Past times

Role play as a Celt

Past Times
Learning outcome

To gain knowledge and understanding of Celtic life.

Key Stubbington focus

Historical - Celtic life

  • For Key Stage 2 (Ideal for lower Key Stage 2 or imaginative upper Key Stage 2)
  • Duration 2 hours (morning or afternoon)
Success criteria
  • I can identify differences between modern and Celtic daily life
  • I can identify similarities between modern and Celtic daily life
  • I can tell you some cultural traditions of the Celts
  • I can explain which lifestyle I would prefer
Session plan


Welcome children into the Roundhouse. Explain that you are a Celt living in the year 300 BC and that the word Celt comes from the Greek word KELTOI which means savage tribe. Explain that they will be learning all about you but first need to dress like you. Give traditional costumes out. Introduce yourself, and hand out Celtic name tags to children. Introduce the druid and choose an apprentice.

Part 1

Explain that Celts were very busy during daylight hours and invite the children to take part in some activities.

Outline activities (include safety, organisation etc):

Necklace Making (to bring good luck)

  • Choose 5 beads, each bead must stand for something special - e.g. good health, good weather for crops, family, happiness
  • Make the necklace (staff must tie the special knot), as an adult ties the knot the child can explain what each bead stands for

Face Painting

  • Choose a base colour to paint face (not eyes or mouth) and use another colour to decorate with Celtic symbols (using sheets provided)
  • Check allergies to face paint

Making clay pots

  • Each child has a piece of clay about the size of a ping pong ball
  • They make a small pot from this by pinching it
  • They can decorate the sides using sticks, shells etc


  • Direct children towards the writing on the beam and posts
  • Can they work out what it says?
  • If they need to record as they go, they can scratch in the earth using a stick

Part 2

Explain that a sheep was stolen during the night. A suspect is within the roundhouse. Ask the druid to identify some suspects. Druids used casting of the woods (Trinity sticks in bag) to determine guilt or innocence (role-play with 2 suspects and Druid). First suspect takes a wood (if trinity must draw again). Druid selects appropriate punishment for the criminal.

Info: Crime

  • Druids were judges
  • Common crimes were stealing animals, deserting tribes at war, burning roundhouses and killing others
  • Punishments included exile, death and fine
  • Damaging trees was particularly bad as they were sacred

Get the children ready to raid the neighbouring village to get the sheep back.

Info: Celtic War

  • Men fought naked – torc around neck & metal helmet – trumpets, shouting, war paint
  • They used spears, archers, shields, swords, slings, daggers, chariots and horses
  • Wars lasted hours at most a day
  • Often retreaters were killed and villages were pillaged for gold, women and cattle. If defeated men would often commit suicide
  • Trophies which were shown at feasts were often the brain of a warrior mixed with lime into hard round ball – skulls kept on poles or in pots
  • Carry out raid using shelters in shelter area
  • Line up
  • Creep up on villagers
  • Stop by wind chimes for the druid to ask for strength from the trees
  • Ruffle hair to look frightening
  • On signal charge, make as much noise as possible – do not touch shelters
  • Take your sword, cut head off and hold it aloft in triumph
  • As the children return to roundhouse ask them to prepare a song, poem or story about their battle victory
  • Once back at the roundhouse, ask children to place skulls onto stakes, animals into enclosure and wounded to see the druid

Info: Illness

Worms, eye complaints, arthritis, dental problems and poorly-healed wounds – herbs and water were used as medicines.

Part 3

Show children the roundhouse in more detail, comparing it to their lives and homes.

Homes and Everyday Life in Celtic Times

  • Families lived together in Roundhouses
  • Villages (OPPIDUMS) were made up of many roundhouses usually on a hill with defences to keep out warring tribes
  • Each tribe had a village – ours is Brocklesea
  • Roundhouses made of thatch roof and wattle & daub (woven branches – coppiced hazel and soil straw/poo/mud)
  • Beds were straw mattresses and animal furs
  • Fire was very important – in middle of roundhouse – used for heat/light/cooking – no chimney
  • Discuss the animals on the farm and their uses in everyday Celtic life and linked to information given below
  • Up at sunrise, pleased to be up as quite cold, wash hands and feet
  • Clothes
    • long tunics (peplos) woven from sheep’s wool often dyed bright colours using plants, flowers, bark, berries & leaves boiled with salt and urine
    • Woad – blue, madder root – red, weld plant – yellow
    • Brooches and pins held material together
    • They liked tartan/checks!
  • Chores
    • Collecting firewood, weaving, making utensils, tools, clothes, baskets
    • Tending to animals – goats, sheep, cattle, geese, ducks
    • Tending to crops – plough fields & hand cast seeds, grinding grain, pickling food
  • Take the children outside, explaining how grain was ground to make flour
  • Then on to spit roast/seating area to discuss food and drink

Food and Drink

  • Bread (show quern, flour, bread) bread cooked on flat stone in hearth or in clay oven
  • Meat (show them fire) pork, boar, beef, venison, lamb, dog
  • Meat smoked, boiled or roasted
  • Porridge
  • Diet supplemented with: peas/beans/fruit/herbs/roots/lentils/onions
  • Mead – honey and herbs, Ale – barley flavoured with heather and wine (sweetened with honey)
  • Food stored in pits with clay top and salted for preservation
  • Mealtimes involved sitting on floor or skins, small wooden tables, bowls, fingers to eat or knives/spoons and served by the children
  • Leisure Time
  • Story Telling, poems, board games, weaving, drinking, children often practised weapon skills, played knife stone, cloth and hurley (like hockey)

Carry on to toilet area

  • Toilet (show toilet) and talk about sanitation – used wood ash and stale urine to make soap
  • Bed – after sunset
  • Society and War: Celtic Men, Women and Children
  • Men wore their hair long, spiked it with lime, wore body tattoos (blue woad), jewellery and tunics
  • Women had long hair, they taught boys to fight, wore make up, jewellery and tunics
  • Children worked very hard, Celts died usually in mid-twenties so they married young, girls married at 12-14 – Valentines Day – girls choose a boy they would like to have a trial marriage with and go and sit next to
  • Celtic Society - each tribe had a chieftain/king to lead warriors into battle, there were noblemen (druids and bards) & farmers/craftworkers and servants/slaves


  • Sit around the camp fire and share stories, poems and songs from the battle
  • Remember that the word Celt comes from the word KELTOI which means savage tribe
  • Do you think the Celts were savages?
  • In pairs ask the children to name 3 facts that they have learnt from this session
  • Collect in costumes (show how to fold) and name tags

Less able children

Adapt discussion for less able and younger children.

More able children

Encourage children to explain differences and justify opinions they give.

Previsit activities

Research Celts and/or Romans, to prepare children for comparison.

Follow up activities

  • Investigate further Celtic life and similarities and differences between modern life
  • Children could present their findings
Health and safety checks
  • Face paints – check allergies and avoid painting near mouth and eyes
  • Check hay allergies with adults beforehand
  • Raiding Shelters – clear instructions on not touching shelters
  • Preparation - go to office 10 mins before start of activity to put face paint on & get into costume
  • Go to the roundhouse, familiarise yourself with the layout of resources and look busy when children arrive e.g. be outside picking up firewood