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Webquest: Bonfire Night

This webquest by Gabrielle Jones includes activities about the history of Bonfire Night and the traditions which are practised today.

Bonfire night banner

Activity 1: Warmer

Bonfire Night is a British tradition which is celebrated every year on 5 November. It is also known as Guy Fawkes Night. We’ll be learning more about this tradition but before we begin take a look at these words – do you know what they mean? Work in pairs or small groups. You can use an online dictionary to help you, for example www.macmillandictionary.com.

  • barrels
  • basement
  • blow up
  • bonfire
  • cellars
  • effigy
  • execution
  • fireworks
  • gunpowder
  • parliament
  • plot
  • treason

Activity 2: The gunpowder plot

Bonfire Night is an event to celebrate the anniversary of a famous event in British history. Visit this website: www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/15351828. Then, answer the questions below:

1. What do people burn on their bonfires today?

2. What did Guy Fawkes plan to do?

3. Why did Guy Fawkes and his group put gunpowder in the parliament?

4. How did people find out about the Gunpowder Plot?

5. What happened to Guy Fawkes and his group?

6. What was the reason behind the Gunpowder Plot?

When you're finished, compare what you found out in small groups.

Activity 3: The people involved in the Gunpowder Plot

Now, go to this website and find out more about the people who were involved in the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament:

www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/evolutionofparliament/parliamentaryauthority/the-gunpowder-plot-of-1605/overview/people-behind-the-plot

Student A  Read and choose three things you want to tell your group about Robert Catesby and Thomas Percy.

Student B  Read and choose three things you want to tell your group about Francis Tresham and Guy Fawkes.

Student C  Read and choose three things you want to tell your group about John and Christopher Wright.

When you have finished, spend a few minutes in a group of three explaining what information you found out about the people involved in the Gunpowder Plot.

Activity 4: Bonfire Night celebrations

Now visit this website: www.bonfirenight.net/bonfire.php.

Student A – Read the first three paragraphs and answer these questions:

1.      How soon did Bonfire Night celebrations begin after the Gunpowder Plot?

2.      How did the Bonfire Night rituals change in the years after 1605?

3.      Effigies of which famous people were placed on the fire?

4.      How do people prepare for Bonfire Night?

Student B  Read the last three paragraphs and answer these questions:

1.      Apart from a bonfire, what else do people typically light on Bonfire Night?

2.      Where is Lewes and why does it attract visitors?

3.      Where else is the tradition of Bonfire Night celebrated?

4.      Which place gave Bonfire Night an alternative name?  What was the name?

When you have finished, discuss the questions which you worked on in pairs or small groups.

Discussion:  Discuss a significant festival in your country – do you know how long it has been celebrated and why it became important?

Activity 5: Bonfire Night recipes

You are going to read the recipes for two traditional foods which people eat on Bonfire Night.

Student A  Visit this page and find out about Parkin cake: www.learnenglish.de/recipe/parkin.html

1.      What are the main ingredients?

2.      How is it prepared?

3.      How long does it take?

Student B  Visit this page and find out about toffee apples: www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/13599/homemade-toffee-apples

1.      What are the main ingredients?

2.      How is it prepared?

3.      How long does it take?

Student C  Visit this page and find out about baked potatoes: www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1759659/bonfire-night-baked-potatoes

1.      What are the main ingredients?

2.      How is it prepared?

3.      How long does it take?

When you are finished, work in groups of three. Explain to each other what your recipe is, what ingredients are needed, how to prepare the food and how long you need.

Discussion:  Do you eat these dishes, or something similar, in your country? What do people typically eat on a cold night?

Activity 6: Fireworks – staying safe

Visit this site: www.learnenglish.de/culture/bonfirenight.html. Read from the paragraph which begins ‘New laws were introduced to control the use of fireworks in 2004 …’.  When you have finished, answer these questions:

1.      How old must people be to use fireworks?

2.      Do you need a special license to hold a public fireworks display?

3.      At what time of night can people normally not use fireworks?

4.      What are the exceptions?

5.      What are people not allowed to do with fireworks?

Activity 7: Review task

If you have time, you can play an interactive game to check what you can remember about the Gunpowder Plot and Guy Fawkes:

www.bbc.co.uk/history/interactive/games/gunpowder/index_embed.shtml.

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Readers' comments (9)

  • Excellent, comprehensive, engaging materials;

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  • This is a great webquest! We recently made a tool that takes WebQuests to the next level, making them really interactive. Have a look at the new BookWidgets WebQuest widget: https://www.bookwidgets.com/blog/2016/02/bookwidgets-5-2-release

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  • Hi there,

    Thanks for the lovely feedback. Great to hear that you find the resources so useful.

    Best wishes and happy teaching,

    The onestopenglish team

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  • Thank you very much for the activities, they are great for teenagers!! Really useful website :)

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  • Hi there,
    The audio and lesson plan for the Live from London - Art lesson can be found here: http://www.onestopenglish.com/skills/listening/live-from-authentic-interviews/live-from-london-art/550432.article.
    If you're struggling to find resources, please try using the search bar at the top or contact help@macmillan.com.
    We hope you enjoy the lesson!
    Best wishes,
    The onestopenglish team

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  • Please help me. the recording needed for the Live from London podcast ART is missing. Please advise.

    thank you

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  • Thanks for your comments Pisiflor and anglophone!

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  • Thank you. Very informative , great work.
    "Remember, remember, the fifth of November,
    gunpowder, treason and plot."
    That's what I learned at school.

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  • Thank you! It's a very useful work!

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