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Gunpowder, Treason & Plot
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KS1 & KS2 Teachers' Notes

Home > Teachers' Notes

Running parallel to this site is a version for students at KS3 and adults, with accompanying notes for teachers.

These notes are designed as a guide to the Gunpowder, Treason and Plot website and its use in the classroom.

The website is packed with archival material - documents, journals, engravings, paintings and more, making it the ideal basis for historical study. Researched and written by historical and educational experts, the material is trustworthy and authoritative. The site is particularly suited to use with whiteboards.

Key Stage 1 (or children aged approx 4 to 7 yrs)

Key Stage 2 (or children aged approx 7 to 11 yrs)

Key Stage 1

Gunpowder, Treason and Plot was designed for a KS2 audience, but nevertheless contains a range of engaging material suitable for use with younger children. Here are some suggestions to start you off.

The story in pictures

The website is structured around a set of playing cards from the late 1600s. Their beautiful illustrations tell the whole story, from the plotters' huddle in an inn to the firework displays of the present day.

Download the playing cards to use as a basis for sequencing activities, storytelling, writing or artwork. Can children invent a game based on the cards?


Our interactive version of The Gunpowder Conspirators engraving by Crispijn van de Passe lets children zoom into and around the picture to find out about the plotters and their backgrounds.


Give children an idea of what Parliament is, and place the buildings in their historical context with the Parliament then and now drag and drop activity.

Monteagle Letter

Bring the story of the Monteagle letter to life by showing children the original letter, along with a transcript and portrait of Monteagle. The letter makes a wonderful stimulus for drama and literacy work as well as history, and even PSHE. It raises question such as:

  • Why isn't it signed?
  • Who could it be from?
  • What does an anonymous note conjure up?
  • Should you believe what somebody says if they don't sign it?
  • How can you tell it's old?
  • Can you read the writing?

Fawkes' Lantern

One of the surviving artefacts from the time of the Plot is Guy Fawkes' lantern. Use this drag and drop interactive to get children thinking about the survival of such an item and the differences between old and new.


Fawkes' capture is portrayed in this amazingly dramatic painting by Henry Perronet Briggs, dating back to 1823. The picture could be used as a basis for children's own paintings and raises interesting questions about the painter's imagined scenario, 200 years after the fact.

Fireworks and the 'Remember, remember chant'

Make the connection between celebrations in the 1600s with Bonfire Night as it is now with this selection of imagery. Children can also listen to the full version of the famous 'Remember, remember the 5th of November' chant on this page.

Curricular Links

This website can be used to teach the National Curriculum for England's Programmes of Study for KS1 History 1a and b; 2a; 3; 4a and b; 6d. The site could also be used to support the teaching of English, Art and ICT.

Key Stage 2

The Gunpowder Treason and Plot website is designed for children at KS2. Beginning with the religious and political tensions leading up to the plot, the site goes on to cover the central characters involved and the dramatic events of 1605. The site ends by making the connection between firework celebrations in 1605 and Bonfire Night as we celebrate it now.


The Gunpowder Plot is fraught with obvious parallels to religious divides and terrorism in the 21st century. We have deliberately avoided making those connections in the text of the website so that teachers and parents retain control over whether or not to address the issues with children.


Many of the events of 1605, and the wars leading up to them, were gruesome, bloody and violent. The contemporary illustrations and narratives reflect that horror.

The website includes descriptions and pictures of religions massacres, torture, and executions but does so in a sensitive and straightforward way. It acknowledges children's fascination with such subjects but places them in a respectful and educational context.

Archives and source material

The Gunpowder, Treason and Plot website contains a wide range of original archival material, treated in a variety of ways. Children can discover the meanings of symbols in paintings, read and interpret surviving documentation and explore contemporary illustrations to discover all sorts of fascinating facts.


The website contains a timeline enabling children to place the Gunpowder Plot into its historical context. Key dates from the Tudor and Victorian eras are included and the timeline extends to the present day.

We’ve created a timeline poster incorporating the information held in the interactive version. This can be downloaded and printed out at either A3 or A4 size, for use in lessons or classroom display.

In addition to the poster you can download a timeline factsheet. This presents the information in a Word document, allowing you to adapt it for your use in the classroom.

Playing Cards

The site is structured around a set of 12 playing cards, illustrated with scenes from the story. The cards are held in The British Museum and date back to the late 1600s. Their simple and evocative pictures make an easily accessible and engaging way into the content. Children can read the cards in order to read the story.

Download the cards to use as a basis for literacy, art, history or drama work.

Suggested questions/ideas

  • Children could research and write biographies of Catesby, Fawkes and the gang.
  • Discuss what might have happened had the plotters succeeded.
  • Find out as much as possible about the Monteagle letter - was there a conspiracy?
  • Imagine they were going to warn Monteagle - how might they have done it differently?
  • Use the artworks as a basis for art lessons - the picture of fireworks on Card 12 is a particularly good stimulus for Bonfire Night art.
  • Introduce the idea of propaganda using the two pictures on the Wars, Massacres and Murder page.

Going further

The adult version of this site contains more detailed information and a wider range of archival material, which may be suitable for strong readers at the top end of KS2.

Curricular Links

This website can be used to support the National Curriculum for England's Programmes of Study for KS2 History 2a, b and c and d; 3; 4a and b. The site would also make a rich resource to support the teaching of Art, English and ICT.

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