Burns Night is celebrated worldwide every year on 25th January (Robert Burns’s birthday) and is in fact more widely celebrated in Scotland than the country’s official national day, St Andrew’s Day. Robert Burns (1759-1796), also known as Rabbie Burns, was a Scottish poet and lyricist, largely recognised as the national poet of Scotland. His work has made a lasting impression on the World and he remains an important literary personage 200 years after his death for several reasons: his place in Scottish literature, his contributions to the Romantic movement and his focus on humanity, love and nature.
We’ve put together a few activities that teachers can use in the classroom to celebrate Burns Night this year:
As with all poetry, the work of Robert Burns is a great lesson in language, but unlike most poetry a lot of Burns’ poems are written in Scots dialect. Although most school children will be unfamiliar with the language, a lot of the words are very similar to English.
CLASSROOM ACTIVITY: Take one of Burns’ poems and ask students to write down the English equivalent to the Scots words.
Robert Burns is an extremely important historical Scottish figure and was alive during one of the most important periods in history. The 18th century saw both the US and French revolutions and was the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Britain.
CLASSROOM ACTIVITY: When teaching the Industrial Revolution, use Burns’ work as an example of life pre-industrial revolution. Ask students to make comparisons between the periods before and after the industrial revolution.
Burns’ poetry was a source of inspiration for other authors, including Steinbeck and Salinger.
CLASSROOM ACTIVITY: Discuss the theme of “best laid plans” when teaching Steinbeck Of Mice and Men by comparing it with Burns’ To a Mouse.
Robert Burns is not only famous for his poetry, but he’s also well known for his songs that include Auld Lang Syne and My Luve is like a Red Red Rose. As well as making original compositions, Burns also collected folk songs from across Scotland, often revising or adapting them.
CLASSROOM ACTIVITY: Listen to different versions of one of Burns’ songs and ask students to come up with their own arrangement.
Have you used Robert Burns in the classroom? Let us know in the comments below ⬇
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