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Teaching Children About Guy Fawkes

Instructor: Loren Rozanski

Loren has a B.S. in History and a M.S. in Special Education. She works actively in the education field.

The story of Guy Fawkes involves issues that may seem complicated to kids. Read on to find some tips and strategies for teaching children about this important historical figure.

Teaching Guy Fawkes

Guy Fawkes is an important figure in the history of England. Masks with the likeness of his face have become symbolic of protest and uprising across the world. But teaching children about the intricate politics that led up to his would-be revolution can prove difficult.

However, if you take the time to create a fun and engaging lesson, your students will love learning about important figures of the past! Let's take a look at some strategies and ideas for how to proceed.

Introducing Vocabulary

Depending on the age of the children you are introducing this to, you may want to explain some vocabulary and related information. Show the kids a map and point out England. If appropriate, explain the idea that a government is a person or group of people in charge of running a country.

A simple way to introduce the concepts that Guy Fawkes represents is to ask students questions about uprising and revolution that make sense in their language. For example:

  • Have you ever wanted to change something you didn't like?
  • How would you change it if you could?
  • Is it okay to change something even if it means somebody might get hurt?
  • Should we able to change things we don't like (ex. bedtime, lunch menu, teacher's rules)

After giving students an opportunity to answer these questions, you may want to explain to students that sometimes people decide to change things that they don't like, including the government. When they act, it is called a revolution.

Ways to Teach About the Story

Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators.
Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators.

After your students understand the idea of revolution, you can start to tell the story of Guy Fawkes. There are several different ways to do this:

  • finding an age appropriate book on Guy Fawkes and reading it in your classroom
  • creating your own reading passage on Guy Fawkes
  • using a video, say, from YouTube, to introduce his story

No matter what medium you choose, it is important that the basics of who Guy Fawkes was is introduced to your students. This includes the fact that he was a resident of London who was unhappy with the way that the King was ruling the country.

In 1605, Guy Fawkes and a group of thirteen of his friends decided that somebody else should rule England. Guy Fawkes and his friends decided to put a lot of gunpowder (explain that this is explosive powder that can be used to create an explosion) into the basement of a building where they thought the King would be.

But before they could kill the King and put someone else in charge, Guy Fawkes and his friends got caught and sent to jail. Guy Fawkes went to jail on November 5th. Each year, this day is celebrated as Bonfire Night, a day to celebrate the fact that their plan did not work and that the King lived.

The Guy Fawkes Mask

Protesters around the world wear the Guy Fawkes mask.

Let children know about the legacy of the man. Tell them that although Guy Fawkes has not been alive for a very long time, his face is still used on masks around the world to represent uprising. The masks have become more popular in modern times by people who are unhappy with their government and want it to change, the same way that Guy Fawkes did.

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