours themselves.  One student is dressed as an average medieval man and 5 other children are given humour t-shirts which say ‘phlegm’ ‘yellow bile’ etc on them.  We show how an imbalance of the humours made them ill. We also use props to illustrate how the 4 humours are linked to the 4 seasons and the 4 elements.  ‘Yellow bile’ is given a fireman’s helmet to wear to represent fire and sunglasses to represent Fire etc.

Blood letting:  We look at one of the most common medical practices of medieval and other time periods, bleeding.  We explain & demonstrate how patients were bled with a knife and bowl, with cupping glasses and we also have live leeches to show (don’t worry we don’t use them on anyone).  We also have a replica parchment of a 15th C vein man.

MedicineHerbal remedies:  In this section we talk about herbal remedies and the children are invited to work in groups of 4-5 (depending on the size of the workshop group) and have a go at making their own herbal remedies from kitchen herbs such as rosemary & thyme.

The Black Death:  The children receive a visitation from the plague in the form of Wel concealed within a robe and hood.  A third of the children are ‘infected’ with the plague as he touches them on the shoulder (with our fake hand).  These children then come and stand up the front to illustrate the fraction of people in England who died of the plague.  We talk about the different types Surgery 055of plague and how they were passed on, the symptoms and the likely final outcome, which with pneumonic plague was a 100% chance of death.

Surgery:  We demonstrate some of the surgeons tools for amputation, arrow extraction, tooth pulling and more.  The amount we fit in surgery will depend on how quickly we have managed to get through the workshop and how chatty the children are.  If time permits we’re happy to go over the hour to give more time to talk on surgery or allow some time to come up and look at the tools.