What is Writing? Bones to Bytes


Age group: Year 4 - 6

Available: Monday – Friday

Length: 90 minutes. Please allow more time after your workshop to explore the galleries and public spaces

Group size: minimum 10

Key Skills

History, Literacy, Critical Thinking

Workshop outline

What is writing? Why do we write? What materials are used for writing? Explore all these questions and more in this creative workshop for Primary school students. This workshop will support students to engage with, and enjoy, the process of writing, its incredible history, and its production over time.

Students will begin the workshop by thinking about why we use writing as a form of communication. They will do an object-handling activity looking at natural and man-made writing tools such as vellum, wax tablets and quill pens.

Participants will then do a treasure hunt in our Treasures gallery to uncover a range of written formats from papyrus to vellum and from handwritten letters to scrolls. In the Learning Centre, they will use art materials to make their own writing.  By the end of the workshop, students will have created their own ‘goody bag’ of writing to use as a basis for post-visit activities back at school.

Pre-visit activities

  • Discuss the following questions in class or on your journey to the British Library: why do we write? For whom do we write? When do you use writing?

Post-visit activities

  • As a group, develop the alphabet resource created in the workshop. Make sure there is at least one of each letter of the alphabet and add exclamation marks, question marks etc. Use the letters to create stories, poems or titles for work on the wall.
  • Write a story based on an item you saw in the Ritblat Gallery, for example Jane Austen’s writing desk or the envelope with the Beatle’s lyrics on.
  • Research in more detail one item you encountered during the workshop that interested or inspired you.

Ready to book?

Watch a short video about your visit to the British Library   How to book